There are no visits to the Sideways world in this episode. Instead, it's all Richard Alpert, all the time. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Island; Lost-Away Beach: Sun and Ilana tell the gang that Sun, Jack and Hurley are among the "candidates" to take over Jacob's job, and yet none of them run screaming into the ocean, in a last-ditch effort to either kill themselves or swim home. When Jack wants to know their next step, Ilana flashes back to Jacob telling her Richard will know what to do. Back in the present, when Ilana asks Richard, he laughs maniacally, and basically tells the gang: Go to Hell -- oh wait, we're already there! In addition to that unsettling (incorrect) revelation, Richard says that Jacob is a liar liar pants on fire, and then stalks off to join Team Faucke. When Jack spies Hurley talking to an invisible friend at the tree-line, he figures it's Jacob, but we know it's not, because Hurley's speaking in Spanish, whereas he and Jacob converse in English. When Jack wants to know who he's talking to and what's up, Hurley's all, Chill, dude. I've got this.
Tenerife, Canary Islands, 1867: Ricardo Alpert (who I'm going to keep calling Richard) rides a horse back to a cottage where his wife Isabella lays dying. When she coughs up blood, he knows he must fetch a doctor, so Isabella gives him her gold cross to help pay the fee. After hours of riding through the pouring rain, Richard arrives at the doctor's home, but Doc refuses to go out in this weather. Instead, the doctor retrieves a small bottle containing a very expensive cure from a locked cabinet, but since all Richard has is a few coins and his wife's gold cross, the doctor refuses to help. When Richard struggles with the doctor over the bottle, the doctor falls, striking his head on his table. He dies instantly. Richard grabs the bottle (which to me looks like the bottle of sand Richard showed a young John Locke, years ago, but the
druggies people in the forums say the contents are too white [suggesting it's cocaine] and that the bottle is different, and I'm inclined to believe them). But what does any of this matter? When Richard returns home, Isabella is dead, and Richard is arrested and thrown in prison (which seems a little too pat to me, but who cares).
A priest visits his cell, but when Richard (sincerely) confesses his sins, the priest refuses to absolve him. Father Fail's story is that Richard, who is slated to hang tomorrow, has no time for penance, but really, the priest is just crooked. The next day, he leads in a Mr. Whitfield (like Widmore, only field-ier) who is looking to buy English-speaking prisoners to accompany him and Captain Magnus Hanso on a journey. Richard fits the bill, so he's sold. Father Judas Fail gets his 30 pieces of silver.
They sail on the Black Rock, like you knew they would, and during a horrendous storm, they get caught up in a tsunami-like wave. The force of the wave and boat combined takes down the ancient statue of Four Toes, which Richard's fellow prisoners are convinced is El Diablo! The ship lands inland, like we've known for years. Soon the prisoners start to wake. Hanso is dead, though, and only five officers remain, so Whitfield kills one prisoner after the other. Just before he moves in on a pleading Richard, we hear the telltale ticka ticka rattle clank. Smokey pours in through the grates up on deck and brings Whitfield back up with him. Richard, still in chains, is judged and passes. DUN.
We spend an incredibly long time watching shackled Richard trying to free himself. Eventually, though, his wife Isabella appears. She says they're dead and in Hell, and that she's there to save him before the devil returns. When the ticka ticka rattle clank starts up again, Richard insists Isabella leave. She finally runs up top, where it sounds like she is killed by Smokey. Later, Esau shows up with a pitcher of water and some cups and touches Richard. When Richard asks if he's in hell, Esau says he is. He agrees to free Richard and "help" him find Isabella, if Richard will only agree to do anything he asks. He also adds, "It's good to see you out of those chains." He then gets Richard on his feet and explains that the only way to escape Hell is to kill the "devil." And he's delegating that task to Richard.
After a meal of freshly roasted boar (which is so not Kosher) Esau dispatches Richard to the statue to kill the devil, a.k.a. Jacob, who doesn't seem to be a devil at all. The knife and instructions Esau gives Richard are identical to the knife and instructions Dogen gave Sayid.
Richard arrives at Four-Toes beach, ready to do his duty, but is soundly thrashed by Jacob, who seems to know nothing about Isabella, but can guess how Richard came to assassinate him. When Richard keeps pissing and moaning about being dead, Jacob tries some tough love. He drags Richard into the surf and forcefully
baptizes immerses him, 4 times, until Richard allows that he might actually want to live. Jacob tells him that's the first sensible thing he's said. He's not wrong.
