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Turn off your Mind – 5.14 “The Variable”

By Fishbiscuit,

  Filed under: Lost Recaps
  Comments: 108

Turn off your mind, relax
and float down stream
It is not dying”
– The Beatles

Whatever Happened, Happened. It’s been our Constant this season, our guide through the jungle of time travel absurdity and confusion. Remember how Daniel schooled us all in this one simple basic rule in the first episode of the season? You do remember that, right?

OK, now forget it.

Daniel took the yellow submarine back to Ann Arbor circa 1974, and whatever happened to him there convinced him that maybe something else could happen than whatever happened the first time. He had it all written down in his trusty notebook.

He came twitching into town with this revised theory, hoping to recruit some of his old friends to test it out. He told them that even though whatever happened, happened in the past, now that the past was their present, he had brilliantly surmised that whatever happened didn’t happen yet so maybe he could make something different happen.

Wow. And it only took a lifetime of studying relativistic physics for him to come up with this. He had carefully considered the pseudo-Reimemannian metrics and Lorentz invariants, worked through all the ramifications of teleparallelism and energy-momentum tensors, rejected the Schwarzschild solution, the Reissner-Nordström solution and the Kerr metric, and come up with his own brilliant discovery: Hey, guys, we can do whatever we want!

So this is great, right? Whatever happened doesn’t have to happen! Except not so fast. Because in this episode, whatever had ever happened did manage to happen again. First we got a literal repeat of the opening scene of the season. It happened. Again.

Then we saw Daniel kneel down like an icky child molester man in front of baby Charlotte and repeat exactly the same lines she remembered him telling her, about never ever coming back to the Island.

Which she will take with her into adulthood and repeat to Daniel as she dies, because she will still only remember that a scary weirdo said them to her and she won’t remember that she died because of it. Until she’s actually dying of course.

Whatever happened, happened.

And Daniel’s lovely mother, who killed him in the past, will raise him up just so she can kill him again, endlessly, ad infinitum, in the same twisted Oedipal loop, over and over and over. Whatever happened, happened.

Now there was a little glitch in this predestined family Oresteia. Mama Eloise, knowing she’d killed her adult son, apparently, from what we can guess, took her child off the Island, and raised him in America. Now, one would think, if it’s Sophocles we’re copying here, that Mom would have tried very hard to outrun Fate, tried to cheat cruel Fate out of making her sacrifice her only begotten son. But no, if you thought that, you’d be wrong.

When she heard his gift for the piano she could have sent him to Conservatory and kept him as far from a Physics textbook as was humanly possible.

When she found out he could count metronome beats in his head like an Idiot Savante she could have marketed him as a sideshow freak and made enough money to keep him set for life.

Or she could have gone even further, and tried to have him raised by another, set him adrift in a basket like Moses and tried to protect him that way. Instead it seemed like she wanted her only child to fry his beautiful mind with Relativistic Physics until he couldn’t see straight. And then she wanted him to go back to Craphole Island so he could walk straight into the barrel of her gun.

Twice.

Eloise was convinced that whatever happened had to happen so she warped and twisted and forced her only child’s life into a living hell, just so she could be sure to make whatever happened, happen. I think these writers need to go re-read their Sophocles, because the whole idea of Greek tragedy was that no matter how hard one tried to escape an inevitable Fate, they got caught in its claws anyway. That’s the whole basis of catharsis. In this story, Mama wasn’t just accepting Fate, she was boosting it along and feeding it steroids. She even managed to hop inside Desmond’s head when his consciousness time travelled back to her ring shop, to make sure he went back to the Island to not push the button that would crash Flight 815 so her son would have to travel to the Island so she could kill him.

Maybe she figured if she was going to have to take out her only kid, at least she could see him go out in a blaze of academic glory.

I wonder if that’s why she gave him the name of a famous historic physicist rather than her own, or that of his mystery Dad. Poor Daniel, his whole life was an exercise in futility.

She wouldn’t let him have a girlfriend. She thought that her love inscriptions in a fancy notebook would be an acceptable substitute and might somehow make up for the fact that she spent his whole life fattening him up like a pig for the slaughter.

But Daniel showed her, didn’t he? He fried his brains, blew out his memory, and then he made his forbidden girlfriend into his forbidden test subject and sent her broken memory careening through whatever had ever happened, while she lay paralyzed, a vegetable unstuck in time for all eternity.

But none of this stopped Mom from marching along her predestined path. After all, she had warned him to stay away from girls.

When Daniel’s brain got smoked, she let him go live in the family home, where he was sitting, sobbing in front of the tv set at the sight of a sunken faux-Flight815, probably suffering from the pangs of precognition of his coming death. Or something.

There he was visited by two spirits – his father, the graverobber,

and his mother, the assasin.

Together these two true believing missionaries worked to convince their darling boy to take a trip to the Island they knew would become his tomb. Did they want to be sure he prevented whatever happened from happening or that he made sure whatever happened happened, which by the way, would have happened without them being such noodges, but …uh, whatever. It happened.

Somewhere along the way, we know not where, Daniel discovered that Desmond Hume was his Constant. Maybe that happened when Future Desmond came to his Oxford lab and gave him the proper variables to make his equation work so that he could send his beloved mouse Eloise on the time trip that would sizzle her brains and kill her.

We don’t really know how that led to Daniel realizing Desmond was his Constant. Heck, we don’t even know what it means that Desmond was Daniel’s Constant. And, uh, looks like we’re not going to find out now.

In any case, at some point, Daniel’s memory returned. When he first got to the Island, it wasn’t working too well.

But by the time Ben pushed the Dharma Wheel, it seemed to have returned and he was giving seminars to the left behind group about all the intricacies of time travel. Which all boiled down to one hard and fast rule – Whatever Happened, Happened. Now we do remember that, as soon as Daniel delivered this message, he knocked on the hatch door, met Hazmat Desmond and proceeded to try to make something different happen.

But my understanding was that, once he did that, then that chain of events became the Whatever that always had Happened, and the rule remained true. But that would be wrong. Maybe.

When Daniel met Pierre Chang, he messed with his mind a little and sent him off fuming. Miles scolded him and Daniel responded that he was only trying to make sure that Chang did what he had to do. Which sounded a lot like what Mommy Dearest had been trying to do with him. So at that point Daniel was still trying to make whatever happened happen. Then he went to see his old friends – who seemed astonishingly not surprised to see him – and tried to get them to help him make whatever happened NOT happen.

