DocArzt and Friends Logo

“Ab Aeterno” Recap by Gatesy

By gatesy815,

  Filed under: Lost News
  Comments: 55

6.09 “Ab Aeterno”

The episode began with an extended version of a scene we have visited before. A scene that gave us an image  – the image that troubled me most from last season’s finale – Jacob dressed in black. And the fact that this particular episode began with this particular image –  the most overt episode examining the nature of LOST’s dueling nemeses – troubles me more than ever.

Evil, malevolence, darkness, Hell.

Jacob is actively opposing these, yet he offers no heaven, no paradise, no absolution, no promise of reunion with lost loves. Only eternal life. Is he God without the goodness?

Heavy stuff.

Though if we’re choosing sides? I’m still Team Jacob. More on Jacob & MIB later, first it’s Ricardo.

From the moment we saw Richard Alpert appear to Ben’s in the jungle duringhis flashback (The Man Behind the Curtain) we had a hint of his ageless state. Then when we witnessed him at John Locke’s birth in 1954 (Cabin Fever) we were certain of one thing – we wanted more about Alpert! “Ab Aeterno” was what we’ve been waiting for and it was well worth the wait.

“You’re dead” – “We’re in hell” – Around the campfire Richard seems well versed in season 1 theories. At this point every LOST fan worth their salt was not buying any of it. But this is Richard Alpert speaking – a guy who has seen more of the island than any other character – what is making him think this way? How has he come to this conclusion? Does he really think “Everything he (Jacob) ever said was a lie”? He heads for the jungle, looking for something and we flashback, probably as far back as we’ve ever been before , to 1867; to the island of Tenerife.

Ricardo’s wife Isabella is sick and she is dying, coughing up blood, and Ricardo takes all they have to try and save her. As a woman of faith she knows it is the last time they will see each other yet still he hopes – hope against hope – that she can be healed. He arrives at the Doctor’s, cross in hand, to give him all they have for medicine. But all they have is not enough. Ricardo complains, pleads and struggles until the Doctor goes the way of almost all the Doctors on the show (Christian Shepherd, Juliet Burke, Ethan Rom, Edmund Burke, Artz, Ray from the Freighter – there is of course one exception, though who has money on Jack being alive come the end of the story?).

Throughout this episode Richard reminded me of Desmond; the long hair and beard, being ship wrecked and woken by a crazy man needing help, his devotion to his Constant – and here he accidently kills the Doctor, much in the same way that Desmond inadvertently killed Inman  – but for Ricardo there is no hatch with a button to rush back for; there is a home and a wife and not enough time.

In prison, awaiting execution, we find Ricardo reading Luke 4 – ‘The Temptation of Jesus’, foreshadowing his meeting with the Man in Black (or Jacob, or both). Here he stands before another Man in Black who tells him that his sins cannot be absolved. He is out of time again. There are not enough days for him to rack up the penance needed to wash the away the guilt that comes from a murder. Even an accidental one.

Richard is offered a lifeline by Whitfield. A stay of execution in exchange for slavery. The name Jonas Whitfield evokes the Methodist founder George Whitefield (pronounced Whitfield) who was, amongst other things, an advocate of slavery. For us in the 21st century this is an intolerable position to hold, yet he was known to treat his slaves well and was fiercely critical of those who didn’t; his slaves were reported to be unusually devoted to him. Could this represent Jacob’s relationship with his slave-like followers – particularly the ageless Ricardo?

After the mythological rush of seeing a tidal-wave-swept Black Rock crash into the statue of Tarawet (Ignacio sowing the seeds of ‘Hell’ and ‘the Devil’ into Richard’s mind) we see what could be called ‘the Breaking of Ricardo’. As the passengers stirred awake it was not long before MIB’s prophecy of “ They fight. They destroy. They corrupt” came true – Whitfield running his sword through his expendable slaves (not sure his namesake would have been happy about that). But then Smokey crashes in and deals out his own brand of judgement and justice – the crew are found guilty and duly punished. Richard is spared by Smokey but the Monster takes from Richard’s mind the memories he needs to manipulate him later. ‘The Breaking of Ricardo’ continues – in the middle of the storm he is inches away from quenching his first but his chains only go so far and he is left thirsty and desperate. Sometime later he is woken by a boar; feasting on his deceased crew mates – a boar that causes him to drop his nail, his tool for escape – and again it is just inches from his grasp. Then finally, most cruelly, he is visited by his beloved. We know she is not who she says she is and it was painful to watch Richard’s hope restored before being instantly ripped from him again, leaving him emotionally, physically and spiritually broken.

