Posted by Marc Oromaner on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 11:24 pm - filed under Lost In Myth - (169) Comments
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In “Ab Aeterno,” Richard Alpert loses his faith after discovering that the plan he’s dedicated so much of his life to, may in fact, not exist. From the very same episode, some Lost fans began feeling the same. For six years, Lost viewers with an insatiable hunger for answers have anxiously waited to find out what the mysterious island actually is. At the writer’s strike a couple years ago, Carlton Cuse held up a picket sign that read: “Do You Want To Know What The Island Is??” Thousands of fans have dreamed up imaginative theories, all in an attempt to solve the show’s complex riddle. And now at last we have our answer! According to Jacob himself, the island is…A CORK!!! (crickets)

While cynical viewers have assumed for some time that the creators of Lost were going to pull a solution out of their collective ass, not even the most pessimistic among them ever mentioned that they’d be pulling out a cork. While I still have faith that there is still something more interesting going on, “Ab Aeterno” gave me a bit to be concerned about. Sure, the story itself was intriguing and many answers were revealed. But those answers were less than spectacular. And given that all those answers were dreamed up in the early seasons it got me thinking, what if all the answers to this brilliant show are just really dull?

What if the ghosts seen on the island are actually, well, ghosts—or an impersonation by the “black smoke thingie”? What if the whispers are just the voices of those ghosts? What if that black smoke thingie is just some sort of evil entity trapped on the island? What if the numbers are just random numbers assigned by a god-like being named Jacob to find his replacement? What if Richard Alpert hasn’t aged simply because he asked for it and Jacob touched him? What if the Black Rock got to the middle of the island because Jacob caused a giant storm wave to bring it there? What if doing this caused the four-toed statue to topple? And what if the island really is nothing more than a metaphorical cork in a bottle to contain the black smoke thingie? In other words, what if the answers to Lost all turn out to be the stuff of Deus Ex Machina?

If this turns out to be the case, well, we have been warned. Episode 19 of Season 1 took “Deus Ex Machina” as its title. Perhaps this was the writers’ way of trying to reduce our expectations. For those who don’t know, the term dates back to ancient Greek theater when a statue or actor representing a deity (deus) would be lowered onto the stage by a pulley system (machina) in order to magically resolve overly complicated entanglements of a plot (“Zeus saved us!”). The term came to be used whenever any artificial or improbable device was used to solve plot difficulties. In other words, using gods with magical powers to solve all the mysteries of Lost.

Personally, I don’t feel that these answers have really been all that bad, they just haven’t been up to par with the many brilliantly written story twists we’ve seen on the show up until now. Plus, all the “god” stuff so far is pretty much falling in line with where the show has been heading, and was hinted at in earlier seasons with the hieroglyphs and the statue. But if someone had come up with a theory several years ago claiming to have all the answers to Lost, and their answers were exactly those that are now being provided, would you have found them gripping? I don’t think I would’ve.

I know there are many fans out there that really dig the whole magical island thing. They compare the story to classical mythology where gods could make things happen to save the protagonist and it was pretty cool when they did. I think back to my favorite classical myth movies like the original Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. All of those movies had gods or genies interfering to help the heroes, and I loved it. So what’s the difference here? The difference for me is that those magical beings were introduced at the start of the stories, not in its final acts. If you’re going to stretch out a mystery about how an enormous statue toppled and how a ship got to the middle of an island, the answer should be somewhat more imaginative than a god-like being causing it with a giant wave.

Now that I’ve vented for a bit, I’d like to take a step back. I’ve been exaggerating somewhat to prove a point and the reality isn’t nearly as god-awful. Let’s take the whole cork thing. First of all, the island isn’t really “a cork.” It’s a metaphorical cork that is bottling up evil. Sounds to me as though the island is actually some kind of demon prison. And knowing that Lost loves to dabble in symbolism and metaphor, and knowing that the Man In Black has admitted to being human at one time with a crazy mum, I think it isn’t a stretch to guess that this demon prison is really more of a really intense maximum-security jail…or the inside of a magic lamp with the black smoke monster as the genie.

I don’t like the magic lamp idea any better than a magical island so let’s stick with the whole jail thing. Okay, what else do we know? We know that Jacob had brought a whole bunch of other folks to the island, and that at the time Ricardo arrived, they were all dead. We also know that at the time of his arrival, Ricardo was considered a criminal. Interestingly, many others who have been brought to the island have also been criminals. These include (but are not limited to): Kate, Sawyer, Ana Lucia, Mr. Eko, Sayid, Charlie, Nikki, Paulo, and Jin.  Interestingly, the island seems to tempt these criminals with the exact same issue that caused them to be criminals to begin with. So Charlie was tempted with drugs, Ana Lucia with use of her overactive trigger finger, Sawyer with revenge, Sayid with torturing, etc. When these characters are able to get over their issues, the island kills them. So, Charlie resisted the drugs and unselfishly sacrificed himself for others, Ana Lucia did not shoot Ben despite his aggressive treatment of her, and Mr. Eko was able to clear his conscience about what happened to his brother. As for Nikki and Paulo, well, technically the island didn’t kill them, the Losties accidentally did, and the writers did admit they were a mistake, so we’ll just consider them an oversight for purposes of this theory.

Besides the criminals, it seems that everyone else on the island has deep-seated issues, and like the criminals, when they overcome them, they die. Yet, are they really dead? In the flash-sideways, many of the Losties who we saw die like Boone, Charlie, and (presumably) Shannon, are very much alive. And let me throw in just one more clue Scooby before we begin to solve this mystery: Jeremy Bentham.

Locke’s first alter ego never really seemed to have much of a purpose on Lost, yet, I’ve always felt that the name itself was a solid hint. In The Myth of Lost I bring up the real inspiration behind the name:

Jeremy Bentham was a philosopher and social reformer whose work led to the development of liberalism. One of Bentham’s more important contributions was his design for a prison known as the Panopticon. The concept behind the prison is that it would enable someone to observe the inmates without them being able to tell if they were being observed or not—just like cameras in department stores or pretty much everywhere these days. This feeling of constantly being watched would convey a sense of an “invisible omniscience” and, according to Bentham, enable “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind.”

What’s particularly interesting is that I wrote about Mr. Bentham in the book a full year before his name was actually revealed on the show. So, why did I think the name would eventually be used? Because I felt that the island was a rehabilitative program of sorts. One where the “prisoners” could be viewed without their knowing it—just as we’ve seen with the lighthouse. But what if the lighthouse was just a way to get the prisoners’ histories, and the island itself is a way to watch their progress? And once they were “cured” as determined by the powers that would be watching, they would be allowed to leave. So far, those who have died could have been rehabilitated and released back into the real world. The Man In Black however, has received a life sentence and will never be allowed to leave. But much like Lex Luthor or other brilliant villains of lore however, he has a mastermind plan to enable his escape.

The whole “cork” thing might really just be the writers trying to reduce our expectations. But I do not believe the answer ends here. Even if it does though, the mythological messages are still very relevant. Whether the island is a prison of sorts, or hell, or a cork to contain evil, since it is a microcosm of our world, the meaning is pretty much the same. Hell is not a place you go when you are bad. As Matt Groening would probably agree—life is hell. Our world is the mythological embodiment of hell. You, and everyone else here (sans a few select Bodhisattvas and chosen guides), are here because you’ve got issues to work through. If you don’t work through them, you’ll get to try again in your next life on earth. If you do work through them, you’ll get a new set of issues. Having the issues is what makes life interesting and something like a game. They give you challenges to overcome. Without them, life would be peaceful, happy, perfect, and incredibly dull.

Dull, however, is still considerably better than torturous—yet this is exactly how hell is typically depicted in mythology. In Greek mythology alone there is Sisyphus who must continually roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll down again.  Also famous in Greek mythology is Tantalus who was condemned to stand in a pool of sparkling water with delicious fruits dangling above him. Only, when he goes to reach for the fruits, they move out of his grasp, and when he tries to drink the water, it recedes before he can get a sip. These myths reminded me of Ricardo’s efforts on the Black Rock as he tries to sip the rainwater that was just out of his reach. So, is this suffering better than boredom?

Often, we are the cause of our own suffering. This has certainly been the case of most of the characters on Lost. Yes, shit happens here in hell. But as I wrote in “The Message of “Recon”—Learning to Let Go,” we can choose to carry that pain with us our whole lives, or learn to let go. As Ricardo’s wife Isabella tells him at the end of the episode, it was simply her time to go, and there wasn’t anything he could’ve done about it. Carrying around guilt and pain would not bring her back. The only thing that could, would be to honor her memory and act as she would have. Upon that realization, Richard puts on his wife’s cross that he’d buried so long ago, restoring his positive memories of her and his own faith. Perhaps he was still in an allegorical hell, but at least now, he could be at peace there.