That brought us to our stupid High School Musical moment of the week. Jack jumped on board with Daniel’s plan because he’s still looking for that pony under his bed…er, I mean that Destiny! they promised him he could have if he came back here.

Sawyer wanted his Freckles to come with him.

Which prompted Juliet to get her bitch on and give out the code to the fence,

probably hoping that Kate and her cute little freckles would fall into a wormhole someplace out there and disappear forever.

Kate took the hint and ran off with Jack Daniels, but first they stopped at one of the many convenient gun cabinets that this peaceful Dharma community keeps fully stocked and loaded at all times. Jack had the keys because you know, he’s been there three days, and Dharma security is so airtight that they hand out keys to their gun stash to all the janitors.

Guns were handed out like party hats, even to Daniel, whose brain was becoming refried by the minute. The only thing he was missing was a big KILL ME NOW sign on his jumpsuit.

There followed a hilarious cartoon gunfight that looked like a bunch of 8 year old boys playing in the backyard.

They should have just had them point their fingers and go POW! BANG!

You are so dead!

Then Jack and Kate and Daniel walked through the jungle towards the Others, swinging their guns, looking for whatever happened to happen. Daniel explained to Jack that he had a truly brilliant idea. Instead of letting a leak of electromagnetic energy to force the Swan hatch to be built as a containment unit that would need to have a button pushed every 108 minutes, he was going to find the hydrogen bomb he’d seen in 1954 and blow that up instead! Jack listened and nodded and thought that sounded good. This way Flight 815 would never crash. Of course, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin and everyone else on the freaking Island would probably be blown to kingdom come in a great big beautiful mushroom cloud. But, hey! Look at the bright side. At least their flight would never crash!

Jack should have stopped and consulted his Paradox manual because a doctor as brilliant as himself would have easily understood that what Daniel was proposing was impossible. If Flight 815 never crashed then Daniel would never have been sent to the Island on the freighter and would never be in any position to blow up the H-bomb to stop the Incident that eventually led to the plane crashing. We are talking Elementary Paradox Theory here. Daniel’s plan was doomed from the get go, because even if whatever happened never happened, what he wanted to make happen would have prevented him from ever being in a position to make it not happen. Come on!

Halfway through this episode, the 100th episode ever in a mostly glorious series, I came to the sad conclusion that this might just have been one of the dumbest episodes they ever wrote. It wasn’t just the writers who were dumb. It was also the characters. Did Juliet stop to think that sending Jack and Kate into Others territory might have some ramifications aside from keeping Freckles away from her Snookums?

Did the brilliant Dr. Burke not think of maybe giving crazy ass Phil a little sedative to keep him from thumping around in that closet like a big telltale heart?

How about this packing job they were doing on their way to go live in the wild? I get that Sawyer has become as soft and squishy as a bowl of tapioca, but how was he planning on getting all that crap down to the beach?

Was he planning on driving his Winnebago down there and hooking up to the utilities at the campsite? And Juliet was clearly planning on needing an elaborate wardrobe on this adventure.

I hope she remembered to pack her heels and a little black evening dress.

Back in the jungle, Jack and Kate were also showing a great deal of savvy.

First they let Daniel wander down into the camp waving a gun around like a big red flag – because that worked out so well during the gunfight at the truckshop corral.

Then, once he was down there, they watched from their vantage point as Eloise apparently crept up behind him and shot him in the back.

Way to be good lookouts! I guess the farce won’t be complete until next week, when I’m guessing they sit on their butts and wait to get captured. I mean, I know whatever happened has to happen, but can it happen only if all our characters get mind sucked?

?

With that in mind, it seems the 100th episode of Lost really did mark a milestone in our experience of this show. I do believe this was the moment when every last holdout, every fan who still bravely pretended to know what was going on, finally gave up the ghost and admitted defeat. And there’s probably no point right now in overthinking it. Let’s just all give up. We surrender!

Let’s not think of any of the consequences, for example, if Daniel is right about Flight 815 never crashing. Just kicking the Paradox Monster out the door for a minute, what would that mean? Well, it would mean that Desmond and Penny never reunited, which would mean that this touching moment never happened.

And this little boy would never exist.

Michael could go on to raise his video game playing son.

Sun could have divorced Jin and his 98 pound weakling sperm. Sorry about that, Ji Yeon.

Aaron could be raised by that nice couple in L.A. and Claire could go back to … whatever Claire did.

Hurley could continue on his merry way as an overstuffed, exuberant gajillionaire.

Boone and Shannon could have played their incestuous psychodrama out to its natural sordid conclusion.

Locke could stay in his chair, unmanned and unspecial.

Sawyer would never have to wear those hideous coveralls.

Kate could go to jail until all her freckles faded into wrinkles.

Jack’s hair could go back to never growing.

None of their triangular sex games would ever happen. Juliet would still be holding book club, Alex would be alive and Ben would die of a spinal tumor. In essence, the whole story we’ve seen would not have happened. And Jack was down with that. He was hopping right on board that Do-Over Wagon.

I’m curious though. If Daniel’s plan succeeds and Flight 815 never crashes, would Sawyer, Kate, Jack, Hurley, et. al. just disappear from 1977 Dharmalala or would they disappear off of Flight 815? When whatever happened doesn’t happen, which whatever doesn’t happen first? What’s the priority sequence here?

I tell you what. I’m not going to even bother thinking about it, until I see what they have up their sleeve. Even if we concede that it’s possible for human beings to be variables in the great equation of cause and effect, we don’t know which people are the independent variables and which the dependent variables. Once you change one value, a whole different cascade of results will ensue, changing the values of all the other variables in the equation, which in turn will cause a new chain of events in all the other related equations. Bu it’s not like this is science we’re dealing with here. Or mathematics. Or common sense. We’re in comic book territory, good and proper.

The consequences, however, could still be very serious and tragic. In any case they’re sure to be unpredictable.

“Or play the game
existence to the end
Of the beginning
Of the beginning….”
– The Beatles

From TVFrenzy:

  • Cecil

    Daniel told us “you can’t change the past” in the premiere… he told us “whatever happened, happened” in LaFleur… 🙂

    Great work as always.

  • meems

    I love Fishbiscuit’s ouevre!

    • meems

      Um, did I spell that right?

  • lulamae

    Daniel was simply wrong – a conclusion he realized in the last moment of his relentlessly, pitifully, excruciatingly tragic existence. Why does that make the whole episode dumb? I enjoy your recaps, but I completely disagree with you on this one.

    • Paulo Nikki

      I’m with lulamae.

      Fishbiscuit, your usually spot-on recaps have given us the sense of your infallibility, but you’ve COMPLETELY missed the mark on this one.

