ab aeterno: hellish deeds

Daybreak. The air is thick, hot, sweaty. Thick with sweaty hotness. For we are onan island. And it is generally hot on islands. Except for, say, islands off of Canada or maybe Antarctica or something like that. BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE WE ARE SO THAT’S PRETTY MUCH IRRELEVANT.

this is a HOT island... to be clear

Said Island of Hotness is called Tenerife, a Spanish island located off the coast of Africa. And — LO! What now?! Is that mayhaps a timeless-looking, eyeliner-wearing man approaching?

it is!

Indeed! And he, like the island of Tenerife, is sweaty, hot and thick… with beard. His name is Ricardo, a rugged Spanish farmer lover, his unruly locks being tossed by both the ocean winds and his inner turmoil: his true temporary love is about to die from the consumption! THE HORROR! But sweaty, hot, thick, unruly Ricardo’s untamed heart cannot stand such misery!

baggage

so, instead of riding all night to see chicken-eating Dr. Douche and then accidentally killing him over some meds, leading Ricardo to become convicted of murder and sent to the New World as a slave for Magnus Hanso, but then never making it to said New World and instead becoming a pawn for two dueling demi-gods trying to prove each other wrong about human nature, INSTEAD OF THAT, Richard–err–Ricardo hops in a canoe and paddles across the Atlantic toward his true love, a breathtaking young red-ish haired maiden with an affinity for serial television and Chimay Blue who awaits his arrival… longingly…

WHOA THERE LOST FANS! I think I fell asleep at the blog there for a moment. You know, I talk in my sleep. I didn’t say anything embarrassing, did I?

it was a long night

Anyway, on to Ab Aeterno, the long-awaited Richard-flashback episode aired last week. It was, in my humble opinion, quite excellent. Part-Harlequin-Historic-Romance, part-Count-of-Monte-Cristo, part-Dante’s-Inferno, Ab Aeterno was very back-to-basics LOST: a flashback gives a glimpse into the as-yet-unknown history of an intriguing character, whose present predicament is relevant to events in said flashback.  Some good guesses about Richard’s history were confirmed: he did indeed come on the Black Rock, as a slave, and since has served as the go-between for Jacob and the Others, or people he brings to the island. Oh, and yes, he is immortal, thanks to J-Woww’s magic touch.

There was one major curveball:

THE BLACK ROCK BROKE THE STATUE!!!!!!!!!!

 

are you effing kidding me?

Wait… you mean… that huge fucking statue… of taweret… was.. broken by a WOODEN SHIP COMING IN OFF A TSUNAMI-LIKE WAVE?! Jigga what? Not that a wooden ship breaking a multiple-stories tall cement statue is the most incredulous thing in a story about black smoke monsters that read your mind or anything, but… that seemed a bit of a random development, non? Since the end of season 2, when Sayid turned to the Kwons and said, “I don’t know what is more disturbing, the fact that the rest of the statue is missing, or that is has four toes,” we’ve been wondering what the eff happened to that mofo-ing statue and, lo and behold — it’s the Black Rock? This incident smacks a bit of, “Well, we have to solve the mystery of how the Black Rock got into the middle of the jungle and how the statue broke (along with 10 trillion other mysteries), so let’s just kill two birds with one stone, shall we?” That or Jacob has a really shitty contractor. You know, J, you should really check those guys out before commissioning them to build giant statues of Egyptian deities. Just sayin…

But Richard’s soon-to-be-dead amigo didn’t know about Egyptians or contractors — he thought Ole Four Toes was EL DIABLO — the devil. Hell and heaven were very much on the brain in Ab Aeterno. But then again, Richardo did claim to be a Catholic (if only for Isabella) and when isn’t going to hell not on one’s mind in Catholicism? Actually, right after RA announced to Jack and Co. that they were in hell, I wondered if he hadn’t given it all away — despite Darlton’s insistence that they’re not dead, it’s not Purgatory etc. Being on the island is a rebirth, a resurrection after all. They emerged from literal and figurative wreckage to newborn selves (noting, of course, Jacob’s harsh baptism of Richard in this ep).

That’s what Jacob wants for them, anyway. But he is no coddling father. He wants them to come to the right conclusions themselves. Sort of. Notice that Jacob tells Richard that he’s all hands off, but it is who he puts his hands ON which is precisely what may have altered the lives of six of the casta-dates (candidates + castaways). Jacob is just as manipulative as MiB and I don’t doubt that he conned Richard into being his eternal consigliere. “What?” Jacob says. “That guy in black over there? He might get to them FIRST? Golly gee, bearded guy. I never thought of THAT!” Sure, J. Suuuuuure.