Another theme brought up by this episode is that of sin. Jacob tells Ricardo that he doesn’t care about the pasts of those he brings to the island. They all have a clean slate (Tabula Rasa), which he demonstrates by violently baptizing Ricardo in the ocean. The only thing Jacob does seem to care about, is the choices people make. It wouldn’t be free will if he had to tell people what was right or wrong. All he does is provide the challenges and hope the people will be able to make the right choice for themselves.  There’s that “challenge” concept again—you know, the thing that makes life interesting, or put another way, like a game.

Currently, one challenge I’m trying to come to terms with, is how I can rationalize the amount of time and energy I’ve put into a show if it all turns out to have a pretty lousy resolution. A couple years ago, I read Jason Hunter’s time-loop theory about how the Black Rock was carrying metallic minerals and was yanked onto the island by its magnetic core, and in the process, punched a hole in the invisible bubble that surrounds the island at the coordinate “305”—the one needed to escape without getting the sickness. At the time, while I thought the idea was intriguing, I figured the writers had a bigger plan. Now that I see their plan, I feel that Hunter’s theory was more imaginative. At least it connected with the other mysteries of the island.

Then there’s the whole literal hell thing. Anthony Cooper alluded to it in Season 3 when he asked Sawyer where he thought he was. “It’s too hot for heaven,” he continued. Fans had been claiming hell or purgatory ever since Season 1. Could that have been it all along? What if fans figured out all the answers to Lost after the first several episodes so the writers simply made it increasingly more complicated just to keep it interesting? Even if this turns out to be the case, I’d like to submit my own feelings on the issue: it doesn’t matter. In fact, this is the main message of the episode.

In “Ab Aeterno,” Richard has become disillusioned after blindly following someone he thought had a plan. While Richard hasn’t been alive “for eternity” as the title’s Latin translation would suggest, surely it’s felt that way to him—an eternity in hell. After dedicating his life for 140 years, Richard finds out that there was no plan after all. As with all episodes of Lost, once again the message is for us. This time however, it may specifically be just for fans of the show.

For years, many of us have invested our lives in a mysterious show that has promised answers. So far, those answers haven’t been particularly satisfying for many of us. But even if the final reveal isn’t all that enlightening, it might give us comfort to realize that the show isn’t about the final reveal. Like life, Lost is a journey, not a destination. Over the years, we’ve learned that we get clues to our destiny, that we’re all connected, there are no coincidences, and that we shouldn’t judge people without knowing their full story. We’ve learned about constants, variables, proxies and parallel timelinesLost has helped us solve the mysteries of our own lives, and for that, it’s already been worth it, even if the ending totally blows. But there is more to be hopeful about.

There’s another way to interpret the message of this episode. By the end, Richard decides to keep the faith in Jacob even though it seems like he never had a plan.  But, what if he does? What if there is a much bigger plan and Richard, the Losties, and everyone else who’s ever stepped foot on the island are still a part of it? In fact, what if we are all still a part of it? Personally, I’m keeping my faith that there will be some kind of cool twist at the end of Lost that will make sense out of most of the mysteries. But even if there isn’t, I still consider Lost to be one of the best written, most intelligent, meaningful, intriguing and entertaining shows ever created in the history of television. And for those insist otherwise, well, they can stick a cork in it.


Marc Oromaner
is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.

The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

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169 Responses to “Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: “Ab Aeterno”-Cadabra! And the Island Is…A Cork??


  1. shauniqua says:

    hear, hear!

  2. Kat says:

    I have this nagging (and hopeful) suspicion that this season is akin to the episode “Through the Looking-Glass.” When the second half of season 3 began to pick up speed and really deliver, I admit I wasn’t thrilled when I realized the finale was another Jack episode. After “Stranger…” I was jaded. The flashes were well done, but were just more of the same depressed Jack. Island story was exciting, but ended with the phone call and lacked the pay-off of actually having the freighter arrive. All in all, by the last few moments, I was fighting disappointment.

    And then Kate met Jack at the airport and all of our heads collectively exploded. Subsequently, this episode has become one of my favorite episodes (and certainly my favorite surprise reveal) in the history of the show. What did it provide to spawn such a huge 180? Context!

    I think what we are lacking in season 6 is context. Without the knowledge of how the Sideways are related to the Island world, we are afraid to commit off-island. Without the knowledge of whether to trust Jacob or MIB (if either) we’re afraid to commit on-island, either. My sneaking suspicion when it’s all said and done is that, in retrospect, I will feel differently. I’m excited for the end, but that is not the only point. I want to enjoy the subsequent re-watches. Might it be that the disappointment some are feeling (besides the more moderate quibbles) might partly a result of this uncertainty? Like Marc says above, just b/c Richard loses faith in Jacob doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan. Darlton are making us nervous, but all we can do is wait and trust in their plan. Any one have any idea what I’m talking about in the slightest?

    • Absolutely! And not only do I agree, but I hope you are right. I hope that once we get the whole story, we will see the full picture and that everything that happened in this season, and the show, will suddenly be given a whole new meaning that will make the entire story that much more brilliant.

      • Blackbird says:

        Not to mention that such a full-scope, whole-picture context will make rewatching each and every moment of all previous episodes (okay, there’s always ‘Expose’) seem completely fresh and, as such, loads of fun all over again.

        • Gary says:

          Re: Expose

          Hah…Personally, I’ll never get the “Expose”-hate. It’s one of the standout episodes of the series, in my mind.

          Now hear me out: Serially, it’s situated at about the mid-point of the entire series. So if you imagine “Lost” as a bell curve, or a mountain, it’s right at the peak. It’s like, “We’ve come all this way, so we’re going to pause for a moment to offer a little micro-story that serves as a meta-analysis of ‘Lost’–where we’ve been, and where we’re going.”

          And that’s what “Expose” is: The symbolism in that episode, with the Russian nesting doll with six layers, is pretty clear. So for me, it’s a sign of the writers’ prowess that when they found the Nikki and Paolo experiment wasn’t working, they killed them off in a way which justified their whole existence in the narrative as just seed-planting for this one particularly unique, self-referential episode.

          Even Ben’s moment in the spotlight in “Expose” is very self-analytical: “I do what I always do, find out what makes them tick and use it against them” or whatever he says. And the entire “LaShade/Cobra” role was a nice wink at the later introduction of Jacob as this oft-spoken, but never seen, entity.

          • Dorf says:

            I just rewatched Expose last night, and it’s brilliant, for all the reasons you just listed.

          • dp2 says:

            Yes, I enjoyed N&P much more during my rewatch. I even found “Stranger in a Strange Land” not so bad (I’m even beginning to think this season may give it purpose). And it may be the same thing we’re seeing with all the complaints this season, tenfold because we know it’s the end. Here’s hoping that when it’s over, everyone will be able to go back and find new appreciation of the episodes they didn’t like so much the first time.

    • GeigerCounter says:

      “we are afraid to commit off-island” “Darlton are making us nervous”

      What on earth are you talking about? Man, talk about over thinking! Can’t you people just sit back and watch the show without analyzing every second of it and whining if everything isn’t according to your strange ideas of how the show should be? All my friends thoroughly enjoyed Ab Aeterno and we are loving this season. No one is “afraid to commit” to anything. What does that even mean? Sounds to me like someone is freaking out because they didn’t like five minutes of the show.

      What kind of context do you lack? I especially don’t get that part. First they showed us what happened when they got on the island. Then they showed us what happened when they left the island. And now they are showing us what (would have) happened if the island never affected their lives. I think it’s a natural progression in the kind of storytelling the show set up for it self seasons ago. Perhaps this mysterious lack of context is your imagination? Or maybe you’re not getting the show? Or maybe you don’t like it anymore and you’re making up reasons why because you can’t admit it?

      • dp2 says:

        Hear, hear! Not having context for the sideways is no different than not having context for the Island for the past five seasons. I don’t know why people suddenly can’t cope with not knowing — yet — what it’s all about.

      • Kat says:

        For the record, I loved “Ab Aeterno”, too. And I definitely don’t think the show should only go how I want it. I don’t think you understand my point. I’m enjoying the season so far.

        When I say context, I mean that we’re getting these puzzle pieces of Flash Sideways but I don’t know where to fit them in the over-all puzzle. Now, this is not in any way a criticism of the writing. I have trusted the writing for 6 years and I’m not stopping now.