      Ep 5.14 was simply amazing. Perhaps the best episode of the season thus far. It did a few things you didn’t like, so you’ve shredded it without understanding it.

      For one thing, you’re making the assumption that Eloise’s motives are evil. Why would you not anticipate an upcoming reveal — something unavoidable that compels her to do what she’s doing? That’s much more in the true tradition of LOST. Things are never what they seem at first glance.

      More importantly, your whole complaint about “if Flight 815 never happens, then the Incident that causes the hatch to not (blah blah blah)” is simply wrong. You’re not thinking through the logic of it. If they could change things, everything would go on a different course. It’s not a question of these people dying, they simply wouldn’t exist anymore because the other reality would exist.

      This show has define the rule as “whatever happened, happened”, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that people in their position might believe they could change things. Just because the logic tells you that your actions will lead to an inevitable result doesn’t mean you wouldn’t try anyway. Daniel did. And he fell right into his own destiny.

      How is that not brilliant?

      • v andresen

        wouldn’t ellie remember daniel from either the other time she had the gun pointed at daniel or the 2nd time when she killed him?

  • horselover

    Question indirectly regarding changing things:

    When Daniel bangs on the Swan’s back door while mumbling “Please let this work” to himself, is this taking place post 815 crash? It seems Desmond is wearing Kelvin’s bio-hazard suit when he comes out, and it was strongly implied that Desmond was never outside the hatch once he arrived until the day he caused the crash. I’m really not sure though, so does anyone know?

    So, wouldn’t he definitely remember Daniel only a few weeks or months later? Even crazy Danielle recognized Jinn when he reappeared the day she shot Robert, even if she forgot in the ensuing sixteen years. I tend to prefer the consistency theory of time, but I think that is good evidence that the rules really don’t apply to Desmond.

    Might be Daniel never really believed that “whatever happened, happened” is a strict rule.

    • hyperRevue

      But if it was after Kelvin’s death, then Des wouldn’t be wearing the biohazard suit because it was just before he killed Kelvin that he learned the bioharzard suits weren’t necessary.

      • horselover

        Good point. I was thinking that it was Kelvin’s suit he was wearing so he must have died already, but you’re probably right.

  • mustangdru

    You’re a little too negative for my taste on this one, lighten up a little and enjoy the show. Just because the writers employ fun, into a show that is confusing and intelligent doesnt mean you have to rip the writers, characters and show that I love, when you aren’t understanding something. You have some great points, but it is ruined with all the junk you threw in there.

    • Manie

      Why does it bother you that people don’t worship the ground of every episode that airs? She’s giving legitimate reasons for her thoughts. Why should she hold back on her real feelings? Fanboys baffle me.

      • lulamae

        Not worshipping the episode is not the same as calling it “dumb.” And, mustangdru’s comment began with “for my taste.” I’m sure Fishbiscuit can take it when people disagree with her opinions.

        • mustangdru

          Thanks! Thats exactly true lulamae.

          I could say that the response to my original comment was dumb. But I wont. While I might disagree with that point of view, you shouldnt use the word “dumb” or a word like it. Any kind of valid point I have, or legitimate complaints, are immediately negated by calling something dumb, it is inappropriate and unprofessional, and ruins any positive things you may have said or any legitimate points you may have made.

    • lulamae

      well said.

  • nm_guy

    I thought the point of the episode was that when it comes to some things, like love, reason gets the boot. We want things to be different so desperately that we are willing to dismiss things that we know to be true. I thought it was extremely poignant; it’s so human to try despite the facts.

    My hope is that the kind of shocking cruelty shown to Daniel’s character in this episode will somehow be shown to have had some purpose. Because it’s sure starting to look as if everyone we know from the island has been put there by someone or another (usually one’s own parents) with no regard at all for what they may suffer as a result. In fact, the only way I could see it being OK ultimately is if each one of them is guiding his or her own destiny. Charlie finally chose his fate (sure it’s a paradox!); maybe we will find out that Daniel did too.

  • Jangras

    “Or play the game
    existence to the end
    Of the beginning
    Of the beginning….”

    A very elegant way to say FarAwell to our (mine for sure) super-beloved character, who first starred in ‘the beginning of the end’ epi (Bisc, you’re mind is kaleidoscopical…)

    Far and away.
    Tears for Dan the Man.

  • Adam

    Very interesting. Also I love the Beatles references. They need to have a character on lost that likes the beatles as much as i do!!

    • meems

      I think that might have been Charlie!

  • Well done, fish! The writing continues to get worse, doesn’t it? It is so painful that the characters have been destroyed for -this.- (to me, anyway)

    • neoloki

      No it doesn’t. Sorry you don’t get it.

  • Kevin

    I absolutely love Fishbiscuit’s reviews. She’s the only Lost reviewer out there to ever be critical of the show, and I think that’s great. I don’t think there’s anything inconsistent about being a huge fan of the show, while still casting a critical eye. Let’s face it: as good as the show still is, it is NOT what it used to be S1-S3. Character development has been completely abandoned. People are killed off with reckless abandon, and I feel nothing–unlike when Charlie died, and I was crushed about it.

    • Silvertouch

      Agreed. I still love the show, but I feel that the beautiful character of S1-3 went out the window for clever storytelling when TPTB got their end-date.

      • I feel they are rushed to get to the end game & not fact checking or delving into the characters like they used to. I miss the first 3 seasons!

        • Uncle Beaver

          It does feel a little rushed, to me. However, because of the GREAT character development in the first 3 seasons, we REALLY, REALLY care about these characters. Of course, I don’t know how they’re gonna end the series, and I would sure like to know more about ALPERT, WIDMORE, HAWKING, CHANG, RADZINKY, SMOKEY, & even BEN, but, it seems like there isn’t enough time in the remaining 20 hours of material they have planned. There are SO MANY characters, stories, connections and unanswered questions… I hope it doesn’t all get too rushed.

          Having said that, I kind of felt the same last season, and that season ended up being KICK-ASS.

          No matter what we complain about, though, I DOUBT there will ever be a TV show as complex, intricate, mysterious, and cool as LOST.

        • neoloki

          You mean the great character development of learning the meaning of jacks tattoos or nicki and paulo or the endless boredom that was a shanon and boone flashback. Yeah those were the days.

          • Michel

            Wow, get yourself a Cherrypicking Diploma and hang it on the wall. Hopefully, people will be too impressed looking at it and will forget about great character-developing episodes like All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues, Enter 7-7, etc.

