Next: “Ab Aeterno” (Episode 6-09)

It was the best of episodes, it was the worst of episodes. A tale of two LOSTs came to us tonight, and the chasm between fans who liked it and fans who didn’t will probably never be wider. Perhaps “Ab Aeterno” was a breathtaking, deep, and daring voyage into the heart of a man and, therein, the heart of the whole series. Or, perhaps it was merely an extended flashback for a secondary character that ended with absolutely no forward momentum on the island.

We choose the former. We loved this episode.

If only for tonight, we forgot about numbers and vaccines and time travel, and immersed ourselves in the story of Ricardus — the rich Spanish settings, the lingering moments of terror and despair aboard the Black Rock, the eternal chess game between the Man in Black and Jacob, and throughout, Nestor Carbonell’s fantastic performance. When Richard is visited by the form of Isabelle, we were enthralled. We couldn’t believe this eerie scene was part of the same show that started with a plane crash five years ago.

Before we even thought about where the pieces fit, “Ab Aeterno” reaffirmed our love of the picture being painted. In the end, will it be incomplete, fragmented, and confounding? We have no doubt. But six seasons in, “LOST” is still taking chances, posing big questions, and for that, we still think it’s the best show on television.

Nonetheless, the puzzle pieces demand some study.

No, the island is not hell, nor purgatory… yet it is the closest thing to it, in both the corporeal and metaphysical sense. Indeed, Alpert’s early declaration that they’re all dead is not entirely untrue. Souls come to the island to be tested, and have so far unanimously failed. Sounds like hell to us. We also learn that the island is a “cork” that keeps malevolence and evil contained, and that our survivors are pawns in an epic battle between darkness and its captor.

So: Before the Man In Black escapes, can the last of the candidates prove Jacob’s case? Can they demonstrate that people can choose the right path?

That seems to be “LOST” in a nutshell. The players and stories are simply human. Jack, Kate, Hurley, a Kwon… Their pasts don’t matter, yet obviously inform their future. But stakes are huge. Biblical, global, and universal. It seems impossible for “LOST” to satisfactorily resolve these grand themes in the next seven episodes, let alone a million other frayed threads. We’re afraid vindication may only come after re-watching the series from the beginning, after seeing everything through Season Six eyes.

Interestingly, we saw a distinct parallel between Richard’s failed attempt on Jacob’s life and Sayid’s failure to kill the Man in Black. The fact that both sides may be intent on murder certainly muddies the “good versus evil” waters. Also, even though we still don’t know what rules are in force (and thus what “loophole” Ben stepped through to finally stab Jacob), I was surprised by the suggestion that Alpert was the first to try. Coming to the island in the 1800s, his story already began much more recently than I’d assumed. Which means that the conflict has only recently turned ugly, maybe as Jacob’s candidates have started to run out.

On the questions checklist, meanwhile, we can cross out both “what destroyed the statue” and “how did the Black Rock end up in the jungle” with the same stroke. The physics seem a little iffy, but then again, there’s also a smoke monster on this show. Speaking of which, it’s now clear that said smoke monster “scans” people to find their motivations and weaknesses, if not also their usefulness. Conjuring dead wives, or daughters (Alex), or brothers (Yemi) is a useful power to get people to do things for you, and it’s a power that Jacob explicitly admits tonight that he lacks.

He can, however, grant immortality. And I’m curious why Alpert became Jacob’s ageless intermediary, when all who came before and after him were merely candidates to test. I’m guessing Alpert was a candidate himself, explaining why was he the only person on the Black Rock that the smoke monster didn’t kill. But did he end up extra special because he was the first to come at Jacob with a dagger, demonstrating to Jacob that he needed a helper?

And now, decades later, Richard is weak and tries to join the Man In Black. His dead wife, through Hurley, puts him back on track. Like Ben, he’s nearly led astray, but sticks with Jacob’s team. But also like Ben, I now wonder what else is left for him to do. I don’t know who’s going to be the last man standing against the Man In Black, but I’m pretty sure it’s not either of them.

We’re glad “LOST” took us on a ride into the past this week. But next week, we better rack up some serious mileage on the island.

Notes and Notions:

  • Jen’s now fixated on Anthony Cooper. The man who appeared mysteriously on the island, and whom Ben prodded Locke to murder. With a knife. Quickly, before he had a chance to think. Was that whole scenario yet another “move” between Jacob and the Man in Black? And if so, who’s side did Anthony Cooper represent?
  • Alpert’s backstory was almost flawless. But the ease with which the greedy doctor was killed was a bit silly. Coupled with Kelvin’s noggin knock at Desmond’s hands, it seems skulls on “LOST” are especially fragile.
  • Now that we see even more significance and history to Alpert’s character, it’s hard not to think about some of the things he’s done in seasons past. The fact that he was merely a thug for Ben in “The Brig” seems ridiculous, as does his apparently pivotal role in “The Purge.” Was he acting in Jacob’s interests then? And how does that jive with his efforts to sustain a truce further back in 1977?
  • Richard’s devotion to Isabella was well acted, but I couldn’t help but think it was an interesting choice to motivate him with his love for a spouse, rather than for a parent or especially a child. With all the generational issues explored on “LOST,” hanging things on a husband and wife bond seemed almost quaint.
  • Some great, lighter moments: Richard’s almost girlish giggle when he’s asked what to do. Hurley telling Jack it’s not about him. And the look on the Man in Black’s face when Alpert hands him the white stone.
  • The captain of the Black Rock was one Magnus Hanso. Presumably related to Alvar Hanso of the nearly forgotten Hanso Foundation, which funded the DHARMA Initiative. I wonder if this one mention of the Hanso name will be all we’ll see in the show from the Season 2 ARG? Or will the arrival of Charles Widmore open the door to a little more Hanso/DHARMA backstory?
  • Lots of overtly Christian elements this week. God, the devil, a bible, a cross, sin, absolution and forgiveness, penitence… There was a lingering shot of Luke 4:24-29, in which Jesus asserts that prophets are often rejected in their own neighborhoods, and angers the people of Nazareth by telling them not to expect any special treatment even though he’s from their town. I’ll leave it to more qualified scholars to tease out how the passage applies to “LOST.” I’m also sure the nail Richard found on the Black Rock was symbolic, but don’t know how.
  • At the end of Season 5, Jacob and the Man In Black see a ship sailing on calm seas in the middle of a bright, sunny day. Yet we now know the Black Rock arrived on a stormy night… delivered by a huge wave, no less. Presumably the first ship wasn’t the Black Rock, but one of many other vessels that Jacob has summoned.

