Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost 6.9, "Ab Aeterno"

Pssst! Sidebar's been updated as well, at least with TV stuff. Discuss and whatnot.

I'm going to make this short, both because I'm more interested in what you guys think about this episode, and because I'm left with more bewilderment than actual opinions.

And it's not the dense Lost mythology that's got me nonplussed, this time. It's just I've been reading reviews of "Ab Aeterno" (which, by the way, sounds like the lost Clint Mansell score for 300), each of them more glowing than the last. And I'm really not trying to be contrary when I say that I completely don't get it.

I'm not going to pretend that I was on pins and needles for the famed History of Richard Alpert episode. I get it, he doesn't age and seems to know things. But we'd already found out that much of what we'd taken for knowing mysteriousness was actually just cluelessness and blind faith in Jacob. I'm not sure what was left for Richard's story to tell us. And after seeing it, I don't think we got much. Yes, the Smoke Monster is an entity clad in black who needs to be corked up on the island lest he get out in the world something. But have we really learned anything about the nature of Jacob and the Man in Black? Or what the endgame for the Lostaways will be?

Which leaves us with the flashback story of Richard the penitent Spaniard. And in the grand tradition of 70% of the flashbacks in the history of this show, I could not have given less of a shit. Richard's plight trod the footsteps of other stories this show has done (he was a prisoner like Kate, haunted by the memory of his deceased beloved like Sayid, and is whinily self-pitying like Desmond), none of which I found compelling in their original iterations. And I'm sorry, but Nestor Carbonell's hysterical, pitched performance was something of an embarrassment.

So...what am I missing? Am I just being crabby? Looking for different things on this show? Underestimating the story revelations in this episode? Help me out.


jessica said...

I actually don't think the episode revealed much of anything except that 1) Richard arrived on the Black Rock (which I'd guessed when he went there to die and he said he hadn't been there for a long time) and 2) was the ship's officer some long lost ancestor to Charles Whidmore? Or am I hallucinating?

As far as I can tell, though, neither of these things are terribly pertinent. Honestly, I don't feel like much of anything has been a revelation this season and I'm frustrated that, despite counting down the remaining episodes every week and promising all these answers, nothing seems to be happening.

Danny F. said...

No worries, you are not alone. My tweet directly after watching was:

"All the critics I follow really liked tonight's Lost. Maybe I'm just sour, but it didn't give much new info and was boring and cheesy to me."

The whole fated love thing has been done so many times over, and so much more successfully, on this show already that doing it AGAIN with characters we know much less about was bound to fail. I can't see why everyone else is so over the moon about it.

Kris McN said...

I have zero objectivity when it comes to Batmanuel, er, Nestor Carbonell. Yes, it was a bit show-boaty and shrieky in the middle, but I was sucked in as a stand-alone story. You guys, he really loved his wife! And was completely destroyed when she died! *doomed sparkle hearts*

As far as the actual relevance to Lost - yeah, not much. Except, Hellmouth! In the end, I enjoyed it more than many of the other completely irrelevant side/back story episodes we've seen, and also anything with Jack.

Robin said...

I had the same reaction yesterday when I kept reading glowing review after glowing review. I didn't think it was a bad episode but Richard's backstory was so predictable. I'm more interested in what he did after Jacob touched him and before we met him.

I'm also so over Jacob. If he truly believes in free will then he wouldn't be bringing people to the island. Argh!

Katie said...

I just think that, in general, the "Lost" audience has become too smart for our own good. We are clamoring for answers and then we are sour, bitter, or bored when we get them because we had, essentially, already "guessed" them. So they don't feel new or surprising.

Joe Reid said...

Katie, I've heard that POV and I feel it, to a point. But I don't even think it's that we'd guessed these things. It's that the show had all but spelled many of these things out. Watching the actual spelling bee can't be interesting for too many people.

Moreover, I've forgiven the modest revelatory content this season when the overall story has been compelling. Richard's tale failed on that front, for me, and that's the biggest reason I was dissatisfied.

JA said...

I feel what you're saying Joe, but there was a lot of interest to be had in Richard's old-timey snug-in-all-the-right-places pants, for me.

JenInBoston said...

I actually enjoyed it because it hearkened back to what I originally loved about season 1 Lost, which was the stand-alone story interwoven with the mythology that never answers anything (I'm now conditioned to expect questions instead of answers). Was it cheesy and squishy? Yes. Did it mean I didn't have to deal with Jack and Kate for an hour? Yes!

Joe Reid said...

Jason, your input is valued.

Iggy said...

Sorry to be so crude, but this episode is one of the TV episodes that provoked me the most unintentional laughs I can remember.

The first surprise came from learning that Richard-Ricardo ( why Ricardus?) is a Spaniard. Even though Tenerife looks too much like Hawaii, you think it's ok. They're not gonna travel to shoot a couple of scenes. You repeat to yourself what will become a mantra through the entire episode: suspension of disbelief.

