Since we’re officially at the halfway marker of Lost’s final season, it’s the perfect time to reflect – much like the castaways have peered into the many mirrors hanging around this season – and take stock of not only this week’s mythology-filled episode, ‘Ab Aeterno’, but also how the entire season has played out thus far. As a wicked bonus, Editor in Chief of this very site, Joe Dilworth, was nice enough to listen to my blathering and offer his own two cents on the final season. So, Joe, what’d you think of ‘Ab Aeterno’?
Joe: Well, Ryan, this was a pretty epic episode! To be honest, I’ve felt a little underwhelmed by the episodes so far this season. I thought the final season was really going to delve into answering the mysteries we’ve all be pondering these last six years, but instead we’ve gotten even more questions. However, ‘Ab Aeterno’ made up for that in spades. So, to throw a question back to you, with so many great things in this episode, what was your favorite scene?
Ryan: Definitely some memorable scenes from this episode. The tragic humanity of Richard Alpert accidentally killing the jerk doctor for his wife’s medicine was good. We got to see a wooden ship somehow smash through a statue– or a Black Rock taking on a white rock — if you will. And we also got lots of stabbings and death-by-Smokey. And it was all topped off with philosophical meanderings over a bottle of wine. So, yeah, lots of good stuff.
But the episode really came together for me with Hurley’s scene at the end, and it tied together Alpert’s story in a surprising way. It seemed like it was leading to a point where I was expecting Alpert to get killed or claimed by Smokey, and instead we got the reveal of Isabella’s ghost. As much as I enjoyed watching Alpert get bounced back and forth between MiB and Jacob’s chess match throughout the episode, the emotional Ghost Isabella scene delivered the goods. And there was no pottery involved, which is a plus whenever ghosts are involved.
And yeah, I think there were lots of answers in here, too. What’s your take on Jacob and the Man in Black after that episode? And what about that cork?
Joe: The Jacob/MiB dynamic is really interesting. Over the course of the series there has been a continually shift in focus on couples (Jack and Kate, Desmond and Penny, Nikki and Paulo) and now we have this one. So, does the Island exist purely for Jacob keeping evil bottled up and away from the world? Could be. That would certainly explain why things go horribly wrong on the Island.
I still don’t think we have the full story on why Jacob keeps bringing people to the Island, especially since Smokey either kills them or tries to use them to kill Jacob. Again, multiple questions arise: Why is Jacob trying to find a replacement? How was he able to leave the Island and visit our main characters at various points in their lives? If Jacob is truly good, why would he keep subjecting people to the Island?
As for the cork, I think that represents the Island. What happens to evil (Smokey) if the cork is “removed” (or sunk in this case)? Could that be what the alternate universe is showing us? Everyone seems to have an OK existence in the LA X universe, but is that at the expense of evil being allowed to roam free? I’m probably asking all the wrong questions, but this is where I’m at with the show at this point.
Ryan: No, I’m totally with you. I have a feeling the sunken Island is definitely a world where the balance has ultimately tipped, and Smokey’s been let out of the bottle. I liked the scene at the end, where he smashed the bottle, too – showing that the cork isn’t foolproof and there was a “loophole.” But there’s still a lot of missing pieces for this puzzle to make total sense. Including the elusive nature of Jacob, who I’m also convinced isn’t as noble as he claims to be – and the questions you asked are all ones that are filling my head with speculation, too.
I can get pretty obsessed with Lost to the point where I see what-I-think are really obvious direct parallels between other movies and books I read. I was a mess watching Shutter Island, mulling over all the synchronicities with Lost. But the day before I ‘Ab Aeterno’, I finished reading Joe Hill’s Horns, which I totally recommend.
It’s about a sad sack who wakes up one day with a pair of horns and some devilish powers. But the book shows that evil is present in people that appear to be good and holy. It even gets to the point where the Devil doesn’t seem like such a bad guy after all. Jacob and the Man in Black’s relationship in the episode reminded me of a passage from the book where a character is thinking about how crooked the relationship between God and the Devil really is. God hates sin, and the Devil punished sinners – they’re essentially working on the same side. I think Lost may be going for a similar thing, where Smokey may be dick-ish, but their both playing a game that’s truly twisted for all those got sucked into it.
[Also, In both Horns and ‘Ab Aeterno’, a cross necklace plays a very significant role.]
I don’t know if you’ve seen this strip from Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), but it also kind of perfectly sums up why anyone stuck on The Island might be might be better off telling Smokey and Jacob to both pound sand:
Anyway, what’d you think of the start of the episode, and how anticlimactic of a reveal would have that been if everyone really has been dead all this time, and The Island really was Hell?
Joe: I would have been ok with it, to be honest. They’ve been having Hurley air some of the fan theories and dismissing them, so to have Richard reveal the most obvious and mundane answer to the whole series would have been…fitting, I think.
Ryan: I disagree there. I definitely liked the religious tones for the Island, but I think it would have been a bit of a copout if they say the Island is any one thing at this point, whether it’s a scientific experiment, a fantasyland, or a weird land mass that’s powered by literature. I like that it’s all of these things.
Backtracking a bit, we’re half way through the last season. Are you happy with how it’s played out so far? High points? Low points?
Joe: As I said earlier, this season has been sort of lackluster to me. I expected each hour to be what this episode was, taking on a major mystery and giving us the backstory. I realize that was an unreasonable expectation on my part, but I strongly feel that giving us new mysteries (the LA X ‘verse, the Temple people) was a misstep. I live in hope that it all dovetails into the big reveals and that the LA X story has a bigger meaning to the end of the series.
High points this season, for me, have been the acting. Seeing most of the main cast portray their characters both on the Island and in the alternate universe has been pretty amazing. I think they all deserve Emmys at this point. I don’t really have any theories (that I’m ready to share, at least), but I will say that if it all has to end in death and destruction, I hope that the last man standing is Lapidus. He deserves to come out of all of this OK.
Ryan: Yes! Lapidus is the man. With seven episodes left before the 2-hour finale, I wonder if we’ll get a Frank episode. I think it’s safe to say we’ll get a Hurley episode, at least one Jin and Sun episode, an Ilana episode, and maybe a Widmore episode – which takes us up to a possible five episodes. Could Miles and Frank be getting a spotlight in there too?
My main concern is that I’m hoping there’s a bigger story waiting in the LA X-verse. I like the smaller Greatest Hits stories, but they’re lacking Big Picture impact at this point. I have two vague predictions on how the LA X-verse and the Island-verse might be joined, though.
The first is that Jacob will reappear and connect everyone. He’s the ultimate connector, after all. But if Smokey is free from The Island, that doesn’t seem too likely.
The second theory is that Desmond might play a similar role and bring everyone together. We know he’s special and that he can get unstuck in time – bringing his consciousness back and forth in time – well, what If he finds a way to jump into another universe? I think that could be fitting. Plus, Des needs to come back in a big way.