Monday, April 5, 2010

Ab Aeterno- Episode 6.09

I apologize for the drastic delay in this blog posting. I was hit with a 7-10 page research paper the day I was planning to write this one. I only had five days to do my research paper, so needless to say it took precedent. (It counts for one-fourth of my grade.) However, with such trivial matters as research papers aside we can continue to the more important things, like the episode “Ab Aeterno.”

“Ab Aeterno” (which means “from eternity” It is used to mean “for long ages” or “since the beginning”) was an episode that we have been waiting for since we first learned that Richard could not age back in season three. This episode proved to be very revelatory; we got 4 big mysteries solved.

· We now know when and how the Taweret was destroyed.

· We finally explicitly see that Richard was in fact a slave on the Black Rock.

· We know what the purpose of the Island is. (This could still use some expounding).

· We finally know where Richard came from and just about how old he is. (At least 160, assuming that he was at least 20 in the oldest of his flashbacks.)

Note: MIB stand for Man in Black/Smoke Monster and DI stands for DHARMA Initiative.

Starting with the flashback, the episode shows that Richard is from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. (It seems that Richard spends his life jumping from one island to another, the true originator of Island Hopping. Just call him Douglas McArthur…No laughs? Alright, fair enough.) When Richard’s wife, Isabella, is very sick, Richard rides a long way to a doctor to see if he can help. When Richard does not have enough money for the medicine for his wife he ends up accidently killing the doctor in a similar manner that Desmond killed Kelvin Inman right before 815 crashed.

Richard is sentenced to death by hanging. When Richard tries to confess his sins before a priest, the priest tells him that murder is a sin he cannot forgive, he would have to make things right by a life time of penance. However, because he is going to die the next day, Richard would go to Hell because he could not make right his sin.

Richard is saved (which is up for debate) by Jonas Whitfield who buys Richard on behalf of Magnus Hanso to go on the Back Rock. Richard was purchased partly because of his ability to speak English, which he had been practicing by reading an English Bible (to be discussed later).

The Black Rock approaches the Island by night during a storm. Do not be alarmed, this is the same ship shown in last season’s finale, “The Incident Pt.1.” The producers said in a podcast that once Jacob and the MIB left the beach a storm popped up that the Black Rock had to come through. If you still find this hard to believe remember in season one when they talked about how the weather was weird on the Island, storms would popup out of nowhere. This all fits.

So I was a little disappointed with how the Black Rock appeared in the middle of the jungle. The Black Rock was taken inland by a massive tidal wave. As it was flung inland, it crashed through the Taweret statue, thus leaving it the way we know it. However, before it crashed through the statue, one of the other slaves believed that Taweret looked like the Devil (quoted from Wikipedia, Taweret “became the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil.” (interesting, eh?)); he assumed that the Devil watched over the Island.

They awake in the jungle to find that Whitfield is coming down to kill all the slaves and before he can kill Richard, the last one, the Smoke Monster kills Whitfield and then stares down Richard, presumably getting his memories through his “flash” technique.

For days Richard tries to escape his chains. At one point he sees Isabella who tells him that the Devil is on the Island. Richard believes she is talking about the Smoke Monster. When they hear it coming Richard begs her to leave. As she gets out of eye sight, it sounds as if she was killed by the Smoke Monster.

The MIB comes and confirms Richard’s thought that they are in Hell. MIB tells Richard that the Devil has Isabella and that he will free Richard if Richard agrees to do anything that he says. Richard (I know I use “Richard” a lot here, but I do not want to use ambiguous pronouns.) agrees and is taken out by the Man in Black, who upon freeing Richard says, “It’s good to see you out of those chains.” Sound familiar? It should, Smoke Locke said this to Richard in the season premiere. This was the first pretty strong indicator that Richard came on the Black Rock.