          • neoloki

            I am a Chef so yeah I pick cherries, a lot of cherries. But hey you are right about some eps. in season 3. I felt the whole back end was fantastic. The season as a whole was wildly inconsistent.

    • Sarah

      you feel nothing? I was utterly crushed to see Daniel shot like that! And left physically shaking for a good while after the episode…

  • RodimusBen

    Agreed on most of your points, FishBiscuit. Although I think the real disappointment is not that they have thrown their rulebook out the window– I actually think they haven’t, and that everything from now to the finale will just be about proving that whatever happened, happened– but that it’s now more obvious than ever that this entire Dharma ark has just been about treading water to get to season 6. This episode is the worst example of it. We were literally watching a character try to do something we knew was impossible, so the outcome was predictable and there was no suspense whatsoever.

    • Paulo Nikki

      In about season 3, I started to question the quality of the writing of this. I’ve come to see over time that the writers are excellent, and even if they don’t go into it knowing what they’re doing (we’ll never know one way or the other), they always manage to create something compelling that ties up loose ends. Watch this episode again. It’s a beautifully tragic arc, and a clear example of the battle of Free Will vs. Destiny. Even if you know Destiny can’t be changed, wouldn’t you try? You people have so thoroughly misunderstood this episode, it amazes me.

  • Mason

    So I’m pretty sure that by the end of this season you will actually enjoy this episode. I think you are looking at it all wrong. Dan was wrong about being able to change anything. Well, he was right at first but now whatever happened to make the incident is just gonna go right on ahead and happen again THANKS TO THE LOSTIES! Also I’m completely convinced that the reason Eloise HAD to let Dan die is because something will happen and if it doesn’t happen that same way then the world will end or something like that. So I believe that in killing her own son she will be saving everyone else. Give it time.

  • methosrocks

    The Beatles’s song referenced at the beginning and end is perfect. I don’t know how you think of these things, but I’m always impressed by the references and quotes you come up with.

    Excellent recap on what I thought was not one of their better episodes. I thought Daniel and their 100th deserved better. I also felt as though all the characters were somewhat dumbed down in this episode, and that’s a writing strategy that annoys me more than any other. The whole business of taking guns with them, the ridiculous shoot out at the motor pool and then Daniel walking into the Others’ compound and threatening Richard at gun point – that all seemed absurdly contrived to me.

    I think nm_guy made a good point about love causing us to throw out reason and adopt beliefs that go counter to what we know logically. That definitely seems to describe Daniel in this episode, so desperate to find a way to save Charlotte. It contrasts powerfully with the way his own mother behaved. If I’d been her, I have done everything humanly possible to keep him away from physics. Instead, she sent him right into the path of that bullet, making no effort to save him. How very tragic that he had time to understand that before dying.

  • richie

    i have to agree with some of these, although i always read and enjoy most of these recaps, this one (and some others tbh) just seem negative to me. sorry!
    i thought “the variable” was genius, just what ive been waiting for, i totally loved it, and i totally love the way this is coming together, brilliant, bravo!!!!!!!!!!
    thats just me though.

  • Cutter XXIII

    Excellent column, Fisbiscuit. I look forward to your recap each week.

    One gripe.

    “We don’t really know how that led to Daniel realizing Desmond was his Constant. Heck, we don’t even know what it means that Desmond was Daniel’s Constant. And, uh, looks like we’re not going to find out now.”

    I see this a lot. I think it’s simpler than everyone is making it out to be.

    In “The Constant,” the whole process by which Desmond, with Daniel’s help, finds his constant…is also the process by which Daniel establishes a contact with Desmond in his past, and in his present, thus healing his shattered memory.

    Desmond was his constant. It was a further explanation of what happened in that episode–another layer of narrative–not some enigma to be explained later.

    Anyway, great column!

    • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

      I completely and resolutely disagree… Was Daniel facing death by nosebleed because his mind was jumping? NO. Did they establish any sort of affliction even remotely similar to Desmond’s affecting Daniel throughout his time on the island? NO. Was Desmond Hume’s short-term memory completely effed (Like Daniel’s was) while flashing consciousness? NO. So how is that further explanation of what is happening in the episode ‘the Constant’?

      • Michel

        Daniel was suffering of different, maybe lesser symptoms, that can’t be argued. But that doesn’t mean it’s the same affliection. The irrefutable proof is Theresa. Theresa had exactly a harming exposure to the same source of electromagnetic radiation Daniel exposed himself too…. and she ended up like Desmond, conscious-traveling all the time, prostrated in bed like Minkowski. I believe this is enough evidence to see that their afflictions were similar. And I have to point that Desmond may have had indeed a sort of memory loss…. when the Oxford secretary asked him when did he visit Faraday and he couldn’t remember. Every fan out there can remember it was in 1996, but he said it was funny he couldn’t remember. If that’s not a clue, I don’t know what is

    • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

      Furthermore… Even if it wasn’t ever explicitly stated, I think we can assume that Desmond experienced the flashes because of his extreme exposure to the radiation and electro-magnetism in the Swan. Sayid was on Desmond’s sailboat along with Jin and Sun… and Jack Kate Hurley and Sawyer were on the dock at Pala Ferry with the Others and Michael and Walt when Desmond turned the failsafe key and the sky turned purple. Desmond had been in the swan for 3 years and turned the key. So when he crossed through the barrier surrounding the island the flashes began. Now… in that episode Daniel informs Desmond that he too is being exposed to radiation and electro-magnetism 20 times a day by doing his experiments… So if that exposure were great enough, when he crossed the barrier along with Miles, Naomi, Charlotte and Frank he too would be experiencing the effects of mind-flashing, no? That is what you are implying isn’t it? But you don’t stop there…. Oh no… you are attributing Daniel’s short-term memory incapabilities to mind-flashing (the Desmond Hume/Minkowski syndrome) so per your “simple” explanation Daniel would be flashing from the time he’s watching news footage of the wreckage of 815 all the way to that point in “the Constant.” Yet he has none of the symptoms of the Desmond Hume/Minkowski syndrome. He is NOT conking out like a narcoleptic blackout drunk every so often smashing his head on faucets and bannisters… He is NOT bleeding from the nose… And by the time ‘the Constant’ takes place he is NOT dead! So tell me this simple explanation we all lack the dizzying intellect to grasp again?

      • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

        I apologize… I was running down everyone’s proximity to the Swan when the fail-safe key was turned in order to posit that the oceanic six (minus Aaron) were far removed from said event and thusly did not experience the flashes (not when Jin traveled to the freighter or when Michael left the island or returned on the freighter or when Sayid traveled to the freighter or when they all got on the Helichopter….)

