Lost 0609 – Ab Aeterno

A Richard episode? What the..? Maybe we’ll get some answers about Richard, yeah?

(Spoilers, yes?)

More playing around with the flashback format? Actually, did we already see a snippet of Jacob visiting Ilana bandaged up in hospital at the tail end of last season

Richard telling us that they’re all dead and in hell again? The showrunners are having fun with that old chestnut this season.

Richard is being pretty petulant, and it’s probably no surprise that he’s off to find and follow NonLocke, but it does mark one of the most uncomfortable gear-changes in a character between episodes – only last episode, Jack had him almost turned around.

Hurley’s talking to someone in what sounds like Spanish? Huh. And is Richard, who is really Ricardo, Spanish? I wonder how this’ll play out…?

(Actually, it’s as likely to be any one of the number of other people who’ve died on the beach that Hurley’s talking to, I guess…)

One thing about the Lost flashes thus far is that they’ve been like Quantum Leap – they always take place within the characters’ lifetimes. I guess this one isn’t any different – it is Ricardo’s lifetime after all – but it is jarring to see an honest to goodness period piece in Lost.

And there you go – Ricardo is a killer too, albeit an accidental one. But he can’t be forgiven, so he’s on his way to hell… Wow, this is a real hard-ass priest taking his confession.

I wonder how many of the “good guys” in Lost killed before coming to the island… off the top of my head, Ana Lucia, Sawyer, Kate, Eko, hm. Feel like there should be more.

Fuck yeah Black Rock. There was me feeling all clever for noticing Richard’s comment a couple of episodes back…

[I was reliably informed this lunchtime that the internet has been buzzing with the possibility that Richard came to the island on the Black Rock since both first turned up. I felt a bit stupid hearing this, as I hadn’t considered it, but now I’m happy to put it down to basic pattern recognition, rather than actual deductive reasoning, and feel better about it. As I recall, once we saw what the Black Rock was, anyone who had turned up on the island in some way that we hadn’t physically seen ended up being linked to the Black Rock – with the most persistent rumour being that the Others were the descendants of the survivors of that crash.

That Richard was linked to it was, I think, an extension of the same notion – he’s old, and the boat is old, therefore they must be linked – and actually I’m not convinced that we saw any more substantive reason why he was something to do with it, rather than the temple or the statue, before these last few episodes.

In other words, if you come up with enough theories blind, it figures that you’ll cover the ones that actually pan out, as well as all the ones that don’t.

Actually, that’s a point… where the fuck did the Others come from? Am I having some kind of brain embolism, or do we still not know?]

And there’s that giant statue, too. Still in one piece. At least, before the ship got there…

Smokey!

So Richard encountered the black smoke before he’d even seen the island properly. Interesting… it’s the Other who let him live. I’m wondering whether this roughly coincides with that scene with Jacob and the Other at the end of last season – I can’t remember now, but they were talking about a boat approaching, and I think it was easy to assume that it was the Black Rock back then.

I’d kind of assumed that as a key player, Richard was someone who Jacob has brought to the island and groomed, in much the same way that he had the other Lostees – for some reason, I hadn’t expected him to encounter the Other first.

True to form, the Other used Ricardo’s wife to seed the con, about the island being Hell… and the Other is bringing it home, continuing the illusion that that’s where they are, held back by the devil.

This theme is one that keeps recurring this season: That the only way to kill either Jacob or the Other is by getting someone else to do it. It’s a thread running through the whole show – Jacob and the Other aren’t the only ones bound by it – Sayid has constantly been the tool of people wanting someone to die, but not wanting to get their hands dirty, and Ben Linus first made himself known in a scenario that saw Michael shed blood on somebody else’s behalf.

That scene where we saw the whole statue at the end of last season was literally only hours before the statue crashed and burned. Probably. If the Black Rock was even the ship that they were talking about, and Jacob hasn’t brought dozens of vessels to the island, on an approximately 6 to 7 year cycle, depending on syndication.

All of this has happened before, you know? Who knows… Maybe it’ll even all happen again.

Blimey… Jacob can actually kick ass when he wants to. He’s like Jack Bauer in the 1860s. He’s more like a powder-puff new-ager by the time our time rolls around. And he’s the one who brought the ship to the island. Wonder if that means he aimed it at the statue?

Heh. The internet is going to tell me that this episode answers all the questions, but so far Jacob is mainly talking in allegory. Still, he’s convinced Ricardo, hasn’t he?

I’ve found the good/evil God/Devil stuff has been adding quite a lovely thematic undercurrent to the show, but this episode is pushing it from subtext dangerously close to text. My personal feeling is making it too much definitively about Jacob as God and the Other as the devil – or even the other way around -  will cheapen the complexity of the show somewhat, but i am enjoying the ride so far.

