LOST: “Ab Aeterno” Review

by Sarah Carbiener

Disclaimer: This was one of eight episodes left in the final season of Lost.  At this stage of the game, avoiding spoilers is nigh impossible. You have been warned.

I’m incredibly conflicted and frustrated after watching this episode, and it’s not because I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I think…It was the Richard episode. Something I’ve been looking forward to since we learned he doesn’t age and his eyeliner never smudges! It’s not that my expectations were so high that it was impossible for me to enjoy it. Season six up to this point has done plenty to lower my expectations, and I had very few preconceived notions as to what Richard (Nestor Carbonell) was about because he’s always been so mysterious.

There were things I absolutely loved. They dropped the sideway flashes in favor of one continuous flashback in which we learned exactly what Richard went through to get to the island. They didn’t splinter the forty-three minutes between so many characters that each ends up with too little to do. Richard is in almost every single scene, and these scenes take place over a hundred years before the rest of the gang was born.

Since we spent so much time in the mid-nineteenth century, there wasn’t a lot of, “Tell me what’s going on!”  because it was obvious to a Catholic like Ricardo (Richard’s given name). He died and went to hell. Not only is that a brilliant nod to one of the earliest, most prevalent Lost theories,* but it’s so true to Richard’s character that it doesn’t feel cheap. The guy is literally old school.

I also really enjoyed the way they built up to Richard’s immortality. After he accidentally murders a man, he asks a priest for God’s forgiveness. The priest cruelly tells him the only way to regain God’s grace is through penance, and because he’s going to be hanged in the morning, he doesn’t have time for that.

Then there was the scene on the beach where Jacob laid it all out. This episode answered a lot of the mythology, and while some of it was about the set dressing (how Black Rock ended up in the middle of the jungle and how the statue on the beach became a four-toed foot on the beach), Jacob gave us a pretty major answer. He brings people to the island to prove to the Man in Black that, of their own free will, people are inherently good.

I don’t mind at all that this is coming down to a battle of good versus evil. In fact, I think that’s the most satisfying place a series this sprawling could go. I don’t know, though, if I can stomach Jacob crashing planes and ships, bringing people to the island and letting them watch their loved ones die in their arms, just so the Man in Black can see how kind they were to their fellow man before they kick it. I mean, really?

When Jacob asked what would be the point of his telling people to do the right thing, I absolutely love that Richard countered with, “But if you don’t, he will!” Jacob obviously hadn’t considered this, and that’s how Richard got his job as the man who tries to convince people to do the right thing on behalf of Jacob, the Jiminy Cricket of the island.**

Maybe I just need to sit down and watch the whole thing again. Was anyone else as torn as I was? Want to chime in on the wine bottle, the boar, Isabella, and the dozen other things I glossed over?

* It reminded me of the Hurley episode where he’s convinced he’s back in the mental institution and everything is happening inside his head. Another Lost theory intelligently disproved in a great episode.

** In this economy, anyone who can create a position for themselves is to be appreciated.



  • Reply
    March 24, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I loved this episode because it went along with the redemption theme I had been guessing about the whole time. The only thing that doesn’t work for me is that Nestor Carbonell has to play this serious guy when he is actually really funny. He was on an old series called Suddenly Susan where he was allowed to be absolutely silly..

    I would watch Lost more if there was more of Nestor.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm

      Nestor Carbonell is hysterical, but I love when funny guys do drama. (See my Damages post.)

  • Reply
    March 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I am always fascinated by the various opinions regarding what is actually going on with the show LOST.

    Personally, I think the writers are some serious pot smokers. How else do they come up with this stuff? I did enjoy the most recent episode though. Maybe because I happen to like the Richard character.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      I love Richard, and I would have been happy had this been the season opener instead of the introduction of Bizaro world in the sideways flashes. I don’t know about the pot, but I know they’re huge Stephen King stand, and this episode felt reminiscent of a lot what he’s written: Gerald’s Game, The Stand…

      • Reply
        March 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

        I read The Stand, Sarah, and am a huge Stephen King fan. I think you are giving these writers way too much credit.

        • Reply
          March 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm

          I’m not saying they’re writing something as powerful as the stand, but a Man in Black releasing someone who’s trapped when everyone around him is dead… that’s a pretty strong parallel.

          Stephen King never would have given Kate a line like, “What’d I miss?”

  • Reply
    March 24, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    methinks we have a lot left to learn! I doubt what we learned in this episode is the be all end all of what Lost means. Not that I would personally mind if it is. But keep the faith!!!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2010 at 5:12 pm

      You sound like Jacob. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I’m a Lost newbie, I’ll admit it right up front, but the one thing I figured out pretty early on was that Richard explained his agelessness by saying that “Jacob gave him a gift,” or “Jacob touched him.” After this episode, though, it seems that it was not Jacob who endowed/cursed Richard with eternal life, but the “anti-Jacob” – the smoke monster manifested as the man in black. Richard made a deal with the devil, did he not? So which way are the writers hoping to twist our minds by revealing this after setting us up to believe that Jacob (the supposed “good” guy) was responsible for Richard’s situation?

    Or am I just not getting it at all?

    • Reply
      March 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Nope, you’re getting it just fine. One of the more popular theories is that Jacob is in fact the bad guy. I don’t know if I personally see this as good vs. evil so much as order vs. chaos or the community vs. the individual, something like that. But that’s me overthinking the whole thing which only lead to even more disappointment when this serious ends not with a bang but with a a whimper.

      • Reply
        March 27, 2010 at 8:50 pm

        I was an English Major in college – you don’t know from over-thinking! But I think, having over-thought every detail I’ve become aware of about this series is that no character is all good nor is any one all evil. In some ways this group can be reduced to a microcosm of humanity at large. They have moments of joy, but more of their lives are spent in some state of worry, distress, or panic – sometimes self-enduced and other times outside their control. There is mental illness, injury, confusion and mistrust, mass paranoia, obsession, rational anger, irrational anger, hero worship, false idols, all of the enigmas the rest of us struggle with, but more primal.

        Of course the whole thing would work better for me if I knew where Richard has been getting his hair cut these past 100 years, how they’re managing to stay so well fed, and why nobody has given any thought to stopping the Smoke Monster with some kind of ventilation system. I mean, seriously, if we’re supposed to believe they can change time by turning a wheel then how do we explain how utterly helpless they are in so many other areas?

        All in all a good show, though, something even an English major can enjoy. My guess is that in the end we’ll learn that they all just want to be safe, happy, and home. Good, bad, or evil, isn’t that what every body wants?

  • Reply
    April 9, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    After watching episode 11 of the sixth season I was very pleased to realize that they are finally getting back on track with the story. With the characters in the alternative reality getting flashes and feelings that they don’t have the life that they should have, they writers made it possible to give the characters genuine incitaments to act like they do and try to correct the “error”, and see a light at the end of the tunnel.

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