And on cue, the Man in Black enters.

After ‘the Breaking of Ricardo’ we have ‘the Temptation of Richard’. Like Christ in the passage referenced earlier Richard is dying of thirst. In the middle of his desert he is visited by a tempter – offering the kind of Faustian bargain we have heard him offer before. In exchange for rescuing Isabella the MIB wants an assurance: “I need to know that You will help me – you will do anything ask”. In Matthew Henry’s renowned Bible commentary he remarks on Luke 4: “ All Satan’s promises are deceitful; and if he is permitted to have any influence in disposing of the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he uses them as baits to insnare men to destruction.”. Who is the devil here? Jacob, according to the Man in Black. Though it looks like MIB to us.

After feeding him up, the Man in Black dismisses Richard’s opinions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and presents the question “Do you ever want to see your wife again?”. His heart broken by  the MIB’s manipulation Richard has no fight to argue or resist. He wants his wife. So off into the jungle he goes; on a mission he doesn’t truly understand – like we have seen so many times before with other characters.

When Richard reaches the statue we immediately see a side of Jacob we’ve not seen before – aggressive, impatient and angry. But once Jacob works out what is going on – how Richard has been manipulated – he gives Richard an enforced baptism to snap some sense into him. In the following conversation we receive some of the answers we’ve hoped for from the mysterious Jacob; Is he the Devil? He says “no” (which I think is true); What is the island? A ‘cork’ keeping the darkness where it belongs; Why doesn’t Jacob intervene? Because ‘why should he?’ Why should he tell people what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? The Man in Black dismisses those clarifications as unimportant – but to Jacob they are all important.

The nature of the argument between the Man in Black and Jacob is not one as simple as ‘good versus evil’ – but is more about the ‘the capacity for good versus the propensity for evil’. Everyone is corruptible versus everyone is redeemable. The Man in Black is saying to Jacob “You can let go now” – let go of the island; let go of his faith in humanity; let go of his hold on the MIB. But Jacob replies “Nothing is irreversible”; the past doesn’t matter and everything is progress.

Richard is offered a job and in return he will get eternal life via a touch from Jacob. Apparently receiving a beating and a dunking doesn’t qualify as ‘a touch’. Richard returns to MIB, decision made, delivering an ‘inside joke’ of a white stone. In reply MIB gives Richard one final reminder of his lost love, Isabella’s necklace. He buries it. But, as we know, ‘things don’t stay buried on this Island’. As we skip back to the present Richard has a moment similar to John Locke’s way back when the hatch imploded – “I was wrong”. But then out of the jungle comes the best example of Jacob’s trust in humanity and incorruptibility we know; Hurley.

We then witness one of LOST’s classic, bittersweet love scenes. Full of hope, romance and loss. This reminded me of the films ‘Ghost’ and ‘Gladiator’ but most of all it reminded me of ‘The Constant’. Where Sayid managed to connect Desmond to his long lost Penny, Hurley manages to connect Ricardo to his Isabella. Hurley himself has also watched his own ‘Isabella’ die coughing up blood on her death bed (Isabella is the Spanish for Elizabeth or Libby). Isabella’s connection to Richard has always been there. In their memories. In their love. Not even death can steal that from them.

And if Richard was unsure about what to do at the beginning of the episode it is clear to him by the end; stop the MIB; stop him from leaving the Island… or “we all go to Hell”.

