This week on LOST, we finally learned how the mysterious Richard Alpert came to the island, started working for Jacob, and stopped aging. Check out our thoughts on this epic episode below, and share your own reactions and theories in the comments (with no spoilers for unaired episodes.)
Great episode, or GREATEST episode?
SALLY: Absolute greatest! The episode was definitely worth the wait. I love Richard even more now! And MIB is hotness. But I think the evidence for him being evil is really starting to stack up. Not that Jacob’s a saint himself, but still…
CARA: I’d been building this episode up in my mind for so long, way before I thought it would ever actually happen, that I completely set myself up for disappointment. But while the episode wasn’t actually at all what I had imagined, I was definitely not disappointed, and that’s pretty impressive. This is definitely the best episode of Season 6 so far, and I’d say one of the best episodes we’ve seen overall. I always love the episodes that take us outside of the traditional narrative structure of the show best. My one and only disappointment with the entire thing was that we didn’t learn the MIB’s name!
SADY: Yeah. I was expecting this vast overview of The Entire History Of The Island, but instead we got something that really humanized Richard, this totally unreadable character. And I was good with that!
JILL: Agreed that this is the best episode so far, especially since they actually answered some questions, at least sort of. It was like watching a movie.
LAUREN: It was good, but I’m surprised at how much I missed seeing our regular team onscreen. It felt like a different show at points. That said, I loved the fleshing out of the Jacob/MiB story and the explanation for why and how their conflict exists. Seeing Jacob and MiB sitting side-by-side and discussing their mutual hatred was intensely satisfying. MiB is a genie in a bottle and he just needs to be rubbed the right way.
CARA: Funnily enough, once Hurley entered in a major way at the end, I was surprised by how much I hadn’t missed the main cast! I usually love them (well, most of them), but I didn’t mind the break. But then, like I said, I like the episodes that deviate from the regular formula. Season 3’s Flashes Before Your Eyes is still my favorite episode.
LAUREN: That was a good one, and I do like having a break from the fighting/walking through jungle/deep moral ponderings/walking through jungle sequences, but I am getting antsy now that we only have half a season left of the show. *sob* By the way, Cara, your English is awesome.
A long, long time ago, Richard had a lady! Then she died. Richard went to jail for accidental murder, was sold to a slaver, and finally became the sole survivor from the Black Rock. That’s some back story.
CARA: It seemed like the lesson of this entire back story was that, barring Richard and Isabella, everyone in the 1800s was a major dick. What an awful doctor, and what an awful priest!
Poor Richard. His life really, really sucked. It was kind of interesting, because I’ve been in love with Richard for a long time … but the Richard we saw tonight was more or less a completely different man! The Richard we know is cynical, sarcastic, and dry witted. The Richard of the 1800s was incredibly earnest. It was interesting to see how his long life changed him, and even though he was a totally different character, I didn’t love him any less.
SALLY: Yes, I am officially on Team Richard. I always loved him as well, but seeing him so desperate to save his wife was touching and even though I’m not a religious person, his commitment was incredible. I think of all the characters, his back story is the most in line with who he is as a person now. Granted, anybody who is ageless and has lived for 100+ years might be more compelling by default, and it doesn’t hurt that the writers have had all these years to craft his back story, but still.
SADY: I know! I was totally unprepared for Romance Novel Ricardus, riding his steed across the land to his undying (but, unfortunately, also dying) love. It was a little redonk, but I think they sold it! Poor guy. His lady is so dead.
LAUREN: It was totally romance novel! Did anyone else die when Isabella told Richard to give her necklace to *dum-dum-duuuuuum* the doctor? Because I did. And the page in the Bible that Richard was reading? “Physician, heal thyself,” indeed.
Two major mysteries were tackled at once tonight: the Black Rock, and the destruction of the statue. Reactions?
SALLY: My initial reaction is the inconsistency in the timeline. When we saw the Black Rock approaching the island last season, it was day time. It was a way off, but it took ALL DAY and part of the night to get to the island?? Seems odd to me. Might just be a fluke, I don’t know. But I still want to know the purpose of the statue.
CARA: I totally hadn’t noticed that! But remember, time moves differently off of the island! You could see the freighter from the beach, too, but time was traveling differently there. So, yay, explanation for everything! Great job writing team!
As for the actual reveal, I thought it was really quite clever. I certainly never saw it coming. But yes, I agree that I want to know what the statue originally meant, and if its destruction had any impact at all. I’m guessing that if we never learn anything else about it, it really was just a statue?
SADY: Maybe the statue is there from when Jacob and the Man in Black showed up? They say they’ve been around longer than the Black Rock for quite a while, which fits with the whole Mysteries of Atlantis thing they seem to be heading toward with those dudes.
LAUREN: I was assuming that the ship we saw last season was a different ship, especially because they were certain to reiterate that this is a scenario that has happened many times, in that Jacob brings different groups of people to the island to prove to MiB that we mere mortals aren’t completely corruptible. Why? Because we’re cannon fodder for their intellectual nature/nurture war.