What did you think? We’d love your feedback! Share your thoughts, theories, and reactions to “Ab Aeterno” via a comment below, e-mail us at, or call the LOSTLine at (815) 310-0808.

404 Responses to “Next: “Ab Aeterno” (Episode 6-09)”

  1. lavasusan says:

    Oh. so. bored. with this episode. I don’t think we learned anything more about the eternal battle between Jacob and the Man In Black. We jut saw another version. I predicted every move before it happened as the telegraphing seemed so evident (doctor won’t come! Richard will accidentally kill him! Wife will die!), and then was dumbfounded when the Lost writers seemed to take the easy way out and choose the obvious. Really, who didn’t know that the mysterious stranger who “happened” to find the keys was Smoky in a pre-Locke body? Who wasn’t expecting the one Richard was sent to kill to be Jacob? And the Richard back story – after suppositions that he was actually an ancient Egyptian, the revelation that he was just 100 years older than he looked was meh.
    The Hurley/Jack moment was funny, and it was nice to see Richard get a little solace from his long-dead wife, but really, that could have beed wrapped up in 15 minutes. I feel as though we lost a huge chunk of momentum from the last episode, and I kind of resented it. What, are the writer so short on remaining plot elements that they needed this detour? It seemed a little self-indulgent.

  2. In the “this is purgatory even if they said it was not” note: Ben’s mother, Isabella, Libby and maybe Christian… We can assume they were not Smokey when someone else than Hurley saw them (Ben’s mother: when was Ben scanned? and since when MIB can take form of people who died outside the Island?; Isabella: died outside the Island, smokey was heard out of the ship when she was in; Libby was on the Freighter talking to Michael yet no Smoke came toward it; Christian has been seen by Jack even OFF the Island).
    After they died, they did one passage through the Island then we never saw them again (except Christian). Seems like what they would do if the Island is purgatory! And when they go to Hell or Heaven Hurley is the only one that can talk to them.
    It is boggus but it is still possible.
    I think the Whispers are more and more looking like Ghosts watching what is going on for humanity sakes.

  3. Cat says:

    As Ryan and Jen said, and the comments above suggest, this episode will split the lost fans down the middle. On one hand, I think we had a fantastic, riviting hour of TV that, other than the seemingly endless attempt by Richard to get out of the chains, had us hanging on every word. I don’t remember an hour flying by so fast.

    On the other hand, it did little to move the plot ahead other than to set the stage for the war. With 7 eps left, 2 of which are the finale, there are now only 5 to answer a lot of questions. I was waiting for this ep to really start moving towards the climatic conclusion in a very intense way but guess I’ll have to wait until next week.

    I loved the show, now believe MIB to be truly evil and can’t wait for next week.

  4. Bob from Oxford says:

    Something doesn’t jive after last night’s episode. Richard is the intermediary for Jacob acting on his behalf? And Jacob brings people to the island to show the MIB that they can do the right thing? (And on that point, what is the point? Everyone Jacob brought to the island, has done something for good or for bad, but either way it makes no difference to the MIB…so, why does Jacob continue this?) What is the explanation for Richard (as Jacob’s intermediary) directing young Ben to commit genocide and kill everyone, including his own father, in the Dharma Initiative? Finally, the whole thing with Hugo being the Ghost Whisperer just seems ridiculous anymore. What is the point? Why not let the dead speak directly to the people they need to speak to? I’ll keep watching until the end though; good, bad, & ugly!

  5. Carol from Boston says:

    The Island is not Hell, (though I can see why it is to Richard)

    @ April and Coolpeace – exactly right about MIB. Smokey came down and scanned Richard for his weaknesses to see how he could be manipulated, Richard’s weaknesses were his wife and his guilt over killing someone and going to hell. Smokey waits till Richard is half dead and half out of his mind. Smokey takes the form of Isabella and scares Richard by telling him this is Hell and the devil is taking both of them. MIB then pretends to take Isabella. When Richard is almost Dead MIB pretends to be his savior and manipulates Richard into killing Jacob. Richard, a good man would never kill a man on purpose, but he would kill the devil that took his wife. The island is not Hell that was just MIB’s tool for manipulation.

    @Bryce – great thoughts re: the weather changes I had forgotten about the sudden stormy night of the helicopter when it was day on the island.

    @April – I really like your explanation about MIB’s meaning re: Jacob taking away his humanity and body taken away and becoming a monster.

  6. Bonita in Atlanta says:

    Quick question to all: It seemed to me that the white rock looked different from when it was handed to MIB the second time he shows it. The first view it looked more jagged the second view more rounded & smooth. Need rewatch

    Episode had great call backs to other scenes,proving it seems to me that it’s all ends the same and anything else is progress.

    Can’t wait to read all the posts. Too rich an episode for me to break down by myself.