When Jacob responded “no” to the question of whether or not he’s the devil I believed him. My current theory is that Jacob and MIB aren’t devils or demons or even angels – but they may be the Devil’s children. They are brothers separated by ideology, worldview and parental issues; MIB’s recently revealed Mother issues and Jacob’s possible Father issues. Their fraternal relationship resembles many others we see in religion, literature and classical history; Cain & Abel; Jacob & Esau; Zeus & Hades; Romulus & Remus; Castor & Pollux; However there are two fraternal stories that LOST has directly referred to that could give us insight into their tumultuous relationship. Firstly –  The Brothers Karamazov. The Dostoyevsky classic is a tale of brotherly differences and of patricide. Its central theme? Redemption. Patricide has been a hall mark of Jacob’s followers – the rite of passage for both Ben & Locke. Could Jacob have disagreed with his Father, the Devil, so vehemently, that he ended up killing him (like Dostoyevsky’s ‘Ivan Karamazov’) and betraying his brother in the process – his brother who wants revenge and the ability to continue his Father’s mission to utterly corrupt humanity? We shall see.

The Biblical brothers that are usually mentioned in relation to Jacob and MIB are Cain & Abel and Jacob & Esau – but these are loose associations at best. There is another set of brothers from the Old Testament that may be a better fit – Moses & Rameses. The name Moses has been mentioned twice on LOST to my recollection  – by Naomi Dorrit in reference to Jack during ‘Through the Looking Glass’ and by Ben in reference to Locke/Smokey prior to killing Jacob in ‘The Incident’. Rameses has not been mentioned by name but there is no shortage of Eqyptian imagery on the Island and the biggest conflict between the brothers was referenced as far back as season one – ‘Exodus’. Moses was Rameses’ adopted brother but after Moses had been disgraced by committing murder he is called by God to lead his people out of Egypt; to leave the shackles that Rameses had put upon Moses’ people. In this scenario Moses would be the MIB and Rameses would be Jacob – alluding to what many LOST fans are currently thinking – Jacob could well be the ‘bad guy’ in this story. I still don’t think so, but I can’t wait to find out!

PS. There is one more thing to consider if we are thinking about Moses. He had another brother; Aaron.

From TVFrenzy:

  • Rooky

    I’m going to be very sad when this show ends.

    • joshua

      me too.

  • Ryan

    i hope jacob is the good one

  • lockeheart

    i really hope that isnt spoiler. if so, not cool

  • Gloaming

    What Jacob said about keeping the evil wine in the bottle thus preventing it to spread, it’s makes me think that everyone who’s on the Island is evil on some level.

    • erikire

      EVERYBODY in the World is both, evil & good on some level…

      What’s really annoying, is that the answer to every single mistery on the island is “Jacob did it”…

  • Jason S.

    As with all the major rivalries so far (Jack vs Locke, Ben Linus vs Charles Widmore), I don’t think Jacob vs MIB is a case of “the good one” vs “the bad one”. Nothing on LOST is ever that cut-and-dried. Rather, they are two entities who disagree on the nature of mankind. One thinks humans are hard-wired to fight, murder, and lie, and that self-interest will always trump the notion of right & wrong. The other believes man has the capacity to uphold strong moral ideals (though he feels it’s important that they do it via their own free will). That question is much bigger than any good/evil dichotomy could contain. Though I do think the MIB’s propensity to tempt and manipulate his pawns belies a “bad” nature, and that if he were to escape the island, he wouldn’t be content with merely winning his freedom — he would begin tempting and corrupting people all over the world, as is his natural inclination.

  • That IS a spoiler. Definitely not cool. No one cares that you know something we don’t cause you went over to DarkUFO.

    • Just curious… what are you referring to?

      • erikire

        I suppose a deleted post…
        (containing the real ending, perhaps???)

        • Dorf

          Yes, Fart Monster’s trolling spoilers were removed. Unfortunately, he has posted some to other threads as well, and they have yet to be cut.

  • LaFleur Me

    We don’t know much about Jacob but we do know about the people he relies on and trusts -esp Hurley. IF Jacob is the “bad” one and TPRB have allowed Hurley to be used by him -I will be spitting mad. Hurley is the one innocent we know, the one true humanitarian. We also know Jack, who has tried to help people all his life (as annoying as that can be sometimes). He is also on Jacob’s side in this. Both smokey and Jacob have killed people on the island- I wonder if Smokey is actually both of them at different times. I wonder this because of the killing of Eko -who was clearly a candidate and Smokey was allowed to kill him. He wouldn’t repent, did that make it ok for Smokey to axe him? I also wonder about the “security system” definition about Smokey- keeping the island safe. Therea re still too many questions to really get a clear picture – so I’m not on Jacob’s or Smokey’s side -when in doubt -stick with Hurley.