There’s a lot of discussion in this episode of the island being Hell and Jacob being the devil. Is there a word of truth in this, or even any clues?
SALLY: I don’t think this is true at all. I think Richard wanted so desperately to believe that and MIB wanted so desperately to convince Richard to kill Jacob that it just worked. My real question in those scenes was whether Richard saw his wife because he was hungry, thirsty, fatigued, etc. or if Jacob or MIB took her shape. The only other person I can think of who appeared to somebody without MIB or Jacob knowing what they looked like was Ben’s mother when he was young.
CARA: Yeah, I think that MIB was preying on Richard’s strong religious nature, and the prevailing superstitions of the time period. The odd thing is that Richard expressed his continued belief that MIB’s story was true. But I think that this was just the result of his loss of faith, Jacob’s death, etc. He’s kind of lost and breaking down right now, and I think his declaration about them all being dead and in Hell is a result of that.
SADY: Okay, but can we pause for a second to note how much I loved it that, every time someone asked Jacob if he was the devil, he waited for an absurdly long amount of time before saying “no?” Like, I know that was just messing with the audience, but I like to think it was also Jacob being a weiner and messing with the folks who asked. “Did you spit in my food?” “Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyou must be kidding! I would never do that!”
LAUREN: Hell serves as a metaphor, I think. Existence on the island would be hellish for most, living forever would be hellish, losing everyone you love, losing the only life you know. Hell. But the flipside that they present this episode is that a freed Smokey would be more hellish for the rest of the world. They’re building up the story so that one of our candidates has to make the ultimate sacrifice and commit to babysitting Smokey forever in order to spare the rest of the world his danger and chaos. I can’t think of anything more hellish than that. Maybe the final scene in the series is Locke sitting on the beach in a black t-shirt, cursing whatever candidate got the sad luck to have to sit there with him for eternity.
I’m reading a lot of mythical guesses and predictions on the boards as well that this may not be a purely God/Devil allegory, but perhaps something Egyptian or Roman. My favorite theory is the Cerberus myth, which would make MiB Cerberus, the island Hell, and Jacob the god of the underworld or something similarly doom-y. As a viewer, I feel like being able to tie the show into a larger myth would tie up a lot of the loose ends without needing detailed explanation.
SALLY: Also, I don’t know where to fit this observation, so I’m just going to stick it in here. Do you all think there’s any significance to the fact that the three people who have confronted Smokey head-on – Eko, Locke, now Richard – were all men of faith? Eko was building a church, Locke’s put his faith on fate and the island, and Richard was praying and searching for his cross when Smokey found him. So far, it didn’t end so well for Eko, who Smokey later killed when he refused to ask for forgiveness, and Locke’s body became Smokey’s host… Does this mean Richard’s doomed?
LAUREN: Sally, I’m shocked that more of our characters haven’t died yet this season.
SALLY: Good point. I’m sure next week will be the start of a killing spree.
The Man In Black’s prescribed method for killing Jacob was exactly the same as Dogen’s prescribed method for killing the MIB, seemingly right down to the exact same sword. What’s the significance?
SALLY: I was really curious about this. Could it be that Jacob and MIB really are connected somehow and that neither Dogen nor MIB were lying? My brain went in so many directions, even so far as thinking maybe Jacob released the evil in himself and that’s why MIB doesn’t have a body. I’m just so confused…
CARA: The thing is that Ben killed Jacob with a regular old knife, and after having a conversation with him. I’m guessing that MIB was counting on Jacob and Ben’s prior relationship (or lack thereof) to foil Jacob’s powers of persuasion. As for the knife … I don’t really know how MIB got it, but my best guess is that he was simply really pissed at Jacob, and trying to add insult to injury by getting him killed in a highly ironic fashion.
Jacob uses his wine bottle as a metaphor for the most central conflict on the island. The wine is a symbol for evil, and the cork which keeps the wine from getting out is a symbol for the island. Can it really be that simple?
CARA: I definitely think it did become more apparent this episode that Jacob is keeping MIB on the island, and that MIB wasn’t wholly fabricating a story in that area. The question is whether or not Jacob has a good reason to be keeping MIB trapped. As we discuss below, it seems from what we know that Jacob might be equally as dangerous.
LAUREN: And I thought the smashing of the bottle in the final scenes was of particular import as well. If the island is the cork that is keeping Smokey contained, if I’m Smokey I say fuck the cork and smash the bottle. But if this is true, what in this allegory is the bottle?
CARA: Oh shit. Awesome observation. But I don’t know.
SADY: Somehow this leads to the island getting blown up. AGAIN! Maybe Zombie Juliet will come back and make eyes at Zombie Sawyer and some more ladies will get themselves in a bombing mood.
LAUREN: Yeah, so I’m wondering if we haven’t already gotten a hint in that the flash sideways island is 30,000 leagues under.
Richard’s official role is to act as an intermediary between Jacob and the people he brings to the island in order to prove MIB wrong about his belief that all humans are corruptible. We finally know that Richard’s immortality and lack of aging was given as his reward for this service. Thoughts?
