Richard – the ever present, never aging, always secretive Richard. This episode is solely about Richard and how he came to be a part of the island. There is no flash sideways this time, only Richard’s flash back.
We start out bouncing between Jacob at Ilana’s bedside in Russia and Sun explaining to Jack why Ilana is there and that they are all candidates to take over for Jacob. While Ilana is recovering in Russia, Jacob tells her that she must protect six people. He also tells her that Richard will be able to tell her what to do next. Around the campfire, Ilana asks Richard what to do. He laughs and says that he doesn’t know. He tells them all that they are dead and in hell and that everything Jacob ever told him was a lie. He then decides that he’s going to the one person who knows what to do – Flocke.
While this discussion is going on Hurley is off to the side speaking to someone we can’t see. Jack thinks its Jacob, but Hurley says no and tells Jack he wouldn’t understand.
We then flash back to the Canary Islands in the year 1867. Richard is on horse back arriving home. His wife is deathly ill, so he sets out to find a doctor. He arrives at the doctor’s home and pleads for him to help, but the doctor refuses to go. He does offer medicine for the right price. Richard does not have enough money and a fight ensues. Richard pushes the doctor who then hits his head on a table and dies. Richard steals the medicine and races back to his wife only to find that she has already died.
Richard is imprisoned awaiting his execution. He is visited by a priest who refuses to absolve him of his sins. The priest tells him that the only way to be forgiven for his sins to serve penance, but that there isn’t enough time as he will be hung by morning. As Richard is being taken to the gallows, an American by the name of Widmore buys him to serve on Magnus Hanson’s ship the Black Rock. (I also thought that the Black Rock was Rousseau’s boat. I guess I was wrong, huh?)
During the sea voyage, Richard and a number of other slaves are shackled in the bowels of the ship. The ship is running through bad seas and ends up wrecking on the island. During the wreck, the ship destroys the statue. (Now we know how the statue became nothing more than a foot.) Richard and the other slaves survive the wreck, but are still chained. Widmore hears their calls and comes to them. Instead of rescue, he brings death by stabbing all but Richard with his sword. As he is about to kill Richard, there is a commotion outside. (We all know what those sounds are.) As Widmore climbs out of the ship, he is killed by the smoke monster. Richard figures he is dead, but the smoke monster leaves him chained and alive.
After what seems like days, Richard is visited by his dead wife who tells him that they are both dead and in hell. They hear the smoke monster and Richard begs her to flea. He then has to listen to her screams as the monster overpowers her. Then some time later Richard is visited by the man in black who releases him from his chains. He feeds Richard and then tells him that “the devil” is at the statue and that he’s the one that killed his wife. He gives Richard a dagger and sends him to kill “the devil”.
Richard reaches the statue and Jacob. After a fight, Jacob ends up with the dagger and convinces Richard that he is good and that the man in black is “the devil”. He explains to Richard that as long as he is alive, the man in black will be kept on the island along with all of the evil that he is. He uses a wine bottle to explain. The wine is the evil and the island is the cork keeping it captive. Jacob also explains that he brings people to the island in hopes that they will decide to pick right over wrong. Richard asks why he doesn’t help them make the right choice. Jacob says that it’s not their choice if he has to help them decide. Richard counters with, “But he will” referring to the man in black. Jacob then offers Richard a job as his representative to those that come to the island. Richard agrees but wants to know what’s in it for him. He asks for his wife back. Jacob can’t do that. He asks to be absolved of his sins. Jacob can’t do that, either. He then asks to live forever. Jacob places his hand on his shoulder and says “Now that I can do.”
Richard returns to the man in black and is told if he ever wants to change his mind, he will understand.
Now we come back to the present and Richard is at the same place where he and the man in black first spoke. He digs up his wife’s necklace that he buried so many years before. He starts screaming that he’s changed his mind; if the offer is still open. He gets no response. Then Hurley shows up. Hurley tells Richard that he was told to come to him by his wife’s spirit. We then see her standing next to Richard. Richard closes his eyes and Hurley acts as translator. (This is a very touching moment. It’s almost as if Richard can feel and hear her.)
Then Hurley drops the bombshell. He tells Richard that his wife said one last thing. She said, “You must stop the man in black form leaving the island or we are all going to hell.”
Richard puts his wife’s necklace on as if he’s finally decided on his course of action; to stop Flock. The camera pans away and we see Flock standing on the hillside watching them both.
The final scenes are of Jacob and the man in black in the past. Jacob assures the man in black that he will always be here to keep him on the island and if he dies that someone else will take his place. He gives the man in black the corked wine bottle, which he then smashes against a rock. (Significance any one?)
This was a good episode. It showed us who Richard was, or is and how he came to be. It reinforced the “good versus evil” theory. It gave us some small answers to some small questions. What it didn’t do was give us anything of real substance. But then, not every episode can be as exciting as others.
I do find myself with a new question. If the island is the “cork” keeping the “evil” leashed, then what happened when Juliette set off the bomb and sunk the island? Is the “evil” no longer corked? Our losties may have made it to LA, but what else was let loose in the process?
Next week looks to be about Sun and Jin. Will they finally be reunited? Will Sun go with Flocke in order to reach Jin and will their love prevail in the end?