This is a Recap of Lost Season 6 Episode 9 entitled “Ab Aeterno”, originally airing March 24, 2010. It’s full of spoilers, so don’t read on if you don’t know that the island is hell. I’m not joking this time, they actually said that! But it’s also not really! Huh?? That’s why we have these Recaps.
CANARY DIE-LANDS, THE CRYPT KEEPER MIGHT SAY
Two weeks after “Dr. Linus”, maybe the best episode of Season 6 so far, Lost punched us in the crotch with a Spanish Richard Alpert backstory, and all the sudden, the title of “Best Episode Of The Season” has been passed right along yet again. Where did this episode come from? Or should I say, WHEN did this episode come from? No, never mind, the first one. Let’s delve into the Spanish zaniness and find out!
The episode opens with the islanders convening to re-explain the candidates thing and reminding themselves what’s going on before Richard blows up and confesses that he was trying to kill himself, and unambiguously explains that he has no plan, everyone is dead, and the island is hell. Whew! Been waiting to hear that for six years! It’s all solved now. OR IS IT??? DAMMIT! I was hoping I wouldn’t type “Or is it?” after saying that it is all solved. No, it’s not at all solved now, because they’re not dead and it’s not hell, or at least, not hell in the textbook “hell” sense (from the hell textbook). Explanation? Let’s go to the tape, by which I mean the long-awaited Richard Alpert backstory.
Richard, formerly known as “Ricardo”, and more formerly known as “James Ford”, is tending to his ailing wife in a late 19th century period piece about the Canary Islands. He rides through the rain to meet the local doctor / aristocrat / assh*le, who explains that he’s not gonna make a trip all the way out to some stupid dying woman and miss the Canary Islands Idol results show, so he offers up some medicine that’s so expensive, Richard’s measly pouch of coins and sentimental-ass cross pendant merely insult the doctor.
An exasperated Richard decides, “If I push you a little maybe it’ll solve this!” and pushes the doctor, who falls, hits his head, and dies instantly — He can save the lives of others, but the only life he can’t save…IS HIS OWN. The Doctor. May 2010. — and Ricardo snags the meds and rushes home, only to find that his wife has already died. Whatta day! Suddenly, he doesn’t feel as bad about leaving the cap off his mostly-full guyliner tube the day before.
Richard is arrested and throws himself at the mercy of a priest, who explains he’ll need a whole lifetime of servitude to atone for his deeds, and Richard’s like, “You got it, anything for God,” and the father’s like “Psych! We’re hanging you in three minutes!” Richard catches a break when an English-speaking ship captain recruits him for an expedition to crash into the island statue, and the expedition wildly succeeds, leaving the vessel — guess which vessel! The Black Rock! — wrecked on the island with the slaves trapped below.
Then what happens? Read on below to find out! Though if you don’t already know and you’re still reading this, you must just be a huge fan of looking at words!
One of the surviving Black Rock officers comes below the deck and immediately kills all of the surviving slaves with his Slavestabber 2000, and just as he’s about to finish Richard, the smoke monster makes some noise, distracts the dude, and ultimately kills him and all the other officers. Richard survives while shackled to the ship, then gets a visit from his “wife” (wife in quotes because nothing in this show is ever really that thing) who claims they’re dead and in hell and she’s seen the devil, but as soon as she leaves the ship, she’s immediately smoked’d. Richard is eventually rescued by the Man In Black, who tells him he can see his wife again if he kills Jacob, who the Man claims is actually The Devil and switched bodies with him and is actually evil and no time to go into details just stab this stranger that water I gave you wasn’t free alright?? Also there was a boar on the ship, which was important.
Richard approaches the foot of the statue but is instantly subdued by an unusually ninjalike Jacob, who of course sits him down and explains “Nononono, that shady dude who wanted you to kill a stranger? He’s actually the evil one.” Jacob likens the “evil” on the island to wine that would spill out of a flask if you turned it upside down, and that it’s up to Jacob and the island to keep that flask corked or else there’d be wine everywhere and it’d turn the cosmos into one giant carpet commercial.
Jacob also explains that everyone who came before Richard is dead, and that he never meddles with the free will of his islanders, he just hopes that they’ll decide on their own to do the right thing. A no-longer-struggling-with-English Richard answers, “But if you won’t step in, he will,” and Jacob’s like, “Hermm…never really thought of that. Maybe that’s why everyone ever is super f***ing dead. Want a job?” Richard says he’ll take the job in exchange for seeing his wife again, which Jacob can’t provide, then asks for his sins to be forgiven, which Jacob also can’t provide, then asks for at least a cost of living increase, which Jacob says he’d love to give him but the island had a really rough quarter and Richard should just be glad he even has a job because it could be a lot worse, and Richard ultimately settles for the consolation prize of becoming immortal.
Richard buries the cross that reminds him of his wife, then keeps Meaningful Objectfest ’67 going by giving the Man In Black a white rock from Jacob, the island’s not-so-subtle way of saying “Bite me – ROCK style!” The Man In Black explains that if Richard ever changes his mind, like, ever, even a hundred some years later when a show about them starts, he’ll be waiting. He also wants to yell at him “By the way I banged your wife,” but decides it’d be too childish and takes the high road.
FROM AMISTAD TO GHOST
The episode concludes with Richard digging up the cross in the present day, and after reflecting on his past and his past’s failure to win a Best Foreign Film Oscar, decides that he’s ready to take the Man In Black up on his offer and begins yelling this. Good ol’ level-headed Hurley approaches him, though, and brings out the shocked Richard we all know and love by saying he spoke to Richard’s dead wife, who appears right beside him, and the three proceed to have a conversation and intra-body sex a la Ghost. Richard finally comes to grips with the fact that Isabella wants him to believe they’re already together and always will be, and also he has to stop the Man In Black or they’re all going to hell, which slightly ruins the romance of the previous sentence.
The final image of the episode sees Jacob and Man In Black in the past discussing the state of things, with Jacob gloating about how alive he is and always will be, and the Man In Black reiterating that he wants to leave the island and he’ll kill Jacob and anyone who replaces him. He punctuates this decree by breaking the bottle of wine in slo-mo, then realizes that it was actually wine and not liquid evil and that he just wasted a bunch of wine to create a desperately intense throw-to-LOST image.
Overall, “Ab Aeterno” was one of the most watchable episodes in the show’s history, almost just like a linear, gripping movie that was engaging independently of any significance it held to the rest of the series, though it answered plenty of questions too, including the Black Rock reveal, the relationship of Richard to Jacob, and a gritty expose of 19th century Canary Islands health practices. In conclusion, I really don’t have much else to add about the Richard / Hell episode other than to wedge in a Richard Hell reference. Done and done.
Ab Aeterno episode thoughts? Any thoughts about the past two episodes that you’ve been waiting to unleash in a comments section? Theories? Questions? Leave it all in the comments. We’re comin’ down the home stretch here, people — game faces on.