Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost Episode Review 5.14, "The Variable"

"For the first time in a long time, I don't know what will happen..."

Kinda sums up my thoughts exactly.

I liked this episode - it certainly filled in a lot of blanks, and confirmed a lot of stuff we suspected (like Charles being Daniel's father) - but it didn't tell us anything really new except for 1) the fact that Daniel seems to think the future can be changed and 2) finally gives us some insight into Eloise's motivations. It was really sad to see Daniel die, especially since that scene seemed kinda forced to me. Daniel didn't need to use the gun - he had Richard's attention once he mentioned the hydrogen bomb. Blargh. At least Desmond's going to live (for now anyway, given he's the newest member of the show with some legal problems).

The other thing that I'm a bit disappointed by is the fact that the Comic Con video is probably not canon now since Daniel, Miles and his wife were all in the background and it seemed like it took place before the Incident (i.e. in the next four hours). Pierre might make something similar, but certainly not with any of them around. I did love seeing the scene between Daniel and Charlotte in real time - genuinely heartbreaking.

The best part of the episode to me was that we now know why Daniel tried to get Desmond to find his mom. He was trying to get her to not send the O6 back to the Island. If they don't get on Flight 316, they don't go back in time and The Incident likely never takes place. But he didn't have time, so to speak, to get the whole message out to Desmond, so ironically he probably instead reinforced her thought that she was doing the right thing by "helping" them. Was also really nice to see the continuation of Daniel's initial flashback scene, watching the news of the fake plane finding.

And we also now know what Eloise's role was in all this. She was convinced that the future couldn't be changed (lest the universe comes to an end or something) and that no matter what she did, she had no choice but to make sure all the events of the past came to pass. She spends her whole life making sure Daniel gets back to the Island so she can shoot him. But now, after sending them all back, she's essentially free - wonder what she and Charles are going to do now? Also makes me wonder if Charles Widmore was a bastard to Desmond in the past because he knew Desmond had to end up on the Island to push the button? Kinda casts him in a more benevolent light, eh?

Okay, lots to talk about:

Five Questions:

1) So can they or can't they?

Change the future, that is? Is Daniel right or wrong?

First of all, now that changing the future has been introduced, the Dark Tower ending I predicted so very long ago becomes much more real possibility. Will they be trapped in an time loop that they can't change, forced to repeat the same tragic events over and over again? Until, that is, perhaps an outside variable - like Desmond - arrives to intervene. And you just know now that he reiterated his "I'll never leave ya" promise to Penny that it's going to be broken before the show's end.

But we're not totally sure the future can be changed. Daniel could have been right the first time. After all, his mom certainly seemed to think so - she never would have sent Daniel to the freighter if she thought it she could have changed things. And she certainly said as much to Desmond when she encountered him in the pawn shop (of course, that could have just been to scare him into going to the Island). They could very well try and fail, much like Roland does with the Tower (which is my guess as to what's going to happen) and now it'll be a little be gray as to whether the universe course corrected or whether they simply did it wrong.

Regardless, Jack and company are at least going to try. If they succeed, theoretically, Flight 815 should never crash. But what would happen on the Island from that point forward? If Daniel never goes back in time, does the hydrogen bomb detonate in 1954? Does Desmond marry Penny instead of joining the army? Does Locke become stuck in a sucky life as a box company drone? That's the most interesting thing to me - if Jack and company save the future, Locke becomes irrelevant to the Island. So if Jack and company succeed, think Locke will try and change things back? That could set up and interesting Jack vs. Locke theme for the final season.

But if they fail (as I think they will, so we can see the actual Incident take place), I think it's going to be up to Desmond to try and change things. And, really, he may be the only one who's actually able to do so.

2) Um, dude, you really want to detonate a hydrogen bomb?

This perplexes me. Wouldn't detonating a hydrogen bomb be worse than the Incident itself? Seems that would certainly annihilate everything on the Island and we know that doesn't happen, yet another reason why I think they're going to fail.

3) So how bad is The Incident? What will happen to people who don't leave?

Daniel said that the energy underneath the Swan Station was 30,000 times more powerful than the energy underneath the Orchid. But the thing is we know is it won't kill everyone - not only does Pierre survive the Incident, but we know DHARMA-life continues for another 15 years on the Island, until the Purge. Is everyone who remains essentially quarantined there? Is that why "quarantine" was written on the Swan and Arrow station doors?

