"Ab Aeterno" is the ninth episode in Season 6 of Lost and the 112th produced hour of the series as a whole. It was originally broadcast on March 23, 2010. Richard changes his allegiance before having an unexpected meeting.


Previously on Lost



Tenerife, Canary Islands – 1867

Richard rides home to his sick wife.

Ricardo rides his horse back to his remote house at Socorro where his wife, Isabella, is laying in bed with a high fever and is coughing blood. Richard decides to get a doctor, but worries about not having enough money for the fee. Isabella gives him her gold cross necklace and tells him to give it to the doctor. Richard is hesitant to take it but she asks him to close his eyes and closes his hand around the necklace. She whispers that they will always be together and kisses him on the cheek. He promises he will save her and leaves.

The doctor presents Richard with medicine.

Richard rides at night through a storm to the doctor. The doctor lives in a large house. Upon seeing Richard coming in soaked, he orders his servant to bring him some blankets, Richard tries to thank him but the doctor replies the towels are not for him but to protect his floor from the water Ricardo is dripping. Richard tells him about his sick wife but the doctor is dismissive, saying that he won't ride for half a day in the storm to Richard's house. When Richard begs, the doctor says that he has some medicine which can save the woman's life (revealed in the Enhanced version of the episode to be fake medicine) but remarks that it is very expensive. Richard gives him all his money and when the doctor asks incredulously if that's everything that he has, Richard gives him Isabella's cross. The doctor examines it for a second and tosses it away, saying it is worthless. Richard picks it up and pleads with him and they grapple. As the doctor tries to push him away, he slips. As the doctor falls, his head strikes the table, killing him. Richard is stunned but grabs the bottle of medicine and runs out past the servant. Richard arrives home to find Isabella has died. Soon afterwards, the constabulary burst through the door.

Richard is declared as the property of Magnus Hanso.

In jail, Richard is visited by a Catholic priest, Father Suarez. Suarez opens the Bible Richard is reading and observes that it is in English; Richard tells him that he has taught himself English and dreamed of moving to the New World with his wife. The priest receives his confession and Richard confesses killing the doctor. Father Suarez denies Richard absolution, claiming that murder is a sin that he cannot forgive, only made up for with a life of penance, which, as Richard will be executed next day, won't be possible, so he will go to Hell. The next morning Richard is blindfolded and taken to a room where Jonas Whitfield, an officer of a ship, is waiting. The officer examines Richard's hands and teeth, then questions Richard about his English and his willingness to work. Satisfied, he pays the priest with a bag of coins and declares that Richard is now the property of Magnus Hanso.

The Black Rock approaches the statue of Taweret during a storm.

Aboard the Black Rock

On the Black Rock, Richard and the other slaves are in chains below deck while the ship is caught in a terrible storm. A fellow slave, Ignacio, looks out of the cracks in the ship and tells Richard he sees land. He then sees the statue of Taweret and shrieks that he sees the Devil and guesses aloud that the Devil protects the Island. The ship is carried up to the crest of a gigantic wave and thrown against the head of the statue. Everything goes black.

On the Island

The Smoke Monster examines a fearful Richard.

Richard and his fellow captives awaken to daylight. Pierce, a crewman, reports that Captain Hanso is dead and only five officers remain alive. Whitfield comes below deck and begins to kill the captives one by one with his sword. He tells Richard that they have no water and limited supplies and it would only be a matter of time before he attempts to kill him. As he is about to kill Richard, something causes chaos above deck. They hear crashes and screams, then silence. The black smoke issues through a deck grate above Whitfield grabs him and pulls him through the grate. The smoke monster immediately returns below deck and draws right up to Richard's face. It examines the fearful Richard and leaves.

Richard instructs Isabella to escape from the Black Rock. (promotional still)

Still chained, Richard begins to loosen a nail from the floor. Over time he removes the nail and uses it to gouge around the chain fixture on the wall but is unable to break it loose. He passes out from the effort, later waking to find a boar in the hull, scavenging on the remains of one of the dead captives. Richard disturbs the boar, which runs towards him. As he fends it off the nail falls from his hands, out of reach. He passes out again. To Richard's astonishment, he is roused by his dead wife Isabella. She tells Richard that they are both dead and that they are in Hell. She says she looked the Devil in the eye and saw only evil, asking if Richard saw it too. Richard says that he thinks he did, and Isabella says she will free him before the Devil returns. As she unsuccessfully tries to free him the sounds and shadows of the Monster are heard and seen above deck. Richard pleads with Isabella to leave him and escape while she can. As soon as she has left, Richard hears the sounds of her screaming, accompanied by crashes and the Monster's exiting call. Richard is devastated.

