Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ab Aeterno

Rainforest, Oahu

In the beginning (or a long time ago)...

Tonight (now, last night's--it's late and I have a bad head cold and can't sleep!) episode of Lost was very good. It was all about Richard Alpert's past, and answered a few mysteries that we've wondered about for the past seasons.

Nestor Carbonell, who plays Richard, showed his great diversity in re-enacting his flashback, which started with him on a horse galloping down a rainy wooded trail in mid-1800s Canary Islands to his dying wife. He reaches her, Isabelle, and she is very ill. He returns to the night and rides to the nearest doctor, a wealthy man who is rather uppity. He offers to sell Richard some medicine, but Richard doesn't have enough money. He offers the doctor a golden chain with a cross, something that was his wife's suggested barter, and the doctor throws the necklace across the room and refuses medication to save Richard's wife.

I thought it quite proper that this episode aired two nights after Obama signed the newly passed health care reform in the U. S. One that greedy Republicans didn't want to pass and are fighting and will always fight.

Richard, who in the flashback has a beard and is not the cool, collected Richard we know but a desperate man trying to save his wife, gets into an altercation with the doctor, and pushes him when confronted, which accidentally kills the doctor. He grabs the medicine from the doctor's hand and rushes back to his home, only to find his wife dead.

This is just the first part of the terrible fate Richard has, including being sentenced to get hung, not being forgiven by a priest, and then (because he can speak English, similar to Sayid getting saved once because he could speak English), has his life spared but is thrown into a slave ship, none other than the Black Rock, which has been on the island forever as we've seen before this very old flashback.

There's a slight continuity error, however. The Black Rock set sail, according to the ledger Charles Widmore bought at an auction, in 1845. Richard's fate on the ship began in 1867. I am not sure why the difference in years, since the ledger presumes this ship disappeared 7 years into its trade mission with Siam and other places. Also it was supposed to have been carrying dynamite (which indeed showed up on the island later), though dynamite was not invented or at least patented until 1860 something.

Anyway, on the island, the entire crew is killed either by first the captain, a Magnus Hanso (Hanso Foundation funded the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s!), and then the remaining crew by good 'ol Smoke Monster. Otherwise known as Man in Black. 

Man in Black spares Richard and sets him free of chains, and then tells him he will reunite him with his dead wife if he will go and kill the devil, or Jacob.

Richard is a very religious man, and in fact was reading the chapter Luke while in prison for the murder of the doctor. Upon the big tidal wave from a huge storm that crashed the Black Rock onto the island, he sees the statue out of a boat window and thinks it is the devil.

This statue has been said to be Anubis or Tarawek (?). . . it has not any distinguishable whole feature, but has the Egyptian look of the goddess of fertility and the head of Anubis. The ship actually rides in on a gigantic tidal wave (or temporal wave if being rocketed through time) and cuts off the top of the statue, leaving only the foot, as we saw in earlier seasons.

Richard goes off to the foot of the statue to kill Jacob with a special knife, the one that possibly Flocke was given later when he actually had Ben kill Jacob. But Jacob sees him coming, gets him into the ground, and tells him basically, when all settles down, that he is not the devil at all. Jacob admits to bringing the Black Rock to the island, possibly through manipulation of nature (?).

Through Jacob's talk, as he shares wine with Richard, we learn that Man in Black is actually the evil one and Jacob analogizes the wine bottle they are drinking as the evil that is Man in Black. The wine inside is the evil, and the bottle is the island. As long as the bottle stays corked, the evil is trapped--i.e. Man in Black cannot escape. 

Jacob admitted to bringing people to the island time and time again to prove to Man in Black that people weren't inherently evil, or that all were not corruptible. Whatever game they are playing, it is clear that Man in Black just wants to be released from this "game," but for whatever reason he cannot unless he kills Jacob. Jacob is always trying to find a replacement for himself too. For now, however, he convinces Richard to help him find this replacement, and in return can give Richard eternal life. Thus, this is why Richard doesn't age. 

Jesus much!?

The key reveal in tonight's episode was that when Jacob was explaining to Richard about how he tried to stay out of people's lives, Richard said, "But if you don't step in, he will" (the other he, meaning Man in Black), and that's when Jacob basically said, "I'll hire you! Good thinking."

