Smile Politely

Allegory of the Jug

Ab Aeterno is Latin for “from eternity.” The phrase can mean “since the beginning” or “for long ages.” In this episode we finally learn mysterious Richard Alpert’s ancient past and are finally, concretely asked to ponder the yin/yang good/evil of everything the island has shown us… and more importantly ask — do we know the difference between the two?


An episode showing us more of the historical relationship between Jacob and the Man In Black. The battle these two Entities waged over Richard seemed to be the first phase of Man In Black’s 140-years-in-the-making escape plan.


[This week has lots from Doc Jensen, I encourage you to read his fantastic columns]


  1. The Black Rock’s arrival date. We assumed that the ship that Jacob and the Man In Black saw last season was The Black Rock. Incorrect, that was 1845, it appears the Black Rock sailed in 1867.
  2. Many of us have commented on the sketchy CGI (see this week’s blue butterfly), hard not to agree. On the other side, I have to point out that Richard’s eyes looking cataract-gray blind right before he was freed by MIB was very well done.
  3. MIB to Richard 1867: ”My friend, you and I can talk all day long about what is right and what is wrong but the question before you remains the same: Do you ever want to see your wife again?” This is ”Consequentialism.” A weaknesses of ”Consequentialism” is its loose definition of justice. Jeremy Bentham, (the name Charles Widmore gave John Locke before his death) was an expert on this.
  4. Notice: MIB’s always helps people to their feet. Jacob always has the individual do it themselves.
  5. Notice: Hurley and Richard switched roles last night, with Hurley playing Island advisor and Richard playing confused spiritual seeker.
  6. Richard to Isabella: “I would do anything for us to be together again.” She replied, ”My love. We are already together.” Reminder from last week: It’s what Michael Landon said in that Little House on the Prairie clip: It’s about ”knowing that people aren’t really gone when they die. We have all the good memories to sustain us until we see them again.’


  1. Anyone understand how The Black Rock survived The Island hurricane or how it landed in the middle? Obviously they were in a huge storm that lifted them to the height of Tawaret’s (statue) head…any thoughts?
  2. Freewill: Why doesn’t Jacob doesn’t take a more active role in shepherding his spiritual reclamation projects? He says: ”Because I want them to help themselves. To be able to tell 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?” Richard’s reply: ”If you don’t, he will.” Thoughts?
  3. Jacob touches Richard and grants him eternal life. Does this indicate that the other Losties he’s touched have eternal life? Or maybe it’s all a farce if they are already dead?
  4. If Jacob really was some kind of God/Jesus figure, you’d think he would have been able to grant Richard’s first two requests: He asked for his wife back and absolution of his sins. Thoughts?
  5. Why did Jacob defend himself against Richard in 1867, but not against Ben in 2007?


  1. Allegory of the Jug — Jacob tells Richard: ”Think of this wine for what you keep calling hell. There are 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 thinks 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.’ Discuss.
  2. The island is a second-chance place where you and other last-chance souls can band together and prove yourself to the gods (God) and successfully redeem yourself for Heaven.
  3. From the novel Lancelot: At the end of the book the protagonist comes to a six-point conclusion about the world. Pay close attention to Number 5. ”1. We are living in Sodom (Hell). 2. I do not propose to live in Sodom or to raise my son and daughters in Sodom. 3. Either your God exists or he does not. 4. If he exists, he will not tolerate Sodom much longer. 5. If God does not exist, then it will be I not God who will not tolerate. I, one person. I will start a new world single-handedly or with those like me who will not tolerate it. 6. I’ll wait and give your God more time.”
  4. Man In Black’s current incarceration had something to do with buying into something Jacob had once sold him long ago — something that hadn’t gone exactly as planned or promised… which is why he wants to be released so badly. Discuss.
  5. MIB reminded Richard that siding with Jacob meant that he could never see his wife again — the Sideways world (where the island has sunk to the bottom of the ocean and MIB has been released) is the fulfillment of the Man In Black’s (empty? wonderful?) promises. Discuss.
  6. All souls are trapped on The Island because Jacob refuses to let them go. Akin to the Old Testament where God would discuss with His prophets, whereby a wicked city could be saved if one ”good soul” can be found — Maybe Jacob has been holding onto all those souls who’ve lost the wager because he’s waiting to find that one good person that can give them all a second chance at life? Maybe Man In Black thinks that’s fundamentally wrong or unnatural, which is why he’s so desperate to just end this whole damn redemption game, so everyone can move on to whatever afterlife they deserve — including himself. Breaking the metaphorical bottle wouldn’t release the Great Evil — it would simply set the prisoners of Jacob’s purgatory free. Discuss.


Conversation between Jacob and Richard.

Conversation between Jacob and the Man In Black/Samuel

Finally…After this episode Rainn Wilson, star of The Office, tweeted the following: ”Tonight’s (LOST) episode was one of TV’s greatest of all time. I’m gay for the eternal Richard Alpert.” Hard to argue with that.

Post Away friends!

Related Articles