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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Top 12 Lost Episodes EVER! #9 - Ab Aeterno

Continuing the countdown to Lost’s final episode. Here’s my top 12 so far:
#12 – Two for the Road
#11 - Some Like It Hoth
#10 - The Shape of Things to Come
and number #9 is……..

Ab Aeterno
Season: 6
Character-centric: Richard

There are so few episodes in television that are so great stand alone that you don’t necessarily have to be a watcher of the show to enjoy them. Ab Aeterno is one of those episodes. Yet, at the same time, it manages to answer a lot of questions.

First, it answers how long Richard has been alive (roughly 150 years). Throughout the series, and since his introduction in ‘Not in Portland’, Lost viewers slowly wondered why the heck this guy never aged. This episode provides a simple answer, because Jacob gave him the gift of eternal youth.

Richard Alpert has always been one of the most mysterious characters on Lost. He’s always been the cool, calm, collective leader that Ben Linus could never be. But this is when his character breaks. After finding out that his master, Jacob, has bit the dust, he loses it. And rightfully so.

This kind of reminds me of the whole Crisis plot in DC comics. If you recall, Lex Luthor of another dimension is a good guy, and prepares his whole life to save the otherworlds of the DC universe. Alexander Luthor (as he is known by) helps our friends in the mainstream verse and saves the day from all destruction from Anti Monitor. Peace is restored, all is saved, and Alex retires in paradise. Happy ending, right? Not quite so. Now, with no purpose left in life, Alex goes a bit nutty and convinces himself all universes must be destroyed. Good grief.

That’s the dilemma Richard was facing. For over 100 years, he spent his time on a purpose, the purpose of Jacob. Now that his purpose was shattered, it was time for him to go Daffy. Luckily for the castaways, he wasn’t ready to go bonkers. Instead, he was reassured by the one thing that always seems to restore balance in every great story. Love.

That pretty much sums Richard’s story to a tee. No over the top gimmicks in this episode. Instead, we’re treated to a simple, yet well written story, about a man who lost it all only to find salvation, and only to lose it again.

But when it comes down to it, Ab Aeterno is great because of the simplest reason, acting. Nestor Carbonell should get an Emmy based on this performance alone. His acting is so top notch that it sucks you into the world of Richard Alpert. When he is sad, you are sad. When he is scared, you are scared. When he is angry, you are angry. Only the rarest of performances can elicit such emotions from its audience.

But that’s what Lost does. Behind all the smoke monsters, polar bears, and time warps, the core of the show has always been on the strength of the emotions and journeys of its characters. And that’s why I enjoy the show so much.

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