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Richard Alpert, The Ageless Lost Boy

By JOpinionated,

  Filed under: Lost Theories
  Comments: 14

This has nothing to do with any of the current acronyms
(ARG/DWY/OGR), but I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at Richard
Alpert and what his character represents to Lost. Let’s begin with a brief
introduction to a few terms and an integral person…

PANCHEN LAMA: The second highest ranking Lama after the
Dalai Lama. They form a Tulku reincarnation lineage.

TULKU: A Lama reincarnate, one who is reborn multiple times.

DR. RICHARD ALPERT (aka RAM DASS, servant of God): The real
Richard Alpert is a spiritual teacher. He was fired from his post at Harvard
for researching psychedelic chemicals.

And now, on to the theorizing…


The island’s Richard Alpert appears to be ageless; he remains
among the living as a teacher, a scholar, a peaceful negotiator, a calm
influence and ally, a voice of reason among the chaos. His character is homage
to both Ram Dass and the Panchen Lama.

There are limitless possibilities with regard to when Alpert
first appeared on the island, and in what capacity. One common theory is that
he was an original member of the Black Rock crew, and that his ship wound up in
the middle of the island after it was relocated during a previous turn of the
frozen donkey wheel (thus, his ‘Hostile’ ensemble). If Widmore is also an ageless
wonder, he may have been the one who turned it; thus, he was never able to
return to the island and only recently uncovered its whereabouts.



Alpert designated John Locke as the new incarnation of the island’s
Dalai Lama, which is why he was present at Locke’s birth.


When Locke was five
years old, Alpert administered a series of tests to see if young John
recognized items from his previous or future life. Alpert’s frustration with
Locke’s failure to choose the correct items foreshadows Locke’s eventual downfall
as leader on the island and death off island as Jeremy Bentham.


When Locke was a teenager, Alpert failed to recruit him
again (via Mittelos Bioscience, the same front that ultimately lured Juliet to
the island).

That Alpert’s Chosen One appears to have been an erroneous selection
may have serious ramifications for him on the island and with the one man who
ranks above him (it is up for debate whether that may be Jacob or Widmore, but
I do not believe Ben to be a candidate).



When he was off the island, Alpert was a doctor (along with
Ethan) with Mittelos Bioscience. It is a safe bet that Alpert shares Ram Dass’
expertise with chemicals; he was probably responsible for creating the island’s
original vaccine (which Desmond, Kelvin, Claire & others injected), indicating
a peaceful alignment with Dharma that has never been alluded to (although if
Alpert really did oversee the Purge, that relationship went terribly amiss). It is more than likely that he also had a hand
in the breakthrough of Juliet’s infertility drug for her sister, and removed
any barriers to her success (i.e. ex-husband’s death via bus) and eventual path
to the island.



As the number two go-to guy for the island, for Ben and
presumably for Jacob, Alpert traveled back and forth rather frequently and
stealthily. He successfully recruited Juliet and also delivered Anthony Cooper.
He convinced Locke to con Sawyer into killing his father. He negotiated with
Kate and Sayid to assist with Keamy’s release of Ben in return for seats on the
rescue helicopter.


The Black Smoke Monster manifests itself in various ways on
the island. It is also possible that Alpert shares that ability.  Many of us have assumed that Smokey took the
shape of the deceased when they appeared to the living (ranging from Boone to

I strongly believe that Alpert appears as Christian Shephard,
and has since September 22, 2004 (the date of the 815 crash).


1) In the last Lost mobisode, we witnessed Christian tell
Vincent to go to his son Jack because ‘had work to do.’  Alpert’s role was to encourage Jack’s
leadership after the crash.

2) In the first episode of Season 4, Hurley happened upon
Jacob’s cabin and spied Christian there.  When we don’t see Alpert for long periods of
time, he is protecting and in counsel with Jacob.


3) When Claire seemed on the edge of death following her
house explosion, Christian appeared to accompany her to the other side, to Jacob’s
cabin. (Side note: that Miles was able to actually see and hear Christian at
that time indicates his ability to communicate with the reincarnated as well as
the deceased).  Alpert was there to sooth
her transition from life to death, appearing as her father to ease the journey
and arrange for the safe delivery of her son to a trusted source.


4) Christian spoke on behalf of Jacob when Locke asked how
to save the island, and was the one who informed him of the need to move it. Alpert
knew that Ben had to turn the wheel, and that Locke would remain to lead…one
final chance to prove his worth.


5) When Michael was on the freighter attempting to detonate
the bomb, Christian appeared to accompany him to the other side, and informed
him that it was ‘time to go.’ When you’ve redeemed yourself in the eyes of the island,
Alpert is the messenger.


6) After rescue, Jack sees Christian on two occasions and
speaks to him once. Alpert was there as his father to remind him of the lie and
to encourage his return to the island.

