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Ab Aeterno
Season 6
Episode 9
Air Date March 23, 2010
Writer(s) Melinda Hsu Taylor & Greggory Nations
Director Tucker Gates
Flashback Richard Alpert, Ilana Verdansky, Man In Black

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"Ab Aeterno" is the ninth episode of season 6 and the 112th episode overall. The episode aired on March 23, 2010 in the United States. The episode focuses on Richard Alpert, who arrived on the Island as a prisoner on a slave ship. This episode does not feature a "flash-sideways". Almost the entire episode is set in Richard's flashback. It is the first episode of season 6 not to feature the alternate timeline.


Ilana and JacobEdit

This flashback is an overlap to a previously seen flashback of Ilana's, which was shown in "The Incident". It is when Jacob visits a bandaged Ilana in a Spanish hospital. Speaking Spanish, Ilana tells Jacob that she is very happy to see him. He explains that there are six candidates and they need her protection, and he will provide her a list with their names. He adds that this is what she has been preparing for her whole life.

Later, an unbandaged Ilana is speaking with Jacob about the mission. She asks what she should do after she had brought them to the Temple. Jacob told her to ask Ricardus, indicating that he would know what to do next.

Canary Islands (1867)Edit

Richard, known at this time as Ricardo, returns to his home in Socorrow, where his wife Isabella is ill. She is running a very high fever and she is coughing up blood. Ricardo gathers money and possessions in order to pay a doctor. Isabella gives Ricardo her cross necklace, apparently their most valuable possession. Ricardo hesitates, but takes the necklace and rushes out with a promise to save her. Arriving at the doctor's home, he is rebuffed by the doctor's manservant. Ricardo forces his way inside to the doctor who agrees to hear him out. The doctor, however, is unmoved by Ricardo's plight, and will not travel so far to treat Isabella. He does however offer him medicine that can save her, providing he can pay for it. Ricardo gives him all of his money and the necklace. The doctor tosses the necklace declaring it worthless. In desperation and anger Ricardo tries to forcibly take the medicine. As they struggle, the doctor receives a fatal injury. Ricardo takes the medicine and flees.

When he returns home, he discovers that Isabella has not survived. As he grieves, he is arrested and placed in jail. While there, a priest Father Suarez visits Ricardo for Confession and Last Rites sacraments. The priest coldly informs Ricardo that he cannot absolve him of the sin of murder, as absolution requires a life of penance, and being executed the next day the penance would be inadequate for forgiveness.

Rather than being executed the next morning, however, Ricardo is sold as a slave to an agent of Magnus Hanso named Jonas Whitfield, who takes Ricardo to The Black Rock. On the Black Rock, Ricardo is chained to the wall in the cargo hold of the ship. The ship is caught in a maelstrom and begins to toss about violently. Through the gaps in the hull one of the slaves sees the Statue of Taweret and claims that it's El Diablo (The Devil). The ship, upon a huge wave, careens into the statue destroying it, and sending The Black Rock very far inland.

The IslandEdit

Ricardo awakens and hears gunshots. Whitfield enters the cargo hold and begins firing on the slaves. When he runs out of bullets, he begins using his sword instead. He informs Ricardo that they have no water or supplies, and it would not be long for the slaves to turn against him and kill him. At this point, a torrent of black smoke enters the hold through a grating and destroys Whitfield. The Smoke Monster examines Ricardo, and spares him, but does not release him.

Ricardo begins attempting to escape. He manages to work a nail from the deck, and uses it as a crude tool to soften the wood around his shackle's mooring. His attempts at escaping are unsuccessful.

Some time later, Ricardo is awakened by the sounds of a boar who is eating the corpses scattered around the deck. Ricardo disturbs the boar, which charges Ricardo. He manages to fend off the boar, but drops his nail tool where he cannot reach it. Some time later, Ricardo is awakened by a manifestation of Isabella. She tells him that they are both dead and they are in hell. She informs him that she has seen the devil and asks if Ricardo has also seen it. Ricardo replies that he has (assuming the Smoke Monster to be the devil). Isabella tries to assist Ricardo's escape, but noises on the ships upper deck cause Ricardo to plead with Isabella to leave him. She runs up the ladder leading above deck and Ricardo hears screaming and crashing and believes that she was taken by the devil.

Later, The Man in Black enters the hold and gives Ricardo some water. He also confirms Ricardo's belief that they are in Hell. The Man in Black informs Ricardo that he was not on The Black rock, but he has been on the Island for a very long time. In response to Ricardo's questions about the fate of Isabella, The Man in Black says the devil has her. Ricardo begs The Man in Black to release him so he can rescue Isabella. The Man in Black offers to release him, but secures a promise of servitide from Ricardo in return. Ricardo agrees and is freed.

The Man in Black tells Ricardo, "It's good to see you out of those chains", a sentiment he repeats 140 years later as shown in the episode "The Substitute".

Over a dinner of roasted pork (presumably from the boar), The Man in Black instructs Ricardo to go to the statue, which is where he will find the Devil. He hands Ricardo the same ceremonial dagger that Dogan gives Sayid in the episode "Sundown". He also issues the same warning that Dogan gives Sayid, to not let The Devil speak to him, and to plunge the dagger into his heart immediately. Asking Ricardo asks how he is supposed to stab smoke, The Man in Black responds by telling Ricardo that he, himself, is the black smoke, and the Devil has stolen his body. After some convincing, Ricardo makes his way to the Temple under the Statue, of which debris is scattered around from its recent destruction.

