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Lost: Ab Aeterno

Hurley: "Your wife sent me."

Is anyone else getting a "my favorite sci-fi show is turning religious" Battlestar vibe?

It's not that I don't like the idea of the Island as a metaphorical cork keeping the genie of pure evil in its bottle. And the idea of the Island as a place where the past never happened and everyone can start over isn't exactly new; we've been on to that one practically from the beginning. And yes, the religious symbolism has always been there.

But I don't want the Man in Black to actually be El Diablo. And I probably could have done without the last temptation of Ricardo, the buried cross (shades of Eko and Yemi), and the obvious baptism scene in front of the Foot. I wonder if I'm just getting tired of waiting for answers. Time travel? Magnetism? Walking dead? Infection? How do these things fit into this Island-as-cork scenario?

I'll probably be okay with all this if it doesn't get too Biblical. And at least the theory that they're all in Hell was dispelled by the end of the episode; I was getting uneasy about that one. (I thought the afterlife theory had been laid to rest five years ago by the producers, and I was thinking, no! You're not going to reneg on us at the last minute, are you?)

Richard and Isabella

Don't get me wrong. Nestor Carbonell was awesome, and I did feel for poor, shaggy Richard, who suffered tremendously and is still suffering. Why couldn't Jacob give Richard his wife back, even in the parallel sideways universe? Dogen got his son back, didn't he?

I think that Richard asked for eternal life so that he would never suffer in Hell; and yet, he spent a lot of time in this episode certain that he was already in Hell, so I'm confused about that one. And the fact that Jacob's gift to Richard was unique made me wonder about gifts to the other Losties. Jacob touched Jack right after his famous "five seconds of fear" moment. Did Jack get his miraculous talent as a surgeon from Jacob? Did Jacob give Kate her ability to commit crimes and elude law enforcement forever? Did Jacob give Sawyer the certainty that he would get revenge against Anthony Cooper? I'm not sure how this translates to the other candidates, especially Hurley and the guitar case, so maybe I should stop there.

Richard was uneducated but smart, teaching himself English from the Bible, and it saved his life. Why? What was Captain Magnus Hanso going to do with those people he bought? (And jeez, his minion Whitfield was a prince. I guess a quick death was better than starving in chains, but really. He couldn't just let them go die in the jungle?)

I was confused by the two ghosts of Isabella. I think that the first was the Man in Black doing his Walking Dead thing to manipulate Richard into killing Jacob – and the second that Hurley was channeling was the real thing. Actually, Hurley was so serene that he rather weirded me out.

The Man in Black and Jacob

The Man in Black has a brief, repetitive repertoire: kill Jacob, kill Jacob, kill Jacob. I thought it was interesting that he told Richard that if Jacob spoke, it would already be too late. There's that vocal power again. (Okay, power of persuasion, whatever.) Interesting, how Jacob and the Man in Black never seem to lie. They probably can't. I don't think they can eat or drink, either.



Is Jacob actually good? I didn't like the way he treated Richard; he seemed sly and a bit nasty, and certainly manipulative. But Jacob did say he believes people can be good, while the Man in Black believes they're intrinsically evil. (Glass half full and half empty imagery, too; the wine bottle was this week's Most Obvious Symbolism.)

The Man in Black said that Jacob took his body. For what it's worth.

Ilana

There was a repeat and follow-up to that Jacob/Ilana hospital scene in "The Incident," and again a discussion of the six candidates. What were the bandages on her face for? She got better pretty quickly; did Jacob heal her? Is Ilana someone we've already met as someone else? Did she get plastic surgery as camouflage (although that seems unlikely at such a poor hospital)? Am I getting carried away? Probably.

What have we learned?

— The Island is a cork. Does that make the Man in Black an evil genie?

— We now know how the Black Rock got into the middle of the jungle, and how the statue got broken.

— But that's basically it. Frankly, I was hoping for more.

What I missed last week:

— It was confirmed that the cause of the deaths on Alcatraz are a mystery. I didn't miss anything.

— The two other books on Sawyer's dresser were A Wrinkle in Time and Lancelot.

— I should have observed that Sawyer holds the record in sexual encounters with other members of the cast. Actually, I think he always did.

— The pop-up enhanced version reminded us again that Widmore told Locke that if he didn't return to the Island, the wrong side would win.

Character bits:

Richard, or Ricardo, came from Tenerife, Canary Islands, 1867. Interestingly, the biggest plane crash in history was at Tenerife, in 1977.

Like many of the Losties, Richard killed someone before coming to the Island.

Loved the campfire scene at the beach. At least they're finally sharing information now.

"Whitfield" sounded a bit like "Widmore" to me.

Bits and pieces:

— The title of the episode means "From eternity," or "since the beginning."

— Ilana got an eye scene: the right eye. None for Richard, although there were lots of close-ups of his eyes during the episode, as well as a blindfold, and references to closing Richard's eyes.

