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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 03/24/2010

'Lost' Dueling Analysis: 'Ab Aeterno'

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly
Lost

In which Jen and Liz resist the urge to write the entire analysis in Spanish and instead reflect on the past, present and future of one Richard Alpert, a man who has -- as dead wife Isabella said -- suffered long enough. Suffer through this analysis, then join the rest of the obsessed for the 2 p.m. "Lost" Hour live chat. In the meantime, visit "Lost" Central to brush up on your island back story.


Richard (Nestor Carbonell) is visited by dead wife Isabella (Mirelly Taylor). (ABC)

Liz: After what feels like an eternity we finally got Richard Alpert's back story. And although it was quite a tale, it wasn't quite what I expected. What with "Ricardus" and the Latin episode title, I was thinking he might actually predate the Black Rock, but no -- he did indeed arrive on the island in shackles in the hold of the ship and, as increasingly seems to be the case with everyone who comes to the island, was quickly recruited by Jacob and the Man in Black in their power struggle and, also like everyone else, doesn't seem to know all that much about where we go next.

For students of the Jacob/MIB mythology, we did get some crucial detail, which we'll explore below. But I'm still just a teensy bit worried that the show is -- in its sixth season -- becoming a new show that should be called something like "Clash of the Island Titans: Jacob vs. MIB." Release the kraken (smoke monster)!

Jen, what'd you make of it?

Jen: I will agree that the episode didn't feel like a typical episode of "Lost" -- we barely spent time with the key characters, and much of the proceedings took place in the 1860s, not to mention in Spanish. In some ways, it felt like we leapt immediately from a "Lost" episode (people on the beach arguing about things, Ben making creepy, pointed comments, Hurley mumbling to invisible people) into an Isabel Allende novel, followed by a brief stop in "Master and Commander," and, finally, a penultimate scene reminiscent of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. ("I see dead people... who speak Spanish.")

I thought the episode itself was very well directed. The transitions from scene to scene flowed beautifully, and there was definitely an epic quality about the story. But I totally understand the fear that we're getting off-topic. As the promo reminds us, only seven episodes until the finale. The strands should start coming together now.

Much more after the jump...

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New! Text "LOST" to 98999 to get The Post's latest "Lost" news -- and our weekly post-show dueling analysis -- sent directly to your phone.

Liz: It was in itself a beautifully done short film. And, in some ways, I guess we (meaning the "Lost" fans) have been asking for it, so it isn't fair for me to blame the writers for taking an entire episode to tell Richard's story. Much in the same way that it isn't fair for Richard to blame Jacob for his immortality. After all, he asked for it. Which struck me as an unusual request for a man whose fondest wish was to be reunited with his dead wife. Seems like immortality would be a big-time impediment to intimacy. But maybe we should talk about some of those strands you mentioned because a few of them seemed to come together tonight, despite the concentration on poor Richard's tale.

For instance, another attempt by MIB to kill Jacob by proxy. The interesting thing about that was his insistence that Richard not allow Jacob to talk before stabbing him. Sounds familiar because Dogen gave Sayid the same instructions when he sent him to kill MIB. Interestingly, though, that wasn't the case when MIB used Ben as his weapon of vengeance in the season 5 finale. Jacob had much to say and yet still got the knife.

Jen: The "don't talk, just stab" policy seems like a defense mechanism both sides use because both Jacob and Smokey McGee realize each other's persuasive powers. In the case of Ben, though, perhaps MIB understood that whatever Jacob said would only make Ben madder. And Ben was living proof of MIB's theory, at least as Jacob explained it tonight: that man is corruptible.

Liz: Though Jacob, ever the optimist, claims that the reason he's been bringing people to the island over the years is to try to prove to MIB that -- left to his own devices -- man can choose to do the right thing. Obviously, until our Losties arrived, though, he just hadn't found any that actually bore out his own theory. In fact, here's a clip of Jacob explaining that theory:

Jen: Hmmm. I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves here by jumping right to the latter portion of the episode. But Jacob seemed to sincerely consider what Richard (pardon me, that's Ricardo) said about how important it was for Jacob to intervene and do more to "help" the people he brings to the island. He asked Richard to be his proxy in that effort, but clearly at some point, Jacob decided to take on the role of messenger himself, at which point he went on his big "I Can Touch People" tour, with stops at an Iowa convenience store, an L.A. hospital and a Tokyo wedding, among other places. Which suggests that maybe our final six candidates are (or were) Jacob's last-ditch effort to prove that humanity was worth redeeming.

Perhaps we should discuss those candidates.

Liz: By all means, though I think we already knew who the remaining candidates -- as Jacob described them to Ilana -- were.

Jen: Well, hold up. At the top of this episode, Jacob told Ilana there were six main candidates. Now, it would be fair to assume those candidates are the ones you mention. But that's an assumption. As Sun noted, Ilana told them that Sun, Hurley and Jack were candidates (and they are on that list). Sun didn't say any other names. But there were three other people sitting around that campfire: Frank, Miles and Ben. Are they the other three, or were they just hanging? I will note that Ilana, at one point, did say Lapidus was a candidate.

Liz: I think maybe you're reading a little bit too much into Sun's words. She was just catching up Jack and the rest of them on what Ilana had told her. The writers have spent much time this season pointing out who the candidates are. And Ilana never said Lapidus was a candidate. She said they should take Lapidus with them because he may be a candidate.

Apparently Jacob failed to give Ilana the list, although we've since seen lists on the cave wall, at the lighthouse, etc.

Jen: Point taken on Lapidus. And yes, the writers have talked about the candidates. I guess this was a little confusing because, right after tonight's scene in which Jacob tells Ilana to bring six candidates to the temple, then ask Richard what to do, we flash to a scene in which Ilana is sitting outside the temple with six other people, asking RIchard what to do. But let's refresh my memory (and the memories of our readers) as to which names are not crossed out on the cave, just so we're all on the same page.

Liz: Hugo, Sawyer, Sayid, Jin, Sun, Kate (she was on the lighthouse dial) and Jack. Right? Locke was also listed on the cave wall, but crossed out. For obvious reasons.

Jen: That Lostpedia candidate page doesn't list Kate. We know her name was spotted on the dial, but I don't think we've confirmed her as a candidate.

Liz: Okay, so there may be some wiggle room -- but I'm thinking Frank and Miles aren't on the short list.

Jen: Yes, fair enough. Interesting coincidence that six people were sitting around the fire, though. I'll leave it at that so we can move on to other things. Like ... Richard's medic-murdering tendencies.

So we left our island to do our first genuine flashback (not a flash-sideways) of the season, to 1867 and another island -- Tenerife in the Canary Islands. That's where Richard was trying to help his dying wife and went to get medication from a doctor who was going to charge him mucho dinero for medication, then shoved the doctor and accidentally killed him. This sort of thing will never happen again, by the way, now that the health care bill has passed.

Liz: Right -- death panels will see to that sort of thing now.

Jen: Of course, me being me, my first thought was: Richard killed a doctor. And we know history sometimes repeats itself on "Lost." Does this mean Richard might off Jack at some point, in one of the timelines we're watching? Just throwing that out there for kicks.

Liz: It is interesting that Richard offed someone -- if even by accident. It seems that almost everyone who arrives on the island has blood on his or her hands.

Jen: Everyone does have blood on their hands. And that's by design. Jacob is trying to redeem them, after all.

It also struck me that poor Richard has been trying to escape an island his entire long-as-hell life. First it was the islands of the Canary, which, as history tells us, many people left during the late 1800s, so they could go to other, better places, like the New World Richard and Isabella hoped to reach. Now it's the "Lost" island. You know, if we really believe this is an island and not el infierno.

But what we're learning is that all of "Lost" comes down to the same thing as most things in life: a fight between two stubborn, middle-aged white guys.


A rough day at the beach for Ricardo (Nestor Carbonell). (ABC)

Liz: Richard is a perfect example of that old saying. How does it go? Oh yes: Despite all our rage we're still just a rat in a cage. Thanks Smashing Pumpkins. Richard is a pawn and pawns -- unlike middle-aged white guys -- can only spin their wheels trying to escape an inescapable fate. Or so it seems.

Jen: Look, let's not bring Billy Corrigan Corgan into this. Though come to think it of, he does look like Locke, in a way.

Let's celebrate a few small victories from tonight's episode...

Victory No. 1: now we know why the Tawaret statue was totally destroyed. It was the Black Rock's fault. Although, really, it was Jacob's fault, since he had a hand (at least) in bringing the ship to the island. The fact that he orchestrated the ship's arrival to cause the destruction of the perceived "devil statue" is a pretty bold statement.

Victory No. 2: The invoking of the name Hanso. We heard it again tonight, when the captain of the Black Rock -- Magnus Hanso, an ancestor of Alvar Hanso -- was introduced to us. Well, sort of introduced. We know he was on the ship, but we never actually got to see his face. We just know he was there and, per past episodes, that he bit it and was buried on the island.

Liz: Victory No. 3: The writers finally address the notion that the island is hell.

LindeCuse have repeatedly denied this one -- along with the entire story being a figment of Hurley's imagination -- over the years: that the island is hell and all those who walk it are dead. It was actually kind of elegant how they had MIB using that idea to goad Richard into doing his bidding. And, in confusing Richard with that concept, it did further blur the good guy/bad guy lines. Jacob and MIB are looking more and more like two petulant kids involved in a high stakes game of chess rather than true agents of good or evil.

Jen: They are. But ... I just read this theory over at Dark UFO, which has some interesting things to say about why MIB might be imprisoned, and how -- naturally -- it relates to electromagnetism.

In this scenario, it's natural that MIB wants to escape, as he keeps telling us. And it explains why his escape would be bad for humanity. Not sure if I totally buy it, but it's intriguing. And it gives some heft to what, as you rightly said, otherwise seems like two guys playing with people's lives over an argument in Philosophy 101.

Liz: Oooh, that is interesting and kind of ties in to an idea that struck me at the very end of the episode -- sorry if I'm jumping too far ahead. But when MIB breaks the wine bottle (the bottle Jacob had used to explain his containment of MIB's evil on the island) I had this wild notion that MIB's grand plan for escape may just involve blowing up the island and somehow releasing that electromagnetism.

It's reminiscent, too, of "Watchmen." This -- from a blog about "Lost"/"Watchmen" parallels -- kind of sums it up:


Just like Alvar Hanso, Adrien Veidt in The Watchmen bought an island where he kept scientists and artists who where working on creating a solution to save humanity from destruction.