Jacob pours Richard some wine, denies being the devil, and then uses his wine jug as a metaphor. The wine is hell. The cork is the island. Keep the cork in the bottle -- keep the darkness from spreading. (I'm so excited that one of my theories might be right, I can't stand it.) Jacob eventually manages to convert Richard to his team. Richard has only one request. He wants his wife back. Jacob admits he can't do that. Richard then asks for absolution from his sins. Jacob can't do that, either. Finally, Richard says that he never wants to die. "I want to live forever." Jacob says, " Now that, I can do." He then touches Richard.
Richard finds Esau and gives him a white rock from Jacob. Esau tells Richard that if he ever changes his mind, his offer still stands. He then hands Isabella's cross to Richard, saying it must have fallen off on the ship. Yeah, right. Whatever. Poof! The Man in Black is gone. Richard buries Isabella's cross and waters its grave with his tears..
NOW: Richard trudges through the jungle and digs up Isabella's cross. He then yells out to no one in particular that he's changed his mind and wants to accept Esau's standing offer. It's then that Hurley appears. And with him, is the ghost of Richard's wife. Hurley interprets Isabella's words for Richard. Isabella says it wasn't Richard's fault that she died. It was her time. When Richard says he would do anything for them to be together again, Isabella says they already are. Once she's gone, Richard puts her cross back around his neck. Hurley then tells him there's one more thing Isabella said he has to do. "You have to stop the man in black from leaving the island, or we all go to hell." Hidden some distance away, Faucke watches with hatred in his eyes.
We cut back to 1867, I guess. Jacob finds Esau playing with the white rock. Esau says that eventually, he'll kill Jacob. Jacob doesn't seem riled up by this, and says someone will take his place. Esau says, "I'll kill them, too." Before Jacob leaves, he give Esau the jug of wine to keep himself busy. As he goes, he tells Esau he'll see him. Esau says he'll see Jacob, too. "Sooner than you think." He then smashes that perfectly good bottle of wine. Clearly, he is evil.
Hats off to Nestor Carbonell. This was damned near a monologue and he carried the episode without breaking a sweat. We got some answers, big (why Jacob granted Richard immortality) and small (the destruction of Four Toes, and the resting place of the Black Rock), and we learned how Richard becomes an advisor, too (which I'll hit in the full recap). We also seemed to amass additional evidence that Smokey is bad and Jacob is good, and truly does believe in free will. Most importantly, we learned the importance of Craphole Island. Buffy fans may have seen some (close your eyes) parallels to Becoming, I Only Have Eyes for You, and, of course, the Hellmouth. I'll hit those in the recap, too.
Speaking of, I'm starting the full recap now, so until then, please join us in the forums, but don't smash our wine, or there'll be hell to pay.
Previously, on Lost, As Richard builds a ship in a bottle, Ben tells Sun that Richard has been a Craphole advisor for a very long time. Elsewhere and else-when, Richard tells Jack he wants to die because he devoted his life in service to a man who said he had a plan, but now that man is dead, so he's decided his entire life had no purpose. It's hard to argue, but we already watched that episode, so we know all about Jack's dynamite comeback.
NOW but not now on Lost: Jacob arrives at a hospital to visit a mummy, which turns out to be Ilana. Hey, shouldn't this be in the Previouslies? He's dressed all in black, and wearing gloves, because... um... they're speaking Russian. Oh c'mon, what would you wear if you had to visit a mummy in a Russian hospital? Anyhow, he's sorry he couldn't make it sooner. She's very happy to see him. Speaking in Russian requires too much energy so they switch over to English. Jacob says he's there because he needs her help. Ilana's willing, if not ready and able, so she agrees. Now it's time for the director's cut of this scene: There are six people he needs her to protect, and he'll give her one of his spiffy lists with their names on it. "This is what you've been preparing for." By getting her face blown-off? I never thought I'd say this, but suddenly colonoscopy preparation sounds like a gas. (Sorry.) The six people are... the remaining candidates.
Lostaway Beach; A More Nowish Now; Nighttime: The Jacobites sit around their campfire while Sun and Ilana explain that there are candidates to take over Jacob's job on the island, and Sun, Hurley, and Jack are all in the running. Of course nobody adds that there are six in total, and that nobody's really sure if Sun or if Jin is the "Kwon" candidate (my latest crackpot theory is that, because Jin and Sun are married, the two are one flesh/one candidate), because that would mean they were sharing information with one another, and then we'd be fresh out of show. Frank would like to know what to do next, but Ilana's fresh out of knowledge. When Jack asks who does know, we flash back to...