Season 6 – Episode 9: “Ab Aeterno.”
Another Lost Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss…like did we just see the greatest episode of Lost in series history?
For five years and over the course of about 80 different recaps, I’ve written hundreds of pages about the absolute best and absolute worst of this TV show. And for as much as I think that Lost may be the greatest television drama I’ve ever watched, my job is always a lot easier when it’s swirling around in the toilet bowl, giving me plenty of ammo with which to pulverize it. It doesn’t happen often, however, and it certainly didn’t happen this week.
With ‘Ab Aeterno,’ we’re once again reminded why we love Lost. From the writing, to the method of storytelling, to the mythology, to the overarching themes, to the stellar acting, to the time periods that they can seemingly jump in and out of without skipping a beat, ‘Ab Aeterno’ was nearly perfect. Sure, it’s nothing like what we’re used to with Lost, but in a way, that makes it everything we’ve come to expect. If you’re a fan of this show, and didn’t come away fulfilled, enthralled or emotionally effected in a least some capacity, then I have no idea what you’ve been waiting for.
Yes, you can argue it wasn’t the best episode in series history (I’m partial to ‘Orientation,’ ‘Pilot’ and ‘Live Together, Die Alone’ myself), but…damn, it’s right up there.
Let’s KNOCK IT OUT!
WHAT? – 1867 Flashback.
WHO? – Richard Ricardo Ricardus ‘Ricky’ Alpert.
WHERE? – Socorro, Tenerife, Canary Islands Waterpark & Good Time Fruitcakery.
Richard’s wife, Isabella, is dying. And I don’t mean dying of Alpert’s sexiness, either. She’s really, actually on the verge of dying a dead death. It is in Richard’s best interests to prevent this from happening (she makes a killer stew), so he offers to retrieve the nearest doctor so she can get patched up. He brings along with him all the money he has, including Isabella’s golden crucifix, to convince the doctor to help him.
Upon reaching the doctor, this Mutton Chopped prick remarks that not only does he have no intention of riding through a storm to reach Isabella, but that the medicine that can save her is worth more than Richard is able to afford. This guy must be one hell of a doctor, however, as he seemed to know what medicine could cure Isabella without even asking Richard what was wrong with her. Nevertheless, this display of arrogance angers Richard, the two get in a scuffle, and the doctor ends up dead. Alpert grabs the medicine and skedaddles back to his place, just in time to find that Isabella has already died of the mystery illness. He doesn’t take it too well.
This entire Act is proof positive why Universal Health Care is a good idea. No more doctors with monocles and pocket watches, no more throwing golden crucifixes to the floor in a disgusted huff, no more murders; it’s all taken care of now.
Needless to say, Richard is in trouble. He’s about to be hung for his crime, but his mastery of the English language makes him better suited for slavery than the gallows. Magnus Hanso pays the fee, busts him out of jail and tosses him onto the Black Rock. Typically, speaking English is what usually keeps you away from slavery, but hey, 1867 was a different time.
While on the Black Rock, a massive storm somehow slingshots the ship 200 feet into the air, blasting it straight through the statue and planting in smack in the middle of the Island in a heap of scrap wood and soggy beards. Say what you want, but those slave ships were built to last.
Once everyone comes to, the Captain starts offing slaves when the Black Smoke shows up and puts an end to the stabbery. Smokey seems to evaluate Alpert, decides to let him live and skitters back off into the distance. This is how I feel every time my supervisor comes into my cubicle.
For what seems like forever, Richard is chained up in the Black Rock. He starts seeing conjured images of his dead wife (who convinces him that he is in Hell), a boar starts eating the rest of the dead slaves and worse yet, he refuses to share any of his flesh bounty with Alpert.
Eventually, the Man In Black appears to Richard, whispers him sweet secrets, tells him what he wants to hear and frees him from his chains, in exchange for Alpert murdering Jacob for him. Good luck with that. If I had a nickel for every time a mysterious stranger coaxed me into stabbing a trusted friend with a diamond-encrusted dagger, I’d be eating nickel soup. Alone.
Jacob catches Richard before he has a chance to knife him, and pretty much lays a first-class ass whipping on him. Jacob explains to Alpert that he had been lied to; he is not in Hell, his wife is still long dead, and he is still very much alive (he proves this to him by attempting to drown him).
Back on the beach, Jacob lays it all out for Richard. Jacob brought the Black Rock to the Island, and explains that the Island is the only thing keeping evil (presumably the Black Smoke) away from everything we hold dear (like Siamese cats and the Milwaukee Brewers). He states that the Man In Black believes everyone can be corrupted because it is in their nature to be bad, and that Jacob brings people to the Island to prove Old Smokey wrong. When questioned on whether or not Jacob has brought people to the Island in the past, Jacob replies that he had but they are all now dead. Jacob states he wants people to know the difference between right and wrong without being told.
In all fairness, this sounds like a terrible plan. Repent or die? Who is he, Old Testament God? Screw you, man, I’ll be finding my own way. You can keep your cork; I want to die in a hospital bed.
Jacob offers a job to Richard; that of a representative or intermediary for Jacob to the people he brings to the Island. You know, Middle Management; the perfect place for a guy who speaks English as a second language. When Richard says that he wants his wife back, Jacob admits he cannot help, and neither can he absolve him of his sins. However, he can help with Richard’s third wish, to live forever and never die. Really? Immortality is a snap, but confession is off the menu?
Richard returns to the Man in Black who realizes that Richard didn’t kill Jacob. Richard gives him a white rock, a gift from Jacob. The Man in Black tells Richard that his offer of joining him will continue to stand, he gives Richard the crucifix and disappears. Richard buries his wife’s crucifix and says goodbye to Isabella for the third time.
