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The Cork in the Bottle: Eternal Prisoners on "Lost"

I have very mixed feelings about this week's episode of Lost, which is a rarity for me, as I'm usually on board with whatever Team Darlton and Co. throw at us from week to week.

But in an opinion that's likely to make me not very popular, I didn't love last night's Richard Alpert-centric episode ("Ab Aeterno"), written by Melinda Hsu Taylor and Gregg Nations and directed by Tucker Gates, which attempted to fill in backstory for one of the most enigmatic characters on the series, the seemingly immortal Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell).

My dislike for the episode comes with a few caveats up front. For one, I thought Carbonell did a fantastic job, delivering a knockout performance that carried the entire episode and portraying some very different incarnations of Richard Alpert over a stretch of roughly 150 years. I also give the producers credit for doing something risky in allowing the action to unfold mostly in Spanish, with English subtitles, and attempting to recreate period action off the island.

That said, I wanted more from the episode and from Richard's backstory, which struck me as being a little cliched and predictable. While we got a few answers this week, both about Richard and the island itself, it lacked the revelatory punch that I had anticipated. While I'm glad that we got to see Richard's past, I wanted something staggering rather than serviceable.

So what did I think of the episode? Unlock your chains, grab that half-empty bottle of wine, bury that cross, and let's discuss "Ab Aeterno."

Richard Alpert has been at the forefront of many viewer discussions. The spiritual adviser to the leader of the Others, he had been blessed--or cursed--with eternal life and the episode's title draws attention both to his condition as well as that of the island's battling entities, Jacob and his Nemesis, the Man in Black. Just who is Richard? What was he before he came to the island? How did he receive his gift from Jacob? And how much does he really know?

I wondered for a moment if the producers had pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch with the audience and would focus not just on Richard but also Ilana in this week's episode, given the way that the installment opened with the heavily bandaged Ilana being visited in a Russian hospital by Jacob. But this sequence seemed almost out of place, given the fact that we learned precious little more about Ilana and it didn't connect very much with the Richard plot. (The sequence involving the castaways at the campfire acted more as as a narrative framing device, with Hurley and Richard's scene at the end wrapping the Richard plot up as it were.)

But Ilana's story will have to wait for the time being as this episode was devoted almost entirely to exploring Richard's backstory and shedding light on the complicated rivalry between Jacob and the Man in Black, the latter of which I enjoyed thoroughly and far more than Richard's noble savage plot in Tenerife. With a nice bit of visual theatricality, Jacob explained the true nature of the island, the Man in Black, and his role in this eternal battle. (I'm hoping that this speech more than anything will finally silence those who believe that the Man in Black could possibly be good.)

Using the half-empty bottle of wine as a metaphor, Jacob explained that the wine itself is symbolic of a terrible darkness, which if it could flow from the bottle, would overtake everything, a viral infection of evil that could spread throughout the world if unchecked. The island itself is the cork in the bottle, a means of keeping it trapped and contained. I thought it interesting that Jacob didn't view himself as the cork, but gave that role over to the island itself, an eternal prison for the darkness that would consume everything in its path. Jacob, therefore, is the caretaker for the island, a tapestry-weaving prison warden whose mission is to protect the island and therefore keep the darkness at bay.

The Man in Black's attempts to escape, to find a loophole to kill his jailor and flee, would result in the scales tipping towards black for the entire world. If the island has sunk to the bottom of the ocean as it has in the Lost-X timeline, then it could mean that the wine has flowed out of the bottle. Despite people getting their heart's desire (or close to it) in that world, it might just point towards the Man in Black having escaped from his prison and roaming freely. Which would be very bad indeed. In detonating the hydrogen bomb and altering the timeline, did Jack and the castaways smash the bottle? Have they freed the djinn and unleashed unspeakable horror on the world? Or is the Nemesis still there, at the bottom of the sea, biding his time and plotting his escape once more? Hmmm...

To use the cork and bottle analogy further, the Man in Black's efforts to find a loophole to escape take on greater significance. He and Jacob are opposing forces whose respective strengths have resulted in an even scale and stasis. The cork in place, the wine can't get out of the bottle. But there's more than one way to get out of the bottle, one that doesn't involve removing the cork: simply smash the bottle. Which is exactly what the Man in Black does here after Jacob makes a gift of his lesson to Richard by giving his Nemesis the bottle as "something to pass the time."

