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I Alone am Escaped to Tell Thee – 6.09 “Ab Aeterno”

By Fishbiscuit,

  Filed under: Lost Recaps
  Comments: 118

And I, the last, go forth companionless,
And the days darken round me, and the years,
Among new men, strange faces, other minds.
– Tennyson, Idylls of the King

When all is said and done, when the last white LOST logo falls backwards on the last black screen, it won’t be the quality or the quantity of the Answers we’ll remember. It will be the story.

Like kids around the campfire we’ve been riveted to this great big sprawling yarn, coming back year after year, begging to hear the next chapter. Soon it will all be over. But fortunately a great story – like Poor Richard – is immortal.

Now that’s not to say we didn’t get our share of Answers this week. In fact, I’m guessing that the Answer junkies out there in the audience were probably giddy that they could tick off so many boxes on their Answer checklist.

Magnus Hanso was, as many guessed, the last Captain of the Black Rock. Check!
The Black Rock carried convicts to Australia to help to populate that infamous slave colony. Check!

It landed in the middle of the jungle on the top of a giant wave during a terrible storm. Check!

The ship and the wave smashed into the Tawaret statue and left nothing standing but a four toed foot. Check!

Richard doesn’t age because Jacob magically granted him immortality. Check!

And the mysterious, bewitching, inscrutable Island of infinite possibility, it turns out, is a … cork.

Hmmm. Check?

You know what I found out this week? I found out that for me Answers don’t much matter anymore. They’re always going to be only the icing on the great LOST cake. I know we need to start accepting them one by one, but each Answer rubs off just a little bit of the wonder and makes me just a little bit sad. Like, I always imagined the Black Rock taking flight somehow, before landing on its belly on the forest floor. Knowing that it rode in on a tsunami, and that it took out Tawaret’s noggin along the way, was useful information … but it felt just a little unsatisfying. Like finding out Santa Claus is really just Dad drunk on eggnog. It’s part of growing up, part of letting go of LOST, but my relationship to the Answers has changed. I’ll take them as they come, but I’m done with using a checklist. Answers, I’m convinced, are never going to be what LOST is all about.

This episode was called Ab Aeterno, which translates as “since the beginning of time.” The title reminded us not just that Richard is very old, but that the elements to any really great story are immeasurably older. It’s the Big Picture we need to be looking at now. Not each intricate, individual Answer Tree, but the eternal, universal Sea of Stories.

The Richard we’ve known all these years as an immaculately groomed Island ombudsman started his very long life as a humble stuttering peasant.
His was a tale of infinite woe. Trying to save his doomed wife, he killed a fat greedy doctor.

Which sent him into the clutches of a fat, greedy priest.

Which left him at the mercy of a mean, greedy lieutenant named Whitfield. Very possibly an ancestor of Widmore. (Whit = wheat= Wid + field = moor = more)

He navigated each harrowing turn in his bleak little life with the unselfconscious aplomb of a cork bobbing about loose in a bottle of wine until finally he washed up on the shore of the Fate he’s been enduring for 140 years: as a plaything of the gods.

Richard came from a time before antibiotics, indoor plumbing or iphones, a time when life, especially for the poor, was nasty, brutish and short.

Except for his trip on the Black Rock, Richard had lived his whole long life on an island. He came from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands – a fittingly tragic place for a LOST luminary to hail from.

In 1977, Tenerife was the site of history’s deadliest air disaster, with 583 souls lost in a horrifying runway crash between two airliners. In this melancholy place, Richard lived a life of hardship and misery, looking not to this crummy world but to the glorious afterlife for his reward.

Like so many others in this story, it was a murder that sealed Richard’s fate and brought him to the Island. Having accidentally killed the despicable doctor, the hoped for gates of heaven were locked to him.

All Richard could see ahead of him was the gaping maw of eternal damnation in a fiery Hell. And for someone of Richard’s time and station in life, there was nothing hypothetical or metaphorical about Hell. It was so real to him he could smell the sulphur.

The local padre was a slob who used his Godly connections to run a very lucrative con with destitute beggars like Richard. He doled out absolution like it was his own private possession and enriched himself selling criminals to slavetraders. Richard was the perfect mark for this conman.

He was above all else, a Man of Faith. Denied absolution, he wanted only the chance to accrue enough penance to save his soul from eternal damnation.

And it was that same gullible faithfulness that made him an even more convenient mark for the two ultimate Con Men he ran into on LOST Island.

Mr. Whiteshirt and Mr. Blackshirt. Or, as they could just as easily be called, Mr. Whitepants and Mr. Blackpants. I wonder why no one thought to call them that. Because I really don’t think it makes any difference. The whole black and white thing has only always been a ruse. I’m convinced of that now. The relationship of these two dudes is fascinating.

They’re like Sheepdog Sam and Ralph Wolf, who clock in every morning to battle one another to the death, and then clock out every night to share a cocktail.

It seems that the Flim Flam Twins are running contiguous cons. Jacob offers tabula rasa, a clean slate, a new life unstained by past sins.

His brother offers freedom – freedom from Hell, from being Jacob’s prisoner. He offers free will.

Jacob has magical powers, but they’re a little bit half assed. He can make a person live forever, but for those who have already died, he can’t do a thing to bring them back.

His brother’s extraordinary powers are different. His magic is that he can take on any form he chooses. He can turn himself into whoever you want him to be … or whoever he wants you to see. I think most of us have surmised that the manifestations of those whose bodies lie on the Island were The Smoke Monster taking their form.

But it’s conceivable that The Monster has always been more flexible than that. How many of the other curious things we’ve seen were ploys from his bag of tricks?

The Monster says Jacob is the devil. Jacob says The Monster is lying. The Monster says Jacob is lying when he says The Monster is lying. Last week, the NotLocke Monster told us that his mother had been insane. The more we learn about her kids, the more that starts to make sense.

Divine providence didn’t shine on these boys equally. Jacob gets to have a human body. He gets to have a name. His brother gets neither – although he does seem to like to be called “Friend”. What’s more, he’s Jacob’s captive. Like Richard, he can not be killed, but like Richard, he’s trapped within a place that’s more purgatory than paradise.

Jacob compares his no-named brother to the darkness inside the wine bottle. Jake has the job of keeping the evil genie inside the bottle.

I’m not sure what Jacob thinks he’s actually accomplishing. It’s not as if he’s got all the evil in the world bottled up on LOST island, no matter how proud he is of himself. The world that Richard came from was already full of greedy doctors and wicked priests and slavery and sickness and violent, painful, terrifying death. How much worse is it going to be if Jacob takes the cork out of the bottle? Are we talking the Hellmouth here?

Is No-Name the Master?

It’s worth noting that the Hellmouth did not spring forth fully formed from Joss Whedon’s imagination. People in the Middle Ages believed in a howling chasm below the Earth squirming with fiends, gargoyles and demons.

The concept of a Hellmouth corresponds to the pocket of supernatural energy that seems to be trapped within LOST Island. And there is still a lot of credence for that idea.

I’m in the camp that believes, not that it matters, that the ship we’d seen approaching the beach in The Incident was indeed the Black Rock.

As it approached the Island, it became trapped in a violent electrical rainstorm, much like the one Frank had to steer Desmond through in The Constant. Passage to or from the Island seems to involve navigating some kind of turbulent EMF-infused moat.

For those still looking for science fiction in this fairy tale, there is plenty of evidence left over for a theory that the Island represents a pocket of super forces, created by an electromagnetic anomaly of ginormous proportions. But that wasn’t what this episode was about.

As a 19th century Spanish Catholic, the Hell that Richard feared was a place of merciless, incessant torment, a place that made perfect sense within a universe where insignificant humans accepted their plight as toys to a capricious God. A God who could punish men for failing to avoid the Evil that he himself had forced into their path.

The black and white morality of the Catholic Church made perfect sense to Richard, made him an easy subject for the Flim Flam Twins to manipulate. The question for us to consider is whether the writers are also expecting us to buy into this binary moral universe – where black is bad and white is right – or if they’re counting on us to have just a wee bit more intellectual sophistication.

LOST has winked or nodded at almost every religion and spiritual belief system known to man. I am not ready yet to accept that they’ve settled on something this simplistic as their final metaphysical metaphor. I don’t consider myself all that demanding when it comes to LOST’s endgame, but I might just have an actual cow if LOST turns out, after all this, to be about nothing more than:

When Richard finally decides to align himself with Jacob, he brings a message back to The Monster.

The white rock that he hands to The Monster is the same rock we see NotLocke toss into the ocean in The Substitute, calling it an “inside joke”. I think the joke is on us, or on any of us who are being tricked by this black-white sleight of hand.

I have no problem describing The Monster as Evil. He’s done enough coldblooded killing to qualify hundreds of time over. But there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to see a way clear to identifying Jacob as Good.

It’s not just because he’s a smug, sanctimonious dick. It’s not just that he’s the one who is free to go “walking up and down in the world”, like Satan does in the Book of Job. He tells Richard that no one gets into his temple unless invited by him. He says arrogantly that the is the one who brought the ship to the Island, that he continues to bring people to the Island – in order to prove The Monster wrong.

Does that mean he brought everyone who came to the Island? Even the Dharma Initiative?

