This was a much-anticipated episode of LOST...it was the 100th episode, and it was considered by many to be a "bookend" of sorts to The Constant, which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes of television in history.
I would say in almost every way, The Variable lived up to the hype.
- That must have been some serious adrenaline that Des was running on at the Marina, huh? He beat the stuffing out of Ben and threw him in the water, all while suffering from a potentially deadly gunshot wound. Maybe Ben's just a wimp.
- Loved Eloise's response to Penny asking if Ben is her son: "Good Lord, no!" Although, knowing what we know about her now, it seems more appropriate that she be Ben's mother rather than Daniel's. She certainly carries the "manipulative and evil" gene, doesn't she?
- Hey, Miles is on to something...why DIDN'T Daniel do something like invent the DVD? Dude could have been a GAZILLIONAIRE. Plus, I wouldn't have all of these VHS movies in my storage room that I'm holding on to on the slim chance that I may one day convert them all over to DVD. Next time the wife complains to me about our cluttered storage room, I'm blaming Daniel Faraday.
- What are we to make of this statement?
DANIEL: I got some bad news for you, Jack. You don't belong here at all. She was wrong.
They showed us AGAIN in the previouslies the scene where Eloise told Ben that if they don't ALL come back, then "God help us all." So she is obviously trying to either make sure something DOES happen that is supposed to, or to PREVENT something from happening. I honestly don't believe anymore that they were sent back to "save" their friends...they were sent back as tools (pawns?) in this much larger game.
Can I stop here for an aside? I really haven't discussed it much, but why did Jack, Kate, Hurley, and Sayid go back to 1977, while Sun, Ben, Frank, DeadLocke, and the other Ajira passengers remain in 2007? I think they all have jobs to do...we've already seen that Jack, Sayid, and Kate have managed to turn Ben from a young, insecure, lonely boy into an evil, manipulative, genius, lying liar who lies. What other parts will they end up playing in this global conflict? What are the folks still in 2007 destined to do? I think their role has to do with the "Shadow of the Statue" group, either to oppose or to assist.
Back to this scene...I don't think it's Eloise who was wrong, I think it was Daniel...more on that in a few scenes.
- 864 beats on the metronome. 864=108 X 8. Eight is one of The Numbers, and 108 is the sum of The Numbers. I freaking love this show.
- Viewing these flashback scenes between Eloise and Daniel in light of what we know by the end of this episode really make them heartbreaking. Eloise says to Daniel, "It's my...job to keep you on your path." Even though she knows where that path ends, she has to keep him on it. At least in her mind, she does. I'll get to my thoughts on her motivations when we get to the end.
- I'd be pretty ticked if I was Jack...Daniel comes and wakes me up at the crack of dawn, won't tell me anything other than I apparently screwed up and listened to the wrong people (again), possibly endangering myself, my friends, and God knows what else, and then takes off in the Jeep while I straggle along half-dressed behind him, yelling questions that go unanswered.
Hey, Dan, nice to see you again, too.
- Or, as he puts it to Sawyer: "He came in on the sub, and he woke me up. He--he started talking nonsense, and then he took off for the Orchid."
- Juliet, to me, is still the smartest of all of the Losties (I guess we'll include her in that group now). She recognizes that Jack and Sawyer actually will work better together, and that this situation is mushrooming too rapidly for them to keep their arms around it without help. Sawyer is ready to dismiss Jack, and Juliet simply says: "James, tell him."
And he does. The band is getting back together. For now.
- "Phil, Jack. Jack...Phil."
- Not sure how I missed this earlier in the season, but Chang is mirroring Eloise's warning...if you drill even once centimeter further, then God help us all. So are they both talking about the same thing? Are they both trying to prevent the same thing?
Chang is trying to prevent a catastrophic release of electromagnetic energy...Daniel says one of these is destined to happen, anyway, unless they stop it. Eloise says "Whatever happened, happened," and we know that there is an Incident referred to on the Swan tape. So is she trying to put the pieces in place to STOP that from happening? I don't think so, because her own belief is that it would happen anyway...I think she is trying to make sure that things DO happen the way they were "supposed" to, and if that includes The Incident...then so be it.
- Yes, I always listen to the advice of people who say they know better than me because they are from The Future.
- Why can't Dan answer a straight question? Miles asks him point blank what it is that Chang is "supposed" to do, and all Dan will say is, "You'll see." Isn't it just that Dan wants Chang to evacuate the Island?
