Sunday, April 11, 2010

From the Beginning of Time... (LOST 6x9 "Ab Aeterno")

What's your worldview? Do you believe in God? Do you not? Which God? Are we products of chance or by design? The most important decision anyone can make in this life is what they believe. As storytellers, the most important decision we can also make for creating characters is deciding what they believe, because all their actions in life will derive from their ideals or faith.

A look at the mythological and belief driven episode of LOST, "Ab Aeterno", after the jump.

This episode provided many long sought after answers to the questions of LOST. What is the Island's purpose? Why are Jacob and The Man in Black (Smokey) meddling with peoples' lives? And why is Richard Alpert, the ultimate eyeliner wearing guy, ageless?*

(*side note, according to Nestor Carbool, the actor who plays Richard, it appears he's wearing guyliner because his eyelashes are incredibly thick.)

Apparently, the theme for this season was revealed in a Spanish channel promo for the show.


Richard starts the episode by declaring that everything the castaways are doing is pointless because they are in Hell.  After some nervous Johnny Depp style laughing, he rushes off into the jungle while we, the audience, get the first flashback of this season.

As every screenwriter knows, if you want your female audience to identify and care for a male character, show him riding a horse. And show him riding quickly to save a damsel in distress. Joking aside, Ricardo's plight was serious. His wife, Isabelle, was dying.

Isabelle, a firm Catholic believer, was alright with the fact God was calling her home. Her husband was willing to sacrifice everything he had to keep her with him. Brushing off her assurance that no matter what happens, they'll always be together, he set off to find a medicine that would help her. The theme of faith vs science comes back into play with this storyline. Isabelle having faith that God is in control and has a plan for everything, while Ricardo searching for an earthly means to make her better.

He is not able to get back to her in time, and ends up accidentally killing a man.

Being of the Catholic faith, Ricardo begs forgiveness of a priest. He knows that if he ends up in hell becuase of his sins, there's no way he'd ever see Isabelle again.

The priest says no. He says Ricardo doesn;t have enough time to pay penance, becuase he will be executed the next day.
In this episode, both science and faith are shown to be false hopes. The doctor is a greedy man who only cares about money, not the lives of sick people. The priest is also revealed to be using his robes for monetary gain., not the salvation of sick souls.

Through a series of events, Ricardo ends up on the Island, where Smokey plays mind games with him, just to get him to kill Jacob. Jacob, upon finding out what his dark brother has been up too, gives Ricardo a reality dunk and tells him the real (?) story of the island.

The island itself is a gate against evil, or cork, to use Jacob's terms. This raises the questions: is Smokey the evil power that can't get let out? If it is let loose, what happens? Is the sideways world a product of this evil being freed?

More importantly to the overall plot of LOST however, is Jacob's revelation that the entire reason the castaways are there, or that anyone is on the island, is to prove a point. Jacob appears to be neither a man of science, or of faith. He's a Supernatural Humanist. He believes man is capable of redeeming himself, and being a good person. He brings people to the island, and gives them a "Tabula Rouseo" or, "a blank slate", and offers them a chance to do good. However, as Ricardo points out, by staying out of it and doing nothing, he allows Smokey to influence them for the worst.

Smokey thinks the whole arrangement is stupid. He believes humanity is evil, and will never change. He also is not a fan of Jacob keeping him prisoned on the island. He thinks since people are all evil anyways, they should be let loose and given free will instead of Jacob meddling with them for a game.

Ricardo, later on, Richard, doesn;t care about any of this. He wants to be with his wife. When Jacob isn't able to grant him that, he asks for immortality, so he will never have to go to hell, forever losing Isabella.

On present day Island, Richard has given up the fight. He's sick of Jacob's plans, and is ready to give the man in black a try, when Hurley, acting as a ghostly phone line for Isabella, shows up. She points out that she has never really left him, becuase of their love. With a new found reason, (and wanting to please his wife's request) Richard is ready to rejoin the fight against Smokey.

An interesting thing about Richard, is that he has only ever been motivated by love for his wife. He'd be willing to go to hell if it meant he could be with her. This makes me wonder if that's what the end game of this show is going to be about. Love. Love that drives, love that cherishes, love that withstands, time, space, and a nuclear bomb.

(Thanks to Lostpedia and Lost-Media for the images)

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