This was a very revealing episode, one of the best yet. Richard has been on the island for about 140 years minus the times he was off into the world talking with others to manipulate them to come to the island, or in some cases, as with John Locke, to test their readiness. 

Back to present time, Hurley, who can see dead people, talks with Richard's dead wife Isabelle, and Richard is reconfirmed with purpose and comfort.

Makes sense to me now why Richard didn't think Locke was ready when he gave him items as a young boy and asked which items were his. A comic book. A knife. A stopwatch. Etc. Locke choosing the knife may have told Richard that this knife was what Locke would use against Jacob? I am not sure.

Anyway, Jacob clearly promotes the idea of humans having free will as opposed to a preset destiny. We are still led to believe that his views are in opposition of Man in Black's, who is also the Smoke Monster that protects the island to the degree that fate is all that matters, and he will kill anything that doesn't follow the protection of the island. Whereas Jacob is all about letting happen what may.

Then there's that old quote, "The end happens only once. Everything else is just progress."

We are led to believe that if Man in Black escapes the island, the whole world will go to hell. Hell, of course, being a figurative notion, just as it was that initially Richard thought the island was hell. My questions at this point are:

1. Who are Jacob and Man in Black? I believe if the final season even reveals the Man in Black's name, we will be treated to an answer! How did they get there?

2. If Man in Black is so protective of the island, does he really want to escape it? He clearly wants to go "home" wherever that may be.  Maybe home is just his own skin.

3. What is the island?

I guess those are my three main curiosities, along with a lot of other things like why was Libby in the mental institution, etc. But, as the show goes on, and some mysteries are revealed, at least the course of whatever else happens starts to become clear. Libby may have been in a mental ward in a "what might have been" timeline only. But I'd like to really understand how certain connections happened.

There are only 7 episodes left! I have had a lot of theories and curiosities. I would say my current thinking combines all of those to some degree. I had a new thought tonight that if Jacob and Man in Black represent gods or God's angels/biblical characters/whatever, or even God/Satan, that they themselves do not see anything ever changing with us humans--all in and out of war, corruptible, not ever becoming better even when redeeming ourselves, etc. So it's like, what if they just throw in the towel? And walk away. Or quarrel with each other because their balance is needed to have a world, and one cannot leave this game. Or something. What would result? The complete loss of faith or religion?

Well, I'd say that's on a downward spiral anyway, as shown by many actions in the world. Or it was always flawed and imperfect.

Certainly at this point in time, modern religion activists are some of the most hateful, racist, and elite people around--not doing anything the Bible says to do (as exemplified in in the greedy doctor, right on the tails of such a hassle just to get more people needed health care in the U. S.). I mean, you see greed and stuff at a high level in the U. S. compared to other wealthy nations who all have universal health care, but the corruption in corporate power and profiteering has grown to a new low in the U.S. with media (Fox News, for example) profiting off of false claims and messages to the religious right.

In fact, religion is slowly dying out thanks to the hypocrisy of many in the world who claim to be of God, yet who hate, fear, and judge, instead of love, tolerate, and embrace. And while I cannot judge myself, I can observe many who claim one thing yet misrepresent that thing and act in repulsive ways. You see it in the news every day. I fear for those in my only family who follow Fox News as if it were the Bible and are blinded by that multi-million dollar media and its twists of facts and terrible propaganda!

I think these messages in Lost definitely give rise to the fact that we should always attempt to do what is right, to redeem ourselves if we've wronged, to go back and correct things if we can. You definitely see the consequences in what love vs. hate can do on the show via the characters' actions, in Lost, and Lost bolsters the more loving good sides. But Lost also looks at the big picture and recognizes an end point in this "game", and that is that IF there is a creator and a tempter working in tandem, that if they get tired, then what happens.

Of course, this is entirely fictitious, but also a great tool to utilize in decoding the show's end time, which is the basis of the show what with the Valenzquetti equation dictating the end of the world, and numerous people and businesses drawn to the island in some ways and realizing its potential and magical/scientific properties--and attempting to prolong the world.

These things are why I think this series is one of the most important of our times. The entire show alludes to numerous literary, social, biblical, mythological, and other references, weaving a vast tapestry of life as we know it, and micro-scoping this richness into a certain finite cast of connected characters.

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