The MIB says that Richard needs to kill the Devil in order to leave Hell (a.k.a. the Island). MIB promises that if he does this Richard can get his wife back. A similar promise that MIB made to Sayid. Also, similarly, MIB gives Richard a dagger to kill the Devil (a.k.a. Jacob). This is the same dagger Dogen gave Sayid to kill Smoke-Locke (a.k.a. the Man in Black). Both MIB and Dogen say the same thing when giving the dagger to be used on their respective targets: “Do not hesitate or let him speak because he is very persuasive.” (not a direct quote I believe, but a rough estimate.) One other very important thing is that the MIB tells Richard that he is the Black Smoke Monster and that the “Devil” betrayed him and stole his humanity and body from him.

Richard approaches Jacob to kill him by the statue wreckage. Jacob disarms him and asks him where he got the knife and if he ran into a man wearing black. Jacob tells Richard that he does not have his wife and that he is not dead and not in Hell. To prove this, Jacob repeatedly submerges Richard in water, four times.

Perhaps the most pivotal scene of Lost thus far was this next discussion, the likening of the Island to a wine bottle and its cork. The Island serves as a cork keeping all the evil in from spreading to the world. Is the evil the MIB? Or can he bring this evil force be brought about by him. MIB is cynical and believes that everyone is corruptible; people are naturally bad. Jacob thinks he is wrong and brings people to the Island to prove him wrong; people are naturally good. However, Jacob has not been successful in the past; everyone he has brought in the past has died.

Jacob hopes people know the difference between good and evil without intervention. Richard informs him that if Jacob doesn’t help people then the MIB will step in and lead them away. With this, Richard is given the position of advisor, to speak on behalf of Jacob for him to his people. By taking this job, Richard asks for his wife back, Jacob says he can’t do that. He then asks for forgiveness of sin so he will not go to Hell. Once again, Jacob says he cannot do that either. Finally Richard asks for eternal life so he never has to die and go to Hell, this he is granted.

Richard goes back to MIB and gives him a white rock. MIB says that his offer is always there for him to switch sides. Jacob then goes to talk with the MIB who is seen throwing the white stone recently given to him by Richard. MIB tells Jacob he just wants to leave the Island, to which Jacob replies that he can’t let him go. MIB says he will kill Jacob and whoever replaces him so he can leave. Jacob gives him the infamous wine bottle to pass the time and says that he’ll see him around to which MIB says “Sooner than you think.” While he says this he breaks the bottle, letting all of the wine spill out. (How creepy is that?)

Present day time, Richard is asked by the whole beach camp where they need to go next. According to Ilana, Jacob had told her that Richard would know what they need to do. Richard is still lost and confused by Jacob’s death and thus runs into the jungle. He then digs up an old necklace that belonged to his wife that he had buried when he turned down MIB’s offer. Upon this he starts saying that he was wrong and wants to know if the MIB’s offer still stands, he wants to change side. Isabella appears beside him and Hurley serves as the translator to tell Richard that he has to stop the Man in Black or else “We all go to Hell.” Now Richard has his purpose back and remains on Jacob’s side.

This episode was amazing; one of the best, if not the best Lost episode yet. It was very mythological, metaphorical, and theological. Let’s tackle a few things first. I liked how Jacob cannot forgive sins. It shows that he is powerful, yes, but not all-powerful. He is a representation of good, but not the apex of what good is and maybe not fully, wholly good. Not bad, just not pure. While on the subject of religion, when the priest takes Richard’s Bible away he opens it up to Luke 4. This is the story of the temptation of Jesus. Interesting that this was the passage it opened up to. Set aside the fact that the number 4 is already incredibly significant in this show, but this is a foreshadowing of what Richard will face. Richard is in a “wilderness” and approached by what we believe at this point to be, the embodiment of evil. He tempts Richard. The stories differs as they both progress and not all participants exactly mirror one another, but nonetheless, very similar, certainly done on purpose.