        My point is that I think this lack of context, of where to put the puzzle pieces, is what’s causing some of the panic amongst fans. What I’m saying is, don’t freak out! It will all feel right and correct by the end. Trust them!

        When you say that the Sideways is the “what-if they never got off the island”, I’m not at all sure that it is. On what do you base this theory? We don’t know WHAT we’re looking at (yet) and that’s the point. I agree w/ whoever said we should stop criticizing the end of the show before it’s all over. Until I can put those pieces into the puzzle, I don’t feel satisfied but that’s natural. It’s what the show’s always done.

        Maybe you mistook my post as complaining, but it’s just the opposite. My advice to myself and other fans is to stop yourself from premature criticism. As Damon said on Twitter, Just. Wait. For. It. Like the end of Season three, it may just be better than we dared hope.

      • Kat says:

        I do get your point, though, GeigerCounter and I appreciate your “just enjoy the ride” attitude. It’s a wake up call myself, and a lot of hyper-analytical fans, need to hear. And with half of the season gone and the clock winding down, this is the perfect time to hear it.

        • GeigerCounter says:

          I guess I did mistake your post for complaining.

          “When you say that the Sideways is the “what-if they never got off the island”, I’m not at all sure that it is. On what do you base this theory?”

          Um, I said the sideways are showing what if they were never affected by the island, not what if they never got off of it! Watch out, that’s a big difference! The sideways is basically what if Jacob never touched these people and what if the plane never crashed. So basically they took their established characters that they’ve done terrible things to in the course of their storytelling and they show us what happens if we don’t do that to them.

          • jon says:

            And essentially the same characters develop across the board, except Hurley.

          • Kat says:

            Oops, sorry, my mistake. That definitely is a big difference. Still, I’m really ready to say that I know exactly what the Sideways is. You’re probably right, but still, ya never know with these guys.

  3. theyneedyou says:

    This is probably one of the worst write ups I have ever read. This season is amazing and the answers we are getting are fanfreakingtastic.

    Get over yourself, Marc.

    • adam118 says:

      I agree. It’s not ALL ABOUT YOU Mark

    • Ugly Smitty says:

      I don’t understand you guys. So many of you are jaded, angry, self-important jerks, who think that just because you disagree with an article, that means you should insult and berate the writer instead of constructively and intelligently debating his points. What are you, 12 years old? Marc is a damn good writer, and every one of his articles is far more well-written and insightful than anything those of you trashing him have ever posted in response. If you dislike it here so much, go somewhere else, you miserable, ungrateful a-holes. And grow up.

      • Ugly Smitty says:

        Handsome, that wasn’t directed at you. I just noticed that you had a witty follow-up in that thread as well, and I didn’t want you to think I was lumping you in with the rest.

        • rivum says:

          huh. here i was thinking that ugly and handsome smitty were the same person, just a different name depending on his mood. showed me!

          • Ugly Smitty says:

            Nope, we’re different individuals. Oddly enough, though, as we discovered recently during a recent live chat for the show, we have very similar backgrounds. But we are, in fact, different guys–and he may be the handsome one, but he’s also the older one.

    • AstroJones says:

      To the contrary, I think this is one of the best articles I’ve read this season…

      • Ugly Smitty says:

        Absolutely. Some people just like to rant and complain about everything. Those who read this site don’t realize how good they have it here. They get tons of quality articles by quality writers–and it’s all free. It could be a lot worse–this could be Ain’t It Cool News, where all of the reporters and reviewers are HORRIBLE writers, or it could be TheTailSection, which hasn’t been relevant to fandom in a loooooong time. Fans have it good here. This is the best Lost fan site out there, bar none, and the writers here shouldn’t let the miserable, whiny fanbots get them down, as they represent the very worst aspects of fandom and should not be taken seriously.

    • mw says:

      …in retrospect that all seems a little harsh, but still.

    • Hmmm says:

      I stopped reading after he said he didn’t like the “cork” analogy. To me, it’s a really cool concept. It’s not actually a cork, Marc. The island is what is keeping total darkness (evil, if you will) from consuming the world. The stakes don’t get any bigger than that. I makes sense, and it’s just awesome.

      Now, I’m sure there’s more to it than that, and they may twist it around and reveal something even better; but I was happy with what we learned.

      • dp2 says:

        Yes, just like The Box, it’s a freaking metaphor.

        • GeigerCounter says:

          Exactly! And it’s a freaking good one, too!

          I guess some people still expect to see magical box that grants wishes.

          Oh, and maybe after this episode, some people think the island is hell and they are all dead. Lol. This really was a terrible article.

  4. theyneedyou says:

    And Jacob didn’t cause the giant wave that destroyed the statue. He just brought the ship to the island’s destination. Why would Jacob want to destroy the statue where he obviously lived?

    *facepalm*

  5. Wanda says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this episode and its theological implications disappointing. And I’m an atheist!

    I feel like the people who loved it really believe Jacob is good. Whereas I find him just like all the others–preachy, sanctimonious, uncaring but always claiming to be selfless and fighting evil.

    The bad guys on LOST are a whole lot more fun, including their episodes. A cork? This is a revelation?

    I hope Marc and Kat are both right, and it doesn’t all boil down to black and white.

    • adam118 says:

      I see no evidence so far that this is just black and white.

      The Cork = the Hatch button. It was a metaphor for what Jacob and the Island does. It contains Smokey. Just like Desmond and the Island contained the electromagnetic properties that could “destroy the world”

    • Handsome Smitty says:

      Everything IS black and white: All that gray stuff you Humanists worship are our stupidity and selfishness.

      The fact that you’re an atheist says it all.

      I’ll ask you like I ask all atheists: Where did MATTER come from. Yeah, we all know about the Big Bang, even archaic texts like the Bible mention it, and it’s not the only philosophy (which is what all religions are) that mentions it.

      But where did all that compressed MATTER come from? Of course people like you will ask “Where did God come from?”

      Just like Richard asking what HIS purpose was in life….

      • Dorf says:

        Matter has always existed. God had nothing to do with it, since there is no god.

        • Rams says:

          And you know there is no being with infinite knowledge because you have infinite knowlegde…?

          • The Magician says:

            You are the one supposing he has ‘infinite knowledge’.

            If there truly was a being with infinite knowledge, it would surely have made a better universe than this large, mostly uninhabitable mess of failed galaxies, dying stars, and defective humans.

          • Handsome Smitty says:

            A “better” universe?

            Knock yourself out making one, then, Magician.

            Oh, right, magic is about as real as Lost.

            My bad.

        • Matter did not always exist. God had everything to do with it. There is no Dorf.

          • Dorf says:

            Without the existence of a god, there can be no godlike involvement. And if there is no Dorf, then I guess all those comments I’ve posted praising your articles don’t exist either.

      • sebastian81 says:

        isn’t God an over simplistic solution to things you can’t understand? very convenient uh?

        • Handsome Smitty says:

          That’s the point – simplicity.

          We as humans often overthink everything because ego-centric SELF-IMPORTANCE.

          • sebastian81 says:

            agreed. thats why humans believe they are chosen by some divine entity and the whole universe revolves around them. thinking ones mind can change the way planets align and therefore, the course of history is egocentric beyond belief.thats why I ain’t digging the path my beloved Lost is taking. cheers.

          • Handsome Smitty says:

            Some humans believe and preach that chosen angle when it’s simply the idea of enlightenment and evolution (in the true sense of the word, not the way liberals use it).

          • jon says:

            Shit, I wish humans over thought everything. You clearly haven’t met many people. Imagine that this is the planet created through over thinking. What a joke.

      • philscarffe says:

        Haha, are you saying that the bible says the universe was created 14 billion years ago… and not by god? I really should re-read it!

      • Blackbird says:

        Some theories hold that the matter which has been dissipating and evolving throughout our history ever since the Big Bang is simply what was pulled through a black hole at the moment of its ‘birth’ in another universe. Where did it come from, originally?

        Well, call it one of the joys of being an agnostic humanist, then, because to be honest I just don’t care. One world at a time.

    • amy says:

      I liked this episode and I don’t believe Jacob is good. I agree with your description of him, actually. I simply liked this episode because it was good…good story telling, good Cinematography, good acting, and once again it left me with some intrige as to where we go next on this journey. At some point this season (I think after the “Substitute”) I came to the conclusion that much will be left up to interpretation and that the writers are probably not going to answer every question I have had along the way, AND that the ending is not going to live up to every brillant theory I have read and jumped behind. I have stopped watching with expectation and started to just watch.

