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Lost Recap: Wine and Cheese

Whee! An episode about Richard!

Whoa, an evil doctor noshing on a turkey leg.

What can I say? That was the cheesiest thing ever. I've loved Nestor Carbonell since Suddenly Susan (seriously, he was great), but no one could make this tale of a sweet, idiotic bereaved Spaniard work, even an actor so handsome he makes Jon Hamm look like a meeskite. For bonus misery, there was a whole new sacrificial soul-mate angle to drive me nuts. This episode also confirmed my worst fears: Our characters are merely pawns in some musty, late-night dorm-room argument about free will, between super-powered roommates who hate each other.

I'm searching for something to adore. Okay, I liked the corpse-eating boars — they were gross and made me laugh. But if you loved the episode, and surfing around, I can see many did, abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Jeez, I'm starting to feel like Comic Book Guy.

And now to the recap ...

An eye under bandages: Ilana, visited by Jacob. He deputizes her to protect the candidates, telling her to ask "Ricardus" what to do. Yet once she's on the island and asks, Richard merely giggles like a loon.

Because he has no idea what to do. Hey, until recently, he was suicidal. And everything Jacob says is a LIE!

"You want to know a secret, Jack? Something I've know a long, long time. You're dead."

Figuratively, says Hurley.

Nope: literally. "We're not on an island, we never were. We're in hell." So maybe it's time they stopped listening to Jacob — and join Team Smokey! Richard takes off like a bat outta etc.

As Ilana and Jack bicker over tactics, the gang fills Jack in on Locke.

"If it's any consolation, it's not exactly Locke," explains Ben.

Meanwhile, Hurley speaks Spanish to the air. "Sorry, Jack, this has nothing to do with you."

Ben tells Ilana Jack's right, don't bother chasing Richard. Ben's known him since he was 12 years old — not that Richard has aged. And how did that happen? YES, TELL US!

Okay: Richard, very hairy, rides a horse. He enters a humble home, tells his feverish Isabella to rest. She coughs: blood in da handkerchief. A necklace to give the doctor. Oh man, it's another damned soul mate, confirmed when she tells him, "We'll always be together." I was hoping this meant she was a vampire, but he says, "I will save you."

Lightning! Storm! Horseback!

Richard pushes into the rich doctor's home, but the evil greedy cartoon character is noshing on a turkey leg. Medicine is expensive, so Richard shakes out coins — then delivers the precious necklace. "This is worthless," says the doctor, tossing it. A fight! An accidental death! C'mon, it couldn't even be intentional murder? How cowardly, writers. Richard has the medicine and runs off.

But his beautiful, perfect Isabella is dead. DEAD! I admit these people are attractive, but I can't get that worked up about a stranger.

Richard is thrown in prison, with reading privileges. He and Isabella wanted to go to the New World, he tells the priest, so he learned English. But despite his sincere confession, the priest cheerfully informs him he'll hang and go to hell. Wow, Spain sucks.

The evil, evil people blindfold Richard, then pass him to a smug English dude, Captain Magnus Hanso, so picky he only wants English-speaking slaves. Next thing ya know, Richard is in a slave ship. In a storm, a fellow slave thinks he spies the devil on an island.

When the Black Rock wrecks onshore, the slaves wake in chains. Hanson comes to stab them, causing the hilarious caption "squish," but just as Richard is in danger of being squished, there are Smokey-flavored sound effects and death from above. Blood drips onto Hanson — and the smoke seizes him.

Then the smoke nuzzles up to Richard, who prays. It recedes.That was basically a sex scene with the smoke, wasn't it?

Anyhoo, Richard is trapped, chained, desperate for water. Slowly, à la that Stephen King novel where the woman is handcuffed to a bed, he tries to work his way out with a key, until a flesh-eating boar screws it up. He sees Isabella, who claims she's there to save him from the devil. Then she's swallowed by the smoke. He weeps.

