Ab Aerteno

“Ab Aeterno” may have been the most anticipated non-premier, non-finale hour in Lost history because the focus of its story, Richard Alpert, undeniably held the key to many of the secrets Lost fans are desperate for.  Yet it did not just meet those expectations, it exceeded them. Tremendously.

Lost critics found easy fodder with the acting early in the show’s lifetime, but the entire cast has elevated its performance to a new level of excellence in the show’s final season.  Carbonell delivered the latest gem playing his character as a simple man who fears his God and loves his wife.  Faced with death and certain damnation, he is sold into slavery and chained in the bottom of – you guessed it – The Black Rock.  Thrown to the middle of the island, desperate to survive but afraid to die, he makes a deal with the very devil he is so afraid of facing in his afterlife.

Aside from being revealing, nothing to that point of the episode really gave us the deep mythological answers we have been waiting for for so long.  That all changed when Jacob “baptized” Ricardos in the ocean, forcing him to admit that he is alive, not in hell.  Then we got the masterfully-executed scene with Jacob describing the island as the cork that keeps the evil – that is, the Man in Black – trapped in the island where it cannot harm the rest of the world.  In one simple analogy the writers answered one of Lost’s biggest questions: What is this island?  Now we know.  For sure, there are still island-related questions left to be answered, but now we have a much better understanding of what has been going on behind the scenes of the Lost storyline these six seasons.

Jacob granting Ricardos his wish to never die also solidified one of the key differences between him and the Man in Black.  We’ve seen MiB routinely make false promises to his recruits, from promising Claire her baby back to promising Ricardos his dead wife.  This is what the devil does to you: he lies and deceives.  Jacob won’t make promises he can’t keep, and he tells Ricardos as much.  He wants Isabella back, Jacob tells him he can’t do that.  He wants his sins absolved, and again Jacob says he can’t do that. But he can give Ricardos eternal youth so that he won’t have to answer to the devil in hell for taking a man’s life.

I left this wonderful episode with one fresh theory.  In the season premiere we got the mysterious shot of a sunken island in what we came to know as the flash sideways world.  I theorize that the sunken island means the battle between light and dark has ended and the island is no longer needed as a cork to trap the evil.  I’m not prepared to guess which side won, however.  If I had to, I would lean to Jacob winning because what we have seen of the flash sideways world doesn’t seem to indicate that evil is running rampant.

There was so much more to take from this episode, so many observations.  I will layout some of them below:

The episode began with an extended version of the scene when Jacob visits Ilana – why show this in this episode?  It didn’t seem to have anything to do with the Ricardos storyline.

Richard questions his faith…in Jacob. In fact, he lost it, trying to kill himself and when that failed trying to take up MiB on his offer.  Questioning faith has always been a theme.

Have you noticed how often this season characters have had their face half lit, half dark? Most famously done in Widmore’s bedroom with he and Ben in The Shape of Things to Come, it seems to happen a lot this season and has to be symbolic for something.  Perhaps the culmination of this long battle between Jacob and MiB, between light and dark, as Locke describes to Walt in Pilot Part Two.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Lost is that no detail seems to be chosen randomly, and that shows again in Ricardos coming from the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands.  According to Wikipedia the name translates to Island of Hell, a perfect connection to this episode and Ricardos’ story.  It is also home to the deadliest aviation incident in history (at that time).  Two airplanes collided on a runway at the island’s airport, which was an unscheduled stop for both flights.

The way Richard killed the doctor is exactly the same as the way Desmond killed Inman in Live Together, Die Alone: An unintentional blow to the back of the head.

I don’t know why this didn’t hit me until now: The Black Rock.  When Jacob sent Ricardos back to MiB, he sent with him a white rock as a gift.  This was the white rock Flocke took from the balance in the cave and tossed into the ocean. Black rock, white rock. Light, dark. Good, evil.  Just another wonderful detail that makes Lost so much fun.

You’d be freaked out, too, if you saw a giant statue in the middle of the ocean.

Smokey went after the ship, just like he did the cabin of Oceanic 815.  Is attacking new visitors to the island his way of ensuring Jacob doesn’t succeed?  He kills everyone to eliminate anyone who might be a candidate but leaves those who he thinks can be his recruit?

Okay, the boar eating one of the dead slaves was gross, but was I the only one who wondered if the boar Ricardos and MiB roasted later on was the same one?  I don’t think I could eat a boar that I just watched eat a person.

I noticed two strange camera shots in this episode.  The first occurred with MiB talking to Ricardos in the ship, the second when Jacob questioned him on the beach about his encounter with MiB.  Both shots were abnormally close up, almost fish-eyed. Did anyone else catch that?

