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What Nikki Noticed: 5.14 “The Variable”

By Nikki Stafford,

  Filed under: Lost News
  Comments: 32

flsmall2Did 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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  • brent

    Is the notebook going to be another compass or outrigger that becomes something we have to track over decades of time travel?

    I suppose Faraday could be a part-timer flashback kind of guy for season 6. But if jack and kate can fulfill his plan, then it would seem his story would be finished.

    • Ed Einstein

      It seems kind of obvious that Jack and Kate won’t fulfill Daniel’s plan, hence the title of the finale, “The Incident”. This all just seems like one long set-up to reunite those in the past with those in the future setting the stage, as all great thrillers do, for the final showdown. My only question is who is this showdown between?

      Everyone seems to be guessing that it’ll be between two groups, those affiliated with the Others and those mysterious “In the shadow of the statute” folk. This seems too simplistic and Stephen Kingish for me to believe so I’m offering this idea….there are more than two groups vying for the island. I’d posit that there are at least three, the Others, the statue folk and the island.

      Just a guess….nice article as usual Nikki!

    • brent

      Sure, I agree that by the end of this season, everyone should be in the same time. Someone will die of course but it should be a honorable sacrifice to save everyone else.

      The next date on the Blast Door Map is “HG delegation inspection 12/07/81” so approximately four years from now. If Jughead detonates, four years pass before anyone returns to the Island to see if it’s safe. The next date after that is “Suspected Shut Down Date 10/28/84.”

      Thanks for the good article, Nikki. Nice discussion of the journal.

  • vladimac

    spot on. this explains why she doesn’t know what’s going to happen next “for the first time in a long time”. daniel’s journal ends with his death, and she now no longer has Grey’s Sports Almanac to consult.

    • Doos

      At least 2015 is safe from Biff Tannen – Daniel’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain.

  • Desi’s Brother

    Good article but what is missing is her motivation to be a slave to Destiny. I think that is the critical issue. What occurs (probably the incident) and why does this cause her to feel that she must maintain this exact timeline? She seems to have commited to the notion that this is the overall best outcome and she must sacrifice Daniel.

    Perhaps the idea Daniel has of setting off the bomb would have destroyed the island and she has to stop that from occuring.

    • icyone

      Based on last night’s episode, there is an event that takes place off camera shortly before the scene where young Daniel is playing the piano. Eloise comes in, appears to have been crying, and basically tells Daniel is life is over.

      If she had made that decision after killing future Daniel, then she would have (logically) devoted Daniel’s entire childhood to the notion.

      • Charlie’s Evil Posse

        She looked 5-10 years older in this scene (at the piano w/ young Daniel) than she did in the scene where she killed Daniel. I agree that something happened off screen prior to that Young Daniel scene, but it was quite a while after the shooting.

  • icyone

    Well, its very possible that Jack and Kate rush into the Other’s camp and spill the beans to Eloise re: Daniel and all of the events in the future. Jack knows future Eloise, and future Eloise seems to trust Jack more than the others, probably because he is the one that tells her everything. The loop perpetuates their cycle of trust:

    In 1977, Jack.2007 trusts Eloise.1977 with all of the knowledge he has of events between 1977 and 2007 because Eloise.2007 trusted Jack.2007 with the task of getting everyone to Ajira 316 because Jack.2007 trusted Eloise.1977 with… and so on.

    Daniel’s journal doesn’t leave the Island with Eloise (Caesar finds it in the Hydra in 2007, remember) so if she does look through it, it gets left behind with the Others. Chances are Ben keeps it (it is his office, he claims), which is how he has so much knowledge regarding events despite being altered in the Temple.

    As for Eloise.2007 no longer knowing the future, the timeline explains almost all of this and gives us a hint to some upcoming events. If the last event Eloise knows about is Desmond being in the hospital, then Desmond must return to the Island (in the past?) shortly after being discharged. Desmond’s story of being shot by Ben would be relayed to the Others before Eloise.1977 leaves the Island. Dan’s journal would only be valid through 2004 for off-Island events (that’s when he boarded the Kahana) so there would be nothing in the journal about Ajira 316, or Desmond being in the hospital. At some point young Eloise MUST meet older Desmond because otherwise she has no idea to meet him in the jewelry store or what to tell him about pushing the button.

    • brent

      Couldn’t Eloise.1977 have gotten that information from Faraday’s notebook? The notebook found upon Faraday’s death could include information about Desmond prior to Desmond crashing on the Island. They did meet in 1996. I guess it depends on how much detail Faraday has in that little notebook about his life and others besides just equations. The notebook should detail events from Faraday’s graduation until very early 2005, the time jumps on Island, and from 1974-1977 off Island.

      • icyone

        It wouldn’t have information about Desmond ending up in the hospital because that’s 2007 Desmond. Faraday goes to the Island in December 2004 and never returns to the mainland at a date later than that. It’s just not chronologically possible.

    • HurleyMadeCash.com

      I just assumed that Caesar was able to find the journal because Faraday left it behind at some point during the finale last season.