I’d like to have seen that negotiation process. From what we’ve witnessed, Jacob doesn’t exactly invite people to the Island. He more or less connives and manipulates or, when necessary, has his playing pieces arrested in order to get them to the Island.
Everyone on the Island, it seems, is there as a function of Jacob’s imperial Will. What gives him the right to control the lives of people this way? He doesn’t say, doesn’t seem to care about that. He needs to bring people to the Island so he can use them as pawns in the blood feud he’s got going with The Monster. He seems to think he’s giving them a great gift when he washes their past clean, but he doesn’t address the fact that they’re getting this second chance while trapped on an Island of Mystery with a bloodthirsty Smoke Monster that eats most of them for lunch and then spits out the bones.
Those who don’t get killed by The Monster more often than not suffer and die some other way. But Jacob takes no responsibility for what happens to the pawns he throws into the Thunderdome. He seems to think he’s hot shit because he doesn’t “intervene” … you know, after he intervened all these poor suckers onto the Island in the first place. Jacob grants himself a clean conscience, but does that mean we have to give him a free pass? In the end, who is more responsible for all the suffering we’ve seen on LOST Island? The Monster that terrifies and destroys, or Jacob who feeds him fresh victims every chance he possibly can?

Since this is LOST, even an Answerpalooza episode like this one raised more Questions than it answered. For instance, if Jacob is the only thing keeping The Monster trapped, why isn’t he free now that Jacob is dead? And what kept him caged in on all the occasions when Jacob went off Island, shopping for Candidates to give his magic touch to?

Speaking of magic touches, I don’t believe we have any explanation for the black gloves Jacob wore so he wouldn’t have to touch Ilana. Does Ilana have cooties? Why was she bandaged? And what meaning does it have that Mr. Whitey was wearing black when he travelled to her bleak Russian hospital bed to ask for her help?

Jacob asked Ilana to help protect the six remaining Candidates. So this group represents the end of the line. What then? What happens when the last Candidate dies? Or leaves? Does that mean The Monster wins? Is that what makes the stakes so high?

Why would anyone be willing to replace Jacob anyway? Does this look like a fun job? Alone for all eternity, keeping watch on a Monster who tries every day to kill you, all while constantly interviewing candidates for the inevitable day when he succeeds … Who would ever want a job like that?

Why did Jacob fight off Richard’s attack but not Ben’s? Why can’t Jacob just destroy The Monster? And why can’t The Monster kill Jacob himself?

Richard was given the ceremonial dagger to kill Jacob, the same pugio that Dogen had given to Sayid.

It came with the same instructions – to use it before the victim had a chance to speak – and in both cases it failed to hit its mark, although for different reasons.

The Monster seems to be quite literally unkillable, but Jacob, as we know, can die.
What exactly is Jacob trying to prove to The Monster? If Diogenes finally finds that one honest man, that one incorruptible soul, will that somehow neutralize The Monster’s Evil? Is that what the Candidates are for? Not to take over Jacob’s seat as Prison Warden, but to turn the Island’s secret power from Evil to Good? Is that what OtherLOST is all about? If Jacob finally proves his point to The Monster, does the Island just go away … or sink to the bottom of the sea? Become a non factor in the world? Can all the Candidates have alternate destinies and just live ordinary, middling happy lives in an ordinary, middling world? Is that what we’ll ultimately see happen at the end of the story? And if the story ends with the Island on the ocean floor, where will that leave our battling bros?

While we continue to ponder all the puzzling possibilities, the rat race continues. The Monster torments Richard as he lies suffering alone in the hold of the ship.

“Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.”
– Coleridge, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

Like Lloyd Heinreid in The Stand Richard is a sole survivor, desperately using a nail to try and dig himself free of his chains. When exactly does The Monster start manipulating him? Is it when Whitfield comes down into the hold and starts slaughtering the prisoners?
Is it when they hear the officers being torn to shreds on the deck above them? Or when The Smoke devours Whitfield?
The onslaught of serial horrors serves the Monster’s purpose of freaking Richard out of his bugfucking mind.

In fact, it’s much the same series of events that happened to our Losties in The Pilot, when after witnessing the death and mutilation of their fellow passengers, they watched The Smoke Monster execute their pilot and toss his bloody remains into a treetop.
The Smoke Monster evaluates Richard, much as we’ve seen him do before – to Locke, to Juliet, to Eko

– and for the time being at least, he spares his life.

Is the boar that comes in to eat the rotted flesh also The Monster? Is it another atrocity designed to pulverize Richard’s defenses?

We know from Outlaws in Season One that The Monster sometimes enjoys being a boar.

The Monster lets water pour into the cell, but none of it is within reach of Richard’s mouth. The whole time he is dying, we keep watching him try to live.

But when the boar runs by him and knocks the nail out of his hand, Richard’s despair is complete.

That’s when The Monster decides to pull the trigger on his scam.

“And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a Death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman’s mate?”
– Coleridge, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

The Monster brings Richard one last false hope before he reels him in.
Ghost Isabella warns Richard that they are both dead and in Hell – the very words we hear Richard say at the beginning of the episode, the words Anthony Cooper said to Sawyer before he was killed in the belly of that same ship.
The Monster grants the lovers one scant joyous moment of reunion
… before he kills “Isabella” one more time, rips her to pieces and lets Richard hear her agonized screams. Richard tries desperately to save her one last time, but it’s futile.
Totally bereft, totally helpless, totally hopeless, Richard is softened up well and good by the time Randall “The Monster” Flagg finally climbs down the ladder to claim his prey.

The Monster asks one thing of Richard in return for saving his life – the same thing he asked when Ben summoned him in the Temple basement. Like the resentful child I think he is deep down, the only thing the monster wants is “anything I ask” – which in this case means “kill the devil”. Richard agrees. In return, The Monster promises Richard, just like he promised Sayid in Sundown, that he’ll grant him his heart’s desire. Isabella.
Richard, not stopping to consider the limitless possibilities for unintended consequences in this situation, sets out to slay the dragon. Little does he know, as he races along on his rickety bowlegs, that he’s only running from one con game to another.

“As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.” – Shakespeare, King Lear

Richard is weak and easily bested by Jacob, who rudely baptizes him and then makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Still pretending he’s the High Priest of Free Will, Jacob decides he could use a translator, an intermediary to help him influence all that free will he says he’s not going to influence.

Like when he sends Richard to Portland, Oregon to recruit Juliet for the imaginary firm of Mittelos Bioscience.

Or when Richard is sent to test the specialness of the six year old future Candidate, John Locke.

Jacob freed the trembling peasant who feared God’s eternal damnation as a murderer. But a funny thing happened on the way to redemption.

Somewhere along the way, the good God fearing Man of Faith became the co-author of a gruesome Island genocide, along with one of Jacob’s other murdering acolytes, Ben Linus.

Somewhere along the way, something went horribly wrong.

I think we’re probably going to have to face the fact that this is a story without a Good Guy. Just like it’s not about the Answers, it’s not about Good Guys and Bad Guys either. So what is it about then?

It’s not about Prophets. It’s not about following the leader. It may be reminiscent of Biblical chapters where God and Satan played dice with the lives of human beings, like they did with Job or with Adam and Eve, but it’s not really about that either. Jacob can’t absolve sin. He can’t reverse death. He isn’t God. He just plays one on the Island.

“The absurd is sin without God.” – Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

The Monster has a bit more charisma than Jacob, I think, and there’s something oddly sympathetic about him. As NotLocke last week, he told Sawyer his philosophy was “Kill or be killed.” We hear Whitfield use the same phrase as he systematically butchers the captives so he won’t have to compete with them for resources.

What happened to The Monster that he settled on this ethos to guide his life? He doesn’t have a body himself. What does he mean when he says he was betrayed and his humanity stolen? Was he once killed, at least in the physical sense? Was he the victim in some ancient melodrama we have yet to witness? Did the Island keep his spirit alive after death and has it now distilled into a supernatural force of rage and retribution? Did Jacob create The Smoke Monster?

Whatever happened, Richard is now caught between two masters. Having faithfully served Jacob for a century and a half, his disillusion drives him back to The Monster, to take him up on his ancient offer.
He calls out to the omnipresent Monster that “I changed my mind”, but though he hears, The Monster doesn’t answer.

And it’s just as well really. Running from one false prophet to another is an exercise in futility. In absurdity. It’s the same madness the button pushers were driven to by the 108 minute clock in the Swan Hatch.

Richard may not be trapped in Hell, but he is trapped in a world where God is dead. Without God, without death, without love, without freedom, what can save Richard from his vast despair? Isabella is dead, on the other side of that great unknown where Richard can never go.

That’s where Hurley comes in. We see him early in the episode, looking surprisingly sane as he babbles in Spanish to the night air.

Later, after he has translated Isabella’s ghost-speak for Richard, Hurley talks briefly to the air again, after Isabella has gone. Who is he talking to when he says “Got it”? He tells Richard that Isabella told him he has to stay and stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island and sending them all to Hell. In other words, he has to stay to save the cheerleader and save the world.

Personally, I think Hurley lied to Richard when he said Isabella told him that. That sounds to me like Jacob talking. By the end of the episode, I think we see just how completely Hurley has fallen under Jacob’s sway.
Hurley was the last Candidate that Jacob chose, and he was chosen for a very special talent that he alone possesses. Miles may be able to speak with the dead, but only Hurley can actually see them and talk to them person to person.
It’s a beautiful scene when Whoopi Reyes brings Hurleybella to Richard for one last sad goodbye. The camera swirls slowly around the ghostly trio, delicately revealing Isabella as she comes to Richard and speaks lovingly to him and then just as delicately, as she goes away again.