Hurley takes a Jacob line telling Isabella that sometimes it takes people a while to see what they need to see.  That scene was almost as great as the Desmond-Penny phone call in The Constant. Had we had more build up with their relationship, it would have been equal.

In their conversation at the end of the episode, MiB tells Jacob not to gloat because “It doesn’t become you.” What does that mean?  Perhaps he is telling Jacob that winning over Ricardos doesn’t mean Ricardos is a candidate to take his place, or to become him.

We’re probably in for a bit of a downer next week, coming off an episode as great as this.

The Flash Door Map

Lost was a lot of work to watch, no doubt about it.  Being a dedicated Lost fan was tough because you knew you were in it for the long haul.

I don’t care what the show is about, how it is structured or who is in it. I just want a good relationship.

It’s this commitment that has to be there for a show to ascend to carry the mantle of “the next Lost.”  TV watchers talk about the structure of the drama, the complexity of the plot and the chemistry among the characters, but a show with all of those things won’t reach Lost-like heights if viewers aren’t ready to commit.  The harder a show makes it to be a fan, the harder it will be for us to commit.

If ABC wants freshman dramas Flash Forward and V to fill the gap about to be left by the end of Lost, it has a funny way of showing it.  Both shows were put on a three-month hiatus after Thanksgiving, allowing budding fans to virtually forget about the show and, perhaps more importantly, missing out on great promo opportunities in the run up to the February 2 premier of Lost.  (ABC’s horrid V promo notwithstanding.)

Now, both shows are back in full swing but only one is likely to make a second season.  The going money appears to be on V, but I’ve never watched one second of an episode so I can’t say whether or not it deserves to come back.  I have, however, watched every episode of Flash Forward from before and after the break.  With that experience, I can unequivocally say that it absolutely deserves a second season.

The true mythology of Lost began to unfold in season two as characters discovered clues in the hatch indicating that there was more to the island than rumbles in the jungle would indicate.  The biggest clue came when Locke saw the blast door map during a lockdown.  Flash Forward got its blast door map last week when Dyson Frost built a massive maze of the futures he saw in his hundreds of flash forwards, all of which lead to one date: December 12, 2016. The end.

We saw the map wash away after Mark saved Dimitri from the elaborate set up Frost created to bring about the future in which Dimitri dies and Frost lives.  This isn’t that different from what happened with the blast door map, as we only saw that once as well.  But what is important to the show’s long-term success is that Frost’s futures map gives us something to latch on to and debate about.

Unfortunately I’m not finding any screen caps of it anywhere, including ABC’s official website, which is indicative of the show’s general lack of passionate support.  ABC needs to get this image up on its site so that fans can engage and start talking about it.

Through what I feel has been a largely disappointing final season, I’ve come to realize that it was not the characters that drew me into Lost – it was the mystery.  Characters of course have their own mysteries, but it’s the larger mysteries of the island and Dharma that I found most intriguing.

Flash Forward has its mysteries, too, and it is setting them up and knocking them down light years faster than Lost ever has.  The pilot and the second-half premier contained more plot revelations and progress than an entire season of the senior megadrama. I like that, and I’m betting the primetime TV audience will, too.

 

Keamy and the heart monitor

Keamy, the heart monitor and the time difference

I posted this on a Lost message board:

Earlier this season, a package sent to the island arrived 30-some minutes late, indicating that it was behind in time compared to the freighter. Then, a dead body washed up on the short of the island before the person died on the boad, indicating that the island had by then moved ahead of the freighter in time.

So why then did Keamy’s death immediately detonate the bomb on the freighter? I can think of a few explanations. One is that the time difference evened out. The other is that the freighter had apparently drifted closer to the island, close enough that Juliet could see it explode, and therefore was on “island time” so to speak.

That made me think of something else. What if there are two boats – the same way that there were two doctors, the dead doctor and the living doctor? One boat near the island on island time and another farther away in a different time. Might season five open with a boat that doesn’t explode?

Someone responded with:

Also remember that radio/satellite transmissions don’t seem to be affected by the island’s time differential. There have been a been instances where there was real-time communication via the satellite phone between the people on the ship and the people on the island when the ship was clearly outside of the island’s ‘time zone’

That’s a great point, and as someone else posted, this is probably the likely explanation:

About this – it’s possible that they can explain it away by noting that the freighter was moved closer to the Island in the finale (after the engine was repaired). It’s possible it got inside the electromagnetic field surrounding the island so that the transmission was, in fact, instantaneous.

