Oh boy... commentary this week should be nuts! Winding down toward the finale, The Variable begins closing out the Dharmaville chapters of LOST and promises us the warmth and familiarity of our old "back on the beach" episodes. We're about to trade knowing what's going to happen next for the joy of being completely blind again, living in lean-to's, and running from invisible monsters (sorta). Congratulations to everyone involved with this great show on 100 amazing episodes. Things I Noticed:
'Sorry, but You're Gonna Have to Be a Physicist'... Performed in D-Minor
Finally, someone with mommy issues! Daniel's mom interrupts his future as a concert pianist to give him a lesson in destiny, and to encourage a lifetime of pocket protectors, razor-thin ties, and high-level mathematics. Either way, he's not getting the cheerleader. But hey, let's talk about destiny for a minute.
Since when does destiny need deputies? If the universe always corrects itself, why does Hawking have to play time marshall?
If you want the answer to that, then here it is: because she's been bamboozled into believing this crap. Just like we've all been. Just as she tried to convince Desmond that he couldn't change anything (and he did), she's trying to convince Daniel that he needs to put down the metronome and pick up a math book. Growing up on the island and following the standard Others' playbook has brainwashed Eloise Hawking into spending the rest of her life 'putting people where they need to be'. I'm calling bullshit on that one.
Hawking is putting people where the ISLAND needs them to be. Plain and simple. All her life she's been too foolish to know it... at least up until the moment where she realizes she was wrong. I'm guessing that moment came somewhere between shooting her son and slapping Widmore in the face. I'm betting she put the O6 on Ajira as penance for her sins, knowing it might potentially change something. I also think that when Hawking helped Ben get on that plane, she knew full well it was something she wasn't 'supposed to' do - not according to the island, anyway.
This begs a much bigger question: just what the hell are the Others trying to accomplish? Think of all the hoops they've thanklessly jumped through... Widmore, Ben, now Hawking... to believe in something so strongly that you're willing to sacrifice your own kid(s) for it? Something has got the Others scared totally shitless... whether they've seen the end of the world or whether it's something more personal, we don't know just yet.
Whatever it is, I think it's up in the air now. It's no longer set in stone. In the past, I think they've allowed the loop to complete itself - this was the safe way of doing things. By allowing time to fold over on itself and endlessly repeat the same stretch over and over, they've effectively avoided the horrific ending they all seem to dread. But now, this time through, we're all going to see something different happen - the Others included. God help us all.
A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words - Or At Least A Really Quick Sub-Ride
Somewhere back at HQ in Ann Arbor, the editor of the Dharma newsletter is missing a initiation photo. Last week we knew Dan came back to the island for specific reasons, but this week we're shown the catalyst that put him on the latest sub: seeing that Jack, Kate, & Hurley somehow made it back to the island. Apparently this was unexpected by Daniel, and he's extremely curious as to how they managed to pull it off. It seemed to solidify what he'd been working to prove while grooving out in 70's Michigan these past few years: that things can, in fact, be changed. This is very exciting news to him.
So exciting in fact, that he's willing to arrive on the island mere hours before a catastrophic incident that he has full advanced knowledge of. Somehow Dan expects to convince Chang he's a time traveler, have him evacuate a hundred or so people (by sub, no less), gather up help from the entire 815 crew, meet up with his trigger-happy mother, and then find and detonate an atomic warhead - all in less than 6 hours. Yeah, good luck with that.
In fact, Dan is so bad at planning ahead that even master-tactician Jack does everything but slap his forehead and say 'doh!' when Dan strides into the hostile's camp with a hurried attitude and an ominous-looking pistol dangling from his untrained hand. But that scene is for later on.
I guess the important thing here is Dan's new attitude. Last time he was telling us that whatever happened, happened (WHH). But the new Dan has suddenly ditched his tie, changed his tune, and is ready to roll up his sleeves and do something. Up until he saw the photo he was only working on equations. But once he saw Jack's crew in 1977, it gave him the proof he needed - at least in his own mind - that the upcoming incident could be avoided.
Miles Is Putting on A Lot of Miles
As the official chauffeur for all the main characters, Miles drives Dan to Jack's house. This is partly because Daniel still believes him to be the leader, but mostly it's just a gratuitous excuse for another shirtless Jack scene. Dan tells Jack that his mother was wrong to send them back, and that they don't belong in 1977 (or even on the island) at all. We'll find out later where he believes they really do belong: arriving on time in LAX back in 2004. Holy crap that seems like such a long time ago.
