Did you miss me? Oh come on, you totally did. I missed you! I apologize for missing my column for “Some Like It Hoth.” I was traveling through Wales, and didn’t even get to see the episode until Thursday and then had to avoid spoilers while writing up my brief post over on my blog (how do you fans overseas manage it every week?!) I was still overseas last week, but luckily it was a clip show, so I didn’t really miss anything there.
But now, I’m back. And one of my favourite characters appears to be gone. :::sniffle:::
I’ve written endlessly on the notions of free will and destiny on Lost, and “The Variable” supplied us with so much more information with which to explore that theme. As I’ve said in my books, the religious characters tend to believe in destiny, the science-based ones in free will. Daniel, oddly, believes in destiny, but that’s because he’s been raised by a mother who is filled with a religious fervour about destiny and course correction and not changing the past or “god help us all.” And just when he changes his mind and accepts free will… bam. Destiny comes a-callin’.
Last night, in what, for me, represents the absolute low point in parenting on this show (on a show with parents like Anthony Cooper, that’s saying a LOT), we saw that Eloise Hawking knew from the get-go that she would one day shoot and kill her adult son. So, believing strongly in destiny and course correction (my god, I’d better make sure I shoot him, because we wouldn’t want the universe to course-correct and have a piano land on his head!), she shaped his entire life so he would end up a mad scientist, sent on a wild mission to a remote island where he would travel 30 years into the past and be shot by Ellie. (This, of course, begs the question, had Daniel already been born on the island? Surely he’s older than 30 when he dies…)
One of the key lines in the episode was when Eloise is talking to Penny and says, for one of the first times, she doesn’t know what’s going to happen. What has changed? What has made her say that?
I asked on my blog what could be written in Dan’s journal, and how does HE know what’s going to happen. The common response was that he’d gone to the archives in Ann Arbor and looked through them, knowing when the incident was going to happen (though, we’d have to add to that that he must have gone to Ann Arbor, then time travelled to the future to look at the archives, otherwise why would 1977 archives have any news of an incident that hasn’t yet happened?) Another possibility, which I mentioned last season, is that Dan has time travelled a lot before. That would explain his memory loss (he does say in this episode that he tested out the consciousness travelling before getting Theresa to do it), his twitchiness, and why he knows things. I believe Daniel has at the very least consciousness travelled before (which is why Desmond’s visit is so important to him in “The Constant”) and he’s been jumping all over various times in his mind. He’s figured out a constant — maybe he’s kept tabs on Desmond Hume to make sure he can be his constant everywhere (and that’s how Dan has ended up on the island before) — and that’s why he’s not nosebleeding to death. Instead, his memory is going.
But how does Eloise know everything? The answer could be with a suggestion raised by one of my readers this morning. She suggested that after his death, Ellie could take the journal off his person and read it, therefore knowing everything that’s going to happen to him. So let’s take that idea a little further, because I think it’s a very good one. It would explain why Ellie knows everything in his life so she can make sure he follows the path he was “meant” to follow, thereby landing on the island where she will shoot him — Theresa going into a coma, Charlotte dying (hence her comment about how women close to Daniel will always be hurt); Dan becoming a brilliant mathematician and ending up at Oxford; she probably left the island in the first place because of his notes on the Purge and the Incident.
But one of the most important notes in that journal is the one we saw last season: “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.” Ellie must have figured out along the way that Desmond Hume will be essential to her son getting to the point in his life where he needs to be. So, she’s figured out who this man is, and manipulated his life so he’ll end up at the monastery (remember the scene where he goes into the brother’s office and there’s a photo of the monk with Eloise on his desk?) Then she’s talked to Widmore and arranged for Penny to show up to get some wine. And maybe she’s even figured out a way to appear to him when he consciousness travels to the ring store, and teaches him about course correction and destiny. She urges Desmond to get onto that island, knowing that he MUST be there if her son is going to be there, especially if he is going to be Daniel’s constant.
Suddenly Eloise Hawking has become an essential character. She gives Dan the journal when he graduates, the one where he will keep all of his notes (it doesn’t look like the same one he has later, so either it’s simply a reminder of the journal, or his use of it over the years has worn down the design on the front and beaten up the pages a bit). Maybe she’s learned everything she knows about Dharma by reading the journal, and she could help Alpert with his whole “Ben” issue. It’s unclear whether Widmore really is Dan’s father (something I called in a column on this site a few months ago, even though I was joking around when I did it) or if he’s his father in the same way Ben is Alex’s father. But needless to say, I think even if Dan is gone, we’ll be seeing some more Ellie backstory some time soon.
Come on over to the blog and check out my post on last night’s episode, and another on a possible new (obscure) literary reference on the show.
Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 4 is now available at Amazon.com, and the upcoming season 5 book is now available for pre-order. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.
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