BIG spoilers.

Lost Official Site

The Time:
Wednesdays, 9:00 PM, ABC

The Show:

Oceanic Flight 815 from Sydney to London went down somewhere over the
Pacific, the survivors of the crash found themselves marooned on a
tropical island.  But this is no ordinary island; it has
unusual magnetic, temporal, healing and seemingly supernatural
properties, and is fraught with constant danger.  There is
a mysterious black smoke-like creature, polar bears, and even
apparitions of the dead roaming the forest.  The island is
also the former secret haven of a group called the Dharma Initiative,
who were running experiments utilizing the unique properties of the
island via research stations that dot the landscape.  Now the
Oceanic survivors, led by Dr. Jack Sheppard, Kate Austen, James
“Sawyer” Ford, John Locke, Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, Sayid Jarrah and
others, seek a way to escape the island and its many dangers. 
But there are people, both living on the island and seeking the island
from outside, who are at war for control of it, and the Oceanic
survivors find themselves caught in the middle.  Told via
nonlinear fashion that incorporates flashbacks and flash forwards, Lost is one of the most unique and densely mythological shows on television.

The Stars:

•  Matthew Fox – Dr. Jack Sheppard
•  Evangeline Lilly – Kate Austen
•  Josh Holloway – James “Sawyer” Ford
•  Naveen Andrews – Sayid Jarrah
•  Terry O’Quinn – John Locke
•  Jorge Garcia – Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
•  Daniel Dae Kim – Jin Kwon
•  Yunjin Kim – Sun Kwon
•  Michael Emerson – Benjamin Linus
•  Henry Ian Cusick – Desmond Hume
•  Elizabeth Mitchell – Juliet Burke
•  Jeremy Davies – Daniel Faraday
•  Nestor Carbonell – Richard Alpert
•  Alan Dale – Charles Widmore
•  Reiko Aylesworth – Amy

The Episode:The Variable”

Daniel Faraday is back on the island after three years at Dharma HQ in Ann Arbor, MI.  He came back for a ocuple of reasons, one of them being that he saw the 1977 Dharma new recruit picture included Hurley, Jack and Kate.  But the main reason being that he believes he can change the future.  Along the way, we get flashbacks about Daniel’s life growing up with his mother and find out who his father is. 

The Lowdown:

This is a Daniel-centric episode and we get a lot of his backstory.  I questioned the timing of doing this for Miles just a few weeks ago for “Some Like It Hoth,” because it did very little to advance the season storyline significantly.  But although they do the same thing for Daniel, there are some significant developments and revelations this episode.
First off, upon returning to the island, Daniel tells Jack that his mother was wrong: that it wasn’t Jack, Kate and Hurley’s destiny to come back to the island.  And the reason that he’s back is to try to change time, although it was he who said that the past and thus the future couldn’t be changed.  But while he was basing that theory off of the constants of time, he didn’t take into account the variables of time: people with free will.  Essentially his plan is to detonate Jughead, the hydrogen bomb from 1954.  Along the way, we get flashbacks of Daniel’s development with his mother, who’s harboring a secret from him.  We also see that Desmond survived his encounter with Ben as he was planning to kill Penny back in LA.

FYI: Big spoilers from here on out.
Several big revelations and shocks this episode, the least of which certainly isn’t the fact that Daniel is shot and killed by one of the Hostiles at the very end of the episode.  And as luck would have it, it’s his mother, a younger Eloise Hawking.  As he lays dying, Daniel manages to tell her he’s his son.  What this means is that Eloise raised him with the knowledge that eventually she was going to have to send him to his death in the past.  Considering that Widmore was still on the island at the time, it’s presumable that he is aware of it too.  Why is is important that Widmore knows?  Well, because he’s Daniel’s father.  This show has more paternity issues than a season of Maury Povich’s show, that’s for damn sure.  But the really big question is: what is it that’s so important that Eloise and Widmore are willing to sacrifice their son in order to guarantee happening.  For Widmore, I don’t think it’s that big a sacrifice, as he’s been willing to kill whomever he has to in order to get back control of the island.  But for Eloise, what’s the motivation for sending her son off to certain death?

Several other questions arise from this then (at least as far as I can tell).  Like, was Daniel also born on the island or is it actually him for whom Widmore was banished by Ben for having a child off the island rather than Penny?  And is there still some secret to be revealed about Penny’s mother?  Also, when did Eloise leave the island?  Was it before or after Widmore?  Also, we still haven’t gotten a rational explanation for why Daniel was so emotionally shaken upon seeing the fake Oceanic 815 plane placed at the bottom of the ocean by Widmore.  Does his experiments with consciousness time travel have anything to do with it?  In true Lost fashion, there were more questions raised than answered in this episode. 

But we do find out that Jughead isn’t the source of the electromagnetic energy that results in the Swan Station.  I’ve seen speculation on the boards to that effect, but never really bought into that.  I figured that it’s just been buried all this time, as Daniel suggested the Hostiles do.  In fact, his master plan to prevent the Incident is to detonate Jughead to dissipate the electromagnetic energy.  But for the smartest guy on the island, he makes the biggest bonehead move of threatening Richard in the Hostile camp with a gun, which leads to his family reunion via a bullet.  Before that happens, however, we do get to see Daniel talk to young Charlotte about leaving the island though, just as she remembered him doing.

Other developments find the jig being up with the Losties in the Dharma Initiative.  With Sawyer having decked the guard who found the tape of him and Kate taking young Ben away, plus the shootout between Daniel, Kate and Jack and Daniel trying to spill the beans about the time travel to Dr. Chang, the Losties realize that they have to abandon the Dharma Initiative and either leave the island via the sub or head back into the jungle.  Although Sawyer and Juliet don’t get to make the trip as Radzinski captures them.  Miles also had a great line upon Daniel’s return, remarking that he thought he’d have gotten rich by inventing the DVD or something while he was off the island.  Also wonder if Daniel’s revelation to Chang of Miles being his son, even though Chang didn’t believe him, have any bearing on Chang’s decision to separate from his wife and son.

I’m really enjoying this season.  I love the approach they’re taking with the whole Fate vs. Free Will and grandfather paradox issues.  And this was a good episode, although I’m bummed to see Daniel go.  He was one of the best mouthpieces for the unusual island phenomena and how things were working.  Looks like the last three episodes are going to be the Losties trying to change the future by changing the past (consequently, their present) by preventing the Incident.  Is this even possible as Daniel started to theorize?  So far it looks like he was right before in that nothing can be changed, except when Desmond is involved.  Will the Losties’ actions in trying to prevent the Incident end up only causing it? 

8.6 out of 10