Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LOST Review: Ab Aeterno


Oh wait, is Mrs. Alpert standing next to me? In that case.... ¡Ay, mi cabeza!

This episode combined some of the best elements in LOST history to make one of the greatest episodes we've ever witnessed... no joke. They took the Odysseus-like journey of Desmond from the Season 2 finale, a Jacob/MiB conversation ten times better than the beginning of the season 5 finale, sprinkled in some Black Rock goodness from the Season 1 finale, added my new favorite music, and some great Island imagery. Oh, and how about the mythology overload?!?!? Hanso! Statue! Answers!!! I'm not sure where to even begin.

RICHARD'S JOURNEY - For whatever reason, LOST knows hows to introduce a backstory, because everyone's first flashback is pretty sweet. The buildup for Richard was immense, and his adventure needed to cover a lot of time and ground. It draws a lot of parallels to Desmond's adventure, which had to do with his mission to return to his lost love. Whereas Desmond was trapped in the Hatch, Richard was trapped in the Black Rock. Like Desmond, a desperate Richard panics and accidentally cracks some dude's skull open. Like Desmond, he is charged with the safe keeping of the Island. And like Desmond, he sports a glorious beard and long hair..... Anyway, Richard's journey from loving husband to guilt-ridden criminal to determined survivor to second in command was fantastic. Halfway through the episode, I was a little worried that we were spending too much time in the flashback, but I completely take that back. It's not often in LOST that we get an information overload, but this was one of those nights. Among the answers:

  • The statue wasn't crippled by Jughead or the Hatch, like many people thought. Instead, the Black Rock washed ashore in during a storm and crashed right through the damn thing.
  • Yes, it's confirmed that Richard was a slave on the Black Rock.
  • Richard doesn't age because he asked for immortality from Jacob in return for his service.
  • What game is Jacob and MiB playing? Like we've speculated in the past, MiB believes that man is corrupt and prone to sin. Jacob believes otherwise, so he brings people to the Island to prove MiB wrong. I was really hoping that we'd find out MiB's name in this episode.
  • Richard is Jacob's right-hand man because Jacob doesn't want to directly influence the castaways, so he uses Richard as an intermediary.
YOU HAVE TO KILL THE DEVIL - Mentioned throughout the episode is the idea that the Island is Hell, controlled by the Devil. I trust none of us really believe this, but it leads to an interesting lesson in power, influence, and persuasion. Richard is a religious man seeking absolution, so Smokey wisely motivates him by mentioning the Devil. He gives Richard the same pep about Jacob that Dogen gives Sayid about Smokey: Approach him and stab him in the heart. If you let him speak, it is already too late... It's interesting that in both cases, not only were Jacob and Smokey allowed to speak, but they were able to recruit their would-be assassins to their cause. I still don't know why Jacob died when he was stabbed by Ben, but Sayid's stabbing had no effect on Smokey. And finally, their final chat at the end of the episode about the CORK was awesome. The Island keeps the darkness bottled up like a cork bottles up wine. Dave thinks that since Smokey got around the cork by smashing the wine bottle, will he like-wise plan on obliterating the Island so he can leave?

One thing I didn't like about the cork and wine bottle is that it suggests the whole "genie-in-a-bottle" theory. Yeah, he's smokey, and yes, he offers to grant wishes. But still, my sister and I spent the beginning of the week making fun of this theory, and now the whole cork and darkness analogy just lends more weight to that. It's stupid... so let it go, genie believers!

"You have to stop the Man in Black. You have to stop him from leaving the Island. Because if you don't.... todos nos vamos al infierno!!!!" ****CUT TO ANGRY LOCKE FACE***

  • Visibly seeing Jack have an aneurysm when they tell him about Locke (imagine how he'll react to the Smoke Monster bit...)
  • Seeing Smokey up to his same old tricks. Even back in the day, he likes to take the form of loved ones to compromise their emotions and control them. For Richard, Smokey took the form of his dead wife. Here's a fun thought: When Smokey (as Isabella) ran into the Black Rock and embraced Richard, what does he do if Richard goes in for a smooch? Does Smokey grit his teeth and go for it? Just a thought...
  • "It's good to see you out of those chains..."
  • Jacob's baptism of Richard is probably loaded with significance.
  • Jacob telling Richard that everyone he brought to the Island has died. Smokey probably killed some of them, but I'm guessing he'd rather have them kill each other, as that would ultimately prove his point (see: Purge).
  • The classic Jacob smirk (see below)

BOTTOM LINE: Every seen between Richard and Smokey, Richard and Jacob, and Smokey and Jacob was INCREDIBLE. The moral tug-of-war throughout the episode is some of the most powerful stuff LOST has ever produced. Every season produces an episode that's way out there and ahead of the curve (see: Walkabout, Orientation, the Man Behind the Curtain, the Constant, and all of season 5). This is Season 6's defining episode.


P.S. - I just realized that I probably like this episode so much because there was no flashsideways. What a relief...

1. Ab Aeterno
2. the Substitute
3. Lighthouse
4. LAX
5. Dr. Linus
6. Sundown
7. Recon
8. What Kate Does


Andy said...

a couple questions.......

How does Ben summon Smokey in Season 4 if Ben/Alpert/Others/Candidates are with Jacob in opposition against MIB?

Black Rock coming to the island during a nighttime thunderstorm in "Ab Aeterno" versus the ship (presumed to be the Black Rock) coming in the clear daytime in "The Incident." Doc Jensen's explanation of "another boat" is not good enough for me.

Herb said...

I'm not sure that Ben summoned it... more like Smokey allowed himself to be summoned after Alex died. He was acknowledging Ben's plea for help so he could use it against him... "if I show up and wipe out the commandos, you owe me big time, and either way I'll exploit the loss of your daughter. Win-win-win scenario for Smokey.

Jensen's explanation was too dismissive, but I can't think of anything better. Let's just agree that it was a continuity goof.

Anonymous said...

BELIEVE IT . . . MIB is #108 Wallace . . . A CANDIDATE