  7. Carol from Boston says:

    Note the parallel – MIB touches Richard when he is almost dead and seeminly brings him back to life and Richard becomes an important tool for Jacob. He beomes his representative to the his candidates, his “substitute”. Jacob brings Locke back to life and he becomes MIB’s representative, his “substitute”. Both Richard and Locke are clearly “men of faith”.

    Questions that I still have – Jacob says the island is a clean slate and that he doesn’t interfere and lets people make their own decisions, but clearly he does interfere when he touched all of them. Some of the people who came to the island did get redeemed and when that happened they seem to die, doesn’t that redemption prove that man is good. Ana Lucia – chose not to kill, Shannon became a less selfish person.

    If the island is such a bad place why does Widmore want to go back so badly?

    I found it very interesting that Jacob doesn’t really explain who he is and what his purpose is until he finds out what Richard thinks he is. Who knows if he is telling the truth. Both Jacob and MIB seem to tell people what they want to hear. Both offer people choices.

    I still sometimes wonder if Jacob stole MIB’s original identity, somehow tricked him out of his own body and made him the smoke monster. Maybe Jacob is lying, if the smoke monster is the island security system, maybe the smoke monster is killing the bad people so they can’t leave the island and corrupt the outside world even more?

    I feel like the writers have set us up to doubt everything so even when things are spelled out for me I don’t trust in the answers. Is it all black and white?

    Well at least it all isn’t due to aliens, lol

  8. Chris in Durham NC says:

    Good continued discussion, and I like the various responses that MiB/Smokey kills evil people to try to corrupt good people. I can buy that. Also, I can see how having Hurley translate everything may have been too much, but the way they filmed that scene sure made it seem to me like Richard could actually hear/interact with Isabella. I’m still not sure on that one.

    As for Dharma being important because it brought important people to the island – well, thats kind of my point. Really, the ONLY reason it’s important is to serve as a plot device, not as the mystical, mysterious entity it was first thought to be. Granted, they have slowly but surely de-mystified Dharma over the years, but it is still pretty disappointing that all of the various “weird” Dharma stuff (polar bears, numbers, electromagnetism, thought control, etc.) will either never be explained, or at least not satisfactorily explained nor important to the overall story.

    Also, I found the story behind Richard becoming immortal to be HUGELY lacking. Basically, it’s because he rubbed a genie’s bottle, his first two wishes couldn’t be fulfilled, so he threw out a cliched third wish and voila, “that I can do”. Very unsatisfying.

    All in all, I actually really liked the episode, and I thought Nestor Carbonell was amazing. It was great from a dramatic standpoint and the story was really well told. But this is LOST, and I expect more than just a good dramatic story, and I don’t feel like we got it. No rules were explained, no real mysteries uncovered.

  9. Chris in Durham NC says:

    One last thing that kind of soured me –

    If Jacob has a set or morals that doesn’t allow him to intervene in peoples lives in order to get the outcome he wants, I have a really hard time believing that he would be OK with electing a “consigliere” to intervene on his behalf. It is effectively the exact same thing – he’s still intervening in peoples lives, only he’s using an intermediary to do it. Reminds me of the axion “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” – Richard is simply a device, while Jacob is still pulling the trigger, intervening as necessary.

  10. Carol from Boston says:

    @Chris in Durham, re: your last comment – I agree! Exactly the point I wanted to make but you put it so much better than me. Jacob intervenes all the time, so how is really their free will? Their free will was violated when he brought them there for his own purposes.

    If Jacob wants a good soul – that clearly has to be Hurley. Hurley is the right one to take his place. The only temptation test he failed was the one involving the dharma food and his sneaking it for himself. But he redeemed himself by sharing it with all the Losties. 🙂

  11. Steve from NYC says:

    I loved the episode, but one thing irks me. When Jacob asks Ricardo what he wants and he says Isabella, I believe that. To be absolved of his sins, check. Eternal life? That’s out of left field.

    I know it has to fit the plot. If he said, I want to go to the new world and start anew, where no one from my past can find me, I would definitely believe that.

    Of course that we all don’t want to die is in the back of everyone’s mind, but in the context of the scene and who Jacob is, I guess you could say Ricardo really thought Jacob was some kind of godlike entity and decided hey, he’s a god, let’s just throw this out there.

    I’m not a writer and can’t think of a better way to wedge in the eternal life wish, so I’ll give props to the writers. Maybe he could of said, please don’t kill me after Jacob beats and nearly drowns him and Jacob said, I’ll do better than that, not only will I not kill you…

  12. Just to clarify, I believe that Lost has 9 Episodes left – INCLUDING the two in the finale on May 23rd. So, there are 9 hours left to squeeze in the rest of the story, not just seven.

  13. Jen from NJ says:

    Awesome episode! I think I have a crush on Titus now. Anyway, my theory here is that Sawyer is the new Jacob. The boy with blood on his hands told Flocke in the jungle that he “cant kill him”… my thought is that its because he is the new Jacob. My guess here is that Sawyer even knows this, and in last weeks episode, in his quest to get off the island, he is conning MIB into thinking thats what he wants, to get off the island with him. But in fact, I think he is trying to lead him to death or somewhere else to win the game, through a con where MIB doesnt realize who he really is.

  14. ShannyMac3T0 says:

    So if the island is a cork and it is keeping the “evil” in, what does it mean when they show us the island at the bottom of the ocean in the season opener?

    So if the candidates are chosen to take over when Jacob dies, did Jacob know ahead of time that there was a loophole to be had? And who of our candidates is strong or most like Jacob enough to keep “evil” from escaping from the island?

    So how the he double hockey sticks are we going to get all of these questions answered in less then a normal work day!!!???

