Been quite a week. I haven't had a chance to watch "Across The Sea" again, but I have read a good deal of opinions online, most of which were at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of liking or disliking it. I still fall into the 'dislike' camp, but not because I wanted more to be revealed (as many of my friends and many of the commenters in this thread were), but because I thought what we were told was kind of cheesy.
This interview with Darlton has been making the rounds because the interviewer asked them about some of the specific complaints people had with the episode and they got a bit testy. On the one hand, they're absolutely right in that there's no way they can please everyone with the finale (and no reason to think they should have to either). On the other, I do think that many of the problems that I had with the episode were self-inflicted and correctable. If you think a cave with a golden light might look cheesy - don't show it. Either that or come up with something else. And I do agree that this episode probably would have gone over better had it been shown earlier in the season rather than now.
But they're also stuck between a rock and hard place here. I had really high expectations of "Across The Sea" because the show has been one of the best things on TV for the past six years and I was hoping the end run would meet that standard. So if you're going to reveal the centerpiece of the Island's mythology, come up with something better than a glowing cave (or at least make it look better than it did on screen). And I also realize that once the show ends, The Source (and "Across The Sea" in general) could look much better in retrospect.
The watering down of Smokey's evil also bothered me, but this is a personal preference thing. For me, the villains often make the show or the series and throughout Lost, Smokey was one of the most compelling reasons to watch. All this season has been constructed around him, building him into a villain with a single, solitary purpose - to escape the Island and destroy whoever got in his way - and I thought that was terrific. But now we understand why he wants to escape and, well, now I completely understand and kinda sympathize with him.
Yeah, he's certainly more bitter and evil in the present day than he was in "Across The Sea," but he isn't the product of his own arrogance like Dr. Doom, isn't pure evil like Randall Flagg or completely insane like the Joker. No, he's the product of a crazy, manipulative Mother and an impulsive, irrational brother who didn't think before he acted. It doesn't forgive everything he's done in the present, but it make us understand why he's the way he is. And the fact the supposed good Island god is partially responsible for creating him makes their whole conflict a lot less - *ahem* - black and white. And that just doesn't sit right with me, given everything we've seen this season, and seems to go against one of the major themes of the show. I like my evil to be EVIL, dammit! ;)
But anyway, this episode doesn't change the fact that I still love the show and am greatly looking forward to tonight and Sunday. What's everyone making for the finale? I think it's going to be wings of some sort for myself, but I can't decide whether I want slow-cooked Thai Peanut Wings or some breaded, fried Hot Wings. Mmmm... wings.
The only other link I have to share other than the above Darlton interview (which you should read in full) is this letter from George Lucas to Darlton. I can't tell whether it was written in jest or not, but it is amusing nonetheless. :)
Tonight's episode, "What They Died For," sounds rather expository to me. You gotta figure the entire endgame will be revealed tonight - i.e. Jack's gotta learn what Desmond's task is on the Island and (hopefully) what the role of the Alt is in all this. And you have to imagine they're going to be going to The Source at some point. Desmond's probably the only one who can find it...
Considering there are only two episodes left, I might as well go all out...
1) I'm going to guess that not only is Desmond the only one who can find The Source, he's the only one who can enter it and survive. And perhaps if Desmond enters The Source he can reverse whatever damage Jacob caused by flushing his brother's body down the cave...
2) I'm going to guess one of the three remaining candidates will die this episode: Sawyer. And he does so in spectacularly heroic fashion to save everyone else. Unfortunately we'll probably get a teary goodbye scene with Kate beforehand.
3) Smokey will send Claire after the remaining candidates and she'll succeed in mortally wounding Kate before the candidates are rescued by... Ben!
4) Alt Jack will achieve awareness this episode and realize the person he really needs to make everything right is the creator of the Alt Universe - his wife, Juliet!
5) Someone will rhetorically ask "what did they die for" during the episode and Hurley will respond by quoting "Wrath of Khan."
I am 100% certain these things shall come to pass. Enjoy the (second-to-last) show everyone! Review up tomorrow morning! :)