WHEW. That's about all I can say after last night's BAM-IN-YO-FACE slam dunk of an episode. I felt at the end the same way I felt at the end of "The Constant": like things were making sense, and intrigued, yet confused. But most importantly, excited!
The LOST producers were really winking at us the whole night, with Richard announcing early on that they're all in Hell and Jacob calling his enemy the "Man in Black." I both like that and don't like it; I don't want the producers taking their cues from us! But quibbles aside, let's get on with it.
RICHARD BACKSTORY GREATNESS
That was such a rich backstory with really excellent storytelling, heartwrenching love and loss, questions of faith and more. It was like a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel or something, which is kind of the beauty of LOST. Because of the backstories and flash forwards, the producers have been able to explore almost every genre: the buddy cop show, the "Bourne Identity" show, the Spanish colonial romance.
I loved most how the backstory humanized this man who's always been stone-faced and passive, especially with his struggle with faith. He starts out a devout Catholic, is told he has no chance at forgiveness by a priest, believes he's landed in Hell, finds out he hasn't, but must now serve as a prophet, only to lose his faith more than 100 years into the gig. It was just very rich and complex and delicious.
Most delicious was his redemption toward the end of the episode, when Hurley found him at his most vulnerable, about to make a deal with the devil. He found his faith again.
Ah, the devil references were abundant in this episode. The priest told Ricardo in jail, "The devil awaits you in hell." As the boat of Captain Magnus tossed toward the island, a fellow prisoner shouted "El Diablo!" When Ricardo sees his beloved Isabella in the cargo hold, she tells him they're in Hell.
When he comes face-to-face with the would-be devil (an incredibly sexy Titus Welliver; don't tell me I'm the only one who has a thing for the bad guys!), he tells him, "The devil took my body." Literally, perhaps?
And of course, Jacob tells Ricardo the man he met is a darkness that needs to be kept in, like wine in a bottle.
So this brings us to the most important question: Is the MIB the "devil"?
The evidence is stacked against him. He...
- Wears black
- Is incredibly charming
- Kills people as a black pillar of smoke
- Possibly appears in the form of lost loved ones
- Makes offers that are hard to refuse
There was a moment when he was talking to Ricardo in the ship that even I was almost convinced he was in the right. The thought occurred to me: what if Jacob were the devil? What if Jacob took his body, he was forced to inhabit a dead body (as he has with Locke) and has no real body? But how? And why?
Jacob's endless messing with people (who just end up killing each other) and mind games don't make him look too good either...but the same could be said of the Judeo-Christian concept of God, could it not?
And what to make of his plan to kill Jacob, which had pretty much the exact instructions Dogen gave Sayid to kill the MIB? Was the MIB stealing Jacob's line or were Dogen's instructions possibly misguided?
In the end, I was pretty much swayed in Jacob's favor. He makes good sense, and he wears white and is blonde, and in our culture, that means he's probably the "good one." But how does he "bring" people to the Island? Is he God, quite unlike we imagined him? Is the Island the gate to Hell and he, the gatekeeper? Is Widmore the closest thing to a real chosen one, with his electro-charged gates that keep the smoke out?
THE BEST LINES
I'll finish by sharing some of the best lines, imbued with deeper meaning and possible hidden clues:
- "Verily, I say to unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country." - Luke 4:24, where Richard's Bible lands open.
- "No one comes in unless I invite them in." - Jacob, talking about the statue. Seems like a lot of people have come in uninvited lately.
- "He believes it's in man's nature to sin. I bring people here to prove him wrong" and "I want them to know the difference between right and wrong. I have no desire to step in." - Jacob, right before he names Ricardo his "representative."
- "It wasn't your fault. It was my time. You've suffered enough. We are already together." - Isabella
- "You have to stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island. If you don't, we'll all go to hell." - Hurley
Lastly, what about Ilana? I get the impression she might be older than she looks, too, due to her intimate knowledge of the island. But what do I know?