JANUARY 27, 2011
MARCH 23, 2010
Of the two "alt" episodes a lot of fans hate from S6, "Ab Aeterno" is definitely the better. In fact I don't really mind it at all - it tells a good story, fills in the details of one of the more mysterious characters on the show, provides a lot of answers, and (retrospectively) features Hurley taking on an important role in the Island's "story" outside of talking to Jacob, which will of course pay off in the finale.
And it occurs halfway through the season, not during the crucial final hours the way "Across The Sea" did. Not much exciting is going on, and the episode still has a few minutes with our heroes to keep the ongoing storylines from being abandoned for a week (unlike "Sea", in which we spent the entire episode with Jacob and the Man in Black, 2000 years ago). Ben finally address the plot hole about not remembering Sayid (seems he doesn't remember being shot at all), Sun gets to explain something to Jack for once, and I particularly love Ben's reaction to Jack finding out that Locke isn't actually Locke. It's obviously not the meat of the episode, but it's a good segment all the same.
Plus, I genuinely enjoyed the Richard story. I liked the character, but I never found him particularly sympathetic (nor did they give us a reason to) - something that they change and then some in the first few minutes. It's bad enough his wife dies, but he also accidentally kills a guy, gets last rites from the shittiest priest in the world, is bought as a slave, and ends up being chained to the wall of a wrecked ship for a couple days (weeks?) only to be freed by the bad guy. Christ, this dude is just not having a good week.
(And this part explains why the statue is broken AND how the Black Rock ended up in the middle of the jungle in one shot! Impressive.)
Then we get MiB and Jacob sort of laying out their case to Richard as they each try to get him on their team. Obviously we know how it ends up (since this isn't 24, Richard doesn't suddenly reveal in this episode that he's been on the bad guy's side for the entire time, which would be stupid), but it's an interesting tug-of-war all the same. Also, I don't think anyone was expecting this episode to reveal the nature of the Island, which turned out to be fairly interesting. Whether it actually ties in with what we've learned about it thus far would take too much mental work (I am sort of baffled that an island that houses all of the "bad" in the world would have magical healing powers though - does that mean Rose is evil too?), but it's certainly better than most fan theories I read ("It's the set of a reality show!").
And what's wrong with giving Nestor Carbonell his own episode? Dude's been on the show for 3-4 years now, and never given much to do beyond say a few cryptic things and make the audience wonder why he didn't seem to age - I think he's earned his own 45 minutes, don't you? And they make up for it - he gets to ride a horse, kill a dude, run around, cry, speak another language... they don't waste his abilities, that's for sure.
Only two things kind of bug me. One is the Ilana flashback, because she's all burned and already close with Jacob, two things that are never explained. Without this scene, we would have only had one unexplained mystery, now there's two. The other was the explanation for Richard's immortality. I guess the idea is he was so afraid of going to hell that he'd simply rather never die, but it comes off more like he just can't think of anything else to ask for. Given the tragedy of his request, I wish they had let him think for a moment and really milk the moment. It wasn't even until this second time around that it dawned on me why he would ask for it.
Otherwise, I don't really get why folks hate on this one. I get that people want to spend time with our heroes, but at this point, Richard IS one of our heroes, and while they maybe should have done this sooner, it's better than doing it in the penultimate regular episode like "Across The Sea". In fact, it might even be one of the better episodes of the season.
Tomorrow - the writers introduce a character named Desmond, who was apparently a major character in previous seasons? I don't recall him! (/end sarcasm)
Where are we?