Monday, March 29, 2010

Thoughts on LOST: Ab Aeterno

First, a housekeeping note...I will be doing a full recap of Recon, just not sure when. Hopefully this week. I want to have it for the sake of completeness, if nothing else.

This week was truly one of the great LOST episodes...storytelling with an emotional punch, deepening of the mythology, and even (::gasp!::) some actual answers that the kids today seem to be so fond of. Let's get to it...

- We open on the scene from last season's finale with Jacob visiting Illana in the Russian hospital. He is definitely wearing gloves...I'm guessing so as not to touch her, but more on that later.

By the I want an Illana backstory episode.

- Two things about their conversation: First, it's hard to tell, what with her being covered in bandages and all, but it seemed to me that Illana was a little disappointed or hurt when discussing the candidates...almost like she either feels she should have been one, or maybe she was one and is not anymore.

Second, Jacob says they are the six remaining candidates, implying that they are the last ones. At first, I wasn't sure if these would just be replaced by a new batch if they were all to be somehow disqualified, or if this means that we are nearing what Jacob said in the S5 finale: "It only ends once". Based on what we now know to be the name of the final episode (available all over the interwebz if you want to find it...I won't post it here because some view episode names as spoilers), I think the second explanation may be the more likely.

- Back to the campfire...Sun tells Jack that Illana said that she was a candidate. That's actually not true...Illana said that she didn't know which Kwon she was supposed to be protecting. Not sure if it means anything, just thought I'd throw it out there.

- When we get back to Illana's flashback, she is no longer bandaged, but even more telling is that she has no scars. I think the gloves came off, literally...she didn't heal that way naturally. Maybe the healing power of the Island is manifest in Jacob?

- And then, THIS happened.

- Oh, jeez...the whole "Oh NOES, we are in HELL!" theory rears its ugly head again. I love how even Jack seems to be thinking to himself, "Come on, n00b...that theory was debunked, like, four whole SEASONS ago!"

- Hey, Miles is there...not that we could tell from the script. (grrr.....)

Sorry, that was probably my only complaint about this one. :-)

- I keep forgetting that some of our main characters still don't know about "Locke". Was Jack the last one to know? Does Hurley know yet?

- Ben thinks Richard doesn't know anything.

This is as good an opportunity as any to say that my belief that Ben was unknowingly working for the Man in Black all along is getting stronger as we go.

Also...I'm starting to think that the fact that we still don't have a name for the Man in Black is significant.

-Richard Alpert is on a horse!

- Not much to analyze in a lot of these flashback scenes, other than to say that Nestor Carbonell BROUGHT IT in this episode. He hasn't been given too much to work with during the course of the show, but he definitely took advantage of the spotlight in this one.

- Was I the only one who was expecting Isabella to tell him, "We'll always be together. In this world....or the next"?

- Apparently, the Hippocratic Oath was not widely adhered to in 1867.

"Get some blankets! No, Dummy, they're not for you! You're dripping water on my floor!"

- This guy may be a jerk, but he's also a brilliant doctor. He can apparently diagnose illnesses and determine what medicines to use from miles and miles away, without ever even looking at the patient!

- Ummm...I don't think that servant liked the Doctor very much. He totally let his murderer run right past him without even attempting to stop him.

- Apparently, he did call the cops, though. How did they get there so fast? Didn't Richard have a pretty hefty head start? And how did they know were to go? Was this policeman working for Jacob?

I demand ANSWERS. Preferrably delivered by the Hurley Bird.

- When Richard is interrupted by the Worst Priest EVAH (well...maybe not the worst. I'll have to ask his altar boys), he is reading in Luke 4. This chapter contains three separate accounts: 1) Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan; 2) Jesus going into the Temple on the Sabbath and making one of His first proclamations of who He is - the promised Messiah; and 3) Jesus casting out demons and healing the sick who were brought to Him.

I have actually made reference to that first account in an earlier recap, and I think it is the one that most applies to what we have seen on LOST this season...the devil (Smocke) tempting someone (Jesus in the Bible, or any of many that we have seen so far this season) by offering them EXACTLY what they want or need, if only they will do what he asks.