Another possibility that just came to me - is it possible the Incident releases the Smoke Monster from the Underworld? I don't think we've ever seen Smokey in 1977, have we? We've certainly seen him in 1988 with Danielle, but I don't think we've seen him before that. Now the ruins on Ben's door suggest that Smokey is much, much older than 1977, but perhaps he'd been sealed away and maybe the Incident is akin to opening Pandora's Box. Just a thought...

4) If Jack and company fail, what happens to them?

This is a really big question. If the future can't be changed, what happens to Jack and everyone who tries to help him? Do they die? Do they stay on the Island in DHARMA? Do they leave? And if they survive, can they try and change the future at another time? Can they try and prevent Flight 815 from taking off? Can they try and prevent their younger selves from ever getting on the plane in the first place? Can they contact them and let them know what happened in the past?

My guess is that if they did survive and end up trying to play around with time, they're not going to try and prevent things from that point - we've never seen any indication any of the Losties had any knowledge of the future. In fact, it seems much more like people arranged things behind the scenes to get them onto Flight 815 rather than the opposite. But maybe they end up trying to change the time loop in other ways - like, say, the note Marty gave to Doc in "Back to the Future."

Roland eventually went back in time with his horn. Maybe the final scene of Lost will have Jack waking up in jungle and finding a note from himself in his pocket, hinting that maybe this time Jack will be able to do things right. A sad ending, but offering hope for the future. I kinda like that.

5) And who's getting on the sub?

This is only an important question if Jack and company can't change the future. We know Pierre survives the Incident, sans arm, but who else gets on the sub? The previews showed Sawyer and Juliet being marched to the sub. But what about Hurley, Jin and Miles? Do they get on the sub or do they help Jack and Kate? Looks like Sayid's going to be lending a hand too.

And we know for certain baby Miles, Pierre's wife and Charlotte leave, but what about Annie? We still haven't seen her again since "Man Behind The Curtain." She could remain on the Island and get Purged instead, but I'm kinda hoping we'll at least get a glimpse of her before the end of the season.


* Loved young Daniel's braces

* The metronome ticked 864 times

* Charlie's really a cute kid, as was young Charlotte

* Other quote nominees:

"I can do both. I can make time."
"Why haven't you gotten rich by inventing the DVD or something?"

"I've got some bad news for you, Jack. She was wrong."

"I'm going to detonate a hydrogen bomb"

"I'm getting kinda used to insane"

* Daniel was "Twitchy" and "H.G. Wells" to Sawyer, but the look Juliet gave Sawyer when he called Kate "Freckles" could have dropped a rhinoceros in mid-charge.

* Desmond was taken to the Marine Medical Center, Long Beach

* Also, anyone else think Eloise was going to steal away her grandson when Penny went in to see Desmond?

* So what was up with those weird "What did you see" commercial thingys. Here's what I saw:

1) A blue soldier's coffin
2) A bride and groom kissing
3) A surfer on a surfboard
4) A sonogram
5) Kids on the steps of a school

A very good episode. Not up to "Constant" levels, but certainly one that sets up what looks to be a rollicking finale. 4/5. Can't wait for next week!


Missie said...

I was kind of thinking that The Incident may be the thing that reunites Frank, John, Ben and Sun with the 1977 Losties via another Island time travel. Beyond that, I haven't given much thought to where they're going with this.

I do like the idea of the final shot of the show echoing the first. Eloise's ourubus pin would seem to hint at that idea.

Hannah said...

Great Post. I had to read it twice there was so much in it.

Good thought on the whole Smokey thing. I never thought that the incident brought it out.

Here’s a question, it might be totally irrelevant and confusing but I was thinking of it after the show…
If they are able to change things then Desmond won't join the army because he won't need to right? Everything will be "corrected/changed"
But if he does join the army and he does wind up on the island anyway; then how will he be found by penny if there is not any button for him to fail to push? Will he be trapped there forever?

I too thought she was going to steal baby Charlie.

Missie, you're thought on the incident bringing 07 to 77 is really good! I didn't think of that.

Awesome post as always Jay, Your Blog is the best around. I dig it :)

someGirl said...

Soooo…what does the Island want? I ask this because those who are working on ways to “fix” things are up against a much bigger plan—the Islands Plan. Does the Island want Flight 815 never to have crashed there?? Does the Island want our Losties (those who remain) as part of its people?? If I think of it in these terms, the only person that can succeed is Locke…and maybe Desmond.

