Previously on...: Richard Alpert has had his job of "adviser" for "a very, very long time." Alpert told Jack he wanted to die because he'd devoted his life -- "longer than you can possibly imagine" -- in service of Jacob because he'd had a plan that Richard was supposed to be a part of, and now Jacob was gone. Alpert felt he'd just found out his "entire life had no purpose."
'Ab Aeterno': Jacob visited Ilana, whose face was wrapped in bandages, in a hospital. He told her he needed her to protect the six remaining candidates.
On the island, Sun sat around a fire and explained to Jack and Hurley about the candidates and Ilana said she didn't know what to do next, given that Jacob was gone. (Jacob had told Ilana to "ask Ricardus" what to do next, and he'd know -- so she asked him). Alpert said he didn't know what to do next, and he now felt like everything Jacob ever said was a lie. He offered to tell Jack a secret -- something he's known a long, long time.
"You're dead," Alpert said. He said they were all dead and nothing is what they thought it was. The island, in fact, wasn't real and they were really in hell. He said that maybe it was time to start listening to someone else, "and that's exactly what I'm going to do." Alpert picked up a torch and walked away.
Alpert walked through the jungle as Ilana packed a shotgun in preparation to chase down Richard. Jack told her that Alpert had lost his mind, and he was surprised to learn that Alpert "met Locke." Jack thought Locke was dead, so now that had to be explained. Jack saw Hurley speaking Spanish into a void and thought he was talking to Jacob, but Hurley said it wasn't Jacob and had nothing to do with Jack.
Ben started sharing the story of how he's known Alpert since he (Ben) was 12. He said Alpert didn't age, and Frank wondered, "How the hell do you think that happened?"
Tenerife, Canary Islands -- 1867: That's where we were when we saw Alpert riding horseback and heading into a dark cabin. Inside, a woman named Isabella was sick and coughing blood. He went to get a doctor and hoped to be back by dawn. She took off a crucifix and told him to give it to the doctor. She said they would always be together and he promised he would save her. He rode off in the driving rain.
The doctor refused to ride in the rain to help him, but offered a medicine he said was very expensive. When the doctor saw how little money Richard had to offer (including the crucifix), he tossed it aside and a brief tussle ensued, during which Richard accidentally pushed the doctor into a table and the doctor collapsed after hitting his head. With the medicine in hand, Richard took off.
When he got back, it was too late to save Isabella. Worse, he ended up in jail for having killed the doctor. A priest visiting him in jail noticed Richard was reading a Bible in English. Richard said he and his wife were planning to move to the New World and start a family. Richard made his confession, admitting the murder and asking God's forgiveness. The priest said he couldn't offer forgiveness. Richard offered penance to earn forgiveness, but the priest said he wouldn't have time because Richard was going to be hanged the next day. The priest told Richard that the devil would be waiting for him in hell.
The next morning, men came to Richard's cell and blindfolded him. He was brought to a man named Mr. Whitfield, who asked Richard if he spoke English. Richard eventually said he did and Mr. Whitfield said Richard was now property of Magnus Hanso.
Richard and some other shackled men endured a tumultuous ship ride and as they tossed and turned beneath the deck another man said he could see an island and that it was being guarded by the devil. There was a crash and the screen went black.
We next saw the Black Rock in its familiar crash site, but looking fresher than ever (for a shipwreck). Richard and another man called for help as they heard voices above them. Mr. Whitfield came down below deck and started driving his sword through the men who were still alive. Richard was the last one standing and pleaded for Whitfield not to kill him. Whitfield said that if he'd freed him it would only be a matter of time before Richard tried to kill him.
Then we heard the now-familiar rustling of the trees and a bunch of commotion above the deck was heard. The ship rumbled and then there was silence. Whitfield shouted for his colleagues but got no response, and, suddenly, the smoke monster pushed through a grate and snapped Whitfield up right before Richard's eyes.
The smoke monster then slowly approached Richard, who closed his eyes and repeated some kind of prayer.
Richard opened his eyes and the smoke monster was gone.
Later, Richard worked to break free of his shackles, but couldn't. He tried to reach some water, which trickled in from the rain above, but couldn't. He tried in vain to free himself and failed. A wild boar seemed to be eating one of the dead guys and Richard tried to kill it as it ran past, but failed that, too. He reached for a nail, but couldn't get to it. Finally, he had a hallucination in which he saw and talked to Isabella, who told him they were in hell and she wanted to talk to him before "he" came back. She said "he" was the devil. He heard the familiar sound above and told Isabella to run. She did, and he heard her scream as she apparently fell victim to the smoke monster.
Finally, a hand touched an unconscious Richard, who turned, alarmed, and looked up to see The Man in Black offering him water. He called himself "a friend." Richard asked him if he'd seen Isabella. He described what happened and The Man in Black said, "Then 'he' must have her." He told Richard he, too, wanted to be free and that he'd been on the island long before the ship showed up. He had keys to the shackles, but before freeing Richard he made him promise to help him and do anything he asked. The Man in Black freed Richard, which thanked him.
He picked Richard up and said he'd have to save his strength if they were going to escape.
"Escape?" Richard asked.