— Richard's Bible was open to Luke 4. "And he said, verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country." I wonder who this applies to? I bet it applies to someone.

— Yet another vehicle crash. Yes, the Black Rock smashing through the statue counts. :) The shots of the broken up statue were fascinating, like an oddly dismembered body.

— Was Richard's corked bottle of medicine (yet another cork) one of the objects he showed to young Locke?

— I have to mention again that Mark Pellegrino (Jacob) and Titus Welliver (the Man in Black who isn't Terry O'Quinn) have both been in this season of Supernatural as well (my other favorite show), and coincidentally, playing similar characters. What are the odds?

— Was Titus Welliver doing Terry O'Quinn, or has Terry O'Quinn been doing Titus Welliver?

Quotes:

Isabella: "I looked into his eyes and all I saw was evil." This was the opposite of what Locke said when he saw the smoke monster for the first time.

I'm probably going to get some disagreement, but I didn't love this one as much as I wanted to. Three out of four polar bears, and seven episodes to go,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

24 comments:

Unknown said...

Jacob was eating fish at the start of the Season 5 finale, he offered MiB some, but he said that he'd already eaten.

Billie Doux said...

That's right! Thanks, Mik. As is obvious, there's so much detail in Lost that I can't pretend to remember it all.

MrDre said...

I really liked this episode. Like everything Lost, we can't assume that any real answers were given at all this week. I'm sure the writers are going to twist all of what we learned so far. I'm also not convinced that Jacob is the good guy in all of this. Can they really wrap all this up in seven episodes? As usual, great review Billie!

Unknown said...

It interested me that you started talking about Genie's Billie. That is something that myself and a few friends have been theorising about for quite a while:

Check this out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie

Particularly this bit:

"They are usually invisible to humans and humans do not appear clear to them. However, jinn often harass and even possess humans, for various reasons, such as romantic infatuation, revenge, or due to a deal made with a practitioner of black magic. Jinns have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air, in their own communities. Like humans, jinns will also be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be sent to Heaven or Hell according to their deeds"

What if The Island is that 'Day of Judgement' whereby all the people on the Island ARE dead, but what they do on the Island allows them to either go with Jacob and make their way to heaven (an alternate timeline where everything is better) or with The Man In Black on the way to hell (alternate timelines like Sayid's where he is stuck making the same mistakes and living the same kind of life)?

Sebastian said...

"Is anyone else getting a "my favorite sci-fi show is turning religious" Battlestar vibe?"

My thoughts exactly. I hope they won't follow the BSG "it's about the characters, not about the story" disappointing ending.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

Did Jacob give Kate her ability to commit crimes and elude law enforcement forever?

That made me laugh out loud. That was awesome.

HellBlazerRaiser said...

I thought this episode was boring.

Eventually I'll re-watch it and maybe my opinion will change. But as it stands now, I thought it was boring and quite padded.

My first thought when it ended, "I waited 3½ years for this?"

I'm not one to complain when a character on a finite TV series is stripped of his/her/its mystery. This is the last season, so I expected the mystery surrounding Richard to be resolved.

But did we need 45 minutes of Nestor Carbonell filthy and crying?

The whole story could have been told in a quarter of that time.

Nothing new was revealed about the Man in Black other than he somehow tattooed the eyeliner onto Richard. At least that's what I gathered from the scene when Smokey was "staring" at him and we saw the flashing.

The scene at the end between Jacob and MiB seemed like pretty much a straight up rehash of the scene from the opening of THE INCIDENT.

The only actual reveal was what shattered the statue, which I thought was cool.

They could have at least given us a name for the MiB.

Josie Kafka said...

I'm not worried about the religiosity of this episode. I, too, would be distraught if Lost went the way of BSG.

But I think that this was, in part, an episode about perspective. Richard's "language" when he arrived was a language religious imagery, so that's how he understands the island. It was through the Church that he learned a new actual language (the Bible), and understood his purpose in life (wanting absolution), and the role of the island in that life (hell or purgatory). Everything in his pre-adviser life he understood through religion.

Jacob figured that out, and played with it when he dunked Richard in the water, then gave him wine. Richard even got a brief look on his face, before he drank the wine, that (to me) said two things: "Are you poisoning me?" and "Is this really symbolic wine that you've given me after a symbolic baptism?"

A lot of our heroes don't seem to care what's up with the island. Rather, they want to know why *they* are on the island. So Richard's attempts to understand it mirror our attempts to understand it, and this was a nod to both the fact that we could see religious allegory at work, and also that some of the themes Lost is addressing are universal enough that how we understand them will be influenced by how we view the world. In that sense, the Island is what we want it to be--which mirrors Ben's statement about the metaphor box from which you can get whatever you want, back in Season Three.