To reach this goal, the scientists on Veidt's secret island cloned the brain of a murdered psychic and used it to create a large psyonic creature which Veidt teleports to New York, where it explodes due to the teleportation. When exploding, the creature releases a psychic shockwave with images so violent that half the population of New York dies and many survivors become insane.

Liz: Just a thought. Anyhoo, MIB at one point also accuses Jacob -- who he tells Richard is the devil -- of stealing his (MIB's) body and humanity. Which could all just be part of MIB's pitch to get Richard to do his bidding, but sounded very much like an accusation. As in "I am this way because Jacob made me this way."

Jen: Yes, it did sound like an accusation. I assume we'll get a better sense of what MIB means when he says he lost his body/humanity. Another question is: Who really is the devil here? Both of these guys seem pretty darn pushy. Perhaps that Bible passage Richard was reading in prison may provide some clues.

It was from Luke 4. A relevant portion that didn't appear legibly onscreen:

"...the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

Another verse one could see very clearly if she were goofy enough to pause the DVR and try to read it (ahem): "And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country."

Liz: I don't know anyone even remotely resembling goofy. So, one could interpret that this applies to both Jacob and the MIB, based on this episode. Both offered Richard something in return for his loyalty. And, as we know, the Black Rock was set down high on the island.

Jen: Also -- sorry for all the scripture here, but it's relevant -- the line before that last one made me gasp a little. Because it's verse 23 (we know who the number 23 relates to, and last night's episode aired on the 23rd, after all). And here is what it says:

23 And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
Physician, heal thyself. That line makes me think that it's Jack who ultimately can take over for Jacob. And no one else. His spiritual journey on this show has been, perhaps, the most profound. The show began with him. It will end with him, too. Unless Richard kills him, of course.

Liz: Although I'm still pulling for our man, Hurley, who seems to be the only one who has half a clue what is going on -- thanks to his dead friends.

Jen: Yeah, what's the deal with Hurley and the dead people? I think he's been seeing corpses for quite some time now, actually.

Liz: Well, we know he's seen Jacob and Charlie... But we can now add Isabella to that list.

Jen: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Dave -- remember good 'ol Dave, Hurley's supposed imaginary friend from the mental hospital who later turned up on the island? -- was not a hallucination. I think he was a real person who had since died. And who no one else could see, including Hurley's psychiatrist.

Liz: I like it. So Dave was dead and trying his best to get Hurley to join him on the other side.

Jen: Yes. Which makes me wonder why. Were other forces at work tempting Hurley to leap off that cliff, thereby eliminating one of Jacob's candidates? Hmmm...

Liz: Hmmm... and was it a dead person who told Hurley to eat that Hot Pocket last season, because I can't imagine anyone doing that of his own volition.

Jen: Clearly the Hot Pocket would have killed him. Thank God Ben showed up, broke into Hurley's house and scared the bejesus (here I go again with the Jesus talk) out of him.

Liz: And if you pause your DVR at just the right moment you can see Jacob's face on the Hot Pocket. You should get out your DVDs now and look. Okay, maybe I'm making up that last part.

Jen: One last matter here. The episode closed, at least in present day, with Hurley instructing Richard to stop the Man in Black. Otherwise, it's disco infierno time. Now, he claimed those words came from Isabella. But Isabella was notably no longer visible to the viewers. So I suspect Jacob was saying that. And much as I want to trust Jacob, I am not sure that I do.

So, in the words of Ilana, what do we do now?

Liz: I think we table the discussion until 2 p.m. and let the readers tell us what's up.

Jen: Also, when we reconvene, I hope someone has a theory about what happened to the Man in Black guy played by Titus Welliver. I mean, when does that distinguished gentleman stop being MIB? Inquiring Chaneys want to know.

By Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly  | March 24, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Lost  
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Comments

Thanks, ladies. Are you sure that Jacob's aim in bringing people to the island to demonstrate they're not inherently depraved is to convince MIB of this? Or is he just trying to prove it in general? The whole thing seems a little reminiscent of typical mad scientists bringing people to remote islands to experiment on them...making Jacob merely the first in a long line of people and groups that will eventually include Dharma.

Of course it's also reminsiscent of the $1 bet the Duke brothers made in Trading Places over nature versus nurture, turning everyone's lives upside down to try to resolve the dispute. Only I can't blame MIB for half of it here as it seems to be Jacob's pet project.

Regarding candidates, since we know each group has two (Sayid and James are with MIB; Hurley and Jack with Ilana) I suggest that because of symmetry each will end up with three candidates. As an aside it looks like MIB now realizes that despite what he said in the last scene, killing Jacob's successor won't work anymore than killing Jacob did - they're always be a successor. So instead he wants to convert the eventual successor to his POV, as we saw him do with James.

Anyway, since we know a fifth candidate is Kwon, I think it's possible that refers to both Sun and Jin, and that therefore MIB and Ilana each already have three candidates.

Jen, it's Billy Corgan.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry - not to be a spoilsport, and at the risk of being considered worse, while I love you guys and I love reading this column, I will be SOOOOOOOOO glad when Lost if over, finito, kaput, done, finished, finally. I realize you all put much thought and work and enthusiasm into the Lost columns, and I fully appreciate that. I just never could get into the show, it was just too much work. So when I come trolling for snark and hilarity and it's another Lost column, well, I find myself terribly disappointed. I'm hoping the next obsession will be something I want to jump into with you. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me this sacrilege, I just had to say my piece, for my own peace.
... carry on......

Posted by: agog1 | March 24, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

A request to live forever is NOT an unusual request, even for a man whose fondest wish is to be reunited with his dead wife, if he cannot be provided absolution for his sins. THAT is what Ricardo first asked for. Jacob could not provide it, the corrupt priest was corrupt and, thus, corruptly refused it.

And without such absolution (forgiveness), Ricardo would NOT be reunited with his wife since she (presumably) went up, while he would have gone down. Thus, to avoid being damned, Ricardo wished to avoid death in the first place.

Ricardo is a man of FAITH.

That said, proper Catholic theology (not to be confused with the priest's corruption) is that, notwithstanding the corrupt priest's refusal of the Sacrament, with Ricardo's sincere act of perfect contrition, he would be commended to the enternal mercies of God, who can and does forgive when men do not.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Possible missed point:

Richard is from Tenerife, site of the worst airline disaster in history.

Posted by: kolbkl | March 24, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with oohyah, Ricardo's request to live forever was so that he would have time to do penance, not to never die.

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Great analysis of the episode. I'm glad you alluded to the ambiguity that I feel is still running through this story. In last night's episode the writers seemed to be spoon feeding us the Jacob-is good, MIB-is-evil-and-must-be-contained mythology. On the other hand, for 5 seasons we've been conditioned to expect enormous plot twists that reveal that characters are not at all what they seem. Maybe I'm ovethinking this but I keep waiting for the big mythological twist. Maybe the twist is that there is no twist and things are exactly what they seem. I don't know, but I definitely enjoyed Ab Aeterno!

Posted by: womanofscience | March 24, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Jacob has been bringing people to the island not only to prove to MIB that man can choose to do the right thing, but to prove to man himself that he can choose to do the right thing -- to give fallen "lost" human beings a new beginning and, with their free will, the chance to do the right thing because it is the right thing.

Jacob does not feel the need to have to tell people to do the right thing because he knows that man is essentially good, such goodness is already written on men's hearts, whereas MIB believes that man is essentially evil.

Nevertheless, Jacob concedes that man is easily misled by evil and so gives into Ricardo's request that Jacob actually speak to man, to provide divine revelation. Thus, Ricardo is recruited as Jacob's prophet to man.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

At the end, when Hurley says we'll all go to hell (and on a side note I don't think dead Jacob told Hurley to say that, I think it was Isabella) my first thought was that the alternate timeline we're watching is perhaps all of the character's own personal hells. Because, if the island is blown up, and the MIB gets released, then "we're all in hell."

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Simply an outstanding episode.

Posted by: Emcdoj | March 24, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I didn't realize that (according to Jen) Sun and Jin flew from Korea to Tokyo Japan to get married. Or was this an unintentional racist comment? Perhaps she's confusing Dogen with Sun and Jin.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Going off of Ricardo/Richard's living forever for penance. This started with him killing a doctor, will it end with him saving a doctor? Thus paying back for his sin.

Posted by: kolbkl | March 24, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Sorry ladies, but this is one of your weaker episode analyses. Perhaps it's a sign that we've started to over-analyze this show and perhaps should step back and take it all in. Example #1: I think you completely screwed up the list of six candidates based on evidence from the show: I thought it was pretty clear from the numbers in the cave that the six were Locke, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack and "a Kwon;" it could well be that Jacob was talking to Ilana prior to Locke's death, and it could well be that "Jin vs. Sun" is still up in the air. Example #2: wedding in Tokyo? that's just careless.

Posted by: AmitDC | March 24, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I also disagree with the comment that Jacob must've been the one telling Richard that he must stop the Man in Black. Haven't we all come to love Hurley for his honesty and faith? Why would he lie about that, at a time when Richard was so vulnerable? It would be manipulative of Hugo and just un-necessary.

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

**Jacob and MIB are looking more and more like two petulant kids involved in a high stakes game of chess rather than true agents of good or evil.**

The Island is looking more like, among other things, a prison -- not hell -- in which to keep evil (MIB) from escaping to cause hell on earth, with Jacob being the jailer, the angel assigned to keep the devil imprisoned.

(See similar religious themes in a Twilight Zone episode and the 1970s movie The Sentinel.)

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Don't you mean a Seoul wedding?

Posted by: konflikt | March 24, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I suppose, if he wanted to, MIB could still appear as MIB, instead of Locke or Alex or Christian or Yemi or Isabella, but it is more helpful at this point to appear as someone who is familiar to the others.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Not that I'm one of them, but I imagine the fan base for Lost was significantly reduced last night. That was one long, Masterpiece Theater set--well directed and acted tho it be--and the weight of it was probably enough to sever the last thread of patience some folks had with the show. The season had been crawling along as it was but last night it seemed to come to screeching halt for what looked like an After School Special in Spanish.

Don't get me wrong, I'm one fan that's in it for the long (or next seven episode) run, but I wouldn't blame anyone for giving up the ghost after Ab Aeterno.

