Monday, May 4, 2009

5.14 The Variable

Summary and Spoilers

In this Daniel-centric episode, we learn much more about how he, his mother Eloise, and Charles Widmore fit into the equation.

As a young man, Daniel was driven by his mother to excel at the sciences to the exclusion of all else. Eloise calls it her job to do so, with the emphasis on ‘job’, as if perhaps she is not only Daniel’s mother, but perhaps she has also been hired to guide Daniel in a particular sponsored direction. Daniel has been fully manipulated, since the huge research grant he receives upon graduation from Oxford was supplied by Widmore, who also happens to be (unbeknownst to him) his father.

But Daniel’s experiments at Oxford ended in tragedy, when he destroyed his mind and that of his girlfriend. Widmore offers him a way out – an expedition to return to the island, where his mind will be healed and he can continue his experiments and discover new sources of energy and time travel. Daniel, of course, accepts this proposal.

In the ‘present’, Daniel has returned to the island with a fresh new plan to negate the energy under the hatch and stop flight 815 from crashing. Whereas the last time we saw him, he was suggesting that ‘what happened, happened’, and that everyone should lie low and stop wasting their energy trying to change the unchangeable, this time, he’s running around, talking to everyone he can, trying to influence as much as possible. Unsure that his plan to halt the energy release will succeed, he accosts Dr. Chang and encourages him to evacuate as many people as possible. When Change treats him with disdain, he tells Chang that Miles is his son. Chang then holds him in even more disdain.

Daniel talks to a little girl named Charlotte as well. He encourages her to tell her mother to get on the sub and get out of there, again, in case he fails.

And after revealing that his mother is the only person that can get them off the island and back to where they are supposed to be, he elicits help from Jack and Kate to visit the hostiles (where his mother, Ellie, is a gun-toting member) to speak to her. This causes a rift in the group. With Phil still tied up in the closet, its time for the visitors to leave Dharmaville. Sawyer, Juliet, Miles, and Hurley decide to pack some supplies and head back to the beach camp. As mentioned, Kate, Jack, and Daniel head for the barrier and the hostiles beyond. But before they get away, they have a firefight with Radzinsky and his men. After the fight, Radzinsky visits Sawyer and hears banging in the closet. Upon discovering Phil, Radzinsky holds Sawyer at gunpoint and tells him to get on the floor.

Daniel fares no better with the hostile Ellie, who promptly shoots him, then registers shock when the dying Daniel reveals that he is her son.


In my commentary for Some Like it Hoth and other episodes, I questioned the Lost rules that time travel cannot influence the past or the future. In one sense, Daniel has contradicted this rule, at least in theory, by finally realizing the obvious – that the people, as variables, can definitely change the future by changing the past. However, he is shot by Eloise before he can attempt to make that change, thereby keeping the rules intact – for now.

There’s something satisfying watching the Sawyer-led meeting with many of the original survivors, as they decide how they will align themselves. There are still those two distinct groups, led by Sawyer and Jack, except this time, Kate goes with Jack (perhaps partially because Juliet is with Sawyer).

Lost Quotes

Daniel: And how did she convince you, Jack – she tell you it was your ‘destiny’?
Jack: Yeah, that’s exactly what she said.
Daniel: Well, I got some bad news for you, Jack - you don’t belong here at all. She was wrong.

Sawyer: Get in here. Phil, one of my security guys, got himself a videotape of me and Kate taking the kid out to the hostiles.
Jack: And where’s the tape?
Sawyer: With Phil.
Jack: And where is Phil?

Daniel: I need you to order the evacuation of every man, woman, and child on this island.
Chang: And why would I do that?
Daniel: Because that man is on a stretcher as a consequence of the electromagnetic activity that your drilling unleashed down here.
Chang: Which is now contained.
Daniel: It’s contained down here, but in about six hours, the same thing is gonna happen at the site of the Swan station, only the energy there is about 30 thousand times more powerful, sir. And the accident…it’s gonna be catastrophic.
Chang: That is utterly absurd! What could possibly qualify you to make that kind of prediction?
Daniel: I’m from the future.

Sawyer: [asking about Daniel] He still crazy?
Miles: It’s on a whole new level, man.

 "I just got shot by a PHYSICIST! And the new recruits…are helping him."
- Radzinsky to Sawyer

Jack: You need a gun to go talk to your mother, Dan?
Daniel: You don’t know my mother, Jack.
Jack: You ready to tell me why she was wrong – why we don’t belong here?
Daniel: In about four hours, the Dharma folks at the Swan work site--they're gonna - gonna drill into the ground and accidentally tap into a massive pocket of energy. The result of the release of this energy would be catastrophic. So, in order to contain it, they're gonna have to cement the entire area in like Chernobyl. And this containment - the place they built over it - I believe you called it ‘the Hatch’ - the Swan hatch? Because of this one accident, these people are gonna spend the next 20 years keeping that energy at bay - by pressing a button - a button your friend Desmond will one day fail to push, and that will cause your plane - Oceanic 815 - to crash on this island. And because your plane crashed, a freighter will be sent to this island - a freighter I was on and Charlotte was on and so forth - this entire chain of events - it's gonna start happening this afternoon. But...we can change that. I studied relativistic physics my entire life. One thing emerged over and over - can't change the past, can't do it. Whatever happened, happened, right? But then I finally realized...I had been spending so much time focused on the constants, I forgot about the variables. Do you know what the variables in these equations are, Jack?
Jack: No.
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 I can negate that energy under the Swan. I think I can destroy it. If I can, then that hatch will never be built, and your plane - your plane will land, just like it's supposed to, in Los Angeles.
Kate: And just how exactly do you plan on destroying this energy?
Daniel: I'm gonna detonate a hydrogen bomb.

Penny: Thought I’d lost you.
Desmond: I promised you, Penny – I promised you - I’d never leave you again.

Eloise: Sacrifice? Don’t you talk to me about sacrifice, Charles! I had to send my son back to the island knowing full well -
Widmore: It was my son too, Eloise.

1 comment:

  1. About the WHH rule: What we're seeing is purely from the perspective of the characters we're familiar with. This is just the past of Dharma, this is a Dharma flashback, etc. Which is why it can't be changed. Locke can't stop himself from ever associating with his father because it always happened in the same way a physicist always shot Radzinsky.