We have yet to see both Alpert and Christian in the same
scene. However, I do concede that I unable to explain why Christian’s actual
body has been missing from the coffin since the crash.



He was working with newly designated island leader Locke at
the time of the frozen donkey wheel turn, and did not appear to be surprised by
the event (given that he’d probably ‘lived’ through many such occurrences).



After multiple attempts to lure Locke to the island, did
Alpert assign Matthew Abaddon to influence Locke? Is that why Abaddon mysteriously
appeared during Locke’s back rehab and inspired his future walkabout (which is
why Locke was on Flight 815).

[aside: note the baseball poster above on the rehab facility
wall when Abaddon is pushing Locke in the wheelchair…one of Alpert’s test
items was a baseball glove.]

Obviously there are innumerable theories about exactly who
Richard Alpert is, and given that Nestor Carbonell has been upgraded to series
regular (as well as John Terry/Christian Shephard), I look forward to
discovering more about Alpert’s past and his future role on the island in Season 5.

  • maven

    Jo: Great dissertation of Richard Alpert’s character. He does seem to be central to getting people to act a certain way and to fulfill their destinies. If he can indeed shape-change (ala Smokey) than that is why the survivors are seeing certain people important to them that keeps them on the island or soothes them (like Claire and her father). The fact that Alpert does not age or celebrate birthdays would seem to add credence to this theory.

  • dolce

    Dude…I stopped reading after #1.ugh!

  • joe bloe

    you dont really provide any real convincing evidence for alpert being christian shepherd. i appreciate the effort with the article. you should do more for other characters. you write very well.

    but besides the fact that alpert is ben’s #2 and christian is jacob’s #2, theres no real connection.

  • Excellent post, bravo.

  • gab

    Some really interesting points… Especially the connections with Abbadon and the baseball poster, however must agree with the post above about the Christian Shepard argument. I think Richard becoming becoming Christian to speak on behalf of Jacob is not a very thought out theory. Although, who knows, you may be onto something…

  • visitor

    who is “rammed-ass”?

  • Brew

    Not so sure about alpert being shepperd but i’ll say one thing , you could be onto something about him being part of the black rock. Nice to read anyways.

  • Richardisnotchristian

    Richard Alpert is not some sort of shape shifter. This is Lost, and crazy things can happen, but this theory is poor at best. Perhaps Richard comes from the Black Rock, but he is not taking on the faces of dead people to influence the living.

  • Bezmina

    Nah I don’t buy the Alpert is Sheppard thing either, just because I have seen nothing to suggest it is true at all.
    I like the idea of the Dalai Lama test though, that rings true.

  • EkoEko

    I really enjoyed this post about (in my opinion) the most mysterious and interesting character on Lost besides Jacob and Abaddon. It echoes but doesnt exactly match my own theory, which is that Abaddon and Alpert are kind of like ‘archangel’ figures…

    Alpert is named after Ram Dass, as you pointed out, which means servant of God. Angel in greek means messenger, as in messenger of God. Abaddon, the destroyer, is an angel who will banish Satan either for eternity or for a thousand years (my biblical knowledge is a bit hazy). Both Alpert and Abaddon are working on behalf another unseen force to influence certain events. They are like lieutenants, playing similar roles to the archangels Gabriel or Michael from the Bible, and work for two different, opposing sides (ie Widmore/Dharma versus Ben/Jacob/Locke) almost on a consignment basis while still remaining loyal to that larger unseen force which we have yet to come to know, and which controls ‘the game’ that Widmore and Ben (and who knows who else) are playing for control of the island.

    The fact that one is black and another is white follows certain allusions and dichotomies that have already shown up in Lost (backgammon, urim and thumim stones that jack found on those bodies in the cave, etc.).

    In case I am not being clear, I am NOT SAYING that alpert, abaddon etc are actual angels in the judeochristian sense but that their roles are similar to angels (servants and messengers of a higher power).

    What do you all think?

  • b

    I don’t think that Alpert appears as Christian Shepherd. Aside from the fact that they’re never seen together, there’s no evidence to support the theory. And that they’ve never seen together isn’t much evidence anyways. Christian has only appeared to Jack, Claire, Locke, Michael and Vincent (in the webisode), so it’s not like he’s been seen with too many people in the first place.

    And about Christian’s empty coffin:

    How is it not insanely obvious to everyone that Oceanic put an empty coffin on the plane?

  • smellslikecarrots

    Has it actually been confirmed that Carbonell is a series regular? There was a rumor that both John Terry and Alan Dale had posible options to become series regulars for season 6, but I have not heard it confirmed by anyone that either they, or Nestor Carbonell were officially signed as season 5 cast-members.

  • texgeekboy

    Using the fact that RA/CS have never been seen together is like using Hurley/Widmore have never been seen together.

  • Bezmina

    OMG Hurley isn’t Cheech’s son after all he is Jim Robinson off Neighbours (as all us Brits think of Alan Dale no matter how many quality dramas he feature in)!