    Got to go get a tissue, my nose is bleeding, dammit.

  15. Jennifer says:

    There were many lines we’ve heard before and actions repeated and such. Loved it!
    Isabella tells Richard “we’ll always be together” and Jin’s wedding ring that Sun gave him said, “we’ll never be apart.” Alpert learned English to go to the New World with Isabella; Sun learned English to either escape from Jin or start anew with him-can’t remember-in LA. You discussed the dagger and Dogen telling Sayid what MIB told Richard to do. Isabella said she looked into his eyes (smoke? MIB?) and saw evil, which is what Dogen said about Sayid or MIB- can’t remember that either. Richard said he wants to live when Jacob nearly drowns him; I think MIB says this to Sayid or Sawyer? MIB’s giving Richard Isabella’s cross reminded me of Ben giving Sun Jin’s ring which gave her a reason to return to the island- to find him. “Sooner than you think” – MIB says it to Jacob at the end of episode 9 and Unlocke says it in The Substitute after seeing young Jacob with blood on his hands- “I’ll be seeing you, Richard, sooner than you think.”

  16. Bonita in Atlanta says:

    I think the framework of this episode was build on Richard being a man of Faith. So the evil/devil and religious tones reflect his individual view of what constitutes Mankind’s basic struggle. Ultimately LOST may be viewed as a show about Spirtuality – no matter what religion you subscribe to or if you are even an atheist (or Man of science).

  17. Jennifer says:

    Jacob gloats over Alpert. I couldn’t decide if MIB’s response was that of an equal who has lost ground in a game or a reprimand (like he said he was disappointed in the people at the statue, Sawyer shouldn’t have interrupted MIB, Claire got slapped, etc)

    MIB wants to leave and Jacob won’t let him. How does Jaocb have the upper hand? Did he win a freaky game of backgammon? Are Jacob and MIB equals and one is favored by the higher power or parent or do Jacob and MIB have a parent child or similar relationship?

    Jacob repeats a “rule” that people can’t com into the statue, he has to invite them. Did a higher power give Jacob the rules? Is Jacob making them up like Unlocke accuses him? What happens if you go in uninvited? Maybe it’s like Unlocke’s Temple decree/choice- stay and die or come and live. If Jacob is making them up, why is MIB following the rules if they are equals? Anyway, MIB says he want to kill him to get off the island. Jacob says he’ll get a replacement if he dies and MIB says he’ll kill them. It seems Jacob is a bit selfish here, unless he’s really doing this to keep evil from spreading (and he wasn’t lying)?? It really looks like Jacob is choosing the power to keep MIB trapped over those people’s lives, like Ben did with Alex… hmmm. The who is good and who is evil is still not answered for me. We’ve got 8 episodes after all.

  18. Rusty says:

    I agree with the theory that Isabella’s first appearance inside the Black Rock was really the MIB trying to manipulate Richard. We’ve seen him appear as loved ones before, but this is the first time that he has appeared in the form of a person whose body was not on the island (ie Alex, Yemi, Christian). Perhaps we’ve misunderstood his power.

    Along those lines, have we ever seen MIB take the form of a loved one while appearing before MORE THAN ONE person? In other words, did anyone except Eko see Yemi? Did anyone other than Ben see dead Alex? I don’t think so.

    So maybe MIB has the power to appear as any dead person, regardless of where their body is located. And maybe this illusion can only work in a one-on-one conversation.

    Speaking of Isabella, presumably Hurley was actually seeing her spirit. I suppose its a testament to the power of her love for Richard that she’s still with him 140 years after her death, and on the other side of the world. Does this open the door for other spirit visits for our other Losties, or is this a one-time occurrence?

    Also, I’ve been thinking about the jailer/prisoner relationship for some time. I’m glad to get some confirmation on this point. However, this does conflict with an earlier theory: that Jacob and MIB are equal yet opposite, that they are ying & yang, black & white, good & evil. Jailor & prisoner are not equals, particularly if the prisoner can kill the jailor. And if the jailor can bring in his replacement.

    Finally, although I’m totally in the “Jacob=good, MIB=evil” camp, I can’t help but wonder about the moral implications of Jacob bringing people to the island (and thus their death) time and time again. Its analogous to a man feeding mice to his pet snake. Who’s responsible for killing the mouse? Is it the snake, or the man who dropped it in the snake’s cage?

  19. Eric in Sedona says:

    @ Steve from NYC Actually I think asking for immortal life flows naturally from being told Jacob can’t absolve his sins. Richard, sensibly, does not want damnation. He asks to be freed from such a fate and is told that that can’t be granted. But by never dying, he can avoid that fate. And so that is the next thing he asks for.

    One more thing about my comparison of Jacob to Churchill. He didn’t just let innocent people suffer for the greater good, but with FDR and Stalin caused suffering for hat he believed was the greater good. The bombing of civilians in places such as Dresden, for example ( Argued by some to be a war crime. Definitely, the cause an enormous amount of suffering. Unless he actually was in on the Purge, Jacob doesn’t seem to have done anything comparable. But when comparing Churchill to Hitler, we can easily we which was the evil one even while acknowledging all the complicating factors.

  20. Olympiakos says:

    Great episode but not a LOST episode. I would like a scientific explanation of all these. It’s very easy to create a new story and its not anything intriguing about it.

    If I would want a spiritual-demon-gods show i would watch Supernatural or Seventh Heaven. I hope the “hell” explanation was a misleading one. I also hope in the end there will be a scientific explanation as promised in season 1.

    I must admit that this episode disappoints me and I start thinking that all these hours spent for watching LOST were lost hours.

