There are moments on LOST that are so utterly epic, you want to shit your pants. Or do laps around your room. Or perhaps, jump up off your couch after shitting your pants, and do laps around your room. Tonight’s LOST brought all of that funk into my soul. I’m excited at a cellular level. I am tweaking out on pure undiluted awesomeness, not to mention an entire fucking bag of Starburst jellybeans. Oh sweet Christ, if this isn’t one of the best episodes of all time, I don’t know what will be. Buckle the fuck up, there are going to be fanboy fluids flung everywhere. Open your mouth and say a novena.
Where to start? Where the fuck to start? There’s too much enormity! My god damn skull plate is about to break off, spin around the room, before breaking through my ceiling and flying off into the stratosphere.
Let’s get down to the essentials. The storyline for Ab Aeterno is framed through the tale of our boyfriend Richard Alpert, and how he came to be on the Island. While there are ridiculously important developments on some sort of macro level, it’s all tied down through the most beautiful of bindings, the heart strings. I thought it was a dope way to intertwine the two.
Did you swoon for Richard before? Yeah, me too. I couldn’t believe how thunderous the clit-boners and butt-crushes were for Dicky. I mean, I know that I love him, but the LOST community seemed centered on this episode tonight with especial fervor. RICHARD, we all screamed, OPEN YOURSELF UP TO US. And he did, oh boy did he did.
Our boy Richard rocks the most touching of archetypes, the lover who wants to be with their deceased wife. Seriously, ladies and gentlemen. If that doesn’t melt your heart, you don’t have one. The episode opens up with Dicky galloping upon his horse to his beloved Isabella. And she’s obviously on her way to rocking the rigor mortis. I don’t know much about the medicines of 1847, but when your wife is barfing blood, she’s probably fucked.
One deep-dicking by the Catholic church later, and Ricardo is on his way to the New World via some serious slave trading bullshit. I mean, how can you imprison this guy? He’s utterly gorgeous! I mean, sequester him in your house and rub him with salves? Try and quiet his disturbed heart? Sure. I can understand that. But slavery?
Before we get overly intellectual and begin to rocket philosophical loads, let’s just be honest. We freaked the fuck out in geek esctascy for a solid five moments. The moment you see the Statue through the Black Rock during the maelstrom, you shit your pants. And then when it’s launched into the air, you begin hyperventilating. And when you realize that the Black Rock is responsible for demolishing said Statue? Geektacular Euphoria.
And before you can clean your pants, Smokey attacks the Black Rock. Dudes getting flung and mashed and mushed into Cream O’ Human. I can’t help it, but every fucking time he attacks, I find it absolutely chilling. Even though his methodology is still the same, even though they’re always the same sounds, it never gets old to me. Richard’s petrified pleadings to God as Smokey hovers near him was amazing.
And then? Then Richard meets himself in the middle of the chess game between the Devil and God. Can we call it that now?
Our boy Richard is freed by the Man in Black, and sent to kill Jacob. The conversation eerily echoes that of the one between Dogen and Sayid earlier in the season; everything from not letting them speak, to the sword given to kill him. If anything, it’s got to be clear that both Smokey and Jacob are master manipulators, and to let either of them talk to you is to allow them to rock out some hardcore guile on your ass.
Smokey’s manipulation of Richard was reminiscent of his manipulation of Ben back at the end of season five. Seriously, this guy has a velvet tongue. What does the Devil do, if not cajole you into biting apples and doing other dumb shit under the guise of some grand reward, or some grand slight you have received?
So Richard, drunk with confusion and angst sets out to kill Jacob. Since shit isn’t going well for him anyways, it understandably goes even more poor when he meets Jacob. You see, Jacob goes OLD FUCKING TESTAMENT on Richard’s ass. No seriously. Everything we’ve ever seen out of Jacob has been calm and tranquility. He’s always exuded a sense of passivity at everything, comfortable to let things play out as they may. But no, Jacob baptizes the shit out of Richard, before unfurling the grand plan we’ve all been waiting for.
And then? Then we finally are told what the Island is, what it’s for, and what the whole fucking show is about. And if you’re like me, you shit your fucking pants.
Say it with me guys. The Island is a cage used to hold the Devil. Just roll it around in your brainplate for a bit. Do you like it? Hate it? I’m down with it, yo. I’m down with it hard. I began geeking out so hard while Jacob was talking to Richard that I lost my composure. There were tons of excited giggles breaking out of my mouth.
