So, now we know… lots of stuff. Whether anyone likes what we now know is an entirely separate matter, but this was an episode that gave fans what we have been clamoring for: tons of answers. Maybe not the answers many of us were hoping for, but answers, nonetheless.
In one sense, it’s hard to criticize the episode that finally revealed: the origin of Jacob; the origin of the Smoke Monster; why Jacob and the Man in Black hate each other; who set up the “rules” for their conflict; the origin/significance of the white and black stones; why MiB wants off the Island so bad; where the donkey wheel came from and what it’s for; what Jacob is guarding on the Island; what job the “candidates” are being culled for; the identities of “Adam and Eve”; and the source of the Island’s strange powers.
Turns out, it’s a kind of magic.
Magic ? Well, I didn’t expect that. Or, more precisely, I had hoped it wouldn’t come to that.
Sure, virtually any explanation was going to be disappointing after six years of teasing, but putting it all down to magic? Crediting the supernatural struck me as the second-biggest cop-out possible — the biggest being “It was all a dream.” So now we have a glowing Golden Cave, a water attraction that apparently puts Hugh Hefner’s famed grotto at the Playboy mansion to shame! Still, magic disappoints me because it implies that all bets are off; it’s an easy answer that allows for anything. There are no rules with magic, and that is weird for a show that relies so much on The Rules.
I am still holding out hope for a scientific — or at least more realistic spin — explanation of the Island’s power. Certainly a pocket of some kind of electromagnetic, radioactive ore would appear to be magic to the more primitive, superstitious people of this story. (I’m guessing Jacob’s/MiB’s tale is set at least 1,000 years ago?) Using the radioactive explanation, the healing properties of the Island, and phenomena like Richard’s agelessness could be looked at as something like gaining super powers from the bite of a radioactive spider. Sure, it’s not really “realistic,” but there is a plausibility and logic to it that works better for me than chalking it all up to pure magic.
This story also details how things keep repeating on the Island: There have been “Others” for centuries; men have been trying to dig out the Island’s secrets forever; Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) and MiB’s (Titus Welliver) mother (Allison Janney) presumably destroying the settlement marked the first “purge” of people researching the Island’s mysteries; there was troublesome childbirth, adoption, and the idea of children being “special.” (Mom said to MiB, “Jacob doesn’t know how to lie; not like you. You’re special.” And later he turned it back on his mother, claiming, “I’m special. I don’t belong here.”
But Jacob is special too; Mom put him in charge of the cavern, which harbors, “life, death, rebirth. It’s the Source. The Heart of the Island,” adding, “You are going to protect it now.” She made him promise never to enter the grotto, since that would be much worse than dying. (Well, radiation sickness is a bad thing.) Which raises the question: Did Jacob’s brother turn into the Smoke Monster, or did the presence of his corpse allow Smokey to assume human form? I suppose it really doesn’t matter, but I’m going to guess that the monster was trapped in the cavern and assumed MiB’s shape – but also took on his personality, just as it seems to have done more recently with John Locke.
Speaking of Locke, was it really necessary to include the flashback — er, technically a flashforward — from season one of Jack, Kate and Locke finding Adam and Eve? It would have been pretty cool if none of the main cast appeared in the episode at all. The reuse of the clip almost felt like the-powers-that-be wanted to shoehorn some regulars into the show somehow. And how unique would that be, to feature no regulars in one of the very last episodes?