Posted by: CafeBeouf | March 24, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

ooyah, I still take issue with a number of Jacob's actions and disagree that they can be made theologically sound from an orthodox Christian POV, particularly Catholic.

Jacob seems to be a "natural law is written on the heart" absolutist, much more doctrinaire on the subject than the biblical God is. The God of Genesis created people with the knowledge of good already inside them, but He nevertheless didn't expect them to be able to unfold that knowledge all on their own - thus He appeared to Moses and gave him the Commandments, spoke to other prophets, etc. He didn't need the devil to send people against Him before He would talk to them. But Jacob seems to feel that explaning the moral urges people feel without fully understanding them would spoil the purity of his experiment. He doesn't realize the need for a "prophet" on his own and only concedes as much after Richard has explained it to him.

But then Richard on Jacob's behalf is a shaky and unreliable moral guide. Where was he when the 815 survivors could have used him? Sure, he was guiding Ben and the Others, but at that point 815 needed him a lot more. I don't think this new explanation of Richard's purpose makes sense or can be made to fit his actions over the past six seasons; it's a newly contrived explanation that doesn't convince me.

But my big problem with Jacob is that he kills people. We can argue that he didn't kill Nadia, he saved Sayid (though he could have as easily saved both). But he definitely killed many on 815 and the Black Rock and various other vessels (Danielle's?) that he has brought there. He didn't just fail to save them, he brought them there and killed many/most of their passengers, both directly and indirectly. We focus so much on trying to justify Jacob's manipulation of the living that sometimes we lose focus of people like the pilot and the US Marshall and the scores of unnamed passengers who were killed immediately in the crash. People who had no chance to pass or fail Jacob's tests. They were just collateral damage in his bringing Jack and Hurley and so on the the Island for their ordeals.

No, Jacob and MIB are both game players who see humans as pawns to be used. They favor different methods of manipulating people, but that's all.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Jacob bringing people to the island to prove a point to MIB reminds me of the story of Job -- as callous a tale as you will find in the Old Testament. I've been reminded of that story many times this season.

A nice touch: Richardo being fed boar which had itself just fed on one of his fellow captives.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

**But my big problem with Jacob is that he kills people.**

Did he?

One point that I believe is undeniable -- the show is a theodicy, that is, it is exploring the question of evil/sin and God's response to it and/or responsibility for it. People have argued many different ways on those questions over the ages, as they have during the course of this show.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

So was Illana in the hospital because of her prior service to Jacob? And then he finally shows up, asking her to do it all over again? He appeared to heal her after that request, but I guess he took his sweet time showing up after she was greviously injured.

So Illana will surely be a future backstory...

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I am willing to buy the idea of a time-traveling island,or that detonating an atomic bomb can reset the timeline, or that Jacob can grant life everlasting, but the idea that a 19th century boat made of wood could crash into a statue made of rock and destroy the statue while remaining completely intact? C'mon....

Posted by: kcp1 | March 24, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I think we are to believe that the giant wave that carried the Black Rock so far inland also destroyed the statue. I agree, kinda weak.

Posted by: womanofscience | March 24, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Also in Luke 4 is the story of Jesus being thrown out of his own hometown (actually to be thrown off a cliff, but he slipped away before they could do so). The line he tells them before they turn on him is, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown"

So maybe this is another clue? I'm not sure as to what, though. Perhaps Richard as prophet, or even Jacob as prophet?

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Titus Welliver was perfect.

He perfectly captured Terry O'Quinn's mannerisms this season as MIB. So many little nuances that were dead on...

Speaking of Titus and dead on, I'm still bitter about Deadwood being cancelled without a chance to end properly. What a great, great show that was. Seeing Titus again last night gave me goosebumps.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

The statute was likely hollow.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Correction -- the statue was likely hollow.

Even if not hollow, it is likely a composite construction, with separate pieces that were joined together, so having it break apart at the seams would not be that unbelieveable.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

> "the idea that a 19th century boat made of wood could crash into a statue made of rock and destroy the statue while remaining completely intact? C'mon...."

The boat, the wave and the magic of leverage. Tall crude object, hit high -- of course it broke.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In this episode, the smoke monster encountered Ricardo while he was chained in the ship, but didn't kill him. There was just a pause and those flashes. Am I right in thinking the only other time that happened was to Locke? What do people make of that connection? What is the smoke monster sensing in the two of them and not in other characters that allows them to remain alive?

Posted by: clr5f | March 24, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I liked the way they built the anticipation on the big reveals.

For example, the looong pause before Jacob denied that he was the devil. And, of course, the (likely) misdirection of Richard as unreliable narrator, telling us that they're all dead and in hell.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I believe it also happened to Eko once before the smoke monster killed him the next time. Is that correct?

What are in those flashes? We've tried to pause the screen on the shot of Kate looking up at smokey as it passes over her while in the hole with Claire in the temple. But can't quite seem to get it to stop at the right spot. She definitely reacts to something she sees in smokey.

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Last nite was very reminiscent of a lot of Biblical things & it took someone else to remind me that it's basically the story of Job.

A friend on a message board summed up the story of Job for us:

God and the devil are looking down on the earth, and God says, "Look at my servant Job. He's so righteous."

The devil says, "He only acts good because you're nice to him. If you make his life bad, he will curse you." So God makes Job's life bad.

Job never curses God, but after a while he demands an explanation.

God says, How dare you ask ME for explanations."

Job says, "Oops, I overstepped, sorry."
And then God gives Job a bunch of consolation prizes.

The not-pulling-strings thing is like God giving humans free will.

Thinking that all people can be corrupted is the satanic view.

Just how the island is acting as the cork over the hellmouth, I don't know.


Just who is Job, the island or one of the Losties or all of the Losties?

Posted by: wadejg | March 24, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"In this episode, the smoke monster encountered Ricardo while he was chained in the ship, but didn't kill him. There was just a pause and those flashes. Am I right in thinking the only other time that happened was to Locke?

Posted by: clr5f"

Something similar happened when the smoke monster examined Eko and then decided to kill him. I don't remember if there were flashes.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I think the smoke monster also "scanned" Ben in the basement of the Temple before it/he appeared in the form of Alex. While this happened Ben saw flashes of different scenes from his life.

Posted by: womanofscience | March 24, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"What is the smoke monster sensing in the two of them and not in other characters that allows them to remain alive?"

Maybe something he can use -- in Richard's case, torment over his wife's death and deep fear of going to hell (and not being with her), and in Locke's case, his frustration with his disability and the loss of Helen -- each could be particularly susceptible to being persuaded to stay on the island (i.e., nothing left to live for elsewhere) and to work for MIB.

Also, the earlier comment on the air disaster at Tenerife reminded me to go to Wikipedia -- and oh, the things you can learn there:

"... maps dating to the 14th and 15th century, from authors like Bontier and Le Verrier refer to the island as Isla del Infierno, literally meaning Island of Hell, a reference to the volcanic activity and eruptions of Mt Teide."

Posted by: Janine1 | March 24, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Some time back, Liz & Jen, you both mentioned the possibility of Lost having "jumped the shark" during the Jacob/MIB beach scene during last season's finale. I am beginning to agree with this idea. How can the writers reconcile the beautiful redemption stories of Ben & Jack in the Sideways world (a world apparently clouded by MIB's presence)? And the good vs evil debate? Is that really what the show is boiling down to? I am disappointed.

Posted by: melfoutz | March 24, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I will admit, this is the first time I've caught your column and I like!

I have to agree with Ooyah, I also believe that Ricardo made his decision to live eternally based on the fact that he knew his afterlife wouldn't meet up with his wife's. His first two "wishes" were deep and profound requests...his last, even more so. (The whole scene reminded me of Aladdin and the restrictions that even the Genie had before being able to grant certain wishes - no bringing the dead back, etc.) And now that we know that Ricardo requested to live forever, Jacob's touch was not the reason.

I'm finding the whole MIB/Jacob relationship very brotherly, Cain and Abel-like - without the whole killing each other thing, because they can't for whatever reason.

The episode as a whole was definitely necessary, though, I think we could've gotten it sometime last season...not with only 7 more eps to go! But, yes, we did ask for it. It did clear a few things up, now let's get on with the show!

Posted by: danitalicious | March 24, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The Jacob/MIB struggle can be seen as far back as 1967 in an episode of Star Trek (the Original Series) called The Alternative Factor. Two beings called Lazarus (played by actor Robert Brown) were trapped in an eternal struggle with "good" Lazarus keeping "evil" Lazarus from getting out to destroy the world (he was anti-matter). I've thought of that from the first time I saw those two together.

That being said, I thought this was an outstanding episode and Nestor Carbonell should offer it to the Emmy nomination committee. It's the second best performance I've seen on Lost (the first being Michael Emerson's on Dr. Linus).

I wonder if Richard ever heard that old saying "Be careful what you wish for; you may get it."

And I think they were married in Seoul too.

Posted by: imzadi | March 24, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Tale of Job:

wadejg, I remember it slightly differently than your friend.

God basically makes a bet with the devil. You can do whatever you want to my guy. Kill his family, take away his health, wealth and his respect. Do any horrible thing you like. And he will still remain faithful to me. Terrible things ensue.

Then, after winning the bet, God gives him back his bounty, but of course, it's a new family, because, after all, dead is dead.

Listen to Joni Mitchell's take in her song Song of Sorrow - Job's Sad Song. It's a classic.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

What does "Jump the shark" mean?

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Best. Backstory. Ever.

And I agree with some other posts here that this was not the best analysis we have seen.

Posted by: tpsmith123 | March 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree that I'm a bit worried about the direction the show is taking. I would think we should be wrapping things up a little better by now.

It is odd they are almost exclusively focusing on a mystical/religous tug of war and ignoring the last several seasons of science based explainations.

The show would have been much better if they had decided what was going on in the 2nd season instead of making it up as they go along.

Posted by: cashink2003 | March 24, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Jacob say something to the effect of "if someone kills me they will take my place?" (And MIB says "I will kim him also")

So did Ben take Jacob's place?

Does Widmore kill MIB and take his place? And that's why Ben tells Widmore there are rules and they can't kill each other?

Posted by: ghokee | March 24, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

The episodes this season have been great! A couple of them are more filler episodes(like Recon, explaining the obvious) but overall have been terrific. The writers want us to totally buy into the idea that white is good, black is bad, and that this is a cosmic struggle between good and evil. I stil don't like Jacob. He says he wants people to do the right thing on their own, but then goes around the world messing with people's lives (touching them- or making deals with them) so they do what he wants. I don't see how that is good.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I loved this episode.