Why didn’t Richard remember Daniel from when they met in 1955??
How/Why did Eloise get off the Island?? Was she banished too?? I wanna see that story.

Some characters on the show deal only with the scientific aspect of the Island while others deal with its purely mystical properties. Is it just me or the ones that deal with the mystical seem to fare a lot better??? I think it would have been interesting if Daniel had experienced the mystical part of the island and not just the scientific. A little Locke-a-tude would have done him some good.

Those “What Did You See” commercials really freaked me out for some reason. I was hoping you would have an answer as to what the heck they were.

grubstreethack said...

I think Smokey is on the roam in the 70s, else why would the DI have built the pylon fence? As Richard put it, the fence "may keep some things out, but not us."

I also like the idea of the show's final scene echoing the first - Jack waking up in the jungle - except they already did that again this season, and somehow a lopsided club sandwich of a repeated scene isn't as cool.

Also, you nailed it when you said that Eloise's quote about not knowing what is going to happen summed up your thoughts exactly. Me too. I thought I knew exactly how this season was going to play out, with the Locke leaving the island and the O6 returning to it in the finale, but 316 blew that out of the water. And Season 6 is anyone's guess.

Carly said...

I needed a day to think about this because I have mixed feelings about the epi. I don't understand why Daniel goes into the Hostile camp-gun waving around like that, except that it was a reason for the writers to kill him off just to prove you can't completely change your destiny. Daniel just seems like a character who reasons with people and since Richard did (at least to me) seem to remember him after a few minutes and Richard has proven even to Daniel in 1954 that he is pretty reasonable. So why Daniel would say he would shoot him in 3 seconds like that was very unrealistic. It seemed very forced to me which is very un-Lost like and I just didn't like it.

And while Jack would be ok with never crashing the plane because his life is fine, Kate wouldn't because then she would be going to prison. Sun and Jin wouldn't because they would be having marital problems and may not ever have had their baby. Most certainly not Locke who is walking now! So I agree with that Jay, definitely a conflict between Locke and Jack is a brewing.

But you say you thought Eloise would steal HER grandson. While Daniel is her son, Penny is not her daughter. Ben said Charles broke the rules by going off and having a baby with a woman on the mainland so Penny's mother was obviously not one of the Others. I can see also why Eloise would also then be angry with Charles since she had a relationship with him and they had Daniel together.

So what we have is Mrs. Hawking and her son with very different views about destiny and free will. While Daniel believed in free will to change your present, Eloise didn't. But it was the island that sent them skipping in time and put them all in 1977 so I agree with you Ana, what does the island want?

grubstreethack said...

I think a split between the survivors with trying to stop the crash from happening/making sure the crash happens would be very interesting, but also somewhat uneven. Summing up:

Locke - Paralysed, life a mess
Kate - Would be facing trial without a cute baby to earn leniency
Sun + Jin - Relationship problems, no baby
Jack - Life a mess (though not as much as Locke's)... although his life has now slid back into being a mess, so it's debatable
Sawyer - Wouldn't have met Juliet
Juliet - Wouldn't have met Sawyer
Desmond - Wouldn't have escaped island

Sayid - Got caught up in a larger conflict, Nadia died because of it, was manipulated into becoming a killer
Ben - Would still be leader of the Others with Locke off the scene... actually, scratch that, he'd be dead of a spinal tumour

Hurley - Didn't really seem to resolve his issue with the numbers and craziness
Claire - ?

Granted, some of them (notably Jack) might be willing to exchange their own happiness in return for not having the 300 people on the plane (including many they came to know and love) not die.

Juanita's Journal said...

Change the future, that is? Is Daniel right or wrong?

Why do people think there was only one answer to this question? I don't think there is a concrete answer to this question. If Cuse and Lindelof believe there is, then they would be guilty of an absolute mentality.

Also . . . why did Daniel believe that Jughead's nuclear power could destroy the island's power?

Juanita's Journal said...

Change the future, that is? Is Daniel right or wrong?

Why do people think there was only one answer to this question? I don't think there is a concrete answer to this question. If Cuse and Lindelof believe there is, then they would be guilty of an absolute mentality.

Also . . . why did Daniel believe that Jughead's nuclear power could destroy the island's power?