Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost episode recap – “Ab Aeterno” S6E9 airdate 03/23/10)

It's the long awaited Richard-centric episode!  It's pretty talky and I haven't differentiated between the paraphrasing and the actual quotes, but since Lost dialogue is rarely eloquent I figure you won't care that much.  On to Richard's story:

The good guys – Jack, Sun, Miles, Frank, Ben, Alana, Hurley and Richard – sit moodily around a campfire on the beach. Remembering that Jacob told her to go to Richard when she didn’t know what to do, Alana looks to him: “So, Richard, what do we do next?” Richard lets out a giggle: “You know I was trying to kill myself when Jack found me, right? Everything Jacob ever said was a lie.” Jack: “What are you talking about?” Richard: “You want to know a secret? We’re all dead. Really. We’re not on an island, we never were. We’re in hell. Literally. So, forget Jacob – let’s listen to someone else. And that’s what I’m going to do.” And then Richard grabs a torch and stomps off into the darkness.

Alana loads her rifle and tells Jack that she’s going after him – still stuck on the Jacob told her to concept. Jack says that he thinks Richard has maybe lost his mind, then turns back to the others: “What? Do you think you know where he’s going?” Ben, snarkily: “Oh, this should be interesting.” Sun, to Jack: “He meant [Not-]Locke.” Jack’s all, “What? No way? Locke is dead.” Ben: “If it’s any consolation, it’s not exactly Locke.” Jack: WTF. Then he sees Hurley off to the side, talking to someone who isn’t there. He’s speaking in Spanish but Jack doesn’t hear him, so he rushes up to Hurley, demanding to know what Jacob is telling him. Hurley says, “Sorry, Jack, it’s not Jacob and it has nothing to do with you.” Jack stares after him, frustrated.

Ben turns to Alana and says that Jack is right, something’s wrong with Richard and he should know since he’s known him since he was twelve. Frank chimes in, “So you guys grew up together?” Ben: “No, I was twelve; Richard looks just like he does now.” Frank: “Hm, he doesn’t age? How do you think that happened?” I think that’s what we’re about to watch.

Flashback: to the Canary Islands in 1867. Richard pulls his horse to a stone shack and goes inside. His pretty wife Isabella is very sick with fever, coughing up blood. Richard says he’s going to for a doctor and he’ll try to be back before dawn. He’s worried that he doesn’t have enough money to pay for treatment so Isabella takes the crucifix from around her neck and tells him to give it to the doctor. Richard gets choked up, fearing that he’s losing her. She kisses him and tells him that they will always be together. “I will save you,” promises Richard, and rides out into the stormy night. Until further notice, all dialogue is in Spanish with English subtitles, btw.

He bursts into the doctor’s house over the manservant’s protests. The doctor, a wealthy and privileged white man, refuses to ride out into the bad weather. He says he has something that can save Isabella but it’s very expensive. Richard gives him all he has. The doctor says its not enough and refuses to help. They struggle and the doctor falls, hitting his head against the table. But Richard finds a bottle of white powder and grabs it, running back to his wife. But it is too late: she has died while he was gone. And then the authorities burst in, dragging him away to prison.

Later, a priest comes to ask if Richard wants to make his confession. Richard confesses to killing the doctor, and begs for forgiveness. The priest says no, he cannot grant absolution for murder. Richard pleads that it was an accident but the priest says that penance is the only thing that can save him now, but there’s no time as they’re going to hang Richard the next day. He leaves Richard kneeling in his cell, bereft.

They come for him, leading him blindfolded into the courtyard. But a Mr. Whitfield stops them, asking if Richard speaks English. After a shocked pause, Richard says yes. Whitfield notes that he has strong hands and therefore is now that property of one Captain Magnus Hansen Hanso. Richard is a slave, and bound for the New World on a ship called the Black Rock.

It is a dark and stormy night when the Black Rock approaches the Island, guarded by that giant Sobek (or whomever) statue. A rogue wave picks the ship up, smashes it into the statue and tosses it into the center of the Island. All goes dark.

Later, some of the slaves are alive and shout for release from their bonds. Whitfield staggers down into the hold and immediately starts stabbing them with his sword. They are helpless before him. Whitfield snarls: “We are shipwrecked in the middle of the jungle with no fresh water, limited supplies, and only five officers left.” He advances on Richard who begs for his life. Whitfield lunges at him and then the Smoke Monster clarion rings through the jungle. There is screaming from up above and then silence. Whitfield shouts for his men to report and the Smoke Monster plunges into the hold and consumes him, then disappears. Then it comes back, chuckling and growling like a cougar, curling around a trembling Richard. Richard prays, muttering under his breath, and the Smoke Monster retreats again. There’s a close-up of Richard’s naturally lined eye as he hears the clarion call recede into the jungle. And then he is alone.