      • HurleyMadeCash.com

        But I suppose Faraday would have to have had the journal when he started jumping in time, otherwise he wouldn’t have it at the moment of his death. Hmm… Ok, I take my last post back. Most likely, the journal becomes some sort of bible for the others.

      • hyperRevue

        I thought Caesar found photocopies of pages from Daniel’s journal, not the actual journal itself.

  • Dharma Adept

    “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.”

    actually when AC throws Locke out the window is probably the single worst parenting moment, with a close second being when Locke wakes up in the hospital and dad has disappeared. Think about it: Ellie couldnt not change the past because it already happened.

    ” 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? ”

    The fact that Desmond lived. This hints that had he died, Daniel would have lived, hence the relationship between variable and constant. or maybe she just ran out of Danny’s cliff notes from the future. all this really shows is that she had a lot of pre-knowledge about what happened in the past, but the key to this reading is that she only made her comment after Desmond’s recovery was announced. she was prepared to mourn, and, perhaps, spill the beans. more interesting is, why was Widmore there? he’s obviously not trying to see Penny, since they have no relationship, and its doubtful he would have traveled to La just to be at Desmond’s hospital bed. Maybe he guessed what Ben was up to.

    “Suddenly Eloise Hawking has become an essential character.”

    well, she’s always been essential, we just didnt know how essential.

    “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.”

    doubtful if you watched the preview of next wk’s ep, which seemed to show Jack going over Danny’s notebook. i think all she knows is that one day, his future will happen in her past. but this does put a different spin on her previous interactions with Desmond, and raise the possibility that she may have read the journal at some point. i dont think she did on the island, though.

  • Eric

    What is Eloise wasn’t convince about destiny? Think about how she experienced time … she shot her son long before he was even born (or at least when he was very young). While she might psychologically feel it was necessary (and thus come to a belief in destiny), it is also possible that she pushed Dan so hard to study science in the hope that he would find a way to change the past. Tat might also explain why she worked so hard to send the Oceanic 6 back — they represented variables that could change things so that she didn’t shoot her own son.

  • hartigan86

    does anyone think that all this stuff about variables is true. i think all this has happened before, i remember back in season 1 i was tryin to think why the others were taking children and the only answer i could come up with was that they couldnt have kids themselves. what would cause infertility on the entire island. maybe a hydrogen bomb detonating so maybe jack and co were there and it could be that they are the cause for the women on the island dying through childbirth. just a thought.

    peace

    • hyperRevue

      I think a hydrogen bomb explosion on the Island WOULD cause infertility, in that everyone would be dead.

    • Lego

      Is it possible that “this sickness” is radiation poisoning?

      • Lego

        err “the sickness”

  • Jenn

    I can’t help but wonder if Eloise believes in destiny BECAUSE she shot Daniel. How do you raise your son knowing that at some point in your past and his future, you are going to be the one responsible for his death? How do you live with that guilt? You choose to believe that it was always SUPPOSED to be that way. It’s not your fault, it was MEANT to happen.

    It’s just a thought. Either we’ve got a bunch of characters who believe in destiny because of this time loop they’re all in, or there’s a big piece of this destiny puzzle still missing.

  • JJStrange

    “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.”

    What if Penny is the Variable in Desmond’s life? What if Eloise didn’t contact Widmore to make that wine drop happen, and this was IN FACT a “destiny” meeting, with everything else having been a concert effort by Eloise & Co. instead?

    I just don’t feel that Eloise and Widmore would have set Penny and Desmond up only to convince them later they are not meant to be. It seems the flourishing of that relationship is precisely what got in their way. (When it comes to Desmond that is)

  • brent

    I just didn’t quite understand the Desmond/Penny scenes from the Variable. It didn’t seem to push their story forward. Had they NOT shown that scene, I still would have assumed Desmond survived. Heck, it didn’t even look like he was shot by Ben. Just grazed the lettuce. Because he was well enough to throttle Ben and toss him in the marina. I guess the point is that it was a Faraday episode and Desmond HAS to be in a Faraday episode. “The Variable” could have been taken to highest level if they had given us just a morsel to digest about the future of Desmond and Penny.

    I also find it interesting that in “The Constant” they showed why the Constant is important to individuals. But Faraday’s line of “We’re all variables” just sounds like Time Magazine naming the person of the year “You.”

  • dookieB

    I think there’s way too much work involved to have Eloise believe in destiny solely to get Dan to the island. Not saying she’s not a proponent of it, but if whatever happened happened, it would happen regardless of how she’d treat Daniel growing up. Why be so nasty to your kid growing up? He’s gonna end up dying in your past anyway, so forcing him to pursue science and not have any fun would be a serious dick move.

