Here is the Episode 5.14 - The Variable recap from Erika Olson (aka "e") from LongLiveLocke.com.
I was pretty sure that "The Variable" was going to be a Faraday flashback, so when the hour began with doctors rushing a stretcher-bound Desmond into the hospital, I was completely thrown. At first I thought, "Did Daniel do something in Ann Arbor in the '70s to cause an alternate reality in which a can of baked beans didn't protect Des from Ben's bullet and Des didn't then proceed to beat the crap out of Ben?" Next I figured that we were going to see Daniel in the waiting room, and learn that he'd finally figured out a way to physically time travel (without the help of the FDW) and was there to convince Des that he had to go back to the Island because he was "the variable." Obviously I was all kinds of wrong.
Let's get the "Evil Mom" flashbacks over with first, shall we?
NOT NORMAL AT ALL
IT'S NOT HIS FAULT
WE MADE HIM THIS WAY
Rare is the child who wants to play the piano and doesn't have to be carried kicking and screaming to his music lessons. However, Young Daniel Faraday was not your normal kid. He not only loved plinking out tunes on the ol' ivories, but he was also able to keep Raymond Babbitt-esque track of the metronome beat-count at the same time. Unfortunately for him, his mother wasn't exactly a fan of extracurricular activities... or free will.
ELOISE: Daniel... do you know what destiny means?
ELOISE: Destiny means that, if one has a special gift, then it must be nurtured.
Uh-uh, lady. That is not what destiny means. In fact, it pretty much means the exact opposite. But I'm singing to the choir here, aren't I? Surely all of you had the same creeping suspicion as the show progressed... the feeling that Hawking was going to make Daniel's life a living hell in order to ensure he did what fate demanded he do. Didn't she ever stop to think that if her son's destiny was truly to be a geeky physicist, that that's what would've happened no matter what -- even if he toured with Billy Joel or Elton John or got a job at a dueling piano bar on the side just to earn some extra cash?
Over a decade later at Dan's graduation from Oxford, we see that his mom still can't deal with him having a life outside of his work. She refused to acknowledge Theresa as anything more than her son's research assistant, and then whisked Daniel away to a tense lunch. Only after she learned that her ex had given Dan a huge grant did she lighten up a little bit... but then left before he even opened the gift she got him: a journal. (Was I the only one expecting that the pages were already going to be full of Faraday's scribblings? Was I also the only one who first thought that the gift would be the freakin' skinny black tie?)
I DON'T REMEMBER
I DON'T RECALL
I GOT NO MEMORY OF ANYTHING AT ALL
The next flash began just like the second episode of Season Four did, with Faraday getting all teary-eyed over the Oceanic 815 wreckage footage on the news. However, this time around we got to see what happened moments afterward: Widmore showed up on Daniel's doorstep and offered him a job. Through their conversation we learned that Daniel had tested his time-travel gizmo on himself, which ended up adversely affecting his memory. Afterward he apparently tried it out on Theresa and the results -- as we saw when Desmond paid her a visit in "Jughead" -- were disastrous. So I think we can now put the mystery of why Daniel was crying about Flight 815 and why he was playing the card game with Charlotte in "Eggtown" to rest: his consciousness had been through the wringer and had probably jumped around in time, though he no longer could remember those experiences.
Next, Widmore dangled a carrot in front of Faraday -- the promise that going to the Island would fix his mental issues and restore him to his rightful nerdalicious state.
But Dan remained doubtful and seemed to be leaning toward sticking with his normal routine of being waited on hand and foot by some woman named Caroline. Life was good -- she made him eggs! And we all know what a big deal eggtastic breakfasts are on this show...
So of course his mom had to come and ruin Dan's dreams of enjoying a life of leisure. In the only scene of the night that made me cry, she encouraged him to take the job Widmore had offered:
FARADAY: You really want me to... to go?
MS. HAWKING: Yes.
FARADAY: Will... [voice breaks] will it make you proud of me?
MS. HAWKING: [Whispers] Yes, Daniel. It will.
FARADAY: [Sighs] Then I'll do it.
It's so much worse now that we know what Eloise knew! Grrrr.
How 'bout we take a break from Daniel's extremely depressing life story and make a quick stop in 2008 to check in on the Hume clan?
THE FUTURE'S NOT OURS TO SEE
QUE SERA, SERA
I'm now convinced the most important scene of the night was one I originally didn't pay much attention to: the exchange between Penny and Hawking in the hospital's waiting room.
MS. HAWKING: I came, Penelope, to apologize. Your husband has become a casualty in a conflict that's bigger than him, that's bigger than any of us.