      I also didn’t like the answers given…but I am optimistic there is more to the story…too early in the game for them to spell it all out. I think we will see a nice plot twist at some point and I agree that within context each of these episodes will hold more signifigance. I will hold judgement till the end of the movie (and probably till after I have watched the whole movie over again, all 120+ hours of it).

    • gusteaux says:

      Wanda, Dorf and Magician:
      I will pray for your souls!

  6. Ajira Luggage says:

    I have a problem with Jacob being so connected to the Others who are an awful, nasty bunch. MiB on the other hand, has he ever killed someone we could call an innocent? I mean I liked Eko but he was hardly innocent, and he let Juliet and Kate live when he examined them with his black smoke in season 3.

    • Ugly Smitty says:

      He killed the pilot of the plane, and we’ve never seen or heard anything bad about him.

      • amy says:

        He killed the pilot because he was not supposed to be there…Lapidus was supposed to be the pilot. I think he has taken out people who have been redeemed or were not supposed to be there. Remember (I think her name was Nicki) who drowned, she wasn’t supposed to be on the plane and therefore the island didn’t want her there. I am still holding out that MIB is not all bad and that Jacob is not all good.

      • Ajira Luggage says:

        It’s true, killing the pilot might have been unjustified. Just to clarify, I don’t necessarily think Smokey is good. I’m just saying we know for sure Jacob associated with bad guys and maybe Smokey did bad things, maybe not. That’s kind of odd and I hope it comes into play and we’re not just supposed to white wash the Jacob/Other connection.

    • rivum says:

      he also beat the piss out of the people who remained in the temple. we don’t know their stories, but persumably a bunch of them were good eggs?!

  7. adam118 says:

    Well, I want Jack to shoot lasers out of his eyes, and it hasn’t happened yet. Due to this, I’m furious and this show stinks.
    Get over yourselves, a lot of people are pissed because their theories were wrong. Basing theories and such on a story that’s not over is silly.
    Jacob and Smokey are turning out to be much more interesting than I thought. I’m glad the show is a feud between a warden and his prisoner over philosophical differences instead of “Grr, me evil!” “Yay, I am good”

  8. Ament says:

    I think people are getting upset with not having more shocking moments in a show thats been full of surprises and questions from day one. It’s done, yeah I still have a few unanswered questions that really should be put to bed…Walt and Ben obviously has some light on that subject just throw a little dialogue to end it please. Though it’s ending, this whole season is the finale to a remarkable story and I can’t complain about the ride so far. I have to point out it’s a great irony that they moved the final episode to May, Shepard 2010.

  9. spinflip says:

    Well, the island being a cork is just one way to look at it, among many others.

    But the show is indeed somewhat overstretched. The whole big secret actually doesn’t seem to be too complicated, but we learn it in awfully tiny bits. For instance, we had only one little fact about the smoke monster per season where all those facts could have been revealed in a couple of episodes with a greater impact.

    • The Magician says:

      I completely disagree. The suspense is in the not knowing. How many other shows would dare stretch out a mystery for six seasons? I love the mystery, even though it can be immensely frustrating at times, it makes LOST what it is.

      • spinflip says:

        The not knowing is between episodes anyway. But how awesome would it be to know that the next episode will be just as great and revealing as the one which one has just enjoyed?

  10. erikire says:

    This review is pessimist, but realistic at the same time.

  11. RodimusBen says:

    I’m not sure I really understand what the writer was expecting the answers of the show to be like that makes the “cork” analogy so disappointing. Being invested in the show going one way or another is a big mistake, because the writers’ vision is never going to perfectly match one’s own. The thing to enjoy about LOST has always been the crazy twists, and in that respect it has delivered, and is still delivering, in spades.

  12. Red says:

    This is what happens when you have your own theories, the writer obviously thought, or wanted, Lost to be a “game”, and now its obvious that isn’t the answer, he isn’t liking what he is seeing. Personally, I think the “game” theory blows, and much more prefer the more mythical stuff, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t religious in the slightest!

    • Casey says:

      You got that right, Red. He’s mad because all that time he’s invested in the show hasn’t yielded the result he desired. This is the guy that’s been going on and on about how LOST is essentially a video game/simulation/the Matrix.

      So he was wrong and isn’t happy about it. He needs to take his own advice. Maybe the Universe is trying to teach him something.

        • DrNick207 says:

          It always is. :P

          Great article, Marc (as always — I’m often tempted to reply about how much I enjoy your stuff, but never really get around to it). I was similarly underwhelmed with Ab Aeterno, not because I have my own brilliant theories for what the show is/should be, but mostly for all of the reasons you go into. Still keeping the faith, though.

  13. The Magician says:

    Erm… hang on a second Mark, we always knew the cork analogy was going to be somewhat valid, because we know there is an immense pocket of energy settled deep beneath the island. Think of it like a set of Russian dolls; the ‘smaller’ cork is the swan station, the ‘larger’ cork is the island itself. This also parallels the roles of Desmond and Jacob (Desmond hidden away in a dark room, saving the island… Jacob hidden away in a dark room, saving the world?) My point is, it’s not the first time we have seen the cork symbolism used, so what’s the big deal about it? Would you have preferred the island to be a spaceship? At least this is an elegant and wonderfully simple way of describing what many of us had already assumed.

    And for everybody complaining about the theological implications; it should be painfully obvious these are just metaphors! Ab Aeterno was set in the 1800′s, where religion was prevalent than it is now and people were more superstitious. They would hardly have explained things in terms of quantum-mechanics and the space-time continuum.

    • Handsome Smitty says:

      Religion is just as prevalent today as then; only, the dominant religion is Humanism, better known as Communism.

      Worship is worship. Doesn’t matter if you worship yourself, another person with little ears or an unseen entity.

      • philscarffe says:

        hahahahahah! what you just said was hysterical! you are a funny dude! I worship Jimi Hendrix but he actually existed… there is even proof (woodstock,electric ladyland) which is something that ‘religious’ people like to ignore or just pretend isn’t important!

        I am a strong believer of ‘each to his own’ etc, but don’t try and lump communists into the same category as followers of organized religion! Please! Two completely different things.

        i think the direction of lost could have been predicted as soon as we found out the others followed a mysterious man called Jacob, i’m not saying i did predict it but for me this seems like a very natural course for the show and i love it!

        I’m not religious (duh!) but i love the philosophical ideas religion and ‘god’ brings to stories like Lost and the questions of morality and judgement etc. Me and my friends used to joke about it in season 2 and call the show ‘quasi-religious’, meaning that the episodes of Lost were like tales from the bible designed to make us think about morality but would ultimately be unexplainable stories. and after all, organized religion is based on nothing more than stories… and look how powerful it is!

        Bottom line, if Lost is making you think about your existence…. job done!

        • Handsome Smitty says:

          The only way I meant to lump religion and communism/humanism together is that they are both ideologies. True, that word doesn’t encompass theology per se, but really there is little difference between the two. Sorry if that is offensive.

          But from what I’ve seen of the world I’d rather put my trust in an Ideal God and the precepts of goodness and reward rather than a human preaching collectivism any day….

          • Ifoundwalt says:

            What about the precepts of goodness without the God? How about being good with out an expectation of eternal reward and the infuriating entitlement that comes with it?

          • jon says:

            no no, there are only two choices.

    • I don’t have a problem with the metaphor, I have a problem with what it represents. Jacob insists that the island is not hell. He then goes on to explain that it’s a cork that contains evil from spreading. Sounds very similar to hell. When hell overflows, zombies spread to the world, or when a gate to hell is opened, demons escape. We’ve seen that symbolism before. If they can tie in the energy with the Swan Station with the overall picture, great. I hope that DHARMA turns out to have some purpose.

      • naultz says:

        maybe scientifically, the “exotic” matter or energy on the island is strong electromagnetic energy, but I think this is just a way to define the evil presence on the island. for those non religious people-the scientific explanation and for those god-fearing people-it’s hell. I personally think it is both.

  14. B.A.Y. says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would be disappointed in the show’s end point when we haven’t reached that point.

    As for the cork metaphor, it seemed fitting, given the audience–Richard. It’s an analogy he would understand. If Jacob had gotten all sci-fi Faraday on him, imagine Richard’s reaction.

    Even quantum physics genius Faraday, whose mind was generally in equation land, finally realized that a simple explanation was best when talking to regular people. He used the record skipping analogy to explain what was happening when Ben sent the island moving through the space-time continuum.

    About Jacob: I am not confused about him. His purpose is good. He’s just not a good manager. He’s like the Idea Guy at a corporation. Not good with details. He’s needs a hands-on person to run the shop. And that was Richard. Poor Richard.

