Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lost - S6E9 Ab Aeterno - Analysis

I truly enjoyed this episode. So much. It had amazing reveals, great character development, and genuinely (often unintentionally) laugh-out-loud funny moments.

For instance - how does a wooden boat, for starters, reach the height of a giant statue and, secondly, have the power to destroy it? Is this a metaphor for Richard having the power to destroy Jacob/Smokey?

Then there is the question of why Jacob chose Richard to share all with, to recruit as his speaker? I'm willing to ignore this and roll with it, purely because Jacob acted the exact same way I would have by trying to drown Richard - straight forward enough way to make someone believe they are alive.

Again, I keep getting the feeling that Jacob is evil and Smokey is good, or at least they are two parts of the same whole. The beating Jacob dished out on Richard, when it was obvious that he brought him there, seemed overly harsh.

The lines are being drawn now, and both sides say the exact same thing. Smokey says Jacob is the devil. Jacob says Smokey is the devil. Smokey claims you can't let Jacob speak or else it is too late, he is very persuasive. Jacob (via Dogen) says you can't let Smokey speak or else it is too late, he is very persuasive. Mirror images. Two sides - one light, one dark. Who is telling the truth? Has Jacob trapped Smokey, stolen his body, and continues to manipulate people for the sheer fun of it? Or is Jacob the protector of the world, keeping Smokey at bay lest he corrupt everyone alive?

From a behind-the-scenes perspective, it was great to see Titus Welliver back in action as "the man in black". I was lucky enough to not see any guest credits, for a change. Tucker Gates (director), Greggory Nations (writer) and Melinda Hsu Taylor (writer) make a decent team - their episodes are generally good, with points of greatness, but forgettable when it comes time to ask for a favourite or least favourite episode, which is a shame as I think this was a prime example of a great episode that will get lost in the shuffle come the end of the series.

The only parts that did seem a bit poor in my opinion was the overly simplistic explanations of what exactly is going on, however on reflection there is still a lot of grey area to be explored, mysteries to found. I will leave you with this parting question to ponder - what was Smokey thinking in that very last shot? Is he worried, or are all his playing pieces falling into place perfectly?

(Ab Aeterno can mean "from eternity", "since the beginning" or "for long ages". This phrase sums up this episode nicely - it is a piece of the eternal power struggle, it is the (for now at least) the true beginning of our story, and we finally learn exactly how long Richard has been struggling with his decision to choose a side - that we are being asked to make that choice after such a relatively short period of time is ridiculous, and I simply refuse to believe there is a side to choose - both Jacob and Smokey are the same being, struggling against itself due to the enormity of its power. At least, that's my theory until next week, where I will be convince Widmore is the real smoke monster, NotLocke is actually Aaron, and Charlie was never real, merely a figment of Hurley's imagination!)


  1. James Stephenson25 March 2010 at 18:58

    I have to believe Smokey is the bad guy. How many people has Jacob killed for sure?

    How many has Smokey. I think Smokey has him by a country mile.

  2. It all depends on if you consider passive manipulation the same as murder. Sure, Smokey may have out-right murdered a handful of people, but Jacob has manipulated many more to their deathbed - for instance, it could be said that Jacob killed Nadia in this way.

  3. James Stephenson25 March 2010 at 19:57

    A handful, now hold on. He murdered a handful on black rock. He murdered more than a handful in the temple. And these are the ones we actually saw. A number of losties have also lost their lives to him. I would venture to say we know of at least 20 murders by old smokey. So how many more could there be. Plus, he was talking keeping evil bottled up, but we know that Jacob has left the island many times, yet that is all smokey talks about, getting off the island.

  4. This is true, although I personally believe Jacob and Smokey are two parts of the one person, and Sagacious Penguin has theorised that the evil being kept at bay is the electromagnet force that Desmond was keeping at bay by pushing the button.

    Read more of his theories here -

    While it is nice to theorise about these things, it will probably be the case that the writers will take the easy route out and make Jacob "good" vs Smokey "evil", but I personally hope it is more grey-area than that, and by the looks of things, it is - you can't honestly call Jacob good, he's more "neutral" than anything.

  5. you can't honestly call Jacob good, he's more "neutral" than anything.

    Good point: Jacob isn't so much good as he is non-committal.

    For me, any notions of "good" that get applied to Jacob are simply a result of his being in opposition to Smokey, who certainly seems out and out evil (killing, lying, a "join me or die" mentality).

    So I guess when I think of Jacob as being the good guy, it's simply because he's not as bad as/working in opposition to Smokey, and not because, out of context, he's an inherently good character, because he certainly does do his share of murky/morally questionable/arguably somewhat evil things.


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