PENNY: What do you mean? Is Des gonna be okay?
MS. HAWKING: I don't know. For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next.
So here's my take on all of this. Let's revisit Season Three, when we saw Hawking try to convince Des of what he was "supposed" to do in the trippy "Flashes Before Your Eyes." She told him that if he didn't fulfill his destiny of going to the Island and pushing the button in the Swan, then everyone in the world was going to die.
But knowing what we know now, I can't help but think that she may have been fibbing a bit about Desmond's purpose. Yes, he definitely took over resetting the Countdown Timer o' Doom after he accidentally killed Kelvin (who was planning to abandon his hatchmate)... but what else did Des do? He caused 815 to crash. Maybe Hawking knew that without Desmond, certain things critical to the ongoing protection of the Island -- including one John Locke landing there -- wouldn't happen.
You might be thinking, "But if Hawking is so gung-ho about destiny, why did she feel the need to say anything to Des at all? Why wasn't she secure in the fact that if Desmond's fate was to end up pushing the button, then the universe would see to it that Desmond ended up pushing the button -- with or without her help?"
My answer to you would be, "Because Hawking has always known that DESMOND is 'The Variable.'" That's why, when the Scotsman's life hung in the balance in the hospital, it was the first time that Eloise panicked and realized, "Oh, crap, now I'm like the rest of the bloody fools on this planet and have no idea what's going to happen." Hawking knows that only Des can right whatever action he made in the past that set off "the wrong" chain-reaction of events on the Island. Forget about The Incident at the Swan... all of that was supposed to happen. The hatch was supposed to be built, 815 was supposed to crash, etc., etc. But once Des started messing with Charlie's fate, that's probably when things went awry. I've made this argument a lot this season, so I'm not going to repeat it all again here... I just wanted to say that this scene between Penny and Hawking strengthened my belief that Desmond's the key to fixing everything, and that's why "the Island's not done with him yet," as Eloise said earlier this season.
Two more things that support this theory:
- Why would Hawking turn up at the hospital to see what happened to Desmond in the first place, if he wasn't critical to helping the universe to course-correct? (And on a side note, how did Widmore get there so quickly? Wasn't he in London a few hours earlier when Ben called him from the marina?)
- This episode's title was "The Variable." But Daniel -- in his rant to Jack before he ran off into the Hostile's camp -- only talked about variables in equations. He always used the plural form of the word. I admit that I could be reading too much into things at this point, but I believe that the episode's title was a clue that Daniel had it all wrong in his final exchange with Jack when he said, "Us. We're the variables." They are not the variables... there is only one variable, and it's Desmond.
Have I convinced you yet? No? That's OK, because I'm not totally convinced myself. "Desmond is The Variable" is just one of a few theories that I feel the most strongly attached to. I'll discuss the others at the end of this post.
Before we head back thirty years, I should probably quickly mention the fact that two mysteries were solved through the scenes I've covered so far: 1) Widmore did stage the Oceanic crash (though technically this was confirmed in the clip show the week prior), and 2) Widmore and Hawking are Daniel's parents, meaning that he and Penny are most likely half-siblings.
Finally, let me say here, for the record, that I'm really nervous about how Little Charlie was left alone in the hospital. Really. Nervous.
And now, to the Island.
DON'T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE
WHATEVER YOU'RE LOOKING FOR
DON'T COME AROUND HERE NO MORE
Fresh off of the submarine, Faraday asked Miles to take him to Jack because he was freaked out to see his old Island buddies in the 1977 Dharma Recruits picture. At the barracks, Daniel learned that his mom gave The Mad Doctor her standard "it's your destiny" line in order to get him on Ajira 316. Then Faraday had Miles drive him to the Orchid, where we saw the season's opening scene replayed from a slightly different angle. After Chang ordered his workers to stop drilling near the FDW chamber, Daniel trapped Miles' dad in the elevator and tried to convince him to evacuate the Island because of a supposed impending catastrophic incident at the Swan. But Chang was like, "You're on crack -- stay away from me, freak!" Since Miles wouldn't play along with Daniel once the men were all together above-ground, Chang drove off in a huff as an exasperated Faraday looked on.
But once Chang had left the area, Daniel's temperament changed a little bit. I think all he'd wanted to do was put the ideas in Chang's head that 1) Miles might indeed be his son... from the future, and 2) something reaaaalllly bad was about to happen on the Island. He probably didn't actually expect his fellow scientist to drop everything and obey his commands right then and there. Perhaps Daniel knows that something else will transpire over the next few hours that will convince Pierre of the need to get his people to safety? Who wants to bet that we see Chang force his wife to leave with their baby son before the season's over?
