Consider my mind blown. I knew I would enjoy this week's Lost since it centers on Richard Alpert, but I didn't expect to get so many answers in one hour. The title "Ab Aeterno" means "from eternity" in Latin, or in other words, since the beginning, and we really do go back a long, long way (it also seems to reference the fact that Richard has eternal life).
It finally feels like we're getting a clear picture of exactly where the writers are headed in the coming weeks, and while some of the intrigue is gone, it does make me curious to watch how everything goes down. I can't even begin to discuss the evening without giving away oodles of spoilers, so let's cut the gabbing, and head straight into the jungle when you
- Why has Ilana been tapped as Jacob's right-hand woman? The episode opens with her bandaged in the hospital — which we've already witnessed — but this time, we get more deets. Like, how the six people she's supposed to protect are candidates, and he tells her to seek out Ricardus, who will know what to do next.
- Of course, Ricardus is Richard/Ricardo, who announces to Jack and the rest of the people at the beach that they're not on an island — they're in hell. That doesn't seem as probable as the episode continues, though I have to admit that he had me going. Soon we're thrust into his backstory (specifically the Canary Islands in 1867) where his wife, Isabella, is dying. She gives him her gold cross necklace to pay a doctor, so he goes to get medicine, but accidentally kills the doc. By the time he returns, Isabella is dead, and Ricardus is on death row, only to be saved by a man, Whitfield, who buys him as a slave to Magnus Hanso (the forebear of Alvar?), owner of the Black Rock.
- The significance of Luke 4:37, which Ricardus reads in jail: it's the story of Jesus coming out of the desert (after being tempted by the devil) and finding a man with a devil-like spirit inside him, which he commands to come out. Could this "man" be an allusion to the Man in Black?
- As the Black Rock approaches the island in a storm, we get a glimpse of the Taweret statue in its full form, as one of the ship captives exclaims that the land is being guarded by the devil. Sounds reasonable, although if you think about it further, the statue Taweret is usually associated with good. Full disclosure: I'm taking this straight from Wikipedia, but Tawaret is "seen as one who protected against evil by restraining it." After this episode, it kind of makes sense that Jacob lives underneath it, doesn't it? The ship crashes into the statue, leaving the foot, of course.
- When Ricardus comes to, Whitfield comes down to the slave stowage to kill them one by one — that is, until the smoke monster intervenes. The only person it spares: Ricardus. By the by, did anyone notice a very fake-looking blue butterfly flying through the ship? It's odd enough for me to assume it may be significant.
- Still in his chains, a delirious Ricardus has a vision of Isabella, and she tells him that they're both dead and in hell. She also says that the smoke monster is the devil, until it appears and takes her, too. The Man in Black appears shortly after, breaking Ricardus from his shackles in return for a favor — he must kill the devil. Here, M.I.B. proceeds to give him the exact speech Dogen told Sayid when going after Flocke, by telling him to drive the dagger (yep, the same dagger) into the devil before letting him speak. Also worth noting: the Man in Black tells Ricardus, "It's good to see you out of those chains" — which is obviously the same phrase Flocke quoted to Richard when Jacob had just died.
- Side note: the Man in Black tells Ricardus that the devil betrayed him and took his body and his humanity. So are we to believe that the body that the Man in Black inhabits is another person he possessed, like he did with Locke? Perhaps the Man in Black is just carrying out the "devil's" wishes, and he actually used to be a human being, too? Or of course there's the very probable case that he's just lying.
- Per his assignment, Ricardus finds Jacob, who immediately tries to knock him out. Ricardus tells Jacob that he thinks he's in hell, which Jacob tries to disprove by nearly drowning him. Did you notice that Jacob tells Ricardus that no one goes inside the spot under the statues unless Jacob invites them in? Does this mean that he actually wanted Flocke and Ben to come in and kill him?
- Huzzah! A quasi-easy explanation: Jacob shows Ricardus a wine bottle and compares the wine to evil and the cork to the island. In a nut shell, the island (and Jacob) are the only thing keeping the Man in Black from unleashing his evil on the world — which is precisely why Jacob needs those replacement candidates. He goes further, discussing how the Man in Black believes every man is corruptible, so Jacob brings people to the island to prove him wrong. Seems obvious, but isn't it nice to hear it from Jacob's mouth?
- Jacob hires Ricardus as an intermediary for the people he brings to the island, and since he can't bring back Isabella or absolve him of his sins, he offers to fulfill Richard's third request: eternal life. Richard actually asked for it? All along I sort of assumed Jacob bestowed it on him, just so he could carry out his duties.
- Ricardus returns to the Man in Black with a white rock from Jacob (remember the scale with the black and white stones?), and in turn, the M.I.B. tells Ricardus he can see his wife if he ever changes his mind, handing him Isabella's cross, which Richard promptly buries. Richard does, in fact, change his mind in the current time, and he races back to dig it up. Hurley shows, admitting that he's talking to Isabella (hence, his Spanish ghost before) and that she says Richard has to stop the Man in Black from leaving the island or they're all going to hell. This does raise one question in my mind: when we see Isabella on the Black Rock, is she just a vision in Ricardus's mind? Or can the Man in Black actually appear as ghosts, too? It might explain why we saw Christian Shepard before.
- Notice Richard does not have a flash sideways, suggesting he may not exist in the other time. Is this because he's from the 1800s and would therefore be long dead if not for Jacob's gift of eternal life — if the incident in the '70s isn't what prompted the sideways reality?
What did you think of the episode? There's a lot of ground to cover, so give me all your best theories in the comments, or head over to Lost Fans in community to chat some more.
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