Even though we still don’t know his name, we now know much more about the man in black-cum-smoke monster, AKA Jacob’s brother. And, after getting some insight into Jacob and his unnamed brother’s past, the lines between good and evil—which once seemed almost too clearly drawn—have become much murkier.
The brothers come to the island still unborn, after a shipwreck causes their mother, Claudia, to wash up on the beach. We think she’s found a friend in the lone island dweller (played by Allison Janney), but it turns out island lady is violent. After delivering the twin boys, Jacob and “I didn’t pick out any other names,” she murders Claudia and raises the boys as her own.
As they get older, it’s clear that the boys are different. Jacob, always dressed in light clothing, is faithful to his mother, who says that he is unable to tell a lie. His brother, with dark hair and dark clothes, is different, “special.” And, it turns out, defiant and stubborn.
The twins’ dead mother comes to talk to the man in black and takes him to the other side of the island, where an entire world he never knew about exists. There are people living there, and Claudia explains to him where he came from and who she is, breaking his trust and fueling his desire to leave the island. Jacob can’t see her, and we don’t know why. But maybe she doesn’t want him to see her because she knows he won’t believe her or won’t leave his mother to live with these others, like his brother decides to do.
Angry with the mother who lied to him and manipulated him, the man in black moves to the other side of the island and begins his search for an escape from the island. And although Jacob stays behind, there is a sense of bitterness against his mother. They are both hurt and both doing what they feel they must, but not necessarily because they want to. It seems that neither is inherently good or evil.
Allison Janney plays the alone-on-the-island-too-long bit well, and it was difficult to tell whether she was insane or doing a truly important job. She was definitely manipulative, though, and may have passed that trait down to her sons—or maybe just Jacob. Throughout the boys’ lives, she keeps them in her grasp with a web of lies, starting with her being their mother. And when she finally takes Jacob to the source of the gold, glowing light and makes him take on the role of protector, she seals his fate somehow. After Jacob drinks the wine, his mother says, “Now you and I are the same,” which may imply that he inherited some of her less-flattering qualities.
That is the most important thing we learned from “Across the Sea:” that (hopefully) Lost won’t end with everything tied up in the neat good vs. evil bow the show’s been hinting at all season.