Lost 5.14: “The Variable”


Note: Apologize for the lateness of this to those who read it …

Much like one of my favorite episodes, “The Constant,” this week’s “The Variable” deals with one man’s journey to change history. If you’ll remember in “The Constant,” Desmond Hume was able to interract with people at certain points in time in order to set up that destined phone call with Penny from the boat … the phone call that eventually led to his rescue.
In “The Variable,” it’s Daniel Faraday who’s returned to 1977 Dharma in order to stop the series of events that leads to “The Incident,” the creation of The Hatch and the eventual point of time where Desmond punches the button that leads to The Hatch’s explosion and the downing of Oceanic Flight 815. His whole attempt goes against everything he’s ever believed about time travel (if you’ll remember, “whatever happened, happened,” and nothing you can do in time will ever change the future.
But his new theory is “The Variable.” As he told Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest, they are the variables that can change time … even though, so far, everything they’ve done has seemed to only lead to their plane crash and Ben’s turn to evil. So 1977 Faraday convinces Kate and Jack to take him to The Hostiles so he can find his young mother, Eloise Hawking, and convince them to detonate the island’s automic bomb — Jughead — for whatever reason.
Only, when Faraday gets to the Hostiles camp, he’s shot in the gut by his mother, Eloise … with his dying words, “You knew this was going to happend. But you sent me here anyway.”

And so, what happened was supposed to happen.
Guess again. At least in my opinion.

There were all sorts of clues in this episode that seem to suggest Faraday was on to something when it came to changing history. I know, but you’re saying, “What about his mother’s tears when she visited him at his home, feeding him lines about how the island will cure his memory loss?” This leads some to believe that she knew all along she was raising the kid she’d one day kill.

But remember the episode this season where Faraday knocked on the hatch door, and Desmond, wearing a hazmat suit, answered and was told he had to go find Eloise Hawking? It was an important scene … so important, it made the clips on the “Previously, On Lost” montage before this episode. After that scene, Desmond awoke in present day next to Penny and suddenly had that memory. He’d never had it before … or at least he thinks he didn’t … so essentially, Faraday “created” an event.
I’m thinking he did this to his mother. His being shot suddenly “created” the memory before she visited him that day. All times before that — her telling him to stop the piano lessons and focus on science, her being a total bitch to him at graduation because he wasn’t focused enough, her giving him the journal as a graduation present — seem to suggest she didn’t know his fate and she was hellbent on getting him to the island for “whatever reason.” Possibly to keep her from having to lead the Hostiles.

But then suddenly, on that last visit, she’s an emotional wreck … though she understands that he still must go to the island. There was a hint in the line to she told Penny in the hospital, “For the first time, I don’t know what will happen next.” Perhaps she believes that even though she had this new memory of shooting Daniel, that he can still change things. She probably has his journal (the one he was carrying with him when she shot him, the one with her kind note at the beginning) and has discovered Daniel’s “variable” equation.
And perhaps that’s why she suddenly has an emotional bond with Penny (and why she guided Desmond on his time traveling) … she sees in him what Daniel saw — a man who can change time.

Has your head fallen off yet?

Speaking of mother issues, it’s only a little funny that Faraday is the only Lost character with mother issues (everybody else seems to hate daddy). The actor who plays him, Jeremy Davies, starred in an independent film in the mid-90s called “Spanking the Monkey,” about a young man’s incestuous relationship with him mother during the summer after his freshman year of college. It sounds like a dirty flick … but it’s not (saw it on IFC channel one day kept watching after saying, “Hey, it’s Faraday!”). The movie itself is slightly disturbing, however.

The other clues that Faraday was meant to die? What about his careless use of the gun Jack and Kate gave him? Starting a gun fight with Radzinsky? Walking into the Hostiles camp and shooting at the ground, then telling Alpert he had the count of three to tell him where mommy was? He looked very much like a man with a death wish.
Another clue, telling Jack, “This is our present. Any one of us can die” before walking into the camp.
Faraday knew what he was doing. I think he was changing history, and his death (or maybe death, you never know) will lead to changing time. Possibly. I don’t know any more.

The two-hour finale (in two weeks) is called “The Incident,” which seems to suggest that whatever happened (what led to Oceanic’s flight crashing) happens, but you never know with this show. The season finales have all been crazy …
Season 1: The hatch opens
Season 2: The button doesn’t get pushed, Penny’s search crew “finds” the island
Season 3: The flash forwards revealed
Season 4: The island disappears
Season 5: ….?
What do you think happens?

* Daniel Faraday is revealed to be the son of Charles Widmore, which makes him Penelope Widmore’s half-brother, Desmond Hume’s brother-in-law and Charlie Hume’s uncle.
* Daniel crying at the television is reminiscent of Billy Pilgrim’s memory loss and random tears in the book Slaughterhouse-Five. Daniel uses Miles in an attempt to convince Dr. Chang he is from the future, which is similar to Billy Pilgrim using Montana Wildhack to convince his daughter he had been to the future/Tralfamadore. Daniel’s struggle with whether or not free will exists relates to the Traldamadorians and their claim that free will is a concept unique to humans due to their limited concept of time


2 thoughts on “Lost 5.14: “The Variable”

  1. Ok.
    Here’s the deal, Faraday’s mother has always known his fate and that would explain why she was always so cold to him trying not to get to emotionally attached. For example, when he was at the piano and she told him about his destiny if you follow her face expressions she is almost at tears. Also she has always had his journal, that is how she knew the future and her sudden emotional attachment to him at the end was because she knew the end for him was finally near. I think she is the one who has been trying to change the future for him this entire time but reallized she couldn’t and sent him to his death.

  2. I also think Daniel’s mother may have been so ‘bitch[y]’ to Daniel at his graduation, and her comments about how he’ll always hurt women close to him[paraphrased from memory], was an attempt to keep him from hurting his assistant/GF Theresa as she knew would happen.

    I think his mother intentionally also tried to not get close to Theresa because she knew this, and so just tried to ignore and drive her away when they met at the graduation.


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