On this week's Lost, we finally learn some of the island's secrets thanks to Richard Alpert, who's faced with a difficult choice. Among the revelations: where he came from, who he really is and how long he's been on the mysterious island, which means a lot more screen time for the original Man in Black (Titus Welliver) and Jacob (Mark Pellegrino). Another notable guest-star in this hour is Mirelly Taylor as Isabella, Richard's wife before he got to the island.
Hi, Natalie Abrams here! I'll be covering this mythos-heavy episode instead of regular Lost recapper, Mickey O'Connor, who is on vacation. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started, shall we?
The episode opens on Ilana recalling to the group of weary survivors — Jack, Hurley, Ben, Lapidus, Miles and Richard — about Jacob's visit to her in the hospital, which we briefly saw in the Season 5 finale. Jacob has asked her to protect six people, the remaining candidates, and get them to the Temple. So, right off the bat we get a key answer: Both Sun and Jin Kwon are not on the list, it's an either-or situation. Ilana adds that Jacob said Richard will know what to do once they are at the Temple, but Richard has no idea what to do.
"Want to know a secret Jack? Something I've known a long, long time. You're dead," Richard says, still reeling from Jacob's death and his lack of purpose. "We're all dead, every single one of us, and this is not what you think it is. We're not on an island, we never were. We're in hell."
Oh yay, Richard just gave us the answer to the entire series of Lost. The end, thanks for reading the recap guys!
Kidding aside, Richard decides it's time to start listening to someone else — the Man in Black — and takes off into the jungle. Ilana insists they go after him, but Jack thinks he's gone off his rocker. This is when they have to explain that Locke is still walking around on the island, he's just not himself anymore.
Jack turns to his now de facto, albeit dead, leader Jacob, through Hurley of course, but unfortunately the advice Hugo is receiving is coming from someone who speaks Spanish. Now my high school Spanish skills are a little rusty, but here we go: "Yes, I can help you, but I don't know how to find them and I don't know which way they went." OK, I lied, my Spanish-speaking roommate helped me out with that and assured me he does say them, not he, as in Richard. So who else is Hurley meant to find?
While this is happening, Ben comes clean that Richard has looked the same since he was a little tot, so if he didn't know anything back then, he surely doesn't know now. Cue to a flashback of Richard horseback riding through Tenerife, Canary Islands in 1867. He's rushing home to his sick wife, Isabella. When she begins to cough up blood, Richard decides it's time for a doctor. Isabella knows she won't make it by the time he gets back, so she gives him her crucifix necklace and says they'll always be together.
Richard uses her necklace as payment for the expensive medicine, but it's not good enough for the snooty doc. In a begging struggle, Richard accidentally kills the doctor, but still obtains the medicine needed to save his wife. By the time he returns, she's dead and he's being carted off to jail for murdering the doc.
A day before he is set to be hanged, Richard meets with a pastor who finds out that Richard has been learning English by reading the Bible because he wanted to move to the new world with his wife. Richard is currently reading Luke: "I say unto you, 'No prophet is accepted in his own country...'" (Point to ponder: Could this relate to the Man in Black not being accepted on the island and trying to leave? Or each of candidates not being accepted in life? Jack's divorce, Kate being a fugitive, Sawyer being a con-man, etc.)
Richard begs to be absolved of his sins, but he cannot do that without penance, and there's not nearly enough time to achieve that. "I'm afraid the devil awaits you in hell," the pastor says. Luckily, Capt. Magnus Hanso (!) is looking for strong, sturdy men to bring to the new world, and with that, Richard is whisked away on the Black Rock.
The Black Rock is no cruise ship, though. One: The accommodations are terrible! Richard is shackled up down below. I'd personally ask for a new room. Two: The ship hits a freaking storm. (Point to ponder: Is it just me, or was the last time we saw the Black Rock sailing the seven seas a clear day at the end of Season 5? Did Jacob procure this storm just to bring these travelers to the island?) The ship finally reaches land, though the slaves underneath think it's guarded by the devil because of the giant four-toed statue that is towering over them. Good thing the ship broke that sucker into pieces before launching clear into the middle of the island.
The ships' passengers wake up, still in chains, in the middle of the jungle. Captain Hanso comes down and decides to start killing off the prisoners because there won't be enough rations for them all to survive. Richard is saved by Old Smokey, who kills the remaining survivors outside the boat. The smoke comes in and takes the captain's body to boot. Richard turns around to see the smoke coming down the stairs. Smokey proceeds to flash on him, deeming him worthy of survival.
Point to ponder: We've assumed for many seasons that the people flashed and spared by the smoke monster we're deemed good, rather than evil or a detriment to the island. From the events that take place in tonight's episode, it seems MIB kept them alive for his own means. In their flashes, he sees their deepest desire and how desperate they are to obtain it. MIB exploits that for his own gain.
