Lost Round Table: “The Variable”

We continue with our round-table discussions of Lost. This week, we’re joined by Bridget McGovern, Rajan Khanna and Theresa DeLucci. As always, spoilers abound, so stay away from this post if you haven’t watched the latest episode of Lost, “The Variable.”

Bridget: For Lost‘s 100th episode, the writers seemed to want to remind us that Mothers’ Day is fast approaching—and we should all be glad we weren’t spawned from the icy loins of Eloise Hawking, who is one bad mamajama, indeed. Poor Jeremy Davies—always with the driven, domineering mothers; was anybody else having uncomfortable flashbacks to Spanking the Monkey tonight?

That aside, it’s clear that Faraday has been a pawn all his life, manipulated by Hawking and Charles Widmore, who claims to be his father. The title of the episode refers to his theory that it is possible to change the past through the exercise of free will: Faraday has come to believe that individual people, the ultimate variable in any equation, can challenge destiny, after all. This seems to be undermined, however, by the final moments of the show; if it’s true that Eloise Hawking knowingly sacrificed her son, controlling his entire life up to that moment, then how much faith can we put in free will to change the course of events rapidly unfolding on the Island?

So many questions: why is Eloise Hawking “the only person on this island who can get us back to where we belong,” as Faraday claims? There are other people who know where the hydrogen bomb is buried—I feel like I’m missing something here. And what purpose does Faraday’s murder ultimately serve? Clearly, Widmore and Hawking are working toward the same end, if not exactly working together—so why was Hawking partnered up with Ben earlier in the season? I suppose it’s possible that she’s playing both sides; she’s certainly formidable enough to hold her own. Finally, is it possible that Eloise is also Penny’s mother? It would explain her visit to the hospital, which didn’t seem to have much other point…and we know how much Lost loves to reveal scandalous secret siblings (it’s up there with All My Children, in that regard).

With only four hours left before The Swan station blows, the final few episodes of this season are going to be total insanity. Can’t wait.

Theresa: First thoughts: Nooooooooo! Not Daniel!

The Desmond and Daniel episodes kill me. And it was good to see Desmond again this week. I’m so happy he and Penny will continue to enjoy some well-deserved bliss for awhile. Even Charles was glad that Des was okay. And while Desmond’s constant is Penny and his love for her carries him forward in time and in his life’s purpose, Daniel is sort of like the flip-side of that coin. Daniel has no one when he steps off of that submarine in 1977. Jeremy Davies gave a hear-twrenching performance tonight, especially when Widmore offered him the job aboard the Freighter.

And to think Daniel’s mother knew his destiny was to die in 1977. What a terrible weight on her. But I can’t feel too bad for Eloise, either, as she didn’t seem to make a short life any easier for her son. (Run, Theresa, run! I’ve seen the future and you don’t want to get involved in this mother-son relationship. Trust me.) And did Eloise ever try to change that sad trajectory?

This brings up all kinds of questions about variables. I like how this season is coming full circle, with us seeing the Dr. Chang conversation in the Swan station from the season premiere. What happens if Daniel uses Jughead to neutralize the electromagnetic energy and Flight 815 never crashes? And Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Juliet never get to exchange a ton of meaningful glances? Lost’s constant is answering questions with more questions and I’m sure we’re going to get some real good ones for the finale.

Raj: I agree that the ending seems to suggest that events can’t be changed, and I saw it as reinforcement of that fact, that free will exists, but that ultimately it will result in the things “always” happening that way, because it’s happening in the past.

But then I had a second thought – what if, despite all her speeches about destiny, Eloise was hoping that Daniel “could” change the past/future. Maybe that’s why she was so insistent about him studying all the time and not having distractions – not so that he would definitely get to the island, she knew that would happen, but so that maybe, with all his knowledge, he could change the past so that she didn’t have shoot her own son. I kinda hope that’s true.

I’m sad to see Daniel go as he was such a great character. But I’m hoping it’s not the last we’ve seen of him. He could obviously reappear in a different flash of time. I had this inkling that his time travel experiment, that robbed his memory, somehow was more significant. But who knows. Maybe he already signed on to another show or movie.

Aside from Daniel’s death, most of the other reveals were confirmations of things people had already speculated on – Widmore’s relationship to Daniel, for example. The Incident and the reason for Miles and his mother leaving the island (which I think was basically telegraphed). How Charlotte got off the island.

Desmond’s appearance was a little baffling. I was glad to see him, glad to see that he’ll survive, but I wonder what part he’s going to play in this story. And what was Penny thinking leaving her kid with a nurse? After Ben just came after her and strange women are in the hospital? And with her dad out there? Bad move, Penny. Very bad move.

Thinking about Eloise, she obviously leaves the island. I’m guessing that it will have something to do with the Incident, but that it might also have to do with how the Losties are going to get out of the 70s. But I suppose we’ll see.

Oh, and I thought it was very interesting that Richard was against Eloise shooting Daniel. It may have just been his curiosity at how he knew about Jughead, but it seemed a little strange coming from someone who supposedly helped orchestrate the Purge. Richard, what hidden depths you have.

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