From the revealed background, it seems plausible to infer that Richard was the founder of the Others.

Perhaps I'm extrapolating too much, but least to me it also seemed that Jacob's words implied that Richard would never met him again, (except perhaps for the passing of lists at arranged places). Jacob was very firm telling Richard that only people he invited could enter inside his place in the statue.

Posted by: for33 | March 24, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

With this episode advancing the idea of the Island as a prison to keep in evil, that kind of explains the electro-magnetic properties of the Island, and how there seems to be a kind of barrier out in the ocean surrounding the Island, which not only keeps the world out, but keeps MIB in.

The EM properties of the Island were basically like the sonic/EM fences that were built around Dharmaville to keep the Smoke Monster out.

However, now that the Swan Station has been destroyed (in one universe anyway), is there still this "EM fence" around the Island that keeps MIB in?

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

What does "Jump the shark" mean?

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 12:50 PM

Its from the Happy Days episode where Fonzy jumped a shark on a motorcycle. At that point, Happy Days officially was no longer a good show and folks stopped watching - not even Leather Tuscadero could save it. It hung on for quite a few years - even after Henry Winkler left.

Back in the mid 90s, a couple of guys wrote a book called "Jumping The Shark" that spoke to specific points in TV series where an episode or story arc led to the series' decline.

So "jump the shark" refers to the point in a TV series where a large percentage of the fans lose interest.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 24, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I think people need to relax on the instant gratification of all answers right away... If this was a movie would we be complaining that with 15 minutes left we still don't know who the killer is?

We're obviously hooked on the show enough to read through all these analyses and comments and add our own - which must mean the writers are good enough... And if the writers are good, let's give them a chance to finish the show!

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

**he wants people to do the right thing on their own, but then goes around the world messing with people's lives**

It's true -- Jacob can't win either way.

Either he is too silent, not speaking out enough, not doing enough to help and stop evil -- or he is doing too much, intervening too much in the lives of people.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

ghokee- I believe Jacob said, "If someone kills me another will take my place" not that specifically the person who kills me will become me. I don't know for sure though.

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Couple of thoughts about this show, which, as I indicated above, I really liked, even if it is becoming a different show about some type of war between MIB and Jacob. (Really, is that new? We've been told for several seasons that a war was coming; it's almost here.) The comments come before reading above so I apologize in advance if these were already stated.

Anyway, the only disconnect for me was the scene where the Black Rock crashed far into the island during a raging storm. When we last saw the Black Rock at sea it was in the Season 5 finale when Jacob and MIB were looking at the ship . . . on a brilliantly sunny day and sailing in calm seas. Where did the storm come from? The boat was fairly close to shore when Jacob and MIB were looking at it. Certainly it could have dropped anchor and battoned down the hatches, so to speak, before the storm hit.

I'm know I'm still in denial I suppose but it is possible that Jacob is the evil one. When Richard asks Jacob to grant him his wishes in return for assisting Jacob, Richard first asks to have his sins absolved. Jacob says he can't grant this. Why? Because the devil can't or won't grant absolution; to do so would be to lose a soul he has already claimed. Richard then asked to be reunited with his wife, Isabella who, I presume, is in heaven (and I assume Richard thinks so as well). Jacob says he can't grant that wish. Why? Because he's the devil and can't reunite folks in heaven; he doesn't have that power. But Jacob can grant Richard immortality. That would seem like something the devil could grant in return for bringing on an agent to do his bidding.

Probably way off track but I throw it out there to the group.

Posted by: Emcdoj | March 24, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

hgr - thanks for the great explanation! I would've never known that.

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

**I suppose, if he wanted to, MIB could still appear as MIB, instead of Locke or Alex or Christian or Yemi or Isabella, but it is more helpful at this point to appear as someone who is familiar to the others.**

Then again, perhaps MIB will now take Locke's appearance forever. If that is so . . . does that mean that one of the candidates (Jack?) will die and Jacob will assume his form?

In a hundred years, will we see Locke/MIB walking up to Jack/Jacob and saying, "do you know how much I want to kill you?"?

Of course, if a candidate dies and Jacob then assumes his form, I would expect the death to be a freely chosen sacrifice of self.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

We're halfway through the final season. I'm done with the guessing games. I think we're getting answers now so I'm taking last night's episode at face value. So, while there may be some grey areas vis-a-vis evil vs. good/MIB vs. Jacob--I still think that MIB is BAD NEWS. "Oh, didn't you see 'the devil' take her when my smokiness was just there to protect?" Riiiight.

I loved the way Nestor Carbonell played 1800s Ricardo. It's the first time on Lost since Juliet fell down the hole that I've cried.

Posted by: chunche | March 24, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

KevinAF said: "Jacob] wants people to do the right thing on their own, but then goes around the world messing with people's lives"


He interferes by forcing them to come to the island. It's the moral choices they make that he prefers not to influence directly.

ooyah32: you must be crowing right now! But there could still be a reversal -- the biblical stuff might still goes sideways into sci-fi.


>" And if the writers are good, let's give them a chance to finish the show!"

Well said, Mia!

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@Imzadi: Agree 100% that Nestor Carbonell should submit this episode for an Emmy. It was a tour-de-force performance, and he was totally in character, even in Spanish.

Otherwise, LOST has really jumped the shark for me this season, but sticking with it because, as ABC says, it's only 7 more episodes.

Posted by: doobrah | March 24, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The episode title translates to "From the beginning of time", so we're to assume that this Jacob/MIB struggle has been around since the dawn of time. Last week someone mentioned a theory that Jacob/MIB were Abel/Cain (which goes along with the "Adam and Eve" skeletons in the cave). Last week MIBLocke said his mother was insane, which would imply that Eve wents nuts, which is intriguing if that theory holds.

I don't think this week's episode sucked as much as others have implied. We now know Richard's touching and horrific because-he-can't-die backstory and we know more about the Jacob/MIB backstory. Plus, we know when and how the statue was destroyed (are there caps posted anywhere of what it looked like?).

Posted by: olivertray | March 24, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Mia13 -

So next time you watch Happy Days and its a Potsie centric episode where the audience cheers wildly when Ralph Malph enters the room, you'll be able to say to yourself "ahh - this is after the show jumped the shark." Or when the Huxtables took in claire's neices to become more hip for The Cosby Show.

Seinfeld was determined to stop his show before it jumped the shark, although many contend that the final episode is when it did indeed jump the shark.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 24, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I wondered for a short time or two whether Jacob was good or bad. Perhaps it was MIB/NotLocke's charisma that had me doubting but actually last night's episode has me certain again that Jacob is good.

Who else loves mankind, including sinners, and is willing to forgive? Who else has given freewill to man? On the other hand, who else tempts man to do wrong and offers false promises? Who else was thrown down from Heaven into "Hell"?

(late today, haven't read posts yet so I apologize if it is a repeat of someone else's awesome insight!)

Posted by: hodie | March 24, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

**Richard first asks to have his sins absolved. Jacob says he can't grant this. Why? Because the devil can't or won't grant absolution**

But the devil can and does lie.

Were Jacob a devil, he would have simply lied (as does MIB) and said, "OK, you are forgiven."

Jacob not giving absolution does seem to advance the idea that Jacob is not himself God, but that does not mean that he is not a "good angel" to MIB's "fallen angel," i.e. a devil.

Besides, while he does not give Ricardo absolution, he does give him a new beginning -- a new life -- a clean slate to do good. (Unfortunately, Richard has trouble understanding what the "good" is more than once thereafter, as do the rest of the Hostiles/Others/Temple dwellers.)

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Mia13 -So next time you watch Happy Days and its a Potsie centric episode where the audience cheers wildly when Ralph Malph enters the room"

Hugh, if Mia13 doesn't know the expression, she has no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: chunche | March 24, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

And then, as others have repeatedly pointed out, we need to put that whole Egyptian mythology spin on this as well (in addition to a few Eastern mysticism ideas).

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I think the reason that Smokey paused over Eko, Locke and Richard is because he sensed that they are men of strong faith. Eko was killed by Smokey because he knew that Eko's faith was too strong. Smokey let Locke and Richard live because it was like a cat playing with a mouse - but instead of killing them, it's is more fun to see if a man's faith could break!

Posted by: Valentino99 | March 24, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

MeriJ "He interferes by forcing them to come to the island. It's the moral choices they make that he prefers not to influence directly"

I would offer up sideways world as the result of not being touched/influenced by Jacob, and thus seems to be better moral choices being made there than in the original timeline.

Besides-- what's with bringing people (pawns) to the island in the first place? Why make them part of your "experiment"? Does that make Jacob good? Is the experiment going to help humanity progress, or just help Jacob/MIB pass the time?

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

One clarification --

While it is close, "ab aeterno" is not translated as "from the beginning of time," which would be "ab initio temporis."

Rather, "ab aeterno" is "from eternity."

Time (temporality) has a beginning and an end, and it is linear. On the other hand, eternity (aeterno) transcends time, it is beyond and outside of time (which explains all the time-skipping by the Losties).

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Jumping the shark:

Mia, it's not just the turning point when the audience loses interest. It's when the writers go too far in introducing absurd plot elements or eye-rolling gimmicks in a failed attempt to hold onto an audience that is leaving. Like having Fonzie jump those sharks.

"Too far" is a subjective thing, of course. Some shows introduce shark jumping craziness in the first episode and never let up. But if their fans buy it, it's technically not jumping the shark.

I am loving this season of Lost. And I'm sorry that some people are not.

No matter where the writers took us, about a quarter of the fans were likely to be disappointed by the end. That's the beauty of ambiguity: you can choose the interpetation that suits you. Biblical or sci-fi? Skate or Jate?

By the way, it's clearly going to be Skate. But Jack will get to be a hero.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"In a hundred years, will we see Locke/MIB walking up to Jack/Jacob and saying, "do you know how much I want to kill you?"?"

ooyah, I made this same comment earlier this year. I do think this is a possible ending. Of course, it would have to mean that the remainder of the Losties will have to die. The question also arises as to whether Richard will continue to serve as the guide for the new recruits brought to the island to fight it out.

Or not. The sunk island could mean that the war brings the contest to its final end.

Posted by: Emcdoj | March 24, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

In response to this: ...an unusual request for a man whose fondest wish was to be reunited with his dead wife. Seems like immortality would be a big-time impediment to intimacy...