  21. Mike B. says:

    It seems to me that a lot of the people saying that this episode is a bad one say so because it wasn’t what they expected it to be. Or because it was flawed, they feel it’s not good. I agree with the Chinese: “A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.” I’m just going to try to ignore all the “nattering nabobs of negativity” on this episode. (To self: enough quotes already!)

    @Eric in Sedona: I love your Hilter and Churchill comparision. Very accurate and well thought out. I’m going to share it with my Lost buddies. Really cool.

  22. @Danielle and @Alex R. – I have a feeling the Purge was instigated by Charles Whitmore when he was head cheese. He already has a history of killing off people he views as being in his way. I don’t recall Ben saying it was Jacob’s idea, just that it wasn’t his (but I could be wrong there). We’ve already seen that there was a time when Ben was working under Charles’ command. Perhaps there’s a Charles Whitmore episode in our future?

    I thought I heard one of the crew on the Black Rock being called something like Whitshire… but I was probably hearing things. Need to watch the episode again. So is next episode a Sun episode?

  23. IllustratedMan says:

    Hmmm…I’ve had this thought/thoery brewing for quite some time and the last few eps have solidified it a bit more…

    I propose that there is no “good” or “evil” in the conflict between Jacob & MIB. They are merely opposites – different sides of the same coin that inherently hates the other. Jacob is Fate personified and MIB is the incarnation of Freewill. Jacob brings them to the island by weaving the threads of destiny, and, once there, MIB knows from many years of experience that they will ultimately fail and corrupt (usually with some help from him, of course). Remember, he said “Always more people, always more killilng, always turns out the same”…or something like that.

    The entire series/flashbacks fleshes this out. The first half of the series (before Through the Looking Glass, on which everything hinged) was about the characters, their lives, and the seeming fate of their lives’ paths that led them to the island. The destiny in which they really had no control: Kate’s abusive father, Sawyer’s abusive father, Locke’s un-father, Jack’s overbearing father (hmm… I see a pattern here!).

    The whole flash sideways sequence (presumably after the cork has popped) showcases lives that are more governed by the character’s freewill: Jack choosing to make up with his son, Locke choosing to not be hindered by his disability, James choosing to share with Miles about his father, etc. No “evil” in having the cork popped & Freewill roaming the world, just more choices and less fate.

    As far as Dharma and the Others, they are just more characters swept up in the whirlwind of the conflict. Obviously the island is of significant scientific importance, so it would naturally draw the attention of many power hungry people & organizations over the years (Dharma, Widmore). The central conflict/plot is Jacob/MIB. I assume that once Jacob and MIB are killed off, that 2 of our Losties will take their places. And the cycle will continue.

    Don’t look for every question to be answered! That’s what makes for a good ending to a great story. Maybe not as satisfying, but definately more creative.

  24. Carol from Boston says:

    @Olympiakos – I couldn’t agree more. I don’t want all this to end up being all about religion and god vs the devil. It seems like during the season finale last year the whole show took on a different tone, They introduce these characters at the last minute and we are supposed to reconcile the Jacob vs. MIB as being the reason for everything the past 6 years.

    It seems that the shattering of the bottle must represent the destruction of the island as being MIB’s only escape.

    The weird thing about Locke is that unlike Jacob who wants to test and experiment everyone, MIB just keeps saying he wants to go home. He doesn’t mention testing anyone or changing anyone, he just sees everyone as the means to his end, leaving the island. He sees Jacob’s experiments as pointless and a waste of his time. MIB just seems resigned and tired. The question remains – Where is MIB’s home and what will he do when he gets there?

  25. Oh, and one more thing…

    @Eric in Sedona, I agree with your analysis of why Richard makes the third wish. It’s almost an afterthought, which isn’t that how a lot of people screw themselves over with life altering choices? Something that wasn’t really thought through ends up influencing everything else for the rest of their life.

  26. @Chris in Durham and Carol: Jacob brings people to the Island (and now has Richard to do that with “lists”) but once they are on the Island nobody talks to Jacob! Richard doesn’t even know about the Candidates… Jacob leaves people do what they want once they are “tabula rasa” on the Island. And I think that is why he try different type of person: criminals, married… People who had issues and he wants to see how they are going to do if everything is “cleared”.
    @Eric: totally agree on why Richard didn’t want to die… to avoid hell. That’s why he becomes crazy in the start of this episode: he was wrong and he was in hell.

    So… the writers are back on Buffy territory: The Hell Mouth! And Jacob was The Slayer and now that he is dead a new “Chosen” arise. And the big bad is a non-corporal taking form of dead people.
    Something strange about Isabella and Richard… when he meets Ben for the first time he asked him if his mother died off Island. That’s why we all thought that MIB could not take form of people who died off Island. Guess he might have asked that due to how the same thing happened to him and maybe him alone! (and now Jack and Claire I guess)
    That and who build the Lighthouse/donkey wheel/Statue are the two big misteries I would like cleared up now. (and the “powers” from Island and from people)
    Backgammon rules: you can’t escape before all your chips are on your side. I guess all the Candidates will have to come with MIB if he wants to escape.

  27. Cue Dblu says:

    My initial reaction to the episode was not as great as it was on second blush. Perhaps because I had always guessed that the Richard Alpert backstory would involve some of his time as consigliere on the island, I thought it would be much more revelatory as far as revealing the overall story answers than it ended up being. However, once I put those expectations aside, I could see that this was an amazing episode, both from an emotional as well as providing answers standpoint. Ultimately, though, it appears Richard may be as much in the dark about the meaning of it all as he is about what the inside of the base of the statue looks like. Is it possible that ALL of our characters don’t have the entire story – with the exception of the MIB and Jacob? It sure seems that way.

