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November 23, 2014

Lost: The Variable

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Apr 30th 2009 7:46AM

Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday on 'Lost.'
(S05E14) "Well, I got some bad news for you Jack. You don't belong here at all. She was wrong." - Faraday

After listening to Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof ranting in last week's Lost audio podcast, I didn't expect "The Variable" to be this much of a game changer. Everything we thought we knew about the island, time travel, and course correcting - it all got turned upside down. I think it's safe to say that the 100th episode of Lost is going to be remembered for more than just its milestone significance.

Timeline wise, we picked right up after Desmond and Ben's scuffle at the marina. Penny had taken Desmond to the hospital with a severe gunshot wound. So much for all those "magical milk carton" theories. Seems that Desmond was just running on pure adrenaline when he kicked the crap out of Ben. Then Miss Hawking showed up and she told Penny that she thought it was Dan's fault that Desmond was shot. I didn't get that - seemed more like Ellie was just transferring blame to her son. She was the one who told Ben how to return to the island thus putting him in a position to repay his favor to Charles by trying to kill Penny. But then again, it was Dan who knocked on the Swan door setting Desmond on his journey to LA in the first place.

Speaking of Charles - consider this. Once we found out that he was Dan's father, it also became fairly clear that Charles and Ellie had some sort of falling out. Perhaps Ellie knew about Ben's promise to Charles and hoped that he would kill Penny so that Widmore would know the same pain she felt about her son Dan? I'll come back to that.

On the island in 1977, Dan went into overdrive upon his return. Relying heavily on his notebook, he seemed to know exactly where and when everyone was on the island. First he went after Dr. Chang and we finally got to see the whole scene that opened the season premiere with Dan wearing a hardhat in the Orchid. Again, relying heavily on the information recorded in his notebook (presumably from his research at DHARMA HQ in Ann Arbor, MI), Dan told Chang that everyone had to get off the island because The Swan's pocket of electromagnetism was going to blow in about four hours when a worker drills into it - a.k.a. "the incident," something we haven't really heard about since seeing The Swan orientation film in the beginning of season two.

After that, he had to go warn Jack, Kate, Hurley, Jin, Sawyer, Miles, and Juliet. You just got here but time to leave. That whole scene was really well done and I love how Kate was placed in a position to pick Jack or Sawyer yet again only to have Juliet jump in and give Kate the code for the fence, thus guaranteeing she'd choose Jack. What did Dan need to do? Find Ellie, his mother, while Sawyer and everyone else went back to the beach where it all started. Sawyer's longest con was finally over. I really felt bad for him when Dan said none of them belonged and Sawyer said he and Juliet did just fine until they all showed up.

Once Jack, Kate, and Dan found the others, Dan demanded to talk to Ellie by holding Richard at gunpoint and then "whatever happened, happened" - Ellie shot and killed her own son. This immediately made all the flashbacks of Dan's early life that much more poignant. His mother was being a hard-ass about his studies for a reason - she knew exactly when and how he was going to die and she sent him back to the island anyway.

Which brings us to the variable - people. Dan had been so focused on the constant that he never considered what actually could be changed. This goes against everything we've thought this whole time. If the incident never occurs, then the Swan is never encased in concrete. No one ever has to push the button to contain the energy. That means Desmond will never forget to push the button. Flight 815 will never crash. Widmore will never send his freighter. Dan will never go back to the island and he'll live. How was Dan going to stop the incident before Mum shot him? Nuke the whole island with Jughead.

So what does this all mean? It really is all Ellie Hawking's fault in some oddball way - she's trying to save her son's life. By convincing everyone else to go back to the island, all she could do was hope that prior to Dan's death, he'd be able to convince someone else to carry on his task - detonate Jughead. Jack seemed on board with erasing history, but Kate was a little iffy. So it would appear that the coming "war" is actually Ellie vs. Charles. Blow the island up or save it. It's actually starting to look like Ben really doesn't have anything to do with the bigger picture.

Final observations on "The Variable" --

  • First off, what a completely amazing mindf*ck. This will easily go down as one of the greatest episodes of Lost. My head hurts and I apologize for this being so jumbled. I'm sure I'm forgetting something important...
  • Favorite scene of the episode? When Dan warned young Charlotte. He wasn't so scary, but he was sobering in his honesty. He loved that little girl and you could see how much he really wanted to believe that things could be changed.
  • I'm always impressed with how previously seen flashbacks frequently come back and get fleshed out more. We got the Orchid scene from the season premiere that I already mentioned as well as the scene of Dan crying at the sight of the Flight 815 footage from "Confirmed Dead." Turns out he was in some sort of home with a caretaker - his experiments fried his brain just like Theresa's. Charlotte's memory tests with Dan using the playing cards makes a lot more sense now.
  • 1954? Fonzie times? Hilarious.
  • We know Sawyer doesn't kill Radzinsky (since the guy offs himself in The Swan years later), so how are Sawyer and Juliet going to get away?

