Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LOST Recap and Discussion: 6.9 Ab Aeterno

The LOST episode we have all been waiting for was aired tonight--the story of Richard Alpert.

As always, full spoilers follow.

I had to look up what Ab Aeterno means and I got many variations, from the beginning of time, since the beginning of time, from the eternal. All very apt for tonight's episode.

The episode opened with Jacob asking Ilana to help him protect the candidates and then the Losties chatting around the fire about how they're candidates and have no idea why or what for. Ilana explains that Ricardo should know, but Richard at this point is rather hysterical. He announces that they are all dead and in hell. And then he tears off into the jungle.

At this point, we travel back in time to the turning point in Ricardo's life and we stay in the past throughout the episode, a rare LOST occurrence. Ricardo's wife is dying, he's desperate to save her and he goes off to the doctor, a half day's trip. When he arrives, however, the doctor is not interested in helping him, and doesn't accept Ricardo's payment. In a fit of desperation and rage, Ricardo kills him. He takes the medicine with him and goes back to his wife, but as we all probably predicted, she had already passed away. He was followed from the doctor's though, and instantly arrested.

Ricardo has committed murder, an offense that will haunt him (though he's willing to repeat it for the sake of seeing his wife again) and his priest even refuses to absolve him of this sin. Thankfully, he was learning English which earns him a passage on board the Black Rock, a slave ship bound for the New World.

Here's where we might refer back to the season finale of last year. We saw Jacob and the Man in Black sitting on the beach watching the ship approach. If you remember, the Man in Black said, "it always ends the same way." and Jacob responded, "it only ends once, anything that happens before that is just progress." In this episode we learned that yes indeed, only Jacob can draw people to the island. He draws them in hopes of showing them they can resist evil, and their past doesn't matter.

In any case, for some reason, the Man in Black or the Smoke Monster recognizes in Richard a potential person to kill Jacob. Perhaps it's the loss of Isabella that has hollowed him out, his palpable grief and longing make him vulnerable to the manipulation of the Smoke Monster. The smoke monster appears as Isabella and appeals to Ricardo's belief in an afterlife and his already present fear of going to hell by taking her form and setting this message up. After he kills everyone else on the ship, he frees Ricardo with the agreement that if Ricardo kills Jacob (the devil) he will be reunited with Isabella. Ricardo agrees and heads off to this task.

One thing I found interesting is that the Man in Black issued the same warning to Ricardo that was issued to Sayid about the Man in Black. "If he speaks, it's already too late." For some reason, their speech and the power of their words is persuasive..why is this so? Does it only affect the souls sitting right on the balance of light and dark?

So Jacob fights Ricardo and then they talk. Jacob tells Ricardo that he doesn't want to intervene and tell people to choose good, but he will have Ricardo/Richard act as an intermediary in his place. The Man in Black, he says, represents hell/malevolence/evil. He shows Richard a carafe of wine and says that the wine represents the dark and the cork is the island...keeping the darkness from escaping and spreading.

Jacob couldn't resurrect Isabella. He couldn't protect Richard from hell. But he could grant him the chance to never die. When Richard goes back to the Man in Black, the man in black tells him if he ever changes his mind the offer still stands. Richard gives him a white stone.

Well, present day Richard has changed his mind. He calls out to Locke, who doesn't come, but Hurley does, to facilitate communication with Richard's dead wife. Can I just say...wow what a long time to grieve???

The episode ends with Jacob and the Man in Black talking over the events, the Man in Black telling Jacob he wishes to kill him in order to have a chance to leave. Jacob leaves him with the carafe of wine, which the Man in Black smashes.

I felt like this episode was in many ways the center of the LOST story. We have the essential details, it pulled together some fragments from last year, but it still leaves so many questions about how this all relates to the characters we've cared about for so long. What does it all really mean? And there are still all these things that don't seem to make sense in the larger story, like the temple. I'm hoping that when the show LOST ends, I have a clearer picture in my mind of what the story meant. I will need to watch this episode again to really formulate some thoughts on this, but I have to say that I really enjoyed this episode, it felt like I was greedily drinking in all of this story that has been withheld for so long! :)

I'm very eager to know your thoughts. Are you satisfied with the story of Richard? Are you satisfied with the explanation that Jacob is a sort of guardian of the smoke monster or evil? Just who is Jacob? Please tell me all your thoughts.


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