  28. Jennifer says:

    Didn’t see exactly what part of Luke 4 Alpert was looking at, but …
    Luke 4:1-13 Satan tempts Jesus
    Seems like the game MIB and Jacob are playing…

    verse 14-30 people of his hometown reject Jesus
    verse 4- rather famous concept- ‘no prophet is accepted in his own country’
    ??? I’m at a loss… unless daddies and sometimes mommies (daddy issues) are the hometown and the child is the prophet… being rejected by your own?

    verse 31-37 Jesus casts out a demon
    We have spirits being conjured and MIB is in Locke- some call him demon Locke…

    verse 38 he heals Peter’s MIL of a fever on command
    Isabelle was Richard’s wife, but she had a fever…

    verse 40 more healing
    The island heals…

    verse 41-42 Jesus wants to get away, the crowd follows, he’s got a mission the crowds don’t understand
    Many on Lost have had a mission others don’t understand…I have thought Ben was in the know, then Richard, then Locke, etc

  29. Carol from Boston says:

    @ericfromohio – looking for your past comments, were you just “eric” or “ericfromohio” couldn’t find your comments for recon. What is your theory? I am interested in hearing it. I’ll go back if you can just clarify what your post name is, because somehow I missed it.

    Also remember just because your theory wasn’t on the podcast doesn’t mean it isn’t something that is being considered. Both Ryan and Jen have said numerous times they have been on time constraints and have been overwhelmed with responses by email, posts and phone calls. To be able to cull that down to a 30 minute section must be so difficult. I can’t imagine having to pick and chose. I just like coming to post and having a sounding board for all our theories. Some of us will be proved right, some of us not and knowing Damon and Carlton we could all be wrong. They seem to have a different way of thinking than us. I mean did any of us call the island being a “cork”?

    Time for me to stop obsessing about last night’s episode and get some stuff done today. I’ll look forward to reading everyone’s theories later.

    BTW at least every one has a drink theme for the finale party – “wine”. I know bad joke.

  30. Bill says:

    …and the Emmy goes to Nestor Carbonell, LOST!!!

    One thing that really irritated me about this episode — the Black Rock being hurled into the air and busting the statue into small pieces. Bull Sh*t ! Bull Sh*t… a thousand times.

    Was it the 1st season we were introduced to the four-toed foot? Since then, it’s been a big mystery, and now the explanation is total bull sh*t.

    It’s like the writers had five years to explain this, and they procrastinated until the last minute.

  31. docjkm says:


    1. That blew the chrome off a bumper.

    2. WHY is Jacob luring people? Why?

  32. Are we supposed to understand that “alcohol” is bad?
    Spilled alcohol… well Jack spilled some in one of the first scene of this season. Sawyer spilled some on MIB hand. A my reading too much there? I need a drink.

  33. Gretchen says:

    Great episode with NO BAD WIGS! But that scene with the ship being tossed in the ocean was terrible. I could recreate that in my tub with an iPhone. I like that Jacob isn’t perfect – sort of fits better with the Old Testament God/Devil thing, where the Devil is a fallen angel and God can be cranky and vengeful.

  34. Isaac says:

    the 15th episode will be Jacob/MIB-centric so we will finally get more details on these guys!

    i was wondering if we were gonna see these guys in the alternate timeline or if richard exists in the alternate timeline

    the 13th episode is called “The Last Recruit” so im guessing we will find out who candidate 108 is

    the 16th episode is titled “What they died for” so im guessing all the candidates will die or maybe Jacob/MIB dies or there is some other significant deaths

  35. Jerry says:

    I’m thinking Jacob and MiB aren’t so much God and Satan as much as they represent two opposing viewpoints on humanity. Jacob believes people are basically good, and will do the right thing if left to their own devices. MiB believes people are inherently evil; everyone can be corrupted to do wrong if you know what buttons to push. (Of course, both are correct and both are wrong — that’s the duality that will never be resolved.)

    The “cork” of the island could be a philosophical one: If that negative concept of humanity is allowed to spread through the outside world and take over people’s way of thinking, it will have disastrous consequences of hatred and wars, creating a Hell on Earth.

    Could it be that the “touch” of Jacob is simply the instance when a person has a flash of brilliance, finally understanding that people are basically good, and changing their outlook on life for the better?

    I’m really hoping the writers resolve the story in some plausible pseudo-scientific or philosophical way, rather than resorting to silly literal God vs. Devil tropes. They really sold the idea that Richard was in hell when trapped on the Black Rock. Poor thirsty Richard chained *just* out of reach of the falling rainwater echoed the Hell of Greek mythology:

    According to Homer’s Odyssey, Book XI, in Hades Tantalus stood up to his neck in water, which flowed from him when he tried to drink it; over his head hung fruits that the wind wafted away whenever he tried to grasp them (hence the word tantalize). According to Pindar’s first Olympian ode, a rock hung over his head ready to fall and crush him. ref

    I just hope the writers are having a bit of fun with the literal Heaven vs. Hell theorists.

  36. docjkm says:

    I am not surprised at the number of posts already, though I can not read them all now, I will.

    Last nights episode was stunning. I found myself, at the end, having held my breath for an hour, from the first scene forward.

    Wow. Just wow.

  37. Old Man George says:

    I have to agree with what Ann Louise. I would hate to see the whole complex narrative of the past 5 1/2 seasons reduced to the simple conflict of good versus evil. One of the things I’ve loved about LOST all along is the moral ambiguity of the characters and the idea that morality is mutable. The whole concept of the island being the “cork of Hell” seems ridiculous and narrative-ly lazy to me and it does much to destroy the rich complexities of the previous seasons.