Ricardo was told by the priest that he could not be forgiven for murdering the doctor and the only place he could go when he died was to hell. Therefore, he doesn't want to die.

Posted by: SunshinyNM | March 24, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Kevin: "what's with bringing people (pawns) to the island in the first place? Why make them part of your "experiment"? Does that make Jacob good?"

I'm with you completely on that part. That's what I was refering to a few weeks ago, with the Job reference. It's impersonal gameplaying. He's exploiting a small number of humans to make a point with MIB.

But it doesn't look like they're saying Jacob is God. MIB does appear to be evil, but Jacob appears to be a replaceable jailer. Prison guards keep us safe, but that doesn't mean they are good.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Otherwise, LOST has really jumped the shark for me this season, but sticking with it because, as ABC says, it's only 7 more episodes."

Actually it is 7 episode PLUS the two-hour series finale.

Posted by: Emcdoj | March 24, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

LOL. I never have watched Happy Days, and obviously don't really know what the show is about. Now I'm guessing it's about motorcycles??? eh... not my thing! :0)

As far as the smoke monster flashing at people... I thought it was "taking pictures", or scans of their mind, which he later used to impersonate Isabella, Alex, and Eko's brother?

Posted by: Mia13 | March 24, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"The Jacob/MIB struggle can be seen as far back as 1967 in an episode of Star Trek (the Original Series) called The Alternative Factor. Two beings called Lazarus (played by actor Robert Brown) were trapped in an eternal struggle with "good" Lazarus keeping "evil" Lazarus from getting out to destroy the world (he was anti-matter). I've thought of that from the first time I saw those two together.

Posted by: imzadi"

imzadi, it's also similar to the season three episode, 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.' I'll let the great James Lileks explain the subtlety of the episode's message:

"'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.' Frank Gorshin chases a criminal around the Enterprise. Their faces are half-black, half-white — but one has a black left side, and the other has a white left side. They look like Cubist mimes. They hate each other and regard each other as inferior, even though outside observers don’t see any difference at all.

Some have speculated the episode may have been a commentary on racism."

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

When I looked up the meaning of "ab aeterno", the Babylon translation is: From the beginning of time"

Upon doing another search for "ab initio temporis", it led me to sites about God and creation.

This same site states that "The world was created in time, not from eternity...The Vatican Council defined that God created ab initio temporis (its temporal character). The council teaches the unicity of the creative principle — unus solus Deus; the fact of creation out of nothing (the nature of creation is here for the first time, doubtless through the influence of the schools, designated by the formula, condidit ex nihilo ); its object (the visible and invisible, the spiritual and material world, and man ); its temporal character ( ab initio temporis ); the origin of evil from the fact of free will."

Posted by: monkeywrench2 | March 24, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Mia, you may be onto something about smokey taking pictures. That's interesting.

I just want to say that Eko has been by far my favorite character in the whole show. He was AWESOME. Even, legen-wait for it-dary!

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I also agree that we need more science this season to have a balance to faith. Like they did in the first season. Right now we are heavy in the mythology/faith, and we will likely get a lot more of it when we flashback to Jacob/MIB's past. Widmore seems very practical, maybe he will introduce more science, like how the EM or sonic fence can contain the Smoke.

I know MIB is a liar, selfish, and seems to kill humans without reason. I'm not sure Jacob is any better.

For example, the way I understand it (from Jacob), is that the island is a cork keeping back the badness/evil. Jacob (and his successor) is supposed to protect the island so the cork remains in place. Yet Jacob brings other people to the island to prove that humans can be good (for the fun of it?), and as a result jeopardizing his primary mission of protecting the island abd releasing the evil. What an idiot.

Wouldn't it be better to just keep humans away in the first place? Then Jacob could ensure the safety of the island as a cork stopping the evil.

And if all the evil is being stopped up (by the island as cork), then MIB is not part of that evil? What is he doing on the outside of the cork with Jacob?

We know the island in sideways world is sunk. So the evil would therefore be unleashed, if we believe Jacob, in that universe. Seems pretty good so far. Is that the point-- unleashing evil makes life better for our cast of characters?

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, KevinAF. We all know that we should never ascribe to laziness that which we can ascribe to racism.

Posted by: corrections | March 24, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

The episode was great and I am finding hard to remember all of my questions over the years... I am starting to think that everything on and off the Island is for Jacob's entertainment. The Ultimate Reality Show with unwilling participants. The light house was his satellite dish. Dharma Initiative was his combination of HGTV and the "real World road rules challenge". Dharma built giant stations all over the island... It is clear that Jacob is in charge so was he sleeping when this took place? MIB can not kill him. He is not dead he is still at work. Please, I would love proof that the writers are able to answer all of the questions in 9 more hours of the show…

Posted by: jim28409 | March 24, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

KevinAF and cashink2003, some of us think we're still eventually going to get "scientific" explanations for what looked like supernatural phenomena to historical, and some current, observers. I think the point of the show is to explain that what seemed like ancient gods were really just natural entities with different abilities than normal humans.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

That's why I said it was an unintentional racist remark, many lazy Americans think Tokyo is in Korea, but that doesn't make it OK to insult people, or whole groups of people.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

KevinAF, Racist Extraordinaire, wrote:
"lazy Americans" ... "but that doesn't make it OK to insult people, or whole groups of people."

Good one.

Posted by: corrections | March 24, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"That's why I said it was an unintentional racist remark, many lazy Americans think Tokyo is in Korea, but that doesn't make it OK to insult people, or whole groups of people.

Posted by: KevinAF"

As opposed to your intentionally bigoted remark, which is far worse. Lighten up. It was an honest mistake. Jen also mistakenly called the Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan "Billy Corrigan." Getting that wrong doesn't make her a raging anti-Irish bigot, it means she's human. When you can compose a post that doesn't use an adjective in place of an adverb, you can start nitpicking at their long, hurriedly-composed pieces that may contain a few minor errors.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I really don't think Jen thought that Tokyo was in Korea -- she just pictured the temple (or whatever the correct term is -- don't jump all over me for not remembering that) that was shown in the mirror and had a brain fart.

Posted by: Janine1 | March 24, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

***I think Dave is Libby's ex-husband, David (original owner of Desmond's boat).***

I like this idea a lot. It would also explain why Libby would go for a quirky guy like Hugo.

Posted by: ooyah32 | March 24, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time I remember seeing ugliness in the Lost commentaries. Maybe I missed something in past weeks or last season, but some of the comments about KevinAf seem totally out of proportion to his mildly snarky aside regarding Jen.

UniqueID: Yours are among the posts I always read carefully. So no offense taken, I hope.

corrections: I love your dry wit. The "racist-extraordinaire" part was not so dry, however.

If it needed to be said, Janine1 said it best.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

No offense taken, Meri. Obviously I don't think the ugliness started with me or corrections - or with Jen.

If speech and thought crimes are going to be taken as seriously as some want them to be, then false allegations of same have to be taken seriously, just as we would call out someone who falsely accused another of theft or arson.

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

> Obviously I don't think the ugliness started with me or corrections - or with Jen.

It wasn't his best moment, for sure. Thanks for not taking offense!

-Meri-

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, I'm now a Racist Extraodraire and bigot because I said some Americans are lazy, and many of them think Tokyo is in Korea. For the record I do not think (nor did I say) most Americans are lazy, but there are people of all nationalities who are lazy about studying geography. An American was claiming to be lazy, not racist, and she didn't intend to insult the Korean and Japanese people. I wholehearted believe her. It was unintentional to insult them, and some poeple on here don't seem think it's a racist remark to confuse Korea with Japan. That's very telling.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Lost Hour chat and some of the questions raised there, I think people are reading too much into Jacob's (and Ilana's) eccentric insistence on calling Ricardo/Richard "Ricardus," a name he has apprently not used for himself in either his former Spanish-speaking or currently mostly English-speaking life. Until yesterday many were convinced that the name indicated that Richard himself was thousands of years old. Since that was incorrect, I donn't see how the fact that Jacob calls him Ricardus indicates than instead Jacob must be that ancient (and if he is that ancient, why shouldn't he be even older than that? In short I disagree with Liz's comment that Latin must be Jacob's tongue).

And notice how he is Jacob, not Iacobus. If HE's the native Latin speaker, wouldn't it make more sense for Ilana (and he himself) to refer to him as Iacobus, rather than for Jacob to anglicize his own name to make it fit modernity but insist on latinizing Richard's name?

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"Some have speculated the episode may have been a commentary on racism."
Posted by: UniqueID

Well, if you were around in the late 60's when that episode aired, when King was asassinated and civil rights and racism were high on people's minds, you bet it was about racism. The point of the show was that they were both the same species, same culture, from the same planet. Their difference, we're white on the right while THEY are white on the left, hit a strong chord in those days. You see, when the show started and we saw these two aliens the audience saw them to be the same, half black and half white. What we did not see was their prejudice based on a superficial difference, which side they were white on. In one scene, when Spock suggests that their ancient ancestors were mono-colored, one of the aliens gets angry and disgusted at any suggestion of their relatedness. Oh yea, that show was about racism 100%.

But getting back to Lost, one thing I have not seen mentioned after skimming the comments is the wine. It was the metaphor that explained much of what is going on. Evil (MIB) is the wine, the island is the bottle and Jacob is the cork. Jacob keeps the cork in place while the bottle (island), does the rest. Jacob gives MIB the bottle of wine and when I expected him to pull out the cork (remove Jacob) he instead smashed the bottle (destroyed the island), spilling the blood red wine (evil) over the rock (world).

Killing Jacob removed the cork, allowing MIB to leave by plane or sub, until a candidate replaces Jacob (replaces the cork). But MIB can also escape by destroying the island (smash the bottle). Maybe the nuke was not such a good idea. Maybe "saving the island" is really about saving the bottle, the thing that is really keeping evil bottled up (love these metaphors!)

As for smokey flashing, its always done before someone appears. Eko's brother to Eko, Alex to Ben, Isabella to Richardo. It must read the mind/past, probe for things to use to gain control of the person, as MIB did with Richardo, using his love of Isabella to get him to kill Jacob.

And all these comparisons to stories in the bible, well, you can compare anything you see to some story in the bible. Lets not forget that Jacob mentioned, while talking with Richardo, that many civilizations have many names for god and satan and hell. And lets not forget the egyptian artifacts everywhere. I think instead of labeling these two as being from one particular religion's definitions, we should take them for what they have been so far, one that sees good in man and wants to nurish it, and one that one sees only corruption, and wants to use that corruptability for his own purposes.

