The Variable (S5, ep. 14)

Daniel: “I guess I’m lucky.”

Thoughts:

• Desmond did get shot after all, and not just in the groceries. Hawking comes to visit, and again we’re left pondering the fact that Hawking probably became aware of Desmond and his importance when she read his name in Daniel’s journal (“If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant”), pulling him into the drama as a result.

• Daniel was apparently working at Dharma headquarters in Ann Arbor, doing “research.” What kind of research? How did he get access there?

• Daniel comes back because of the Dharma photo containing Jack, Kate and Hurley. Seeing this seems to activate a switch in him – he’s all business. Interestingly, Daniel seems to anticipate that his mother told Jack it was his “destiny” to go back. This brings up my biggest question: does Daniel know he’s heading to his death? Are we watching another Christ/sacrificial god allegory here? Or is Daniel’s death a genuine unforeseen event to him? He seems to know when certain events are going to occur, within minutes. How? Does Dharma have future records of itself? Daniel deduced this through his “research”? Has he written these details into his journal?

Hawking: “It’s my…job to keep you on your path.”

• For that matter, why does Hawking feel that she has to push Daniel toward his death? Given that she’s his mother I’d expect her to want to save him and change things. Is she simply afraid that if she doesn’t, the universe will somehow “unravel”? Is she attempting to preserve the integrity of what she perceives as the timeline? And if so, why? After all, we know from Desmond that the universe has a way of “course correcting.” Wouldn’t Desmond have arrived on the Island without her “help”? Wouldn’t Daniel have done what he did?

Maybe not. And this is where things get confusing/interesting. Maybe certain things need to be nudged along. And if things can be nudged one way, doesn’t that mean by definition that they can be nudged the other way? If Hawking hadn’t pushed Daniel along, maybe Daniel wouldn’t have grown up to be a physicist. Maybe his “actual/alternate” destiny was to be a musician (and hey – remember who programmed the Looking Glass? A musician), and Hawking mimicked Desmond’s role with Charlie in actually subverting the “universe’s” course in a specific way. Maybe that’s true of all of Widmore and Hawking’s manipulations. They may be creating a deviation in time/space on purpose, in violation of the “natural rules.”


• At the end of this episode, both she and Widmore talk of the “sacrifices” they’ve made to achieve this particular result (there’s that word again, sacrifice). Widmore sacrificed his relationship with Penny. Hawking sacrificed her son. Is Daniel a “sacrifice that the Island demanded”?

Why would they do this? For Jacob? For the MiB? For their own purposes? Who convinces her of this course of action? Are they preserving an “original” timeline? Creating a “loop”? We’ve seen the game of chess referenced a fair amount on this show. Is Daniel a pawn that’s sacrificed to advance another piece? Too ensure the loop’s integrity?

• According to Daniel, Jack and Co. aren’t supposed to be on the Island. Does this mean that Sawyer and Co. ARE? How does Daniel know the difference?

• The opening scene of Season 5 lines up here, as Daniel goes down into the Orchid and we re-experience Chang’s time travel tirade. Only, now we see Daniel warn Chang about “The Incident,” an event we first learned about in Season 2’s Swan Orientation video, narrated, ironically, by Dr. Chang (Candle) himself.

• Daniel tells Chang that Miles is his son, that they’re from the future. He seems to be trying to shake things up, to create as big a “ripple” in this time-period as possible – presumably to prevent The Incident from occurring. But all of what Daniel does here actually fulfills his role prior to The Incident as we know it, and completes the circle of his strange life. Again I ask: Is Daniel a victim of “fate” and his mother’s merciless shepherding? Or is he complicit?

Hawking: “The women in your life will be terribly hurt.”

• We meet Teresa pre-electromagnetic lobotomy, and Hawking clearly knows that she’s headed toward an inglorious fate. How much does Hawking know about Daniel’s future? Is it all from his journal? Is there another source?

• I’m trying to picture the process of picking out that journal to give to Daniel. This is pre-internet, right? Did Hawking go from store to store, trying to find the exact same type of journal she already possessed? Knowing Lost, it was probably in the window of the first shop she visited.

Sawyer/James: “Your mother is an Other?”

• Daniel tells Jack that his mother is the only one who can get them back where they belong – why? Because the Others can do that? Or because Daniel knows that he “has” to die?

• Daniel’s weeping over the faked plane crash is still unexplained. We can assume it’s related to the fact that Daniel recognizes it from the future.

• Widmore’s visit to Daniel clears up a number of things. For one, he’s the one who sunk the plane, confirming that fact for us (he tells Daniel this because Daniel won’t remember it in the morning, which is creepy). For another, we learn that Daniel tested the machine on himself before Teresa tried it, strongly indicating that both he and she experienced delayed “side-effects.” We learn that Widmore sends Daniel to the Island knowing (hoping?) that it will heal his mind.

Widmore and Hawking seem to have the same basic designs for Daniel – he must go to the Island, in part to die.

Daniel: “I tried to avoid telling you this – I didn’t want to change things – but maybe I can.”

• This is weird. By telling Charlotte she has to leave, he’s doing what he knows he’s already done (I know, just hang in there with me). Doesn’t this mean that he consciously ISN’T changing things? Not telling Charlotte to leave would constitute a change. Again I’m wondering: Are all of the things that are “supposed” to happen from Daniel’s POV actually already changes/distortions in the timeline? Is he changing things by doing what he’s always done, preserving a “loop” that shouldn’t exist?

Great Daniel Line: “Ahh…Do you have something for a beginner?”

Great Radzinsky Line: “Just got shot by a physicist!”

• Daniel explains his end-game to Jack – use the Jughead bomb to “reset the past” by detonating it in the Swan. Jack will get all messianic on us shortly.

• Hawking tells Penny that Desmond is “a casualty in a conflict that’s… bigger than any of us.” Is this the Jacob/MiB conflict? Is it bigger still? We learn that Widmore is Faraday’s father, making Penny and Daniel half-brother/sister (sorry about the mixup in the last column, folks), which just makes everything knottier. These characters are interrelated in complex, interlocking ways that go far beyond just missing each other at a gas station. Will these connections be explained?

• Richard offers Daniel a peaceful talk twice, as Dan is waving his gun in Richard’s face. Why is Daniel behaving this way? For the last time: Is he just too adrenalized to think straight, and a victim of that “fickle bitch,” destiny? Or did he invite his own death? Is this tragedy? Or further sacrifice? Adios, Jeremy Davies. You were solid. I expect we’ll see more of you before this story closes.

Monday: “Follow The Leader!”

*****

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