    One of the other things I’ve always loved about LOST was the (semi)scientific basis for much of the mythology and narrative of the show. By introducing the ridiculous concept of Hell it’s like the show has stepped out of the Enlightenment and backwards into the middle-ages. I shudder to think down the line that we’re going to get so ham-fisted cheesy special effect of MIB standing around with glowing red eyes and horns and cackling with laughter. Okay, that probably won’t happen but I’m trying to make a point here, dammit.

    Damon and Carlton have spent considerable time talking about how they did not want to explain too much, thus giving us a “midichlorians” answer to the true nature of the island. I feel that they did just that last night with Jacob’s speech about the bottle and cork. The scene even played out a little like the infamous Phantom Menace scene with the wise sage sitting next to the younger apprentice and verbally downloading a bunch of information. It seemed spoon-fed and incongruous to the way the revelation of important information is often handled on this show. And the information itself seemed to have to do little with what has been revealed during previous seasons.

    There’s definitely a Battlestar final season vibe setting in that is making me nervous.

  38. Emma in Oxford says:

    I loved this episode!
    Does anyone think that when smokey attacks people it sounds a bit like an elephant? I’m just saying…..

  39. Steve B says:

    I believe this episode as a stand alone could convert someone who had never watched LOST before into the fold.

    It. Was. Excellent.

    I have been thinking a lot about MIB/Jacob. I think MIB truly represents bad, and Jacob represents good. Here’s why:

    I believe the only way the devil gets his way is by telling 90% truth. The last 10% is absolute damning fabrication.

    I know, I know; Jacob is manipulative, too. Are any of you here a parent? Certainly everyone here has HAD a parent. Have you ever heard [or said] “because I am the dad, THAT’S why! You don’t need to know the reason…just do it. I know what’s best for you. When you’re older, you’ll understand.”

    Just because Jacob appears to be manipulative doesn’t negate the fact that I think he has faith in the inherent goodness of people. Hell, my MOM is manipulative, but I believe SHE thinks she knows what’s best for me…and I think I know what’s best for MY kids.

    Just because MIB appears to be open and understanding [to Kate, Sayid, Ben & Richard] doesn’t erase the possibility that he’s using 90% truth and charm to accomplish his evil plans.

    I hope we get some additional answers as to the inception of the island. I’d like to know how the pieces of the puzzle from seasons 1 -5 fully fit together. Last night’s episode was so good though, that I was sucked in and forgot about my thirst for answers on past seasons. Bravo!

  40. I loved last night’s episode!

    *So does Jacob have to “touch” you in a certain way for you to be immortal, a candidate, etc? Because he touched Richard when he drug him to the ocean to show him he was alive.

    *And was that scene just a manipulation? You’re alive, because you feel like you’re drowning.

    *I agree with Jon F that to believe the island corking in evil, you have to believe Jacob. Not ready to commit on that yet.

    *What happened to the MiB’s original body? Why did he have to take on Locke’s? They all know it isn’t “Locke” – they can tell right away, so it’s not like MiB gained anything there. So what happened to the OriginalMiB?

    *I don’t know why, but this episode makes me think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost over and over and over.

    Thanks Ryan/Jen. Love your blog and podcast.

  41. tvscifi says:

    Jacob and the Man in Black are so powerful there are only two explanations left. 1, Science. They are using alien or future technology.

    Or, 2. Faith. They are supernatural beings.

    When Lost is done one side or the other might not like the answer. It depends on whether you are a person of science or a person of faith, or a combination of both.

    It would amazing if the writers could pull off both somehow. After all doesn’t good faith require a logic and reason, and doesn’t the best science start out as a leap of faith?

  42. Cathy says:

    What about the focus on the eye? As Richard is being scanned by the smoke monster, he closes his eyes. Every time I see the eye shot of the different characters, I think of the saying, “The eye is the window to the soul.” Was smokie unable to fully scan Richard? Did Richard’s appeal for help from God drive it away? When the smoke leaves, we see the eye shot of Richard. (Also, Isabella tells Richard to close his eyes.)

    I don’t really understand Richard’s desire to live forever, since he has just lost the love of his life.

    Jacob said, “No one comes in unless I invite them in.” Could it have a double meaning? Superficially, it means the temple under the statue, but could it have a deeper meaning, regarding the soul? Evil is invited in? Selfish motives? Fear?

    “Man is corruptible because it is in his very nature to sin.” Jacob attributes this to MiB.

    I love the moment when Jacob tells Richard that if he has to tell the people what to do, it’s meaningless, that he doesn’t want to step in. Richard answers that if he doesn’t, MiB will. Jacob looks like he has never considered this aspect before.

    Isabella comes to Richard and tells him he’s suffered enough, and that they are already together. Do we create our own version of Hell? Some of the most peaceful people I know are those who have a sense of a greater scheme of life, and a sense that when someone dies, it was their time, just like Isabella. Maybe our lack of acceptance and our desire to change what has already happened creates our unhappiness, thereby creating hell.

    Love the podcast!

  43. Jennifer says:

    I know the characters have to get up to date on the whole Locke’s not Locke, but if I hear another “that’s not really Locke” moment I might scream. 🙂

  44. Christina says:

    I absolutely got caught up in the episode!

    Of course, it probably had something to do with getting to meet Nestor Carbonell at Ice Palace this past Saturday, so I’m bias.

    Quick thought: I know there we, dare I say, no answers regarding our main characters. Perhaps it was a push to say to the audience, the Island is part of a grander scheme. A larger picture. A more epic struggle that has been going on for so much longer than when the characters we are attached to, arrived.

    I also think Jacob didn’t start looking for “candidates” until this first attempt on his life by one of the people he brings to the island to show Man In Black that “people can be good.”