  • brent

    Ok, this bothered me when I watched “The Variable.” The first paragraph below is Daniel talking to Charlotte in “The Variable.” The second paragraph is Charlotte talking to Daniel as she’s dying in “This Place Is Death.”

    FARADAY: Yeah? Hopefully really soon, Dr. Chang is gonna ask a bunch of people to get on the submarine and leave the Island. [Voice breaks] When he does, you and your mommy… you’re gonna have to leave. In case what I do doesn’t work, you cannot be here. You have to leave. [Cries] I tried to avoid telling you this. I didn’t think I could change things. But maybe I can.

    CHARLOTTE: Because I remember something now. When I was little, living here, there was this man… a crazy man, he really scared me. And he told me that I had to leave the island and never ever come back. He told me that if I came back I would die.

    Notice anything wrong? Why does Charlotte remember additional information than she was actually told? Daniel never said she couldn’t come back. He never said she would die if she did come back. So what the hey is going on? I understand that Charlotte was going a little crazy at death’s door but it still struck me as odd. I was waiting for those words when Daniel walked over to her but he never said them. But they did throw the chocolate line at us. I’m sure it’s nothing but it seems careless to change that scene. It was not “exact” as fishbiscuit said.

    • Mel

      I thought that was peculiar too. I also thought it peculiar that Daniel told Chang he needed to evacuate “every man, woman and child” from the island. Why not just say “everyone?”

      Perhaps Daniel’s true destiny was never to prevent the incident, but only to instigate the evacuation? What if the only way to really convince Chang to evacuate the island is for him to hear it again from dead Daniel, via his son Miles? If every “child” isn’t evacuated from the Island, then Baby Charlotte (and perhaps Baby Daniel?) would die in the incident. It’s the exact opposite of the “grandfather paradox.” You can’t create a paradox by going back in time to kill your younger self, but you also can’t create a paradox by not going back in time to save your younger self (if you’re the only one who can do so)?

    • Dan

      They cut the scene off in mid-conversation. It’s pretty much implied that he went on to say the rest to her.

      • dolce

        Agee.

        • brent

          Fair enough… I just wanted to see the important part of the conversation, not just have it implied. It’s an odd choice.

  • iamme

    I agree with FB’s recap. I did not enjoy this episode in the least. I didn’t even feel compelled to come online afterwards and discuss it. Granted I do think it is partly my fault, I set myself up to expect Lost’s 100th episode to blow me away. So I shouldn’t feel disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations.

    RodimusBen – “I actually think they haven’t, and that everything from now to the finale will just be about proving that whatever happened, happened– but that it’s now more obvious than ever that this entire Dharma ark has just been about treading water to get to season 6.”

    I really agree with you here. I thought the Dharma arc would be interesting at first, but now I just see it as a gigantic waste of time, that could have been dealt with in two episodes MAX. Because it just seems that every epi they are repeating the same things over and over again when the only real important things that happened is the shooting of little Ben by Sayid, and the Incident which is soon to occur.

    MethosRocks, ITA with everything you said.

    • Henry Holland

      What bugs me about how they’ve handled DHARMA this season is twofold: there’s no suspense involving that plotline because we know what’s going to happen already: the Incident > The Purge etc. We should have been seeing this stuff in season 2, instead of being told about it in detail and THEN seeing it on screen.

      The other factor is that, if you look at the blast door map, there’s a ton of really cool stuff that the DI was involved in: changing the weather, for one; animal genetics research so that polar bears can live in tropical climates etc. Instead, we get a lame joke about polar bear poop. We still haven’t met the DeGroots yet, they surely can’t let that slide. Are they just going to crawl through the DI stuff in season 6 just to get to The Purge near the end? I sure hope not.

      • Uncle Beaver

        The Dharma Initiative story in this season has been a tremendous let-down. You’re right, there is so much mythology, so much about Dharma life, what the DI is doing there, their relationship with the Hostiles, etc. I was expecting MORE from the writers about The DI.

        Season 2 was my favorite partly, because of the first 3 episodes. How they led up to what the Hatch was, and gave more hints about Dharma (mostly the Hatch) as the season progressed. Which culminated in an awesome season finally, but left us wanting to know more about Dharma. Shit, they could make a spin-off TV show just about Dharma. There could have been a lot more turmoil, fear, and dramatic situations that our characters could have gotten into instead of just a few episodes that leaped us forward 3 years…

        I DO LOVE THE SHOW, but I am disappointed about this.

        • Paulo Nikki

          This is a legitimate complaint, and I have to agree with it. I think the overall Season 5 arc could’ve incorporated a lot more of the rich DI mythology. But if you listen to the official LOST postcast, Damon recently referred to Season 6 as the “season of answers”, so I suspect we’ll have plenty of joy next year.

  • Bookhouse Boy

    I’m definitely enjoying the Locke/Ben/Sun/llana 2008 storyline better than the 70s Dharma stuff…

  • nomteticus

    Brilliant article, Fishbiscuit!
    Loved the sarcastic overuse of the ‘WHH’ clichee to point out this episode’s flaws.
    I liked the episode, it was very entertaining, but from a story consistency point of view it falls flat. And what’s disarming is the fact that Damon and Carlton called it the best episode of the season.
    Great work! They should really hire you to avoid making stupid mistakes like that.

  • Jack

    I just dont get THIS:

    If 815 never crashes, why wouldn´t Widmore send the freighter with Daniel in it to the island????
    Widmore is looking for the island and BEN LYNUS, he´d still send the freighter, right?? Why not???

    Thanx

    • Kevin JJ

      The Discharge is what caused Widmore to find the Island I’m gathering, just like Penelope initially.

  • nomteticus

    Well, Jack, he wouldn’t send the freighter because he can’t find the island. Locke made the hatch implode, making the island visible, therefore Widmore could find it. The 815 crew are THE VARIABLE. But it’s too late to change anything and Faraday acts really stupid this episode not to realise some basic facts.

    Thank you, Fishbiscuit, for this great paragraph:

    “Wow. And it only took a lifetime of studying relativistic physics for him to come up with this. He had carefully considered the pseudo-Reimemannian metrics and Lorentz invariants, worked through all the ramifications of teleparallelism and energy-momentum tensors, rejected the Schwarzschild solution, the Reissner-Nordström solution and the Kerr metric, and come up with his own brilliant discovery: Hey, guys, we can do whatever we want!”

    • Jack

      That does make sense, thanks!