This sends Jack knocking at Sawyer's door, where the whole Dharma jig is just about up. It was a little sad to see the disappointment on Sawyer's face as he finally gave up on his temporary happiness. Juliet inviting Jack inside was the final nail in that coffin; two episodes ago she'd already known the charade was over. It took Jim LaFleur a little longer to accept it, but as he calls a partial meeting of LOST's superpowers - while Phil bleeds all over his cabinetry - even he knows the lie is over. See you back at the beach.
At this point we're going to see Dharma fade back into the obscurity it once had when it consisted of a few hatches, ruins, and skeletons scattered across the island. It looks to me that after the incident, it will be modern times again. From a mental perspective, I find it interesting to note that everyone had to leave or somehow let go of Dharma before this could be accomplished. Just as the O6 had to let go of their off-island lives before they could return to the island, so do the Dharma newbies. And this time, Sawyer's the last one off the playground.
Good night, Future Boy!
Oh MAN I thought Chang was going to believe Dan at the Orchid station! But then Miles totally blew it for him. Which was kinda weird, because I would've thought Miles would back Dan up on the whole back-to-the-future thing. Perhaps Miles was still trying to keep up his end of the whole Dharmaville facade, or maybe he didn't want his dad to believe Dan. He already knows that Chang sends mom and baby Miles off island when he suspects something bad is going to happen, so maybe Miles is trying to change a little future of his own here... and keep the family together. Maybe Hurley rubbed off on him a little during all those van rides?
"I'm just making sure your father does what he's supposed to do". I'm not sure what Chang is supposed to do, but whatever it is, Faraday probably just planted the seeds that will cause him do it. Is this the way it always happened? Hehe. Could be.
I'm Taking My Son Out For Curry, No Vegetables
Not much new in this scene, except that we get to see pre-trippy Theresa and a whole bunch of Indian-themed decor. Hawking's only here to monitor Dan's progress and to keep him on the right path. She fully believes she knows her son's destiny, and it's always been her job to weed out annoying distractions like piano lessons, women, and apparently haircuts. But there's a causality clause in the conversation:
Hawking tells Daniel, "Your work will always come first". Daniel's response: "Only because that's what you've always pushed me to do".
Once again, was Dan's destiny really etched in stone? Or was his fate sealed only because his mother had preconceived notions of precisely what it needed to be? Was Dan's life nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy, orchestrated entirely by his mom - and later on, by his dad as well? Yup.
Party at LaFleur's House, BYOB
In what's probably our last calm scene in Dharmaville, all of the big kids meet up to discuss what their next move should be. This is a pretty far cry from the old days, where everyone would just grab a few guns and storm off into the jungle with a half-assed plan (but at least they had Sayid back then).
For most of LOST, the 815 survivors have worked toward getting off the island. But now that they've got a legitimate way to leave, they're actually looking to stay and finish things. Heading back into the jungle and starting from square one doesn't seem to bother anyone - there's not a rookie or a red-shirt left among them. As Hurley says, leaving now would be kind of wishy-washy. They're finally realizing that they're all here for a reason, and that nothing's going to get resolved until they figure out what that reason is. I think Locke would be proud.
Daniel explains that his mom can get them back to where they 'need to be', which I'm assuming is back in their regular time period. How or why she can do this is a mystery, but Faraday probably knows what he's talking about.
The Sunken Wreckage of Flight 815 and My Own Never-ending Stubbornness
Charles Widmore finally "reveals" he sunk the phony plane, which would seem to put this mystery to bed for good. But before we tuck it in, I'm going to slap it on the ass one more time. After this, I promise to leave this topic alone. This time for real. :)
First off, look at who Charles is talking to: Daniel Faraday. He conveniently shows up just as the 815 footage is being played on the television, then uses it as a cattle prod to get Dan on his freighter crew. So do we take what Widmore is saying at face value? First let's run down the steps someone needs to take in order to pull this off:
a) Purchase a retired Boeing 777: un-parted out
b) Paint it to look exactly like Oceanic 815
c) Fill it with dozens of rotting corpses you stole from a Thai cemetery
d) Sneak it out into the middle of the Indian Ocean, over the Sundra Trench
e) Somehow do all this without anyone (but your evil henchmen!) knowing
f) Dump it and then 'pretend to find it
Pretty slick, right? But hey Widmore has lots of money, so everyone naturally believes this can be done. Okay fine. So now let's examine the reasons why he'd do something like this:
1) To "throw off" the search parties looking for Flight 815. (Yeah, right)
2) To point fingers at Ben, convincing people he's evil (Seems like a lot of trouble, no?)