    As much as I don’t want the story to end, I’m almost excited to have the ending and then go back and re-watch every with the perspective of now knowing what the writers wanted us to know. Much like dissecting and analyzing literature in English 150. So many “ahhhhs” and “now that makes sense” and yes, all the arguments about how we individually interpret things. I mean that’s what makes a good story right? That we can all come away with something, similar and or differing, that we connect with on a personally chord.

    I’m going to just savor this episode for a bit.

  45. Eric in Sedona says:

    @ Mike B. Thanks. I’ve been thinking along those lines for some time, and I think this episode crystallized enough to let me make the case forcefully. And don’t forget, both before and after the War, Churchill was an opponent of Ghandi’s. He called him a “seditious middle temple lawyer” and a “half naked fakir” who “ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back.”

    So Churchill didn’t merely oppose one of the worst people of the 20th century, but one of its best as well.

    Yet Hitler was who Hitler was, and all the flaws of his enemies do nothing to change that. Same with Man in Black.

    The Churchill comparison might also apply to Charles Widmore. There are bad things he’s done, but if he’s opposing Man in Black, I know who I would favor. And those bad things might arguably turn out to be necessary sacrifices. Then again, if Widmore had done enough bad things — and I’m not sure we have enough information to be sure — a better comparison might end up being Stalin. Stalin was (eventually) and ally against Hitler, but he still was a villain. And we all know what happened to the alliance with Stalin after Hitler’s defeat.

    I have another idea about the Flash Sideways World. Depending on its origin, perhaps Man in Black knows about it or will discover it. If so, maybe he will tempt people with it. Sayid and Sawyer haven’t gotten redemption in those alternate lives, but Sayid’s story will continue with Jin and Saywer’s with Kate, so perhaps their lives will become better there too. In which case, MiB might be able to hold a *mirror* up to the Losties and say. “You want this life? I can give it to you.” But that might — doesn’t have to, but might — involve robbing the other versions of them of their lives. If so, it’s selfish. And then there’s the matter of the sunken island. Those seemingly redeemed lives might be at risk, depending on what the sunken island means. Anyway, there’s nowhere near enough intimation to know. I just don’t want the FSes to be the denouement (unless everyone remembers their island experiences).

  46. Cathy says:

    @JonY – You talked about Sayid’s redemption – I keep going back to the exchange between him and Jack in the temple. He trusts Jack, and Jack, knowing Sayid trusts him, can’t ask him to do something that he is not convinced won’t cause Sayid harm. I think when the chips are down, this relationship of trust and friendship between Jack and Sayid will come back to the forefront, causing Sayid to do something that will thwart MiB’s plans.

  47. paintergirl1 says:

    @Cathy – I think Richard wanted to live forever, because he did not believe he could receive absolution for his sins. He was trying to avoid hell.

  48. Melissa says:

    Holy freakin’ cr…..wait…what?

    On initial watching of last night’s episode, I thought it was one of the best we’ve seen so far. And there are parts of it that I still think are phenomenal. Richard’s backstory was compelling, dramatic, full of win, and well worth the wait. Nestor Carbonel’s acting was truly top-notch, and I really felt his grief surrounding the death of Isabella. I found the explanation of how Richard ended up on the Black Rock was intriguing and satisfying, and I’ve never wanted to smack a priest more in my life.
    However, after several hours to think about it, I feel like there are some pretty wide open plot holes, or at least some inconsistencies that seemed pretty odd.

    First off, if we’re to believe that Jacob is good, and MIB is “evil incarnate”, then why does Jacob lure people to the island to their inevitable demise? True, he’s trying to prove a point to MIB, but to do so at the cost of hundreds (thousands?) of lives over the course of centuries seems somewhat less than enlightened, and horribly selfish. Feels more like the behavior of an arrogant teenager than that of a being of supposed higher moral character.

    Richard brings to Jacob’s attention that if he (Jacob) does nothing to intervene and keep people on the path to the island and to the plan he’s laid out for them, then MIB can intervene on his own and corrupt people. It appeared that this is the first time this has occurred to Jacob (which is what spurs him to “hire” Richard as an advisor/intermediary). Seriously? In all the time Jacob’s been running this game (and it does feel like a game) this is honestly the first time it’s occurred to him that MIB is capable of influencing people to his side? (And this is honestly the first time MIB’s attempted to kill Jacob? Really?) Feels like shoddy storytelling to me.

    Also, the instructions that MIB gives to Richard for killing Jacob are exactly the same ones that Dogen gave to Sayid to kill Flocke/MIB. Something about that doesn’t seem right. Obviously, stabbing Flocke in the heart didn’t work, so why was Sayid told to do so? Richard never got the chance to stab Jacob, but I’d assume by the butt-whopping he delivered to Richard for simply for brandishing a knife in his presence, Jacob wouldn’t have fared as well.

    Jacob (and by extension, his team) are trying to teach MIB the lesson that humanity can remain uncorrupted. Killing Flocke/MIB kind of defeats that purpose, doesn’t it? Also, why would they kill him if all they have to do is instate a replacement for Jacob out of the candidates they know they have on the island? Then killing MIB is pointless, and no one has to die.

    I still think parts of the episode were brilliant, and I’m so glad we finally learned how and why Richard came to be immortal on the island. But unless we learn more about the dynamics of the Jacob/MIB relationship, I think what we learned about them in this episode kind of falls short of the mark.

  49. Raul From Wayne says:

    Scary reality…a whole island just disappeared off the coast of India…Just like Lost!!!

  50. KC Bob says:

    I’m curious about what exactly is the evil that the island is “corking” in. Could this be a nod to Lovecraft’s Cthulu Mythos? Perhaps its the portal that ancient, malevolent deities use to return to reclaim earth. Great episode, and fun theorizing!

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