An Offer He Can Refuse

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  • Richard Alpert’s name itself could be seen as a clue pointing toward a self-creation theory of Lost. The character shares a name with a former associate of Timothy Leary whose given name was Richard Alpert, but who rechristened himself Ram Dass (“servant of God”) after a transforming, life-changing spiritual journey through India. Richard-Ram wrote a book back in 1972 entitled Remember, Be Here Now that, according to Wikipedia, presents the view that “everyone is a manifestation of God and that every moment is of infinite significance.” [EW]

    Fear and Trembling begins with a fictional, nameless character struggling with the implications of one of The Bible’s most challenging stories. This would be “The Binding of Isaac,” in which God instructs Abraham to kill his son Isaac (the future father of Jacob) as a sacrifice or test of faith. Abraham is heartbroken by the request, but follows through, right up to the point where he’s about to drive a knife into Isaac’s heart. At that moment, God says “Whoa! Stop! You’ve proven yourself!” He then gives Abraham something else — a substitute — to sacrificially slaughter instead of his boy: a ram. Kierkegaard’s anonymous hero imagines four different ways in which “The Binding of Isaac” could have ended differently, though all of them share the same theme: either Abraham or Isaac walk away despairing, cynical, or faithless. In other words, the total opposite of what God wanted to accomplish with his extraordinary demand. The anonymous hero — who appears to be struggling with his faith — finds himself ashamed of his weakness in the face of lesser challenges. Curiously, he also seems to be ashamed that he even allowed himself to consider his four scenarios; indeed, a major theme of Kierkegaard’s book is modern man’s faithlessness about faith itself and push to “go further,” i.e. make it more “reasonable” and “logical.”

    APPLICATION TO LOST: I’m suddenly recalling that phantom boy with the bloody hands in “The Substitute” and mulling dark, Abraham-Isaac possibilities. Looking toward Lost’s past, “The Binding of Isaac” was the thematic centerpiece of the season 3 Desmond episode “Catch-22.” This was the episode in which Desmond was tempted to let Charlie die in hopes that it would fulfill his vision of Penelope coming to The Island. Desmond couldn’t make the sacrifice — and instead, he brought The Freighter to The Island. Two episodes later, another character was asked to kill someone else to prove his faith: John Locke. In a reversal of “The Binding of Isaac,” Locke the Son was ordered to stab his bad father, Anthony Cooper, to prove himself worthy of leading The Others. Benjamin Linus forced the issue; he wanted Locke to fail. But the person who really wanted Locke to make the killing? Richard Alpert. The mysterious Other told Locke that he and many more had lost faith in Ben’s leadership and wanted him out. After Locke refused, it was Alpert who pointed the way to a loophole, supplying intel to Locke that Sawyer had a vendetta against Cooper and could do the killing for him. [EW]

  • Richard’s home island, Tenerife, is later made infamous by the deadliest plane crash in the history of aviation. [Lostpedia]

    The Tenerife airport disaster in 1977 was a collision involving two Boeing 747 passenger aircraft on the runway of Los Rodeos Airport (now known as Tenerife North Airport) on the Spanish island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. With 583 fatalities, the crash remains the deadliest accident in aviation history. All 248 aboard the fully fuelled KLM flight were killed. There were also 335 fatalities and 61 survivors from the Pan Am flight, which was struck along its spine by the KLM’s landing gear, under-belly and four engines. Rescue crews were unaware for over 20 minutes that the Pan Am aircraft was also involved in the accident, due to the heavy fog and the separation of the crippled aircraft following the collision. [Wikipedia]

I can only hope tonight’s fantastic episode signals the beginning of a final, consistently-good stretch of shows to end things with a bang. I eagerly await the remaining seven (seven!) episodes to see what happens. Have faith.


10 thoughts on “An Offer He Can Refuse”

  1. Ok, lots of comments I have:

    1. I thought it strange that when Jacob asks Richard what he wants (and is turned down for, a) his wife back, b) revenge?) that all of a suddent Richard comes up with “well, then I want to live forever?!? Where is the logic in that request?

    2. The white rock to which you refer, I don’t remember as being the one that was thrown by Esau out of the cave in an earlier episode. I recollect that there was a white rock earlier in last night’s episode being handed amongst two characters, but I don’t remember which two. And, therefore, the same rock that was shown earlier in last night’s episode.

    3. I believe that it was Ilana that told Sun a couple of episodes back, that she and Jin were “on the list”, so that is how Sun knows she (or Jin), is on the list. Illana also had told Sun that she didn’t know which one she was supposed to protect, so therefore had to try to protect them both.

    4. I am not so sure that the Isabella manifestation was a result of a “smokey” trick, or of Hurley’s faith. I believe the real turning point here is “faith”. Richard gains faith in Jacob through the manifestation of beleiving that he is feeling/hearing/experienceing Isabella. It is after that he acheives “peace” and calm, and a belief in Jacob. Hurley already believes, so that is why Hurley can see “dead people”. Hurley has faith. That is also why Jacob uses Hurley as a messenger to the “unbelievers”. I believe that Paul in the Bible, would be a corresponding character/figure.

    5. The necklace. Didn’t Richard take that when Isabella died? So, the preist was simply returning it? I don’t remember for sure.

    Thanks for great write up, as always…I enjoyed the episode, too!

  2. I think it is the “baby” Kwon…whatever her name is…and she is back on the “mainland”…so, it is neither Sun, nor Jin. This could tie in with the fertility problems, the Others “stealing” the kids, etc. ie, they were told a “savior” would be born, so it was important to the islanders to protect mothers giving birth? (kind of like Moses in the bullrushes, except that Jin and Sun have a girl, and not a guy) …again, something Cuse and Lindelof have said repeatedly, that they originally wanted their “Hero/ine” to be a woman, not necessarily a man. (Kate was originally supposed to be the “Jack” character during their earlier imaginings…something that I read many seasons ago, I think?)

  3. Skater,
    Richard, after being denied being with his wife and forgiveness of his sins asked to live forever because that would save him from hell eventually being sent to hell for murdering the doctor…that’s my theory at least

  4. Need some theories now, on the “babies” that have been born….Claire’s baby, Aaron; Sun’s baby; Pen and Desmond’s baby; Juliette’s sister’s baby…there should be some correlation, no? (and, of course, the blood on Aaron’s looking similar to Christ on the cross type wounds….)

    Jeff, I like your idea about the last “shot” mirroring Esau and Jacob…

    I’m going through withdrawal already!

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