Previously on LOST: Ab Aeterno


Previously on LOST is a weekly column recapping and analyzing each episode from the final season of Lost. (Warning: May contain spoilers!)

“Ab Aeterno” was simple in its premise. It told the story of Richard Alpert, from how he got to the island to how he became Jacob’s right hand man, and what drives a man who is immortal. However, to say that the episode merely “told the story” of Richard is an injustice. This episode was superbly constructed, and will definitely go down as one of the best ever in the series.

The thing that stands out the most from this episode is Nestor Carbonell’s performance as Richard. “Ab Aeterno” rested solely on his shoulders and he carried it to a place most television shows rarely get to. He sold every emotion and never wavered in his portrayal. I can only imagine that there will be cries for more Richard from fans until the show’s conclusion. Not that I’m for or against it, but I could definitely see there being a spinoff show exploring the island from the time of Richard’s arrival where he, Jacob, and the Man in Black are the main characters.

Aside from the feature character, a lot of the aspects of the show had been stepped up from previous efforts this season. The episode looked fantastic, featuring several shots of the vistas of the island. In particular, the scene with Jacob and the Man in Black looked gorgeous. The score was great and featured several new melodies and some that hadn’t been heard in quite a while. The music had become pretty repetitive as of late, so hearing something new definitely added to the strength of the episode as a first time watch. (Although, I do have to say I was getting a little sick of Richard’s theme by the end of the episode.)

“Ab Aeterno” also marked the first time since last season’s finale that the original form of the Man In Black returned. It seems that MIB is some sort of inherent evil force that would love to spread its wings as far across the world as possible. The island is the bottle keeping holding him and Jacob is the cork containing him. These are clearly metaphors, but it does raise some questions as to what happens when Jacob leaves the island from time to time. Regardless of the ramifications, it’s great to see these two characters together on screen and their interplay really helps sell the intrigue of whatever “game” they are playing.

People tend to get hung up the questions and mythology of LOST. I’ve seen countless forum threads titled “What we learned about the island” or “Mysteries explained”. This episode really proved to me that what makes an episode great has nothing to do with questions being answered or raised. In “Ab Aeterno” we didn’t learn that much about the island. The episode expanded marginally on Jacob and the Man in Black, Ilana’s instructions, and the arrival of the Black Rock. But most of these enlightenments confirmed things that the show had already alluded to. Instead of focusing on explanations and plot progression, the episode used established entities from the show to craft an amazing new character story. I would have been captivated by Richard’s story on any island, I’m just glad it happened on my favourite one.

Discussion Questions

  • All the talk of the island being Hell… significant or metaphor?
  • Did this episode finally settle all debates over whether Jacob is good and MIB is evil, or could sides still flip?
  • Lost spinoffs, will they happen? How do you feel about them?

SCORE: 4 stars

  • RaphNL

    Glad to see you loved it too. Great mix of mythology and an emotional story. Richard is definitely one of my favourite characters now. Richard’s theme was amazing, yes. Giacchino keeps coming up with these great themes.
    People are complaining about the Black Rock/storm knocking down the statue, saying that it’s anti-climactic but I thought it was a good enough answer. I never expected anything really special.

  • RaphNL

    Not really a big fan of there being a spin-off. The only spin-off that could be interesting, if done WELL, is one about the Dharma Initiative or the Others. I’d definitely like to learn some more about those two groups.

  • An excellent episode.
    Still think that there is a chance of a good/evil flip.
    Interesting that the dagger was used to try to kill Jacob the way that Dogen tried to get Sayid to kill Flocke.
    Flocke was able to speak before Sayid stabbed him. I wonder what the dagger’s significance is?
    Final scene with Hurley, Richard & his wife was outstanding.

  • mitch

    great episode. i would be down for a spinoff, it would probably be better than the rest of the garbage on the major networks.

  • Nate

    Ab Aeterno is definitely one of the most successful episodes of LOST. On its own, it tells a great character story and through that it also answered mythological questions that we as an audience have had for six years, and those answers weren’t disappointing in the least. As if that wasn’t enough, Ab Aeterno was also shot and scored in a completely different way from every other episode of LOST. And it was a showcase for Carbonell who turns out to be a legit actor. Ab Aeterno works in every way.

  • Paul Andrews

    I think the hell part of the story was meant as irony – many of the early Lost theories were based on this idea. I agree that this was a great episode – I have to say though that they are going to have to get a move on if any of the island’s mysteries are to be solved. It seems like we don’t really learn anything significant each time, and there aren’t that many episodes left in the season !

  • Ben

    Yeah. The “hell” stuff seems meant to be a poke at all the early theories. Just like the episode with Hurley’s invisible friend. Just like Hurley talking about whether “adam and eve” could possibly be 2 of the 815ers.

    I definitely think there’s more to the “good/evil” stuff than we’re seeing. Just like Ben ended up not being the embodiment of pure evil that many assumed the others were, I think we’re in for some shocking twists still about the Jacob/mib dynamic. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either that we have yet to be given a name for the mib. I think there’s going to be something significant with that, as well as his crazy mother.

    Great episode, obviously, Carbonell has always been great and Richard has always been a super cool cat.

  • BlackSmoke

    the best episode of lost so far!

  • Goon

    Carbonell wasn’t just good, he was ‘cast this guy in his own film’ good

  • bus

    Geez Frank, getting tardy with the recaps…