One final question - if people really are the variable, if they really do have some sort of freewill, if Ellie's goal is to save her son, then why did she send Dan back to the island? She could have told him not to take Widmore's job offer and lived out her days knowing he's still alive and not questioning if he was able to change it all. Could something bigger still be at play? Maybe we'll find out next week when Richard's role in all of this is finally revealed:

"Follow the Leader" - Jack and Kate find themselves at odds over the direction to take to save their fellow island survivors, Locke further solidifies his stance as leader of "The Others," and Sawyer and Juliet come under scrutiny from the DHARMA Initiative, on "Lost," WEDNESDAY, MAY 6 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on ABC.

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cress d

..about multiple pstings. And David--good observation. I don't think we have seen the last of Daniel Faraday

May 02 2009 at 5:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

oops..sorry

May 02 2009 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

LULUS theory is GREAT!
And all those who find this seasons' time traveling theme
"preposterous", HAVE YOU SEEN THE LAST 4 PREVIOUS SEASONS?
Polar bears in the tropics, babies that can't be born on this island,
paralyzed below the waist and walks again Locke, underwater DHARMA
stations, friggin' Richard Alpert never aging...
QUIT 'watching and commenting' here about your disapproval and go write
your own scripted series.
LOST hasn't "lost" me, like some dimwits.

May 02 2009 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

LULUS theory is GREAT!
And all those who find this seasons' time traveling theme
"preposterous", HAVE YOU SEEN THE LAST 4 PREVIOUS SEASONS?
Polar bears in the tropics, babies that can't be born on this island,
paralyzed below the waist and walks again Locke, underwater DHARMA
stations, friggin' Richard Alpert never aging...
QUIT 'watching and commenting' here about your disapproval and go write
your own scripted series.
LOST hasn't "lost" me, like some dimwits.

May 02 2009 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

LULUS theory is GREAT!
And all those who find this seasons' time traveling theme "preposterous", HAVE YOU SEEN THE LAST 4 PREVIOUS SEASONS?
Polar bears in the tropics, babies that can't be born on this island, paralyzed below the waist and walks again Locke, underwater DHARMA stations, friggin' Richard Alpert never aging...
QUIT watching and commenting here about your disapproval and go write your own scripted series.
LOST hasn't "lost" me, like some dimwits.

May 02 2009 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cress d

LULUS' THEORY IS GREAT

May 02 2009 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loolu



-Does anybody else think that Daniel Faraday already knew of the variables - from the time he knocked on Desmond door and told him to see his mother ? I think Daniel was lying and manipulating people, for a good reason of course, to get exactly what he wants to happen to happen, and we are about to see all of that unfold. So this episode, to me, was important.

So, he is trying to change the future through the people around him. And he's tried to change things before, when he told Charlotte not to come back to the island, yet she did. Why didnt he want Charlotte to return to the island, because he already knew that if she returned she would die. So he had to have been trying to stop this moment and other events from before. Hes done this all before. So until he stops certain events from happening they will stay on this sort of loop.

So Charlottes death represents his failure to solve this island loop problem, and that he must try another set of variables to change the events and solve the equation. So he tries something else. I think on this episode he even told her something different than he did the last time he saw young Charlotte in 1977 (thats why we didnt here what he said).

I also believe that Dan, isnt the biological child of either Eloise or Charles, because in 1977, Dan should have already been born, also Penny, but we dont see any kids amongst the others! So what happens? Dan goes off the island to visit himself, to tell himself, like he did Charlotte of what to or not to do in the future. Why else did he leave the island on the sub and then return three years later?

-So,Dan goes around planting seeds in everybody including him-young-self to change their actions and therefore the future. But he's also figured out he must die. Thats why he goes into the camp armed. He's not stupid.... watch the scene again, its all so calculated for him. He knows what he's doing and what he has to say (even to his mother) again for the results he wants acheived. Besides if his attempts fail, again, he'll know when his youngself grows up and see's the airplane at the bottom of the ocean in the future. Oh by the way, you think he's crying because he cant remember and its all sad. He's crying because again the plane represents the fact that his early 1977 attempts failed once again and he must try another variable. its all in his book.

-Why did he tell them "what happened happened" nothing can be changed and then tells them he was basically wrong in this episode? He cant have everybody trying to change the variables. He must have total control of what needs to be changed inorder to change it to get the results he wants. Thats exactly why he told Sawyer not to even bother knocking on the hatch because he wont change anything, but goes right ahead and doesnt it any way...he needs to be in control of his variables.