- And then we meet poor, doomed Theresa. Mother doesn't seem to approve, and she says something interesting to Dan at dinner: "The women in your life will only be terribly hurt." Does she know what will end up happening to Theresa? Or is she just referencing the fact that she knows Daniel is going to die young?
I don't think she knows what's going to happen to Theresa, because she seemed surprised by the fact that Widmore is funding Dan's research. This is also why I don't believe that Eloise is necessarily "special"...I don't think she can "see the future." She has been visited in the past by people from the future (Dan, specifically, but also probably Jack, Kate, etc. that will happen in the next couple of eps). They have told her what has happened up to this point. She's only repeating/acting on what she has been told, not what she has seen herself in some sort of vision.
On first viewing, I just thought Eloise was a manipulative, hard-driving, fun-sucking old hag. But in retrospect, there is a certain sadness to all of this...to me, it's almost like she can't bear to see him pursue things (music, love, whatever) that she knows will all be cut short by his death on the Island.
The inscription on the journal is especially bittersweet: "No matter what, remember I will always love you."
- Love this Sawyer/Miles exchange:
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.
SAWYER: [Sighs] Great.
- And Daniel doesn't help his cause, if he wants people to think he's sane: "Hey, anybody know where I can find some Hostiles? Yeah, my mom's there. You know, the one that told you to get on a plane and come here?"
- Good grief, Daniel broke my heart in the scene with Widmore. He no longer has use of his great gift, his amazing mind. He accidentally turned his girlfriend into a vegetable. Guilt, heartbreak, frustration, embarrassment...he's just a broken man at this point. And Jeremy Davies freaking NAILED IT.
And now we get an answer to why Daniel and Charlotte were playing the card games, testing his memory...it was to see how quickly he was being healed by the Island.
So why IS Daniel crying about Oceanic 815? How about this...sometime during his experimentation, when he was experimenting on himself first, his consciousness traveled to the time when he was with the Losties, and now he has a fragmented memory of them?
- "You guys were in 1954? Like...Fonzie times?"
- JACK: We don't belong here.
SAWYER: Well, I belonged here just fine till you came back, Doc.
- Jack is right, though...what Kate came back for is not in 1977. She came back for Claire. You know they are going to follow up on that storyline, so now the question is how are these guys going to get back to 2007? Maybe due to the fallout from an elecromagnetic "Incident"?
- My VERY favorite part of the episode, and I can't really even express how good it is with words...you just have to see it. Juliet's reaction to the word, "Freckles." Anger, hurt, and then resolution, all in about 5 seconds. Elizabeth Mitchell rocks it.
You ain't gotta go home, Kate, but you gotta get the ___ up outta here.
- Sawyer: We'll all be back at the beach, right where we started.
There's a lot more to that than what appears on the surface. This is an extremely depressing concept for Sawyer, to have come as far as he has in the last three years, to be truly HAPPY for probably the first time in his life...only to come to the realization that it was all just a charade, and now we're going back to the way things used to be. Right back where we started.
Man, I hope not...it's been so rewarding as a viewer to watch the growth of Sawyer. I truly hope it sticks.
- Again, Daniel breaks my heart, this time in the conversation with Charlotte. However, I think there was more to that conversation then what we saw...the camera cuts away right after he says, "Maybe I can change things," and we don't hear the last part of the conversation.
Recognize the "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner" line? Some of Charlotte's last words. And now Daniel has to hear them again. Oof. Heartbreaking.
- Shootout. Explosions. Cool.
Although, Jack obviously doesn't watch Mythbusters. You can't really blow up a gas tank by shooting it. I'm just sayin'.
- I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but Jeremy Davies really brought it this episode. That last scene with Eloise as he's at the piano is another tear-jerker:
FARADAY: I can't. He needs someone who can do really, really complex space-time calibrations and calculate bearings, and I just... I don't know how to do that anymore.
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.
Especially knowing what we do now....Eloise knew that she was sending Daniel to the Island to get shot. And I do believe her when she says that she will be proud of him. SOMETHING is accomplished by him being shot, I just don't know what it is yet.
- Faraday gives another explanation, similar to what Miles told Hurley, about how the timeline thing is working. Their timeline has continued to move forward, it's just that their present is now occurring in 1977 rather than 2007. So anything that happens to them now does NOT affect anything that has happened to them before. Got it?