    • butwhatifitisnt

      As an avid Lost fan, I feel stupid for asking this, but what does TPRB stand for??

      • Casey

        He meant TPTB, acronym for The Powers That Be, i.e. – Damon and Carlton, the executive producers.

  • Sharonlost

    I have done this whole season “spoiler free.” You bet I am bummed to find spoilers in the comments. Really lousy.

  • spoiler free

    lol … doubt it.

  • Uncle Beaver

    I don’t want to know about any spoilers either, but that wasn’t really much of a spoiler… I’m sure ALL OF US at one point or another have thought that the idea of “Smokey is the good one, Jacob is the evil one” is a REAL possibility. Just ’cause someone says this might be the case, doesn’t make it so.

    • Uncle Beaver

      Remember… it WAS Jacob who told Hurley to take Sayid to the TEMPLE.

      Maybe Jacob knew the “Darkness” would overtake Sayid?

      • Ifoundwalt

        It’s probably like Ben. Miles saw from Jacob’s ashes that he still had faith that Ben would do the right thing right up until he was stabbed. He gave Sayid a second chance in the hopes he would do the right thing, even if odds were against it. Hopefully, Sayid snaps out of his funk real soon.

  • Dorf

    You’re a dick for posting that spoiler. I’m not avoiding spoilers and have thus already heard snippets about the final episodes, but I know there are others here who don’t want to know that kind of info before it airs on the show. Doc, PLEASE delete Fart Monster’s comment and its followups (including this one) before anyone else sees this and gets spoiled.

    • Handsome Smitty

      SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    • Handsome Smitty

      SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

      Your date is not a guess – it’s a spoiler and you need to be banned.

    • xabial12

      you. are. pathetic.

  • Whoa, whoa. The whole ‘Jacob may be bad and the Man in Black may be good’ thing WASN’T the spoiler. Someone posted something about a future episode (title and plot) before but Doc Arzt took it off the page, and the person’s original response to it. Relax.

    • thank you for explaining. I feel much better now.

      • adam118

        PHEW Thanks, I’ll relax

  • marc

    i havent read what he said and im not going to but fart monster is a stupid fuck who loves to incite people and argues against whatever says just to play devils advocate. he is insulting, rude, and inconsiderate.. i am unspoiled but my feeling is that whatever he said is bullshit… just trying to stir people up.. that bein said doc should really ban this guy based on his ip address..

  • spacebender

    A worthy recap, Gatesy! I appreciated the rich connections, e.g., Jacob wearing black (looking forward to more background on Ilana), Whitfield (whose relation to Ricardo feels much like the relation between Widmore and Desmond), and Hurley’s role in helping RIchard recover the “sight” he had lost (Luke 4:18) – who often reminds me of another “Hugo” in his urging of Richard amid desperation and loss to continue looking “upward”:

    “Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguished? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds.” – from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, another story with a tension between those who believe in unalterable corruptibility vs. redeemability.

    Again, thanks for the recap!

  • xabial12

    smart enough to “know”, you mean smart enough to read?

    wow, what a genius.

  • Could Jacob and MIB be the childern of the Adam and Eve skeletons?

    • Ugly Smitty

      Unlikely, since Jack had said they’d only died 50 years earlier.

  • daveisreal

    My wife floated an idea that I hadn’t thought about. What if the last incarnation of Jacob and MIB are Jack (no surprise) and Sawyer? They have a continuing rivalry from the very beginning and now Sawyer not only wants off the island, but also wants Jack dead. Just a thought.

    • Eric

      Had not thought about that but it makes sense.

      • daveisreal

        A thought I had to go along with that is their names. We suspect that there is some kind of sibling relationship between Jacob and MIB, well…Sawyer’s real name is James and Jack is a nickname for John. James and John were brothers who were disciples of Jesus! Fit’s the biblical theme too.

