Well, we finally got an answer to that question, huh? And it was... Nowhere near what most of us thought it would be, basically. Not unsatisfying, just strange. Strange and curiously religious?
Let's address the episode's biggest mystery upfront: What the heck was Allison Janney doing on the island? Was anyone else as jarred by her presence as I was? Not that Janney isn't a great actress — she seemed a little out of her element here, but had some affecting moments — but just that Lost has never really trafficked in big star stunt casting. Sure, Janney isn't Julia Roberts, but she's pretty much a big TV star and having her pop up, especially as an ancient earth goddess type, was pretty distracting. I dunno. I didn't like it?
So that, clearly, was the most important thing about the episode. Everything else was... What? Myth reenactment, basically. Most of it was Biblical myth — Jacob and Esau, taking communion, giant electrically charged smoke demons emerging from light caves. You know, Sunday School stuff. Yes we finally got the Smoke Monster's flashback episode, and it turns out that we still don't know what it is! Ancient Jacob and Ancient Other Guy (Esau) got in a real bad fight after Esau killed C.J. Cregg and Jacob threw him into the sacred light cave and then there was a great rumble and out spewed the black smoke, leaving Esau's lifeless body lying by a stream. So basically the monster isn't Jacob's brother. It's just some sort of wicked spirit imbued with his life essence or something? Or, it's, uh, the devil? The devil of human ambition? The manifestation of the curiosity that killed the cat? Hey Lost guys: Why are you creating more questions when you're supposedly wrapping this whole damn thing up?? ANSWERS, plz. Not new light cave-related questions.
To me the most interesting aspect of the episode was that everyone pretty much sided with Esau, right? I mean, other than killing C.J., what he was doing sort of made sense. He was working with other people, trying to explore the outside world, not taking on blind faith what one lady (one lady who killed his mom, btw) told him. Jacob was the wimpy little mama's boy, he's the one who seemed to follow things on blind faith. In the show's long-running Faith v. Science theme, Science typically tends to be favored, and last night was no exception. But isn't it kind of a cop-out to kill ancient Science and switch him out with evil Smoke Devil so we sort of have to, by default, side with Faith? Obviously it's the show's prerogative to force our attention, our loyalties, to one side or the other, but the debate seemed to go pretty one-sided last night.
Anyway. Hard to talk about this weird, weird, weird episode. It was something of an artistic leap for them and, to be honest, I'm not sure they pulled it off. Not quite. Not this close to the end.
What'd you think?