So why bring people to the island? Jacob is not only looking for candidates to replace him but also to allow the eternal game between him and the trickster to continue, a moral Skinner box in which those who find themselves on this island can choose to become repentant for their past sins or choose to become corrupted, to select between the light and the dark. Prior to Richard's arrival, everyone who has come to the island has been killed but Jacob isn't there to force them to act one way or the other--that is the Nemesis' style, given his gift for manipulation--but rather he wants people to figure out right and wrong on their own. Jacob's whole modus operandi is to foster free will, then.

Richard's arrival on the island is a fortuitous one as it seems as though we're seeing the birth of the Others before our eyes, a race of people who have chosen to protect the island, to fortify the prison, and keep the cork firmly in the bottle. So why might they have sought to purge the Dharma Initiative? My theory: the Dharma Initiative's experiments into the electromagnetic energy properties of the island were creating a situation from which the Nemesis would be be to make his escape. They were effectively weakening the cork and allowing the darkness to seep out into the rest of the world. They saw the island as something that needed to be dissected, examined, probed, and categorized rather than what it was: a prison with them as the jailers. (The same held true of the U.S. Army, which is why the Others slew them in order to prevent others coming there and giving the Nemesis further opportunities to escape or to allow the scale to tip the other way.)

Richard's need for contrition places him on the path to righteousness. His crimes were accidental but crimes nonetheless. While he sought to help his wife, he murdered and stole but he turned towards redemption rather than destruction. Did it matter whether Jacob had spoken to him before he plunged the knife? Or was Richard's fate decided the moment he turned towards the light, towards divine forgiveness for his past misdeeds? It's not Jacob's ability to offer absolution. If we can move past our issues, our damages, and transgressions, we can be forgiven it seems. At the very least by ourselves.

Richard Alpert's Backstory. We saw this week just where Richard--or Ricardus, as Jacob calls him--came from: namely, 19th century Tenerife. (Incidentally, itself the site of one of the world's most deadly aviation accidents, as mentioned earlier this week on Breaking Bad.) Richard is a Spanish Catholic whose wife Isabella is dying. Traveling through a terrible storm to try and find help, he's refused by a greedy, mercenary doctor who finds that Richard does not have enough to pay him for his services and throws Isabella's beloved cross on the floor. A struggle ensues and Richard pushes the man, accidentally killing him. (I called that one straightaway.) Then he pockets the medicine and rushes back to Isabella's side, only to find that she's died. (Ditto.)

He's then seized by soldiers and imprisoned, where he learns English by reading the Bible. A priest denies him absolution for his crime (only a life of penance can remove his cardinal sin) but before Richard can be executed, he's purchased by Jonas Whitfield, a man working for Magnus Hanso (!!!), who explains that he is now a slave and the property of Hanso. And, sure enough, he ends up shackled aboard the Black Rock and, in the midst of a terrible storm, winds up in the middle of the island.

Whitfield ends up slaying most of the slaves because they have limited supplies and they will try to kill him... but the remaining officers are instead massacred by the smoke monster, who flits through the Black Rock in a fantastically cool visual before killing Whitfield and sparing Richard's life. Richard's dead wife Isabella appears and she tells Richard that they are both dead and in hell. But she runs off and is seemingly menaced by the smoke monster. (It seemed fairly certain to me that this was a manifestation of the smoke monster, appearing in the form of the dead Isabella. The monster had previously taken the form of someone else who died off-island: Ben's mother.)

Later coming to Richard in the guise of the Man in Black, he offers him freedom from his shackles (offering a nice callback to his line earlier this season about it being good to see Richard out of his shackles), and manipulates him into helping, preying on his fears of eternal damnation and his need to find his wife, setting up Jacob as the devil to who took her. His mission for Richard: to slay Jacob with a ceremonial knife (just like Dogen gave to Sayid) and to not allow Jacob to say a word before he plunges the knife into his chest (just like Dogen told Sayid).