While we're on the topic of Daniel's interaction with Chang, I should probably mention the building mystery around the Comic-Con video I linked to in my last post. If you haven't seen it, you might want to check it out here, or else the rest of this section will make no sense. A lot of people -- myself included -- assumed that the voice in the background was Faraday. I watched the clip again moments ago and still believe that's the case. But now we know that Daniel dies shortly after he saw Chang at the Orchid... so when in the heck was this video made?
I'm pretty stumped on this. There are a few ideas I have for what could be going on, but all of them are pretty weak:
1) The voice was not Faraday's. Some people think it may be Miles, which I guess is a possibility, but I don't see why Miles would be all upset that "this is never going to work" like Daniel would've been. Maybe the voice belongs to someone else entirely.
2) Daniel doesn't die. He's not only saved by the Hostiles after his mom shoots him, but then he also goes on to totally convince Chang about everything he told him earlier in the day... so much so that Chang changes out of his lab coat, into a velour track suit, makes the video while Daniel tapes it -- and while Lara and Baby Miles annoy him in the background -- all within a matter of hours before The Incident happens. (Doesn't seem likely, does it?)
3) There are multiple timelines at play and in one of them, Daniel and Chang work together to not only attempt to change the course of events, but also call for Dharma to be reformed in the future.
4) The video was never shown on the series, so it doesn't even matter. It was just something to keep a bunch of nerds occupied over the summer -- and it worked. Joke's on us!
IT'S ALL ENDING
WE GOTTA STOP PRETENDING
WHO WE ARE
Miles and Faraday returned to Dharmaville to find a meeting of the minds underway. After a short debate, the majority of the group decided that the jig was up and they needed to go back to "square one" (the beach), whereas Jack and Kate agreed to help Faraday find his mother out in the jungle. And with that, everyone took off in different directions.
Faraday made a heartbreaking stop at the swing set, where we heard Adult Charlotte's last words repeated by her younger version: "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner." And then Daniel -- despite his better judgment -- said to her what he swore he wouldn't say. Or at least we can be pretty sure he did... the camera panned back while he supposedly warned her to never return to the Island once she'd left.
I know I keep harping on this, but I once again had visions of The Time Traveler's Wife while Adult Daniel and Young Charlotte talked. The faraway shot of the two of them at the swing set reminded me of this promotional still I saw of the TTTW adaptation that's coming out this fall. It would've been even cooler if the movie stuck with the little girl (Clare) being a redhead and the guy (Henry, played by Eric Bana) being all gangly.
Next, Jack, Kate and Daniel got themselves some guns, but before they could head out into Hostileland, Radzinsky and his crew went berzerker and a pretty cool shoot-out ensued. However, Kate was able to get her group to safety thanks to her Jeep-driving skillz. While she disarmed the sonar fence, Faraday made a little speech (reiterating the ominous point Miles made in "Whatever Happened, Happened") about how any of them could be killed. That should've been a big hint about his fate... but it definitely went right over my head. I've been thinking for a while that either Juliet (who was wearing a red shirt in this episode, for God's sake) or Sayid were doomed this season, so I guess the possibility of Daniel dying never even entered my mind.
Back at the barracks, Sawyer and Juliet were in the process of packing up their things and bidding adieu to the happy life they'd built together for the past three years. I really liked how they played off of each other in this episode, with Sawyer being the more emotional one and Juliet being the first to accept the reality of the situation. What I didn't like was how easily they were captured by Radzinsky. Boo.
Finally, we saw Jin and Hurley head out to meet the others after gathering up their stuff. Anyone else no longer confident that there's a guitar in Hurley's guitar case? I don't think it's a weapon or anything, since he had to get through airport security with it in LA, but I'm just starting to wonder whether there's something more than a guitar inside. (On that note, I'm still hoping we eventually get to see what/who changed Hurley's mind about boarding Ajira 316...)
JUST AS I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING ALRIGHT
I FIND OUT I'M WRONG
WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS RIGHT
IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME
IT'S JUST A SHAME
Jack, Kate and Faraday stopped to rest for a bit before they reached the depths of Hostileland. It was at this point that Faraday rattled off his master plan for preventing The Incident at the Swan. Did anyone else see the fire ignite in Jack's eyes when Daniel came to the end of his rousing speech?
DANIEL: "Us. We're the variables. People. We think. We reason. We make choices. We have free will. We can change our destiny."