- The priest won't absolve him of his sins...but he WILL save his life by selling him to a Jonas Whitfield, who works for a Captain Magnus Hanso. For those of you who don't share the certain level of obsessive sickness it takes to truly follow this show: Magnus Hanso, besides being the captain of the Black Rock, is also the grandfather of Alvar Hanso. Alvar is one of the founders of the Dharma Initiative, who supposedly came to the Island due to its "unique properties" in order to do their research on how to prolong the existence of mankind. There is also a theory that Alvar didn't really care about the Dharma Initiative "research"...he was just looking for the Island because he was looking for his grandfather.

- Some cool stuff in the shipwreck scene...we got some not-terrible CGI (which is rare for this show when it comes to scenes on the ocean), and we got answers to two mysteries that have existed for years: what happened to the rest of the 4-toed statue, and how did the Black Rock get a mile inland?

Just a side note, since I don't think it really matters that much...I questioned back when I did the season 5 finale recap whether or not that boat that Jacob and MIB saw coming was actually the Black Rock, and at first I thought that this was confirmation that it wasn't. After all, that boat was coming in on calm seas in the middle of the day. But then I remembered that almost every single time we have seen a plane/boat/helicopter come to the Island, it has been accompanied by a dramatic shift in time of day and (often) weather. So, yeah...I think that was probably the Black Rock we saw in the S5 finale.

- I would say that Jonas buys into the same belief about mankind as MIB..."If I free you, it will only be a matter of time before you kill me". How about: "If I free you, maybe we can work together to build shelter, find food and water, and survive as long as we can"? I guess that's more of a Jacob thing...

- Yeah, that boar was totally snacking on the dead dude. Dis-GUS-ting.

- was that really Isabella that Richard saw and was talking to, or was it Smokey? My first thought was that it was definitely Smokey, and that he had pulled the memory of her from Richard when he "scanned" him. It was all part of his plan to get Richard to kill Jacob in order to see her again.

But, when I watched it again, I noticed that you could hear the sounds of the monster outside the ship while she was still talking to Richard. Have we ever seen Smokey be in two places at once?

For that matter, have we ever seen Smokey take on the body of someone whose body was not on the Island? Possibilities could be Dave, but that's never been confirmed....or Ben's mom, who would probably have been Smokey in my "Ben was unknowingly working for MIB the whole time" theory.

Anyway...I'm sticking to Richard's vision of Isabella being Smokey. But I do think Hurley was talking to the REAL dead Isabella.

- I've seen this mentioned in other places, but like a lot of fans of Stephen King's "The Stand", I thought about Randall Flagg releasing Lloyd from prison when MIB showed up. Lone survivor of a disaster, starving, at the point of death, is rescued by a mysterious Man in Black who agrees to release him in exchange for his loyalty and sworn obedience.

- Titus Welliver and Terry O'Quinn sound so much alike that there were times when we couldn't see MIB's face that I thought they may have dubbed Terry's voice in for some of the lines.

Again, I don't know if it was on purpose or not, but it was really cool to see how many of the mannerisms and speech patterns of Terry O'Quinn' s Smocke character were nearly duplicated by Titus Welliver.

- For a split second, I started thinking that Jacob really was the Devil, partially because MIB used almost the same instructions with Richard as Dogen did when he sent Sayid after Smocke. But at this point, I think we have to look at the body of evidence and clues that the writers have given to us from the very beginning of the series...Jacob is the good guy. MIB was just using what he knew about Richard (specifically, his religous views and fear of Hell/Satan) to manipulate him, just as we have seen him do with every other character he has come in contact with, either in this body or Smocke's.

- "The Devil betrayed me. He took my body. He took my humanity". That's interesting...I can't wait to see more of the history between these two. Because now I am picturing a scenario in which Jacob and MIB were both mortal men, and when the time came for them to become immortal (however that happened), Jacob somehow tricked MIB and trapped him as a Smoke Monster who can only inhabit the bodies of the dead, while he got to go around healing people and learning kung fu. Just like the Jacob of the Bible tricked his brother Esau out of his inheritance. Hmmmm.....

- MIB also uses the words "My friend" about 15 more times.

- Jacob beats the living crap out of Richard. Apparently, Mark Pellegrino (who plays Jacob) is a legitimate black belt, and there is a pretty funny story on Jorge Garcia's podcast this week. You can check it out HERE if you would like.