Through fruitless efforts, Richard attempts to get free from his chains. While stuck there, his dead wife Isabella appears to him and says they are both in hell, calling the black smoke the devil. When Old Smokey returns for Round 2, Richard pleads with Isabella to run away. She's "killed" by the smoke as she makes her escape. It becomes quite clear through the episode that she was the smoke just trying to play with Richard's emotions. Of course, when his "savior" arrives and fuels that fire, Richard will do damn near anything to get Isabella back.
The Man in Black wakes Richard with water and the promise of escape from the Black Rock, though he does bum him out by saying Richard is actually dead and his wife has been kidnapped by the devil. "I need to know that you will help me," MIB says before attempting to free Richard. "You'll do anything I ask?" So, the only way to escape hell is by killing the devil and now Richard is tied to that promise because Smokey really wants to get off the island. "It's good to see you out of those chains," he adds, a throw back to when UnLocke said that to Richard outside of the statue earlier in Season 6.
MIB convinces Richard to kill the devil by stabbing him with the mystical knife. Be sure not to let him speak, he says, and do not hesitate. (Point to ponder: While some previous commenters have said that no talking thing is a strict rule, I believe it's only said because if the object of the killing speaks, he will likely convince them not to do it.)
"How can I kill him when he's black smoke," Richard says. "No, I am," replies MIB. Best. Line. Ever. "The devil betrayed me, he took my body, my humanity," he continues. If Richard ever wants to see Isabella again, he must kill Jacob, which harkens back to my point to ponder on MIB exploiting people's deepest desires.
Richard sets out on his mission, but doesn't make it very far before being slapped around my Jacob, who tries to then explain that Richard is not really dead, meaning he's not going to be seeing his wife anytime soon. To prove his point, Jacob dunks Richard in the ocean repeatedly until he screams that he wants to live. "That's the first sensible thing you've said," Jacob replies. (Point to ponder: Did Jacob just baptize Richard?)
Jacob explains that he is not the devil, despite being the one who brought Richard's ship to the island. This proceeds into one of the most mesmerizing and revealing monologues on Lost to date:
"Think of this wine as what you keep calling hell. There's many other names for it, too: malevolence, evil, darkness. 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."
So, the island is the stopper keeping evil (Just the Man in Black or could it be something more?) from spreading throughout the world. Since the island is the cork, that must mean that MIB needs the people still alive in present day to help him escape. The unanswered question is: If the island has sunk in the sideways universe, and a bomb can't really kill Old Smokey, where is MIB in that timeline? (Point to ponder: If you're wondering why we didn't see Richard in the sideways universe during the episode, it's because he's likely been long dead.)
Jacob proceeds to explain the game, so to speak, to Richard: MIB believes that all people can be corrupted and are inherently evil. Jacob tries to prove him wrong by bringing people to the island to test their ability to distinguish between good and bad. However, Jacob never interferes or helps them along that path, which Richard thinks is a bad idea since each castaway before him has died. "Do you want a job?" Jacob asks him. "If I don't want to step in, maybe you can do it for me. You can be my representative and intermediary between me and the people I bring to the island."
Richard's up for the job, but only if he can have something in return. His wife? Nope, Jacob can't bring people back from the dead. Absolution for his sins? Can't do that either. "Then I never want to die. I want to live forever," says Richard, knowing that if he never dies, he never has to face the devil. Jacob agrees as he puts a hand on Richard's shoulder. So all along it was Richard who wished to live forever, not forced by Jacob as some may have thought.
Richard returns to MIB with a message in the form of a white rock: Jacob won this round. MIB says that if Richard ever changes his mind, his offer always stands. MIB gives Richard a present in return: Isabella's necklace, which he proceeds to bury lest he keep a sick reminder of the wife he will never see again.
Back in the present, Richard returns to unbury the necklace while screaming to the skies that he's changed his mind in wanting to work with MIB, but the only person who answers him is Hurley. It was Isabella who was speaking to Hurley earlier in the episode and through him, she's able to give Richard absolution, saying it's not his fault she died. Seeing as he's no longer planning to work for the devil, Richard returns the cross to his neck. There's one more thing Isabella said: Richard has to stop the Man in Black from leaving the island because if he doesn't, everyone will go to hell. Guess who's standing on a ridge overhearing the convo? UnLocke, of course!
Back in the past, we see Jacob sit down with MIB. "So you tried to kill me," Jacob says, noting that as long as he's alive, MIB isn't leaving the island. MIB says he'll kill Jacob and whoever takes his place just to get off the island. Jacob hands over his allegorical wine bottle, but MIB proceeds to immediately smash it on a rock, saying Jacob will see him sooner than he thinks.
So what did you think of tonight's episode? An Emmy-worthy performance from Nestor Carbonell, right? Discuss in the comments!
Watch full episodes of Lost in our Online Video Guide or with our My TVGuide.com DVR and follow TVGuide.com on Twitter for more breaking news and scoop.