Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Lost's' 'Ab Aeterno,' Otherwise Known as 'What Fresh Hell is This?'

*Warning, spoilers ahead from the recent episode of Lost.*

Dorothy Parker’s famous line, “What fresh hell is this?” came to my mind immediately upon the conclusion of the most recent episode of Lost, “Ab Aeterno.”

The island’s hell. No it’s not. Richard’s dead. No he’s not. Isabella’s dead. Kind of. Well, she’s a ghost. Maybe. But she can only be seen by Hurley who has suddenly assumed powers held by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie Ghost and can talk to communicate with the dead. Oh, and Hurley can see the dead. Or at least Isabella. (Is Hurley a Miles 2.0?)

Don’t get me wrong, I like the Richard Alpert character. I’ve been patiently waiting for the writers to delve into his backstory and explain why he never ages (Jacob’s gift of eternal life), when he came to the island (1867) and why (crashed on island while on board the Black Rock where he was chained as a slave after being spared hanging for the accidental death of a man with whom he’d been scuffling). And ever since undead/Man in Black/Smoky Locke remarked that it was nice to see Richard out of his chains, I’ve been wondering why Richard was ever in chains to begin with because he always seemed like a decent enough guy.

I was pleased to obtain that information, to see that Richard also had an epic love which ended in a personal tragedy, like many of the other Losties . . . or, like many of the other Losties in the post-Jughead/post-crash world. As for the sideways-flashing Losties, I’ve got no real clue about the status of their love lives. Post-crash/post-Jughead Locke, for example, had lost Helen, the love of his life, but the uncrashed/sideways-flashing version of Locke was, last we saw, getting ready to marry Helen.

I saw a number of parallels between the way Richard now feels about Jacob (betrayed, let down) and my feelings about this final season. I’m trying really hard not to delve too deeply into all of these new developments (I so do not care about Zoe), not to look for loopholes and inconsistencies because, as I’ve said before, I’m (mostly) done with all of that . . . But I can't help myself . . . haven’t the Lost writers said that the island is not an afterlife or some form of limbo? Haven’t they said that or am I mistaken? The island can’t be hell or a place of reckoning where people go to redeem themselves, can it?

In “Ab Aeterno,” (which is Latin for “from the beginning of time”) Jacob told Richard that Jacob’s job was to make sure that the Man in Black remains on the island in order to keep him from unleashing hell on earth.  We also know that there are six remaining “candidates” to potentially replace Jacob as the guardian to keep the Man in Black on the island to spare the world from his wrath.

But wait . . . in Richard’s flashback, didn’t the Man in Black hand Richard the same dagger that Dogen handed Sayid, and issue identical instructions: kill without allowing the man to talk? What in the heck does that mean? How does this all jive with ABC's "The Last Supper" photo where they posed Locke in the center in the Jesus-about-to-be-sacrificed-by-God-and-crucified position?

You know what else I keep getting stuck on? The fact that last season, Jack Shephard was hell-bent (pun intended) on corralling all his plane crash buddies together to go back to the island in order to “save” their friends because Widmore wanted to kill everyone on the island and take it over. The Ajira flight that Jack & Co. took to return to the island brought Ben, who killed Jacob, and it carried Locke’s body which was claimed by the Man in Black. So the whole, “We’ve got to go back,” wasn’t really about saving the Losties left behind but about trying to save humanity? And why is Widmore hanging out in a sub off shore and whose side is he on? Is he God and Jacob and the Man in Black are his Biblically warring sons?

No, no, no . . . not going to try to figure this all out. I'm just going to attempt to ride the final handful of episodes out without trying to work this out in my head because then I’ll end up making myself frustrated that the Lost lore doesn’t all add up, at least not to my satisfaction. However the Lost Untangled recap of “Ab Aeterno” below was hilarious. I like the way the people who write these videos think.

What did you think of “Ab Aeterno?” Of Richard’s backstory? Of the evolving final episode(s) arc about the Losties having to keep the Man in Black on the island in order to save the world from becoming a living hell?

Image credit: Mario Perez/ABC.

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