-Oh by the way, his act of memory loss is his way of playing Hamlet, "playing the fool to catch the wise". I dont think he lost his memory at all, its his way of watching his parents and see the actons they will take to get him back on the island.



So for Dan its groundhog day (refering to the movie) he has to do it over and over until he gets it right.

So in my humble opinion, Dans a scientist who has figured out what or who the variables are/were long before, but now he has to find out the set of actions he and others must take to get the proper results in the future. So i think we cant write him off as a failed character in the Lost plot. Theres so much still missing.

Of course i could be worng, and all this could be just as confusing as the show but i rather have the faith that Dan is the key to stopping these series of events from ever happening, and we are watching is final attempt as it unfolds and eventually succeed.

May 02 2009 at 5:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loolu



-Does anybody else think that Daniel Faraday already knew of the variables - from the time he knocked on Desmond door and told him to see his mother ? I think Daniel was lying and manipulating people, for a good reason of course, to get exactly what he wants to happen to happen, and we are about to see all of that unfold. So this episode, to me, was important.

So, he is trying to change the future through the people around him. And he's tried to change things before, when he told Charlotte not to come back to the island, yet she did. Why didnt he want Charlotte to return to the island, because he already knew that if she returned she would die. So he had to have been trying to stop this moment and other events from before. Hes done this all before. So until he stops certain events from happening they will stay on this sort of loop.

So Charlottes death represents his failure to solve this island loop problem, and that he must try another set of variables to change the events and solve the equation. So he tries something else. I think on this episode he even told her something different than he did the last time he saw young Charlotte in 1977 (thats why we didnt here what he said).

I also believe that Dan, isnt the biological child of either Eloise or Charles, because in 1977, Dan should have already been born, also Penny, but we dont see any kids amongst the others! So what happens? Dan goes off the island to visit himself, to tell himself, like he did Charlotte of what to or not to do in the future. Why else did he leave the island on the sub and then return three years later?

-So,Dan goes around planting seeds in everybody including him-young-self to change their actions and therefore the future. But he's also figured out he must die. Thats why he goes into the camp armed. He's not stupid.... watch the scene again, its all so calculated for him. He knows what he's doing and what he has to say (even to his mother) again for the results he wants acheived. Besides if his attempts fail, again, he'll know when his youngself grows up and see's the airplane at the bottom of the ocean in the future. Oh by the way, you think he's crying because he cant remember and its all sad. He's crying because again the plane represents the fact that his early 1977 attempts failed once again and he must try another variable. its all in his book.

-Why did he tell them "what happened happened" nothing can be changed and then tells them he was basically wrong in this episode? He cant have everybody trying to change the variables. He must have total control of what needs to be changed inorder to change it to get the results he wants. Thats exactly why he told Sawyer not to even bother knocking on the hatch because he wont change anything, but goes right ahead and doesnt it any way...he needs to be in control of his variables.

-Oh by the way, his act of memory loss is his way of playing Hamlet, "playing the fool to catch the wise". I dont think he lost his memory at all, its his way of watching his parents and see the actons they will take to get him back on the island.

So for Dan its groundhog day (refering to the movie) he has to do it over and over until he gets it right.

So in my humble opinion, Dans a scientist who has figured out what or who the variables are/were long before, but now he has to find out the set of actions he and others must take to get the proper results in the future. So i think we cant write him off as a failed character in the Lost plot. Theres so much still missing.

Of course i could be worng, and all this could be just as confusing as the show but i rather have the faith that Dan is the key to stopping these series of events from ever happening, and we are watching is final attempt as it unfolds and eventually succeed.

Does anyone agree some or all or none?! ;)

May 02 2009 at 5:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan R.

Adding to Lost Man Standing's comment, I believe we are given a hint that Faraday's hypothesis might be true when Eloise Hawking tells Penny at the beginning of the episode that for the first time in a long while she doesn't know what is going to happen. Consider these two points:

1. Daniel caused Desmond to be in the area where he got shot by banging on the door of the Hatch in the past and convincing him to find Eloise--only just after telling one of the other characters they would never be able to do such a thing because they couldn't "change anything." Daniel goes against his own judgment and this seems to cause confusion with Eloise later in the timeline.

2. When Eloise says it is for the first time 'in a long time,' I think she is referring to the consciousness-skipping incident with Desmond after he used the fail-safe, who seems to have even more of an ability to change things than anyone else. In the end, it was only his choice that made him keep things as they were--but he never remembered WHY he made those decisions until he made them then, suggesting he made the same decision for a DIFFERENT REASON than before. Therefore, he changed something!

May 02 2009 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Am I the only one to noticed that we did not hear all of what Dan said to Charlotte. And he could have told her something different. There was a far shot of them talking.

May 01 2009 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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