3) To convince Daniel to get on the freighter (Hawking's prodding accomplished that just fine I think)
4) I can't even think of another reason.
No one can convince me that there'd be much of a search effort for a plane that disappeared "somewhere in the Pacific Ocean". And you also can't convince me that Widmore's "afraid of the public finding the island" when he's spent an unsuccessful 20 years trying to find it using his own vast resources.
Without going into too much detail, I'll say this: I believe we're looking at the actual wreckage of Flight 815. Just as there's an iteration of 815 laying in pieces all over our favorite beach, there's another iteration of 815 that crashed in the real world. This is why Daniel is crying - because I think deep down in his super-intelligent mind, he knows it.
The biggest clue, given to us a long while ago: the plane in the Sundra Trench is broken into the exact same three pieces that the original Flight 815 broke into. How the hell could that be possible? Widmore had no way of knowing this, and he couldn't have gotten that lucky. Nah, I'm not buying any of it. (I guess I'm not buying lots of stuff lately).
Oh NO he DIDN'T!
Sawyer calling Kate 'Freckles' made me cringe more than the Austin Powers/poison gas/Tempest station episode. And I loved Juliet's swift, immediate revenge. Sawyer you dumbass!
The Swingset Is My Constant
Scoring one for the WHH team, Daniel just can't keep himself from the inevitable scary-haired meeting with young Charlotte. His hopes that she'll leave the island in time are overshadowed by his fears that she won't. We also see a repeat of her last words to Daniel; she's not allowed to eat chocolate before dinner. In the mind-skipping right before her death, Charlotte must've flashed back to being on that swing, hearing herself speak those same words.
Shootout at The Motor Pool, and Radzinski Missed His Lithium
Not sure why, but I thought this scene was hilarious. A big messy shootout, ducking for cover, Jack shooting fuel barrels into fiery explosions... it felt like 1993 and I was playing DOOM all over again. Kate handing Daniel a loaded gun - wow, what a big mistake.
I think Radzinski's character grows increasingly awesome. He's on top of everyone at all times, showing up at the worst possible moments. I think HE probably should've been head of security. Then again he's so high strung it wouldn't surprise me if the Kurgan does end up blowing his head off just to get him to shut up.
Whatever Happened Happened...
... So long as there's an informed army of time-cops like Hawking, Widmore, Ben Linus, Abaddon, and God knows who else, dedicating their entire lives to guiding everyone along the right paths, at exactly the right times, putting them in exactly the right places, in order to ensure that destiny "succeeds".
Are you kidding me? No, really - go back and read that again. Destiny needs a pretty spectacular A-Team in order to make sure that predetermination is, well... pre-determined? I call time out for a minute.
Daniel seems to be under the impression that things can be changed, and this time he has mathematical proof. Don't believe me? Just look in his journal. Or check out the Wired magazine he's reading, which says "Forget Science Fiction... Here's the Science!" (yes, I'm being facetious). Faraday's whole variable speech to Jack and Kate seemed pretty convincing at the time, but then again, so did his WHH speech to Sawyer and company. So which is it?
Again this episode, there are arguments for both sides. The very act of Daniel getting shot by his mom seems to indicate that he's wrong in his assumptions. But just because he's killed, does that mean his equations and conclusions were incorrect? Or was he just a victim of poor execution? I mean, come on... even Jack could see that his plan for diplomatic relations with the hostiles totally sucked. And when Jack's making wincing faces at your plan... that's never a good sign.
Daniel's death points firmly toward the fact that whatever happened was destined to happen, just as Hawking predicted. But did she really predict it? Or did she cause it to happen... through years and years of planning... through a lifetime of manipulation in order to get him there? Couldn't I argue that Hawking is the actual variable in that equation? That she could've assumed any other value: one of a loving mother, a protector, a piano aficionado, instead of a cold-blooded deputy of the island willing to sacrifice her only son?
Sure I could. So then tell me: what makes all the island's protectors go to such great lengths to do the things they do, if they're truly convinced that WHH anyway? Why jump through any hoops at all? It's funny, but in all these weeks no one in the WHH camp has explained this one yet - at least not to my satisfaction. Admittedly, I first chose the Things Can Be Changed stance because I think it's just a lot more fun to believe the story will play out that way. But I think we're seeing more and more evidence, from both Hawking and now even from Daniel (the original WHH guy) that no one's destiny is truly set in stone.