Love the call-back to Dogen’s orders to Sayid in the Other’s orders to Ricardo – “You let him talk to you.” – beautiful. And the Other is a slippery tongued bastard.

Oooh, wow. Ricardo’s wife Isobella spoke to Hurley? That should have been obvious, but I didn’t see it, and it’s lovely.

Actually, was that the longest flash evar?


OH NO ISOBELLA ISN’T GOING TO KISS RICHARD THROUGH HURLEY, IS SHE? THIS IS “GHOST” ALL OVER AGAIN…

Oh, no, I guess not. That was much less gross than Demi Moore making out with Whoopi Goldberg. Almost sweet, even…

Isobella said “You have to stop the man in black. You have to stop him from leaving the island. Because if you don’t…”

And then the Other – or the Man In Black as he seems to be called most consistently – and Jacob are discussing their situation, and it’s tense and grave as befits it’s place in the show’s mythology.

And you know, I have to say, I’m locked in for the end of this show, and excited, and loving it – and I’m very grateful for all the years of awesome television – but…

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the things that has always worked so well about this show has been the quite subtle mix of the real with the extra-natural with the super-natural… the first season was all about the very real situation of being stranded on an island, married with the obvious weirdness of the misplaced animals, the hatch and the beast in the woods – the unlikely but possible – and the outright supernature of dead relatives wondering around.

Later seasons took this further, pushing more into the realms of weird-science and metaphysics on one side, with the Dharma Initiative, and soft mysticism on the other, with the Others, but even then, the show-runners – smartly, I think – chose to frame it as the conflict between progress and science, and the natural world demanding more respect from its alpha species.

It’s telling that Jacob was only ever mentioned in passing – even when Benry invoked him, it was only ever rarely – and that things like the smoke monster were given little tells that meant they could pass for mechanical, or at least made. And last season, with Faraday as it’s mouthpiece and the majority of the action taking place around the Dharma Initiative, the real world, or even with the relatively science-fiction based conceit of time-travel – seemed headed toward this almost more rich and potent metaphysics-based narrative – where the incredible and the unlikely and the spiritual, the miraculous and the coincidental – and all the rich human and emotional stuff that happens as a result – were creating a strong argument for the innate beauty of quantum mechanics and chaos theory.

This season – and I know it’s dangerous to judge a show, especially this show, on half a season – seems to be taking a much more traditional tack, and this episode only consolidates that tonal shift. We seem to be talking about the gathering of two forces, behind two ideologically opposed figureheads, and the debate almost seems to have shifted to what those two sides are stand-ins for – is it Biblical? Or is it free-will vs determinism? etc – rather than the normal question when watching Lost, which is, of course, “is that really what’s going on?” (or, “are we ever going to see Evangeline Lilly naked?”).

Don’t get me wrong: I am totally on board if this season simply because the countdown to a final battle between good and evil, and watching the characters deliberate over which side to take has been fascinating so far. If all we get to see is how normal mortal people live with being pawns in the battle between Biblical entities, I will not be sad to be watching that TV. “Carnivale” never got to finish it’s take on that particular trope, and it’s going to be a while before I get to re-read “The Stand”, so a bit of that vintage Stephen King epic flair mixed with the show’s own polished aesthetic isn’t going to be unwelcome.

And I somehow doubt we’re headed for the full-on angelic intrusions we saw in “BSG”.

But if, the way it’s looking right now, the show discards some of it’s stronger elements to make for a tidy finish, it will be a shame. Not a deal-breaker, for sure. But still, all along, “Lost” has been one of those places where nothing was ever that simple, grey areas reigned, and science was weirder than religion, and in that way it’s unique – I think it netted a particular audience, some of whom (and possibly most vocal) were already institutionalised geeks, but many of whom came in from the soap dramas and more mainstream TV, and by playing with story elements that questioned causality, examined the ways which people impact on each other, and questioned such fundamentally held beliefs as those surrounding sociology, psychology, survival, revenge and duty, it gave that audience something to think about, when most other TV persists in telling them stuff they already agree with.

It encouraged people to think about big ideas, even if often it’s characters weren’t that good at considering them.

Losing that for the sake of giving some closure to the people who’ve spent every day since the third or fourth episode pining for “answers” would be a shame.

That said, just typing this, I can see a number of different reasons where going for the definitive and previously seen story trope of black hat vs white hat actually still fits in with many of the other favourite traits this show has – even if Jacob is a Jesus allegory, the questions about causality and personal responsibility still hold.

Anyway, so, good episode – I just wish it didn’t appear to so completely telegraph some of my greatest concerns for the show’s imminent final few hours!