"So, the Island is a cork in the bottle that is the earth, and it's keeping all the evil stuff held in Hell?"

 

"It would appear that way, yes, something like that," I answered my wife Valerie after having watching "Ab Aeterno" (lit. "From the Beginning of Time") in a different room from her.

 

"Well, what does that mean for the island being able to move? Or situated atop weird pockets of energy? Or having this population of Others on it? Or God not being able to see it [as Ben once said]? Or women not being able to survive pregnancy on it? I mean, it's like LOST has become this whole ‘nother story…"

 

I had to admit, it does seem like that. It's arguable whether or not this is a good or desirable thing, as in, whether the story has advanced in a natural progression to a higher plane where everything will make sense in a new light that has yet to be completely shone, or whether it will leave open several plotholes in the forms of the mysteries and MacGuffins we all came to love and wish to see explained. One thing this fresh way of viewing the island does explain for us is why we've heard phrases like "God help us all" from such characters as Eloise Hawking in reference to the O6 failing to return. There's clearly something grandiose at stake.

 

But it also brings up heavy questions. Such as, there's not yet enough evil, suffering, and chaos in the world? You're telling us there's a Pandora's Box out there that could make it even worse? And potentially the balance between Jacob/White and MIB/Black is all that's holding that in? Then why is Jacob conducting social/theological experiments there by bringing people to this supremely important location, people who could seriously upset that balance? Why does MIB resent his role so much (I'm working off the assumption that he himself is not evil so much as lazy and selfish and put-upon. He refuses to do his job any longer)? Where did we get all the evil we're already drowning in if most of it is contained? And I had forgotten this little tidbit about Pandora's Box… it contained Hope as well!

 

You may be getting the impression at this point that I disliked this episode. Nothing could be further from the truth. I loved it - definitely one of my all-time favorite LOST episodes. Nestor Carbonell rocked it as Ricardo, and Titus Welliver as the MIB is someone I want to see more of. I liked that we didn't keep flashing back to island happenings, and I loved the confirmations/answers about how Richard got to the island, where he was from, how and when the statue was broken, and how the Black Rock got so far inland. Of course, these answers yet again only brought up more questions, questions which we'll get at below.

 

Richard's History

 

I appreciated this straightforward telling, which I enjoyed without too much distraction of Easter Eggs or hidden symbols. The exception, of course, is the cross necklace belonging to Isabella, which is something that can be seen many ways, including as just a trinket. More on that later.

 

The year is 1867, 22 years after the Black Rock set sail from Portsmouth, England. This would apparently also be the year in which Jacob and the MIB have their Season-Five-Ending conversation on the beach while Jacob eats fish. Richard lives on an island (of course; did you expect anything else?), Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands. Hence, he speaks Spanish and is called Ricardo. His story is the archetype of the well-worn Psych 101 example that first challenges basic assumptions about right and wrong: what means may a man go to in order to save his dying wife if he can not afford the medicine that would cure her? What level of love/pain/desperation justifies what level of crime/sin/wrongdoing? May he lie? Destroy property? Steal money? Steal the medicine itself? Assault someone to get it? Kill someone to get it? Any of the above as long as he is prepared to face the consequences of his actions? Eventually, we all come to admit that we tend to have very personal subjective beliefs about the answers to these questions, even if we also have very deeply embedded theological and religious beliefs about what is always right and what is always wrong. Just watch any TV show or movie that deals with an issue like this and then discuss with like-minded people afterwards, and you will often find yourself - as many of us do with Richard here and Kate before him - wishing that he could avoid penance because, well, he's just so darn likable and after all, he never meant to hurt anyone.