After his meeting with Richard, The Man in Black is seated on the beach while tossing away the white stone. Jacob joins him. When Jacob asks about the gift of the stone, the Man in Black tells Jacob not to gloat. Jacob asks whether The Man in Black sent Richard to kill him. The Man in Black says he did it because he wants to leave the Island and asks Jacob to let him go. Jacob tells the Man in Black that, as long as he is alive, that won’t happen. The Man in Black says that is why he will someday kill Jacob, to which Jacob replies that someone will just replace him. The Man in Black then says that he’ll just kill them, too.
Jacob says infinity, Man In Black says infinity plus one stop.
Jacob says that he’ll see the Man in Black later and gives him the wine bottle he used to describe the Island to Richard as a gift to pass the time. Jacob says that he’ll see him around. The Man in Black says to himself “sooner than you think” and then smashes the bottle.
WHAT? – Flashback.
WHO? – Ilana Squareface McGee.
Ilana is in a hospital with her face heavily bandaged (I’m assuming she was attempting to have her head de-squared). Jacob visits her and they speak in Russian. Ilana is very happy to see Jacob, who then asks for help. Jacob explains that there are six people she is to protect, and that their names will be on his list. He explains that this is what she has been preparing for and that the six are the remaining Candidates.
Some time later Ilana is speaking with Jacob. She no longer is bandaged and still quite square. She asks what she should do after she has brought the Candidates to the Temple. Jacob tells her to ask Richard who will know what to do next.
WHAT? – Present Day Timeline, 2007.
WHERE? – Beach Camp, Order Of The Midnight Society.
Jack, Hurley, Sun, Frank, Miles, Ben and Ilana are crowded around a fire, with Richard standing close by. Ilana and Sun explain that Sun, Jack and Hurley are Candidates to replace Jacob. Ilana admits that she doesn’t know what comes next, but that Richard does. Richard says that he has no idea. He claims that everything Jacob has ever said was a lie. He says that all of them are literally dead and that they are in Hell. Richard says it’s time to stop listening to Jacob and to start listening to someone else, and heads off into the Jungle.
I assume this means that he’s now going to start listening to Sawyer. Why not, right?
Jack asks Ilana who Richard is looking to talk to. Sun says that it’s probably Locke. When Jack says that Locke is dead, Ben explains that it is not “exactly” Locke. Ben then says to Ilana that going after Richard is useless as he doesn’t know anything. Ben states that he’s known Richard since he was twelve. Frank asks if they’ve known each other since childhood, and Ben explains that Richard looks the same as he did then. Frank realizes that Richard doesn’t age, which Ben confirms.
So to anyone out there that was expecting some major, crazy explanation as to why Richard doesn’t age, you were probably left disappointed. Jacob granted his wish, BOOM, it was so.
In the jungle, Richard has been trekking all night and into the next day. He returns to the spot where he buried Isabella’s crucifix and digs it up. Distraught, he asks whether the Man in Black is listening to him and that he changed his mind, that he was wrong. He calls out asking whether the offer still stood, referring to the ‘150 Year Limited Warranty’ the Man In Black allowed him.
Hurley walks out of the jungle and asks Richard what offer he is speaking of. Richard angrily pushes him away, reminding Hurley that he doesn’t know anything. Hurley asks him to calm down and as Richard starts to yell, Hurley blurts out that it is Richard’s wife, Isabella who has sent him. He tells Richard that she is standing right next to him. She wants to tell him it wasn’t his fault for her death, but that it was her time and that he’s suffered enough. He tells her he misses her, would do anything to be with her again, and says goodbye to her for a fourth time.
Hurley reveals that she also said that he has to stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island, because if he doesn’t, “We all go to hell.” In the background, the Man In Black watches the conversation and bites his knuckle in disapproval.
Smash Cut, episode over.
It goes without saying that this was not only one of the most interesting, surprising and well-executed episodes of Lost of all-time (and that’s saying a lot), but that the performance of Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert was jaw-droppingly phenomenonal. I was seriously riveted by the job he did; I had absolutely no idea how theatric he was capable of getting. Judging by all the online buzz I’ve been reading, I’m not alone in saying this.
Enough emoting, here come THE NUMBERS!
4. ‘Ab Aeterno’ is Latin for ‘From eternity.’ The phrase is used to mean ‘Since the beginning’ or ‘For long ages.’
8. Richard’s home island, Tenerife, was later made infamous by the deadliest plane crash in the history of aviation on March 27th, 1977.
15. There is a legend in the Canary Islands which tells of an Eighth Island called “Isla de San Borondón” (St. Brendan Island). This Island has apparently been seen several times in history; there even exists some ancient maps where the eighth Canary Island is shown. Stories about the mysterious island had been told by sailors who claimed to have landed on the beaches.
16. The subtitle at the beginning of Richard’s flashback places the events in 1867, yet the Black Rock was thought to be lost at sea following its departure from Portsmouth, England on March 22, 1845, and the ledger was discovered in 1852. Continuity error?
23. This is the first episode of Season 6 to feature flashbacks instead of flash-sidewayseses.
42. Remember when Richard was chained up on the Black Rock, and the nail he was using to help him escape fell just inches out of his reach? Remember how pathetic he looked as his face and hands were struggling to grab it? Well, his legs and feet weren’t chained, so why didn’t he just retrieve it that way? Another mystery of the sea, methinks.
Hey, who said they had to be funny?
There you have it, another Lost Friday in the books. Sound off in the comments section, enjoy your weekend and catch up on every Lost Friday of the season by checking out the following links. Go Kentucky.
Season 6 – Episode 1/2.
Season 6 – Episode 3.
Season 6 – Episode 4.
Season 6 – Episode 5.
Season 6 – Episode 6.
Season 6 – Episode 7.
Season 6 – Episode 8.
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