"That's right," The Man in Black said. "I'm afraid there's only one way to escape from hell: You're going to have to kill the devil."
The next day, The Man in Black gave Richard directions to the statue, where he'd find the devil. The Man in Black handed Richard a dagger and told him to kill "the devil" immediately and that if he spoke, it would be too late. Richard wondered how he could kill the devil with the dagger, "he's black smoke." The Man in Black replied, "No, I am."
This confused Richard. He asked if Isabella was running from him (The Man in Black), but The Man in Black said she was actually running from "him" and that he saw "him" take her but he couldn't stop it. He went on to tell Richard that the devil betrayed him, took his body and his humanity. He again told Richard that he had to kill the devil if he wanted to see his wife again.
Richard said murder was wrong, but The Man in Black said they couldn't go back and forth about right or wrong. He only had to decide whether he wanted to see his wife again.
"Yes, I do," Richard said. He took the dagger and headed toward the foot of the statue, which was all that remained of the once-massive structure. He walked toward a door, but before he saw or heard anything, he started getting the living crap beat out of him by a man in white. It was Jacob. Richard asked for his wife and Jacob said he didn't know anything about her. Then he asked if he'd met a man in the jungle dressed in black. Richard said he had, and that The Man in Black said Jacob was the devil and that he had to kill Jacob if he wanted to see his wife again.
Jacob said the person Richard saw wasn't his wife. Richard said it was her because she's dead, just like him. Jacob told he him wasn't dead, then he walked him into the ocean and pushed Richard's head underwater several times, asking him, "Still think you're dead?"
Richard asked him to stop, because he wanted to live. Jacob said they had to talk.
Richard asked what was inside the foot of the statue, but Jacob said no one goes into unless he invites them. Richard asked Jacob if he was the devil and he said he wasn't, but he did bring the ship to the island.
Jacob told Richard to think of the wine in his bottle as hell, or malevolence, evil, or darkness. It swirls in the bottle and doesn't get out, "because if it did, it would spread." He said the cork is the island. He put the cork into the bottle and flipped it upside down, showing how the cork (the island) "is the only thing keeping the darkness where it belongs."
Jacob said The Man in Black believes people are corruptible because it's in their nature to sin, and Jacob brings people to the island to prove him wrong, "and when they get here, their past doesn't matter." Richard asked what happened to the others he'd brought to the island before him. "They're all dead," Jacob told him. He said he didn't help them because he wanted them to help themselves, "to know the difference between right or wrong without me having to tell them." He said it was meaningless if he had to tell them, if he had to step in.
"But if you don't, he will," Richard said.
Jacob offered Richard a job. He said that if he didn't want to step in, maybe Richard could by acting as Jacob's intermediary. Richard asked what he'd get in return. Jacob kicked the question right back to him. Richard asked for his wife back, but Jacob couldn't do that. He asked to be absolved of his sins, but Jacob couldn't do that, either.
"I never want to die," Richard said. "I want to live forever."
"Now that," Jacob said, placing a hand on Richard's shoulder, "I can do."
Richard walked back into the jungle to meet The Man in Black, who knew Richard had let Jacob talk to him. Richard handed The Man in Black a white rock. The Man in Black told Richard that his offer still stands if he ever -- "and I mean ever" -- changed his mind.
He said he had something for Richard, pushing it into his hand and telling him he must have dropped it. It was Isabella's crucifix. Richard looked up and The Man in Black was gone. He took it, dug a hole, kissed it, and cried as he buried it.
Back on the island, post-Ajira crash, Richard's quest through the jungle had brought him to the place where he'd buried the crucifix nearly 150 years earlier. He said out loud that he'd changed his mind, and then shouted, "Does the offer still stand?" several times.
Hurley appeared behind him and asked, "What offer, dude?"
Richard was mad at Hurley for having followed him, but Hurley said Richard's wife had sent him. She wanted to know why Richard buried her cross.
"How do you know about that?" Richard asked him.
"Because she just told me," Hurley said.
Hurley said she saw Richard dig it up. "She's standing right next to you," Hurley told him.
Isabella told Hurley that she could tell Richard didn't believe him. She told Hurley to tell Richard his English was awesome. Hurley said Isabella wanted Richard to close his eyes, and Hurley promised to tell him what she said. She said it wasn't his fault that she died. It was her time. Richard cried and told her he'd do anything to have more time with her.
Isabella was gone, but Hurley said there was one more thing she asked Richard to do. He said she wanted him to stop The Man in Black, because if you don't, "We're all going to hell."
Claimed Locke saw this from a distance and gave the camera his best evil eye.
Back in 1867, Jacob sat next to The Man in Black and they chatted about how The Man in Black tried to kill Jacob. He said he did it because he wanted to leave the island, but Jacob said, "As long as I'm alive, you're not going anywhere." The Man in Black said that was why he wanted to kill him. Jacob said someone else would just take his place, and The Man in Black said he'd kill them, too.
Jacob handed The Man in Black the bottle of wine and said it was "something for you to pass the time." He got up and said, "I'll see you around."
The Man in Black took the bottle and said to himself, "Sooner than you think."
He held the bottle upside down for a moment (the cork keeping the wine inside), then, in one smooth motion, smashed the bottle on the rock next to him.