Finally, someone arrives with a tin cup of water. Touches him on shoulder. "I am in hell?" "Yes, I'm afraid you are," says Smokey, in the delicious form of Titus Welliver.

Richard gasps after Isabella, but Smokey says that "he" has her, implying the devil. Smokey has keys. He makes Richard say he loves him and he'll do anything he asks. Of course, Richard agrees. Is this whole thing hideously kinky, or is it just me?

"It's good to see you out of those chains," he says.

Smokey tells Richard there's only one way to escape hell: kill the devil.

He hands him a knife, says to stab the devil, don't let him speak — intriguingly, the same advice Dogen gave Sayid about Smokey. And he reveals that he IS in fact the black smoke. This is quite confusing to poor Richard, but Smokey insists he saw "the devil" take Isabella, that the devil betrayed him, that he took his body. His humanity.

"But you killed the officers" — "I'm not the one you need to worry about," Smokey non-answers. "The devil has your wife and you are going to have to kill him." Richard says murder is wrong, but Smokey isn't into this right/wrong crap. Want to see wife? Stab stab, kill kill.

Richard makes his way to the beach, looking Mansonesque. "Blade whooshes," say the captions. But then Jacob, unusually butch, gets Starsky and seizes the knife. He knows nothing about Isabella and comes off as the kind of exasperated liberal atheist elitist who looks down on superstitious Spaniards. Jacob insists that wasn't really Richard's wife — then, to prove Richard's not dead, he basically waterboards him.

Afterward, the two have drinks. Jacob says he's not the devil, he's just the one who brought the ship to the island. And why'd he bring it there?

Jacob grabs a bottle of wine-flavored metaphor: It's evil, malevolence, hell — the cork is the island, keeping the darkness where it belongs. Oh, give me a break.

The Man in Black believes everyone is corruptible because it's their nature to sin, and Jacob brings people there to prove him wrong. He's all about free will! Why should he have to step in? He offers Richard a job, as an intermediary. And while Jacob can't offer Richard his wife OR absolution, he'll let him live forever — that way he'll never go to hell.

Richard goes to Smokey and gives him a white rock from Jacob. Smokey says he understands Jacob can be convincing. But if Richard changes his mind, the offer still stands. And he hands him Isabella's cross necklace.

Richard buries it, weeping.

Then, hundreds of years later, in the present, he digs it up.

He yells: "DOES THE OFFER STILL STAND!"

And intriguingly, Hurley appears: "What offer, dude?"

Richard is freaking — and Hurley says, "Your wife sent me." She's standing right next to him.

"Tell him his English is beautiful."

"She says your English is awesome," says the fat Latino-male version of Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost.

Isabella wants Richard to close his eyes. In Spanish she tells him it wasn't his fault she died. It was her time. He's suffered enough.

He would do anything to be together.

They're already together.

And she's gone.

Now who will make MY suffering end??

Richard puts on the cross.

Hurley adds that there's something else Isabella said he needs to do: Stop the Man in Black from leaving the island, or they'll all go to hell.

Ominous shot of Smocke.

And then we're back in time, with Jacob and Smokey having their usual sadomasochistic tête-à-tête. Jacob won't let him leave. Smokey wants to kill him. Jacob gives Smokey wine — to pass the time. "See you around." "Sooner than you think." Smokey smashes the bottle.

What We Know Now:
• Dying wives good; doctors, priests, and ship captains bad.
• Jacob is such a dick he torments strangers just to win an argument about the nature of sin.
• Nobody resists the Spanish Inquisition!

The Wha? Factor:
• If Jacob's so into free will, what's with deputizing Ilana to drag Sayid to the island?
• Since Richard has actually seen Smokey's ability to inhabit dead bodies, wasn't he being a little credulous when he let Smocke in to see Jacob in the statue?
• Where does Black-Rock-obsessed Widmore fit into all this?

Follow-Up Post: Hater Like Me: A Lost-Recap Explanation

Photo: Courtesy of ABC