Lost – Episode 6.9: Ab Aeterno

My immediate thoughts, theories and reactions following Episode 6.9 of Lost – Ab Aeterno. This episode was shown on 24th March in the USA and will be shown on 27th March 2010 in the UK – don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet, as this post contains spoilers!

Well, that was one of the best 45 minutes of television I have ever seen. It might not stand up to repeated viewings in the way that other episodes do – only time will tell – but my first viewing left me in absolute awe. Nestor Carbonell was absolutely outstanding.

So – Richard, originally known as Ricardo, lived in Tenerife in 1867 with his wife, Isabella. She became ill, and in an effort to save her, Richard accidentally killed the doctor. The day before he was due to be hanged for his crimes, he begged a Priest for forgiveness but was told that he could not be forgiven unless he did a long penance, and he would not have time for that because of his forthcoming execution. However, on the day of his execution, he was bought by a Mr. Witfield, on behalf of Magnus Hanso. Straight away this throws up some pretty juicy links. Firstly, Witfield seems too similar to Widmore to be a coincidence, doesn’t it? Secondly, Alvar Hanso is the name of the person who founded the Hanso Foundation, which funded the DHARMA Initiative in the 1970s.

Anyway, Richard was a slave on the Black Rock. The ship hit a storm, and went flying into the island, destroying the Statue on its way. Richard and the other slaves saw the statue and thought it was the Devil, guarding the island. Interestingly, when Jacob and the Man In Black were chatting at the start of The Incident, the season 5 finale, there was a ship in the background but certainly no storm.

The captain of the Black Rock killed all the slaves except Richard, but before he was able to kill Richard, him and the rest of his crew were wiped out by the Monster. A while later, Richard’s dead wife, Isabella, appeared to Richard, telling him that they were in Hell and that the Devil is after them. She left, and was promptly killed by the Monster. My initial thoughts were that she was a manifestation of the Monster, much like Eko, Alex, Locke, and possibly (although I sort of hope not) Christian Shephard. Then, even later, the Man In Black himself turned up, freed Richard and said it was good to see him out of his chains (the same line that The Artist Formerly Known As John Locke said in episode 1 of this season). He then explained that he is indeed in Hell, and that the Devil has Isabella. He told Richard that he had to kill the Devil to save his wife. he gave Richard a knife, possibly the same knife that Dogen gave Sayid in episode 6, and told him to go to the statue and kill the man inside. His instructions were very much like Dogen’s – that he should not let the man talk to him, and that if he did it would be too late.

Richard did as he was told, and arrived at the Statue, only to be attacked by Jacob. He told Jacob what had happened, and Jacob managed to persuade him that he’s not dead, and is not in Hell, by attempting to drown him multiple times to prove to Richard that he is alive and wants to stay that way. Jacob then explained that Malevolence, Evil or Darkness can be thought of like red wine in a bottle, and that the cork that stops it from escaping is the Island. He told Richard that as long as he is on the Island, Darkness cannot escape. He then explained that the Man In Black believes that it is in mankind’s nature to be corruptible, and to sin. Jacob said that he likes to bring people to this island, much like he did with the Black Rock, to prove to the Man In Black that he is wrong. However, he said that he doe snot interfere – he lets the people he brings to the island make their own choices, and also explains that everyone he has brought to the island so far is dead. Jacob then offers Richard a job as his messenger – someone who can interfere on Jacob’s behalf. In exchange, he offers Richard immortality.

Richard accepts the job, and returns to the Man In Black. He gives him a white rock – part of the inside-joke that Locke told Sawyer about in episode 4. The Man In Black then told Richard that if he ever changes his mind, he can, and he will get his wife back.

In the present-day, Richard leaves the Illana/Lapidus/Sun/Jack/Hurley/Ben/Miles group. Hurley has a strange Spanish conversation, presumably with a dead person. Richard returns to the place where he last spoke to the Man In Black, and digs up his wife’s necklace, which he had buried there after rejecting the Man In Black’s offer. He shouted that he had changed his mind. However, Hurley then turned up, and relayed a conversation between Richard and Isabella. At first Isabella was appearing just to Hurley, but when Richard closed his eyes, it appeared that he could hear and feel her. She told him that she had to stop the Man In Black from leaving, or everyone would go to Hell. Locke watched from a distance.

The final scene shows what presumably happened soon after Richard chose Jacob over the Man In Black. Jacob asked the Man In Black why he had tried to kill him; the Man In Black replied that he wants to leave the Island. Jacob said that he would never leave as long as he is alive; and so the Man In Black said that this is why he wants to kill him, and he will keep trying, and will also kill any successor that Jacob finds. After Jacob leaves, the Man In Black smashes the symbolic wine bottle.

A lot to take in. Many questions answered, some still unanswered. We know a lot about who Richard is, and suddenly he’s a very human character, instead of this bizarre, ageless, distant figure that we’ve known since season 3. We know a little bit more about Jacob and the Man In Black; of their ongoing struggle; and of their differing philosophies. It does seem as though the Man In Black is a prisoner, and Jacob is the guard. It reminded me of The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit from season 2 of Doctor Who. However, we still don’t know why the Man In Black can appear as smoke; why Hurley can see dead people; where Illana fits into it all; or how Jacob can leave the Island but the Man In Black can’t. Also, previously the Smoke Monster only took the form of dead people whose bodies were on the island – if he appeared as Isabella, that rule is suddenly invalid and anything can happen. It does rather suggest that he is Christian Shephard after all, although Christian appeared to John Locke by the Frozen Donkey Wheel in ancient times, which could only be explained by some bizarre time travelling – although that is highly possible with Lost!

This final season is really getting exciting, and with only nine episodes to go, I’m expecting it to continue at this pace. Next week is ‘The Package’. Lots of Widmore action, please. And where’s Desmond? And can we please have Faraday back in at least some way?

Song

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