But, when faced with the possibility of regaining his wife (his heart's desire) or performing a life of penance for his sin, Richard chooses the latter, placing himself into Jacob's employ and receiving a gift: eternal life. Unlike the Man in Black, who claims to be able to return his wife to him, Jacob asks for sacrifice, for penance, for an act of contrition that will set the scale within Richard to the side of the just. He's baptized by Jacob, who plunges him into the ocean waters and then is given a choice: he can take the position of representation or intermediary, a sort of moral guide to help others where Jacob cannot. Richard accepts and Jacob gives him eternal life.... and then Jacob gives his Nemesis a white stone. Score one for Team Jacob. Richard, meanwhile, buries Isabella's cross.

Black Rock and The Statue. We learned that the Statue of Taweret was destroyed by the Black Rock in the tsunami that deposited the ship in the middle of the island. (Looks like Arzt was right after all.) I was a little confused by the storm, given that it seemed from "The Incident" that the Black Rock had arrived in the middle of a sunny, tranquil morning rather than during a hurricane gale (just like Oz, in fact), but perhaps that boat we saw Jacob and his Nemesis arguing over last season wasn't the Black Rock but one of the other ships that had previously arrived on the island and whose occupants had been killed. (I was also confused as to the 1867 date for the Black Rock, given that we had previously been told it set out from Portsmouth in 1845; the entire timeframe of events here seemed a little later than they should have been, really.)

Did the breaking of the statue result in any negative effects on the island? That remains to be seen. But it clearly isn't the cause of the pregnancy-related deaths plaguing the Others as it happened years before there even was a tribe of Others on the island. Just what caused their reproductive failure remains a mystery. It was serious enough that Ben had Juliet brought to the island but it would appear to be something that occurred fairly recently rather than in the distant past. Hmmm...

Ilana. We still don't know much about Ilana other than the fact that she is loyal to Jacob, knew him, and accepted her own commission from him: to protect the final six candidates from coming to harm. At the campfire, Sun believes that she is one of those six but I don't think we have a definitive answer there as Ilana just last week indicated that she was sent to protect "Kwon" and didn't know if that referred to Sun or Jin. Nothing has changed since then to indicate that she's been swayed one way or the other.

Ilana is waiting to receive her next instructions from Ricardus but he has no idea what they're meant to do next: Richard, still suffering his crisis of faith from the previous few episodes, believes that everything Jacob has said is a lie and that they are all dead, echoing a fan-favorite theory from Season One that had the island as purgatory or hell. (Not so, of course.)

Jacob brought Ilana to the island but didn't tell her everything she had to do; he's leaving things still to free will and to her being guided by Richard in a way that he cannot. Jacob seems to set things into motion--pushing people into the game--but doesn't intervene when it comes to their choices, even going so far as to allow himself (I believe) to be killed by Ben in "The Incident."

Richard. So just what are they meant to do next? Richard has no idea and he's had it with his bargain with Jacob. He wants to switch sides, to change his decision and his alliance. He returns to the spot of his past decision, the place where he had buried Isabella's cross, and digs it up as he screams out to the Nemesis that he has changed his mind, echoing the offer made by the Man in Black to come over to his side whenever he wanted. But before that can happen, Hurley turns up with a message from Isabella, acting as a bridge between Richard and his dead wife and passing along two important messages: one, that they are already together, always, and two, that they must stop the Man in Black or they will "all go to Hell."

All in all, I thought this was a serviceable episode that didn't totally fulfill the promise of Richard Alpert's backstory. Things did pick up once Richard arrived on the island and was forced to enter the game between Jacob and his Nemesis but I found the Isabella elements to be really contrived and forced and didn't have the emotional impact that it really should have. (I especially felt that the scene at the end between ghost Isabella, Richard, and Hurley wasn't really earned, given that I didn't care about Isabella and she remained little more than a pious cipher at the end of the episode.) I did, however, really enjoy the flashback elements that dealt with the Man in Black and Jacob as we got to see much more of their relationship and those scenes crackled with energy and tension.

What did you think of this week's episode? Am I being too harsh? Were you let down or excited by this installment? Did you fall for Richard and Isabella or moan when they were on screen together? Just what was the deal with that blue butterfly at the Black Rock? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Next week on Lost ("The Package"), Sun and Jin desperately continue their search for one another while Locke confronts his enemy.