Jacob attacks Richard, and after a brief struggle manages to wrest the dagger away. Ricardo demans his wife back, and Jacob realizes that Ricardo is being manipulated by the Man in Black. Gathering from Ricardo the story the Man in Black has told him, Jacob denies everything. He further convinces Ricardo that he's not dead by repeatedly dunking and holding his head underwater, demonstrating that you cannot kill someone who is dead.

At some point later, the two men are on the beach having a conversation. Jacob describes the situation on the Island and his rivalry with the Man in Black using a bottle of wine as a visual aid. He suggests that the wine represents Evil. He points out the the bottle contains the evil so that it does not spread, and he likens the Island itself to the cork which keeps the evil where it belongs. Jacob also explains that he has brought people to the island, but they're all dead. He also explains that he wants people to know the difference between good and bad without being told. Ricardo points out that if Jacob didn't help people, the Man in Black will step in. Impressed by Ricardo's simple, but insightful comment, he offers Ricardo a job. Ricardo will act as Jacob's agent when Jacob brings people to the Island.

As payment Ricardo asks for his wife back. Jacob informs him that can't happen. When he asks for absolution of his sins, Jacob informs him that's not possible either. With the prospect of going to hell and being separated from his wife for eternity, Ricardo asks to live forever. Jacob informs Ricardo, that was doable, and lays his hand on his shoulder. Ricardo goes back to the Man in Black and breaks the news that he has sided with Jacob. He proffers a White Rock, indicating that it's a gift from Jacob. The Man in Black indicates that his offer stands, should Ricardo ever change his mind, giving him Isabella's necklace and disappearing. Ricardo buries the necklace.

The Man in BlackEdit

The Man in Black sits on a log overlooking a valley of trees tossing the white stone. Jacob arrives and asks about him how he likes the gift, motioning to the stone. The Man in Black tells Jacob not to gloat. Jacob asks whether the Man in Black sent Richard to kill him. The Man in Black confirms this and tells Jacob that he did it because he wants to leave the Island. He bluntly asks Jacob to let him go. Jacob refuses, and the Man in Black tells him that is why he intends to kill Jacob. Jacob dismisses this saying that someone will simply replace him. The Man in Black responds by saying that he'll kill them too. Agreeing to disagree, Jacob gives the The Man in Black the bottle of wine he used as a metaphor for evil earlier. As he leaves he tells the Man in Black that he'll see him around. Mirroring words he said to Richard in the episode "The Substitute" the Man in Black replies, "Sooner than you think."

Then, with a sinister symbolic gesture, he smashes the bottle on the log he's sitting on.

Present Day - 2007Edit

Following up the events in the episode "Dr. Linus", Ilana is explaining that Jack, Sun and Hurley are Candidates - people who may replace Jacob. Ilana indicates that Jacob had told her that Richard would know what to do next. Laughing, Richard denies that he has any idea what to do next. Still distraught and feeling lost at the death of Jacob, Richard claims that everything Jacob ever said was a lie. He then shares with them a secret that he has known for a long time. They are all dead and the Island is hell. He then abruptly leaves the group.

Sun surmises that Richard has left to join Locke, but Jack reminds her that Locke is dead. Ben informs Jack that the "Locke" they're talking about is not really Locke. Jack then spots Hurley who is having a conversation in spanish with "nobody". Jack assumes that Hurley is talking to Jacob, and when he asks what's going on, Hurley explains that it's not Jacob, and his conversation does not concern Jack. Hurley then heads toward the jungle after Richard.

Ben informs Ilana that going after Richard is a waste of time, adding that he's known Richard his whole life and he doesn't know anything. He does, however, acknowledge that Richard does not age. Frank points out the significance of this fact.

In the jungle Richard digs up a Isabella's cross that he buried 140 years ago. He asks aloud if The Man in Black's offer still stands. Hurley catches up to Richard and asks what offer Richard is asking about. Trying to get away from Hurley, Richard grows angry and begins raving at Hurley. Hurley informs Richard that his wife has sent him and wants to know why Richard had buried her cross. After a moment, Richard accepts that Hurley can talk to Isabella and converses with her through Hurley. She tells Richard that it's not his fault that she died, and he should stop torturing himself. He tells her that he misses her and would do anything to be with her again. She informs him that they're already together, and she disappears. Hurley indicates that she also added that Richard must help them stop The Man in Black from leaving the island. However, it is uncertain if she really said that, or if it was an embellishment by Hurley, as Isabella is no longer visible to the viewer. The Man in Black, in the form of of John Locke - apparently in answer to Richard's call, but arriving too late - is seen watching the events, and leaving.

Memorable QuotesEdit

If it's any consolation, it's not exactly Locke.
- Ben

I'm afraid there's only one way to escape Hell. You're going to have to kill the Devil.
- The Man in Black

We are all dead, every single one of us. And this, this, all this, it's not what you think it is. 
We're not on an island, we never were. 
We're in Hell. 
- Richard

Because I want to live.
- Richard

Background InformationEdit

  • Ab Aeterno is latin for "from eternity", with the connotation meaning "since the beginning of time".
  • This episode begins and ends with flashbacks from characters who are not the focus of the episode. Ilana has a flashback at the beginning of the episode, and The Man in Black's flashback ends the episode. (Although, the Man in Black's flashback is directly related to an element of Richard's flashback).
  • The concept of Candidates was introduced in the episode The Substitute. This episode builds on that by explaining what a candidate is.
  • Richard's lines about the Island being Hell, especially "We are all dead, every single one of us", seem to mirror an early fan theory that there were no survivors of the plane crash, and that the Island was some kind of representation of purgatory. Interestingly enough, the "alternate timeline" was revealed in The End to be a kind of purgatory, very similarly to the original theory.

Dramatis PersonaeEdit

Guest starringEdit



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