    If only Jacob had taken Richard more into his confidence. So, I wonder…are there are rules about sharing information? Maybe Jacob isn’t allowed to spill the beans.

    You’ve got to wonder who made the rules by which MIB and Jacob operate. I think it will be revealed at the end of the season. And I think it’s going to be the key to understand everything on LOST.

    • I was just being proactive noticing that they are starting to reveal answers and those answers haven’t been all that earth-shattering. The article was a preparation, just in case the finale follows suit. As I wrote many times above, I am still being hopeful that it’ll pay off.

      As for the cork, the issue was not with using it as a symbol, the issue was with its meaning. What I’m confused about is how so many people hated the purgatory or hell solutions to LOST a few seasons ago, but now are happy with the cork containing evil. Seems very similar and I just hope there is something bigger going on.

      • elginmiller says:

        Purgatory and Hell are concepts that are specific to certain religions, and if the island were identified as being Purgatory or Hell, it would follow that everyone on the island is dead and that they exist in the Catholic afterlife or what have you. To me, that would be a disappointingly narrow explanation behind a show that has always pulled its themes from so many disparate religions and mythologies and philosophies.

        The island as a metaphorical cork that is keeping a still-vaguely-defined darkness from infecting the world, where the nature of man is put to the test in an ancient game, can be applied to ALL of those disparate religions and mythologies and philosophies, and is ultimately much more satisfying in its lack of specificity.

      • Ifoundwalt says:

        The difference is, the purgatory/hell theories imply that all the people on the island are dead and are serving their time or being punished. The cork theory allows them all to continue being real, living people whose decisions still ultimately matter. Cork =/= purgatory theory even if it is similar in some respects. You also have to think about it in the context of Jacob and Richard’s conversation. It was a recruiting method on Jacob’s part. He was telling Richard the words he needed to hear.

  15. dksrox says:

    Sorry, I haven’t read through all the comments yet, so if I’m regurgitating, my apologies…

    Anyone else see the connection between “Doubting Thomas” and our “Doubting Richard”??? The idea that Richard would become Jacob’s acolyte, and then lose faith after Jacobs’ death…

    Just saying.

    • dksrox says:

      Also, if you ever have the time, read Heinlein’s “Job: A Comdey of Justice” – to date its the best “good” vs. “evil” story I’ve ever read, complete with twist ending…

  16. me says:

    oh no Marc I was so excited to read what you had to say about this episode – one of the best of the series in my opinion. i guess i should have expected a lot of people not liking where the show ends up in the end, but I thought I’d at least see where they were coming from. So far I think the season is great – like someone said, WITHOUT CONTEXT yet. the show is always full of metaphors from corks to hell etc…
    ab aeterno was epic in scope and execution…we have demanded the Richard backstory for years and we got an hour +6 minutes of motion picture like quality, loads of answers, and we all STILL complain? I’m afraid nothing will make you happy and you will be disappointed in the finale – it just cannot live up to what you expect in any way.

    love basically everything else you’ve ever written this season though, thanks :)

    • Rams says:

      I agree. At this point, we really do have to let go of our expectations and theories of how it will play out, take a seat, relax and enjoy how they are going to play it all out.

    • All I’d like is an ending that is as equally as brilliant as the story it took to get there. If we get one, great. If not, as I’ve said, I’m already happy with the show and think it’s the best in the history of TV.

      • Eric says:

        Marc,

        I agree that there are some episodes throughout the series that have their issues and that this season’s answers haven’t been all that satisfying, but I just want to make a few comments.

        First of all, my wife gave me a theory last night about Man in Black (and possibly even Jacob) being (a) genie(s), and I thought it was pretty brilliant, so I’m a bit disappointed that you probably wouldn’t agree (based on your stated opinions).

        But one thing I want to point out is that (and this is coming from an English teacher) throughout literature, it’s never been the outcome that is important. The journey is what is important because without that journey, we don’t learn anything about ourselves in the process. Benjamin Franklin commented on this idea when he wrote his list of moral virtues. He equated Moral Perfection as a destination that can be reached and that there is an important journey one must go on to get there. And I agree with this because if one were to wake up one day having achieved some sort of goal, be it riches or some personal goal, but you didn’t have to work to get there (go on a journey), then the value of the goal isn’t as great as it would be if you had to work hard to get there.

        My point is that we have the ending of the series coming up and it may or may not be satisfying for most viewers, but no matter what the outcome, it was the journey that got us to the finale that was important. You wouldn’t say that you no longer liked the entire series just because the finale sucked.

        I hope this makes sense, and please feel free to comment on the things that you either agree or disagree with. Thank you for your time.

  17. Kevin says:

    The answers to mysteries are always going to be underwhelming. The possibilities one’s imagination comes up with will always be more exciting than reality. That’s why the “Answers Now!” crowd of Lost fans has been so misguided all of these years. Mystery is what makes this show.

  18. Alex says:

    The smoke monster wants to leave the island – interesting plot point – because he’s trapped on it – not a huge leap in logic – so one could say the island is functioning as a cork keeping him bottled up on the island – also not a huge leap in logic.

    If you just accept the “cork” idea as the only explanation for the island, because thats how you’ve heard it described in reference to the smoke monsters, then you have not been watching this show!!

    The island is so many things to different people. To jack, its his savior from his addictions and guilt, for Rose, its a life saver – John a chance to walk again. To the scientists, it was a gold mine. After this you are clearly struggling to conceptualize this show. And you somehow wrote a book!? Yowza.

    We used to complain about the smoke monster in the pilot episode – specifically how the pilot epi ends with Charlie wondering aloud what it is. Then, it seemed the show forgot about it completely, and we wondered, remember that monster the entire pilot epi revolved around? Now and then we got some teases, but really nothing. We also assumed the final season would be our characters trying to make their way off the island.

    Then, for basically 5 seasons, we still didn’t get a great answer to the smoke monster (some sorta false leads though ie security system). We’ve also seen multiple escape attempts, some successful.

    Now we have an entire season about the smoke monster, embodying our character John Locke (who would have thought!?), TRYING TO LEAVE THE ISLAND. How epic is that? In the end our characters choose to COME BACK to the island, and the smoke monster wants out. This seasons story is really going to make the series feel whole, and hopefully the alt time line explanation will seal the deal.

    P.S.
    Yikes. How did Marc write a book? This is clearly written for a junior-year high school English class. “Another theme brought up by this episode is that of sin. Jacob tells Ricardo that he doesn’t care about the pasts of those he brings to the island.”

    “Another theme brought up in chapter X of “Book Title” is that of “name-that-theme”. Main Character has some circumstance that relates to this theme. Expanding on previous sentence.” A+ w/ smiley face Marc!

    • Ugly Smitty says:

      Alex, your comments about Marc’s writing are off-base–he’s a damn good writer. And you’re entirely missing the point of the article.

      • Eric says:

        Alex, you’re also missing the point of “theme.” A topic of a particular piece can be a single word, but a theme is something that the storyteller SAYS about the topic.

        So the theme would not be sin – it would be what is said about sin.

        Hope that makes sense.

  19. RichPundit says:

    Well Marc, I really really hope that your claim of “cynical” viewers/fans is NOT really a mischaracterization of “Realist” viewer/fans cuz that would really suck 4all if true. Unfortunately, even you intelligently articulate this possibility.

    I really really hope that LOST was not always truly Lost after season 1 … hence, it may be that we’ve all been scammed by the few (PTBs)!

  20. sebastian81 says:

    Great article. Someone had to say it. I salute you Marc.

  21. tspete says:

    See, I love the cork answer. It parallels the pushing the button so nicely. In the same way that every 108 minutes, someone had to push the button and reset everything. Jacob and the MIB keep doing the same thing, only with people. Just like the MIB wants to leave which Jacob has said would basically destroy the world. Not pushing the button will do the same thing. Luckily, when the button isn’t pushed by Locke, Desmond had a fail safe key. Is there such a key for the island? Is it Desmond?
    I know that is quick explanation and I think there are a ton of additional parallels that we could make. But one final point about science and faith. They are both trying to do the same thing. Dharma used science to keep the cork in place. Jacob is using something else that we don’t understand yet.
    Also, was losing faith and failing to push the button what caused Locke’s downfall.