A CGI butterfly flits through the hold as Richard tries to free himself from his chains. When a nighttime thunderstorm drips water into the hold, he can’t get to it. It’s looking bad for our boy. After a time, a wild pig shows up to feed on the bodies - ick. The boar runs off and Richard collapses. Sometime later, Isabella is there. He is confused so she explains to him: “We’re dead, we’re in hell, and I’m here to save you before he comes back.” Who is coming back? “The devil.” Then the Smoke Monster’s clarion sounds and Richard sends his dead wife away, panicked. She runs straight into the Smoke Monster; there is much screaming and then, again, silence.

Yet later, a man brings water to Richard. It’s Esau, a/k/a the Man in Black. This is all in English now, btw. When Richard asks who is he is, he says he’s a friend when Richard asks who he is; he also confirms that yes, this is Hell. Richard notes that he wasn’t on the ship and Esau says that no, he’s been here long before the ship arrived. Richard tells him that the Smoke Monster took his wife. Esau looks thoughtful and says, “Then he has her.” Richard scrabbles at his chains, begging Esau to help him free Isabella. Esau is willing to help since he too wants to be free; coincidentally, he’s got keys to Richard’s manacles right here in his pocket. But first he elicits a promise fro Richard to do whatever Esau asks. Of course Richard says yes, and Esau unlocks him. He helps Richard to his feet, noting that he’s going to need his strength if they’re going to escape. “Escape?” wonders Richard. Sure, says Esau: “To escape from Hell, you’re going to have to kill the Devil.”

They have roast boar for lunch. Heh. Esau instructs Richard: “When you’re done eating, you’ll walk due west until you get to the statue. That’s where you’ll find the Devil.” Esau gives Richard a fancy dagger, telling him to stick it into the Devil’s chest, quickly, before he has time to speak. Richard protests, saying that’s impossible as the Devil is black smoke. “No,” says Esau, “I am.” But … my wife! Esau rides right over this, saying that the Devil betrayed him, taking his body and his humanity, and regardless of what Richard thinks, it is the Devil that took his wife. Richard: ‘But you killed all those officers!” Esau: “Dude, shut up and go kill this guy I’m telling you to kill – I’m certainly not going to answer any of your questions in any way you (or any of the viewers) can comprehend.” Richard: WTF? Esau: “If you ever want to see your wife again, you will do what I tell you.” Richard takes the knife.

He makes his way to the remains of the statue and starts to enter the room in the pedestal. But Jacob pops up and administers a fierce beat-down on him before taking the knife away and demanding, “What are you doing here? What are you doing with this?” All Richard can do is moan about his dead wife. Jacob: “If she’s dead, why are you asking me where she is?” Then he pauses, thinks a moment, and asks if Richard met a man dressed in black out there in the jungle. Richard: “Yup and he told me you are the Devil, and I had to kill you to rescue my wife, who is here, dead, in Hell, just like me.” Jacob: “You really think you’re in Hell?” Richard: “Where the frak else would I be?” So Jacob drags Richard into the ocean and threatens to drown him until Richard pleads for his life. Jacob: “That’s the first sensible thing that you’ve said. Get up – we need to talk.” Richard kneels there, gasping for air, wishing for all the world that he’d actually been hanged back there in the Canary Islands. ‘Cuz all this just sucks.

Later, they sit, sipping wine, a blanket wrapped around poor Richard. He asks what is inside the statue’s pedestal and Jacob curtly tells him that no one is allowed inside without an express invitation. (I don’t see why – it wasn’t that great in there.) Richard then asks if he is, in fact, the Devil. Jacob smiles gently and says no, introducing himself as the man who brought the Black Rock to the Island. Why? Jacob picks up the wine bottle and uses this analogy: the wine represents Hell/Evil/Esau and the Island is the cork, the only thing keeping the evil where it belongs. He says that Esau believes that all people are corruptible because it’s in their very nature to sin; Jacob brings people to the Island to prove him wrong. And when they get here, their past doesn’t matter. Of course, everyone he’s brought here up to this point has died because they couldn’t figure it out and help themselves. Richard points out that if Jacob won’t help them, Esau will win.