Smokey is the manifestation of all evils of the world, and he is caged on the Island. And the first thing I began to think after this reveal was, if he is there on the Island, why the sin in the real world? I think the conclusion is found in the term infected that has become thrown around. People become infected with the evil, bleeding out from the Island. Like the win swirling around the wine glass, while it remains in place, it can slosh around and kick up against the walls of the container.
What follows is an exchange between Jacob and Richard which not only draw out Jacob’s intent, but also the response by millions of people let down by their lord and savior.
Richard: Why didn’t you help them?
Jacob: Because I wanted them to help themselves. To know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them. It’s all meaningless if i have to force them to do anything. Why should I have to step in?
Richard: If you don’t, he will.
The look on Jacob’s face following Richard’s response was excellent. Jacob realizes that if he’s totally like the deity, he needs what they all need. A messenger on Earth. Yo, Richard! Whattup!
A lot of people I’ve spoken with have felt that Jacob was a dick for this very reason. Like Richard points out, if Jacob stands by idly while Smokey concocts his machinations, evil will win. Much like many people point out how there can be no God if he allows for atrocities to ravage the Earth, they also call Jacob out for being a douchebag for allowing everything to befall the people of the Island.
A couple of things.
First, I think it’s incorrect at this point to continue calling Jacob a manifestation of Destiny. If anything, Jacob is a manifestation of possibility. While Jacob has believed that mankind is destined to eventually prove its worth, he has never intervened directly to draw this about. Anything that can and will happen this season to prove him right seems born more out of a eventual realization of his Lockean belief that mankind will redeem themselves.
Consider this: We are watching only one of the countless cycles that have brought people to the Island. All of them have been touched by Jacob, summoned by him and put to this test. And yet, they have all failed. Are Jack and company really destined to save the Island? Or are they finally the ones who prove him right?
Consider also: I’ve always been under the assumption that people hold Jacob and Smokey as Destiny versus Free Will. If anything though, I would argue at this point that there is an inversion in the two correlations. Check this shit out: Smokey believes that mankind is destined to continually destroy. However Jacob never intervenes, allowing the free will of the people to determine their own fates. For all the much-to-do about Jacob creating these people’s inescapble destinies, all he does is guide them to the Island.
Where they go from there is up to them.
Secondly, I caution against a purely Christian reading of the episode, and of the good versus evil theme of the entire show. This very episode goes out of the way to muddy the waters. You initially have Richard being betrayed by a man of the cloth. Then you have Jacob going out of the way to detach Smokey and whatever he is from the specific title of “the Devil”. He also calls him malevolence, evil, darkness. So while you can attribute Christian archetypes to understand the themes going on, I don’t think they’re meant to be interpreted purely through a Christian lens. I’m not saying that the imagery isn’t there, okay? Richard runs around with a cross. Jacob baptizes Richard. But there are also Egyptian statues and other non-Christian shit going down on the Island.
If anything, I would posit this: the show is depicting this struggle between Good and Evil as having being ageless, marauding through countless centuries and cultures and customs. It’s older than the idea of formal religion. I could be wrong.
And so Richard went about his business of carrying out Jacob’s will throughout a century and a half. And when Jacob dies, he finds himself bereft of meaning. Even though Richard had been told by Jacob himself that he would never intervene in any affairs, his death still results in a crisis. Rummaging through the spot where he buried his wife’s cross, he has a lapse in faith, and cries out to Smokey that he wants to finally take him up on his deal.
The next scene was enough to break my candy ass heart. Sitting in a densely packed room of friends, I had to try my god damn hardest not to let some water ride gravity down my cheek. What a fucking touching scene between Richard and his wife. As Hugo tells Richard what Isabella is saying, you can’t help but quiver a little bit. Such a well acted, excellently done scene.
Richard’s backstory is a classic trope. The tale of a man haunted by his inability to prevent the death of his love. It’s classic, and it resonates with me. Even though it’s been done a thousand times, there’s a reason it works. It also humanizes the guy while still keeping him as unbelievably awesome as he was prior to this episode. We can now empathize with him, while still appreciating the fact that he’s immortal, and gorgeous as fuck.
It’s also a testament to the ability of storytelling, and it proves a point. There’s a difference between a slow episode, and a boring one. Ab Aeterno was a slow episode, heavy on emotion and plot development, and it was fucking riveting. It held me to my seat. It made me care about a wife I had never met before, and tingle at a reconciliation of a relationship I didn’t know existed. It proves that boring shit this season like Jack and His Dumb Fucking Kid That Likes Red Vines wasn’t boring because it was slow, or heavy on character development. It was just dull.
Best episode of the season for me, one of my favorite ever. The Devil is caged on the Island, and only Ricky Alps can stop it.