Although formally a Richard Alpert episode, last night was an Island-centric hour, perhaps more so than any prior episode in the series run. For that, and for the excellent manner in which it was executed, Darleton and co. deserve major, major props.
A return to mythology is where the LOST audience sometimes gets split. The fanatics, of which I count myself a member, love and revel in mythology, symbolism and literary or religious reference and allegory. The more casual fan who yearns for the serial sometimes gets confused and bored — thereby giving the ratings a major hit. I would imagine that last night represents a major coup for all true LOSTies and a major “over-the-head” moment for all people who tuned in and were unawares of the back stories of the characters and the inner backgrounds of the Island’s bicameral structure.
I reference bicameral largely because we’re 48 hours removed from a polarized health care reform vote which somewhat reminds me of this past episode. Our Congress, torn on two sides by competing interests represented by the DNC and GOP — or good and evil, or vice versa when viewed by a partisan on either side. Nevertheless, each good and evil are tied together. One party cannot exist without the other and good cannot be judged or identified in the absence of evil. Moreover, beyond the two parties, we are drawn within the bicameral structure of a world of two houses, each unable to function in the absence of the other.
I’m reminded of a story told by Leo McGary in the second season of the West Wing. It was a recounting of a seasoned Democrat Representative welcoming a new Congressman to DC:
“There was a freshman democrat who came to Congress 50 years ago. He turned to a senior Democrat and said, ‘Where are the Republicans? I want to meet the enemy.’ The senior Democrat said, ‘The Republicans aren’t the enemy. They’re the opposition. The Senate is the enemy.’”
Senator Dick Durbin recycled this story with respect to the health care reform vote not two weeks ago, and it still holds resonance, because in a bicameral structure both chambers are separate, sentient actors who must reconcile their inner balance and being (their fight between good and evil) as well as act in concert, or at least coexist, in order to accomplish anything. With health care reform, there is the distinct need for reconciliation in order to get the adopted forms of the bills passed. With respect to the Island… well, let’s just say things are different but no less complex.
And that brings me back to Jacob and the MIB. In this episode than any before, we were presented with that which has been readily before us all along: the question that Ricardus (and I do prefer that version of the name) himself has asked. What if Jacob is not what he proclaims to be? We were presented with the #TeamJacob perspective first and with concomitant sympathy; however, “Ab Aeterno” granted us, for the first time, the perspective of a neophyte in Richard who is first presented with the story of the MIB and then turned by Jacob.
You have more faith than I if you did not, for at least one moment, come to think that we might, just maybe, be operating on faulty or even a reverse polarity spectrum of what is good and what is evil. Perhaps it is the MIB and blackness itself that is good. Or, more complex is the concept that the Island is a bicameral world in which each house (that of Jacob and that of the MIB) are internally divided between good and evil and, while they must reconcile themselves, must act with and face as an enemy the other chamber.
A bit more on this and other thoughts in my Quick Hits, after the jump: Read more…