  • Casey

    For once I’m with Smitty. Ban the sucker, Doc.

    • Ugly Smitty

      For once you’re with me? I take it that you usually don’t agree with me? I’m surprised, as I don’t post here much, and what I have posted has been pretty non-controversial.

      • Handsome Smitty

        If you’re going to be a Smitty you’re going to have to accept the fact we just rub people the wrong way; constant misunderstandings and false accusations.

  • apackofmonkeys

    Quick everyone drown out the spoilers with your own “spoilers”:

    The hurley-bird is actually Vincent. Vincent can shape-shift, just like Smokey!

    The male skeleton is Bobby Fischer.

    In the finale, the actual reason Smokey wants off the island is revealed: He’s afraid he left the oven on at home.

  • Mat

    So what evidence are you b asing your knowledge of them being from the year 23AD on?

    • Ugly Smitty

      He read spoilers from other sites that don’t have the same ban in place as this site.

  • spacebender

    I found an beautifully edited 2-minute video montage of this episode:

    • spacebender

      Here’s another one titled, “Shattered”, that is a magnificent compilation:

  • cap10tripps

    Something I’ve been considering, what if there’s a 3rd party involved? There was someone in the cabin who said, “Help me.” Locke heard this, and the ash encircling the cabin was more likely to keep Smokey out than to keep him in. I propose two solutions to this answer. 1) MIB is not smokey or 2) there is a 3rd person involved in the island’s story that we either have seen (Locke?) or haven’t seen that was imprisoned in the cabin.

    I personally like the idea that MIB is the man/entity that the stories of Satan have been based on and the island is a place that the stories of Eden, Shambala, Hell, or even Atlantis have been based on. This idea could follow an arc where Smokey is what the stories of Cerberus are based on but isn’t the MIB. The MIB would be the man in the cabin. He has some sort of control over Smokey (Cerberus was the guardian of hell) but is not Smokey. Of course even if this were somewhat true, there’s still the question of what they literally are. Just a thought.

    • Wanda

      MIB has said he is Smokey though.

      • cap10tripps

        Doesn’t mean it’s true.

  • meli

    Lovely recap. Thanks!

  • DeSelby

    What about the Brothers Karamazov spoiler? Good thing it’s incorrect.

  • Ugly Smitty

    Doc, PLEASE remove all of this guy’s posts and ban him. He’s purposely posting spoiler info.

  • wtf

    And i will confront Fart Monster with a red-hot poker to the face in the episode “Shut The Fuck UP, Asshole” which airs right now.

  • Jackisjack

    A double post of a spoiler? Man you really want to be hated, congrats on making that happen. Do you carry around a letter too?

  • Eric

    Question – if smokey/MIB was Christian, can anyone explain the “Mobisode” when Christian tells Vincent to go wake up Jack b/c he has work to do? Was that ghost Christian or MIB?

  • Wanda

    Can we get back to Gatesy’s post?

    Thanks for the reminder of the very close parallels between Ricardo and Desmond, especially the test of faith and living in isolation. I had forgotten many of them, but you’re right on target, aside from Penny still being alive and able to rescue Desmond by private yacht.

    The story does play out the same repeatedly, with only slightly different results. Surely Charles Widmore is a direct descendent of Whitefield, the alleged good guys. Guess we’ll find out more about Charles and Jacob’s relationship soon.

    It does make me wonder about the role Jacob and Richard have allegedly played through the past century. Locke is the main time we’ve seen Richard intervene in anyone’s fate, and 1) it was a time travel accident that he thought Locke was special and 2) Richard was duped by the MIB.

    Richard took young Ben to the spring, but wasn’t that Charles or Ellie’s call rather than Jacob’s? If Ben was a candidate, was Horace acting on Jacob’s behalf bringing the Linuses to work for Dharma?

  • dolce

    What do you guys expect from a guy that calls himself “Fart Monster”?

  • sector7

    Ricardo? Dude, it’s Ricardus!

  • Alaska was also purchased in 1867.