Someone else brought up the notion that this would mean there are two of everything, one on island time and one on regular time.  If that’s the case, then there could even be another Oceanic 815 somewhere.

Let’s run with that.  The flash forwards clearly indicate that an alternate plan did not make it to LA.  So perhaps there is a second plane out there at the bottom of the ocean?  We know from Widmore staging wreckage that no one ever found any real remains of Oceanic 815, but if this theory is true and there is a second plane out there somewhere, if it is ever found that would create major problems for Widmore and the Oceanic Six.

How did Ben know what he was doing?

Ben seemed to know exactly what he was doing the moment Locke told him they had to move the island.  How?  In the first hour, Ben chided Locke for not remembering that Ben always has a plan, but all that led to the frozen donkey wheel didn’t seem like a man following a plan.  It seemed like a man following directions.

This brings me to a gripe I have with the show.  Not really a gripe, I suppose, maybe just a request.  I’d like to know what Ben knows about the island.  That’s all.

I say “that’s all” as if I’m asking for a glass of ice water, but after four unbelievably loyal seasons of Lost viewership, I don’t think it’s too much to ask.  At some point in or over the course of season five, I’d like to have Ben’s full back story.  Specifically, how he learned what he knows about the island.

After season four, we are caught up to current time.  The producers have said that season four is about leaving the island, season five about getting back and season six about what happens when they get there.  Season five will also have to include what the hell happened to the island when Ben turning the frozen donkey wheel made it disappear.  I think his back story can be told during the course of this explanation.

This leads right into my next section…

Ben trying to get them back to the island

Ben always has a plan.

I posit that Ben trying to convince Jack of the need to go back is a clever manipulation to find out where the island is.  What we know about post-move Ben is that he’s vowed to avenge his daughter’s death by killing Penny, Widmore’s daughter.  If you make the assumption that Penny contacts her father after finding Desmond, I see Widmore sending Penny – and Desmond – back to the island, either with their knowledge or by manipulation.

Ben would surely know this.  With the determination we saw in his nighttime talk with Widmore, I don’t think he would let anything get in the way of his revenge.

This theory bolsters my prediction that Des and Penny are Adam and Eve.

Casting, especially Keamy

There are criticisms, legitimate or not, of the acting on Lost.  However you feel about that, you can’t argue that the casting is nearly perfect.

Keamy is a great example.  He’s got the muscled body of a post-military mercenary, but also a kind of boyish cuteness that allows him the charm that you wouldn’t expect from such an evil person.  Or maybe you would expect it.  But the actor selected for the role does it perfectly.

Michael Emerson is another perfect cast in the role of Ben.  Can you imagine Ben without those piercing, beady eyes or those tightly pursed lips?  No way.  Or the way his eyes get wide and he holds the rest of his facial features completely still when he delivers a crucial line.

The climactic scene of the season was obviously Ben turning the frozen donkey wheel (this name comes from the producers’ code phrase for the finale) and thereby moving the island.  Emerson did a wonderful job of conveying two very different emotions in this scene.  First, the obvious physical strain of turning this massive, frozen wheel.  This added to the dramatic build up of the scene.

But he also added a second emotion, one that I wasn’t expecting.  Turning the wheel was, for Ben, like making the decision to break up with someone you love.  You hate having to do it, but you do it because you know you have to and it kills you inside.  You could see it in his eyes, he was even crying by the time the scene washed out.

Taking himself off the island was the last thing Ben would ever want to do, but he did it anyway for the island’s sake.  Seeing the heartbreak on his face added a level of sadness to, perhaps, the most dramatic scene yet in four seasons.

Back to my original point, I’m hardly enough of a television watcher to make this kind of claim, but I will anyway:  If there’s been an actor who has done a better job in primetime this season, I’ll be damned.  Michael Emerson has been awesome.

Jack the Other

I’m watching the Lost pilot, which oddly enough I don’t think I ever saw.

It only confirms my suspicion that Jack is on of “the others.”

Why else would Jack wake up inland and not soaking wet?  Am I supposed to believe he just landed in the grass?

The pilot.  Jack, Freckles and Charlie found the cockpit and the lone surviving pilot, who was eventually pulled from the plane by the monster.  When Kate and Charlie run away, Jack stays behind, the monster disappears, the pilot ends up in the trees and we are supposed to believe that Jack ducked behind a bush?  No.

Jack is at most an Other and at least a representative of the Dharma project (the Others and the Dharma project could be one and the same).  It/they have to have a person on the inside to keep them informed of what happens and to direct the survivors in the direction that the Others or the Dharma project clearly wants them to follow.  This person is Jack, but don’t expect the show to reveal that anytime soon, if ever.