And the statue was not knocked down by just the boat. That wave had enough energy to knock down 10 statues. I don't understand the need to kill the slaves however. To survive you need as many people as possible, and since the crew had the guns/swords, the crew had little to fear from the slaves, who they could have had work for them. So that was frustrating, as was watching Richardo work with the nail, but I now think that was MIB, toying with and frustrating him, breaking him, making him rely on MIB to free him and thus get the promise, which he demanded before freeing Richardo, of doing whatever he asked. MIB is now clearly the evil one, using tricks and comforting speach to get people to do the wrong thing. Jacob was not comforting. He could not give Richardo the two things he most wanted (MIB did tell Richardo that he could be reunited with Isabella). Jacob provided truth, which Ricardo followed instead of comforting lies. With Hurley's help, and the ghost of Isabella, Richard was remionded of what a comforting lie was and rededicates himself to Jacob (the cork). Overall this was one of the best shows, well directed and setting the stage for the final battle of good and evil. The only questions left are who will replace Jacob and how will the cork be replaced. Oh, and what is sideways time about ... I'm guessing what would be happening had the island been nuked (bottle broken) and MIB is now out in the world.

Posted by: Fate1 | March 24, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's just me, but with seven, hour-long episodes left I don't feel like time is running out for explanations. That's ridiculous. This show has never been about instant reveals in any case. I am not going to label it a "failure" or a "success" until I've seen the finale and put things into perspective.

I feel that this episode pretty much confirmed that Jacob's actions, which at times seem cruel, are ultimately to protect all of mankind. That would make him a good guy. Just because Jacob's actions don't always make us "warm and fuzzy" doesn't mean that he's not always fighting for the good side. Jacob and MIB are playing a game, and people are the pieces. But this a game where humanity's survival is at stake and that will inevitably involve sacrifice. Jacob is messing with the lives of a few to protect the entire world from "going to hell".

Jacob and MIB's conflicting "recruitment" styles show who is to be trusted and who is not. When Jacob recruits, he is HONEST about his limitations - he will not promise anything he knows he can't give. He was honest with Richard about not being able to grant him his top two wishes (reuniting him with his dead wife and obtaining absolution for the doctor's murder). Jacob knew that there was a possibility that Richard would, as a result, use his free will to turn down his "job offer". In contrast, MIB has shown a willingness to say whatever he can, whether truthful or not, to attain his goals. He lied to Claire for years about her baby to manipulate her into becoming an angry, feral headcase. Doesn't exactly seem like the action of a benevolent being. And Hurley's announcement at the end of the episode would seem to indicate that MIB is on the bad side as well.

My two big, and obvious, questions are 1)who exactly are jacob and the mib? Has Jacob always been protecting the island and the MIB showed up at some point in the past to cause trouble? The MIB keeps saying that he was a man once and Jacob is responsible for his "smokey" state. Or, are they both just "recruited proxies" for a conflict that has been playing since the beginning of time? 2) What does it mean for everyone that the island is underwater in the "flash sideways" if it is the "cork" preventing evil from spilling all over the world?

Posted by: linswilliams | March 24, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

linswilliam:

I wish you posted more often.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Good point about killing Richard and the other slaves. I thought that was a little precipitate too, and the rationale - there's no water (on a tropical island covered in vegetation, that you haven't even looked or water on yet?) - seemed bizarre. But there's no reason a 19th century slaver couldn't be stupid and wrongheaded in other ways, so it's believable enough.

Yes, it was the understatement of Lileks' dry comment that I've always found amusing: "SOME have SPECULATED that the episode MAY have been a commentary on racism."

Posted by: UniqueID | March 24, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Fate1 and linswilliam for your great analysis. That helped me.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I missed the Lost chat, I had to work today, gah! I hate being important ;) harhar...

My question about the nail is WHY DIDN'T RICHARD USE HIS LEGS??? They were not chained up. He could have grabbed the sucker pretty easily with this foot. Am I right?

Posted by: smynola06 | March 24, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

If MIB is evil why did he give Richard Isabella's necklace?

I am dissapointed with some of the answers we are getting from the writers. I thought the reveal of the origin of the numbers was lame. I really thought the explanation for the black rock lying in the middle of the jungle was especialy lame. A wave powerful enough to knock down a stone statue and throw a boat inland? Yet all the vegetation around the black rock looked undamaged. I thought it was lazy on the part of the writers and an insult to fans of lost.

Posted by: adam_peritz | March 24, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I thought this was a really great episode. Then again, I am into the whole mythos of the show; to me, putting all of the characters' struggles over the past few years into a larger context makes the show more satisfying, not less.

I do think that there is something inherently sad in this. Some of the "fun" of the first few seasons was the very fact that anything could happen. Remember the very early episode when the trees toppled over that night? WTF? Dinosaurs? Aliens? Evil corporate henchmen in a plot to create Disneyworld -- South Pacific? It was fun not to know what was going on, even as it frustrated the bejeebers out of me. Every plot twist simply opened up more possibilities.

But now we're heading in the other direction. Now every plot twist closes off some of those alternative paths. Now, if that happened to be your pet theory, that would probably turn you off directly (personally, I was rather disappointed when Locke ended up being (or appearing to be) the bad guy inciting Ben to kill Jacob). But on an even bigger level, every question answered is also a door closed, an option limited. And when you've pulled in a fanatical audience with the wide-open, what-could-it-possibly-mean plot twists, almost by definition that same audience is going to be fundamentally dissatisfied when you start going the other way and giving answers instead of questions.

Posted by: laura33 | March 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Two books to read:

There was a discussion a few weeks ago about whether good vs. evil stories – especially biblical oriented ones -- are inherently boring and uni-dimensional. I still don’t think we know to what extent Lost will turn out to be religious, fantasy or science-based.

But last night inspired me to recommend a couple of great bible-oriented stories set in modern times:

"That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis and "Descent Into Hell" by Charles Williams. Either one will fry your hair off. "War In Heaven" was another good one by Williams. I read these books as a young man and could barely sleep at night. The titles alone are worth the price of admission.

Along with J.R.R. Tolkien, Williams and Lewis were members of a British writer's circle, The Inklings, who read aloud chapter drafts of these now-famous books. What with the Nazi's and all, they were keenly focused on the nature of evil -- and the ways in which seemingly “good” people succumb to evil by their failure to stand up against it.

And don’t forget Joni Mitchell’s Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)! I would have to call that song essential listening for Lost fans this season.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Clarification:

A theme of those books was that passivity in the struggle between good and evil was sufficient cause to become damned.

Failing to exercise choice is a form of choosing.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I also thought Richard would be more ancient than someone born in the mid-1800s. I mainly thought that because of the Ricardus comment by Ilana. Now I think that he got the name Ricardus not because he lived in Ancient Roman times but because Latin is the "language" of the Others as Juliet said (or something to that effect). I liked the post by someone above who theorized that Richard may have become the "founder" of the Others.

The question of the Others and who they are puzzles me. Are they just inadvertent pawns in Jacob's game of bringing candidates to the island. ie., are they candidates themselves or did they just happen to be on ships/planes/dingys along with the selected candidates. I assumed everyone who was brought to the island were candidates and when they died they were no longer candidates. Now I think they just were innocent "red shirts."

My take on why the officers killed the slaves/prisoners on the Black Rock was that they had gone mad in the same way that the Frenchmen with Rousseau had gone made when they got the "sickness." It's not clear how long it was after the ship had crashed before the killings began. Certainly the officer doing the stabbing seemed unhinged. But I also thought that officer was Hanso. Wasn't that the captain doing the stabbing? And wasn't the captain Hanso?

I agree with smynola above. I had the same thought that Richard should have used his feet to grab the nail. I suppose he didn't because he was severely dehydrated and delusional by that time.

Finally, I have to agree with Janine's comment above. Jen's remark about Tokyo being the location of the Kwon's wedding ceremony was clearly a lapse/brain fart. One had to be looking pretty deeply to take it for anything other than that.

Posted by: Emcdoj | March 24, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Magnus Hanso:

I don't think we ever saw Magnus Hanso or even have solid cause to believe he was on the Black Rock, other than the "last resting place" note on the blast shield doors.

He was named as the person who bought Richardo and was presumably the owner of the ship, but we never saw him. Maybe that will be a big reveal later on, but I can't imagine who he might be, if we've already met him and just didn't know it.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Connection back to Latin/Rome:

If anyone still wants a connection back to Roman times (now that Richard is out) Lostpedia reports that the knife MIB gave Richardo was Roman:

"The Knife itself is a pugio, a military dagger used as a sidearm by Roman legionaries. On the sheath, it depicts the Roman she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus."

MIB believes that Jacob stole his body. So maybe he was originally Roman?

I would have thought MIB was timeless (hence the episode title) but who knows...

Posted by: MeriJ | March 24, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Now Illana has got me wondering. She knows Jacob off island. Her backstory ought to be very interesting. She may go back to ancient times. and possibly be immortal. I have no evidence for immortality, its just a hunch. I mean, what a perfect soldier for Jacob and one that can take the beating she evidently took that ended her in the hospital and survive.

Richard being the founder of the Others makes sense. Jacob said all that had come to the island had died. With Richard as a guide and adviser people who came later would learn about Jacob and follow Richard's advice, avoiding MIB and his trickery. So the number of Others grew.

But Richard is no leader and so someone with leadership ability became the leaders, with Richard remaining as adviser. It seems at some point they trapped MIB in the cabin with the circle of ash. I'm hoping we get to see when that happened.

Thanks MeriJ for pointing out the dagger. I guess it means we will see a future episode when Jacob/MIB get trapped on the island, probably by MIB's crazy mom, and roman soldiers are fighting egyptians when the island was in the mediterranian, which if I remember the map at the lamppost the island was once.

adam_peritz wrote: "If MIB is evil why did he give Richard Isabella's necklace?"

He knew Richard had realized he had been lied to by MIB and so MIB was trying to make up so he could make the offer of joining MIB in the future with a promise of seeing Isabella again. The necklace was to prevent Richard from forgetting her, the key desire of Richard that MIB wishes to exploit.

Posted by: Fate1 | March 24, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Fate1, you may be correct about a backstory about Illana. I think we have only two backstories left. One is hers and the other would be Jacob/MIBs.

