Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LOST: "Ab Aeterno" Reflections

This was a very good episode. I enjoyed finally getting major answers, even if some of it was stuff we'd long suspected. It was also good to get a break from the sideways universe.

I liked seeing a little bit more of Jacob's meeting with Ilana that we saw in "The Incident". I still want to know why she's all injured, and when this meeting takes place.

When Richard threw his little fit and said they were all dead, I was so annoyed. I really couldn't believe they were going to play the "we're all in hell" card AGAIN. This would make probably the 4th time it had been said. If it weren't for all of the off-island flash forward stuff I might even have believed it. But I knew it couldn't be so. ...Especially since I doubt anyone can die once they're in hell, and there are a LOT of dead on the island.

This is more of a curiosity to me, but why are there four credited editors on this episode? I don't remember there being so many editors on previous shows.

We are given an onscreen date of 1867 for Richard's enslavement and all. This date seems a little problematic to me. We know that the Black Rock left England to trade with Siam in 1845. We also know that the first mate's journal was found in Madagascar in 1852. This would mean that after being attacked by pirates and losing at least the first mate's log, if not the first mate, the ship sailed around for over 10 years before crashing on the island. One could argue they returned to England, but the heavy implications in "The Constant" were that it mysteriously never returned. So the 1867 date just seems a little late to me.

Richard (Ricardo?) sure does have a rough time, doesn't he? The doctor's a jerk and won't go out in the rain, then there's a murder and his wife dies! I have to say, I very much knew his wife would be dead when he returned home. That sequence played out very much like a short story. The irony of having the medicine only to find it useless upon his return home. Plus it was almost like his wife died in answer to his accidental killing of the doctor; he took a life so a life was taken from him. I'm not saying that's actually what happened, but in a sort of short story world, those are the themes that play.

I know the Catholic Church believes in mortal sin, but come on, NO absolution for Richard? If they knew their Bibles they would know God does have procedures regarding accidental murder. And that priest was a jerk.

I'd like to take a moment to look at the open Bible that Richard had. Whene we were shown it, the page was open to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 4. This is the portion where Jesus says "Physician, heal thyself". The text that is seen on the screen is of when he says that a prophet is never welcome in his own country. Then the crowd takes him out to a cliff to throw him off, but he escapes by walking through them. I don't know if this portion is supposed to have relevance to the episode or to Richard or Jacob. But it's rare something is shown in closeup that's not relevant.

What do you know, Richard was a slave on the Black Rock as we'd long suspected. I wonder why they are sailing to the New World (and were they still calling it that in 1867?). Were they going to the US? The Caribbean? South America? Were they planning on selling slaves, because both the American and English slave trade had been abolished by that point, right?

We see the Black Rock arrive to the island at night in the middle of a storm. How does this gel with the scene at the start of "The Incident", when we could see the ship in the distance on a calm clear day and Jacob was cooking fish? Did nobody see the island until nightfall? That seems fishy to me.

My, that is a HIGH tide to bring the boat into the head of the statue. On one hand, I'm glad we have an explanation for the breaking of the statue and the ship being in the jungle. But on the other, does ANYONE buy that a 19th Century wooden sailing vessel would be able to do ANY damage to 100 foot monument of stone?? That ship would have splintered to pieces! And yet, it has very little damage; the ship is basically intact in the jungle. Did Jacob do something to it? I think I buy the crashing waves having more effect than the ship. And if the water comes in THAT high to the island, don't you think we'd have seen that? Or was this Jacob manipulating things again?

When the guy first started killing all the slaves I thought perhaps he had been "claimed". But that wasn't the case.

When we first saw Isabella again on the island I was confused. The only times we'd seen dead people on the island was in a dream, as the black smoke, or a body that had been co-opted. Isabella wasn't a dream and she seemed self aware like Anthony Cooper. I thought she had to be the smoke, but it seemed different from other times we'd seen the smoke. However, as the episode went on it became clearer that the Man in Black was in fact just trying to play Richard, to tempt him with something in order to help him leave. This is also the only time though that we've seen or heard an apparition of the dead at the same time as the smoke. We heard Isabella scream even while we heard the Smoky sounds. That's part of what threw me.

I just have to ask since the whole episode seems to hinge on it... Does anyone actually think you can escape from hell? This is not Dante (who hide a guided tour anyway, so that's different). The whole point of hell is you can't get out. So Richard must be kind of dumb to trust the Man in Black.

Who expected that hand in the ship to be Jacob? I bet the "Jacob isn't good" people were really hanging onto the Man in Black's every word for much of this episode! He's sneaky, isn't he? He gives a little bit of truth ("I'm the smoke") amid a big lie. But he also said that Jacob had stolen his body. I wonder if there is any truth to this statement.

The rules for killing are given the same way here. The Man in Black says you have to stab Jacob quickly before he speaks. This implies that Jacob and the Man in Black are similar somehow. We know that Locke didn't die when he was stabbed. Because he had already spoken? It's good to see Jacob can fight! Also, Jacob was killed by Ben after a conversation. So did the rules not really apply? Or is he perhaps more vulnerable inside the statue foot?

I'd also like to know, if Jacob lived in the foot in the 1860s, and Jacob is living in the foot now, why would he ever have lived in the cabin?

I like the explanation of the island as a cork in a bottle. But we still don't exactly know why Jacob bothers bringing people to the island. Just as a test? A game? It seems he's trying to prove a point to the Man in Black. In this way, everyone who's ever come to the island is like Job, being toyed with beyond his control to see how he responds.

I like Jacob's smashing of Richard into the water to convince him he's not dead. In a way, this is a kind of baptism. Richard went in "dead" and came out "alive".

Richard is given the task to be a kind of spokesman for Jacob, who can lead people away from the Man in Black. In a way, he's a sort of Christ-figure. But then, Jacob is sort of a Christ figure too, so it's not exactly allegory, but there are connections there.

Even though we know Richard came from the Black Rock, he seemed to be the only survivor. This means 1) that he was on the island alone for a long time and 2) we still don't know where the rest of the Others came from!

Ah, so Richard is immortal because he asked to be. And why? To escape the damnation he feared he deserved. That's an interesting wrinkle.

I like the moment with Hurley and Richard talking to Isabella. Was Hurley translating the whole time and they just ignored it for us, or did Richard begin to hear Isabella? Likely the former. It's also good to use Hurley's spanish, since that's a part of him that's mostly ignored.

I really liked that last image of the bottle being smashed.

Looking forward to next week!!

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