Comments

Seat42F said…
Enjoyed the episode, but still hung up at the same place. If the Man in Black needs Jacob to die to leave the island..... why is he still there? Something just doesn't add up. Man In Black complains for hundreds of years about leaving and we learn last night ( which we sort of knew already) he has to kill Jacob to do so... yet he doesn't leave. Why?

Either someone has taken over for Jacob or he doesn't want to leave the island.

Also, find it interesting that the black smoke just doesn't kill everyone. He has let some people live. Curious to find out if those touched by Jacob ( Richard, Hurley, Illana etc) can't be killed by the black smoke.
Jace Lacob said…
I think that the candidates can't be killed by the black smoke. Thus, it's why Jack and Kate were spared in the pilot while the, er, pilot was killed.

As for why the Man in Black can't leave the island, Jacob's death is part of that leverage but there still needs to be a means off the island. He's gathering his strength to leave and putting things into play. The warden may be dead but he still needs to scale the prison wall...
Cassie said…
So disappointed. I was really, really looking forward to this episode and though that it would be dramatic and gripping and, instead, I actually fell asleep! I think that Nestor Carbonell gave a great performance but, other than that, I thought the episode was entirely lackluster and just fed us information that we already know. Boo.
Anonymous said…
Great write up as always Jace.

I like your theory about the MiB escaping in the other world by smashing bottle and world may be corrupt by it. Or that he is under the water some how.
Marc said…
I personally loved the ep, but completely respect your take.

I love how you break down Jacob/Richard interaction as all about forgiveness and if that's what the theme of the show is in the end, I will be thrilled with it. As it is, redemption is a major theme. LOST has been such a brilliant roller coaster ride. Will be wonderful if it ends being a major life lesson too.

Very smart of you to postulate that LOST x Universe would mean that MIB succeeded.

You theory on Dharma sounds dead on.

I assumed that women stopped getting pregnant when the incident happened in 77.

At this point I am assuming that whenever we saw a dead character on island, namely Christian Shepherd, it was the MIB, beginning in ep 5 "White Rabbit".
Since he found his loophole, I believe he now is in the form of Locke for good and cant manipulate physically anymore.

Just a fantastic read, Jace. So well done! Clarified so much and presented smart theories.
Unknown said…
Enjoyed the differences between Jacob then and now. Jacob then was very rough - he beat the snot out of Richard upon first encounter, and subsequently pretended he was going to drown Richard to get his point across. And Jacob then was somewhat assuming – “Why should I have to intervene to show people the difference between good and evil?” (a paraphrase – not a quote). (Great reply by Richard BTW: “Because if you don’t intervene, he (MIB) will.”) Jacob now, at least as shown by his interaction with the candidates, is a much gentler, thoughtful Jacob. At first I was shocked by Jacob in the past with Richard – he seemed so out of character. But I then thought about how Jacob had a 150 years to consider the best way to deal with people in general, and with candidates and the scheming of the MIB in particular. That evolution in character is kinda cool.

It would be nice to learn who has been appearing as whom when. Isabella on the Black Rock was obviously Smokey. But ghost Isabella at the end? Was that really the spirit of Isabella? What about Jack’s Dad, Walt to Shannon before she was shot and to Locke when he was lying shot in the Dharma mass grave, the boy running around the woods telling Locke he can’t kill Sawyer, and more. Real spirits, Jacob, MIB, other???

Jace, you refer to Kate as a candidate. She was on the lighthouse wheel, and she was touched as a child by Jacob. But her wheel number (51) isn’t among the “six remaining candidate” numbers, nor was her name on the cave wall. You have great theories – would you mind sharing your theory on Kate’s unusual candidacy?
(If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, this conundrum is really bothering me.) :o)
Seat42F said…
Jace - Like your Warden theory..still though. If I had been plotting my escape from prison for hundreds of years last thing I would do is hang out with the other inmates. He calculated every little detail to kill Jacob but didn't have a clear path off the island planned?

