I may be still floating on euphoria, but I thought last night’s episode was one of the best episodes since the Pilot. Exceptional acting. Great plot. Beautiful scenes. Some revelatory moments, and still more mystery. All in all, an exceptional episode and one that I don’t think I’ll forget. There was so much happening during “Ab Aeterno” that I’m not sure where to start. Richard Alpert has been around since Season 3, and since then he’s appeared to not age. He’s been an advisor to the Island, to Jacob, for 137 years, and his wealth of knowledge is large, but so is his wealth of ignorance. Jacob did not open up and reveal everything to him, but only gave him what he needed.
First, the simple, heart-moving plot of 1867. Richard loved Isabella, and, when she got sick, he told her he would save her. After accidentally killing the stubborn doctor, he rushed back home to find his wife dead and gone. Richard was taken and sentenced to be hanged. While in prison, a padre visits him and refuses to absolve him of his sins, saying he doesn’t have time to work off his penance. He tells Richard that he is going to hell. Before he is hanged, however, a man buys him to work as a slave and they board the Black Rock.
On rough and choppy seas, the Black Rock is swept to the Island, where it crashes through the Statue Thing. Richard awakens to find that he is alive, but soon the first mate comes to the slave quarters and begins stabbing men. (At first I thought he had the “sickness,” but I guess not.) Richard asks why and the man gives a reason, but is interrupted by a strange, clicking noise above deck. People begin screaming and blood pours down through the cracks and ports. The smoke monster busts through and takes the first mate, leaving Richard alive and alone. The black smoke then studies Richard and leaves.
Richard can’t break free of his chains, despite his efforts. His dead wife appears to him, telling him that they are in Hell and that the devil is after them. The smoke noises appear, Isabella panics, Richard tells her to leave, she flees, she screams in terror, Richard passes out. Later he’s awoken by the Man in Black, bearing freedom and water in exchange for some help. He tells Richard that if he wants to see his wife again then he’ll need to kill the devil. Stab him before he speaks. Plunge the dagger into his heart. Reluctantly, Richard agrees, and heads towards the Statue Foot.
He gets attacked by Jacob, who is yelling at him like he’s some sort of crazy man. (I liked seeing Jacob like this.) He disarms him, discovers why Richard is there, attempts to drown him to show the man that he is indeed alive, and then offers him a job. In exchange for working for Jacob, Richard will live forever, since Jacob couldn’t bring back Isabella or forgive him of his sins. Jacob then explains to Richard a bit of what’s going on, that the Man in Black is like the wine that’s stored in the bottle. If it’s broken, then the wine will spread and cannot be contained. The Island is the cork, keeping the wine in. The newly devoted Richard goes back to the Man in Black and delivers a white rock, and the Man in Black gives Richard Isabella’s necklace, telling him that if he ever changes his mind to let him know. Richard mourns as he buries his wife’s necklace.
Back in 2004, Richard has left the beach and heads to where he buried Isabella’s necklace. Hurley follows and finds Richard yelling that he’s changed his mind. Hurley says that Isabella sent him. Richard is shocked. Hurley then communicates to Richard for Isabella and they talk briefly. The acting here is superb and believable. Richard’s love was real. Richard says that he wants to be with her again, and Isabella says that they are already together (kind of like Juliet telling Sawyer that it worked?). Soon, she is gone, leaving Hurley one last message to deliver. There’s something Richard has to do. He has to stop the Man in Black or “we [will] all go to hell.”
Thoughts and Observations
- I can’t stress enough how much I liked this episode. Nestor Carbonell’s performance was amazing.
- Did you catch that Magnus Hanso was the captain of the Black Rock? This is Alvar Hanso’s great-grandfather, and Alvar, as we know, is the chief source of funding for DHARMA. He was shown back in the “Orientation” film.
- Funny how the writers play with the viewers. Richard telling Jack that they were all dead and in hell. Those writers…
- I’m reminded of Job after this episode. Satan wanted to tempt Job and prove that he was corruptible and fallible, that the man would curse God. God said go on and try, just don’t kill him. This reminds me of Jacob and the MiB’s relationship. If the Man in Black believes that all men are corruptible and weak, then does that make him the devil? And Jacob said he wants men to do for themselves, that he doesn’t want to step in.
- I feel like there’s a lot more to discuss from this episode, but I cannot remember it all.
- Next week is titled “The Package.”