The Man in Black helps Richard out of his chains. (promotional still)

Some time later, a man comes to Richard, gives him water and says he is a friend. He confirms Richard's assertion that they are in Hell, and when Richard realizes he was not on the ship, the Man in Black discloses he has been on the Island a long time. Richard asks about Isabella and explains what happened and the Man in Black says that "he has her", implying that she was captured by the Devil. Richard begs to be freed so he can save her and the Man in Black says he will help, as he also wants to be free. The Man in Black has keys he obtained from the dead officers but makes Richard promise to do anything that he asks before he frees him. The Man in Black unlocks the chains and when Richard thanks him the Man in Black says, "It's good to see you out of those chains." The Man in Black carries Richard out of the Black Rock as he explains that the only way to escape from Hell is to kill the Devil.

The Man in Black instructs Richard on how to kill the Devil.

Richard eats a boar roasted on a spit by the Man in Black. The Man in Black directs him to the statue, now broken into pieces after the collision with the Black Rock, and tells him that is where he will find the Devil. He gives him an ornate dagger, warning Richard that he has but one chance to stab the Devil, and that he must not hesitate or let him speak because he is very persuasive. Richard wonders how he can kill the Devil if he is black smoke but the Man in Black admits that he, himself, is the black smoke. He claims that the Devil betrayed him and stole his body and his humanity. He explains that Isabella was not running from the black smoke but from the Devil. He adds that he saw the Devil take Isabella but couldn't stop him. He deflects questions about murdering the ship's officers and requesting Richard commit murder, saying that if Richard wants to see his wife again he must hurry up.

Jacob proves to Richard he is alive. (promotional still)

Richard walks toward the base of the statue. Only the left foot is left standing, the rest lies in pieces in the water and on the beach. As he approaches with knife drawn, Jacob attacks Richard, and after a fight disarms him. Richard asks where his wife is. Jacob asks whether Richard met the Man in Black. Richard explains that the Man in Black said that the only way he could see his wife again was if he killed Jacob. Jacob says the person he saw was not his wife, that he is not dead and he is not in hell. Richard remains convinced that he is dead so Jacob drags him into the sea and submerges him four times, asking "Still think you're dead?! Why should I stop?", until Richard says, "Because I want to live!"

Jacob compares the Island to the cork in a bottle of wine.

On the beach the two sit together. Jacob says that he is not the Devil. He also explains that he brought the Black Rock to the Island. Richard asks why. Jacob uses a bottle of wine as a metaphor for the Island. The wine is evil, malevolence; the bottle is containing it because otherwise "it would spread". He explains that the cork represents the Island, holding the darkness where it belongs. Jacob says that the Man in Black believes everyone can be corrupted because it is in their nature to be bad and that he, Jacob, brings people here to prove the Man in Black wrong. When questioned on whether or not Jacob has brought people to the Island in the past and what happened to them, Jacob replies that he has, but they are all now dead. Jacob says he wants people to know the difference between right and wrong without being told. Richard says that if Jacob won't help these people then the Man in Black will step in. Jacob thinks a moment and then offers Richard the job of being his representative, an intermediary to the people he brings to the Island. When Jacob can't or won't intervene, he proposes Richard can step in on his behalf. When Richard says that in return he wants his wife back, Jacob admits he cannot do this. Richard then asks to be absolved of his sins, so that he will not go to Hell. Jacob says he cannot do that either. Richard then asks to be granted eternal life, and to never die. Jacob says that he can do this, and touches Richard on the shoulder.

Richard returns to the Man in Black, who realizes that Richard didn't kill Jacob and correctly guesses that he let Jacob talk to him. Richard gives him a white rock — a gift from Jacob. The Man in Black tells Richard that his offer of joining him will stand; he gives Richard the pendant and disappears. Richard buries his wife's pendant and cross at the base of a stone bench and says goodbye to his love.