To me, Man In Black and Jacob contradict themselves too much for this to be as simple as good vs evil. Man In Black wants to leave the island, but seems to be plotting something else. Jacob makes it clear that he doesn't want to interfere with a persons free will to choose, but the whole island and him trapping the Man In Black there is the greatest interference in human free will. Not to mention there is already plenty of evil in the world even with Man In Black in prison on the island.

It's Lost. Guess I just think there is one more layer of the Man In Black/Jacob onion that we haven't seen yet. :)
Calfoodie.com said…
I vote disappointed. Why name this secretive character Richard Albert, if he is not going to bring wisdom?

My hope is that the show will transcend the Western European religious myths to some deeper truth or profundity.

Yeah, maybe I hoped for too much.

Thanks for the thoughts and the forum.
usagi said…
Hey!

I have mixed feelings about this episode as well. I thought Richard to have much more importance than that in his previous life. Oh well...

I don't see how the Lost-X storyline could mean that MIB escaped. Apart from Sayid (and Kate, to a certain extent, but i so don't like her that i don't care, really), they all seem to have redeemed and obtained whatever they were after. So how is this hell? Could you explain ?
rockauteur said…
SEAT42F,

MIB's clear path off the island could be Widmore's sub. I still stand that Widmore could be on MIB's side: when he sat down with Sawyer, he never actually said that was there to kill MIB, and he did help Locke when he turned the wheel return to the island. Did he know he would die and turn into MIB? Not sure. And there's the story of the pylons, but who's to say that it just keeps MIB out? It could also keep Jacob out - or his replacements - as well.
Seat42F said…
rockauteur,

Same deal though. The sub is there. Why not leave? Why continue on with the Losties? He was already on Hydra as John Locke so it would seem he could just paddle back over and get on the sub.

Still think the "lie" he is telling is that he wants to leave.
frank1569 said…
Another great analysis, but, 'I'm hoping that this speech more than anything will finally silence those who believe that the Man in Black could possibly be good.'

Nope. See, one of them is lying. Now, if you watch closely, although Jacob says he can grant eternal life and then touches Richard, Smokey does basically the same thing. He has no idea Jacob granted Richard eternal life, but clearly is speaking to him as if his life is now eternal. Why? Because he's the one who did it, maybe?

Again, 'Watership Down' - the 'evil monster' kills the bad bunnies and saves the good. Smokey wiped out the bad bunnies on the Black Rock but saved Richard...

I'm still not convinced Jacob isn't the wolf in sheep's clothing.

And, I'm now wondering - Smokey keeps making impossible promises, like to Richard that he could be with Isabella again. Maybe he has the power to send you to a timeline where 'dreams come true?

And what ever happened to Ben's magic box, which promised the same type of things Smokey does?
Charlotte K said…
If the time discrepancy between 1845 and 1867 isn't explained later I'm going to be very disappointed. That's really sloppy continuity, and not worth it to explain the dynamite. They could have explained that away by saying it was stored there later.

I also am astonished at the idea that Jacob had been bringing people for millennia before one finally got him to change his ways. That either makes Richard very special or Jacob very stupid! Who built the temple, the statue, the underground vaults, if the Others didn't begin until after Richard came?

I'm in for the run of the show, but this episode really bugged the hell out of me.
Wes said…
Found this episode boring. Didn't care about Richard being a slave or Isabelle dying or any of that. Way too late to be bringing this stuff in now.
frank1569 said…
One more thing...

One doesn't cork a wine bottle in case some idiot decides to tip it upside down. One corks a wine bottle to keep the 'good' in. If you pull the cork, the wine will turn bad quickly...

The bottle was half-full, not half-empty...
Seat42F said…
Black Rock 1845/1867

I just assumed we saw the Black Rock a first time around 1845 when Jacob and Man In Black were on the beach. It was daylight and not raining... then the Black Rock crashes into the island in 1867.