I think this was a very clever way for the writers to provide a motivation for Jack to reclaim his old leadership position on the Island. Let's face it, he's been pretty lost (pun intended) so far in 1977 -- shuffling around with his janitor's mop and following Sawyer/LaFleur's orders. But when Daniel said the magic phrase, "free will," I definitely saw a "Hell, yeah!" look cross The Mad Doctor's face. Rewatch the scene. You'll see it, too.
I'll revisit why this is so important in the next section, but there's no avoiding a discussion about what happened once Faraday left Kate and Jack and made his way (in a Dharma jumpsuit... uh, not the brightest idea) into the Hostile's camp.
He came face to face with Ageless Richard and kept a gun on him while he demanded to see Eloise. Then, he threatened to shoot Richard on the count of three. When the shot rang out, I swear that I still didn't think that the victim could possibly be Daniel. De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt, folks!
Alas, Faraday had in fact been shot by his own mother, which he pointed out right before dying -- and right as the reason for her being such a cold-hearted you-know-what all those years became clear. And yes, I'm pretty sure he's dead (link goes to a TV Guide interview with the producers about this topic). This IS a pretty good Death Face, after all.
If only he'd written "NEVER -- UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES -- TAKE OFF YOUR TIE" in his journal. I'm pretty sure that black, skinny neckpiece would've somehow kept Daniel out of harm's way.
Rest in peace, Faraday. You will most certainly be missed.
Finally, in case you're wondering whether or not Eloise will believe that she just shot her own son, the reason I think she will is because Baby Daniel has to already be alive. It's 1977, and by 1996 when Des visits him at Oxford in "The Constant," he's a professor. Surely he couldn't be younger than nineteen at that point. Also, I'm pretty sure we'll find out (or can infer) that Eloise named her son after the curious dude who flashed in and out of their camp in 1954. (Meaning, she named her son after... her son.) That's why she had this look on her face upon hearing Daniel's last words:
She put everything together and realized what she'd just done.
WHERE DO WE GO?
WHERE DO WE GO NOW?
WHERE DO WE GO?
Now what's going to happen? The only dude who had any clue as to what was going on just kicked the bucket?!?!
With only one episode left before the two-hour finale on May 13th, I've started thinking about theories in the context of the following two questions:
1) What would make for a jaw-dropping Season Five cliffhanger?
2) How would the final season of the series play out based on that cliffhanger?
I've never been one to tie myself to a single theory, and I don't think that there could ever be one overriding explanation for everything that's gone on in the show. So here are the three theories I'm considering as Season Five comes to an end -- they only deal with the question of whether or not the Losties will be able to change the past... and not any of the other mysteries like "What is the Smoke Monster?"
(I haven't visited other Lost sites to come up with these theories as spoilers always seem to be around every corner when the finale nears each year. So rest assured that these are just my own thoughts and are not based on known spoilers.)
1) Desmond is The Variable
I covered this one a bit earlier in this post, but here's how I think it would play out this season and next: The Losties try to follow Daniel's journal instructions to prevent The Incident, but they fail. Season Five will end with the chaos of The Incident taking place, which includes something that makes all of the 815ers return to 2008. Alternatively, something Locke does in '08 may help the time-traveling group get back to their rightful year.
In the meantime, Penny and Des are going to find out that Charlie has been kidnapped and they will be told he was taken to the Island (whether that's true, I'm not sure). Season Six will then show Des and Penny back with the others on the Island, which gives Des a chance to correct whatever it was he messed up the first time around, as he is The Variable. Des and Penny might end up in the past, and they might end up as the skeletons in the cave. While Des is doing his thing, the 815ers will spend the season fighting "the war" on the Island in 2008. The series will end with us finding out whether or not Des was able to change the past.
2) Free Will Wins
Daniel was right -- the Losties can change their destiny... or at least the destiny for the versions of themselves that are still kids in 1977. So Season Five will end with the hydrogen bomb exploding and The Incident being prevented and the 815ers looking at each other like, "That. Just. Happened." I still think that they'll somehow return to 2008 when the bomb goes off, and now we'll have Jack vs. Locke all over again, as both characters have been emboldened by circumstances that strengthen their original Science and Faith stances. Jack was able to prevent The Incident (score one for free will!)... and Locke was resurrected by the Island (score one for destiny!).
Season Six will start off with the 815ers not understanding why they're still on the Island if they stopped the chain of events that Daniel warned them about. But they will soon come to understand that their pasts cannot be changed... only the pasts of their 1977 baby/kid selves and beyond are affected.