    • Very interesting points! Perhaps Jacob and the Man In Black are the faith metaphors for the Swan Station and the Energy in the Island. Perhaps for every scientific thing we can see, a spiritual element exists simultaneously that represents it. See? This is sort of the bigger picture I’m talking about that makes this much richer for me. It was said that the island wasn’t done with Desmond. Perhaps he is the fail safe that will cause the island to be destroyed, but in doing so, save it from the Man In Black. Whatever can destroy the island is likely in Widmore’s locked compartment. I think we’re on to something here…

      The writers have said that we already know the story, but just haven’t seen it play out yet. Perhaps that story is the whole Swan Station fail safe thing.

  22. docarzt says:

    I agree that Ab Aeterno’s suggestions of evil corrupting forces and, um, corks, didn’t bode well – but it is a matter of execution. We have to remember that the very concept of LOST was considered passe at the time, and look where we are now?

    I would suggest, though, that as always things are not as they seem. Jacob, imho, has the ability to definitively cap this source of evil and for personal reasons has lapsed into playing this game in an attempt to recondition MIB. You gotta wonder about the psyche of someone in his position. Jacob has always been presented as a silent Jim Jones type figure, why should we even be buying that he is a ‘good’ guy? Personally, I’m not buying his gospel. Entirely.

    • RichPundit says:

      Hey “Buddy” DocArzt!

      No doubt my biggest concern is about being scammed with a “dull” LOST mythology explanation that doesn’t “bode well” based on Ab Aeterno and more. I do agree that the acting was exceptional, albeit mostly as written with a powerless, deer-in-the-headlights Ricardo. However, the execution felt like season 3 like “Stranger in a Strange Land” that even Darlton admitted that they were simply marking time … lot’s of rain & mud, and pulling chains out of a wooden ship’s hull. Jacob and MIB both seem mostly clueless and certainly living hapless lifestyles with ragged clothes and crude wine.

      fyi, my Notre Dame best buddy just emailed me a “they tricked us” article about LOST cut/pasting both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles including Jacob, baptism, redemption and much more:

      http://www.slate.com/id/2242745/entry/2248634/

      Hopefully LOST is more satisfying and does more than simply “end” – RichPundit

    • Rams says:

      I absolutely LOVED Ab Aeterno. The little information we got beautifully framed the entire LOST narrative for me. Finally, I know what the stakes are. When I rewatch the series after S6 is over (:-/), I probably will start my rewatch with this episode. Apart from its place in the LOST narrative, I thought it was an excellent hour of television. LOST certainly draws out stunning performances from it actors and the team.

      I have issues with Jacob using people as pawns in a greater game. However, one can also argue that he is providing people a clean slate to work upon, which they did not have before they came to the Island. But that statement basically contradicts his insistence that he could not provide absolution to Richard Alpert. Like his biblical namesake, I believe Jacob probably tricked and entrapped the MIB on the Island, so who can blame him for wanting to get off it? However, I think that Jacob was telling the truth that all hell would break loose if the MIB did get off the Island. I think we need more information before we can decide (even though I think Jacob is HOT ;-) .

      • docarzt says:

        The fact is that he is feeding these people to MIB’s corruption machine. He gives the air of being righteous, but he’s not.

        the realm of Moral Ambiguity, though, has always been at the heart of LOST’s magic as a story. The general fear for me would be to turn every action the survivors have executed into a response to this Jacob/Mib power play. I can buy that they were on the playing board, but their decisions and actions MUST remain their own. That is where the notion of an indiscriminately corrupting force becomes passe in a story sense. It is also where the possibility to cause all of the myth arc to suddenly spoil rests. As Marc says, though, we can always dismiss a flat ending and reflect on the ride instead.

  23. Mack says:

    “Often, we are the cause of our own suffering. This has certainly been the case of most of the characters on Lost. Yes, shit happens here in hell. But as I wrote in “The Message of “Recon”—Learning to Let Go,” we can choose to carry that pain with us our whole lives, or learn to let go. As Ricardo’s wife Isabella tells him at the end of the episode, it was simply her time to go, and there wasn’t anything he could’ve done about it. Carrying around guilt and pain would not bring her back.”

    You hit the nail on the head here and I have a sneaking suspicion the rules of letting go also apply to Jacob. For the last few episodes I have been feeling a strong Fight Club/Tyler Durden vibe around Jacob. I have come to believe that MIB and Jacob are two half’s of a whole-faith in humanity’s ability to be good and to do good, and a strong cynicism about what MIB perceives to be the our innate corruptibility .

    Somewhere along the line Jacob was halved by a very traumatic experience that he has been unable to get over. It is not like we haven’t seen this dichotomy before.

    Only look back in Lost history (Listory) to the ever vacillating John Locke, who pin ponged repeatedly between faith and faithlessness. In the end, there must be reconciliation between faith and science, and cynicism and hope. What comes to mind immediately is the old doctors credo,” physician heal thy self.” Jacob needs to do just that.

  24. ghanima says:

    I love this place because people have such an enthusiasm for this show. But lately the pessimism is really disheartening. Why does everything need to have a mystical magical answer- surely if everything were all Scooby-Doo ish things would also be boring. Cheer up people, try to enjoy it even if your pet theories get flushed, because it’s going to be over soon and then we’re stuck with Flash Forward.

    On a side note, the whole cork thing and keeping MIB on the island and him trying to use someone to get out, totally reminds me of the Doctor Who episode The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, two of my favorites.

    • Mack says:

      “because it’s going to be over soon and then we’re stuck with Flash Forward.”

      I seriously laughed hard when I read this. Pretty much sums up the moment and puts a lot of things in perspective. Good one, brotha….or sista.

      • rlc says:

        Yeah, I laughed pretty hard at that one too! Thanks, ghanima. I’m watching FlashForward, and Dominic Monaghan is, as always, doing wonderful work, but the writing is far from the feast that is Lost. Although on some level I understand and relate to the pessimism many Lost fans are experiencing, I’m enjoying the ride and having faith that in the end we will again be messmerized by its brilliance, even if we have to think about it for a while before we can true appreciate the finale.

        Marc, thanks, as always, for your exceptional work!

  25. Summerland says:

    Marc,Your recaps are great and I look forward to them every week. My best guess at this point…it has to do with Walt’s dog, Vincent. Ancient mythology tells of the dog being the last stopping point in the journey to becoming a human. Possibly this is why we periodically see Walt’s dog on the island, is Vincent watching, waiting and learning to become human from the Losties experiences? Is it possible that Vincent will be the actual candidate somehow? I know this sounds way out but are the other characters, in actuallity, so flawed and in need of redeeming and change they couldn’t fill Jacob’s Sandals? Are any of the candidates capable of protecting the world from evil? When Sawyer broke the mirror last week he broke the grand illusion of him being a policeman and we knew standing there was the true villian, a man incapable of letting go of the past and in desparate need of letting go of all the hate and anger that possesses him.

    In the end are we going to learn that the MIB is really sitting in the tub of bathwater in instead of John Locke? Does this mean that he “made it home” and this is why the island is under water? Bottom line…what did the writers invision as the last episodes of Lost as we have been told? Did they write the story around the “evil” being released into the earthly realm and living among us?

  26. GeorgeM4 says:

    I mentioned it before the 6th season started. We are heading for dissapointment for some. It’s “The Matrix” all over again. People get hooked in the mysteries of a story and have their own ideas about how it should play out. If it doesn’t, it simply sucks for them.

    Nevertheless, Lost is more than a show however dissapointed you are when the last episode ends. It’s a cultural phenomenon. I can’t think of another show that brought people from all over the world together to discuss, theorize, analyze, nitpick, investigate, and debate. These people have read books they wouldn’t think about reading before, evaluated ideas from different cultures and religions, investigated philosophers and their work, got educated in advanced physics, wondered about the meaning of life and death, and more importantly put their fantasy into top gear and stepped on the gas.
    Like Homer’s Odyssey, Lost is more about the journey than the destination.

  27. Jacob says:

    I think BlackSmoke/Locke is the one who has taken form of Isabella, Alex, and even Walt.

  28. Funback Joe says:

    Is Mark the dude that thinks it should all be a video game/ virtual reality simulation?

  29. Funback Joe says:

    Sorry Marc with a C, not MarK. My bad.

  30. JR55 says:

    isn’t it entirely possible, due to the inquisitive nature of the fans, that the writers are just going with what hasn’t been guessed yet?

    think about all the cool (and not so cool) theories that have been posted. this might be all that they have left.

    i think the point of reduced expectations is valid because now they are just going to wrap the story up and leave it vague. not going to go over well, but i think that’s how it’s going down.

    and since i’ve now predicted that, maybe they’ll do something else.