Other interesting things, the knife. Is the knife only able to kill people before they speak? One could easily think that because both times it has been seen it was given the same “don’t let your target talk or it is too late” speech. The knife is said to be a Pugio, a dagger used by ancient soldiers of Rome. I have read that the sheath of the one in Lost has depictions of Romulus and Remus on it. Click here to see a picture of it. What are we to learn from this? Who knows? Maybe just more insight into how old the Island is, or how long it has been drawing people to it. Maybe Jacob and MIB were from Rome? However, assuming the Egyptian hieroglyphics show the Smoke Monster talking to Anubis, the Egyptian god of mummification and afterlife I must assume the Smoke Monster has been around even longer than ancient Rome. Although maybe I do not have my timelines down about when Romulus and Remus found Rome. This leads to another point.

The Smoke Monster/MIB said that Jacob stole his body and humanity from him. Was the Smoke Monster an entity that allowed Jacob’s nemesis, the Man in Black, to incorporate himself into it, or was that was left of the man when his body was stolen? I’m going to work with the first guess. It (the Smoke Monster) was called Cerberus on the Blast Door Map in the Swan hatch. Is another entity apart of this force (Cerberus)? Cerberus was the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the underworld in Greek mythology. Are there three parts that make up the Smoke Monster? Is the Island really the “gateway” to Hell or evil, or is that reading too much into the metaphor? Probably reading into it too much, but still very interesting to see how all this talk of Hell merges Greek and Egyptian mythology and Christian afterlife thoughts into this episode. Remember, the hieroglyphics on the Swan countdown timer translated to “Underworld.”

Interesting as well, although nothing to really definite to say, the Blast Door Map has marked the last known resting place of Magnus Hanso/the Black Rock. What do people know about Magnus Hanso and the Black Rock, especially what did DHARMA people who made the map know about him. Remember, it was started by Radzinsky and finished by Kelvin Inman. Radzinsky was at the very least on the Island from 1977-1991. He killed himself sometime before 2001 when Desmond came to take up residence on the Island. This means that Radzinsky started making the map between 1977-1991. How did he know about the Black Rock, let alone who Magnus Hanso was? Did Horace Goodspeed lie to Sawyer when Sawyer said he and the rest of the time jumpers were looking for the Black Rock and Horace responded by saying he had never heard of it? Do other members of the DI know about it? Sawyer was lying too, but still, is the Black Rock that important? I say yes.

If you remember from season two, one of the DHARMA orientation videos mentioned that the DHARMA Initiative was funded by an Alvar Hanso (read more about him by clicking on his name) who happens to be the great-grandson of Magnus Hanso (we find that out later). I believe I remember the producers saying that we will see more of the DI’s connection to Ann Arbor (where Faraday went when he left the Island in the 70s) this season. In an alternate reality game (ARG) for Lost during the time between season 2 and season 3 much was revealed about Alvar Hanso. He is still alive, and estimated to be very old, maybe around 112. This would not be shocking if we knew that he went to the Island at some point and somehow received a gift from Jacob, or something else.

We know that Tovard Hanso, an unknown relation, left a journal that Widmore bought at an auction. I say all of this to say that I believe the Island revolves around the Hanso family. Jacob brought the Black Rock there to set things in motion (we know he did bring them there.) From there the Hanso family had a connection to it. A hundred years later, a descendant of Magnus Hanso has the money to fund the DI, a research team to understand the Island that his great-grandfather mysteriously disappeared to.

Do not forget, it was a mysterious disappearance. As far as we know, the Island resides in the Pacific Ocean. Yes, it moves, but we only know it to move in the Pacific. The Pendulum room in the Lamp Post Station has the pendulum only swinging over the Pacific. So, the Black Rock leaves from somewhere in Europe (I say Europe because it is disputable where it finally left from. “Evidence” presented in “The Constant” say it set sail form Portsmouth, England. This could have been a stop before they went to the Canary Islands, after, or a lie.) If we are still to assume that the Island is only in the Pacific, then the Black Rock must have gone through a “window” (which we know exists) to transport it to the Island.

