It’s no surprise Richard insisted to Jack, Hugo and the others that they are all dead and the Island is hell — because from his perspective that’s all very true. What it boils down to is, Richard (Nestor Carbonell) is something of a modern Job: He’s a powerless pawn locked in the crossfire of a battle between higher powers he cannot begin to understand. Woes have been visited upon him for the amusement of others. Everyone who has wielded power over him has let him down or even outright betrayed him — from the doctor who scoffed at the idea of riding out in the rain to minister to Richard’s sick wife, to the corpulent priest who withheld God’s grace and condemned him to hell. There was Magnus Hanso, who instead of rescuing Richard from death by hanging ultimately condemned him by setting him on a course to a far worse living death. And then there are Jacob and the Man in Black, mysterious forces in human form who amuse themselves by using Richard. Only the poor guy isn’t a chess piece — he’s more like a ball they kick around.
Clearly, the biggest reveal of Island mythos came when Jacob used the wine bottle to illustrate the situation on the Island. He called the wine in the bottle Evil, and the Island the cork that keeps it bottled up. He went on to explain that MiB thinks all men are tainted and Jacob brings people to the Island to prove him wrong. (I’m beginning to think the white stones are how Jacob and MiB keep score. Every time Jacob wins a round, he gives MiB a rock.) I’m no biblical scholar, but wasn’t that the essential nature of the contest between God and Lucifer in the Book of Job? Now, I’m not suggesting that Jacob and MiB fit those roles; in fact, if they ultimately do (which I highly doubt), I have sneaking suspicion that Jacob is more Lucifer than God; appearances being deceiving and all. Clearly, Jacob has been orchestrating arrivals on the Island, and now we know why — at least from his perspective. Jacob convinced Richard he is alive by nearly drowning him, and then offered him a job as intermediary between Jacob and the people he summons to the Island. (If we were still drawing biblical parallels, this would make Richard an angel.) But Jacob stresses that people have to perceive the difference between right and wrong themselves. (So no eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, eh?). As payment, Jacob granted Richard’s wish to live forever and never die. (So, be careful what you wish for…) I liked Titus Welliver returning as the original MiB; glad to see he’s working somewhere else besides THE GOOD WIFE.
Bravo to the TPTB for going with the sentimental, emotional payoff. Sure, it felt a little like a crossover with GHOST WHISPERER — with Hurley filling in for Jennifer Love Hewitt — but it was the climax the story demanded. After all that torment, Richard deserved a little comfort. However, I was left with one nasty lingering question: Was Hurley telling the truth when he said Isabella wants Richard to stop MiB, “or we all go to hell.” I presume hell on Earth would be the outcome if the Island’s Bottle o’ Evil gets uncorked.