Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010: Lost "Ab Aeterno"...A Legendary Episode

KABOOM! That is the sound of my mind blowing from tonight's episode of Lost. As soon as it ended, I rewatched the entire episode again to try and get my head around what I just watched. I have a multitude of thoughts, which I will get to momentarily, but first I want to direct your attention to Jeff Jensen's column from last week at EW.com, which contained a very interesting theory on the identity of Flocke/The Smoke Monster (skip ahead to page 7 of the article). I'm not sure I buy it, but it's definitely worth considering. Now, on to this week's episode, "Ab Aeterno"...

The opening featured an extended scene of Jacob visiting Ilana. We had seen the basis of this scene before, but now we got to see Jacob explaining what he wanted from Ilana, which was to protect the remaining six candidates. It all seemed like a way to lead into the fact that Richard was to instruct Ilana what to do at one point, but the conversation between Jacob and Ilana was very telling:

Ilana: "After I've brought them to the Temple, what do I do?"
Jacob: "Ask Ricardos. He'll know what to do next."

Now aside from the fact that Richard's exaggerated giggle upon hearing this was laugh-out-loud awesome, let's examine that conversation. If Jacob is instructing Ilana to take the candidates to the Temple, then does he know that he's going to die? The only reason they ended up going there was after Jacob's death. How much does Jacob know ifhe knows that Ilana needs to take them to the Temple at this point? Something just doesn't add up.

Ben: "If it's any consolation, it's not exactly Locke." What a great line, which I couldn't fully enjoy since it immediately cut to Hurley randomly speaking Spanish on the beach, and then telling Doctor Fix-It-All, "Sorry Jack, but this has nothing to do with you."

As Richard was sharing his "secret" that they all were dead and that this was Hell, I didn't believe it for a second...and I knew his back story was going to be fantastic.

Cut to what we are told is Tenerife, Canary Islands, 1867, in as far as I can remember is the ONLY time in the history of this show that we, the viewers, have been explicitly told what time period we are watching. I enjoyed the storyline of Richard and his sick wife/doctor/medicine/murder, but I was struck by how long it was. Were we in for a full-on flashback episode that stayed in the past. I was hoping so...and I'm glad it was. It was indeed heartbreaking...on two fronts...watching Richard lose his wife, and then watching the preist coldly refuse to absolve him. If Richard wasn't a sympathetic character before, he certainly was now.
Purchased as a slave by Captain Magnus Hanso (sound familiar?) and given a spot on the Black Rock, Richard's life was spared. We saw him at sea in a storm amidst other slaves (none of whom spoke English, so why was it an issue when he was being purchased?), as they approached the Island. As one of his slave-mate cried upon seeing the statue, "The Island is guarded by the Devil!" Could this line mean more that just what was meant by this soon-to-be-murdered rower? Man in Black? Jacob?

I like that the destruction of the statue, and the location of The Black Rock in th Jungle were both explained in one fell swoop. Yes, the CGI of the boat crashing through the statue was less than spectacular, and I have to think that it was one hell of a tsunami wave to get the boat THAT high if we could still see the full statue beforehand...but I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and recognize that Damon and Carlton are trying to answer the questions we want answered. We may not always like the answers, but at least they're coming.
I also thought back to last season's finale, as the Man in Black and Jacob sat on the beach watching a ship come in. We all assumed it was The Black Rock, but after seeing this footage of the Black Rock crashing at night in a storm, it must have been a different ship. We were never told explicitly that ship was the Black Rock.

As the slaves lay battered in the ship's hold after the shipwreck, you could hear a crew member say "Sir, Captain Hanso is dead." before Whitfield came down and started slaughtering the slaves. That's the only word I can use..slaughter...and it was a graphic scene, not easy to watch. As a Lost fan, can you remember a time (other than when Smokey got Keamy's crew) that you were flat out excited to hear that tik-a-tik sound that meant someone was about to get Smoke Monstered? Even though you knew Richard wasn't going to get stabbed, it was still a moment to savour.

Why did Smokey randomly kill all of those people? We have been led to believe that he never acts without a reason. What was the reason? What was the reason for the Oceanic 815 Pilot in the first episode?

I loved the scene as he 'scanned' Richard, which we've seen before with Eko, Ben, and others. Obviously, this is accessing the memories and thoughts of the person, so that Smokey/MIB can figure out what form to take to be able to manipulate them...which form can act as the 'trigger'. For Eko it was Yemi, for Ben it was Alex, and for Richard, it was obviously Isabella.

The progression of Richard's efforts to break free was well-done, from the nail to the boar to the appearance of Isabella. When that hand appeared on his shoulder, I didn't for a second believe that it was Jacob, and fully expected to once again see Titus Welliver as the Man in Black.
As Richard meets him and talks to him, we learn again his powers of manipulation. While eventually being honest about being the Black Smoke (we've learned he is generally quite honest), he still lies to Richard about: a) the Island being Hell, b) Isabella, and c) Jacob being the Devil. He is trying to corrupt Richard, as we would learn later, is his primary goal. And even though you 100% know that the line is coming...

