Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost “Ab Aeterno” Recap & Review

Photo from ABC

Lost “Ab Aeterno” focused virtually all its attention on the mysterious man who never ages – Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell). It was a very different episode as it spent so much time on Richard. I wasn’t terribly interested but soon found myself pulled in to a character back story that was unlike any other so far, going far into the past. Richard is the man who hasn’t aged one bit despite the fact that he has shown his face in many timelines, and we find the reason for this special trait in this episode. It seems that what may have been an offhand comment of sorts – Richard telling Jacob he does not want to die, he wants to live forever. This apparently is something within Jacob’s power to do. Richard really wanted to be absolved of his sins and he wanted his dead wife back, but instead Richard may now be trapped in a hell of his own, which is a never ending life – ab aeterno – for eternity.

We also find that the ship “Black Rock” is what destroyed the large statue on the Island while crashing there in a storm in the 1800s. It is likely deep in the jungle as Jacob, who says he brought the ship there, wanted to be sure could not be used for escape. I also found it interesting that the ship is named Black Rock and we have seen – including in this episode – small black and white rocks that pop up in the storylines. Possibly the white and black rocks may signify some sort of balance as they are moved back and forth?

Is the Island just one big test of morality, as Jacob brings people there to prove that the Man In Black (MIB) is wrong and that man is not prone to sin by nature? Jacob uses the Island as a way to keep the Man in Black in check, just as a wine cork keeps wine in a bottle. But MIB shows that the wine can get out if you simply break the bottle. Is all he trying to do is break the power of the Island so he can be free to spread his evil even farther? I’ve mentioned this is other reviews of Lost that it seems like we are witnessing some long time battle between good and evil. Or, is the Island really just hell? I would find it much more fitting that it be some sort of purgatory, where everyone is working out their sins before they can move on to the afterlife – whatever that is. Religious themes abound in this episode, including what seemed like “Ricardo’s” baptism by Jacob, with Ricardo later asking for eternal life.

Regardless of what you may think, this episode provided quite a bit of information not only about Richard Alpert, but a little more about the purpose of the Island. Still, there aren’t too many episodes left in order to wrap up the story, and there are many questions that still remain.

Here is the recap:
The rest of the “Losties” are looking to Richard Alpert for answers, but, as we saw in a recent episode, Richard is having quite the crisis of faith. It seems that he devoted his life to Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) and, with Jacob now dead, he wondered if his life was even worth living. As Jacob had told Ilana (Zuleikha Robinson) to "ask Ricardus" what to do next, and he would have the answer, Richard admits he doesn’t have a clue and feels everything Jacob told him was a lie. He then tells Jack a secret he’s had for a long time: “You're dead.” He adds that they were all dead and nothing is what they thought it was, that the Island, in fact, wasn't real and they were really in hell. Richard thinks it is time to start listening to someone else, "and that's exactly what I'm going to do” and he storms off into the jungle.

And this is when we take a long journey back into Richard Alpert’s past, all the way to 1867 when he lived in Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and his name was Ricardo, tending to his deathly ill wife, Isabella (Mirelly Taylor). He takes what little money he has – Isabella adds her crucifix necklace and gives it to him – and he races on horseback to a doctor far away. But when the doctor says Ricardo doesn’t have enough money to buy the drugs that will save Isabella, Ricardo pushes him over and the doctor is killed as he bangs his head on a table. By the time Ricardo gets back with the drugs he has taken, Isabella is dead and he is grief stricken.
Later, in prison, a creepy priest finds out Ricardo has been learning English on his own by reading the Bible. The nasty priest confiscates the Bible, refuses to absolve Ricardo for the accidental death, and tells him he will be hanged and the devil will be waiting for him in hell. But Ricardo gets lucky – if you want to call it that – when a Mr. Whitfield “buys” Ricardo from the priest for his English speaking abilities, and informs Ricardo he is now the property of Magnus Hanso. But, while sailing to their new destination on the ship “Black Rock” and shackled below deck, they hit a massive storm and reach an island that another man shackled with Ricardo says is guarded by the devil. We see the familiar large statue on the Island, and the boat hits it. After the storm clears, the also creepy Mr. Whitfield comes below deck and begins to skewer the chained men with a sword as there is not enough on the Island to sustain them all and he doesn’t want them coming for him. Ricardo gets saved again – if you want to call it that – when the black smoke monster makes an appearance and kills Whitfield, and it gives Ricardo a good look-over but then leaves him chained to the ship.

