Batmanuel of the South Pacific

Lost – “Ab Aeterno”
Is this the first episode of Lost not to spend any time in any plot thread on the Island and just be largely an extended flashback, albeit a flashback on the Island?
Grab your spoon and decanter of wine and let’s head to spoiler island after the break

One of the worst things about season 3 was how stale the show became, with tepid flashbacks about the main characters, in order to avoid moving the plot forward. Lost has managed to be so effective with its format that an episode that completely breaks the format can be so engaging because it is so unexpected. I kept waiting for the flashback to return to the Lostaways on the beach, but instead just told a relatively straightforward story with large sections of dialog entirely in Spanish with English subtitles.
Even though the Lost community has figured out some of the basic contours of Richard’s story — this episode did confirm that he arrived on the Black Rock– the dynamics of his first interactions with Jacob and the Man in Black were interesting and compelling enough to make this episode fully engaging. Is this the first episode to involve the core Lostaways so minimally? Marc Pellegrino and Titus Welliver brought a nice energy to the nineteenth century version of the Island, giving us a bigger look into their long war without revealing too much.
Given his first opportunity to carry an episode, Nestor Carbonell did more than rock some guyliner. He showed that the different side of Richard that appeared a couple of weeks ago, trying to blow himself up with dynamite in the Black Rock, was the same Richard that came to the Island in the first place. Perhaps because of Jacob’s gift, after a while, Richard came around to believing that he was, in fact, in a hell of his own making.
After spending more time with Jacob in the nineteenth century, when he was kind of a dick, do we know any more of what the relationship is between Jacob and Smokey? Jacob is Smokey’s jailor on the Island? Did Richard’s dead wife tell Hurley the truth, that letting the Man in Black out would bring evil to the world? If the flashes sideways are the stories that the candidates would have lived if not for the intervention of Jacob, then is that also a version of the timeline under the influence of the Man in Black being freed?
If Richard was Jacob’s first acolyte to pass indirect instructions, why did the Others all speak Latin?
As Lost showed first showed back with Through the Looking Glass, changing up the rhythm and energy of the show’s structure can work wonders to keeping a long-running series fresh,and by taking a fresh approach to looking at one of the longest standing mysteries on the show, especially because that approach was simply straightforward and well done to great success.

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