“Devils can be driven out of the heart by the touch of a hand on a hand, or a mouth on a mouth.” – Tennessee Williams

It is as sad and sweet a moment between lovers as we’ve ever seen on LOST. It’s also profound. Richard can never be with Isabella, but that doesn’t mean he has to bury his heart underground like he did her necklace.
When he puts the necklace back around his neck at the end of the episode, Richard is making a choice.
He chooses to be human. He chooses to live. Trapped in the absurdity of a life without death, Richard’s only choice is between life and despair. And as he showed throughout this episode, as all the Losties have shown time and again throughout the story, what Richard wants most of all is To Live.

“…because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like I said, I don’t think the Answers really matter all that much anymore. I used to think it was all going to come together like a clock, but now I’m pretty sure that if it did, it wouldn’t be the kind of clock that would ever be able to tell time. Maybe something more like this:

Having seen the statue crumble, I’m not sure we really need to know how it got built.

I don’t know if we’ll learn why the Others spoke Latin. I don’t really care what the Black Rock was doing between leaving Portsmouth, England in 1845 and taking on its human cargo in the Canary Islands in 1867. The puzzle has shifted now from this kind of arcane fact checking to trying to unravel the bigger questions of good and evil and loving and hating and living and dying.

This episode wasn’t about Richard after all. It was about the Big Brothers who are grappling over this scrap of Island real estate. Why are they there? Why do they keep dragging civilians into the middle of their battle? And why in the world should any of our Losties be cooperating with them? If the Island gods want to kill each other, what business is it of anyone else? Sawyer had the right idea last week: Let them fight it out and let everyone else get the hell out of Dodge. Not that that’s going to be easy.

If the Island is a metaphor for Pandora’s Box, a place where unspeakable Evil is kept trapped so the world can be safe from it, then there was an interesting image about halfway through the hour. As Richard lay on the wooden planks of the beached ship, surrounded by the stench of death and feeling his own end creeping nearer, he looked up and saw a buttefly fluttering around in the wisps of sunlight.

Maybe I’m just being a cockeyed optimist but I think that was an important moment. Because when Pandora stupidly opened the box and freed Evil into the world, she managed to slam it shut and keep one thing still trapped inside it: Hope. Maybe that’s the only Answer that’s going to mean anything in the end.

“Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.” – Cervantes, Don Quioxete


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  • meems

    Brilliant as usual. I love your commentary and insights. I hadn’t caught the butterfly before, so thanks for pointing that out. I agree that answers are becoming a lot less important and are secondary to the scope of the story itself.

    Love you Fishbiscuit!!!!

  • Ajira Luggage

    I like your recaps but a couple of nitpicks.

    You assume that the smoke monster is the evil, the darknes that Jacob talked about to Richard but he might not be. He never said he was. The Man in Black could be his co-jailer, someone who has to be there with him in order to contain the darkness but who for whatever reason doesn’t want the job and just wants to leave.

    Also, why the surprise that Jacob would wear gloves to visit Ilana in cold Russia? He’s also wearing a coat, for the same reason.

    And you talk about Smokey as if you know that he is responsible for the deaths of most of the people who died on the island but we don’t know that.

  • jacomo

    Nice work, great job, you reconciled me with the episode.

    • Wanda

      Absolutely including putting your finger on what it is about Jacob that turns my stomach.

      It fascinates me that some of the people who are convinced Jacob is Good/God have a need to bash anyone who disagrees with them. Very “christian” of them, especially the name calling.

      Isabel’s ghostly appearances all struck me as manipulations, first one side, then the other, with poor tormented Richard’s delusions and memories in between. They won’t be together, unless you believe in an afterlife. Especially since she’s dead and he’d doomed to live forever.

      Still wondering what Richard meant when he told Sun that he watched them (Dharma, Kate, Jack, Hurley, Jin) all die.

      • seenitlovedit

        Look, I don’t know who you are and I am really sad for you right now. I am a christian and I don’t bash people who disagree with me. I respect their opinion and their right to voice it. Making comments that stereotype people is not a good thing to do. I am not bashing you. I just want you to k now that making a statement like that is rude when the fact is that you cannot possibly know every christian.

        • Gus

          I didn’t see any hint of stereotyping of Christians–let alone a suggestion of knowledge of all Christians–anywhere in that comment. I also think telling Wanda that you’re really sad for her is extraordinarily condescending.

  • B.A.Y.

    Your column this week proves to me that people see lies where they want to see them and truth where it coincides with their own belief system. I’ve noticed, much to my amazement, that you, Fishbiscuit, as well as a small percentage of other Lost fans, think Jacob is manipulative. You even called him a “smug, sanctimonious dick”. Strong language. You must really despise the guy.

    In your examples (and in those who agree with you)”proving” that Jacob is a wily bastard, I see something else. For instance, you conclude Jacob’s arrogant because he only allows those he invites into his home, and he invites almost no one. Does that really prove he’s arrogant? Or does it imply that he’s guarding something in there? How do we know, at this point, why he doesn’t want any Tom, Dick or Richard to enter without his permission?

    I remember his eyes when he touched young Kate on the nose, when he came to see Ilana in the hospital, when he met Jack in the hospital, when he visited James Ford at the church, when he laid his hand on fallen Locke’s shoulder. I saw kindness and compassion in his eyes. He didn’t seem arrogant to me or manipulative. He looked straight at those people.

    And why would Ilana do Jacob’s bidding if he’s such a jerk? She had it within her heart to forgive Ben. That’s one heck of a compassionate person! A better person than I am, I’m afraid. So, you have to ask yourself, why would a good person like her follow a jerk? She must think Jacob is really our salvation.

    You and others assume Jacob is playing with the lives of strangers by drawing them by plane ship and balloon and who knows what else to the island. But have you considered that Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and Jin, for example, wouldn’t be where they are developmentally, if they hadn’t been faced with the challenges they met on the island?

    Those who believe coming to the island is horrible should also believe that being born is horrible because this life isn’t easy for 99% of us. Life, like the island, is kind of a proving ground. Is God evil for allowing souls to be born, suffer and die? It’s a theological question that’s been around for a long time.

    Everyone who comes to the island has a chance to redeem themselves one way or another. Even the smoke monster, I’m betting.

    If Jacob has a fault, in my eyes, it’s his reluctance to nurture the good he sees in mankind. He seldom helps out, though he does, occasionally. He did get Hurley to bring Jack to the Lighthouse so that Jack could see, for himself, that he had “what it takes.”

    Finally, I’m at odds with you about Isabella. You say Richard can never be with her. But Isabella herself said on her deathbed and on the island that she and Richard will always be together. Yes, Richard desires to be with her physically. It is sad that he can’t be. Yet, I find it emotionally thrilling that she has never left him, that they are two hearts joined eternally.

    In Ab Aeterno and in Dr. Linus, I found much to lift my heart. And, as the season progresses, I think I’ll continue to see more and more that gives me hope in mankind. If Ben, of all people, can be redeemed….I think Jacob is right about mankind. If souls, such as Richard and Isabella, can remain in love, despite death, I am emboldened to say that death is not the worst that can happen to us. Loosing our belief in goodness (as MIB has somehow lost his belief in goodness) is the worst thing possible.

    • Christal

      I totally agree with you B.A.Y.!
      It was one of the best episode and although I don’t agree with all of what is said on this recap it is still brilliant!

      • Liz79

        I absolutely agree with you B.A.Y! What I took away from the conversation between Jacob and Richard was a direct correlation to the old testament God. Or at least to the “behavior” of the old testament God. One could say he was ambivalent. He wanted mankind to do good but was a-ok in letting them fall/die/suffer if they didn’t live up to their potential or choose to do good. One could say he placed an awful lot of roadblocks in their way, but hey “that’s life”. The old testament God is much different than the new testament God. We go from “an eye for an eye” to “turn the other cheek.” I see the Jacob that we have known in present times as more similar to the new testament God. What caused this shift? RIchard. Richard and his very simple, very honest, very good point of “If you don’t, he will.” People need guidance. They need help. They need encouragement. Nothing is as simple as good or evil and we can all agree that both players, Jacob and MIB, have played games with innocent lives. But if I were on that island, given the information I know, I’d choose Team Jacob.

        • Liz79

          P.S: Brilliant work by Fish again. This recaps are brilliant and so much food for thought. Especially her pointing out the electrical storm Frank had to navigate through in the Constant and the storm the Black Rock had to navigate through to get to the island. I had completely forgotten that connection. Well done!

    • Tuaron

      While I can see your points in general about Jacob, I have a few disagreements with what you’ve said.

      For the first part, you bring up that Ilana forgave Ben. Am I the only person out there who is skeptical that she actually forgave him? Really, I’m of the belief that she didn’t so much forgive him as decide that her side could use all the help it could muster, especially if Ben was so intent at redemption. That’s not forgiveness, that’s accepting that you need help from any source you can get, whether it’s an “evil” person, or not.