The Black Rock that sailed in 1845 was "lost at sea" on its way to Thailand. The Black Rock that we see in 1867 was on it's way to the new world via the Canary Islands. Guessing someone else took possession of the ship after it was "lost at sea".
kenshane said…
When Hurley told Richard that Isabella had said that they had to kill the Man In Black or they would go to hell, Isabella was no longer there. Is it possible that Hurley made this part up just to keep Richard on their side?
Anonymous said…
The whole Isabella storyline is important because everyone on the island has something they have to make up for. This is how Jacob gets his hooks into them. Jacob has been bringing people to the island to try and show the MIB that people can change, but he never gives them the chance to do so. He did not kill Richard so that he could manipulate him in an attempt to kill Jacob. I enjoyed the episode, it clarified things that we already were aware of, but if they do not do that it would still be labeled as speculation. I feel like they are trying to get allot of the info out of the way so we can get down to the battle that Widmore promised us a year ago.
Kevin Sole said…
I was so bored, and so disappointed in that episode, it bordered on insulting. I was expecting more spectacle, more pizzaz! The most unknown character on the entire island, the mystery of how he could possibly live for so long and ...

... and yeah, it's "That I can do."

That's it. I can do that.

/lame
Anonymous said…
Does anyone think there's a connection between Whitfield and Widmore?
Crystal said…
I wanted to start by saying thank you, Jace for the blog. I'm really quite addicted to reading it, and all the comments, each week!

I've never commented before but in this episode something jumped out at me. When Richard goes back to the MIB after choosing Jacobs side, the MIB says "you'll never be with your wife again" There was something in the way that he said it that made me think that he could actually do it and it wasn't just an empty promise. Which made me think about the Flash-Sideways for the survivors. Does he eventually turn them to his side? Does he in turn give them their absolutions? But Syid's Flash does kind of throw a wrench into this idea.

I, like some of you, still feel Good (Jacob) vs. Evil (MIB) is too simple--too black and white, if you will.
Something else in this episode that made me think this was the smirk on Jacobs face after Richard called him the Devil. He almost chuckled and then his eyes hooded over and he was guarded again. Something doesn't feel right with him anymore.

FRANK1569's comment about the cork keeping the "good in" was perfect! It seems very much a Lost thing to do to give us a metaphor that manipulates us down one path while having that same image give us a clue to another path!
Charlotte K said…
Yes, I wondered about Whitfield & Widmore...but Smokey crushed him. Whitfield also had a Horus scar like John Locke's. Coincidence?
Anonymous said…
I almost wish that the Episode was two Hours, I wanted to see how Richard survived over the years, and how he met the various other groups that had made it to the island over the years.

I know we have the Jacob/MiB thing going on, but how does Charles Widmore play into everything, and what does he know about the Island.

My Spanish friends complained no one had an authentic Spanish accent. Haha
Eric said…
Thanks for having the guts to say what a lot of us were thinking. LOST is a show where disagreeing with the common perception can lead to outright hatred. I didn't like this ep as much as the people who are raving about it, saying it's one the best eps the show has ever done as that right goes to 'The Constant'. Didn't like Isabella or care about her and though that Richard's past was about as predictable as you could get. After all this time that's the best they could come up with???
rustle said…
If Richard is immortal, then in the "sideways" universe is he still alive, at the bottom of the ocean with the rest of the island?
Laura said…
Thank you! My husband and I were starting to think we were the only people who did not love this episode.

One big thing that bugged me is that we saw Richard completely freak out when he saw Smokey/Locke and figured out it was him. However, his scenes with Smokey in this episode did not seem to be so horrible as to elicit that response. Smokey was actually kind of civil to him after learning he sided with Jacob, even giving him the cross. I was expecting something much bigger to happen between the two of them. This indicates that Richard's fear of Smokey comes from what Jacob has been telling him all these years.