      I agree they were acting quite stupid in the episode, but lets hope it makes “sense” after the next few episodes!

  • Andrew

    Love your recaps, agree that there’s been some disappointment this season – not just this episode.

    I had almost forgotten that “Desmond is my constant” could now not be addressed – unless that’s the point, and it will be.

    Just wild speculation and no clear idea on how it could possibly make any difference, but who knows where in his notebook it said that? Maybe the notebook isn’t even in any kind of chronological order? Maybe it’s something like all that business with the compass?

    My main point is it said “If anything goes wrong”. This could refer to the crazy experiments he was about to undertake, the poison gas shutoff mission, or the fact that he was coming to the island at all, but maybe it means that Daniel has a plan, and if whatever happens includes him dying, he has a way to make it unhappen. Or not happen. Or something.

    I also think it’s possible that the Desmond/Penny/Hawking hospital side story was included may be significant. I get that Hawking was important to the episode, but why do we need to even see Desmond if he’s not doing anything but recovering from a gunshot wound?

    And finally, I think it would bring a nice circularity to the storytelling that has been lacking a bit from this season. Desmond, though unable to save Charlie in season 3, gets a chance to save Daniel this season.

    This may all just be wishful thinking, but maybe there’s something to it. Thoughts?

  • joe blow

    i couldnt disagree more with your assessment of this episode. i thought it was an A+ episode with a twist more gut wrenching than almost anything else we’ve ever seen on the show.

    and it all makes perfect sense. the variable is the illusion of free will. like sayid, who believed that his purpose was to exercise free will and change the future by killing ben. but his free will was illusory, and he was merely fulfilling a predetermined destiny by shooting ben.

    dan fell prey to the same thinking. fate is like quicksand, the more you struggle, the deeper you sink into it. trying to change the future winds up causing the event you sought to change.

    i am completely baffled that any lost fan would call this episode stupid. it was perhaps the best of season 5.

    • richie

      i concur!

    • RodimusBen

      You may have put your finger on the thematic gist of the episode, but that doesn’t make it a good episode. In your own statement you said that Sayid had believed he could change the future by shooting Ben, only to be proven wrong when the very shooting set forth a chain of events that made Ben into who he was. Why, then, do we need to see this principle enacted again with Faraday? It’s redundant– a stalling tactic. I’m also frankly tired of arbitrary deaths, and I don’t like how they’ve ruined all the mysticism of Eloise’s character, and frankly managed to make her completely unlikable in one episode.

      So please don’t use the “any Lost fan” line. It’s denigrating to the variety of opinions that exists among the diverse LOST fan community.

      • Paulo Nikki

        Faraday’s storyline is redundant because we saw Sayid’s futile act of free will against destiny? That’s absurd. Daniel never saw Sayid shoot Ben, so why is it unreasonable for him to make the same assumption? If you’re suggesting that it doesn’t expand the story from a narrative point of view, you’re missing the Eloise connection. These are strands of a fabric being woven together. I think this episode’s detractors are underestimating the fact that we don’t yet know Eloise’s motive. When we know her motive, this episode (like many others) will be vindicated in retrospect. I agree with Joe Blow on this one: A+ and gut wrenching Faraday death scene.

  • SpectreNUT

    the author of this article is over thinking way too much on this. just enjoy the ride as only 18 more episodes will ever eixist on this series.

    and as far as “not knowing what it means to be a constant”, that question was answered last season, by Twitchy.

    He explained that the mind cannot take all the time jumping around because it cannot tell the past from present. the mind needs a “constant”, or someone that the “time-jumper” knows from both time periods that the jumper keeps leaping into. thus, Faraday, knowing that Desmond was a time-jumper, and knew that his future destiny lay in meeting Desmond again on an island, used Desmond as a constant, “should anything happen”.

  • DM

    Ew. I absolutely do not agree with anything in this recap. I would go as far as saying FB was trying really hard to ignore what was obviously happening in the episode– so much that it’s sad she discusses the formula for the Greek tragedy, but does not see it in Daniel’s end. The episode is about a character trying to make changes not knowing his efforts change nothing and result in his death. That’s pretty tragic.

    The episode built hope with a few characters that things can change, but we learn that they won’t. There is a huge matter of knowledge and perspective, that the characters are keen to certain bits of information, but they still do not have the whole picture. They are the forces have created the misery in their lives.

    The whole things about actions happening for eternity and “over and over” is kind of dense. These events only happen once. There isn’t a “loop” or whatever everyone seems to believe. Again, it’s a matter of perspective– Hawking experiences it and has knowledge of it before Daniel. Daniel’s acquisition of this knowledge is simultaneous with Hawking’s original experience. The only difference is the perception of where it happens in time.

    The paragraph referencing physicists is an example of why I don’t trust FB as a writer.

    “Ben would die of a spinal tumor.” This makes no sense. Ben’s tumor was a matter of the Island’s displeasure. Considering some actors on the Island have knowledge of the future, we can easily assume the tumor is an event that prompts Ben to enlist Jack. Would Ben even have the tumor in the first place? Would he even be alive after the detonation of the bomb? I can’t even readily believe Juliet would be on the Island or that any of the characters would even be on the plane in the first place.

    I don’t see this review as critical– more an exhibition of belligerent ignorance. I honestly do not believe she understands what she is writing.

    • nomteticus

      I think you don’t understand what she is writing. I understand perfectly. Some of us were expecting more from Faraday, rather than the common sense bullshit – “we have free will, we are the variables”. I mean, do you need to be a scientist to formulate such a hypothesis? And how does that tie to his research? Did he just think of it one day while sitting on the Dharma toilet? He doesn’t seem to have any scientific ground for a paradigm shift. First he said that it doesn’t matter what people do, WHH, and now he’s saying is does matter, because he forgot people are variables. COME ON! That’s so lame. A disgrace to physicists worldwide.

      Him of all people should realise the paradox: he cannot change things because if he did, he never would have had the opportunity to come to the island in 2004 to change them. He was acting stupid, and I mean Bush stupid, just like Jack, Kate and all of them.

      Unless the writers have something up their sleeve. I’m waiting for the next episodes to decide.

      Excellent review, Fishbiscuit! Better than Doc Jensen’s (who, btw, also found the variable reveal to be lame)

      • DM

        Naw, I understand what she is saying. It’s brutish and ignores that these characters are supposed to be human: flawed and limited. They may be acting stupid to us, because we have information they do not. They are acting within their understanding of the situation.

        Like I have said earlier, all of you are ignoring the giant why that lingers over the episode.

