Friday, March 26, 2010

LOST: Ab Aeterno - Just give Nestor Carbonell an Emmy now, okay?

I don't like to post about LOST to early and give away any spoilers. But I'm guessing you've probably watched it by now. If you haven't, stop here because there are spoilers ahead.

I'll give you a minute to leave if you have to...

Okay, here we go...

Out of all the characters on the island, Richard Alpert is probably the most mysterious and enigmatic of the bunch. We know he's been around for a long time and that he never ages. But when did he get to the island? How did he get there? Is he wearing eyeliner or not? By far, this was my most anticipated episode of the season, and it did not disappoint!

First off, what does Ab Aeterno mean? It's Latin and basically means "from the beginning of time." Very appropriate since we go back to the beginning of Richard's time on the island. And hats off to Nestor Carbonell. His performance tonight was passionate, heart breaking, and thoroughly believable. Bravo!

Within the first five minutes, the now disillusioned and tormented Richard offers this bombshell. "I'm dead. We're all dead. And this is Hell." Whoa! LOST fans have hypothesized since season one that the castaways are actually dead and in hell or purgatory. So this was a great way to address that. As shocking as the statement was, it soon became clear that it's not accurate. It's based on all Richard's fears and trauma from his past. But when he says it, Richard truly believes it.

Richard's story begins on Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 1867. At that point, he's Ricardo, a wild-haired, hunky Spaniard who wants nothing more than to save the life of his beloved wife, Isabella (who is coughing up blood into a hanky... you can already see how this will end). But in his quest to gain life saving medicine from the I'm-just-in-it-for-the-money doctor, Ricardo accidentally kills the man. Anguished over what he's done, he takes the medicine home only to find that Isabella is already dead.

Ricardo is taken to prison. He is in his cell, on his knees, reading a Bible, when he is visited by a priest. Richardo begs for the priest to forgive his sins and absolve him, but the priest says no. He tells Ricardo that he's being hung in the morning, so there's no time to pay penance. He is destined to burn in Hell. (At this point, I was pretty ticked off at the priest. Not only did he leave Richard feeling like there was no hope for redemption, but he took his Bible! What a creep!)

But Ricardo receives a stay of execution when he's bought by a man making a trip to the New World. Which is how Richard ended up on The Black Rock, the ship that crashes on the island.

That's the back story of the back story. Rather than make this a recap of the entire show, I just want to hit on some of the highpoints:

1) In his cell, Ricardo's Bible was open to the Gospel of Luke. He appeared to be reading the account of when Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and the devil came to tempt him. This lines right up with what happened to Ricardo. After the crash, while he was chained in the hold of the ship, he was essentially in a desert. Water was just beyond his reach. Freedom was just beyond his reach. Then the Man in Black (MIB) broke him further by coming to him in the form of his beloved Isabella, giving Ricardo hope, then making him think she'd been killed. Finally, when Ricardo was as low as he could get, MIB came to him, promising to give Ricardo the thing he wants the most in exchange for his help.

2) MIB claimed that Jacob is the devil. I believe he's lying. There's been a lot of talk about which one of these two is good and which is evil. Considering the mish-mash of different religions the LOST writers have drawn from, I'm sure this isn't going to end up with "MIB is the devil and Jacob is Jesus." However, I do think that MIB is the inherently evil one and Jacob is the one who stands for good.

3) Jacob was much angrier in this episode than we've ever seen him before. First, he beat up Ricardo. Then, in what might be called the roughest baptism ever, he dunked him in the ocean three times until Ricardo finally cried out "I want to live!" After that, the fairly calm, even keeled Jacob we're used to was back.

4) Why do bad things happen to good people? Essentially, that's what Ricardo asked Jacob. "Why don't you tell them what to do? Why don't you help them?" Jacob's answer: Because it doesn't mean anything if I do it for them. It's LOSTs way of examining free will.

5) Jacob offers Ricardo a job - to be his voice to the people on the island. (In keeping with the Catholic theme running through the episode, it's kind of like Peter being made the first Pope). But when Ricardo says he wants Isabella back, Jacob says he can't do that. Ricardo asks to be absolved from his sins, but Jacob can't do that, either (which removes him from the "maybe he's Jesus" category). Fine then, Ricardo says. I want to live forever so I never have to go to hell. Jacob smiles, puts his hand on Ricardo's shoulder (the touch) and says, "That I can do." Now Richard has been baptized, drunk wine with Jacob, and been given eternal life. Interesting.

6) Jacob keeps bringing people to the island to prove that people are good at heart. Which means The Others were made up of the people who made the right choices and lived. When Ben joined The Others, he started infecting the group, leading them to commit evil in the name of good (killing all the Dharma people). At one point, Charles Widmore was the leader of The Others, until Ben banished him from the island. Now Widmore is coming back. It may be that Widmore actually IS one of the good guys and means to make war with MIB.

7) So what is the island? As Jacob explains it, it's like the cork in a wine bottle, keeping the wine from spilling out. The island is keeping evil from spilling out into the world. This was interesting, because we already know that the world outside the island goes on as always and isn't a beautiful, sin-free place. I suppose, if MIB manages to leave the island, things will really go to pot!

8) Now we know what happened to that big statue... The Black Rock crashed into it.

9) Considering where and when Richard's story started, I can now put to rest the idea that he's Egyptian. So no, folks, he's not wearing eyeliner. Nestor just has bee-YU-tiful eyes.

10) By the end of the episode, a line was clearly drawn: MIB intends to kill all the candidates and Richard needs to kill MIB or, as dead Isabella told Hurley to tell Richard, "you'll all go to hell." Whether that's true or it's just something that Isabella knew Richard would respond to is unclear, but there's a battle coming on. And I can't wait!

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