The Island is like a mirror: it reflects back the image of the island as you want to see it. We can see how this plays out in many of the theories that are floating around the internet: Lost an an allegory of addiction-recovery; Lost as a video-game about personal enlightenment; Lost as a story about stories (my pet theory); Lost as a narrative composed entirely of wikipedia references, like a tale told in hyperlinks.

I think Richard did get an eye-scene, right after the black smoke took away his fellow slaves and the officers. It was his moment of 'awakening' to the idea that he was in Hell, which will be his truth, even if it's not ours or Jacob's. His arc is reminiscent of Mr. Eko's, in that he has utter conviction that is completely misplaced.

If you're right, Billie--and I think you are--that Jacob's touch gave our heroes very idiosyncratic superpowers, then I think Hurley's superpower is the new sense of calm that he's achieved, as well as his new-found leadership skills. More literally, his leaderships skills as a go-between: here, between Richard and Isabela; elsewhere, between Jacob and Jack. His reason for returning to the island was to deliver the guitar case and its message, and he has now become a messenger. A Hermes.

Billie Doux said...

Very thoughtful, well-written comment, Josie, and you do have a point. I wish I'd seen the episode the way you did. The divided reaction to this episode (it's terrific -- it's the best -- it's a bore -- it was disappointing) is sort of fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I read this somewhere else and can't believe you didn't mention it in your review...

Basically the island is the hellmouth.

forget the candidates lets get Buffy and the Scoobies over to the island and they'll take care of MiB in a jiffy :)

p.s. long time reader, first time poster... keep up the good work!!!

Anonymous said...

I was gonna write how the religion stuff on the Island was because it was from Richard's perspective and that's how he understood.. But Josie K was frickin' awesome and took care of it 8-)

Sebastian said...

Anybody else expected Richard to be much older than around 180 years (he was 35-40 years old in 1867)? He is not that old after all. I was expected him to be at least several hundreds years old.

After we found out that he came on the island with Black Rock ship, it meant that he had to be from a time were dynamite was already invented. Probably this is the reason for choosing the year of 1867 (the year in which Alfred Nobel patented his dynamite).

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

I didn't care for this episode either, though it did help me figure out something: I don't care about the mysteries. I want some resolution, sure, but it's at the bottom of my list of wants for this series. I just like to see my favourite characters being put into impossible dilemmas, and now I want most of them to get a happy ending, regardless of whether or not every question will be answered, which is why I yawned through all that Black Rock stuff and kept thinking, "When are we going to see Jin and Sun again?"

As an aside, I've decided to post one ridiculous theory every week until the end of the series. I figure one arrow is bound to hit the mark.

This week:
The incident actually created the original Losties universe, not the one in the flash sideways, so when Jack got his friends to detonate the bomb he actually doomed them all to the very reality he was trying to escape. That's why Juliet said, "It worked", even though they're still stuck on the island.

MrDre said...

That's something I always wanted to touch on. I also do not want them to answer all the mysteries of the island. I want the series to end with questions people will still be speculating about for years to come.

Anonymous said...

One thing that I found contradicting is that when the MIB tells Ricardo to stab Jacob before he starts to talk.. Didn't Ben stab and end Jakob right in the middle of a conversation? Does that mean Ben has superior powers than others who are trying to kill either Jacob or MIB?

GreenHornet said...

I too hope it's not simply a Biblical Celebrity Deathmatch... don't get me wrong, that whole Ultimate Good vs. Ultimate Evil's a fine story: but, y'know, it's been done. A LOT. And I most quickly lose my patience whenever writers reach for a gimme - the more so if they haven't up to that point. It would seem lazy, if not a cheat. But I do think and hope it'll be more nuanced and layered an explanation, at the end... though the red flags sure go up a bit when you start to do the countdown to series finale. And we are so trained and also self-conditioned to question everything -- when can we stop and finally accept what we're seeing as THE answer -- that dead is dead, especially when it still so clearly isn't in some key ways?

I agree with Josie and also felt that to at least some extent the emphasis on religion here was partly a reflection of the times and the man -- certainly MIB uses whatever is on his target's mind against them! And though it may well be that J and MIB cannot lie - overtly -- they can and sure do mislead or omit information. For very different reasons or goals.

One thing that struck me was how much more human or less ethereal anyway Jacob was on the beach with Richard. Angry, surprised (so this was the first time MIB had tried to kill him!), impatient, a bit petulant maybe at the thought of having to intervene with people ("why SHOULD I?" he demanded of him). Interesting evolution of the character, if that's what it is. Again, makes me feel he's a person with superpowers and a lot more knowledge than you or I (well, I anyway) -- and not the embodiment of Good.

I too appreciated how the folk on the beach were talking, FINALLY. Even if only a bit. One recurring theme of the show is the problem with not talking, not telling, no communication -- being equal to or leading to lack of community ("die alone") and being Lost. Can anyone say Nikki and Paolo?

