LOST Recap, Season 6, Episode 9: “Ab Aeterno”
What follows is a recap of LOST Season 6, Episode 9: “Ab Aeterno.” Lots of spoilers ensue.
Check out the guest blogger’s LOST-themed blog at thelostloophole.blogspot.com for daily LOST-related updates.
LOST slowed down a bit last tonight to take viewers deep into the life of one of the show’s most mysterious characters, Richard Alpert. Prior to “Ab Aeterno” (which is Latin for ‘from eternity’) we knew a few things about Richard. We knew he’s immortal, he’s a sort of advisor to Jacob, he came to the island on the Black Rock, and he’s got the most amazing eyelashes that ever belonged to a man. What we didn’t know was why Richard is eternally 35, what his relationship truly is with Jacob, and why he was on The Black Rock. Last night’s episode brought us those answers and more:
“Ab Aeterno” was a bit of a departure from this season’s typical episode. There was no flash-sideways, but instead the majority of the episode took place as a flashback.
The show began with a scene that was first part of the Season 5 finale (“The Incident”). Jacob visits Illana in a Russian hospital. The scene was extended to show us that Jacob tasked Illana with protecting the six remaining candidates (who are Jack Shephard, Hugo Reyes, James Ford, Sayid Jarrah, Sun/Jin Kwon, and Kate Austen). Jacob also told her to ask Richard Alpert for further instructions. Back on the island, when Illana asks Richard what to do next, he becomes incredibly agitated, as he has been throughout this season. He tells everyone that they are all dead and in hell before he grabs a torch and runs into the jungle.
Then we dove deep into the flashback, which took us to 1867 on the Canary Islands. His wife, Isabella, is very ill and Richard takes what little money (and Isabella’s necklace) to pay for a doctor. He rides through the rain only for the doctor to tell him that he doesn’t have enough money. Richard takes this news poorly and accidently kills the doctor during a struggle for the medicine. Richard takes the medicine and runs out of the house. He arrives home to Isabella, but she has unfortunately already died. Richard is taken to prison and told by a priest that cannot be forgiven for the sin of murder and will be hung in the morning. Richard desperately pleads for absolution and says he will do any kind of penance to escape hell. The priest doesn’t budge, which seems pretty unpriestly.
The next day Richard is brought to a Mr. Whitfield, who buys him as a slave to work on The Black Rock (so that’s why he was in chains!) because Richard speaks English and has strong hands (he also looked in his mouth, but I’m not sure what that was all about). The Black Rock gets caught in a bad storm (caused by Jacob?) and runs into the four-toed statue, knocking it down to the ankle. The slaves on board are killed by Mr. Whitfield, but just before he kills Richard, Smokey comes and kills all of the crew members, including Mr. Whitfield. Richard lives in chains for a few days, before the Man in Black comes to save him. The Man in Black frees him, saying “It’s good to see you out of those chains,” the same line Flocke used when he saw Richard in the Season 6 premier (“LA X“). The Man in Black tells Richard that Jacob has his wife and to get her back Richard must stab him in the chest before he says one word (the same thing Dogen told Sayid about killing Flocke in Season 6, Episode 6, “Sundown“).
Richard travels to the four-toed statue and attempts to kill Jacob, but fails. Richard tells Jacob that he is dead and in hell, which Jacob denies. Jacob then repeatedly dunks Richard in the ocean to prove that he’s alive. Jacob fills Richard in on the dynamics of his relationship with the Man in Black, which proves to be one of the most insightful conversations we’ve overheard this season. Jacob compares evil to the wine in a wine bottle, saying that the island is like the cork. Without the cork, the wine could get out of the bottle. Without the island, evil could spread and infect the entire world. Jacob works to keep evil, or the Man in Black, contained. Jacob brings people to the island, where their past no longer matters, and allows them to choose between right and wrong. Richard points out that Jacob could just influence people’s decision, but Jacob says that he doesn’t want to interfere. He then offers Richard the job of mediating between him and the people he brings to the island. Richard agrees and since Jacob can’t reunite him with his wife, or absolve him of his sins and save him from hell, he chooses to never die. Jacob touches him, and, there we go, we know now how and why Richard is immortal.
Richard returns to the Man in Black, who tells Richard if he ever changes his mind, he could always come back to his side. Richard hands him a present from Jacob, a polished white stone. Take that, Man in Black: one point for Jacob.
We then see Richard in 2007, continuing his journey through the jungle. He yells to the sky that he’s changed his mind and would like to be on the Man in Black’s team now. I can understand how Richard may be a bit disgruntled after all this time with Jacob, but isn’t it a little late in the game to switch teams? Hurley shows up, and mediates a conversation between a dead Isabella and Richard. Isabella tells Richard that he must stop the Man in Black from leaving and if he doesn’t, we’re all going to hell.
“Ab Aeterno” ends in a flashback (the last time that happened was in Season 2, with the episode Dave). Jacob bring the Man in Black a bottle of wine, they converse some more about how the Man in Black will find a way to kill Jacob, or his replacement, in order to leave the island. The last image is of the Man in Black smashing the wine bottle, releasing the wine and bypassing the cork. Eerie!
So that’s a lengthy recap, but we learned a lot last night. Not only did we learn Richard’s backstory, we learned more about Jacob and the Man in Black (I wish we knew his name!). This episode was full of references to hell, good and evil, right and wrong, death, and black and white. One of the most important lessons “Ab Aeterno” brought us was that Jacob isn’t necessarily protecting the island, but he’s protecting the world from evil. Interesting idea, but are we sure that the Man in Black is bad and Jacob is good? I’m not convinced yet.
We’ve been given a lot of food for thought this week. With only eight episodes left, Ab Aeterno helped fans dig a bit deeper into the mythology of the island. What next week will bring is a total surprise.
Other LOST Season 6 recaps:
Katelyn is a graduate student at Michigan State University is East Lansing, MI. In her free time she loves to spend time watching and writing about LOST. Check out her LOST-themed blog at thelostloophole.blogspot.com for daily LOST-related updates.