This could be all the motivation the Alvar family needed to find what happened to their heir. However, I’m not sure how they could have known what happened or to look for an island and not assume his ship had sunk. Maybe the ledger left by Tovard Hanso, the ship’s first mate, indicated something and it was somehow taken off Island or it never quite made it to the Island. Also, in an interview I read of the actor that plays the MIB, he said that his character has a name, a very important name that not even he knows yet. He just knows it is important. Could his name be that of an older yet to be mentioned Hanso relative? I say: possibly. Seems like a plausible theory. I just suggest that we be aware and ready for the rarely mentioned Hanso’s because they may become more important this season. After all, people and things are rarely done without a purpose on Lost.

A few more quick things. The Black Rock destroyed the statue of Taweret, which is white. (Is that reading too much into the black/white motif?) I’m a little disappointed by how the Black Rock ended up being so far inland. I wanted something crazy, plus Dr. Artz hypothesized that this was how it ended up their all the way back in season one.

I like how Richard was manipulated by the MIB to think he was in Hell and that the Devil was there. The MIB worked all within Richard’s worldview. Very, very interesting and compelling. Also, it was interesting to see that Richard is immortal because he is afraid of dying and going to Hell. Once again, I liked the whole religious worldview work-in that this episode provided.

By the discussion between Richard and Jacob are we to assume that the wine represents the MIB? I mean, is the MIB the evil, or would he bring the evil with him? Is the Island like Pandora’s Box? In the old myth, Pandora’s Box was actually a jar. Interesting that Jacob chose a jar to illustrate his point, the jar is holding all the evil in, similar to Pandora’s Box/Jar.

Also, we see that Jacob has been stingy for years about who he lets in his house. Did he ever leave the statue for the Cabin? If not then I am thoroughly confused about why Ilana knew about the Cabin, saw the picture of the Taweret Statue in it and knew that Jacob hadn’t been there for a long time. Can Jacob be contained by ash? Maybe the MIB had trapped him in there and so Jacob used it until he could get out and return to his real residence. I’m just a little confused about why Jacob ever started using the Cabin, if he did. Maybe Ilana was mistaken, but I doubt it.

We see that with Richard serving as an advisor for Jacob he starts becoming more successful with keeping people alive. By 1954 he has a following of people, of which Charles Widmore was a part of. We see that Jacob just wants people to be good and give them their chance for redemption. He does not want to interfere; he wants people to prove that they can do good without being told. However, he must have changed his mind over time or been misleading when he talked to Richard because he has been very active in our survivor’s lives, as seen in the season five finale and the scene of Jack at the Lighthouse. Jacob wants people to be good and allows them a chance at redemption on the Island. We just now learned that this is one of the major functions of the Island; however, we have seen it at work for years. Since the first season, our characters have been finding redemption on the Island, and at the heart of it all that is what Lost is about, a character show.

Last but certainly not least, I want to make an end prediction. They are making it very interesting that Jack is about the only one who has not seen “Locke” yet. In fact, this episode is the first time Jack hears that “Locke” is around. Lost has been focused on the dynamic between Jack and Locke, a “man of science” and a “man of faith.” Now the tables have turned. Jack is a man of faith and “Locke” is very cynical man. I predict that the series will end with Smoke Locke still around and Jack being the new Jacob. The series has revolved around them and it will end with “them” (the quotations are more for “Locke” not Jack) being on the beach waiting for the next group of people to come to the Island.

I know this is ridiculously long, but I hope you found it entertaining and eye-opening.

By the way, please feel free to leave comments below. I would love to hear what you have to say about the show, theories or reactions to anything I say.

In the words of Smoke-Locke “You are so close; it would be such a shame to turn back now.”

Until next week when we have seen a little bit more Lost, Namaste.



  1. Steven.

    Is this real?

    Mary Catherine.

  2. But what do you think about the alternate reality that is happening at the same time?? Do you think both realities will somehow converge, or will one take precedence over the other??

    What do you think about Jacob's name?? I know he seems "good" and all, but if he serves as a sort of God figure, he wouldn't believe that men were innately good, and it doesn't seem like his name would be Jacob.

    Just a few thoughts... sorry I don't have enough time to ramble at the moment, but I'll come back! Enjoyed this week's blog!