  31. Madge says:

    I think that when a question or something has been built up for a long time, years in this circumstance, you expect that the answer you’re going to get is going to be earthshaking and that’s not always the case. It’s like Christmas, you seen a big box with your name on it and you imagine what super cool thing could be inside and it never quite lives up to your expactation. I’m not saying it’s a box of socks but it’s probably not an Xbox or whatever expensive game system the kids are playing these days. But that doesn’t mean that the time spent wondering was just a waste, it was a fun way to fill the time until you could open the box. I’ve loved watching this show and if the ending isn’t a huge “OMG I never saw that coming, oh Jesus H that was just awesome” mindf***, I won’t feel that I’ve wasted my time watching it. I’ve loved every minute of this show. You point out that we are the usually the cause of our own suffering, well the time and energy you put in to this show was your choice. The writers offered to take you to the airport, that doesn’t mean they have to buy you drinks and dinner once they get you there. I’m only going to be disappointed that the show is over for good, I’m going to miss it.

  32. Dens says:

    Just wanted to put a disclaimer stating I love that Marc and the others have been writing about lost for us. I properly appreciate it and my little dig below comes from a place of love. However…

    In paragraph three there are a load of “What if this answer we’ve been waiting for is JUST….whatever?” questions that make no sense to me.
    What if the black smoke is JUST the personification of evil? (paraphasing) But that is pretty cool.
    Ghosts, also pretty cool.
    Statue smashed up by boat riding tsunami wave = very cool
    The simpler the answers are that we have missed and not worked out in advance of “the big reveal” then the better the storytelling has been. Just seems a little cheap to complain about this. We knew of the broken statue foot and the black rock’s position on the island over five years ago and no-one seemed to put two and two together. I’m impressed with how obvious this answer is, not annoyed by it.

    Anyone found out if there was an actual tsunami/earthquake in 1867 around the time/place of the statue/boat wreck? Or are we assuming the island moving around (via wheel-turning) caused the massive waves?

  33. lylebot says:

    A couple years ago, I read Jason Hunter’s time-loop theory about how the Black Rock was carrying metallic minerals and was yanked onto the island by its magnetic core, and in the process, punched a hole in the invisible bubble that surrounds the island at the coordinate “305”—the one needed to escape without getting the sickness.

    First, this theory makes no sense in the context of the show. The bearing has had two different values (305 and 325).

    Second, how could this be exposited within the show? It’s not the kind of thing you could show, so you’d have to have someone give a speech about it. And who would that be? Richard? Ben? Jacob? Not that it matters, because any such speech would grind the narrative to a halt for no conceivable purpose. Think Ms. Hawking’s speech in 316, the worst exposition scene Lost has done.

    The writers are always going to favor explanations that are straightforward to show on screen, even if they require “magic”, hand-waving, or coincidence. Being able to show it is simply more dramatically compelling. If you’re going to be disappointed by that, then TV and movies will simply never live up to your expectations. Stick with novels.

  34. DC-Matt says:

    With LOST, I like to follow some good advice I learned a few years ago: The level of my serenity is in direct proportion to the level of my expectations. LOST is a brilliant show — but I’m not writing it. So it’s not going to go the way I think it should.

    Frankly, I thought the entire episode this week was a lesson for us fans! I think the writers have something to say about FAITH both in religion, Life, and also the SHOW itself.

    I think I see the road they are taking us down this season, and I’m happy with it. They have created a wonderful soup that combines lots of different ingredients from pop culture, religion, and epic stories of the past, like The Odyssey.

    Be careful who you believe in … and make sure you don’t forget to make your own mind up about things!

    Thanks for this blog. I enjoy reading it every week!!

  35. [...] Spoilers) my main gripe with the episode, but articulated much better, is mirrored here: Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: “Ab Aeterno”-Cadabra! And the Island Is…A Cork?? DocArzt'… [...]

  36. daveisreal says:

    I think Marc may be so concerned with the myth and resolution of the show that he is missing out on the entertainment of it. To me, this episode took me back to the compelling, character-centered, movie-like episodes of days gone by. On its face, this epiode was good. You don’t have to know as much about LOST as we do to appriciate the quality of acting. The scence with Richard, Hurly, and Isabella was brilliant. If we focus too much on “getting answers” and read too much into what every detail means, we lose something that has made this show great. Season 1 hooked us because of the characters, not the mystery. There is no reason that season six can’t continue that.

  37. greg dharma says:

    i like Marc’s reviews, but somehow feel they are burdened by impossibly-high expectations–just like Lost. Comparing the show to mythology and folklore and pop culture references–brilliant. venting about being disappointed by the reality of how the show resolves itself? not so brilliant. this review of possibly the best episode ever of lost seemed a little disconsolate, possibly as a reaction to the overt religions references and christian themes–which actually worked given the context of the 19th century. and, more than any other episode of lost, Ab Aeterno stands on its own. thank goodness, there was no flash-sideways. also, the episode was Kate-free, which is nice. :)

    but how can one make a TV show, especially one which goes on for six seasons, without being contrived? or disappointing some viewers, who have come up with wildly imaginative theories? it’s a Catch-22. and if not a Deus Ex Machina, how else can the questions be resolved? anyone who longs for the heavy-on-the-science days of Lost should rewatch seasons 2,3, 4 and 5. we’ve clearly moved into big picture territory–and that means theology, philosophy, and ideology. we’ve left the Dharma Initiative days behind and instead of being sorry, we should be happy we got to hang out with LeFleur for a while.

    so, i’m not saying Marc and everyone else should lower their expectations, but rather temper them. just watch the show and enjoy it for what it is–entertainment. Hey, we asked for answers, right? so we have to be satisfied with the ones we are given.

  38. [...] Spoilers) my main gripe with the episode, but articulated much better, is mirrored here: Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: “Ab Aeterno”-Cadabra! And the Island Is…A Cork?? DocArzt's LOS… [...]

  39. Kevin says:

    I’m beginning to sense that no matter what explanation if given, many people are going to be disappointed because nothing could really live up to the mystery itself.

  40. jacomo says:

    Count me among the disciples who are losing faith (do I see a jumping shark). Ab Aeterno cannot qualify as one of the greatest episode and does not live up to expectations. The episode, although nice, went on for much to long on events in the very distant past of Ricardo and this without even mentioning the deceiving Black Rock ramming the statue. Must we remind everyone that time is of the essence and that this show is winding down? Richard as been on the island for 140 years and this is all they have to show us? I am definitely worried about the conclusion of what I have considered a great show.

    • Leon says:

      I completely agree with you. I am enjoying this season, however I can’t help but always say it could be better. I’m hoping it’ll get much better as usual since it’s on its second half now.

  41. Leon says:

    Are we ever going to learn more about why Jacob/MIB/Whoever said “Help me” to Locke back in season 3? I don’t really see it mentioned in any articles, either. Am I missing something?

    Besides, I think it’s a bit annoying how they never show bits from the previous seasons in the “Previously on Lost” section this season. Not that I need any reminders of anything, but I figure the season would feel more like a part of the whole series if they did that. I always like when they address older issues like that.

    I also hope the pregnancy issue comes up again, I’m not really satisfied the way it’s still hanging.

  42. gusteaux says:

    I for one still trust the writers. I listened to Darlton’s podcast this morning on EW. They have finished writing the finale and seem to be happy with it. I trust them. They have molded and shaped everything that has come before on LOST. It is their story and, no matter how many STAR TREK’s they make, or whatever else they choose to tackle in the future, LOST will define their careers. And they know it. I have total faith that they will come through for us and for themselves. Every actor on LOST up through the filiming of episode 15 has said that they still don’t know how the story will end. If they don’t, obviously we don’t. Like several posters have said above, the time for theorizing is over. There are only nine hours left. Let’s settle back and enjoy what’s left. I don’t think they will disappoint us.

  43. John Burger says:

    I have been saying for years that if answers are why you watch lost then you really dont like the show. Think about what an answer, after 6 years, really is in your mind. It is simply laying there as a fact. It is only experienced at the time its revealed and is forever just a footnote.

    The reason I watch Lost is the actors are great. The complex flashback writing style is excellent for tying themes into each episode–making that episode stand on it own. Its a writers dream. For years I have also said, from viewing many forums, that the vast majority dont even get the themes presented. They are simply looking for another answer to slip into their book of useless facts.

    People, just about every type of magical ending has already been done. Its not about answers–its about how the scenes are executed. I truly feel sorry for anyone who doesnt understand that. We have heard the same chords and melodies being repeated in music for the last 30 years–yet people keep loving their new songs. Why? Execution.