I guess I thought the Captain was Hanso because when Widmore bought the Black Rock's log at the auction, I understood it to be the log of Hanso. Was that not correct? Did we ever learn the name of the Captain we saw on the ship in this episode?

Finally, who, if anyone, was the candidate brought to the island on the Black Rock? I guess it wasn't Richard. And there is no evidence that anyone else survived so what was the point of bringing the Black Rock to the island if there was no candidate on it? Or did they all die within days?

Posted by: dojemc | March 25, 2010 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Dokemc, I think maybe it was to get the Hanso family involved in their search for the island? So that one day, Dharma would show up?

Posted by: smynola06 | March 25, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I did find it interesting that Jacob knew everything that was going to happen-- he told Ilana exactly what to do, telling her even the hidden passage in the Temple so she and the others can escape after the Smoke monster attacks, but then tells her that Ricardus will know what to do after that. Jacob got Hugo to get Jack out of the Temple as well. So for all that to happen, Jacob knew he would have had to die and Dogen would have had to die.

This seems like the writers are tackling the question of- if God knows what is going to happen, why does God let bad things happen? and let evil be victorious at times?

Because if Jacob represents a good god, who is active in the world, touching people (or as I've said before- messing with people's lives), and also seems to know what is going to happen, why let bad things happen in the first place?

Posted by: KevinAF | March 25, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I haven't noticed anyone comment on the scene when Ricardo asked for forgiveness from the priest while saying confession. Not only does the priest deny him forgiveness, but he also steals his bible. He then sells him into slavery, which I suppose one could argue is a better fate than the gallows. And what was he being sold for that required his knowledge of English?

If anything, I would think this could be seen as a slam against Western Judeo /Christian theology in favor of more Eastern philosophies such as Taoism (with the black and white Yin/Yang).

Posted by: twinbrook | March 25, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Okay, being new to this discussion (and relatively new to the show), forgive me if I am going over old territory, but I just did a quick wiki search on Taweret, and a couple of things jumped out at me...

1. In Egyptian mythology, Taweret is the Egyptian Goddess of childbirth and fertility. . . . When paired with another deity, she became the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil. (could this be MIBs "crazy" mother?)

2. Taweret became seen, very early in Egyptian history, as a deity of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. Taweret was seen as one who protected against evil by restraining it.

Finally, there is a link between the Canary Isalnds and the ancient Egyptian cult of the dog-headed god, Anubis.

Posted by: twinbrook | March 25, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Something I find interesting. When Flocke/MIB promised Sayid anything he wanted, some saw that as a sign of evil. However, when Jacob granted Richard his wish of eternal life this was not seen as evil.

Fate1, I disagree on MIB use of the necklace. I do not believe he meant to manipulate Richard with the neclace or the memory of Isabella, otherwise MIB would done so when he first met Richard as Flocke. If anything I think it may be Jacob who is using Isabelle through Hurley to manipulate Richard.

Posted by: adam_peritz | March 25, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Um... didn't we see this subplot even more explicitly on another Star Trek episode, this one The Next Generation? They found a murderous creature of pure evil--a puddle of black goo that could change its shape--that desperately wanted to get off the planet where it had been exiled and left alone for all eternity. The poor thing was lonely and full of rage, but hey, it was still pure evil so they had to leave it there. Sound familiar??

Posted by: MrDarwin | March 25, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Jacob has kept bringing people to the island over the years, particularly after Richard got his "job", suggests that nobody brought has succeeded in convincing the Man in Black that humans are not corruptible. Clearly Jacob is aware of this failure and keeps bringing more people. Unlike in the past, now there are survivors in the island, like the Others, as well as remains of other shipwrecks, like Rousseau and Desmond, or plane-wrecks. However, in Jacob's eyes, these survivors have still not made the mark: just surviving in the island, in spite of adversity and the Man in Black, is not enough.

It is not clear about Rousseau and the other members of the French group, but for most (all?) of the other people whose story we are aware off, their lives were troubled, if not spiraling towards disaster. Desmond is perhaps an exception (and maybe the red shirts). All these people, accepting Jacob's word, they were given a clean slate when arriving, but in a very unforgiving environment. None of them has completely atoned for their situations, but instead (naturally, of course) they went into survival mode. Most of them, with the exceptions of (perhaps) Jack, Miles, Frank, and Ilana, have directly or indirectly taken lives.

But no character, that I can remember, has actually turned the other cheek, has not been swept by the contagiousness of the violence, has given up on their interests and possessions. Hurley is the closest to growing to this level; also Ilana, maybe, but the rest of the people in Jacob's lists or groups has not changed much.

Maybe that inner growth in conviction and, most importantly, compassion, is what a candidate needs to do to replace Jacob and terminate the endless bloodbath in the story.

Posted by: for33 | March 25, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

"This seems like the writers are tackling the question of- if God knows what is going to happen, why does God let bad things happen? and let evil be victorious at times?"
Posted by: KevinAF

I don't think there is any issue of God being brought up. Jacob/MIB are obviously not omnipotent. They have their limits. They are acting very much like ancient gods, quarreling, getting mortals to do their bidding against one another, etc. One god trapping another was common since they could not kill one another so trapping them and getting them out of the way was their only method.

twinbrook (March 25, 2010 11:19 AM), I think you've got it right. MIB's crazy mom and all.

"Fate1, I disagree on MIB use of the necklace. I do not believe he meant to manipulate Richard with the neclace or the memory of Isabella, otherwise MIB would done so when he first met Richard as Flocke. If anything I think it may be Jacob who is using Isabelle through Hurley to manipulate Richard."
Posted by: adam_peritz

Good point, but after 140 years I doubt Isabella is much of a memory to use. And I agree it was Jacob manipulating Hurley to bring Richard back. The ghost of Isabella was likely Jacob, as might all of Hurley's visions. Its clear that both Jacob and MIB are using people, manipulating them, to reach an endgame. But MIB manipulates differently. He promises anything and lies. Jacob does not. That is the only difference besides their goals.

"The fact that Jacob has kept bringing people to the island over the years, particularly after Richard got his "job", suggests that nobody brought has succeeded in convincing the Man in Black that humans are not corruptible. Clearly Jacob is aware of this failure and keeps bringing more people. Unlike in the past, now there are survivors in the island, like the Others, as well as remains of other shipwrecks, like Rousseau and Desmond, or plane-wrecks. However, in Jacob's eyes, these survivors have still not made the mark: just surviving in the island, in spite of adversity and the Man in Black, is not enough."
Posted by: for33

Hmmm, I'll need to mull that over a while. The island was deserted when the Black Rock arrived. No one survived, either each other or MIB. But Richard may have been onto something about Jacob needing to tell people what he wants and maybe the failures would stop. Jacob enlists Richard and people brought to the island start surviving. At some point they even trap MIB in the cabin surrounded by the ash. Progress, as Jacob would call it. Richard changed everything. And remember WHY Jacob is bringing people ... to prove to MIB that there is good in man and not just corruption. I'm not really sure what Jacob hopes to get out of proving this. Maybe a good MIB. But it is Jacob's only stated goal besides keeping evil trapped on the island. One thing is for sure, if the island is destroyed by the nuke evil will cover the earth, unless they can keep MIB trapped another way. Instead of the electromagnetic properties keeping MIB trapped, maybe time will keep him trapped, in a never-ending loop of time that he cannot escape.

Posted by: Fate1 | March 25, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

MrDarwin said: Um... didn't we see this subplot even more explicitly on another Star Trek episode, this one The Next Generation? They found a murderous creature of pure and left alone for all eternity

Right, that was the episode where they uncerimoniously killed off Denise Crosby, Bing Crosby's grandaughter. It turned out that a race of super beings had shed all their evil into a pile of sludge, which they sensibly abandoned on some planet. Poor dear.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 26, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

I do think this is one of the storylines in play this season. Not in the line-for-line sense that Jacob is supposed to represent the Judeo-Christian God. But as a classic storyline that many religions attempt to address. If my god(s) is omnipotent, why does he/she/they allow these terrible things to happen?

Is it because humans are too insignificant to matter to such a higher level being? Is suffering a sign of god's disapproval? Is it a test of some kind? A necessary trial to break through to something better? Or is it all just random, without meaning?

Personally, I think Woody Allen said it best:

"If there is a god, he's an underachiever."

Posted by: MeriJ | March 26, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh I left off a big one that seems relevant to what Jacob is trying to prove:

Is it because we are inherently flawed and unworthy?

Posted by: MeriJ | March 26, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't think God (or gods) is super concerned with what happens in our (very temporary) life on earth, but with our (eternal) life after.

Which is why God would allow bad things to happen on earth, to forge us for that life after.

In terms of LOST, it could mean Jacob is forging his recruits into the perfect (non-aging) candidate... except most of them don't make it through the process.

Posted by: Mia13 | March 26, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Continuing along the lines of my last post, I would think that what Jacob expects Richard to tell Ilana and the candidates under her protection is that they have to resist being corrupted by the Man in Black/Locke. That was basically what Jacob explained to Richard when they first met.

I also wonder if Jacob was the reason why the Others brought Locke's father to the Island. Presumably Jacob was testing Locke and Sawyer as candidates. Through Richard, Jacob instructed Ben to ask Locke to kill his father. This he couldn't do, but he couldn't forgive him either. Richard then gave Sawyer's file to Locke (again instructed to do so by Jacob). As Locke couldn't forgive, he sought out Sawyer, who also couldn't forgive and killed Locke's father. Possibly Richard and, through him, the Others, misunderstood that Jacob was only testing the candidates, and was hoping he would not go through with the killing.

Only Ben was strong enough to refuse killing Rousseau's baby. He refused to do so because he saw no logic or purpose in it. In a sense he was compassionate, as he let Rousseau live. Perhaps that's the reason why he became the Other's leader.

Possibly Widmore lost his position and Jacob's favor because he went through and ordered Dharma's purge, instead of refusing Jacob's instructions. But Ben also failed by not being able to forgive his father or alerting Dharma of what would happen. After that Ben kept continually flunking his tests: he couldn't forgive Goodwin, and probably continued with the Others policy of shoot first and ponder the questions later (if ever).

The Losties also were drawn into the cycle of aggression and revenge, with Jack as the leader always trying to get back at the Others, without cooling down and trying to stop the violence.

