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Thoughts On ‘Lost’ Episode 9 “Ab Aeterno”

Let me start off by saying, What the hell ABC? This episode ran 6 minutes longer than normal and guess whose DVR cut off the end of the show? How about giving viewers a heads up on that? Luckily, I’m annoyingly persistent and found a bootlegged copy of the episode online before ABC.com posted it this morning. Anyway, long story short I saw the last minute that my DVR cut off.

And boy was this episode entitled “Ab Aeterno” or roughly “From the beginning of time” in Latin worth the hassle. This was classic “Lost.”

Richard. The Robert Duvall consigliere of the island. This was the first time since Season 5 that we’ve had a flashback and really the first pre-island singular character-driven flashback since Season 3.

We start by revisiting a scene from last season’s finale, Jacob visiting Llana who is recovering at a Russian hospital. We still do not know what happened to her and why she was so badly injured. But Jacob needs her help. This time we find out why. Jacob wants her to protect his six candidates. 4,8, 15, 16,23,42. Locke, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack and apparently Sun. 3 of which are either dead, possessed or already on Team Smocke, so I would say Llana has her work cut out for her.

We cut to the camp fire where our Losties are having a pow-wow about what they are candidates for? Sun says candidates to take over for Jacob. But what do they do now? Llana doesn’t know, but Jacob said Ricardo would know. Ricky? No. Richard Alpert. Except wait. Richard doesn’t know anything. In fact, he claims all the people huddled around the camp fire are dead and in hell!

Richard is the man who mysteriously doesn’t age and who “Lost” fans have been dying to find out more about for years. So let’s go back into the past. The past Seth? Yes. All the way to the year 1867. And on the Canary Islands because I’ve heard it’s lovely there this time of year.

Richard is desperately trying to save his wife Isabella from dying. She tells him he must race and get the doctor, giving him the cross around her neck. He gallops to the doctor, but our physician is no Dr. Shepherd. He is only willing to give Richard medicine and for a hefty price. In a fit of rage, the pair struggle and the evil MD winds up dead. Richard takes the medicine, but is too late to give it to his wife who is dead when he arrives back home. Richard is then arrested.

Set to hang at the gallows, Richard asks for forgiveness from a priest. However, the priest tells him he cannot be saved and is going to hell.

In this scene, the priest opens a bible to Saint Luke 4:37. It’s not the exact passage, but in chapter 4 it describes how Jesus went 40 days without food and how he was tempted by the devil who offered him power of the world if he would follow him. You can read more here. Sound familiar? Sounds like a mirror of the Man in Black story line in the Black Rock to me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Instead of granting Richard forgiveness, the priest actually sells Richard to British sailors. A man named Whitfield. If there’s a name significance there I don’t know it. But I do recognize the next name spoken. Richard is now the property of Magnus Hanso. His great grandson Alvar Hanso ran the foundation that funded the Dharma Initaitive. Also, you may recall the final resting place of Magnus Hanso is on the blast door map in the Swan hatch shown back in Season 2.

On their way to the “New World” the Black Rock apparently ran into some rough waters. This scene likely takes place not long after the very beginning of Season 5’s finale “The Incident” in which Jacob and the Man In Black discuss how Jacob wants to bring people to the island for “progress” while the Man In Black contends “it all ends up the same” and he wants to kill Jacob. This last point is driven home in this episode with some heavy “Lost” mythology. I mention the time line because in that scene the statue is still intact, but not for long because the Black Rock hangs ten and makes a whopper of a landing into the statue, stopping deep into the mainland.

I swear predicting this show is like predicting the NCAA bracket. Thinking the Black Rock would have taken out the statue is like coming up with the ludicrous idea that Northern Iowa would somehow beat Kansas. Anyway, I digress. Go ‘Cuse!

Back to “Lost.” The ship is wrecked in the jungle and that means it’s every man for himself. One of Hanso’s henchmen goes below deck and starts to kill all of the slaves. He’s about to slice and dice Alpert when everyone’s favorite black cloud of smoke shows up. Smokey takes out the crew and is about to do the same the Richard, but does his whole reading your mind, picture taking thing and passes him up. Seems Richard is either worthy of this God-manifestation or Smokey realizes he can be manipulated to help him break free from his own chains…namely the island.