SALLY: So many thoughts! Does anybody else find it awful that Jacob would be summoning people to the island simply to prove that humans are good? And if Jacob really is keeping MIB there to protect humanity, then why the hell keep bringing people at all? If this actually ends up being true, wowsers, Jacob, you’re an asshole. If it’s not, doesn’t Richard find this plan a bit flawed?
CARA: I definitely agree that Jacob is an asshole. This game of Jacob’s reminds me of the Biblical story of Job, only Jacob and MIB are obviously playing with more Jobs than God and the Devil were. In this situation, Richard’s long service to Jacob is particularly a parallel to Job’s faith in God, and now of course Richard is having his faith tested. Obviously Richard is responding differently to this test than Job did. But to be entirely honest, I always thought that God was a huge asshole in that story, so not only does it make the allusion stronger, it also makes me like Richard’s response better.
JILL: Everything Sally said, plus: How is it that Richard is like, “Can you bring my wife back?” and Jacob is like, No, and then Richard is like, “Well can you absolve my sins?” and Jacob is like, No, and finally Richard is like, “Ok, well, it would be kind of neat to live forever I guess” and Jacob is like, DONE. I know “pssh, UNREALISTIC!” is not exactly a logical response to anything on LOST at this point, but still. Really?
CARA: I thought it was interesting that eternal life was his third choice, too. Part of me thinks that it’s evidence of the limits to Jacob’s powers, and part of me thinks that Jacob wanted that to be his payment to Richard all along, but was pulling the “I want you to think that the thing that I want is actually your idea” trick. I mean, it’s obviously more convenient to Jacob to have one person doing Richard’s job forever than to keep getting new people.
LAUREN: I thought his request for eternal life was more of a cast off statement, like, “if you can’t absolve me of my sins, where I will go to Hell and be judged for murder, I’d rather not die and be judged.” The asshole move was Jacob being like, “You got it, kid, let me lay my hand on you,” because Richard didn’t really know what he was asking for.
With Jacob’s emphasis on free will, and mentioning his challenge to Richard in finding a decent person among those he brings to the island, I wonder if the candidate’s purpose is two-fold, 1) to replace Jacob, 2) to prove to MiB that there is an uncorruptable person that will… I don’t know, make MiB change his ways? There’s a number two in there, but I don’t know what it is yet.
SALLY: I thought it was interesting how much Jacob emphasized free will given how he has affected the lives of the LOSTies. Again, slightly asshole-ish. Oh Jacob, I want to like you, I do, but you make it so hard!
MIB says that he will kill anyone who takes Jacob’s place. Is anyone else now worried about the fact that he seems to be attempting to round up all of the candidates?
SALLY: Yep! I now see this going one of two ways: either he’s been recruiting candidates of his own to get him off the island and/or recruiting Jacob’s candidates to kill them. It seems Richard is now charged with making sure MIB doesn’t get off – does that mean he’s the next to die? Darn, I hope not.
CARA: I think that he might possibly be just recruiting the candidates to leave with him, so that they don’t take on Jacob’s role. If, like he says, that’s all MIB wants and his character has been unfairly slandered, I imagine that’s his plan. But if Jacob is right that MIB is evil incarnate, well, yeah, he’s probably rounding them up to kill them (or have them killed).
LAUREN: Oh damn, I didn’t even think about that. I had figured that he was rounding them up to start his army or something.
SADY: Yeah. The crucial point, I think, is: Do they stop becoming Candidates once they convert to the side of eeeeeeeeeeeevil? Or do they basically have to die in order to be taken out of the running? Then again, I think we’ve been told like 50 times that Smokey is going to kill LITERALLY EVERYBODY ANYWHERE EVER if he gets his way, so it might be a moot point.
According to his dead wife Isabella, Richard has to stop MIB from leaving the island … or everyone goes to Hell. Huh?
SALLY: I almost laughed at this. I don’t know… I find that all the Hell references in this episode have to be a red herring. I mean, can it really be that simple? Either they’re in hell or going to hell or just about to be in hell – it’s too easy. I think maybe it was Isabella’s way of telling Richard that the absolute worst case scenario will happen. For Richard, who doesn’t want to die because he was never forgiven for his sin, Hell is the absolute worst. But I’m not sure if it’s really that clear-cut.
CARA: I’ve seen the suggestion that, since Jacob directly compared MIB to Hell itself, what Isabella means is that if MIB escapes, the entire world becomes Hellish. This makes a lot more sense to me than the literal interpretation of “if he escapes, none of us are going to Heaven when we die.”
SALLY: Yes, I suppose that makes sense. I think I’m just annoyed that SO MUCH discussion on forums and sites now completely center on “okay, another question was answered, the key to all of this is heaven and hell.” Um, no, shut up please.
LAUREN: If this show turns out to be six seasons of Christianity Parables Yay! I’m going to be pissed. off.
SADY: Lauren, may I introduce you to a little show called “Battlestar Galactica?” It was my Favorite Show Ever for many, many seasons. And then the finale was like, “so basically: God.” And then it became my LEAST FAVORITE! But maybe it is a metaphorical Hell. MAYBE. Or, Edward James Olmos is about to land on the Island.
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