And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
A lot to talk about, so let's get right into it:
Our Richard backstory, in all its glory. Finally, we get our episode that we've been waiting for since about Season 3. And the writers gave us exactly what we wanted. Who is Richard? How did he get on the island? What is his purpose? They did it the right way, too, making the entire episode about his story, and not dealing with any other plot points on the island. So what did we learn? For starters, Richard is from the Canary Islands, a Spanish colony off the coast of Africa. He accidentally killed a doctor while trying to save his wife's life, and was arrested for his crime, but spared from hanging when he was purchased by an officer of the Black Rock to become a slave. The Black Rock crashed on the island, after a tidal wave carried it inland. The Nemesis killed the surviving crew members, except for Richard. In Richard, the Nemesis saw something that he could use, a way to manipulate him into killing Jacob. He convinced Richard that he was dead, that he was in hell, by having Isabella appear to him, and tell him that the devil was after them. He then appeared to Richard in his human form, further convincing Richard that he was in hell, that the devil was out there, and that Richard needed to kill him. To get Richard to go along with this, he promised that he would see Isabella, only after the devil was killed.
The conflict in Richard's heart makes a lot more sense now that we have this backstory. Ultimately, he is a pawn in the battle between Jacob and the Nemesis. The Nemesis is trying to convince him of one possible truth, and Jacob another. While we, the audience, are led to believe that it's Jacob that is telling the truth, at the end of the day we don't know for sure, and Richard probably doesn't either. He certainly doesn't know enough to have an everlasting faith in what Jacob wants. Without Jacob, Richard is a lost soul, with no one to listen to or follow. But he knows that he can always follow the Nemesis, that is a door that has never closed.
But then there's Isabella. Perhaps the one person that Richard will listen to. How she was able to appear to Hurley, I don't know. But perhaps Jacob had something to do with it. And now, Richard has a purpose. He knows what he's supposed to do. He's not supposed to follow the Nemesis, he's supposed to stop him. Stop him from ever leaving. Keep him bottled up.
Jacob: My name is Jacob. I'm the one who brought your ship to the island.
Richard: You brought it here? Why?
J: Think of this wine as what you keep calling hell. There's many other names for it too. Malevolence. Evil. Darkness. And here it is, swirling around in the bottle, unable to get out. Because if it did, it would spread. The cork, is this island. And it's the only thing keeping the darkness, where it belongs. That man who sent you to kill me believes that everyone is corruptible because it's in their very nature to sin. I bring people here to prove him wrong. And when they get here, their past doesn't matter.
R: Before you brought my ship, there were others?
J: Yes. Many.
R: What happened to them?
J: They're all dead.
R: If you brought them here, why didn't you help them?
J: Because I wanted them to help themselves. To know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them. It's all meaningless if I have to force them to do anything. Why should I have to step in?
R: If you don't, he will.
J: Do you want a job?
R: A job? Doing what?
J: Well, if I don't want to step in, maybe you can do it for me. You can be my representative, an intermediary between me and the people I bring to the island.
That's a lot to digest right there. The island is a prison, essentially. It is what keeps the Nemesis, the evil
from spreading to the rest of the world. Jacob is keeping the Nemesis on the island. But there's more to the island than that. With Jacob and Nemesis, it's also about the nature of man. Is man naturally good, or naturally evil. People are brought to the island so that Jacob can prove his case, while the Nemesis tries to prove his. This means death for those that come to the island (at least so far it has), but is their death a sacrifice for a greater cause? Or is this just an intellectual discussion between two deities, stuck with each other on an island for an eternity?
I thought a cork was an interesting metaphor for the island. A cork is able to float when placed in the water. With the cork in place, keeping the evil bottled up, everything on the island seems fine. But perhaps, in another reality, the evil has escaped, and that has somehow caused the cork to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
I heard a very appropriate label given to Jacob; he's not a good person, but he's on the side of good. I think that sums him up perfectly. Jacob is not infallible, he's not necessarily someone I would quantify as being a good guy. He brings people to the island against their will, where they almost always end up dead. Is that something a good person would do? Whether you like him or not, he's a manipulator, as evidenced by his actions towards Richard, or really anyone else he's brought to the island. Brought
. Not invited. That is not how Jacob works. He may tell you that you always have a choice, but not when it involves coming to the island. And yet, he believes in the goodness of mankind.
So what do you do with that? Is that someone you root for? He may be a better person than the Nemesis, but does that make him a good guy? I can't help but struggle with this idea. I don't think I can get behind the idea of the good guy being the person that takes people away from their lives so that they can be on the island to play out this idea that man is either good or evil knowing that death is the most likely result. And yet, I certainly can't get behind the ideas of the Nemesis, who kills for no reason, manipulates, and tries to corrupt, all for his own selfish goal of escaping the island.
I think there has to be more to it than that. Everyone that has died on the island, it has to have been for something. Right now, it feels like they died for nothing. Who is Jacob? Who is the Nemesis? How did they come to be on the island? I don't think we can get the full picture of either one's intentions until we have the answers to these questions.
We have a little more backstory on the candidates, and where we stand with them. We saw Jacob go to Ilana, as we initially saw in "The Incident", only this time we saw him explain her purpose. To protect the remaining candidates. He clearly gave her explicit instructions and information regarding the layout and inner workings of the island. He also gave her a list of people to protect, only in somewhat amusing fashion, only gave her the last names, which leads to a bit of confusion when two people with the same last name are on the island. We also know that whomever is a candidate, may need to watch their back, or else they may end up dead.
Nemesis: Because I want to leave. Just let me leave, Jacob.
Jacob: As long as I'm alive you're not going anywhere.