After Smokey lets Richard live, it seems the will of Mr. Alpert is tested…possibly for 40 nights like Jesus? I doubt it was that long, but Richard does struggle to break free from his chains using a shiv and cannot even reach to drink the rain water pouring into the ship. At one point, Richard is collapsed in exhaustion only to be awoken by the sound a giant boar feasting on the corpse of one of his slave shipmates. I can see why he thinks this is hell. Which is exactly where an apparition of his wife tells him he is when she appears before him. Isabella wants to rescue him before the devil comes back. But Smokey shows up (the devil? maybe) and gives her ghost/afterlife form the chop-chop. This scene is typical “Lost” where it is confusing and intriguing at the same time. We know Smokey can take the form of dead people, so it’s possible he took the form of Isabella as an act to push Richard to do something he wanted…ie…kill Jacob. However, Smokey was clearly hovering above and we’ve never really seen him in the two places at once. But later, Jacob kind of infers to Richard “that wasn’t your wife.” So, likely scenario it was Smokey posing as his wife. Kind of like he did as Yemi to Mr. Eko back in Season 3 just before he killed him.

Other scenarios: It was just a dream. Or a vision like other Losties have had. Or does Jacob have the power to take other forms just like Smokey?

At any rate, devastated over the lose of his wife for the second time, Richard is visited by what looks like Jacob at first. Not so, it’s the Man in Black. He brings him water and tells him what everyone keeps saying this episode, Richard is in hell. Richard desperately wants to see his wife again, but MIB says “he” probably has her and MIB is ready to help get Isabella back. But there’s a catch. Richard has to help him. Then Smokey utters a phrase he said to Richard in the very first episode of this season “LA X”…”It’s good to see you out of those chains.” He then says there’s only one way to escape from hell, “you’re going to have to kill the devil.”

The MIB then gives Richard instructions on how to murder the devil. He hands him a dagger and says “thrust it into his chest before he speaks, he can be very persuasive.” Now, this is the exact same instructions given to Sayid by Dogen the Samurai back in “Sundown” when Sayid goes on a mission to kill Smocke. And it would appear the same dagger! So, is this dagger the only thing that can kill these two evil twins? Is it the same knife Ben used to kill Jacob? I’d have to go back and check. Quite the chess match our two God entities are playing.

Also of interest in this conversation, we learn a little more about Smokey. The devil (as he calls him) betrayed MIB and took his body.

Possible theory: MIB used to look like Jacob, until Jacob as the black smoke stole MIB’s body and imprisoned him.

Later, Richard attempts to kill Jacob, but our God figure has same crazy fighting skills and beats him up before he can do anything. He convinces him that he’s not in hell and asks him what he wants. Richard wants his wife back, but Jacob says he can’t do that or absolve him of his sins. But he can make him live forever.

That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:15

Perhaps Jacob is God after all.

But consider this, if Jacob is God, why does he bring all of these people to the island only to see them die just to prove a point to his nemesis? That seems selfish and self-serving. He claims to give them a new life, but meddles just as much as Smokey it would seem.

Have to get ready for a work, so a few quick bullet points.

1. Jacob told us what the island is. It’s a cage or cork in the case of the wine bottle to keep Smokey locked in. In sideways world, the island is at the bottom of the ocean. Does that mean sideways world is the result of Smokey escaping and not the nuke going off? I’m guessing yes.

2. Both Jacob and MIB pause and think very carefully before saying anything which tells me they are both crafting their words to manipulate and not tell the truth. I find myself rooting for Smocke/MIB, but after this episode I am now going with the theory they are both evil and are just using our Losties as pawns.

3. Richard’s job on the island was supposed to be helping people fight off Smokey and to stay alive and above corruption. Judging by what we’ve seen of the Others throughout the seasons, he didn’t do a very good job.

4. Richard gives MIB a white stone after siding with Jacob. The same white stone Smocke hurls into the ocean from the cave in “The Substitute.” Which begs the question, was that actually Jacob’s cave or Smokey’s? Perhaps he’s the one crossing off the names…killing Jacob’s candidates off one by one.

5. Really liked the Hurley Richard scene when he speaks to his dead wife. Very good love story moment ala Desmond and Penelope on the phone in “The Constant.”

6. Is Wife vision really his wife and how does she know that Richard needs to keep Smocke on the island? And why would they all go to hell?

7. I thought the special effects were better in this episode than we’ve seen in prior episodes.

8. Great shot of Smocke near the end, very Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars.

So, who are you siding with? Do you want Smocke/MIB/Smokey to win? Or are you on Team Jacob? How will all of this tie in with Widmore and a war between our Losties?

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I have to go to work.

Until next time Lost fans…

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Lost and have No Comments

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