As Ricardo tries in vain to free himself, he imagines Isabella is there, but she tells him they are in hell and she wanted to talk to him before “he” – “the devil” – came back. When the sound of the smoke monster can be heard above, Ricardo tells her to run, and she does, but it seems Smokey gets her too. But later, a man comes to Ricardo and frees him, and it’s the Man In Black (Titus Welliver) and he gets Ricardo to promise to do anything he wants in order to be free. He does. MIB also tells Ricardo that if he wants to escape hell he has to kill the devil.

The next day, MIB gives Ricardo the directions to the statue where he says the devil lives. MIB also admits that he is the black smoke, but tells Ricardo that Isabella was taken by the devil, and if he wanted to see his wife again he had to kill the devil. Ricardo tells him murder is wrong, but MIB entices and tempts Ricardo with seeing his wife in order to get him to comply. He gives him a dagger to use it to kill “the devil” and tells him that he can’t allow the devil to speak to him first, if he does, it’s over.

Ricardo is surprised by a man in light clothing – Jacob - at the literal foot of the large statue – all that remained of it. Ricardo’s attempt to kill him is foiled and he also finds that Jacob does not have Isabella. Ricardo tells Jacob that the MIB said Jacob was the devil and that Ricardo had to kill him in order to see his wife again. When Ricardo tells Jacob he is dead, Jacob takes Ricardo to the ocean and shoves his head underwater several times – looking like a baptism of sorts – and convinces Ricardo he is alive and he wants to continue to live. Later, back on dry land, Ricardo asks what was inside the foot of the statue, Jacob tells him no one goes into unless he invites them. Jacob tells Ricardo he is not the devil but he did bring the ship to the island. Jacob used a wine bottle to show Ricardo what is going on - to think of the wine in his bottle as hell, or malevolence, evil, or darkness, the wine swirling in the bottle and doesn't get out, "because if it did, it would spread." He said the cork in the bottle is the island. He puts the cork into the bottle and flips it upside down, showing how the cork (the island) "is the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs." Jacob tells Ricardo that The Man in Black believes people are corruptible because it's in their nature to sin, and Jacob brings people to the island to prove him wrong, and when they get to the Island their past does not matter. Ricardo questions what happened to the others he'd brought to the island before him, and Jacob says "They're all dead” adding he didn't help them because he wanted them to help themselves, "to know the difference between right or wrong without me having to tell them." He said it was meaningless if he had to tell them, if he had to step in. Jacob offers Ricardo the job of being his intermediary and when Ricardo asks for his wife back in return, Jacob tells he can’t do that, nor can he absolve him of his sins. When Ricardo says "I never want to die, I want to live forever,” Jacob tells him THAT he can do.

When Ricardo meets back up with MIB, MIB knows Jacob got to him. Ricardo gives MIB a white rock, and MIB tell him that his offer still stands if he ever "and I mean ever" - changed his mind. He gives Ricardo Isabella’s crucifix, and when Ricardo looks down at it, MIB disappears. Ricardo takes the crucifix and tearfully buries it.

Back on the Island in the “present” Richard unearths the crucifix and yells out that he changed his mind and asks if the offer still stands. When Hurley appears and asks, "What offer, dude,” Richard first is angry that Hurley followed him, but Hurley said his wife sent him. It seems Hurley has been speaking to the dead Isabella, and as Hurley continues to tell Richard all that Isabella is telling him, including it was not his fault she died.. Richard says he'd do anything to have more time with her. With Isabella's spirit gone, Hurley says she also said she wanted him to stop The Man in Black, because if you don't, "We're all going to hell." But Locke – the claimed Locke – is watching from a distance.

Back in the distant past, Jacob sat next to The Man in Black talking about how The Man in Black tried to kill him. MIB said he did it because he wanted to leave the island, but Jacob responds, "As long as I'm alive, you're not going anywhere." The Man in Black said that was why he wanted to kill him, but Jacob counters that someone else would just take his place. MIB says he'd kill them, too. Jacob gives MIB the bottle of wine with the cork in it, saying it is "something for you to pass the time" and Jacob leaves, saying "I'll see you around." The Man in Black took the bottle, saying quietly, "Sooner than you think." He holds the bottle upside down. the cork keeping the wine inside, and then he smashed the bottle on the rock next to him, shattering it into pieces and spraying the wine, as the episode closes.

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1 comment:

Music Wench said...

I have to admit, Lost has found me as an audience member again this year. Actually it started last year. lol

And we are getting more answers slowly. If only more questions weren't raised by some answers!