The best character to help explain this Miles, since we've now seen two of him on the Island in 1977. If the hydrogen bomb goes off and The Incident is prevented, Adult Miles will still have come to the Island in December 2004 because Charlie, who will have still crashed on the Island via Flight 815 in September of that same year, will have opened up communications. But Baby Miles will have a totally different life now that The Incident has been avoided in his present. He and his mom might not be sent away from the Island, or even if they are, he might reunite with his father and go on to live a completely different life from one of a scamming ghostbuster. Get it? So once Season Six tries to explain that in a way that will make sense to the average viewer (good luck, guys), the series will focus on the 815ers in 2008. They're still on the Island and still need to fight "the war."
The series will end with both the present 815ers finding a way to leave the Island and having to make the decision whether or not they want to go back home (Jin and Sun definitely will because of their daughter, but I'm not sure if anyone else will) AND a shot of the Flight 815 that the other version of themselves (who were kids in 1977) boarded landing safely in LA. If they were on that flight at all.
Confusing, I know... but I like it. This is what I hope happens.
3) Destiny Wins
Season Five will end with the Lostaways failing to prevent The Incident, after which they will be transported back to 2008. Season Six will probably continue to have Jack hellbent on changing things until he learns he can't with the help of New Locke. They'll all band together to fight "the war."
Since "whatever happened, happened," the final season will fill in all of the pieces that have been missing for each character and will explain all of the other mysteries without having to deal with multiple versions of events. The series will end with the 815ers facing a choice whether or not to stay on the Island forever or leave for good. And, as many of us have suspected all along, we'll see Flight 815 crash all over again and Jack wake up in the jungle.
All three theories above share the following elements:
1) The time-traveling characters will return to 2008, most likely by the end of Season Five. (Or that will be part of the cliffhanger and we'll see that they're back in 2008 in the first episode of Season Six.)
2) There's no avoiding "the war" on the Island once everyone's back together in 2008. I'm still betting on the fact that it's New Dharma, led by Bram and Ilana with the help of whatever's in their crate. The Losties will have essentially come full circle since their plane originally crashed. They will now work with the Others to help protect the Island from new intruders. Poetic, no?
3) Absolutely nothing that happens is going to "erase" the original Flight 815 crash for the characters we've come to know and love. (Whether or not they can prevent the crash for future versions of themselves, however, is up in the air. See theories 1 and 2.)
I've said before that I think it would be an extremely depressing note for the series to end on if we find out that everything is predetermined and that nobody can do anything to change his or her fate. So I'm hoping either some version of theory 1 or 2 comes to pass, though I admit that they would be much harder to execute than theory 3. For now, however, I can dare to dream.
BEST LINES OF THE EPISODE
MS. HAWKING: ... I'm Eloise Hawking, and I believe it's my son's fault that Desmond has been shot.
PENNY: Your son is Benjamin Linus?
MS. HAWKING: [Scoffs] Good lord, no.
DR. CHANG: That is utterly absurd. What could possibly qualify you to make that kind of prediction? Hmm?
FARADAY: I'm from the future.
FARADAY: Hey, James.
SAWYER: Welcome to the meeting, Twitchy. Good to see you again. Pound cake's in the kitchen. Help yourself to the punch. [To Miles, in a lowered voice] Is he still crazy?
MILES: It's on a whole new level, man.
FARADAY: Well... why would you tell me that?
WIDMORE: Because come tomorrow, you won't remember I did.
SAWYER: Your mother is an Other?
FARADAY: You met her, actually, when the Island was skipping, back in 1954. They were calling her "Ellie."
HURLEY: You guys were in 1954? Like... Fonzie times?
JACK: She can say what she wants to say. Kate... You made me promise to never ask what happened to Aaron, or why you came back here. But I know that reason isn't... it isn't here. [Scoffs] It's not now.
SAWYER: Whatever her reason is, helping H.G. Wells here talk to his mommy ain't got nothing to do with it.
KATE: This is a mistake. He's talking about erasing everything that's ever happened to us, Jack. It's insane.
JACK: We disappeared off a plane in mid-air and ended up in 1977. I'm getting kinda used to insane.
(For once, it's Jack instead of Hurley who speaks for the audience!)
- I'm still getting emails and comments about "the Seanie B situation." So in order to have a place to point people to instead of writing the same responses out over and over again, I included everything anyone would ever want to know about what's going on here.
- I'm on the road yet again next weekend, so chances are high that my next recap will be posted late. Sorry!
- There are so many great Lost-centric games, videos, toys, spoofs, shirts and whatnot out there that I gave up trying to link to everything I came across a long time ago. But something I read recently entertained me so much that I would be remiss if I didn't pass it along. It's a "Lost Haiku" contest that fellow blogger JOpinionated ran on her site. Some of the entries were just awesome, so I encourage you to check it out here.
As always, thanks for reading...
Until next time,