Jacob thinks for a moment, and offers Richard a job as an intermediary between Jacob and the people he brings to the Island. Richard is willing to take the job, but asks for his wife back as payment. Jacob says he can’t do that sp Richard asks for his sins to be absolved. Jacob says he can’t do that either and, frustrated, Richard says that he doesn’t want to die – he wants to live forever – and Jacob clasps his shoulder, saying that he can do. Richard stares at him like he’s a crazy person.

After this interlude, Richard makes his way back to Esau who grumps that he obviously let Jacob talk to him: “He can be very convincing, but if you ever – ever – change your mind, my offer still stands.” He tells Richard that he has something for him: it’s Isabella’s crucifix. Richard looks down at it and when he looks back up, Esau is gone. Shaken, Richard buries the crucifix, sobbing.

Present time: Richard has made his way back to that clearing where Esau left him. He digs up Isabella’s crucifix and whispers that he’s changed his mind. He repeats this louder, shouting that he was wrong – does the offer still stand? And suddenly Hurley is there: “What offer, dude?” Richard fuh-reaks out on him, screaming that he doesn’t know what to do and the Losties should leave him alone. Hurley cuts through the drama by saying, “Dude, your wife sent me.” This shuts Richard up immediately and his eyes bug out like Ben’s. Hurley says that Isabella wants to know why Richard buried her cross. She saw him do it - she’s standing right there next to him. Isabella looks at Hurley, saying that Richard doesn’t believe and Hurley replies, in Spanish, that it sometimes takes people a while. He repeats that Isabella is right there, and that she thinks Richard’s “English is awesome.” Richard starts to cry. Isabella asks for Richard to close his eyes. He does. Isabella, through Hurley: “It wasn’t your fault that I died … it was my time. You have suffered enough.” And he almost seems to hear her, crying that he wants to be with her again. She kisses him gently and is gone. Richard puts her crucifix around his own neck and thanks Hurley. Hurley’s like yeah, well, she said one more thing: “You have to stop the man in black because if you don’t, we all go to Hell.”

And from a distance, Not-Locke is watching the whole thing.

Flashback: Esau sits under a tree when Jacob joins him. Esau tells him not to gloat – it’s unbecoming. Jacob: “So, you tried to kill me. Why?” Esau: “Because I want to leave.” Jacob: “As long as I’m alive, you’re not going anywhere.” Esau: “Well, now you know why I want to kill you.” Jacob says that even if Esau succeeds, someone else will take his place and Esau insists that he’ll just kill them too, as many as it takes. Jacob offers him the half-drunk jug of wine and takes his leave. Esau takes the bottle, noting the analogy, then upends it and smashes it on a rock.

This episode was entertaining enough, but it was pretty much blatant pandering to the fans with the close-up of Richard's eye, and the this is Hell/no it's not dilemma, and the answer to how the Sobek (or whomever - I'm not looking it up) statue got smashed.  All questions that we Lost fans would like to have answered, but really not integral to moving the story along.  Still, I must admit that getting a few answers is a nice treat.

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost


  1. It seemed kinda pointless to me. I would have loved to see how Richard became the enigmatic person we all know now rather than an hour of him in chains whining about his dead wife. A missed opportunity IMHO.

  2. Yeah, I gotta agree with you there. I sort of thought we'd see him with young Ben again - those sort of formative years. Plus he wasn't nearly as pretty as he usually is, what with all the long hair and grunge.

  3. I actually really liked this episode. It clarified things quite a bit for me. One thing I read from somewhere else is to take note of Jacob's behaviour when he met Richard. Violent, impatient...very different from the Jacob we're familiar with. Up until this point he had left the people to themselves and the whim of Esau. In Richard was a seed of clear humanity with a conscience and love and a purpose. Here was his opportunity to create order on the island without directly interfering. After many long years of being frustrated by man's persistance in evil he got perhaps his first glimmer of hope in Richard.
    Take note that this may very well could have been one of the closest times Esau had come to winning. Jacob had no candidate to take his place and here was a desperate man right outside his abode with that ceremonial dagger thing.
    Also, that was quite a beat down that Jacob administered. I was not expecting that at all.

  4. Carl, I very much appreciate your taking the time to contribute here. I focus so much on just getting down the recap that I'm always short on analysis - thank you.

    And dang, that was a wicked beatdown from Jacob.