I also loved Hurley on the beach talking Spanish with Invisibella, and Jack deMANding to know what Jacob had to say etc and Hurley putting him in his place: "It has nothing to do with you, Jack!" That's a lesson Jack sorely needs to absorb, for his and others' benefit; he doesn't have to and can't carry the world on his shoulders, and it's not always about him.

Billie, I think you're thinking right when you assign the Black Rock Isabella to Smokey, whereas the Hurley Isabella is real. Remember Alex appearing to Ben in the temple basement after Smokey sniffed him up and down? He's not averse to appearing as your loved dead -- and what a way to manipulate others.

No matter what the quality of the episode may be, I bet we're all starting to feel the effects of this show ending, and at our back hearing time's chariot. Or at least a cool light-blue VW Van with the Dharma Initiative logo on the grill!

jo said...

I liked this episode. I liked that we found out all about Richard, how the Black Rock got into the jungle and what happened to the statue.

What i didn't like was how little we saw of Jack, Sawywer and co. I think the writers would have made a better job of it if Richard's story had been split into two episodes.

Hopefully the balance will be better next week.

Anonymous said...

I for one really do not mind spending almost a whole episode on Richard's backstory. In fact, since I've been waiting to learn more about him for years now, I think I would have been pretty pissed off if they hadn't spent as much time on him.
I also liked the overall feel and format of the episode as it really was so different from the show's usual form.

Anonymous said...

I for one really do not mind spending almost a whole episode on Richard's backstory. In fact, since I've been waiting to learn more about him for years now, I think I would have been pretty pissed off if they hadn't spent as much time on him.
I also liked the overall feel and format of the episode as it really was so different from the show's usual form.

Paulo Brabo said...

"And we are so trained and also self-conditioned to question everything -- when can we stop and finally accept what we're seeing as THE answer"

Interesting thoughts, GreenHornet. Maybe we're all in denial concerning the Pure Evil x Pure Good thing. Repeat to self: "My favorite show can't be THAT simplistic".

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this episode. I felt like it gave us the answer to the biggest question we've had; "What is the Island." Well, now we know it's a supernatural cork that keeps absolute evil contained.

I also noticed that the Island-as-cork idea greatly reflects the purpose of the hatch. The hatch was built to contain a force that could end the world and someone was "chosen" to watch over it by punching in numbers. Similarly, Jacob, and whoever is chosen to take over Jacob's position, will have the task of "containing" the Man In Black.

So, maybe Desmond will show up and save the day by turning some sort of Island fail-safe key. Maybe...

Gustavo Brunetti said...

I loved the episode. Loved it, really. And I'm not the leats bit worried that this show turns religious. Maybe you say "religious" because of the way Jacob explained what the Island is, but I really think he explained it in terms 18th-century-fervent-catholic Richard would understand. But I say that this season is emphasizing one aspect of the show: the mystical aspect.

I never thought of LOST as a sci-fi series. In fact, it only really showed its sci-fi claws in season 5. The way many people are crying "foul" makes me wonder if we've been watching the same series all these years.

I agree almost 100% with Josie.

Shannon Smith said...

in response to "Anonymous said...
One thing that I found contradicting is that when the MIB tells Ricardo to stab Jacob before he starts to talk.. Didn't Ben stab and end Jakob right in the middle of a conversation? Does that mean Ben has superior powers than others who are trying to kill either Jacob or MIB?"

I just don't think that Ben had anything for Jacob to say that would change his mind. He had already lost everything, and knew he could never get it back. Jacob couldn't make him any deals, promise him salvation or a chance to make a better life, live forever, whatever.

celticmarc said...

This ep is a strong contender for the Purgatory thesis. Not Hell, but Purgatory.

This is the FIRST time that I, partially, suffered during a watching. If the writers wanted to be SURE that we'd get Richard's suffering, well, success. (and I kept thinking when was the last time he defecated ??)

Your theory about Isabella's double appearances is logic. And The Bible's quote here ? Oh yes, it stands for somebody, or maybe.....all the candidates (??). Ah, a million questions. If not more; I've stop counting.

And that SOB of a priest took the Bible away, but he saved his life afterwards. Oh, the irony. Whitfield/Widmore ? Sure, why not.

And the statue destroyed by a flying sail-ship ?! Come on, but (!) another piece of the puzzle/mythology placed/explained. Oh ! And the CGI butterfly. Nice. (and not as deadly as its counterparts in Fringe)

"You're not the only one who's lost something, my friend." 5 cents moment. And I am adding the wild boar with the rabbits and polar bears (will we see some more ? guess not; crap) for the 25 cents. 10 cents ? Was there anyone lying today ?

Hum, ok, very interesting comment with that bottle and cork.

* MIB breaking the aforementioned bottle.....in slo mo.