The Man in Black

The Man in Black inspects the bottle of wine Jacob gave him.

After his meeting with Richard, the Man in Black is seated on a log overlooking a valley of trees, while tossing the white stone. Jacob joins him. When Jacob asks about the gift of 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 says he did it because he wants to leave the Island, and asks Jacob to let him go. Jacob tells the Man in Black that, as long as he is alive, that won't happen. The Man in Black says that is why he will kill Jacob, to which Jacob replies that someone will replace him. The Man in Black then says that he'll just kill them too.

Jacob does not argue this, but gives him the wine bottle he used to describe the Island to Richard as a gift to pass the time. Jacob leaves, saying that he'll see him around. The Man in Black says to himself, "Sooner than you think." He then smashes the bottle.


Ilana wakes up in a Russian hospital.

Ilana is in the hospital with her face heavily bandaged. Jacob visits her and they speak in Russian. Ilana is very happy to see Jacob, who asks for help. Jacob explains that there are six people that she is to protect, and that their names will be on his list. He explains that this is what she has been preparing for 'her whole life" and that the six are the remaining candidates.

Sometime later, Ilana is speaking with Jacob. She is no longer bandaged. She asks what she should do after she has brought "them" to the Temple. Jacob tells her to ask Richardus, who will know what to do next.

On the Island (Present day)

At the beach camp

Richard tells everyone that they are dead and in hell.

Jack, Hurley, Sun, Frank, Miles, Ben and Ilana are gathered around a campfire, while Richard stands nearby. Ilana and Sun explain that Sun, Jack and Hurley are candidates to replace Jacob. Frank asks what they are supposed to do now, but Ilana admits that she doesn't know, and says that Richard should know. Richard giggles hysterically at this, and says that he has no idea. He says that he was trying to kill himself, and when Ilana brings up Jacob's instructions, Richard says that everything Jacob has ever said is a lie. Jack asks for an explanation and Richard says he will reveal a secret that he has known a long time. He says that all of them are literally dead and that everything around them is not what it appears, that they are not on an Island but they are in hell. Richard says it's time to stop listening to Jacob and to start listening to someone else and he takes a flaming torch and heads into the jungle.

Hurley talks with Isabella.

Planning to go after him, Ilana loads her rifle but is interrupted by Jack, who says Richard has lost his mind and that if he cared about what Jacob said he wouldn't be talking about listening to someone else. Jack asks who Richard means to talk to. Sun explains that he means Locke. When Jack says Locke is dead, Ben explains that it is not "exactly" Locke.

Jack goes up to Hurley, who is a few feet away speaking in Spanish to someone. Hurley says, "Ok.", "What can you do?", "Yes, I can help you.", "But, I don't know how to find him, if I don't where he went...", in Spanish. Jack assumes that he is speaking to Jacob and asks what Jacob is saying. Hurley says that it is not Jacob and that it has nothing to do with Jack. Hurley heads towards the jungle.

Ben then says to Ilana that going after Richard is useless, as he doesn't know anything. She isn't sure and Ben replies that he's known Richard since he was twelve. Frank asks if they've known each other since childhood but Ben explains that he has known him since "I was a kid", saying Richard looks the same as he did then. Frank asks if that means Richard doesn't age, which Ben confirms. Frank asks, "And how the hell do you think that happened?"

In the jungle

Richard retrieves the cross he buried 140 years ago.

Richard has been trekking all night and it is now the next day. Richard returns to the spot in a grassy clearing where he buried Isabella's cross at the base of a stone seat. He digs it up. Distraught, he asks whether the Man in Black is listening to him and that he has changed his mind, that he was wrong. He calls out asking whether the offer still stands.

Richard and Isabella communicate through Hurley.