        • Paulo Nikki

          Agree with DM 100%. And nomteticus, just because a physicist understands the equation does not mean he wouldn’t completely changed his thinking if he found himself INSIDE the situation, looking at his own hands, and realizing that he can do anything he wants. Why would he NOT assume he could change things?

          If someone told YOU you couldn’t change the future, would you really just sit back and do nothing? I believe at some point you would think, “Wait, look at me, I have free will, I can move things around. I can change this.”

          FB was off the mark and it will become clear later. Two things LOST deserves are trust and patience.

  • DM

    “it’s a matter of perspective– Hawking experiences it and has knowledge of it before Daniel. ”

    I should refine this a little– Hawking experiences these events and has knowledge before Daniel is born (he exists in time before his birth). She carries this knowledge throughout his life, but they still experience the event simultaneously.

    • dp2

      Maybe. While we know he got he degrees young, I have a hard time believing he was less than 19 years old when Desmond met him at Oxford in 1996.

    • stweedle

      Let me preface everything I’m about to say with I don’t disagree or agree with you, I just don’t get it.

      OK, going along with your line of thinking, you say, “Hawking experiences these events and has knowledge before Daniel is born (he exists in time before his birth). She carries this knowledge throughout his life, but they still experience the event simultaneously.” seems a contridiction to me. You say Hawking experiences the events before Daniels is born, going on to say they experience this simutaneously. Huh? That’s why I hated when the show turned towards time travel, to sticky.

      Another question is when Daniel says to Hawking you knew this, you knew it all along, doesn’t that imply that this had happened before? Ahhh its all to confusing.

      Oh and another thing lighten up on FB. Belligerent ignorance? Harsh man, harsh.

      • richie

        what is all the fuss about?? so eloise shoots a guy in the back and finds out its her son, in 1977, then grows up and has daniel knowing in the future he will one day go to the island, and end up in 1977, where she will shoot him. she knows she has too, that even if she tries to stop the universe will course correct, do i need to go on?
        and i have to aggree with dm, this recap just missed the point entirely. id like them if they didnt seem to be written by someone who seems annoyed the show isnt going the way they want.
        isnt this a fan site? critisism is fine but if you plain dont like it…….dont recap it.

  • bonosk

    A good, fair assessment of the episode. I especially didn’t care for the erratic behavior of Daniel, especially since up to this point he’d been a rational, thoughtful person, a scientist. Maybe Charlotte’s death did a lot of damage to his psyche.

    Regarding the possibility of the timeline being reset, and 815 not crashing…that would be a huge disservice to the show and, more importantly, the characters. Essentially, all the growth they’ve experienced would be canceled, and the show would have no meaning. I’m thinking of the end of “Donnie Darko.” I realize that it was a parallel universe, and although Donnie’s ultimate choice was courageous, the idea of so many experiences being lost and characters being “reset” is difficult to accept in storytelling.

    • The montage at the end of Donnie Darko suggested that many of the characters retained some impression of what had transpired in the other timeline. Perhaps that is where Lost is ultimately going. Even if Flight 815 never crashes, the characters will retain their experiences in order to start over with better lives.

  • sk8rpro

    Perhaps the reason for the flaws in the characters’ logic is that this is Lost! Yes, I’m a die-hard fan like most of you here, and am still willing to admit there are logical problems with the characters thought processes. However, I would like to argue that Dan and Jack are staying true to their character.

    I would expect Daniel, the science geek, to come with this flawed logic – why? Human nature. He wants to prevent things from happening – such as Charlotte from ever dying. If I were a scientist in time travel, and I had cares for a woman – should anything tragic happen to her, would I think rationally, or would I direct my reason toward my feelings? In fact, many times people in their own fields of study would love to argue what they are doing/thinking is sound, logical, and objective. I can speak that from experience by having an educational background.

    What about Jack? Now Fishbiscuit, we know that you dislike Jack. But his character is to try and fix things – what’s wrong with that? Whether he plays his role or stands back to do nothing, you will always criticize him – while I don’t think it’s fair that you are unconditionally biased against Jack, nonetheless you have your emotional reason; you think Sawyer is nothing but great.

    But Jack in this episode, I will argue, is consistent with his character – he wants to fix things. While he might still believe in destiny he wants to prevent the deaths of the passengers of Flight 815. Remember all the way back in the Pilot when he wanted to be the hero? He did everything he could to save lives of the remaining passengers, and not many now remain alive from Flight 815. All we know who have survived are Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Jin, Vincent, Walt (and Aaron, if you count him as a passenger while in Claire’s womb). Any of the background characters we’ve seen in the past are now dead.

    Since Jack education was in spinal surgery, we shouldn’t expect him to be an expert in the science of time travel. Even if he “should” know the basic rules of time travel paradox, pure logic should not be expected because he is living in the world of Lost, where everything is fast-paced. Jack is staying true to his character, wouldn’t you want to save the lives of everyone?

    I can agree with you on one thing, Fishbiscuit – saving the lives of many would not prevent trouble. Instead, it would open a Pandora’s Box of different problems.

    • Zonker

      Whether this episode is a winner or loser will completely depend upon how the writers craft the remaining 3 hours this season:

      – I agree with FB’s critics that she’s off the mark in complaining about the lack of tragedy in Eloise’s choices. It is Daniel who is the tragic figure here.

      – Also, I’m willing to cut Jack & Kate some slack for failing to protect Daniel from his lunacy– and I think he is quite insane at this point in the story– because Daniel raced in to the Hostiles’ camp without giving his backup a chance to secure the area.

      – Likewise, I’m willing to forgive the writers for taking a short-cut to explaining why Kate & Jack are following Twitchy’s apparently mad plans: It is not only the 815 crash they are trying to prevent (a crash that has been pointed out for the survivors actually improved their lives in many ways), but also the fact that the destiny awaiting the inhabitants of Dharmaville is the Purge a decade or so in the future. Also, as Jack mentions to Kate– what they are each looking for will be found on the island in 2007, not 1997, and Daniel and his mother seem to be their best available guides to re-navigate through the time travel maze to get to where they need to be.

      – The whole Dharma narrative is the writers playing with us on the Whatever Happened, Happened theme. Up until now, they’ve consistently come down on the side of pre-destination, with an ironic/tragic fate awaiting those who think they can exercise free will. But a change is coming: Eloise said this week that for the first time, she doesn’t know what will happen next. I’m betting the season ender will be an apparent repudiation of Whatever Happened, Happened (Jughead?) and we’ll spend the next 7 months again puzzling out how the heck the writers will write themselves out of the corner they’ve left themselves in!