      To tie in with that, you ask why Ilana would do Jacob’s bidding if he’s such a jerk. I think the question would be: how long has Ilana known Jacob…and how well? She noted in Dr. Linus that he was like her father (well, something along that line), but does that mean she knew him really well? Maybe he just knew how to play her properly, just like he seems to know how to play everyone else – correction, almost everyone else.

      Moving on…just because a person is manipulative, doesn’t mean I’m going to hate them (or even necessarily call them a jerk), it partly matters how it’s done. Plus, Jacob could be a nice guy who honestly believes in the goodness of people, which is why he seems so sincere and kind with the candidates: he sees hope to back up his claims to Mr. Black. Unfortunately, he knows that to do it, he’s got to manipulate people into coming to the island, but he needs to win this argument somehow.

      That’s my question, really. What’s so important about this debate between Jacob and Smokey Robinson? Is it the possible theory of Jacob attempting to rehabilitate Smokey? That is the real question I’d like to see answered. Well, that and how it all ends. Everything else, as many peoploe are pointing out nowadays, is all about the story…so sit back, relax, and enjoy.

      • Liz79

        Excellent point about what is so important about this debate between Jacob and Smokey. I think we need to see THEIR backstories to fully understand what’s at stake here. I also agree that the best thing to do now is sit back, relax, and enjoy.

        One thing about Ilana and her forgiving Ben – I’m not sure if any of us can divine if she really forgave him or not. But what Ben said was that he was going to UnLocke because he was the only one that would have him. To me it’s not so much that Ilana forgave him but that she put her trust in him and she gave him acceptance. That for Ben was the first time anyone had done that for him and it affected him profoundly (or at least I’m hoping it did). What Ilana showed there, more than forgiveness, was compassion. And it was compassion in the face of her own desire to seek revenge. That to me seems quite good. That at least was my take.

    • Rams

      Excellent points. It was also nice to see Jacob take input from a “mere mortal”. I certainly don’t find Jacob coming across as arrogant. However, I would like to see more justification in him bringing people to the Island.

      This was one of the best episodes of the series, and I was quite satisfied with the few answers we did get. Like FB mentions in her review, LOST is about the fantastic story we are being told, and not about the answers. I entered into S6 with the attitude of enjoying the journey, and Ab Aeterno has more than satisfied the few fears I had left on whether the end would satisfy me or not.

    • Handsome Smitty

      Excellent, B.A.Y. Well said and written. I was thinking before reading your post that some people you just have to beat over the head with a bat to get them to recognize good and bad, such as Ajira Luggage above and Tuaron below. But you do it with the simple and soft words of reason…

      Oh, wait, Tuaron clearly didn’t get it after all, since his response questions Llana’s intent.

      Just like MIB/Smokey/UnLocke questioning the good of Man.

      Sad, sad world at times, isn’t it.

      Still, DocArzt should post your response as a blog entry: It’s that good.

    • neoloki

      Very well said B.A.Y. I do not understand why there is this section of the Lost community that think Jacob is a sanctimonious dick (funny it is the exact same description). I can understand not trusting him and even not believing he is good, but the personal attack seems almost self-reflective. Why is it also the majority of people that feel this way are women? Not all by ANY MEANS, but quite definitely most.
      Anyway, I did, however, enjoy the article.

      • Fandango1

        Your gender-biased attack is both offensive and nonsensical. How can a woman using the term “sanctimonious dick” be self-referential? Think about it for a minute… I’m sure it will come to you.

        As far as I’ve observed, there are viewers of both genders who are not persuaded that Jacob is “good”, and their reasons certainly don’t resolve into one descriptive term as far as I can see. I don’t believe he’s “good” either. He brings people to the island for his own purposes, gives them no explanation, and then leaves them at the mercy of the Monster. Those are not “good” actions as I see it.

        • xabial12

          i think a woman can BE a dick, without HAVING a dick.

          anyway, i think you’ve proven that, i dont think neoloki was necessarily being sexist in any way, not that i’m suggesting its accurate, but for you to take offence is possibly a wee bit over the top

    • MoniquE

      Can you explain the purge? Richard serves Jacob and makes a purge. And Jacob is good because…..????

      Also how many people has Jacob brought to the island? How many got to progress developmentally? Most of them are dead, and it’s because of Jacob. This is a legitimate point IMO. Jacob sees so much good in man that he’s willing to get hundreds or thousands killed so he can win an argument. I think you can only see Jacob as definitely good if you do what you said – see only the truth that coincides with your belief system.

      • dd

        The DI was leased a portion of land by the Others. They were supposed to bail after 15 years. They didn’t and they broke multiple points of their treaty.

        I don’t think Jacob should be seen as the embodiment of good. That’s ridiculous. He’s only a man who believes that man has the capacity for good.

        Do you think Jacob should end up with Kate?

        • Handsome Smitty

          Well, dd, as much as some hate Kate and some hate Jacob, those SOME would probably hope so! 😉

        • Dorf

          Where did you get the idea that they leased the land for 15 years and were then supposed to bail?

          • dd

            Season five special addition set. It comes with a draft of the treaty between the DI and the Others.

          • Ed-Mars

            Cheers for asking that question, I didn’t even know there terms to their truce. Lostpedia delivers the goods once again. http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Letter_of_truce

      • Rams

        We don’t know how much input, if any, Jacob had on the Purge. Widmore seems to have been a person fully capable of making such a decision of his own accord (and Jacob’s authority over the Others didn’t seem to sit very well with him in the time-Travel scenes). From his speech to Richard, I feel Jacob didn’t really interfere much in their affairs. Or perhaps, Widmore’s punishment for the Purge was his banishment, just as Ben’s warning was his tumor.

        Other points to consider are, what if Dharma had actually made the decision to purge the Others (think=Radzinsky), and it was a kill/get killed situation).

      • B.A.Y.

        Yes, MoniquE, seeing Jacob as good does coincide with my belief system. We all judge everything based on our own perceptions of the world, on whether we think people are basically good or basically self-serving.

        You ask why I think Jacob is good.
        –He, alone, is keeping MIB from leaving the island. If you don’t believe MIB is evil incarnate, then, this means nothing to you. However, I do think MIB is the essence of evil.
        –Jacob (who is probably the replacement of some other man or woman who had the job before him) has given up a lot to keep evil at bay. What kind of life does Jacob have on the island? He is lives like a hermit.
        –Jacob could have killed Richard,who ran at him with a knife. But, instead, he teaches him a lesson, proving to him he is not dead, is not in hell. And this is before he realized Richard could be useful to him. Jacob isn’t into killing people.
        –As I mentioned before, Ilana is devoted to him.
        –Jacob doesn’t make idle promises. He did not lie to Richard about being able to reunite him with his wife or absolve him of his sins (which is a clue, I think, to what Lost is all about. We must redeem ourselves.)

        I dont’ blame Jacob for the purge. I see no evidence that Jacob is responsible for what The Others/The Hostiles do. Ben committed lots of atrocities. As did Dogen. As did Widmore (who probably ordered the purge, though who really knows?).

        • Handsome Smitty

          Ben ordered the purge via Jacob, he claimed – but later revealed he’d never even talked to him. I think Dharma was created by Widmore and Ben used that as evidence that Widmore did not have the best interests of the Island in mind, thus Dharma was gassed and Widmore thrown off the Island.

          • dd

            Ben didn’t order the purge.

          • Handsome Smitty

            From Lostpedia: “Exactly who ordered and planned the Purge remains unclear, although it appears Charles Widmore was the leader at the time. (“Dead Is Dead”) Ben seemed to take responsibility (“Not so long ago, Jack. I made a decision, that took the lives of over forty people in a single day”) (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 1”) but also stated that the Purge “wasn’t (his) decision” because he answered to someone. (“Cabin Fever”) ”

            Since we know he never talked to Jacob – he admitted as much in the 5-finale – I think it’s safe to assume it was Ben’s decision. I also suspect it was the same year Widmore was removed from the Island, and I think he was behind Dharma, another reason for said removal.

          • kaptan36

            Either Whidmore or Hawking ordered the purge because if you do the timeline out, they were in charge of the Others around that time.

          • Kira

            What if Ben did order the purge…but was influenced by Smokey (perhaps taking the form of someone Ben respects)? As it seems that Smokey wants to 1) prove original sin and 2) kill as many as possible, what better way to prove his point than by influencing one of the candidates, Ben, to commit genocide? Kills 2 birds with one stone…

        • MoniquE

          Jacob brought richard to the island and convinced him to be on his side. He was Jacobs representative. Doesn’t look like Jacob cared one way or anothr that Richard was doing mass murder. It sounds like a flexible definition of good. Like just passively not being directly responsible for evil is the same as being good. I don’t see that.

          In the Old Testament, God didn’t intervene in what men did, but he was GOD. Jacob is just somebody who gave himself the right to use people as subjects in his experiment.

          You described that Jacob didn’t lie to Richard, that ilana loves him, that the didnt’ kill richard and that he has a hard life. I don’t see where all that adds up to him being goodness incarnate. I don’t see how it makes up for all the bad things he’s done bringing so many people there to die. You could just as easily say that Man in Black didn’t lie to Richard, that Claire loves him, that he didn’t kill richard and that he has a hard life. It’s not that different.

          Theres also so much we don’t know about jacob and Man in Black. You’re basing your assumptions on incomplete data.

