An Offer He Can Refuse

This seems like a good time to review the State of the Show, that show being Lost. A year or two from now, when the sixth season is out on DVD and can be watched consecutively in marathon viewing sessions, I think opinions will tend to be more favorable than they might be right now (assuming, of course, that they don’t completely screw the pooch on the finale). As for right now, in the week-to-week doldrums of what’s been a (relatively) so-so final season? I think the audience is growing restless. True, we are getting critical new bits of information each week, but it’s near-inexcusable to have efforts like last week’s “Recon” come across our television screens. I’m not sure there was any critical plotlines we would’ve been lost without had last week’s material been covered in a scene or two over the course of a couple episodes with far weightier and preferable material. I ain’t sayin’ I’m not enjoying this season; I’d just like it to maintain some sort of up-tempo pacing as we move forward. We’ve come this far; I’m not about to bail out now. And it’s a good thing, too.

ricardo statue

ab aeterno
1. Since the beginning of time.
2. (figuratively) Since a very long time ago.

It seems like we’ve waited for tonight’s story a very long time: the origin of Richard Alpert, ageless advisor to the stars on the Island. I’d said a few weeks ago we might not actually get a more fleshed-out backstory after the episode featuring his suicide attempt aboard the Black Rock; that brief scene or two may have been enough to fill in the gaps in his history. I’m glad I was wrong, as tonight’s episode was one of the finest of this inconsistent season. And while it didn’t necessarily offer us anything more than some vague analogies to answer our pending “questions,” it was enjoyable if for nothing more than its good storytelling. “Ab Aeterno” was a welcome departure from the shifting focus inherent in flashbacks/flashforwards/flash-sideways occurring throughout the typical Lost episode. Essentially a single narrative, we stick with “Ricardo” for the majority of an episode rife with religious imagery. Let’s start by focusing on some of the particulars of Richard’s backstory.

ricardo

We begin his flashback in Tenerife, Canary Islands in 1867, Ricardo’s apparent home country.

Tenerife, a Spanish island, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. Tenerife has an area of 2034.38 square kilometers. It is the most populated island of the Canary Islands and Spain. [Wikipedia]

canary islands

Ricardo is rushing home to be with his sick wife, presumably after trying to earn enough money to get her some medicine. Clearly a man of limited means, he could have used some of Obama’s universal health care reform back in the 1800’s.

isabella sick

The doctor he visits, refusing to give up medicine that could help Isabella, turns out to be a real asshole and is rewarded as such when Ricardo inadvertently kills him. And alas, Ricardo is too late to save his now-dead love.

ahole doctor

Later, in jail awaiting execution for murder, we catch a glimpse of a Bible passage he was reading (by way of teaching himself English) when a priest comes in to take his confession.

bible passage

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4, verses 24 through 27 relate to the prophet Elijah:

Jesus uses Elijah as an example of rejected prophets. Jesus says, “No prophet is accepted in his own country,” and then mentions Elijah, saying that there were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent to one in Phoenicia. In Romans 11:1-6, Paul cites Elijah as an example of God’s never forsaking his people (the Israelites). In James 5:16-18, James says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” and then cites Elijah’s prayers which started and ended the famine in Israel as examples. [Wikipedia]

Elijah or Elias, whose name (El-i Jahu) means “Yahweh is God,” was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC. According to the Books of Kings, Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and ascended into heaven in a whirlwind (accompanied by chariots, not in one). In the Book of Malachi, Elijah’s return is prophesied “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord,” making him a harbinger of the Messiah and the eschaton in various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible. [Wikipedia]

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  1. Ok, lots of comments I have:

    1. I thought it strange that when Jacob asks Richard what he wants (and is turned down for, a) his wife back, b) revenge?) that all of a suddent Richard comes up with “well, then I want to live forever?!? Where is the logic in that request?

    2. The white rock to which you refer, I don’t remember as being the one that was thrown by Esau out of the cave in an earlier episode. I recollect that there was a white rock earlier in last night’s episode being handed amongst two characters, but I don’t remember which two. And, therefore, the same rock that was shown earlier in last night’s episode.

    3. I believe that it was Ilana that told Sun a couple of episodes back, that she and Jin were “on the list”, so that is how Sun knows she (or Jin), is on the list. Illana also had told Sun that she didn’t know which one she was supposed to protect, so therefore had to try to protect them both.

    4. I am not so sure that the Isabella manifestation was a result of a “smokey” trick, or of Hurley’s faith. I believe the real turning point here is “faith”. Richard gains faith in Jacob through the manifestation of beleiving that he is feeling/hearing/experienceing Isabella. It is after that he acheives “peace” and calm, and a belief in Jacob. Hurley already believes, so that is why Hurley can see “dead people”. Hurley has faith. That is also why Jacob uses Hurley as a messenger to the “unbelievers”. I believe that Paul in the Bible, would be a corresponding character/figure.

    5. The necklace. Didn’t Richard take that when Isabella died? So, the preist was simply returning it? I don’t remember for sure.

    Thanks for great write up, as always…I enjoyed the episode, too!

  2. Black Rock Isabella = Smokey
    Hurley Isabella = ghost (ie the real Isabella)

  3. I agree…on both “sightings”

  4. I believe the 6 Candidates are actually the Oceanic 6

  5. Possible, but it’s unclear b/c Jacob touched both of them simultaneously.

  6. I think it is the “baby” Kwon…whatever her name is…and she is back on the “mainland”…so, it is neither Sun, nor Jin. This could tie in with the fertility problems, the Others “stealing” the kids, etc. ie, they were told a “savior” would be born, so it was important to the islanders to protect mothers giving birth? (kind of like Moses in the bullrushes, except that Jin and Sun have a girl, and not a guy) …again, something Cuse and Lindelof have said repeatedly, that they originally wanted their “Hero/ine” to be a woman, not necessarily a man. (Kate was originally supposed to be the “Jack” character during their earlier imaginings…something that I read many seasons ago, I think?)

  7. Skater,
    Richard, after being denied being with his wife and forgiveness of his sins asked to live forever because that would save him from hell eventually being sent to hell for murdering the doctor…that’s my theory at least

  8. hmmm…good thought…one more than I could have thought of!

  9. Need some theories now, on the “babies” that have been born….Claire’s baby, Aaron; Sun’s baby; Pen and Desmond’s baby; Juliette’s sister’s baby…there should be some correlation, no? (and, of course, the blood on Aaron’s looking similar to Christ on the cross type wounds….)

    Jeff, I like your idea about the last “shot” mirroring Esau and Jacob…

    I’m going through withdrawal already!

  10. awesome episode, great recap..thanks!

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