N: Well then, now you know why I want to kill you. And I will kill you Jacob.
J: Even if you do, someone else will take my place.
N: Well, then I'll kill them too.
I do have to wonder if it's as simple as that. The Nemesis killing candidates. The Nemesis killing the next Jacob. We know he wants to leave the island, but there are certainly restrictions in place, otherwise he would have just killed everyone by now and left. I don't think he can kill the candidates, but he certainly wants them dead before one of them becomes the next Jacob, because we certainly know he can't kill Jacob. So he has to continue to manipulate, and make promises, to anyone that will listen, so that he can get others to do his dirty work, and help him ultimately escape.
Switching gears a bit, I talked a few weeks ago about the flash sideways, and what they might mean regarding the big picture. I'd like to share another interesting theory that was shared with me by Julius Goat
via The Onion's A.V. Club
Let's go back to Season 3. The hatch has imploded. The electromagnetic energy that was being controlled, was seemingly released. At the center of this release was Desmond Hume. After the implosion, Desmond had some kind of a deja vu, from several years ago, when he was still in England, and still with Penny. While he remembered his time on the island, he was also just happy to get on with his life with Penny, and make the right decisions this time. Every so often, certain moments would seemingly jog his memory to events on the island (the microwave reading 1:08, seeing Charlie in the streets, the race around the world, etc.). Eventually, he ran into Ms. Hawking, who explained to him what was going on, how he was destined to end up on the island, how he was destined to push the button, and there was nothing he could do to change it. His deja vu ended when a scene he remembered in the bar played out, only he changed the end of it by warning the bartender to duck at the last second to avoid being hit with a cricket bat, Desmond getting hit in the process instead. When he awoke, he was back in the jungle on the island, only his head still hurt from the cricket bat.
You can't help but notice the similarities between Desmond's deja vu and what we've seen in the flash sideways. It's the same world, only with different decisions made. We've seen multiple instances of people seemingly having their memory jogged at moments that might make them think of their other world on the island. What if someone comes along as Eloise Hawking did, or something happens, to make them remember what really happened. What if they all realize that they have to go back to actual reality, and wake up back on the island, as Desmond did? And what if they already did? I theorized before that these flash sideways might be the epilogue to the story. What if it's actually in the past? This could all take place immediately after the Incident, and after the series of flash sideways are complete, we cut to Jack, Kate, and everyone waking up on the island, in 2007, realizing the Incident didn't work. Desmond was in the hatch when he had his deja vu. Everyone was at the site of the hatch when the Incident happened. It certainly seems plausible to me that these two events caused similar reactions.
Very intriguing theory that I liked a lot when I read it.
Let's get to some quick hits:
-I thought Richard killing the doctor was very reminiscent of Desmond killing Kelvin Inman. An accidental struggle leads to a fatal blow to the back of the head. And just as Desmond was forced to spend his remaining days in the hatch by himself, Richard was punished, set aboard a slave ship, and ultimately taken to the island, alone.
-So, the Nemesis gives Richard "the" dagger, and gives Richard the exact same instructions to kill Jacob that Dogen gave Sayid to kill the Nemesis. Hmm.
-This was a significantly more aggressive Jacob than what we've seen in past episodes. I find it interesting that he fought Richard when he tried to kill him, but let Ben stab him.
-Speaking of Ben, it makes a lot more sense to me why he let Ben kill him. We've seen that Jacob is all about letting people make choices, on their own. Now, we know that he doesn't want to interfere in what people do. He doesn't want to tell people what the right thing is to do. Which is why when Ben went to kill him, he told Ben that he had a choice. It's why Miles told Ben that his last thoughts were that he hoped he was wrong about Ben. He doesn't want to interfere, even if it means his death. Perhaps he was also more accepting of his death knowing that Ilana and the remaining candidates were there on the island.
-I do hope we get to find out Ilana's backstory, how she came to know Jacob, why she was bandaged in that hospital, why she considers Jacob to be a father figure.
-How can you not love Hurley's new role on this show? As I was discussing with a friend of mine, Hurley's probably the one genuinely good guy on the show that everyone likes, and is rooting for. So to have him become one of the more integral people on the island? Awesome.
-Not that it needs to be said, but great, touching backstory for Richard. After seeing so little from Richard in the way of emotion, or character motivation, Nestor Carbonell killed it with his performance. His path leading up to his arrival on the island was tragic, and you had to feel for him when he was sitting there all alone on the ship, trying to wriggle a plank loose to get to the nail to try and get out of his chains. The end of the episode, with his wife speaking to him, very emotional. I also really liked the decision to not actually have Hurley deliver all of her lines, and instead make it appear as if they were talking to each other.
-"Good to see you out of those chains." *thumbs up*
-Hurley shunning Jack was greatness. Another added benefit to Hurley's new role, he gets to put Jack in his place.
-Poor Frank has been relegated to Captain Obvious duty. Two weeks ago, it was "Hey, I was supposed to fly Oceanic 815 ya know. Good thing I didn't, my life would have been so different" (Insert comment about fate and destiny since you're on the island anyways here). This week, we have Ben saying he's known Richard since he was twelve, followed by Frank chiming in with "You mean you've known him since you were both kids?" (Insert comment about Richard's lack of aging even though we all already know he doesn't age here). Can someone please get this man up to speed?
Alright, that's all I've got. Great episode, one that has been highly anticipated for years and still managed to deliver. We were given some big pieces to the puzzle without too many new questions to handle for a change. It should be interesting to see if next week has a bit of a letdown feel to it, as is often the case after big episodes, like season premieres. Thanks for reading, see you next week.