EVERY QUESTION I ANSWER WILL ONLY LEAD TO ANOTHER QUESTION: You got that right, Claudia Jean. How came the chicken? From the egg. And from whence the egg? From the chicken prior, moron. Mild spoilers probably will follow, I should warn you.
I think I've mentioned that, as a rule, when I read Neal Stephenson, I skimmed the philosophy. When I read Lord of the Rings, I skipped the poetry. When I watched Twin Peaks and BSG, I suffered through the dream sequences, not fast-forwarding only for fear of missing something important, plot-wise. Those works are dense, rich show-don't-tell narratives, mounds build pebble by pebble. The philosophy lectures, the ersatz Celtic balladry, the premonitive and allegorical interludes -- they just feel explicative, summary. Given the choice between a confusing but immersive story and some rushed, artificial retconning, I'll choose ignorance every time.
So, too, with the story of Jacob, Silas Adams, the Golden Hole (note: not a euphemism), the Smokey creation myth, and that marvel of pan-European Viking/home-schooled immortal engineering, the Donkey Wheel. What I signed up for was the story of how a rag-tag band of ambiguously culpable and unambiguously incapable castaways survived an island teeming with hostile natives and supernatural phenomena. What I renewed for was the Survivor-like story of competing tribes enduring forced conflict, inopportune merges, and format-mandated attrition while they lie, plot, and scheme to outplay, outlast, and outstupid each other. The point is that I got attached to my dumb Lostaways, with their slacker or irritated incredulity, their hirsute Scottishness, their forgetful and forgiving love. Who I am not attached to: Jacob, his swarthy twin, and their Midwesterly midwife mom. I'm perfectly fine with their playing a role, even a key one, in the stories of my Lostaways -- but only as long as they remember it's not their story. I am capable of taking their motivation on faith, and didn't need to waste a precious resource -- one of the few remaining hours of this show -- establishing what I already could have imagined.
And what did we establish, anyway? Where did Jacob and his brother come from? From a boat that the island claimed, just like the Black Rock and Rousseau's research ship and the smuggler plane and Oceanic 815 and the Ajira flight. And who brought them? Some sorceress who beat them there. How did she get there? Same way. Who brought her there? Beats me. What's so special about the island? The Golden Hole. What's so special about the Golden Hole? Its specialness. Who built the Donkey Wheel? Man in Black. How did he know how to build it? He was born ready. How does it work? According to the Principles of Universal Donkey Wheel Construction. Why can't candidates kill each other? Mom said. Who were Adam and Eve? Three part answer: (a) more like Cain and Eve; (b) people who were wearing different clothes than the skeletons we first saw six years ago; and (c) not the first two people on the island.
I don't mean to sound this pissed. I'm just disappointed. After a fantastic episode last week about men of science and men of faith, about the simple math of survival and loss and abandonment, about unbearable choices and sacrifice and star-crossed, sub-sunk love, I didn't want everything to grind to a halt so that we could go back a few hundred years for a puppet show where the color of one's hair and clothing is sufficient to convey a character trait.