Then, you hear him talking to his wife. Neither of them even tries to fake a Spanish accent! And even worse, the vocabulary (names included, Isabella, WTF!)isn't Spanish from Spain (cobija!). I guess they speak some average Latin-Spanish spoken in the US. So, by then, after a few laughs, you've sent the mantra "suspension of disbelief" down the toilet, and you're just pissed.

Not only the fate love story has been told many times and much better, but also right here in this same series, twice: Sayid and his beloved one (can't remember her name) and Desmond & Penny. And they didn't sound so soap-opera like. And I agree, Néstor Carbonell's performance was ... how to say it softly?... uninspired?

Once I was trying to recover from all that (has there been a flashback that took so much time within the episode? Maybe it was just me who felt it was too long). And after a few more laughs provoked by the fact that Ricardo learnt a pretty good English just from reading the Bible, in the 19th century! No wonder he's a chosen one. He learnt English much faster than Jin in the whole series.

So, after all that, if that wasn't bad enough then, there's the bottle metaphor. They've been telling us this season that evil has to be stopped from getting out of the island. Was it really necessary this on your face dummy metaphor? Really? Lost fans have imo, helped to create a much more complex mithology than what the series actually shows and you treat them like that? Talking them down? Honestly, I've given this series so much credit, that for a moment I thought it was just a joke to provoke fans and some internet talk. But no, the final scene meant it was to be taken seriously.

I'll give this episode something, though. The tiredness the actor put on anti-Jacob's character was to me a perfect mirror of the state of some Lost fans at this point.

/end of rant.

Sorry, really. I never comment here and when I do it, it's to rant. I'm one of those fans that right now only watches the show to see how the writers end it, rather than for the excitement this series used to provoked me in the past. And I missed that excitement so much.

Jenn said...

I was beginning to think I was the only person who didn't love this episode. I thought it was incredibly boring. I was excited for a Richard episode, and I think Nestor Carbonell is great, but this episode did nothing for me. The only part I liked was the ending, where the whole candidates-to-replace-Jacob thing became clearer. The rest was all hat and no cattle.

Sally said...

Being from Spain does not mean now, nor did it mean then that, you'd automatically have a Spanish name. Spain has spent the bulk of it's history as a very multi-cultural and powerful country. Saying that everyone in or from Spain has to have a Spanish name and even use a traditional Spanish accent is like saying everyone there is hispanic. Does not even mesh with history. Also, Isabella was the name of one of Spain's most famous Queens. It's..compeltely believable a Spanish woman would have that name.

And I thought they were in the Canary Islands? Which is nowhere near the same as living in Spain. (Really it's not.)

Iggy said...


Briefly, because I don't want to hijack this thread with things most people won't even care.

You almost convinced with the multicultural issue, even though Spain in the 19th century was as multicultural as Whisteria Lane. You know, muslims and jewish people had been... invited to leave the country four centuries ago and the few left had been forced to integrate into the Catholic majority.

But you lost me when you said that one of the most prominent Spanish queens was called Isabella. Please, which one? Those I know were Isabel (Isabel la Católica and Isabel II). Is there a new revisionist history book I've missed?

And yes, in the 19th century I'd say 99,9% of population had Spanish names and Spanish accents (quite varied, by the way). Only recently, foreign names have begun to be admitted. You know, in the 19th century Catholic Church had the monopoly of registering the children born and non traditional or non-Christian names weren't allowed. So much so, that in some rural areas this has been true until the 1960s (at least).

And finally, yes, life in an island is quite different from that in the mainland territory. Let me remind you that the Canary Islands are as Spanish as Oviedo. Two centuries ago they were even more isolated than nowadays (no planes booked with tourists, but only ships touching shore, mostly transporting slaves from Africa) . So, foreign influence on names or accents was even more unlikely to happen than in other areas.

Rachel said...

As an episode, I was pretty meh (the ratio of flashback to current was pretty skewed), but in terms of following the mandate of the producers to actually clear up some of the mysteries before the end of the season, I thought it was quite entertining. It needed more island time, though.

Jon Foerster said...

I agree Joe, we didn't learn anything new, and so I just spent the episode trying to count the Biblical references. I think the neatest one was when Jacob waterboarded Richard (to show him he wasn't dead) in a subtle mimicking of a baptismal rite. Points to Lost for that.

mathan said...

Um, is it wrong that I've found the comments section in the post devoted to the episode more entertaining than the episode itself?

I'll echo the earlier sentiments of the cliched story and flashback ratio, and I'll add a couple of my own.

I hate Hurley. I hate how he's used as a character (giving voice to the fans with a wink and as the shows "heart") so for him to come in the final act it was just a barely bearable episode becoming unbearable.

And second, I think that the episode sort of floundered under it's own pressure. It's sort of like the show itself, and certainly this final season; there was a build up of hype which increased anticipation and expectations exponentially, but it didn't really deliver it just happened.

Richard Alpert is getting his own episode! And it turns out to be just like ever other episode that we've seen.

Those people singing the praises of the episode are like those people who quote Fox News, non-ironically, they don't necessarily believe it, they're just too entrenched to admit any flaws.

Adam807 said...

This is pretty much how I feel after every episode of Lost.