    • Dru says:

      The reason I watch LOST, is because it is a mystery. I can watch it, absorb it and try and solve it. It is fun, it is engaging and it is challenging.

      What you refer to is like watching Jeopardy…. reading the questions, and then turning off the TV. Never to find if you’re answers were correct.

      Whats the point? It is all about the answers, if it wasn’t, it would be like watching an unfunny version of Saturday night live. Endless skits, with no direction.

      Why?

    • Dorf says:

      “I have been saying for years that if answers are why you watch lost then you really dont like the show.”

      What a silly thing to say. Who are you to decide whether or not someone else likes the show? Get over yourself.

  44. Rooky says:

    I don’t think the island is the cork, I think the way Jacob said it made it sound more like the protectors are the cork. He says that the cork can be removed but then put back, so breaking the bottle kinda showed that even if the MIB removed the cork it wouldn’t be gone for long so he had to destory what was keeping him. THE ISLAND, or the bottle in this case.

  45. arrow says:

    I really liked the episode and your article.
    Remember the volcano on the island.
    Someone had to build the statue.
    Why did the army go there with Jughead in the first place?
    Why all the fertility problems on the island?
    I like trying to connect the dots.

  46. Desi's Brother says:

    Hi Marc

    I liked this post a lot. I think you make some very valid points and I’m also trying to keep the faith right now. It is interesting how the episodes are playing on the fears of fans! I’m not mad about how Gods are being used to solve mysteries that could have been explained scientifically. It is feeling like the science has been abandoned. I’m hoping that is not the case as it is always so much more satisfying than relying on god for answers. I just hope that LOST doesn’t end as poorly as Battlestar Gallactica.

    I would be VERY interested to see a post by you and also Fishbiscuit devoted entirely to analysing the TITLES of episodes for clues to the overall themes and direction of LOST.

    When I review the DVD’s and see the titles I’m often struck by how they seem to give clues to what is coming in later seasons.

    Any chance of that?

  47. Chip says:

    “What if the ghosts seen on the island are actually, well, ghosts—or an impersonation by the “black smoke thingie”?”

    I think it’s pretty clear that’s what they are — sometimes ghosts/people in the afterlife, and sometimes an impersonation by Smokey. We’re supposed to accept on face value now that Hurley really does speak with the dead. And yet Ricardo’s wife on the ship was *not* her, but apparently a Smokey image. Since LOST has from its beginning has dealt with questions of eternity and the afterlife, I don’t have any disappointment here.

    “What if the numbers are just random numbers assigned by a god-like being named Jacob to find his replacement?”

    Judging from Darlton’s comments, it seems that’s indeed what they are. That was satisfying to me, personally.

    “What if the Black Rock got to the middle of the island because Jacob caused a giant storm wave to bring it there? What if doing this caused the four-toed statue to topple?”

    Yep, that’s the way it happened. I wssn’t concerned about either one. I *am* still interested in the significance of the statue on the island and want to see some explanation there, but how it shattered was a non-issue.

    “And what if the island really is nothing more than a metaphorical cork in a bottle to contain the black smoke thingie? In other words, what if the answers to Lost all turn out to be the stuff of Deus Ex Machina?”

    But all of this does not Deus Ex Machina make. It’s clear that Jacob and MIB are not gods (Jacob cannot bring people back from the dead or forgive sins; MIB’s powers are also limited). Rather, LOST is raising timeless mythological questions, and LOST is nothing if not an attempt to be a modern myth.

    “The difference for me is that those magical beings were introduced at the start of the stories, not in its final acts.”

    Here, I partially agree with you, Marc. I think that Jacob and MIB could have been introduced a bit earlier, or at least discussion about Jacob could have been more constant and consistent. (MIB actually did get quite a bit of screen time throughout the years as Smokey.) Knowing of Darlton’s love for Narnia, I think that Jacob is meant to be like Aslan — heard about, but not seen throughout most of history.

    And I think that for most emotional impact, we should have seen part of Richard’s story much earlier. The resolution of “Ab Aeterno” would have been so much stronger if we’d been getting Richard’s backstory in pieces over the years. It’s hard to work up too much emotion for him and his conversation with Isabella near the end from one 45-minute block. And my big criticism of season 6 is that the writers simply have too much to do in too short a period of time. I do think the season will look better in retrospect, but right now it seems a bit weak.

    • Ugly Smitty says:

      “Jacob cannot bring people back from the dead or forgive sins”

      Yes, he can–he brought John back after he fell from the window. Jacob is lying to Richard about not being able to do that.

  48. Kevin says:

    Personally, I love the cork analogy. I’ve thought for a long time that Island is a barrier, or a gateway, between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and this seems to fit that idea.

  49. cap10tripps says:

    Something I’ve been considering, what if there’s a 3rd party involved? There was someone in the cabin who said, “Help me.” Locke heard this, and the ash encircling the cabin was more likely to keep Smokey out than to keep him in. I propose two solutions to this answer. 1) MIB is not smokey or 2) there is a 3rd person involved in the island’s story that we either have seen (Locke?) or haven’t seen that was imprisoned in the cabin.

    • The Mantis says:

      Or maybe it was cool and mysterious in the particular episode and the writers didn’t think far enough ahead to consider it anything other than cool and mysterious. Which I fear might be the case.

      • cap10tripps says:

        That was such a huge tipping point in the entire series that I don’t believe they’d ignore it. I understand your fears, as even our contributors share them. I think there will be some more minor things left behind, but I still have Locke-esque faith in the overall plan.

  50. John says:

    I guess Desmond replaces Jacob.
    He visits Jack on the plane and touched him a la Jacob way.
    Jack will then succeed Desmond.
    The alttimeline is the reality in wich Desmond is the chosen one.

    • The Mantis says:

      I guess I don’t remember Desmond touching Jack on the plane, but if he did, does that theory suppose there is a different Island? Because our Island is at the bottom of the ocean… still an interesting thought. With the whole cork analogy, what does that mean for the “Sideways world” with the Island sunk??

  51. Chelsy says:

    We’ve been hearing about Jacob since season 3, when his name was introduced and Ben conned Locke, and ended up being surprised when the Monster tossed him to the wall and asked John for help. I don’t think they took a long time to introduce either one of them, personally. I thought it was brilliant that the thing in the cabin that we thought was Jacob was actually the Monster, and meeting Jacob, we realized he really is just a simple man in some ways, and it is his seperate existance from his people that really made him seem ‘great’. Both Jacob and MIB have been there since the beginning, only now can we understand who was acting where, and when, or why. It completely sheds light on the Monster’s actions since season one, trying to take Locke, killing certain people, etc. Jacob not ‘helping’ because like he revealed in Ab Aeterno, he wants his people to help themselves. I’m completely satisfied with season six. Richard’s life was pretty much exactly the way I expected it to happen, but even so, my first watch left me a little dazed, and I needed a whole hour of quiet thinking to figure out why I was feeling that way. Re-watching it, I was more satisified than I could have possibly hoped, but if I had immediately gone out and tried to put my feelings into words, it would have ended up sounding like I was disappointed. I really believe Ab Aeterno is one of the best episodes of the entire series, and the one I’m currently obsessed with, something that hasn’t happened since Man Behind the Curtain. It was a story beautifully told, that shed a little more light on the war that has been happening on the Island and a forshadowing of the things that were to come, and are yet to be revealed, most likely in episode fifteen and the series finale. Like Richard, my faith has been restored that there are some great episodes coming up, and the normal build up episodes of season six have so far been better than any season in my opinion since season three, which has been my favorite season for a long time. We’ve had some fantastic character episodes this year, and the answers we’ve been given are the icing on the cake for me.

    • cap10tripps says:

      I really don’t think Smokey was what was in the cabin. Remember there was a circle of ash around it which is used to protect from Smokey. Imho, it was either MIB who is not Smokey or someone whose complete importance we haven’t learned yet.

  52. alexdelarge says:

    i don’t know if this was mentioned before, but do you think that there’s a possibility of a white smoke monster?a battle between black and white monsters could be interesting…maybe jacob has this ability and doesn’t want to use it.

  53. [...] the end of the Lost In Myth column last week, tspete posted a comment that I find very intriguing. He stated that he liked the idea of comparing [...]

  54. [...] the end of the Lost In Myth column last week, tspete posted a comment that I find very intriguing. He stated that he liked the idea of comparing [...]

  55. [...] the end of the Lost In Myth column last week, tspete posted a comment that I find very intriguing. He stated that he liked the idea of comparing [...]

  56. [...] Marc Oromaner's Lost In Myth: “Ab Aeterno”-Cadabra! And the Island … [...]

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