Hurley walks out of the jungle and asks Richard what offer he is speaking of. Richard is amazed that Hurley is there and angrily pushes him away, reminding Hurley that he doesn't know anything. Hurley asks him to calm down and as Richard starts to yell, Hurley snaps that it is Richard's wife, Isabella, who has sent him. Richard reacts in disbelief. Hurley says that she wants to know why Richard buried the cross. He tells Richard that she is standing right next to him. Isabella says to Hurley that Richard doesn't believe him and Hurley explains that it sometimes takes a while. Richard slowly turns toward where Hurley is speaking. Although Richard can't see Isabella he now addresses her. Hurley suggests he close his eyes and he will tell Richard what she says. She tells him it wasn't his fault for her death but that it was her time and that he has suffered enough. He tells her he misses her and would do anything to be with her again. Isabella says that they are already together. She kisses him and then is gone. Richard puts the cross around his neck and thanks Hurley, who says, "Yeah, you got it." Hurley reveals that Isabella also said that there is something else that Richard must do: stop the Man in Black from leaving the Island. If Richard doesn't do that, "We all go to hell."

Some distance away, the Man in Black, in the guise of Locke, watches and then turns away.


  • The title of this episode, "Ab Aeterno," means "from eternity" in Latin. The phrase is used to mean "since the beginning" or "for long ages."
  • This episode title was the final one derived from a Latin phrase, following "Tabula Rasa" and "Deus Ex Machina".
  • Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse implied that the ship approaching the Island under bright, sunny skies in "The Incident, Part 1" and the Black Rock's approach to the Island in a violent thunderstorm in this episode are the same ship, and that after Jacob and the Man in Black's conversation, a storm appeared and threw the Black Rock inland. (Official Lost Podcast/March 25, 2010) The writer of the episode Gregg Nations confirmed this in the episode audio commentary. (Ab Aeterno audio commentary)
  • This episode marks the first time that a character has referred to Jacob's brother as "the Man in Black."
  • Tenerife was the site of the worst accident in commercial aviation. Known as Tenerife disaster, the airliner collision took place on 27 March 1977 at Los Rodeos airport in the north of the island and involved two Boeing 747s.
  • The beginning of the episode with Richard trying to get the medicine for his wife is a direct reference to the Heinz dilemma.
  • Richard was chained in the hold for at least five days according the lines he carved onto the ship's rib. A scene in which Richard is shown carving the lines was filmed but later deleted due to time. (Ab Aeterno audio commentary) The Lost Encyclopedia also states a period of one week. However, Nestor Carbonell stated on the Geronimo Jack's Beard podcast that the production crew agreed on a time of about four weeks, before the Man in Black freed Richard.
  • When they first meet, Richard asks Jacob whether or not he's the devil and Jacob replies negatively. Mark Pellegrino does indeed portray Lucifer in the TV series "Supernatural".
  • The white rock which Jacob hands to Richard as a gift for the Man in Black, is the same white rock on the scales outside the cliffside cave in "The Substitute". (Ab Aeterno audio commentary)
  • This episode is Rated TV-14-V.

Production notes

Bloopers and continuity errors

  • During the closeup of Richard's eye while in chains his contact lens is visible.
  • The clasp on Isabella's necklace is modern.
  • The two hundred foot wave was strong enough to sweep the Black Rock into the stone statue of Tawaret, destroying it, and cause the vessel's wreck in the middle of the jungle, yet apparently caused little other damage—where one would expect uprooted trees, flooding, etc.—nor the wooden vessel suffered significant damage.
  • Continuity errors regarding Ilana's bruises and bandages and the overall lighting in the scene are present. Footage from "The Incident, Part 1" was used alongside new footage.
  • The Bible Richard was reading is a Bible printed with modern printers as opposed to a Rotary printing press or a Block feed printing press.
  • The white rock that the Man in Black is holding in the last scene is small, round, and polished. This is not what the stone looked like when Richard handed it to the Man in Black.
  • When Richard is lying on the ground the nail is inches from his face but his feet are not chained so he could have reached the nail with his feet.
  • There are errors in the subtitles. In the scene where Richard and Ignacio are yelling for help after the crash, "Help us!" and "We're down here" should be reversed.
  • The Black Rock as represented in "The Incident, Part 1" and this episode are two differently shaped and rigged vessels.


