Insta-Reaction: Now that's more like it. When Lost's writers compared their story to The Stand, they weren't mucking around. The mythology of Lost leaps like Van Morrison, directly Into The Mystic with this episode and while I loved it, I have a feeling that this episode is going to fiercely divide viewers - either you're on-board with a struggle between "evil" and "good" or you're not. Those of you wanting a purely scientific resolution to this show are probably feeling a little disappointed right now (and now that I've taken a look at Chud's message board at can see that this is definately the case there). But with respect, Lost has made the "two sides: one dark, one light" theme explicit from the beginning. moaning about that now seems a little belated. In addition, while the conflict between these two men has taken on mythic/religious overtones, we know explicitly that both these figures are/were men.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Ricardo Alpert, loving husband, accidental murderer, deathrow convict, shipboard slave, Island arrival, Jacob-rep, and man of teetering faith. The way in which Lost has chosen to dramatize the struggle between "sin" and "salvation" in this season is extraordinary, and offers us a surprisingly complex look at human morality and the pull of opposing forces on the conscience and (if you believe in it) the soul.
As of tonight's installment I've made my peace with the whole answers thing. Lost seems committed to doling out their answers the same way that they always have - in small bites. Those bites are seeded into episodes that focus on the journeys of these characters, and in episodes like this one, those journeys are a portion of the answers themselves. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on in Ab Aeterno, and coupled with an enormously admirable performance by Nestor Carbonell, that makes it the best episode of the season as far as I'm concerned.
"I was set up 'from everlasting' (in Latin, 'Ab Aeterno'), from the beginning, or ever the earth was." -Proverbs 8:23
Ab Aeterno is the title of tonight's episode, and it has the potential to be an hour of revelations. Leave your thoughts on the episode here - I'll be by after it airs to give you my Insta-Reaction. One observation: the Bible quote above refers to God being set in Heaven "from everlasting, or "from eternity." This can also be seen to refer to Richard's condition, as he's been set on the Island for what has seemed an eternity, to serve Jacob's purpose. Also interesting: The wording of the King James translation ("set up from everlasting," as opposed to "furnished," or "appointed," as other translations have interpreted) reinforces the notion of being "set up," as in conned - a subject that Lost has been fascinated with "from everlasting." Many more thoughts to come in this week's Back to the Island column, out Thursday on Chud.com.
Edited to add: Apparently the episode runs six minutes long, so set your Tivos and DVRs accordingly.