- This seems like a very different Jacob than we have seen in the past. He was also shot from a really weird angle a couple of from underneath, at an odd angle, like a villain in an old movie. I think that was intentional, but I don't know what it means yet.

- I also think the image of Richard being "baptized" was intentional, as well.

- Jacob just told us what the Island is. IS THAT ENOUGH ANSWERS FOR YOU?!?

Seriously...I was watching this, and when he got done, I was actually kind of sad. Not because of the explanation (because I thought that was pretty cool)'s just that it really brought it home to me again how close we are to the end.

So the Island is like a barrier that is keeping this massive Evil contained. So, I wonder if the Sideways Timeline is the world if the barrier is removed (since it is at the bottom of the ocean, an apparent victim of the stupid Jughead plan)? I haven't noticed any more inherent Evil in that world, have you?

MIB believes all of mankind is inherently evil, and will always kill, fight, destroy, etc., while Jacob believes that, if left alone, some people will voluntarily choose right over wrong. He now wants Richard to be his "intermediary" between himself and the people he brings to the Island, to try and guide them down the path of righteousness, so to speak. SO many Biblical parallels there, from John the Baptist, to the Old Testament prophets, to the New Testament disciples, all the way to Jesus Christ himself. I'm sure there are parallels in other religions and stories, but coming from a Christian perspective myself, those are naturally the ones that jump out at me.

- Again, the question arises as to how "good" Jacob is, even if he is supposed to be the "good" guy. He has brought who knows how many people to the Island to take part in this little Morality Game that he and MIB are playing, only to let them die with no involvement on his part. Just on Richard's boat, everybody but Richard died...first by shipwreck, then by sword, and then by Smokey...all while Jacob presumably sat back and watched. Again with Flight 815, and again with Ajira 316...not to mention the Dharma Purge, etc, etc.

Another question...has this Jacob always been "the" Jacob? Since we are talking about a replacement, it makes me wonder if this is the only incarnation. I also wonder whether whomever the "new" Jacob is will do a little better job at keeping folks alive.

- Great conversation between Jacob and Richard, and we get yet ANOTHER answer...Richard is ageless because he asked for it. Jacob can't bring Isabelle back and he can't absolve him of his sins (another reason why he is not "God" in this story...just a god-like entity) since Richard doesn't want to go to Hell, and he believes he will if he dies, he never wants to die.

Boy, those "Checklist Fans" are busy know, the ones who are watching this season with a checklist of questions that they want answered? Rather than just enjoying the show for what it is and maybe using their own imagination and logic to fill in whatever blanks they feel are left?

Anyway...tonight we have learned why Richard doesn't age (as well as the rest of his backstory: what his role is, etc), what happened to the rest of the statue, how the Black Rock ended up in the middle of the Island....oh, and WHAT THE ISLAND IS.

Did I miss any?

- Hey, is it stupid of me that I just now made the Black Rock connection, when Richard handed MIB the white rock?

- Wow...I would have expected that necklace to be a LOT further underground after 140 years. Ah, the magic of Tee-Vee.

- Isabella's return and reunion with Richard was a great scene...not nearly on par with The Constant from an emotional standpoint, but only because we are not as familiar with the characters.

Did you notice that Hurley stopped "translating" about halfway through the conversation? I think Richard could hear her himself at that point. Good stuff.

- Terry O'Quinn has mastered some evil looks this season, hasn't he?

- Another awesome scene with Jacob and MIB at the much foreshadowing of stuff that we have already seen, and also just raising the stakes for the battle that is still going to play out.

Overall just a brilliant, brilliant episode. Fantastic writing, acting, and direction, with an avalanche of mythology to boot.

Like I said in my initial thoughts...I think this episode is going to be the tipping point for the season. We are in the home stretch now, and I am fully anticipating being blown away by every episode, either mentally or emotionally.



Shan said...

Nice summary. I love this ep, and Nestor was absolutely fantastic. O'Quinn was his usual compelling and Emmy-worthy self, and our two mysterious figures - Pelligrino and Welliver -- were also terrific. Just great acting all around in a top 10 episode.

Also, as for the Black Rock, I'm pretty sure Darlton DID confirm that the two ships from the different scenes (beach talk, ab aeterno) were the same - the Black Rock.

amanda young said...

hah. but it's sad, because it shows ho much he's lost his grip.amanda vanderpool fashion