Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LOST S6: E9- 'Ab Aeterno'

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and LOST
Than never to have loved at all.

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

the title of this episode, Ab Aeterno, is a Latin phrase meaning (Thank you Wiki):

Literally, 'from the everlasting' or 'from eternity'. Thus, 'from time immemorial', 'since the beginning of time' or 'from an infinitely remote time in the past'. In theology, often indicates something, such as the universe, that was created outside of time.

Is this referring to Pretty Eyes and his immortal state or to the further knowledge we gained of how epic and timeless the island mythology is becoming? Either way, its fitting.

Wow, so, Richard. He was looking very Last of the Mohicans when we first saw his racing through the Canary Islands on horseback in 1867. Also, though I think most of us were 98% sure already, it was nice to get it officially verified that he did in fact come to the island via the Black Rock ship. Also a nice little touch to know how the Tawaret statue was broken. Interesting that his immortality is because he requested it. also interesting that his reasons were because it would be better to live forever than to go to Hell for his sins since he Jacob couldn't give Isabella back or absolve him of his sins. It was a very touching moment when Isabella, via Hurley, revived Richard's faith in not only making him understand that those we love are always with us, but also making Jacob's prophesy to Ilana true in making him the one who knows what they have to do. they have to keep MIB (Man in Black) from leaving the island or they will all be in Hell. What?! I think they are being lose with all of the tossing around of the term 'Hell.' I don't think in this case they mean literally Hell, just that if MIB is lose it will be like Hell. I literally caught my breath for a moment when they cut to the LockeNess Monster watching them. Oooh, shivers. Was he on his way to get Richard but Isabella/Hurley intervened in time? Now he knows that they will be trying to stop him, so he will be getting desperate and probably more violent if needs be.

Is the island really some kind of Hell and they are dead? No, I don't think that at all. All of this Devil and Hell talk is really just MIB's perspective. To him its Hell because he is trapped and Jacob is the Devil because he opposes him. (And also perhaps a little shout out from the writers to the audience because one of the very first prominent theories was that the island was Purgatory but the writers always denied it) MIB told Richard, 'The Devil betrayed me. He took my body. My humanity.' To be betrayed suggests to me that there had to be trust or friendship there at one point. If a random person is sent to guard you, you don't feel betrayed by them. Are they related or were they friends or is he simply referring to perhaps a trick Jacob played on him to keep him there?

When Richard was having the conversation with Jacob and asking for his wife back and then for his sins to be absolved I kept thinking of Genie in Aladdin, "I can't bring people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture, I don't like doing it!" Of course, other than the Disney version, genies, or djinns, are often viewed in a negative light, contained because they abused their free will, so in this scenario perhaps its MIB who is the genie. I also liked how he said, referring to his home in the statue, 'No one comes in unless I invite them in.' Not only did it make me think of the scripture Matthew 7:7, but it also solidified the reasoning that Jacob knew what was coming and allowed himself to be killed.

This episode definitely brought out some more of the Christian parallels of MIB as a Devil and Jacob as a good God. MIB, not caring who he has to manipulate or murder to achieve his selfish ends, and Jacob, forever having faith that mankind is innately good and wanting them to understand their worth for themselves without his intervening. Even his talking in analogies- the wine bottle explanation was fantastic. I also really like Jacob's Tough Love approach- showing that he can get frustrated like anyone else and practically drowning Richard to make his point. Jacob's explanation of MIB being trapped to prevent his 'darkness' from spreading into the world also brought me back to a Greek example that I touched on a few weeks ago- the ancient war with the Gods where Zeus cast his wicked, Titan father Kronos into the demon prison Tartarus. It's a place in the Underworld even lower than Hades. That could justify the fact that they really are sort of in 'Hell,' though they are still alive as they weren't sent there for sinning and then dying, but as guardians. Also, Titans are often depicted as monster forms as opposed to human- Smokey?

I think that a lot of people are really wanting to know specifically who and what Jacob and MIB are. Christian figures? Egyptian? Greek? Islamic? I don't think that necessarily matters. Mythology of every kind runs into each other to a degree because the themes of 'good vs evil' and 'for the greater good' and 'fate/destiny' are universal. We respond to what is familiar to us. It is their own LOST mythology that parallels stories we know so that we understand, but doesn't have to actually BE one of the stories that we know. As much as we have been frustrated with wanting answers, let's be honest- if Season 1 and 2 had thrown all of the information at us that we are now getting, would he get it? We are just like Jack and the other Losties and have had to go through this long journey for all of this final, important information to mean something.


Adam said...

I think a lot of the Hell talk in this episode was a product of the main character: a simple, and deeply religious man who was in an impressionable state due to his struggles. Jacob and Smokey were simply speaking to him in terms that he could understand. They were just using religious symbolism that Richard was familiar with to make a point.

Very cool stuff.

George Parker Mann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Parker Mann said...

The wine bottle metaphor has got me wondering the state of Jacob and MIB after nuke-day in the alternate reality. It seems like both of them no longer exist at all (as we've seen neither Jacob nor a hell on earth). Is that due to their own deaths or the "death" of the island? I suppose you can't spill much wine if you blow it to smithereens (or sink it to the bottom of the sea). Also, I wanted to try to force some kind of "drowning Richard"-baptism parallel but I just couldn't do it, sometimes knocking some sense into somebody is just knocking some sense into somebody.

Final note. Though the writers seem to be pushing for Jack, and you've suggested Ben, I'd like to cast my vote for Hurley as future island demigod. Just imagine shipwreck survivors being greeted by him emerging from the forest.