      • kaptan36

        I gotta agree with you there. Richard’s part in the purge, and with the Others in general should have been explained in Ab Aeterno.

    • Iwantmykidneyback

      nailed it.

    • Trip

      A very well thought out and articulated argument. I am no Jacob hater, but I do have a few minor points to make.

      1. I think Jacob is a big picture guy. He is willing to sacrifice others in order to prove his overall point, that man can be good without being told. Clearly he isn’t that upset at bringing “many” others before the Black Rock to their deaths on the island.

      2. His interventions into the lives of the “candidates” can’t be as cookie cutter positive as you have colored them. You left out his interaction with Sayid. He distracts him while his fiance gets nailed while crossing the street. Thus setting him on the path to mindless zombie-hood. He is an enabler in Ford’s all consuming pursuit of Sawyer. He provides the pen that writes the letter…

      3. He certainly was misleading Richard at their first meeting. Afterall, HE is the one who brings people to the island. How could he not know that Richard was on the Black Rock? Yet he asks him, “Are you from that ship?” And plays it dumb from there. We can assume that he knew the Black Rock was there and we can further assume that he knew Richard was still in the slave hold suffering a slow death from dehydration. Compassion?

      He says that he doesn’t interfere, but that is EXACTLY what he does. From Richard to the candidates, he has manipulated or steered his game pieces.

      I think there are no absolutes on this show in regards to Jacob or MIB. The only thing that concerns them is their end game, not the pieces that the game is played with.

  • lostinlost

    I have an idea that the losties (and maybe even Whitemore) will use their free will and band together to “con” MIB and Jacob so that they will fight it out at the end, destroying each other and sinking the island in the proocess and somehow, at that moment the timelines will converge. I don’t know what happens after that, but I think it will be a good ending for our losties. I think we will hate Jacob and the MIB so much that we will be happy to see them go.

  • theyneedyou

    The problem with your posts is you make up evidence for when you don’t like what happened on the show. Like when Hurley told Richard that Isabella said that he must stop the Man in Black. We were given NO evidence to suggest that Jacob magically appeared for a second and told Hurley to say that to Richard and lie to him. That is really stupid.

    Also, this isn’t “save the cheerleader, save the world”. The best stories are where good fights evil and eventually triumphs. To imply that what the LOST creators are doing is simplistic is really making you sound like a pompous ass.

    • Rams

      “The best stories are where good fights evil and eventually triumphs.” completely agree with you. The epic stories many people in this generation have enjoyed have been built on this theme (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, to name a few).

      The reason why we don’t see Isabella telling those words to Hurley is because they would have ruined the emotional payoff of the scene we just witnessed between Richard and his dead wife.

      P.S. I’m trying to be really careful reading comments in here after the recent spoiler attack (really pissed-off about it).

      • Handsome Smitty

        AND let’s not forget Hurley’s penchant for paraphrasing. We also didn’t see Isabella when he was talking to her at the campfire. It’s a real REACH to say Hurley is acting on his own to get Richard to join Ilana’s group.

      • Ed-Mars

        I am going to have to semi-disagree with you on that. I agree completely about Lord of the Rings, but good-triumphs-over-evil stories have been done so many times that we’re used to it by now. I want Lost to end on a heart-wrenching, mind-bending note. I don’t want some cliche, overused happy-ending scenario.

        Also, you’re spot on with the “save the cheerleader, save the world” line. I remember being so annoyed by that. It’s so cheesy and cheap and ridiculous.

        • Rams

          With all the deaths and the losses (relationships, hopes, dreams, etc) we have seen on the show, I would say we’ve already precluded a happy ending for LOST. However, I would love for LOST to end on a hopeful tone, not a despairing one. And I would say that all three books/movies I mentioned end that way- on a hopeful tone, but with lot of pain/sacrifice and loss along the way. Thankfully, though it’s on abc, LOST is not a Disney movie. 😛

  • Liz79

    I’d also like to point out a theory I have on Dharma. We know that Dharma found the island through the Lamppost in Los Angeles. I don’t think Jacob brought them to the island. I think they came to the island to use, for their own gain, the scientific properties of the island. Was that purpose “good?” That’s something that I think needs to be determined. Why Jacob chose to kill them to me depends on that question. Now, I don’t condone the purge and as someone who likes Jacob and identifies him as good this is troubling. Although I am starting to wonder if they were following Jacob’s orders all along? At what point did the MIB start giving orders to Ben? Because we know it was the smoke monster who appeared as Alex to Ben telling him that he had to listen to whatever Locke said. When did this changeover occur?

    • Wanda

      MIB only threatened Ben after the Ajira crash. Before that, Ben was presumably taking his orders from Jacob (through Richard), or thought he was.

      Dharma was presumably looking for the same properties the Black Rock was. We still don’t know how the first mate’s diary made it back to auction in London.

    • Handsome Smitty

      I’m going to make a guess that Widmore is behind Dharma. Probably others have before, don’t know.

  • Hopefor51

    Finally, someone else noticed “The Stand” shoutout during Richard’s liberation. Lloyd desperate for freedom and from hunger inadevertently did what Randal Flagg told him to do. UnLocke sure is turning into “The Man with No Face” as it goes.

  • DesertGen

    Brilliant recap. Your insights helped to elevate my opinion of what I thought was a good episode, but no where near the top of my favorite in the series. I would liked to have seen less of the Black Rock adventure and more of Richard’s evolution as the right hand of Jacob over the 140+ years he’s been on the island.

  • tkmacdon

    Great article as usual, Fishbiscuit!

    However, I have one criticism in regard to this comment:

    “The black and white morality of the Catholic Church made perfect sense to Richard, made him an easy subject for the Flim Flam Twins to manipulate. The question for us to consider is whether the writers are also expecting us to buy into this binary moral universe – where black is bad and white is right – or if they’re counting on us to have just a wee bit more intellectual sophistication.”

    This does not give the Catholic Church enough credit. Yes, it does judge certain actions as moral or immoral, but that hardly makes it black and white or intellectually unsophisticated. The philosophical tradition of Catholicism is highly sophisticated; just read the works of Thomas Aquinas or Augustine or G. K. Chesterton or Flannery O’Connor (referenced in LOST) or Walker Percy (referenced in LOST).

    In fact, much of the mythological intricacy of LOST derives from Catholicism. The synthesis of faith and reason that the show seeks is the goal of Aquinas’ work. The Passion and the Book of Job clearly influence Season 5’s themes, images, and plot. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (AKA confession) is a recurring motif for the show, especially with Charlie, Eko, Richard, and the Monster, who uses an inversion of the ritual when judging Eko in “Cost of Living” and Ben in “Dead is Dead”. In fact, Ben’s moving scene with Ilana in “Dr. Linus” is a correction of that inversion; he confesses to a true representative of the God figure instead of the Monster impostor, and as a result, his penance (i.e. humbly reconciling with the community) frees him instead of enslaving him, as the Monster’s penance of following Locke enslaved him.

    So, Catholicism is a major influence in the show. Carlton Cuse is a Catholic, and he admits his religion has helped shape the show. Also, Catholicism is the religion most represented by the characters (e.g. Hurley, Charlie, Eko, Richard, Eloise, and probably Ben, who clearly knew what he was doing in the Lamp Post Catholic Church).

    • kaptan36

      Catholicism is responsible for alot of the great evils in history. It is funny how little Catholics actually know about the real history behind their religion. Especially the fact that there are scrolls written by Jesus himself that the Vatican has, won’t allow anyone to look at, and won’t add to the bible. The Crusades!!! OH and btw; Jesus wasn’t born on DEc.25th. There was actually a pagan holiday called Yule being celebrated around that time, so to convert people to Christianity, they declared Dec.25th Jesus’s birthday, told all the pagans that if they keep celebrating pagan beliefs they would go to hell, but let them continue celebrating the same and let them live unharmed, if it was all done in the name of Jesus.

      • Handsome Smitty

        Uh, the Vatican has material written BY the man people call Jesus? Seriously? You’d think they would because it would be stone-cold proof the man existed even though there is no true HISTORICALLY viable proof of such!

        I’ve never even heard of such a thing and I’ve read a lot of esoteric stuff.

        Yeah yeah yeah, everybody’s aware of the pagan, Mithra and on-and-on mythos woven into the Jesus story. What’s YOUR point?

        Countless millions more died under communist rule, but you’re probably okay with that since no one evoked the name of God, huh?

      • jackuh

        Wow, get a grip kaptan. If you want to have any credibility whatsoever, you might not want to lead with your bit of “Sacred Knowledge” that the Vatican is suppressing actual scrolls written by “Jesus himself.” And if you actually think you are enlightening anyone to the fact that Dec. 25th is not really Jesus’ birthday, you are quite out of touch. But, you made that perfectly clear by the 3rd sentence of your little diatribe. Btw, could you provide some information on these elusive “Jesus Scrolls?” Believe me, I am no fan of Catholicism, I actually think it is the epitome of all that is wrong with organized religion, you just strike me as one of those the Vatican is withholding sacred info, the Free-Mason’s secretly run the earth, conspiracy theorist.

