Three Things I Dug:
THE Answer: Whether you loved this episode or hated it, at least it offered up an explanation for character motivation -- something Lost has been maddeningly ambiguous about over the years. Now, maybe you rolled your eyes at the whole "bottle of wine/the island's a cork" analogy, but I appreciated not only the delineation of Jacob as "good" and the Man in Black as "evil" -- not exactly breaking news, I know -- I also liked that we now know what each man wants to do with their respective good and evil. Man in Black = spread, Jacob (and the island) = contain. Simple and accessible plotting at its core, set against a complex -- convoluted? -- backdrop.
Stone Cold Jacob: Don't ask me why, but I thoroughly enjoyed the brief, balls-out beatdown that Jacob laid on Richard. Maybe it was because the set-up was identical to Sayid's ill-fated attempt to stab The Man in Black a few episodes back -- right down to the bizarro reaction of the intended victim (Man in Black all but laughs it off, Jacob commences with an ass-kicking). Maybe it was because the beating was SO over-the-top that it begged the obvious question: Why didn't Jacob put up a fight when Ben killed him? Maybe it was because 1867 Richard just needed a punch in the face.
It Wasn't THAT Bad: M'man Movie Joe has a very insightful post on this episode over at Low Resolution. Honestly, I didn't think Nestor Carbonell's performance was nearly as shrill as Joe believes. In fact, I really liked the subtlety of the incredulous, high-pitched titter that Richard spit out at the episode's opening when Ilana and the castaways turned towards him, looking for answers. And, at the end, I dug the pathetic wish-casting of a beaten, broken man who'd lost everything -- in this life and, seemingly, the afterlife -- bargaining with a higher power and "settling" on immortality over eternal damnation.
Three Things I Didn't Dig:
It Wasn't THAT Good: C'mon, internet...the near-universal praise this episode has received is beyond me. The extended flashback took the air right out of the show for the first 30 minutes or so. Things picked up when ol' Smoky reached the ship, but we were never given a reason to care about the Richard/Isabella relationship and it was hard to generate sympathy -- for me, anyway -- towards Richard's whole "I ain't mean to murder him!" alibi.
1868 - 2007?: If viewers are going to get THIS much background into a character whose importance (to date) has been more implied than actual, then I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for...more. Immortality just seems like one of those character traits that going to f**k with a man's mind at some point during the past 140 years. We're to believe that Richard has dutifully stood in the background as a humble servant without question for all this time? Why? What did we really learn about Richard?
All In: From time to time, it's seemed that the show's writers have painted themselves into a corner. By going all in on Richard for an episode, the writers have turned a
The Verdict: Not great, not god-awful. Let's all move on.