Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lost Season 6, Episode 9: Ab Aeterno

My post about the newest LOST episode is over at Smartpop. Here is a sample; click for more.

But a lot of tonight’s episode felt like filler, and I think it would have even if I had not been lead to expect more with such a juicy focus at the halfway point in season 6. A lot of it had been implied before to great effect, like how Richard came to the island as a slave in the Black Rock. Some of it we had already been told, like Jacob making Richard eternal. And some of it did not really add much, like Richard’s accidental murder of a doctor to save his wife. The story of a man who wanted to kill himself but cannot, and who tries to redeem his earlier crime of murder, told with an unusual structure for the show (one massive flashback bookended by two scenes in the present) — I already saw this when Michael did it in season 4. The theory that the island was hell and everyone on it is dead had already been raised by fans AND incorporated (and dismissed) on the show when Locke’s Dad claimed it back in season 3, and when Naomi told Hurley that the rest of the world found flight 815 and everyone was dead.

One thing I did not mention there was how I was not real clear on how dramatically interesting it is to have The Man in Black successfully get someone to kill Jacob at the end of season 5, THEN show us a failed attempt in this episode, especially since we already had a sense that the successful attempt was the result of trying. And just as the Alt U is getting this repetitive structure (adventure of one player ending with that person bumping into some other member of the cast), the island U is also repeating s structure where people are picking sides every episode -- Team Jacob or Team Man in Black.

Also I don't know what to say about it, but I feel like I have to acknowledge my friend Katie's point that the women who used to be interesting strong characters, have less and less to do. Charlotte last episode being a particularly egregious example. She was like a super scientist linguist and now she is just another notch in Sawyer's formidable bedpost (along with Kate, Juliet and Anna Lucia). On a show where pregnancy is a big issue it was bound to happen; BSG destroyed Kara at the end (she SLAPS Baltar? really? Like a Dynasty character?).


Jake said...

How frustrating was it to see that Richard's feet weren't chained after he was reaching for that rainwater and that nail that he dropped. GET IT WITH YOUR FEET RICHARD GOD

Katie Davis said...

I had the same thought with Richard and the nail!

Thanks for the shout-out. I'm telling you, SOMEONE is going to turn out to be an m-f-ing angel on this show.

I'm finding the alternate U stuff really uninteresting. The con man is now the COP! The demigod island leader is now a PATHETIC HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER! I get it. Opposites. Wake me up for the finale.

neilshyminsky said...

Yeah, this episode was weirdly disappointing. I'm supposing that we're supposed to believe Jacob's account of the island, its purpose, and the game that he and MiB are playing, but I also thought it must be important that MiB gives Richard the exact same instructions that Dogen gave Sayid. Did Team Jacob just catch-on at a later time that killing MiB would be easier than entrapping him? Because Jacob, in this episode, didn't give me the sense that it was possible to kill MiB.

Also #1: if, like Sayid's stabbing of FLocke, Richard couldn't let Jacob speak, then why was Ben able to kill Jacob?

Also #2: Jacob's being angry and badass felt out of sorts. He's trying to prove MiB wrong about people, there's only one guy left from this boat that Jacob brought in order to make this very point, and so he proceeds to beat the crap out of him?

Also #3: I don't get what the point of bringing people to the island is. If Jacob's job is to keep MiB contained on the island, AND if bringing people doesn't actually directly aid that mission, AND if everyone he's ever brought has died (because they've been corrupted, or killed by the corrupted, as with Rousseau's boat?), AND if there's even the slightest chance that MiB could use those people to kill Jacob, thus freeing himself... doesn't that all seem terribly irresponsible and like a generally bad idea?

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

Jacob works in mysterious ways, man.

I loved this episode. If anyone else did the things we attribute to God, we would think they were a totally irresonsible and amoral asshole. Having Ricardo, a religious and pious man who suffered endlessly and horribly for his faith, explain this point to Jacob while remaining oblivious to the irony... I loved it.

Jill E. Duffy said...