      • waxing poetic

        lol…sounds like someone watched Dan Brown’s Angel’s & Demons this weekend. There are worse crimes against humanity committed by institutionalized religion then “tricking” the world into believing Jesus was born on December 25th to hide the conversion of the pagans. Catholics conveniently forget the evils of the past just like the Germans and British. It’s a lot easier to go to mass on Sunday or sing God Save the Queen without recalling the horrors of the crusades or the Irish Famine. Same can go for any such civilization or religion or social movement that has tried to dominate a supposed weaker one (or in the case of the Germans, a seemingly superior minority). No one can claim ultimate goodness or ultimate evil…since we are selfish beings with the ability to be redeemed in one form or another (child molesters notwithstanding…they will burn). In returning to our dear Lost…nothing has been what it seemed, and nothing is all one thing or another. I agree that the whole black and white saga is a red herring in that we will end up seeing that life is grey, and a person can choose which end of the spectrum he or she leans towards throughout their life. Hopefully our beloved Losties will make the right choice.

        Another note…when Isabella said to Richard that they were already together, it would be interesting to think that once a person chooses the light, or on the island choose Jacob, in some other world a flash sideways is created, one in which his wife doesn’t get sick, and he doesn’t commit murder. Perhaps somewhere, in some when, they were really together after all. As Jake Chambers said…there are others worlds than th

        • waxing poetic

          this*

          • tkmacdon

            The Catholic Church does not forget the evils in its history; in a society that is increasingly hostile toward institutionalized religion, it is impossible for Catholics not to be aware of these evils. Yet all long-running human institutions have committed heinous crimes, since humans are fallen. The Church’s belief in its divine guidance is not inconsistent with its sometimes violent history due to humanity’s fallen state. LOST provides a wonderful analogy: Ben is chosen by Jacob, the God-like figure, to be the leader, but despite the guidance of Jacob, Ben still reveals his fallen nature by making the choice to commit atrocities. In this manner, Ben shows that he is both sinful and supernaturally guided, just like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

            As Handsome Smitty rightly explains further down this page, even explicitly atheistic and “rational” institutions have committed atrocities. Stalin’s purge of the Ukraine is one particularly horrific example, but Smitty offers others.

            So, the question is whether the Catholic Church has progressed, which is what one would expect of an institution guided by the Holy Spirit. The answer is clearly yes; there are no more indulgences, Crusades, Inquisitions, Medici levels of corruption, or rampant waves of sexuality in monasteries. That is one of the valuable aspects of tradition; it incorporates the lessons learned from past mistakes. Of course, the Church is still far from perfect, as the heinous abuse scandals show. However, the strict new measures imposed by the hierarchy are encouraging for the future of the Church.

            Lastly, it would be misguided to judge the dogma of the Catholic Church by the Catholics who do not follow it, such as the pedophile priests or corrupt popes. One does not judge a school by the performance of the students who did not do the work. A dogmatic institution must be judged by its exemplars (i.e. the people whom the institution presents as having most closely followed the dogma). The exemplars of the Catholic Church are the saints, most of whose lives were beacons of kindness, charity, intellectual acuteness, and/or miraculousness.

    • Rams

      Wow I never made that connection about the confession motif and its inversion re: Ben and Ilana. Good catch!

      • tkmacdon

        Thanks! I think the confession motif fits well with the show’s overriding thematic concern with sin and redemption.

    • Handsome Smitty

      Cuse is Catholic – a practicing one? Can someone verify this?

      • Ishmael

        http://tonyrossi.blogspot.com/2008/01/lost-and-found.html

        An excerpt:

        While Cuse was raised as a Catholic, his devotion to his faith grew deeper after he got married. He said, “My wife is from a sprawling Catholic family. She has seven brothers and sisters. And my mother-in-law has been an incredible source of inspiration to me. She is the matriarch of this incredible brood. I’ve been married for 20 years and my relationship with my faith is tied into my relationship with her family which has really become my family, that’s been a huge part of own personal faith journey.”

        Because of that faith, it probably wasn’t a huge surprise to Carlton that some fans speculated that the Island on “Lost” was actually Purgatory. Both he and Lindelof have said that is definitely not the case though Cuse elaborates that “doesn’t mean the values that underlie the concept of purgatory aren’t present in the show.”

        • neoloki

          Really, his religious belief mean nothing to the show. He is not the only showrunner or writer.

          • Ishmael

            I absolutely agree! I don’t take this as a bad thing at all. He’s also a RedSox fan and that’s been shown on the show. Writer’s take their personal experience and use it to craft the story that they want to tell. These writers have used so many different traditions/cultures/faiths to convey their story.
            Damon and Carlton have discussed their individual beliefs and views and how they play out on the show. Here is a link: http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2005/12/lost-in-faith.html

            These writers have done such an excellent job of crafting an intriguing and complex story. I highly doubt it is as simple as some of us believe or fear. For example we are now talking Western religious beliefs and traditions but what did the Black Rock smash into? An Egyptian Goddness. Who represents something very important to the story of Lost. Just wikipedia Tawaret.

          • Rams

            Everyone is okay with Egyptian/Greek/Buddhist symbolism on LOST. But once there is any whiff of Christian symbolism, people are ready to cry foul. Honestly, the themes expounded by Jacob sound a mixture of worldviews, and definitely not a purely Catholic one.

          • Liz79

            I find that interesting as well, Rams.

          • tkmacdon

            Damon Lindelof is also highly sympathetic to Catholicism. Check out the bottom of this site:

            http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1193284_3,00.html

            Here’s the relevant excerpt:

            “During the show’s conception, Lindelof was grappling with an array of internal debates prompted by the death of his father. At the same time, he was falling in love with his future wife, and finding the spiritual connection he was seeking through exposure to her Catholic beliefs. ‘For me,’ he says, ‘Lost is about meaning — and the search for meaning.'”

            So, considering that the two masterminds of LOST are heavily influenced by Catholicism, it should come as no surprise that Catholicism is the religion most clearly influencing the show.

            And yes, there are other religions referenced in the show; they indicate the universality of some of the themes and the long history of the Island. However, Catholicism plays the largest role. It is the religion most represented by the characters, and it is the religion most reflected in the central plot points. Locke dies and seemingly resurrects, Ben’s story with Jacob is a variation on the Book of Job, the Oceanic 6 find their way back to the Island in a Catholic church, and the duel between Jacob and Smokey has clear parallels to Abel and Cain or God and the Devil. The show presents many different faiths, but it is incontrovertible that Catholicism plays the largest role.

          • Greg

            Well, I’d broaden it to Judeo-Christian beliefs. After all many Protestants (for example Episcopalians/Anglicans) believe and practice in a very similar way to Catholics. And many of the old testament stories are part of the Jewish faith. Though, for me, I’m not interested in which religion or idea holds the most sway in the story. I’m open to all of them.

          • Greg

            Excuse me – ALL of the old testament stories are part of the Jewish faith.

      • Handsome Smitty

        Thanks for those links, Ishmael and tkmacdon – truly surprised to hear them talking opening about it.

        Cool.

  • DSJH

    I think you attribute way too much to Smokey. Shanon’s vision of Walt, Hurley’s imaginary friend Dave, Christian Shepard, the butterfly, boars, Kate’s horse, Locke’s dream about Horace, etc. I doubt that all of this is the Smoke Monster.

  • kaptan36

    You assume WAY too much Fishface. Where did you get that in the season 1 episode “Outlaws” that the smoke monster became a boar? And I didn’t see anywhere any mentioning of the ship being headed for Austrailia. The only mention of it’s destination was that it was going to the “New World”. Oh that’s right, you had no real evidence and just ASSUMED that’s what happened in these cases. I also highly doubt anyone was “giddy” with the supposed answers we got from this episode. This episode left me fairly disappointed. While it was great to get Richard’s origin story, they should have cut out the 20 minutes of Richard in chains to tell more of his life and role with the Others, as that is still a huge mystery aside from the fact that we know he was an intermediary between them and Jacob.

    Here’s my WTF checklist for this episode.

    * So a hollow Wooden ship carried by a tidal wave smashes the statue of stone to bits, yet the ship remains in 1 piece except for a relatively small gash in the side? WTF? Check, WTF.

    * We finally get to see the voyage of the Black Rock and yet don’t get to see Magnus Hanso? WTF? Check, WTF.

    *THE ISLAND IS A CORK TO KEEP EVIL BOTTLED UP?!?!?!? Really? What about the magnetism and time traveling properties? WTF, check and check.

    * And is anyone else disappointed that more than halfway through the season it’s looking pretty good that “real” Locke isn’t coming back? So the character we all cared so much about had his life pitifully ended and in the end actually became the greatest tool for evil? WTF!!!!!

    • Handsome Smitty

      Locke is BACK in the sideways© reality!

      The wave probably would have been enough to knock the statue down.

      Yeah, what’s the deal with Hanso? Of course, we don’t know he was on the ship – it seems Whitfield was an employee. I assume the Hanso connection will be revealed – perhaps in a Widmore flashback (since The Darlton broke the no-flashback rule, why not?).

      • Ed-Mars

        Magnus Hanso was on the ship. When Richard wakes up after the Black rock “landed”, we hear voices : “Bring me the Captain!”, “Sir, Captain Hanso is dead.” It’s probably hard to hear on TV, but just to be sure, I checked the episode transcript at Lostpedia, and that bit of dialogue is indeed there. http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Ab_Aeterno_transcript

        • Handsome Smitty

          Didn’t hear that – thanks!