"It's good to see you out of those chains."

Still chilling. Although it is a tad more meaningful when not followed by a throat punch. And I have to say, Nestor Carbonell was fantastic in this episode, and in this scene in particular.

What is with all the rules for the Magic Dagger? Act fast...don't let him talk...click your heels three times and say "There's no place like home." Are these going to be explained? I hope so.

MIB to Richard: "You and I can talk all day long about what's right or wrong. But the question before you remains the same. Do you ever want to see your wife again." Calling upon the greatest tool of conjurers and liars...distraction...MIB once again is able to manipulate.

(By the way, could there have been any more commercials for the return of V next week???)

When Richard approached the statue to look for Jacob, I realized (thanks to Jenn) that he was about to be faced with the same choice Ben had in the Season 5 finale: kill Jacob, or hear him out...he had to choose.
The fight scene between Jacob and Richard was entertaining solely due to the method that Jacob used to show Richard he wasn't dead...repeatedly dunking his head into the ocean. Very funny.

Jacob: "No one comes in unless I invite them in." Was he talking about the statue, or the Island? He flat out told Richard he brought the Black Rock to the Island, and then tried to explain exactly who/what the Man in Black is. Hell/Malevolence/Evil/Darkness...it has many names, but he is unable to get out, and the Island serves as a "cork"(great analogy and visual with the bottle of wine). "It's the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs."
Jacob explained the purpose, that MIB was attempting to corrupt all people since he believed it is in their nature to sin, and that Jacob was bringing people to the Island to prove him wrong. And that once they got here, their past didn't matter.

Richard: "Before you brought my ship, there were others?"
Jacob: "Yes. Many."
Richard: "What happened to them?"
Jacob: "They're all dead."

Um...ok. So maybe Jacob's plan isn't working so well after all. But this led to another great conversation where Jacob explained that he wouldn't interfere, that it had to be done without him forcing them, otherwise it would be meaningless. And with that, he offered Richard "a job", and Richard's purpose was defined...as he made the choice that Ben could not. And we learned how Richard became the Ageless Wonder.

As Richard returned to MIB with the white stone, he still attempted his seductive persuasive ways, promising Richard that his offer would stand, no matter how long it took. And to prove the point that he was still "working" Richard, he gave him Isabella's chain in the hopes that it would eventually lead him to trust his evil ways at one point in the future.

Who knew that choice would take roughly 140 years as Richard dug up the chain he buried so long ago? (That was some pretty loose earth for that long!) But cue the unexpected as Hurley emerged from the forest, telling Richard "your wife sent me"...and then, all of a sudden, the earlier Spanish babbling on the beach made sense.
What followed was perhaps the most poignant and emotional scene in the history of Lost, save for Desmond and Penny's phone call in The Constant (not sure that can ever be topped.) I don't even want to ruin the scene by analyzing it.
In the final scene, as the Man in Black sat there looking out at the mountains, I thought to myself, "If Flocke walks in and I have to try and figure out how they are in the same place at the same time, my head may actually explode." Thankfully it was just Jacob, and we were treated to another scene between these two mythological figures. Too much to absorb...no more theorizing...my ears are starting to bleed.

Here's the preview for next week's episode, "The Package."


DannyW said...

Having watched well from season1 ep1 to current in a little under 2 weeks. While this episode was amazing in answering A-LOT, and I do mean a-lot of questions. The one thing that I think I want answered most at this current point in time, is what exactly happened to Christian Shepard's body. Along with Claire's time on the island(which I'm sure will be addressed). At the same time I am assuming I feel that Christian is the same as Locke, but I also feel I'm wrong because I recall seeing them in the same scene together once, although I could be wrong.

Amy Verboom said...

I'm not sure about these apparitions people see on the island. It seems that Flocke may be behind these in order to corrupt. However if Hurley talks to them you know they are really the spirit of the dead I think. Though sometimes they are not of dead people at all. ie Walt. Some things may never go answered. I think it interesting that Jacob seems to say that being on the island is a way to leave your past behind Yet on the opposite spectrum, Flocke binds people to their past.

Sean said...

Danny, that's a LOT of DVD watching...gld you caught up. I'm sure we'll get an explanation on Christian Shepherd. He's been too prominent a figure to just gloss over.

Amy, I think that Flock can be behind the apparitions IF the physical body is on the Island and he has access to it (Locke, Eko's brother, Christian Shepherd). The ones that Hurley talks to are NOT people whose bodies are on the Island, and are real spirits that Hurley has real conversations with.

Good point about Jacob/Flocke and people's pasts.