To say that WHH, you're saying that the past is irreversible. But who's past are you talking about? How do you qualify the perspective of that particular past? Like Daniel tells Jack, "this is our present". To them, everything they're experiencing in Dharma is not something they've already experienced in the past. Which is why Daniel doesn't have a scar on his neck when Jack meets him.
Taking this into account, every day that dawns is a new future... but only for Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Miles, etc... This new day is filled with potential possibilities for them because, unlike their past, it's not yet set in stone. They can change things, even if they don't yet realize it, which seems to be why people like Hawking try so hard to convince them that they can't. They ARE the variables. I can totally dig what Dan was saying this episode.
WHH works when you consider that the past "is the past". But although these people time traveled back to 1977, it's a 1977 where they weren't supposed to be (Daniel's exact words to Jack). This isn't the "true" past as it once happened. This is a new past, which becomes their present, which is filled with all new potential future possibilities. This allows for change WITHOUT changing the past. They're not altering the past, they're changing their future. You have to look at it from their perspective, not from the perspective of someone on the outside, like us, sitting here in 2009.
Umm, I'm Not Really Sure... Let Me Get Back To You On That One
I think Ms. Hawking not knowing what's going to happen next is pretty big. This seems to be an admission that something has already changed, and Desmond isn't even back on the island yet. Which means that if you're in the WHH camp and think Desmond is the only person who can change things (the only variable), then him keeping Charlie alive long enough for the freighter to get to the island has produced a timeline in which everything can run shit wild. Anyone can now do anything. It's Thunderdome!
Hawking's admission that she doesn't know what comes next seems a pretty big shock to her - very similar to what Ben's going through now. Desmond's changing of things has thrown them all in a tizzy. Eloise seems to know there are two possible endings, and she seems to have been working her whole life to ensure one of them will happen. Unfortunately, I'm thinking she's just now realizing that she was working for the wrong side.
See You In Another Show, Brotha!
"I'll never leave you again, Penny". Does this mean Desmond never goes back to the island? Or does it mean that Penny goes with him? It's entirely possible that (aside for some flashbacks) his job is done. By saving Charlie long enough to flip the jamming switch, Desmond set into motion a chain of events that allowed everything to be set up exactly where it is. He plugged the people/variables into the equation. The resolution of the equation, however it may turn out to be, will have been Desmond's doing no matter what at this point.
I've been saying that for a while now, but many WHH people have refused to consider it. They seem to need Desmond to do things by his own hand, or else it somehow doesn't count. I've talked doppler effect, I've talked ripples in a pond... everything was refuted. "No, no, no Vozzek, only DESMOND can change things". Yeah? Well I say take a look around - I think he already has.
Maybe I'll go one step further and say that Jacob's "list" of people is actually a list of variables that can change the end game. The Others were capturing them because they don't want things changed. Woooo!
Personally, I don't think Desmond's finished. And I'm definitely hoping he isn't. If anything, Desmond has to get back to the island the same way he came in: by boat.
How Kate Just Solved LOST
Alright, don't take me literally on that one, but something Kate said sort of blew my mind. She was pointing out the obvious paradox that would happen if they were to somehow prevent their own plane from crashing. Then she said "This is a mistake. He's talking about erasing everything that's ever happened to us, Jack".
Now, there are lots of people - me included - who've theorized that LOST ends as it begins: with flight 815. From S2 we've seen the story moving in one big circle, and as we approach the end of the show we all know that the finishing point of any circle is at its beginning. Hell, the show was even called 'Circle' before it was called LOST, from what I understand.
But it got me thinking: maybe that's why they're all on the island in the first place. Maybe they're LOST because through the very act of changing things, they're erased their very own existence.
Now I'm not claiming this is the solution, and I'm not saying I believe it, and I know it goes against everything the producers have said about the show. But... even if you hate the idea, just think about it for a second. If the main characters somehow prevent their crash on the island, then either their plane lands safely in LA, or it ends up at the bottom of the (Indian?) ocean. Either way, there's an iteration of each of them that still exists on the island itself. This iteration shouldn't exist at all, but somehow it does. Which explains why Charlie's "Where are we?" was so damned spooky in the first place. They're in a place that (according to Ben) God can't even see. They're LOST.
Maybe season 6 will be about them becoming un-LOST. :)
One Last Quick Thing
I think the whole finale reeks of bait-and-switch tactics, which is why I'm still on the Things Can Change side of the fence. But whether you believe like I do or whether you're a diehard member of the WHH team, I think we should all agree on one thing: The show has rocked our balls off this season. And for those viewers without balls, take my word for it: if you'd had them, they would've been rocked right off. (Andy, that's bullocks to you mate!)