Posted by: for33 | March 26, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I guess that is a good way for the writers to get out of explaining "why bad things happen, even though a 'god' knows about it beforehand". The fact that Jacob is not omnipotent/omniscient means he can't know for absolute certainty what is going to happen. Good point fate1. That's probably why he appeared to Hugo and got Jack out of the Temple, because he didn't know if Ilana would get there in time.

During the entire Lost series whenever someone appears to know the future or a lot about someone/something, we later find out how they came upon that knowledge, so I guess I should wait to find out how Jacob seems to know some things about the future.

From Lostpedia: "When Jacob can't or won't intervene he proposes Richard can step in on his behalf"

But isn't this intervening by using a proxy? I'm still a bit skeptical about Jacob's motives/methods.

Jacob's missions:
1) Protect the island that keeps evil corked up.
2) Convince MIB that all men are not corrupted by bringing some of them to the island.

I hope mission #2 is worth jeopardizing mission #1.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 26, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Fate1 "It seems at some point they trapped MIB in the cabin with the circle of ash. I'm hoping we get to see when that happened."

I thought the circle of ash was used to keep MIB OUT of the cabin. When Ilana went there looking for Jacob, the circle had been breached, and she indicated that someone else had been using the cabin.

Onto other musings:

1. In the scene where some unknown someone comes to Richard in the hold of the Black Rock, we initially just see a hand touching Richard. I had the feeling that at that point, Richard had died and someone was bringing him back to life. But, when it turned out to be the MIB, I wanted to change my mind, because I don't think that would be a capability the MIB would possess. Did anyone else get that impression about that particular touch?

2. Is is possible that the idea of candidates started with Richard?

When Richard and Jacob were drinking wine and chatting (the following is a quote from Doc Jensen's column on the EW website): "Ricardo asked a crucial question: How come Jacob doesn't take a more active role in shepherding his spiritual reclamation projects? ''Because I want them to help themselves. To be able to tell the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them, it's all meaningless if I have to force them to do anything! Why should I have to step in?'' Richard's reply: ''If you don't, he will.''

This answer seemed to stump Jacob. It was as if Ricardo had told him something he never considered before."

I think after this he decided that he maybe needed to think of a replacement strategy and that started the recruitment of candidates.

3. Sorry if this is old news, but the use of the "Catch a Falling Star" song after the massacre at the temple episode got me thinking about this quote about Satan from Revelation 9:1-2, and the interesting tie-in to the MIB, aka Smokey: "And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft."

Posted by: raheintz | March 26, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

raheintz, I noticed that too about the MIB/Ricardo touch. There was definitely a "moment" there.

Posted by: smynola06 | March 26, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Is it too simplistic to assume that Catholic Ricardo, since Jacob cannot give him the absolution he needs, asked for immortality so he wouldn't go to hell?

Posted by: HardyW | March 26, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

raheintz said:

> 3. Sorry if this is old news, but the use of the "Catch a Falling Star" song after the massacre at the temple episode got me thinking about this quote about Satan from Revelation 9:1-2, and the interesting tie-in to the MIB, aka Smokey:

> "And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft."


Very cool, raheintz. Thanks!

Posted by: MeriJ | March 26, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

> Is it too simplistic to assume that Catholic Ricardo, since Jacob cannot give him the absolution he needs, asked for immortality so he wouldn't go to hell?

That was my interpetation also, HardywW.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Lapse/Brain fart or "they all look the same" defence maybe. Disappointed in you Jen - normally so on the ball and incisive. S

Posted by: michaelhughes32 | March 26, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Lapse/Brain fart or "they all look the same" defence maybe. Disappointed in you Jen - normally so incisive.

Posted by: michaelhughes32 | March 26, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm way late and no one is going to read this but Richard's legs were chained. There may be some continuity flaws in not showing it the whole time, but when the MIB unlocks him, he clearly unlocks his wrists and the something around his feet.

Posted by: cs2aq | March 26, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

It's not too late, I'm sure we'll all read until next Wednesday morning... LOL.

Posted by: Mia13 | March 26, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to keep bringing up the time loop(s) but I think its worth noting that while Jacob was explaining things to Ricardo about bringing people to the island over the years, there was a freshness to the moment, as though this had not happened before. As someone else noted, Jacob seemed to consider the idea of Richard as a proxy as something worth trying for the first time. So, if a time loop is part of this plot, I don't think it has happened yet.

I'm still wondering, though leaning, toward the idea that the compass created the loop allowing both Jacob and Ben, and maybe others, to know the future. So the loop exists from 1954 until 2007. And now the war between MIB and Jacob is existing after the lop. But it seems Jacob still knows what is about to happen. Yes, this keeps me awake an extra few minutes at night...

Heading down south to warmer temps for a week on Saturday. I'll be watching LOST in FL on Tuesday. I hope I won't disrupt the continuum by moving myself 1000 miles. But who knows what the future brings? The Mummy ride for sure!

Posted by: Fate1 | March 26, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I have not read all the posts for this week.

but i agree with the comment above that it felt very odd that Richard asked to live forever. There was no apparent reason for this request. On the contrary! Poor guy has been through "hell" and just wants to be with his dead wife. I would expect him to ask to die to be with his wife, or ask if his wife could come back to life, or even to ask for some peace in his own life...

but not to live forever - living has been pretty awful for him.

GREAT ACTING.

Posted by: camis | March 26, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

camis: Richardo assumed that his wife went to heaven. So no reunion via death. And he was terrified about going to hell.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 27, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

MeriJ and HardyW -

Right! Where is my brain this year? Thank you -

Posted by: camis | March 27, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

camis: Actually it was not clear at all. Both "Isabella" and MIB (or MIB in two forms) were telling him he was already in hell, and there she was too. But by the time he made his wish, Jacob seemed to have convinced him that the apparition was not, in fact, his wife and that he was not yet in hell.

Misinformation aside, I'm sure he believed in his heart that she was a pure soul and that she would have gone to heaven.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 27, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Minor mystery resolved after watching show again. I thought that the person stabbing the slaves/prisoners might be Captain Hanso. In fact, it was Whitfield, the same person who bought Richard from the Priest. In listening closely, one of the officers alive above the hold said that Captain Hanso was dead. So, Hanso, who we never saw, was the Captain and now we know he played absolutely no part in the mythology of the show other than to write the ship's log that Widmore buys years later and, perhaps, to sire the other Hanso who was involved with the Dharma Initiative. Wonder what was in the log that Widmore wanted so badly. I can picture the last entry saying something to the effect: "Damn storm, will it ever end. Hey, we're going to smash into some type of stat...."

Posted by: dojemc | March 28, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

dojemc on Magnus Hanso:

Yeah, I'd seen that on Lostpedia as well.

But doesn't it seem peculiar?

An officer mentioned that Hanso had died in the initial shipwreck... But if the writers are done with him, why wouldn't they use him as a character in Richardo's backstory? His was a name we already knew. So why create this new guy Whitfield and have him be the only officer we see?

Maybe that was their way of implying that the non-canonical stuff from The Lost Experience is not important or even true?

BTW, the ship's ledger was written by the Black Rock's first mate, not Hanso. However, it was sold at the auction by a Hanso family member.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 28, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

A simple question in the lead - "if we could change anything about the 80s,..."

Simple answer - YES!

That decade was a cultural, political and intellectual wasteland.

Name a meaningful high point? Oh - "read my lips"?

Posted by: fr3dmars | March 28, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Merij,

I suspect folks rely too much on Lostpedia and the Lost experience. You may be on to something about the Lost Experience really not playing a role in the development of the show. I think it was only developed to keep the show's buzz alive during the off season. Re your comment about the log being written by the First Mate (even though ships logs are typically written by the captains - think, James T. Kirk), then I wonder how that log, whoever wrote it, got off island and into the hands of the Hanso family? And why would they care about the log of the first mate. And why would Widmore care about buying it? For a minute in the show, I thought the officer named Whitfield was named Widmore and thought he was a descendant of our Widmore but upon review it was indeed Whitfield (or something like Whitfield). So I suspect that the log, as plot device, is going to be one of those questions unanswered and, in effect, meaningless. There couldn't be anything meaningful in it based upon what we watched on Tuesday. It appears that the Captain and the other officers were killed fairly soon after the Black Rock crashed. I can't imagine there was any time to write about the Smoke Monster or killing of the prisoners or anything of substance about the island. Perhaps, though, Widmore wanted the log in order to find the coordinants to get to the island? That is the only benefit that I can think of in buying it based upon what we now know.

Posted by: dojemc | March 29, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

> Perhaps, though, Widmore wanted the log in order to find the coordinants to get to the island?

Yeah, that's what everyone assumed at the time.

Posted by: MeriJ | March 29, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm still thinking that the Black Rock shipwreck was maybe part of Jacob's bigger plan to get the Hanso's to the island via the Dharma group.

Somehow word gets out that your family member Captain Hanso shipwrecked on an island, so you start rescue efforts to find him and the island. Maybe the family gets so obsessed with it, that generations later Alvar Hanso forms the Dharma group to study the island (and then one day in the 70's the group drills and Juliet blows it up). ???

I don't know.

Posted by: smynola06 | March 29, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

It's sad, but I'm actually getting tired of Lost already. It seems that it's all about a mythical battle between good and evil, like that's new. I hope tonight renews my interest.

BTW if you exclude Locke (who's dead), each side now has 2 1/2 of the 6 original candidates (since Kwons come as a "package"). Jack, Hurley, Sun vs. Sawyer, Sayid, Jin. Kate is not one of the "numbers".

Posted by: KevinAF | March 30, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

KevinAF - maybe DVR the show and take a week off? if the urge to watch is there then go for it ...if there's no urge ...then you may be on to something (sick of the show)

Bet you can't take a week off ;-)

By the way, I think the whole Japan/Korea mistake stemmed from the fact that the wedding scene was filmed at the Byodo Temple in Hawaii .. it's a replica of a famous Japanese temple. So Jen wasn't far off actually and perhaps those details were swimming in her head when she made the error.

It was a Korean wedding supposed to be in Seoul .. and yet it was held at a Japanese temple ...in Hawaii :)

What a mess.

Posted by: jfu222 | March 30, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

RICHARD'S LEGS WERE CHAINED... BUT... he was still wearing a shirt. He could have easliy taken it off and used it to reel in the nail ... just sayin'

That's what I would've done.

Posted by: jfu222 | March 30, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

jfu222- you're right, I watched it last night and will prob. watch the rest of the season because I'm invested in the characters now.

Posted by: KevinAF | March 31, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

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