    • neoloki

      Kaptan, wow, Hanso? really? So what! The Black Rock was riding a 200 foot tidal wave and you think the statue should have stood, Really? Huh?! Yeah, the Island is a cork, but do you really feel that is the whole explanation? Come on. LOCKE”S DEAD!!! Get over it.

      • tgbtc

        I think Kaptan’s point about the ship hitting the statue was more a question of why the ship was not also destroyed. In that respect, I agree with him. That could have been played out a little bit better.

        • Eural Joiner

          Yes, you should put it right in there with the question from the initial pilot episode of the whole series: how does a plan break apart in mid-air and yet dozens of its occupants land safely thousands of feet below with barely a scratch or two? Come on, if you had no problem with the reality of the show 6 years ago what is your sudden concern for it now?

        • Ament

          If we’re not questioning how a plane explodes in mid air then splits in three with survivors in each part, i’m really not gonna question how the ship didn’t smash to bits…and we didn’t actually see the ship hit the statue, it’s just safe to assume it did.

  • kaptan36

    Also too, does anyone else agree with me that it was completely a waste of storytelling time to show Richard in chains for 1/3 of the episode?

    • Ed-Mars

      You are wrong about that my friend. Having Richard in chains for that amount of time really showed his despair, and it gave us more insight into the Man-in-Black’s character. We needed to see Richard at the lowest point in his life and how all his misery was being compounded upon. Having him on the brink of death while the MiB played mind games on him was really brilliantly executed. You may want answers more than anything, but there’s nothing wrong with incredibly good acting in such a mythologically heavy episode.

      • Handsome Smitty

        Yes, that was my favorite part of Fishy’s post, making those connections to WHY the chain-scene lasted so long. I was wondering – and in just as much despair as Richard. MIB had me suckered until the end when Isabella talked to Richard.

        • Ed-Mars

          Titus Welliver is really awesome as the man-in-black, isn’t he? I really enjoyed his scenes, so much in fact, that I went back and re-watched the opening scene of “The Incident”. The way he delivered the line “No…I am” when Richard asked how the black smoke could be killed with a dagger was absolutely brilliant. I also love both Terry O’Quinn and Titus Welliver are giving this character the same mannerisms.

          • Liz79

            He really is! Maybe I’m dating myself but I loved him a little seen show called Brooklyn South (the late ’90’s). I actually like the way all three of the actors have been portraying Jacob and MIB.

          • Ed-Mars

            Yes, they are all doing an awesome job. I have to admit, at first I was a bit reticent about Mark Pellegrino, but I was clearly wrong. His acting has been much better than I expected.

          • Rams

            I felt that their portrayals don’t seem to match very well. I can justify it mentally by saying the MIB has part of Locke’s personality in him now (w/o him realizing it), but I really wish they matched better…

          • Handsome Smitty

            I too underrated these actors in the beginning. Like Richard’s character, one theirs were fleshed out they rose to the task.

          • dp2

            I agree with Ed-Mars. I had no problem keeping in mind that this was the same character that TO’Q has been playing.

      • Rams

        Hear! Hear! Ab Aeterno was like a movie, and I would not take one scene away from that episode.

    • neoloki

      Try watching the episode without commercials. It doesn’t last nearly as long.
      Oh, so yes, you are wrong again!!

  • MoniquE

    Oh, Fishy. The whole time I was reading this I knew the religious nuts would be in the comments section with their pitchforks and they didn’t disappoint. LOL! It’s so funny how the same people who are so sure about good and evil tend to be so meanspirited and intolerant in their opinions and so insulting.

    Here’s what I know. Jacob isn’t God. Fish has that right. He’s not a surrogate for the judeo christian God. One way or another it’s a pagan story. The moral absolutists don’t need to get their panties all twisted over it, as if someone is insulting their religion.

    I think this episode was a good set up to when they wrap up the mythology. I agree it wasn’t really about Richard. And I also don’t think Isabella was talking to Hurley at the end. If she wanted to tell Richard about the man in black, why didn’t she do it while we could see her? Why take her off camera at just that moment? And why did he talk English to that person instead of Spanish? I think Hurley is in the tank for Jacob and I don’t think that’s going to be a good thing for anyone.

    • Handsome Smitty

      What’s nuttier, religious nuts or atheist nuts? Snickers or Babe Ruth?

      Hmmm.

      • MoniquE

        I don’t know. Never heard of an atheist war but how many millions have died in religious wars? Plus I don’t think it’s between atheists and religionists. You can believe in God and shun organized religion. Not everyone needs to have everything spelled out for them.

        • Handsome Smitty

          Really? Seriously? Never heard of Marx or Stalin or Lenin or Se Tung?

          Wow.

          Millions upon millions died in the name of UnGod – communism.

          Yes, you can believe and have faith in a Creator and not be part of a religion.

          Like me, for instance.

          But nothing wrong with being part of a religion and not taking everything in its canon as…well, canon.

          The most important lesson from the The Man They Call Jesus was that salvation and heaven is open to ALL!!!. Used to be people had to be kings and rulers to get into the afterlife or whatever, and only their chosen servants were allowed in to SERVE them! Or for some you’re stuck in a purgatory forever. Or come back as a bug until you grow up.

          And I’m not even sure The Man They Call Jesus even existed; yet what He supposedly taught is a truth as any truth can be, not just the Liberty part of Love as well!
          The very FACT that you call some people’s arguments as emminating from nuttiness because of their religious faiths is, come on, just a bit insulting – and begging for the real nuttiness to come out!!!

          😉 :-0 🙂

    • Dom

      Are you able to comment without constantly insulting people that do not agree with the recapper’s or your opinion?

  • Sylvia

    Love the Pandora’s box idea. It always seems backwards to say that hope was not released (we want hope in the world) I always thought the story would make more sense if it were despair (the absence of hope) that was boxed in. So, MIB equals despair equals the absence of hope. I remember from my Catholic schooldays that despair was a sin, because it acts as a denial of God or faith. To despair is to reject God/faith. To be without faith is to be in Hell. Hence, release MIB (despair) and we are all in Hell.

  • Handsome Smitty

    ” Like finding out Santa Claus is really just Dad drunk on eggnog.”

    Yes, but what made Daddy put on that suit and set those gifts under the tree in the middle of the night? So he had to console himself to the fact that all those pretty geegaws would be broken by year’s end with a little earthly high.

    Forget the Big Picture. Look at the Little Pictures and quit trying to tie them into some mosaic for some deeper meaning: Nothing is deeper than a Love. And if people want to couch it in Christianity or Buddhism, so what?

    Getting hung up on the whole “black and white” thing, seriously? If you don’t like our color-meaning-categorizing human traits, simplify it even more:

    Darkness, Light. Cold, Warmth. Blindness, Sight. Nothingness, Awareness. Vacuum, Sound. COLORS are only incidental.

    Check out B.A.Y and tkmacdon’s responses. Even those things black-and-white or cut-and-dried are layered and defined by a complexity that many ignore or simply do not understand.

    • MoniquE

      I started to read BAY’s post but couldn’t get past him saying a ‘small percentage’ of Lost fans would agree with this post. I dont’ know why the moral absolutists always need to make up how everyone else agrees with him. How does he know what any percentage thinks. And he doesn’t seem to realilze that he’s twisting things to fit his belief system also, same thing he accuses Fish of. Religious people are not immune from doing that. I think they do it more than anyone, from what I’ve seen.

      tkmacdon’s post was intelligent. I don’t agree with him but he wasn’t offensive like some others. You are never offensive either, Handsome Smitty, even though I usually don’t agree with you either.

      Sometimes I think people believe so much in religion because they don’t want to have to think for themselves. It even makes them angry when other people do.

      • neoloki

        B.A.Y. is no such thing as a moral absolutist or religious in his response. Nor is he doing anything but giving an opinion which contradicts another opinion. You are assuming way too much and being way to sensitive.
        I do not believe in one religion and I am agnostic, but I agree whole heartedly with just about everything B.A.Y said.

      • Ishmael

        MoniquE – Actually B.A.Y didn’t say that “a small percentage of Lost fans would agree with this post” but instead said that a small percentage of Lost fans think Jacob is a dick. I think that’s a real distinction to make. I also didn’t get the idea that he or she was a religious person, though there is nothing wrong with that, just that they were giving a counter argument to the Jacob is a dick/not a good guy argument. Listen, it’s all perception isn’t it? Our history and experience color the way we view things. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong here. But as far as I’ve read I’ve seen some compelling arguments for both sides. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone bust out with some religious fervor nor do I think the posts this week have been offensive.

      • dd

        What a fanboy! I mean, totally!

    • Ed-Mars

      Is all this fighting about religion really necessary? While many of you see parallels to religion in the storyline, I am interpreting those as misdirection from Darlton. Until we get to know the MiB’s and Jacob’s backstories, nothing is set in stone yet. Lost is a story about redemption, who says the MiB won’t find some sort of redemption at the very end? And wise up guys, the show is never going to come out and explicitly define such and such as God and Satan equivalents. Lost operates best in the grey area of moral ambiguity, so just take it with a grain of salt until we get more information

      • Liz79

        I’m with you Ed-Mars. I think the writers sometimes use parallels to help give us clues or to help along in the story but I don’t take any of it literally. My personal opinion is that they are creating their own narrative using various myths/stories/traditions etc. I have no idea where they are going and I love it. I happen to like Jacob. Maybe it’s all these years of trusting him like the characters trusted him but I’m gonna stick it out with him. If it turns out he was “bad” all along or what have you, so be it. It’s all in the fun or watching this amazing show.