- Sawyer knows he screwed up with the "Freckles" thing, but I think he truly loves Juliet. And she's obviously feeling a little insecure right now. I just hope that when Sawyer ends up "right back where he started" that Juliet is still with him. I'm become a big...Sulieter? Julawyer? I don't know what they're calling us Sawyer/Juliet shippers...that second one seems a little prejudiced if I say it out loud.
- My favorite line of the night: Sawyer's "It sounded like it was from outside," as the pounding noise obviously comes from the hall closet. That just struck me as really funny, and I wonder if it was a Josh Holloway ad-lib.
- Wow, that was a LOT of info that Daniel gives to Jack. Bottom line is that he thinks that if he can stop the Incident, then all of this that has happened will no longer happen, and Flight 815 will land safe and sound in Los Angeles. I think he is WRONG about that, and the later events of this episode bear that out, I think.
If what he is saying is true, then Darlton has been lying to us ever since the Season 3 episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes." That was the episode where Eloise told Desmond about course correction, and that you can't change the future by manipulating the past. They have said numerous times since then on podcasts and in interviews that this is how time travel works in the LOST universe, so to change that now would be pretty crappy of them. I trust them more than that.
- Of course, he's talking about Jughead...classic storytelling rule. If you introduce an H-bomb in Act 1, expect for it to make another appearance in Act 3.
- Eloise tells Penny that for the first time in a long time, she doesn't know what happens next. I mentioned this earlier, but what she is telling us is that everything she knew about the future at this point came from interactions in her past. She knew that Daniel went back to the Island, she knew that she was supposed to send the O6 back as well, but that was the last thing she "knew."
To me, this tells us two things: unfortunately, one of them is that I do believe Daniel is dead. Secondly, I don't think the O6 are going to be on the Island in 1977 much longer. I think that by the end of this season, they will be back in 2007 with Ben, Sun, DeadLocke, etc...
- Nice little scene with Des and Penny, and a callback to The Constant, as well.
- Think Desmond may have survived because the Island is not through with him yet? Just like it kept Jack, Michael, etc. from dying before their work was done? Unfortunately for Desmond and Penny, I think this is not their happy ending.
- I was a little surprised that Widmore is Daniel's dad...in my head, I had Charles and Eloise as brother and sister, not lovers.
I think Penny is Charles' daughter from the Outsider that Ben had him banished for. So Daniel and Penny are half-siblings.
I'm just trying to figure out why Eloise slapped him. Maybe because she had to raise him alone? If Daniel is older than Penny, then Eloise had already had him by the time Charles fathered Penny. Then Charles was banished from the Island, ended up raising Penny with her mother, leaving Eloise and Daniel behind?
- So, knowing now that Charles and Eloise are lovers, and that their offspring is Daniel, do we have another set of possibilities for the Adam and Eve skeletons from back in season 1? The ones that Darlton have said we will be able to look back on when this is all over and see that they actually DID know where this was headed way back in season 1?
- I've seen some people remarking on the fact that Richard doesn't seem to completely remember Daniel. Remember, though, they only met briefly and it was 23 years earlier. I think Richard does sort of recognize him, but it doesn't click until Daniel starts asking about Jughead.
- I was SHOCKED when Daniel was shot, and even more so when it was revealed to be Eloise that shot him. Kudos to the show that they can still deliver that kind of impact, even to people who have been obsessing over the show for years.
- I've said already that Eloise knew in 2007 that she would shoot Daniel in 1977. So why did she send him back anyway? I wish I knew. I have turned it over and over in my head for the last two days, and the best I can come up with is that his being shot accomplishes SOMETHING. For one thing, we know that it keeps the wheels in motion for all of the things that Daniel mentioned to Jack. The Incident happens, the Swan is built, Desmond forgets to push the button, the plane crashes, etc, etc...
So, is that what Eloise is trying to accomplish? To make sure that all of this does happen, so that everybody (the Losties, Ben, EVERYBODY) will be on the Island in 2007 when the "War" happens?
I'm still holding out a very small hope that Daniel doesn't actually die. Maybe he's only MOSTLY DEAD.
Maybe Charles takes him to The Temple. Maybe he will wake up next week and the bullet wound will be on the other side. Maybe...maybe...
I think Daniel's dead, y'all.