Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: Lost 6.9: Ab Aeterno
Ricardos is convinced that he is in Hell by The Man In Black.
Lost - Season Six, Episode Nine - Ab Aeterno
Written between 12th and 14th February 2013

The writers did at least realise that there would be a certain type of fan who would not settle until some of the show's bigger mysteries were expanded upon, and Ab Aeterno, as well as the later episode Across The Sea, is a tacit admission of that. Nestor Carbonell takes on a challenge that no other character has ever really had to on the show - to portray his main character 80 years before his earliest appearance. Despite the differences between the two, he does an awesome job, and the tale Ab Aeterno weaves is one of the most entertaining in the whole series. It's a stand-out episode of this season, to be honest - probably, all things considered, the best.
     Unsure what to do next, Ilana asks Richard for help. Richard, however, has lost faith in Jacob, and begins to recall his beginnings. As a Spanish farmer in the 1800s, he accidentally killed a doctor while trying to get medecine for his dying wife, Isabella. In the dock for murder, he was bought by the owners of the Black Rock, a slaving ship, which crashed on the island in a tsunami storm and ended up in the middle of the jungle. After an attack by the Smoke Monster, Richard is the last man alive. He is freed by The Man In Black, who convinces him that the Island is Hell and that Jacob is the Devil. When he goes to kill Jacob, he is told the truth - that Jacob fancies himself as a God, and needs Richard to act as his intermediary between himself and his Candidates. Back in the present, and medium Hurley allows Richard to speak with his dead wife, who forgives him and tells him to stop the MIB from leaving the Island.
     The episode's strength is that it feels, effectively, quite self-contained. There's quite a gap in perception between Ricardos of the 1800s and the Richard of the present, one that the show doesn't care to try and bridge for the sole reason that we get to see how and why that development happened. Richard is a man convinced, every step of the way, that he has been sent to Hell for the act of trying to save his wife. Carbonell carries that off really quite well, and there are moments in the episode that carried more poignancy than I expected them to.
Can't say something straight? Just use a silly metaphor.
      One thing I thought was very interesting was the greater peak at the early Jacob and Man In Black, a fair time before the events of the present. Titus Welliver is perfect as the original form of the villain, managing to be both sinister and quite convincing. There's enough cynicism in the MIB and enough arrogance in Jacob that you still might be rooting for the former. Jacob comes across as rather big-headed, and, to be perfectly honest, a bit thick. I'll have more to say about why I think Jacob is fundamentally unlikable when we get to Across The Sea, but for now I'll just mention the fun little analogue they used. In what is a clear comparison between Jacob and the Christian God, Jacob refuses to help the people he brings to the Island, leaving them to the Man In Black - he does this out of a sense of morality through free will. Considering that he's basically ruined a lot of people's lives by bringing them to the Island, I don't think he gets the right to stand as a moral arbiter.
     Ab Aeterno is just a stunning piece of television, and I'm at a loss to describe just how much. It manages to answer a long line of questions that the more rabid fans had been asking for for years, while providing a powerful and quite awesome story in its own right. It's by far the best episode of Season Six, and now we're entering the latter half of the season, it's helped us have a little rest before we pick the up the momentum towards the finale.


NEXT WEEK: It's a Jin and Sun episode! More importantly, what is Widmore's secret? And what exactly is The Package?

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