        • Ed-Mars

          Yes, in the very end, it won’t matter who turns out to be bad or good. Take Ben Linus for instance, despite all his faults and all the misery he has inflicted on so many characters, I never could bring myself to hate the character. While that partly has to do with Michael Emerson’s acting, I really enjoyed how well the character was written. By the same token, I enjoy both the MiB’s and Jacob’s characters. I can’t bring myself to root for one side, while actively hating the other. That, to me, would be the equivalent of looking at something with one eye closed.

          • Handsome Smitty

            Ben Bad Bad Ben. Don’t hate the character, but the character is Evil and therefore the Enemy of Good.

            Hate’s got nothing to do with it.

            I’ll forgive him when he sacrifices his life.

      • tkmacdon

        I completely agree with you, Ed-Mars, when you say, “And wise up guys, the show is never going to come out and explicitly define such and such as God and Satan equivalents. Lost operates best in the grey area of moral ambiguity, so just take it with a grain of salt until we get more information.”

        That is the reason why I prefer Lord of the Rings to Narnia (which I still like quite a bit). Whereas Narnia is a straightforward Christian allegory, Lord of the Rings integrates Christian themes subtly and realistically into an artistic world. So, while I maintain that LOST is most influenced by Catholicism, I do not think the show will just boil everything down to allegory (e.g. Jacob=God, MIB=Satan, etc); the show fully integrates Catholic images, motifs, and themes into an artistic world. That leaves room for gray areas, but those are the areas in which theology grows.

        • Rams

          Interestingly, Tolkein didn’t approve of Narnia either. He disliked allegories too. http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3657&Itemid=48

          • tkmacdon

            Wow, Rams, that is an interesting and perceptive article. I especially appreciate this excerpt:

            “Tolkien disliked allegory so intensely because he felt it was too didactic. It leaves no possibility that any other levels of meaning in the work could exist. Tolkien understood the artist, created in God’s image, to be a ‘sub-creator’ — producing a work of the imagination that functioned best when it followed God’s own complex action of creation…

            “The difference between Narnia and Middle Earth points to the underlying difference between the imagination of Lewis the Protestant and Tolkien the Catholic. For the Protestant, truth is essentially dialectical. It consists of abstract propositions to be stated, argued, and affirmed or denied.

            “For the Catholic, Truth, while it may be argued dialectically, is essentially something not to be argued but experienced. The Truth is always linked with the mystery of the incarnation, and is therefore something to be encountered.”

            The point about art and truth being incarnational is essential. Good art does not merely present truth, but rather incarnates it in the world of the narrative. That accounts for the fact that Catholicism emphasizes the body more than many (but not all) branches of Protestantism; as the Incarnation shows, spiritual truths manifest themselves in material and flesh, so material and flesh are sacred. The goal is not to release oneself from the material world into the spiritual world, as the Gnostics believed, but rather to have the material world (e.g. the body) act in accordance with the spiritual world (e.g. the soul). That is one of the reasons why Catholics emphasize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; as a union of material and spirit, humanity must experience Christ both materially and spiritually. Sacraments respect this union in that they are visible things containing invisible value, or human creations imbued with divine power.

            LOST is a highly sacramental show, as one would expect from the number of references to Catholicism. For example, Jacob gives Hurley a guitar case, which is one of the props necessary to bring the Oceanic 6 back to the Island. The aid of blessed materials in reaching the divine is highly sacramental. Just as a priest recreates the conditions of the Last Supper as part of the transubstantiation in Mass, the Oceanic 6 recreate the conditions of the original plane crash to get back to the Island. In both cases, immanent objects gain transcendent meaning in the re-creation of a grace-filled moment in history; the present objects gain the significance of the corresponding past objects. Jacob acts as somewhat of a priest in this transubstantiation, orchestrating the re-creation.

    • tkmacdon

      Thank you Handsome Smitty!

      I have noticed that many of the major religious and philosophical traditions are not irrational, even if I disagree with them. They use logic and reason to formulate their unique dogmas. However, they disagree on some of their unprovable premises. All reason requires unprovable premises off of which people can reason. For example, science requires the unprovable and hardly common-sensical premise that the universe is both ordered and intelligible.

      However, I do not think religious debate is within the scope of this thread, except where it overlaps with LOST’s themes. I didn’t mean to spark this debate; I swear! I was just looking for religious themes in LOST.

      • Handsome Smitty

        It’s a shame it has to become a religious debate rather than a rational one about the themes. That being said, I have no problem debating as long as we can be polite – “religious nuts” is not polite.

        Snickers vs Babe Ruth – which is nuttier!?!

        PayDay!!!

  • neoloki

    We need to remember that the reason this weeks episode was couched in overly Catholic symbolism and imagery was because it was Richards story and given he was born in the early 19th century in Spain, it is going to color how the story is told.

    • Liz79

      Thank you! That’s exactly how I saw it as well and that’s why I picked up on what I thought they were trying to show in Jacob’s progession (related to my post above about the differences in the old and new testament god). I just saw it as a way to explain how Richard became so important to both Jacob and the island.

  • dd

    As usual, I’m not comfortable with what’ said in this review. For instance, the Monster is the champion of freewill while Jacob is the manipulator?

    FB and Monique not understanding the narrative choice of Hurley speaking Isabella’s last comment?

    I think some of the others have already mentioned what needs to be said.

  • MD

    Fantastic. The more I read brilliant commentaries as this one, the more I get back to the roots of LOST having a meaning in my own life. Just brilliant.

  • Euphractus

    I definitely agree that finding out all the answers would ruin some of the magic. It is nice to have a little unknown, a little mystery.

    Is there some place where it was stated that Jacob and the Man In Black were brothers? I wouldn’t be surprised if they were, but you seem to claim it quite definitively and assume the Man in Black’s mother is also Jacob’s.

    I am not sure why you are assuming that the black/white symbolism is meant to point towards good/evil (even in misdirection). I think there are clear indicators we are supposed to view it more as ying/yang.
    1) neither Jacob or Smokey embodies pure good
    2) the rocks on the scale clearly suggest a balance as would be expected in yin/yang
    3) Jacob wearing white shirt but black pants
    Of these I think #2 is the clearest indicator of a yin/yang balance but I am sure there are others

    Yin and yang may be opposites but that does not mean they have to be good/evil. Several other possibilities present themselves including the following:
    order/chaos
    rational thought/emotion
    civilization/nature [Jacob’s lives in the foot of a statue, is associated with a lighthouse and his home is well, homey– it has accoutrements of civilization such as a loom, fire, seems organized whereas Smokey seems more at home in the outdoors]

    I am not saying that any one of these should be how we view the Jacob/Smoke Monster duality, but rather that there are multiple interpretations you could give to black and white without resorting to good/evil.

    I have to say though that the early seasons suggested to me that the smoke monster was a friend/guardian of the Others. Since the Others follow Jacob, it didn’t seem to me that the smoke monster and Jacob would necessarily be at odds, plus the smoke monster’s “judging” seemed to be a moral issue.

  • minnie swirl

    “I found out that for me Answers don’t much matter anymore. They’re always going to be only the icing on the great LOST cake…Answers, I’m convinced, are never going to be what LOST is all about.” This paragraph is absolutely how I’ve felt since this season started. When many were complaining that enough answers hadn’t come by the 3rd hour of the season, I was simply enjoying the ride. Personally, I found the episode that provided the most answers, “Ab Aeterno,” the least enjoyable to watch this season.

  • ke$ha SUCKS

    This is comment 108

  • spacebender

    I enjoyed FB’s recap as always, but didn’t share her interpretation of Hurley’s words:

    “Later, after he has translated Isabella’s ghost-speak for Richard, Hurley talks briefly to the air again, after Isabella has gone. Who is he talking to when he says “Got it”? He tells Richard that Isabella told him he has to stay and stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island and sending them all to Hell. …. Personally, I think Hurley lied to Richard when he said Isabella told him that. ”

    I didn’t see Hurley at that point “speaking to the air”; he was giving Richard some space to respond to what just happened, waiting quietly and respectfully (perhaps awkwardly given what was yet unsaid) as Richard put on his wife’s cross necklace. At that point Richard says to Hurley, “Thank you,” to Hurley responds, “You got it”, as in, “You’re welcome”.

    Overall, I see the story being told in Season 6 as one with many layers of symbolism and narrative, and in ways parallel to “The Constant”, I especially enjoyed the poignancy and beauty of “Ab Aeterno” and it definitely ranks among my favorite episodes.

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  • צביעת שיער

    רשת מעצבי השיער של ארי שומר מבצעת מזה זמן רב החלקה יפנית תוך התחייבות ל-100% הצלחה ותוך עדכון תדיר של החידושים והטכנולוגיות האחרונים בתחום החלקה יפנית ו החלקה ברזילאית . החלקת שיער יפנית / החלקה ברזילאית מתבצעת ע"י ארי שומר ואלכס (מנהל קניון "הבאר") בלבד, ללא הפרעת עובדים או לקוחות אחרים, תוך אבחון מדוקדק ומיומן של סוג השיער והטיפול המומלץ לו.