“We’re in hell."
Richard Alpert! Ricardus. Ricardo. Ricky. Riles. Ribbon man. River. Great episode. But. Still. What the F is going on here? Hell this and heaven that. This is a bait and switch thing, bubba. Hell hell hell. It’s heaven. And all we can do is guess who is good. Jack is good. Hurley is good. Ultimately Sun and Jin are good and Sawyer is good. Locke was good. Maybe. Richard Alpert is great.
Confusing much? Hell yes, how could one not be after this thriller. Ruben was on the edge of his seat the whole time. Ryan loves any episode in which Frank Lapidus curses around a fire. Opening with Ilana and Jacob speaking Russian and then segueing into a funny scene in which Jack’s mind is blown when the others tell him about Locke/MiB. This episode follows Ilana’s attempt to figure out what to do with the help of Richard’s expertise, but Richard is in the midst of a severe crisis of faith. He has crises coming out of his ears.
We thought Richard was going to be of Egyptian origin, but he is not. Turns out, he is from Tenerife, Canary Islands, and he was born sometime in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Turns out, he was on the Black Rock. Turns out, the Black Rock, riding a single, mysteriously large wave, broke the gosh darn statue. This was such a great episode, one of the best of the season, if not the entire series. It answered a good amount of questions, both new and old. For instance, Richard doesn’t age because Jacob granted him a gift.
This episode, entitled Ab aeterno (which is a Latin adverb meaning ‘Since the Beginning of Time’) harkened back to the beginning of the series with the traditional flashbacks. This backstory of Richard’s could have made for a lengthy arch had this been season one or two. His life rivals Locke’s and Sawyer’s for saddest. First his wife is sick. Then he accidentally kills the damn doctor. Then his wife is dead. Then he is jailed. Then he is made a slave. Then the ship carrying him wrecks. Then he is tempted by the Devil, whoever the hell that may or may not be. There is a ton of biblical references in this one. The whole episode mirrors the story of Job, in which God and the Devil have a little wager on whether Job can be tempted. Richard is riddled with crises of faith and on top of that, he is tempted to change allegiance. This cannot happen. Richard can’t follow some One else! We’ve known Richard one way for so long. Every One has a story. And we have been waiting for this one since The Man Behind the curtain when we first started wrapping our heads around a dude that doesn’t age. In that episode, Ben says to Richard, “Remember birthdays?”
Did anyone notice the blue butterfly? The butterfly was definitely Jacob. He brought the rain. But he kept it out of Richard’s reach. Why? And the hog was definitely the Man in Black. So Jacob can’t bring people back from the dead. Dead is dead. Why? So Jacob can’t undo the sins of the past. Tabula rasa. But he can grant everlasting life. The Man in Black kept referring to the being which dwells in the foot of the statue as the devil. This sounds like something the Devil would say about God in order to get some confused and twisted angel to follow his word instead of the divine’s. The Devil will show up when you need something the most.
That was one hell of a baptism Jacob gave to Richard. It’s okay, Richard needed it. He is new on the Islando. His past sins do not matter anymore. His initial crises seemed averted until, in the modern timeology, his mentor is now dead. So he goes and digs up his wife’s cross necklace and starts calling for Locke/MiB, saying over and over again that he has changed his mind. Just then, Hurley walks up and we found out who he was talking to in Spanish when Jack interrupted earlier. He is communicating with Richard’s wife from beyond the grave. Hurley, an instrument of God? That scene ends with Hurley telling Richard one more thing. His wife said that he has to stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island. And then we see UnLocke standing atop a hill, looking down on Richard and Hurley. He has evil in his eye. The episode ends on a nice little conversation between Jacob and the OG MiB. The Man in Black says he just wants to leave. Jacob retorts by saying that as long as he himself is alive, he will never let MiB leave the Island.
From thriller to tear-jerker and then back to thriller. From Backgammon to Epistemological. From Archipelago to Anthropomorphized. Science vs. Faith. Good vs. Evil. Fire vs. Water. Life vs. Death. Nature vs. Nurture. Right vs. Wrong.
In the sandleford warren in the middle of the jungle of life…If one were to take their time and go back and research the names of all the episodes in the Lost chronology, one would be able to paint a pretty picture of funny finds in their minds of what is what and what are the signs and what is that and what is death devil disco from (in whispers) the beginning of time.
Let’s give one more round of applause to Nestor Carbonell for delivering a stunningly layered performance about a man so shrouded in mystery until now. Interesting facts about the dude who plays the dude who doesn’t age. He went to boarding school with his castmate, Matthew Fox. He has a B.A. in English from Harvard University.
Over and out.