But like many of our castaways, Richard drank from the cups of both Heaven and Hell. Both Jacob and MiB offer the parched Richard some of their sweet wine in an attempt to cajole him to his side. And both are tricky fuckers. The image of the body and the blood repeated throughout both exchanges between RA and Jacob and MiB. The most fascinating line in the episode for me was when MiB (played so deliciously by Titus Welliver, who scared the crap out of me when I switched over to The Good Wife the other week and he popped up) said:

“You aren’t the only one who’s lost something, my friend. The Devil betrayed me. He took my body. My humanity.”

For a moment I entertained the idea that Jacob had pulled a switcheroo on MiB and who we think is Jacob is walking around in MiB’s skin and vice versa. But I think he means that Jacob has imprisioned him in this form: half-human, half-smoke thing, all bitter immortal. MiB also feeds flesh to Richard by putting the boar on the spit. Here MiB has roasted one of Richard’s enemies — that foul beat which caused him to lose his precious nail, perhaps his only salvation. (Side note: I thought RA’s time alone in the ship reminded me both of Sisyphean tasks (which Dante saw on his journal with Vergil through hell in Inferno) and of Jesus’ 40 days in te desert, where he resisted all the devil’s temptations and emerged victorious).  It is a display of power. Now if only Richard would sacrifice the Devil for him, then Richard will be further rewarded.

But Richard cannot take the Devil’s body. Jacob reminds RA of his own mortality by baptizing him anew in the ocean, only to make that humanity, the body, eternal only a few moments later. The blood, or the wine, was a central image too, as the bottle served as a symbol of the conflict between Jacob and MiB’s desires. Richard drinks of the blood; he is a converted believer. But Jacob controls who is allowed to partake in it. Or something. This whole body and the blood symbolism is getting a bit muddled, but you get the general idea… right?

QUICK HITS:

the significance of the cros: when RA had to take it up, use it to barter, toss it aside, bury it, dig it up.  Smokey’s stealing f it from Richard and then using it to manipulate him. More Christian imagery blah blah blah.

— several eye close ups: starting with Ilana, continuing with RA, and thecurious line uttered by ghost Isabella (presumably Smokey?): “I looked into his eyes and all I saw was evil.” This is a nice counterpoint to Locke’s famous “I looked into the eye of the island and what I saw was beautiful.”

— The page of Richard’s bible that we got a close up from was the book of Luke, Chapter 4. The camera focuses on the line “No prophet is accepted in his own country.”

luuuuuuuuuuuuke

— The rock that Jacob gives to MiB proves to at least me that the cave that Smokey took Sawyer to belonged to His Smokiness himself and not Jacob. When they enter the cave, Flocke makes a point of tossing the white rock into the ocean. He’s won. Jacob’s cheeky little present isn’t needed anymore.

— Hurley totally pulled a “Ghost” in this episode. Richard Alpert + Swayze? I’m in.

With only eight episodes left, things are certainly heating up. MiB/Flocke is ready to pop some bottles and make it rain (death) all over this club (island). I’ve reprinted their final convo below for your reference. Tomorrow I’ll take a look at what we have in store for episode 610, “The Package.” Until then, namaste, and sweet dreams!

prefers white

JACOB: Good morning

MAN IN BLACK: Morning.

[Jacob sits down. The Man in Black is lightly juggling the white rock given to him by Richard earlier.]

JACOB: I see you got my present.

MAN IN BLACK: Don’t gloat, Jacob. It doesn’t become you.

JACOB: So you tried to kill me?

MAN IN BLACK: You expect an apology?

JACOB: No. I guess I’m just wondering why you did it.

MAN IN BLACK: Because I want to leave. Just let me leave, Jacob.

JACOB: As long as I’m alive, you’re not going anywhere.

MAN IN BLACK: Well then, now you know why I want to kill you. And I will kill you, Jacob.

JACOB: Even if you do so, somebody else will take my place.

MAN IN BLACK: Then I’ll kill them too.

[Jacob reaches into his pouch and pulls out the bottle of wine. He offers it to the Man in Black.]

JACOB: Here. Something for you to pass the time.

[The Man in Black takes the bottle.]

JACOB: I’ll see you around.

[Jacob departs.]

MAN IN BLACK: Sooner than you think.

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