Richard's suffering was a huge point to this episode, and it was at times hard for me to watch him suffer any more. Though I thought Richard's story could have been cut down by a few minutes, I still enjoyed watching him become a disciple. I want to know more about Ilana becoming a disciple, too.

Two other useful moments:
"The island is guarded by the devil!" - nice to hear in such clear terms how Richard and other slaves saw the island coming in.

Wine metaphor - more clarity, which, say what you will about enjoying themes more when they're implied, this is prime time TV and for this audience, explicit statements are gratifying.

James said...

I hope there's more to Jacob than just bringing people to the Island to test their goodness, and that he's less Biblical than that would suggest (which, he's got to be, right? Given how much Bible stuff was in this episode. Oh, if I remembered and Googled correctly, the passage Richard was reading in jail was about Jesus exorcising a demon from a guy.)

Neil: #1 - Yeah, I think it's going to be one of those annoying things where it's introduced like it's a Rule, when really it's "...because he's real persuasive". Zzzzz. Also, was that the same knife that Dogen gave Sayid? Or its opposite number? Because Ben did the job with a regular old Locke-knife, right?

#2 - That WAS weird, but I think I liked it? Seems like the idea is he's softened over time. I mean, he sure has changed his stance on interaction of late.

#3 - Definitely. Hopefully the writers are aware of this. Pretty much the only way I'll be happy with a straightfoward Jacob is Go(o)d and MiB is Bad(evil) resolution is if the Losties "win" by telling them BOTH to eff off. Eff off, cosmic chess dudes!

Oh, I keep changing my mind on whether Titus Welliver is MiB's real/original face or just some other dude he's appropriated. Currently I'm thinking the former - prior to Jacob's death he could look like dead people on the island*, but it seems he would return to Titus for his private time.

*and also people from the memories of those he's given the light show to? That seems to cover the exceptions - Ben's mum, Isabella, and Walt. Any more?

Shlomo said...

Geoff, I kinda disagree with your point that it was not that dramatically interesting to see Richard be the first to try to kill Jacob on the MIB's behalf. I think it makes the point that there was a precedent for what happened at the end of season 5. Essentially, it shows that the MIB's whole convoluted ben-locke-manipulation plan was a more complicated version of what he had already tried with richard.

It didnt work on richard, who then became jacob's proxy. But this highlights the fact that richard blew it when he let the MIB trick him anyway into letting ben into the base of statue to do the deed. And in retrospect, it makes Richard's realization moment, right after, much more powerful.

Also, I think this was the twist of the episode: we already knew that richard had hooked up with jacob, but what we didnt know was that MIB had tried to get his hooks into richard first--and left his offer still on the table, for richard to come back to it at the end of the episode.

see thats the kind of thing i think lost does really well. While it can be annoying when it sets things up (the slow generic beginning of this episode and many others...), ultimately it pays things off with some dramatic twists. Thats not to say that answers wouldnt be appreciated as well... but hey, i would not be surprised if this episodes offering was the most elaborate it ever gets.

Geoff Klock said...

Isn't it WORSE if Richard knew the man in black would appear as the dead and trick people into killing Jacob? that is not the kind of thing you want to tell Ben about? This is one of the central issues on Lost -- why does no one tell anyone anything?

Shlomo said...

Sigh... THAT is a great question...

And you are correct that it is the central problem of lost. But, i think Its part of the reason why Lost will never rise above great TV into great art. It fits itself into the 1 hr mystery genre too compactly. The producers say that, it wouldnt be very interesting if we saw everybody just sitting around arguing about gods and their influence on the world (look how boring the book of Job is...). The producers want the excitment of action and symbols, instead of evidence and debate. I think the story itself, lifted out of the medium of TV and transplanted into prose literature or comics, could still be exciting if they added back the "missing conversations". But with so many mysteries and so much confusion, it would actually be impossible for it to work as a tv show. Idunno, maybe it might be interesting toi come up with a top-ten list of the most egregious moments in which characters did not share information. this might actually end up as number one, since richard has been there for so damn long.

I guess Ive had so much practice ignoring that particular "sin", that It didnt even cross my mind...