Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Ab Aeterno"

I'm a little late getting to blogging tonight as I was a little late getting to watch the episode...thankfully the Tivo worked and I added an extra few minutes of recording having been warned about the extended length of the episode. I have a few thoughts but I'll probably forget most of them before I get to the end of this post...it's late and I need to be up for work in a few hours!


Roxi and I were out tonight hosting one of her former dissertation advisers who is visiting Memphis to give a talk in Roxi's department tomorrow afternoon. We didn't start watching the episode until about 11:30 tonight and Roxi didn't make it through. I was determined to see this story though after these three years of waiting. All week I have been trying to temper my excitement and expectations about Richard Alpert's backstory as I felt that I could only be disappointed if my hopes were too high. All-in-all I really enjoyed the episode but as usual, my imagination probably caused me a little cognitive dissonance. Don't get me wrong, I think we learned a great deal but I guess I had hoped that we would see even more. But a new episode of LOST is better than no LOST at all (what will become of me in a few short weeks?!?).

It was certainly curious how the episode opened with an extended version of the Season 5 finale scene showing Jacob's meeting with Ilana. I wonder when we will get the proper flashback treatment for the mysterious protector of the Candidates. Back on the beach as Ilana explained her purpose to Jack et al, I was a little creeped out by Hurley standing by himself speaking in tongues (being from South Louisiana I learned French in high school not Spanish so it was gibberish to me). When Richard said that he didn't know what Jacob wanted him to do and stormed off the beach, I knew that he was headed for a meeting with the Man in Black.

The last time that Richard was mortal was 240 140 years (bad late-night math) before the Island present of 2007. Any significance to that amount of time? I'm not sure yet but it was sad yet unsurprising to see that his pre-Island life wasn't any easier than anyone else stuck there. After he accidentally killed a man trying to save his dying wife, Ricardus was sold into slavery to Magnus Hanso, great grandfather of Dharma Initiative financier Alvar Hanso. The mystery of the destruction of the statue was finally solved as we learned that it was destroyed by the Black Rock as she ran aground on the Island. That was one hell of a storm! Not unlike the wreckage of Oceanic 815 in the jungle, the Smoke Monster made short work of all of the survivors except Richard. Instead, it chose to "scan" him in the same manner that we saw him/it scan Mr. Eko, Juliet and Kate. It was no real surprise to see Richard's dead wife appear to him which I'm presuming as actually one of the Smoke Monster's many forms.

The really cool stuff happened after the Man in Black (back in Season 5 form) released Richard from his bondage on the condition that he help get rid of his nemesis. Curiously, the Man in Black gave Richard the same dagger to kill Jacob that Dogen gave to Sayid in "Sundown." Furthermore, he gave him verbatim instructions on how and when to kill Jacob. Richard fails in his mission when he has the crap beaten out of him by Jacob. But then things got really interesting as Jacob explained what the Man in Black was trying to achieve and how disastrous it would be for the world if he did manage to escape the Island. Also of note: Jacob said that whatever Richard did before the Island didn't matter. Why can Jacob only offer to grant some of Richard's wishes but not all. Why can't he reunite Ricardus with Isabella? What's the reason, it is the same as why Dogen could only save his son if he never saw him again. The blessing/curse.

The Man in Black was disappointed in Alpert but not so much that he shut the door on any future "professional" relationship between the two. This of course turned out to be precisely the reason for Richard's lone trek through the jungle. Thankfully, Hurley had Isaballa's ghost guidance keeping Richard from embracing the darkness much to the chagrin of Fake Locke who we saw looking on in disdain. I was expecting the episode to end at that point, but we got the extra little tag of Jacob and the Man in Black discussing the Island. Unless we are getting more of a smokescreen(!), we can be fairly certain that Jacob's mission had always been to keep the Man in Black on the Island. But is there something more sinister to Jacob's motivation? If we found out definitely, I don't think it will happen until the series finale.

Well, I am officially beat. I know I must have left some things out of this post, but it is late and I am tiered. If I think of anything else, I'll update this post accordingly so stay tuned. I no find myself in a recurring experience: waiting for the next new episode of LOST next week. Goodnight LOST fans.

UPDATE: Two things I forgot to mention last night:

(1) Hurley referred to the spirit inhabiting Locke as "The Man in Black," which is what we have been calling Jacob's nemesis since "The Incident" but this is the first time that he has been given any sort of "name" by someone on the show.

(2) When Richard saw Isabella on the ship and hears the Smoke Monster outside, was the Man in Black in two places at once? Up until now, we have only seen the Man in Black either in a human form or as the Smoke Monster but not both at the same time. So was it the Man in Black taking the form of Isabella or was it someone else...perhaps Jacob?

1 comment:

King Lear(n) said...

"If that happens, we all go to Hell..."

Hmm ... perhaps there is a connection between the Valenzetti Equation and the release of the Man in Black??

Also, it is a delight to see Hurley play such an instrumental role in the unfolding destiny of the island and its inhabitants -- it made for a poignent conclusion of tonight's episode.

Indeed, I was impressed with the writers' skillful play of the such timeless themes of love lost, and of the unquenchable yearning (Richard's) to regain it.

I'd love to know if the Man in Black really is the Devil; if so, his temptations are of the most enduring and alluring quality - classic.

Poor Richard -- but at least now we have reason to understand (and sympathize with) his motives.

(ps. I wonder if he ever made the connection between Alvar and Magnus Hanso?)

Thanks Wes! See you next week!