The Season 6 soundtrack includes the following tracks from this episode:


Recurring themes

  • The episode begins with a shot of Ilana's eye opening. Later Ignacio's eye is highlighted by lightning flashes. After being shipwrecked there is a shot of Richard's eye opening. (Eyes)
  • Richard has a wife named Isabella. (Relationships)
  • Richard and Isabella are both Catholic. She gives him a cross. (Religion)
  • Richard is jailed for accidentally killing the doctor, a crime the Priest will not absolve him of, though possible in the Catholic religion. (Imprisonment)  (Crimes)
  • Isabella dies. (Death)
  • Father Suarez opened the Bible to Luke chapter 4 while talking to Richard. (Religion)  (The Numbers)
  • The Black Rock destroys the white statue. (Black and white)
  • Richard is chained on his ship and cannot escape after it wrecks on the Island. (Imprisonment)  (Isolation)
  • It is raining when the Black Rock wrecks onto the Island. (Rain)
  • Whitfield tells Richard that he must kill the captives because of the limited supplies they have. Whitfield kills all the captives except Richard because he himself is killed by the Man in Black. (Death)
  • Lightning strikes four times before the Man in Black appears to Richard. (The Numbers)
  • The Man in Black tries to convince Richard that he is dead, that the Island is hell and that the 'devil' is Jacob. (Deceptions and cons)
  • Jacob dunks Richard in the water four times in a manner similar to baptism, ironically to convince Richard he is not in hell. Very shortly thereafter Jacob tells him he can make it so he never dies. (Religion)  (The Numbers)
  • Jacob tells Richard that when he brings people to the Island, their past doesn't matter. (Redemption)
  • Jacob tells Richard that he cannot interfere with people when they get to the island, because he has to let them make their own decisions. (Fate versus free will)
  • Jacob explains to Richard that the Island prevents "hell" from getting out and spreading, covertly speaking of him trying to keep the Man in Black on the Island. (Imprisonment)
  • Richard hands the Man in Black a white stone. (Black and white)
  • In the Vulgate Bible (Catholic), the episode's title is found prominently in Proverbs 8:23 [1] which reads "Ab aeterno ordita sum et ex antiquis antequam terra fieret." This translates in the NKJV, "I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth." (Religion)  (The Numbers)
  • Richard returns to the bench where he buried the pendant 140 years earlier. The sapling with two forked branches behind the bench has grown into a large tree. (Time)
  • At the end of the episode Jacob is seen talking to the Man in Black. The Man in Black is wearing a black shirt and Jacob has on a light colored shirt. (Black and white)

Cultural references

  • Gospel of Luke: Richard is seen reading the King James Bible, an English translation of The Bible completed in 1611. The priest opened this Bible to the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 4. In Chapter 4, Jesus is unsuccessfully tempted three times by the Devil. He then attends synagogue in Nazareth where he proclaims that he has fulfilled the prophecy. At the top of the page, verse 24 says, "Verily I say unto you, no prophet is accepted in his own country." He later casts out "a spirit of an unclean demon" from a possessed man and heals a woman with a great fever. (Religion and ideologies)
  • Absolution: In prison, Richard seeks absolution, which forgives the guilt associated with the penitent's sins, and removes the eternal punishment (Hell) associated with mortal sins. The priest denied absolution and told Richard that absolution for the sin of murder can only be received through penance. In Catholicism absolution may be given, although the penitent may be responsible for the temporal punishment (purgatory) associated with the absolved sins, unless an indulgence is applied. (Religion and ideologies)
  • Pugio: The Man in Black's dagger is a Roman pugio. On the sheath there is a depiction of the Roman she-wolf suckling Remus and Romulus, twin founders of the eternal city. The brothers fought and Remus was killed by his brother. (History)
  • The Stand: In the Official Lost Podcast of March 24, 2010, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse reported that the scene where the Man in Black releases Richard is a reference to this work by Stephen King. Specifically, this is a reference to the part of the novel during which Randall Flagg, sometimes known as the Man in Black, releases criminal Lloyd Henreid from being trapped in a jail cell. Flagg makes Lloyd promise to do exactly what he says. (Literary works)