    I think she was so forceful on him growing up in order to try and get him to find a way to break out of the loop. Getting him so devoted to science only seems to make sense to me in order for him to find a way to change what happened. Otherwise, Widmore can just send him to the island on the freighter being a so-so scientist who also can play piano. She could be playing a bluff with the destiny card on everyone else to try and save Daniel. Convincing Desmond and the O6 minus 3 that it was their destiny to go back makes sense in that light because she needs them to help her son along the way. But, saying it’s his destiny to get killed by her doesn’t seem to really fit with him having to go through all the other shit he did as a result of Eloise’s forcefulness. The only thing I was able to play devil’s advocate on was MAYBE he needs to be so smart because Jack and co. have to follow his notes, but then if whatever happened happened, his notebook would produce the same end result regardless, too. Blergh.

    I also think she’s a good mother overall and has been stewing over a plan to have him either A) not die, or B) die in 77 but have it not matter. It’d be lame to pull another Locke and have him just resurrect, but what if there was something better for Daniel that Eloise could pull off on the island; like becoming part of the island itself, manifesting similar to Christian, shooting further back in time and becoming the statue, morphing into Vincent, etc.

    • icyone

      She had to push him to be the best because the time loop depends on him being the best. He has to be in the right place at the right time to help Desmond in 1996 AND in 2004, he has to be able to get the Kahana to the Island, and do all the things he did for Dharma.

      What you have is Jack’s interpretation of “whatever happened, happened” that you can just sit back and everything will take care of itself regardless of your interaction. So let’s look at that:

      1) Jack refuses to look at Ben because Ben is alive in the future therefore he is “safe” by Jack’s logic.
      2) Ben is dying, Kate and Sawyer take Ben to Richard.
      3) Phil sees the tape of Kate and Sawyer taking Ben.
      4) Radzinsky sees Phil tied up in the closet and now Juliet and Sawyer (and Jack and Kate soon) are considered spies and possibly Others by Dharma.

      If this is the series of events leading up to the Incident, then Jack’s refusal to get involved is a major factor. He thought he was just quietly observing but his decision is (possibly) indirectly the cause of the crash of 815.

      Eloise COULD have let Daniel grow up a normal child, but course correction would have come along and ruined that plan. Instead she takes an active role. From Daniel’s perspective, she’s a cruel witch, but from her perspective, she’s trying to protect Daniel by keeping him isolated from heartache.

      • brent

        The universe only corrects the big things, not the little things. The universe doesn’t care HOW you die, just that you die. The trouble with all these Island happenings, we don’t know what the big thing is yet. Is it The Incident? Was it the crash of 815? It’s a chicken or egg debate.

        It wasn’t important for Daniel to study science, it was important for him to fill a notebook for Eloise so she could be all cool and knowledgeable about the future. She’s a knowledge thief.

        • icyone

          Some of the services Daniel has performed are big things in regards to the time loop. An efficient course correction algorithm would have eliminated any obstacles to Daniel not studying quantum physics, because that was his destiny.

          • brent

            Faraday’s lasting legacy is that journal. It’s the Island’s Bible. I’m really curious what happens to the journal now. We see it in the Hydra in 2007. We know Jack is going to try and understand Faraday’s scribblings. Seems that whenever the Island moves again, someone will be holding that journal to take it with them back to the future.

            Locke says Jack wasn’t supposed to leave the Island. Faraday says Jack wasn’t supposed to come back. Maybe Jack was supposed to be on the Island from 1974-1977 instead of in LA from 2004-2007.

          • icyone

            Faraday is also responsible for this:

            – Helping Desmond not have an aneurism aboard the Kahana (who else would know his symptoms?)
            – Getting the freighter people to the Island by determining the bearing necessary to travel back and forth

            It’s more than the lasting legacy. You’re approaching the situation backwards. Daniel seems to be meant to help Desmond do whatever it is he needs to do. When Daniel dies, his journal is how Eloise will preserve the timeline. The goal isn’t to produce the journal because Eloise could simply send the whole thing back in time.

      • I don’t agree that Jack’s refusal is the main (and only) factor at play here. Let me dig up the timeline prior to these incidents:

        Sawyer and Juliet are considered hostiles / spies by Radzinski because…

        … Sawyer tied up Phil inside his closet because…

        … Phil has the video tape showing Sawyer and Kate bringing Ben to hostile territory because…

        … Miles forgot to erase the tape while he was on duty in lieu of Sawyer because…

        … Sawyer and Kate needed to bring Ben to Richard because…

        … Jack refused to operate on young Ben.

        BUT REMEMBER THIS:

        … Sawyer and Kate needed to bring Ben to Richard because…

        … Sayid shot young Ben.

        ——————

        In other words, while Jack refused, there are other people who are guilty of the circumstances leading to the Incident.

  • Nicole

    “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.”

    I totally agree with this and I want to take it a step further. In the episode The Constant, Desmond talked with Widmore in a bathroom at that auction. Widmore left the sink running and exited the room. Desmond walked up to the sink to turn it off and a time jump occurred. I thought it was really strange that Widmore did that unless he knew that it would trigger a jump for Desmond. ANYWAY, rounding back to my point, it would be very possible that Widmore and Eloise that been orchestrating things because of their children’s involvement.

  • Another reader of site

    Just thinkin.
    back to hatch explosion: dose Eli knew that the man with red shoe will die from Dan’s journal?