And I am also one of those who does not believe that Smokey is all bad. I think it is more complicated than that. In any case, I find it very difficult to believe that Jacob is good.
Laura said…
@Ken - I also think that Isabella was not the one to say that MIB has to stay on the island. It does not make sense after she had just told Richard that he has suffered enough. She also never said this in Spanish, and Hurley came up with that after she "left". I think maybe Jacob was telling Hurley to tell Richard that MIB has to stay captured, and he convinced Hurley somehow to make Richard think it was Isabella.
Jace Lacob said…
FYI, I've gone ahead and answered many of your questions--or posed some more of my own--in this follow-up post to "Ab Aeterno."
jojo said…
Also, the second island "hydra island" is needlessly confusing.
Anonymous said…
I have a theory about why babies can't be born. I think, if the island is about redemption from sin, everyone has sin except newborns. Maybe babies can't be born since they have no sin. just a theory.
Carrie said…
Could the blue butterfly (post caterpillar metamorphosis) have been a shoutout to Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass?
Jstrauss said…
Overall, very much an enjoyable episode. I do agree that it didn't quite live up to the incredible mystery and intrigue that's built up around Richard, but it's a tall order for any writer to live up to that sort of hype. I have a niggling suspicion that we still would've been a bit disappointed no matter what direction they took the episode in.

But enough of that!
Nestor Carbonell, wow. Seeing Richard really vulnerable (and indeed, human) was fantastic, I was hanging on every line he delivered. Hopefully now we'll be seeing him have a bit more of an effect on the main storyline than he has done so far.

As for Jacob, this episode was very interesting in revealing a little more of his nature. The first thing that sprung to my mind when he said he brought people to the island just to prove MIB wrong was "Wow, what a jerk." Admittedly, there's a degree of self-redemption involved, the whole purgatory theme that can mean coming to the island is a great blessing for many people, but it still struck me as a rather callous and misguided thing to do for a character who's being played up in just about every way imaginable as a pure, good, all-knowing Jesus-like figure.
The fact that all it took was a simgle comment from Richard for him to realise the flaw in his plan gives me the impression that he's rather detatched from reality and humanity as a whole. Jacob wants to give people the "choice" to be good, and if they can't live up to his standards, well, they can go and get eaten by black smoke.

I don't know, to me it seems at the moment as though Jacob is a bit of a cruel master, beating his dogs with a stick and seeing how long it takes for them to bite back (case in point; the life and times of Ben Linus).

While it still may all be for a greater cause, jeez, come on Jacob.
Unknown said…
re: Black Rock 1845/1867

It's as simple as sacrificing one bit of continuity in order to correct a different mistake. As we know, the Black Rock carried several cases of dynamite on its final voyage. Alfred Nobel, dynamite's inventor, did not patent his new product -- and begin to sell it -- until 1867 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamite ). Therefore, a ship sailing in 1845 could not possibly have been carrying dynamite in its hold, while one setting out in 1867 could have.
Exactly what will the MIB's release accomplish? Bring darkness into the world? Chaos? Hell?

Because in my opinion, the world already had, has and will have all three. Which would explain why the lives of the Losties were already messed up before Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the island.

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I don't know about you, but I've already ordered my "Me Want Food" t-shirt from the NBC store. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Jack Gets in the Game") was, in my opinion, one of the strongest of the series and has officially pushed the zany comedy into the realm of Arrested Development : deftly plotted and intricately layered, with so many jokes piled atop of jokes that it requires several viewings in order to catch them all. While at its heart, 30 Rock is a workplace comedy, it's left that narrow pigeonhole behind to become a witty example of how intelligent and taut humor can work (and flourish) on television... and exist in harmony with hilarious throwaways like the Thriller -inspired Werewolf Bar Mitzvah music video that would have done the AD crew proud. I want Will Arnett to appear on this series whenever possible. His gay exec Devin is hilarious, manipulative, and has an inexplicable weakness for Kenneth the Page, but he claims to have

"Gilmore" Guy: Who is New Showrunner David Rosenthal?

A few days later and I am still processing the news that Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino--and her exceptionally talented husband, writer and producer Daniel Palladino-- announced their departure from the whip-smart drama after six seasons. The news wouldn't be such a blow, save for the fact that Gilmore Girls is as much about Amy and Daniel as it is about Lorelai and Rory. In their capable hands, the show explored a supremely complicated family dynamic through the beautiful friendship of mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory... and did so with smart dialogue usually found in a Nick & Nora film rather than on television. Zany subplots abounded as did quirky, beloved supporting characters. And now, after six seasons (including this most recent--and very shaky--season where Amy and Daniel wrote less episodes than usual), Amy and Daniel are passing on the showrunning torch to... Dave Rosenthal?!? For those of you in the audience unfamiliar with David Rosenthal ,