Literary techniques

  • Richard's backstory is finally revealed. (Flashbacks)
  • A short current story frames the episode's main action, which takes place in 1867. (Framing device)
  • Magnus Hanso is mentioned as captain of the Black Rock, but not seen. (Unseen character)
  • Richard is told by the priest that he has no time left for penance as he is to be hanged the next day. Since then, he has spent well over a century on the Island without aging. (Irony)
  • The slaves are ruthlessly murdered by Jonas Whitfield and the ship's crew are eliminated by the Smoke Monster. (Redshirts)
  • The moment Richard is freed from his chains he is told he needs to prepare to escape. (Irony)
  • The Man in Black tells Richard that he must stab Jacob in the chest before he speaks a word. This mirrors exactly Dogen's instructions to Sayid for killing the Man in Black, and Dogen gives Sayid the same dagger as the weapon to be used. (Juxtaposition)  (Irony)
  • Jacob provides a blanket for Richard after submerging him in the surf. Earlier in Richard's flashback, blankets are ordered for the floor instead of Richard, who arrived in a storm. (Juxtaposition)
  • When Richard asks Jacob what is inside his abode he is told: "No one can come in unless they're invited." Earlier in Richard's flashback he is told he can't come into the doctor's dining room, yet continues in and is made to feel unwelcome by the doctor. (Juxtaposition)
  • The Man in Black warns Richard that he will never be with Isabella again if he goes with Jacob, yet the arrival of Hurley to the Island eventually makes this possible. (Foreshadowing)  (Irony)
  • Jacob explains to Richard that he brings people to the Island to prove to the Man in Black that not all people are inherently corrupt. He states that once people are on the Island, their past is inconsequential and they have a chance for a new start. Jacob brings Richard to the Island with the notable mark of having committed murder, albeit inadvertently, and the Man in Black tries to corrupt him, but is not successful. (Juxtaposition)  (Symbolism)
  • The Man in Black finds and returns the cross pendant to Richard, which belonged to his deceased wife. Similarly, John Locke finds and returns a cross pendant to Eko which belonged to his deceased brother in "The 23rd Psalm". (Juxtaposition)
  • The Man in Black says Jacob will see him around "sooner than you think." (Regularly spoken phrases)
  • Ilana says that she's "going after Richard." (Regularly spoken phrases)
  • Hurley dismisses Jack's curiosity about his conversation with the unseen ghost of Isabella. Previously Hurley had chided Jack for not keeping him in the "loop." (Juxtaposition)
  • The Man in Black notes that the devil (Jacob) stole his humanity and his body, as we see rather literally in "Across the Sea". (Foreshadowing)
  • The Man in Black promises that he will kill Jacob, which he does with Ben's help. (Foreshadowing)

Storyline analysis

  • Richard unintentionally kills the doctor and steals the medicine he needed for Isabella. (Crimes)
  • Richard is spared his death sentence because he has substantial value as a slave, having taught himself English. (Economics)
  • Whitfield murders most of the slaves after the shipwreck. (Crimes)
  • The Man in Black continues his struggle against Jacob by enlisting Richard to kill him. (Rivalries)
  • The Man in Black claims that Jacob stole his humanity. (Rivalries)
  • Jacob gives Richard the significant position of being his intermediary on the Island and founds the Others. (Leadership)  (O-Missions)
  • With Hurley as medium, Richard is finally reunited with Isabella and finds closure. (Relationships)
  • Hurley follows Richard and stops him from joining the Man in Black. (A-Missions)

Episode connections

Episode references

Episode allusions

  • Richard tells Isabella, "I will save you." ("Do No Harm")
  • A character returns with blankets and stumbles upon a murder. ("Two for the Road")
  • The doctor wrestles with Richard and accidentally suffers a fatal blow to the back of his head. Desmond accidentally killed Kelvin Inman during a similar struggle. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2")
  • Richard says the Island is hell. Anthony Cooper once believed the same. ("The Brig")
  • The Man in Black tells Richard, "It's good to see you out of those chains." He would later tell this to Richard in 2007, in the form of John Locke. ("LA X, Part 2")
  • Richard hands the Man in Black a white stone. ("The Substitute")
  • The Man in Black says he will see Jacob "sooner than you think." He would later tell this to Richard in 2007, in the form of John Locke. ("The Substitute")
  • The Man in Black gives Richard the same knife Dogen gave Sayid. He goes on to tell Richard to stab Jacob in the chest, saying, "If you let him speak, it's already too late." ("Sundown")
  • Smoke Monster "scans" Richard like it did to Mr. Eko and Juliet. ("The 23rd Psalm") ("Left Behind")

External links