      • brent

        Bullseye, Zonker.

        Everyone has been focused lately on what will happen in 1977. But we need to have a mirror in the finale with what’s happening in 2007. What will Locke and Ben do to help those stuck 30 years ago? It has to come together – a bridge has to be made. Maybe two people pushing the wheel “simultaneously?” Ageless wonder Richard doing something in both time zones?

        In order to build up for season 6, you have to tear down what we know from season 5. Don’t think for a second that the most surprising thing from the finale will be that it’s completely unsurprising. I expect to be written into a corner that I can’t fathom getting out of elegantly.

  • Darbi

    That cartoonish gun fight was about as ridiculous as throwing Phil in the closet and not sedating him since Juliet has apparently returned to full duty as a doctor. The past two episodes, IMO, have defied logic on a basic level. I get we’re dicking around with time travel and some other general weird stuff, but the lack of logic coming from the characters to get from one plot point to another is disconcerting. For the 100th episode of the series, I expected the entire cast would be featured, and above my general disappointment in this particular episode, that bothered me the most. Like you, I think it’s best just to turn off the brain and not think about things too much if I want to fully enjoy the rest of the series. The feeling of constant reconning is starting to permeate the writing, and I’d like to manage to ignore that since it’s obviously not about to change. Anyways, enjoyed your review.

  • dp2

    I think you jumped the gun on this rant.

  • I think you hit it on the nose in describing (quite humorously) the problems with this episode. And the cartoon gunfight was pretty hilarious. 🙂

  • TDV

    I really appreciate Fishbiscuit’s recaps. She doesn’t pull punches. The first 3 seasons of Lost compelled me to constantly try to solve the puzzles, and entertained me all week long between episodes as we all worked together to come up with answers. It felt like we were working towards something truly profound. And I felt like the writers were playing fair – the answers were there in the episodes and we just needed to connect the right dots. And Darlton went way out of their way to let us know that they knew all about where they were going and how they were going to get there.

    That’s just not what this show is anymore. I still enjoy watching, generally, but each time I’m lured into thinking about it and delving into the philosophies or trying to “figure it out” (whatever “it” is) I remember that its not something profound, its a tv show. So, I’ve kinda accepted that the intrigue of mystery solving is gone.

    Beyond that, I think it really stinks that they’ve made the D.I. so ridiculous. I mean, I get that they are silly hippies with VW buses. But the people we saw in the flashbacks were a hell of a lot cooler than what we’ve been shown in season 5. Of course, we seem to be in the beginning phases of the Dharma Initiative’s presence on the island. So maybe they will become cooler. Also, I never got the impression that Horace was the leader of Dharma on the island. He seemed like somebody important, but not the boss.

    Also, is it even possible for me to think of Jack as kind of leader or a person that can be leaned on ever again?

    And, can we have an episode or two where we don’t have a fake death at the end. They can only pull that crud so many times in a row before I stop believing. Course, maybe thats what the want so I can be totally crushed when they kill Juliet off in the finale (just a guess there).

    All that said, Lost still provides me a lot of entertainment. I’ll be sad when its gone.

  • DM

    Hawking and Daniel both experience this event in 1977.

    There isn’t a 1977 in which this didn’t happen. Daniel may be a new comer in terms of age, but this existence precedes his birth.

    1977 always happens first in time (objectively, if we were to look at this as historians), but, like us, Daniel experience is perceived from a different perspective.

    I don’t think the gun-fight was any more cartoonish than any other gun fight in this show. In fact, it makes sense: Kate and Jack are not trained in small arms tactics. If they are shooting blindly and without precision simply because they are people thrown into a situation in which they need guns to survive– even if they have no formal training. This was less ridiculous than Sawyer’s gun fight in s4, which, if I remember correctly, FB painted as an ultra display of heroism.

    I understand this season is a blow to FB’s Sawyer fantasy. I don’t find these reviews helpful or insightful because they are incredulous (let’s refer back to listing physicists as a fraudulent display of authority: great, you gave us name, but what about them?) and arbitrary. I like Sawyer just as much as anyone else, but my viewing of the show does not require his character to be who I want him to be.

    For those saying you have to turn-off your brain to enjoy this episode– I do not agree. I think people really aren’t trying hard enough to grasp what was viewed.

    • MoniquE

      I actually remember FB’s review of Sawyer running through the bullets and she mocked that as well, saying he was made of kevlar and laughing at how silly it was. You sound like one of those pompous bashers who used to whine about every FB review over at DarkUFO. Why are you even reading if you’ve made up your mind to hate these reviews?

      Your tone is very pompous but I’m sorry to tell you that you aren’t making any sense. The time travel stuff is inherently silly and I enjoy reading a reviewer who doesn’t act like Lost requires some kind of worship in order to enjoy it. It’s too bad there’s no hiding from the pompous types who think they’re making intelligent commentary by putting others down.

  • ghanima

    While I’m not quite as frustrated with this episode as FB- I totally empathize with the frustrating turn Faraday’s character took in his last episode. If Daniel was going to die, I wanted it to be while he was being is twitchy-but-brilliant self. Instead, waving a gun around the other’s camp- it was one of the most easily avoidable deaths ever. They could have changed that little bit so he didn’t die looking like an idiot.

    Love the review otherwise- especially the bit about LaFleur (I’m still waiting for Sawyer to show up) and Juliet packing for the beach condo.

  • DM

    “It’s too bad there’s no hiding from the pompous types who think they’re making intelligent commentary by putting others down.”

    Isn’t this the basis of FB reviews?

    The time travel stuff makes perfect sense. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    • MoniquE

      No, DM the reviews are fun and full of all kinds of stuff, and vary a lot from week to week. You seem really familiar with them so you should know that. Do you just miss bashing them over at DarkUFO?

      And no the time travel doesn’t make perfect sense. It’s full of holes and it’s a silly fictional idea in the first place. We’re allowed to laugh and have fun with it. It’s not real. It’s just for fun.

      • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

        Forgive them father, they know not what they do….

  • MrClever

    Did anyone else get the sense that Libby was supposed to be Theresa? What I mean is, while Libby is not supposed to be addressed anymore, she was doing the same things that Theresa is now or could be doing behind the scenes. Perhaps they just had a hard time shoehorning Libby into what Theresa’s role would be.
    My thoughts, anyway.

  • DM

    So what are the holes again? It’s pretty straight forward. It’s a fascinating take on a fictional idea– you know, what if?

    I don’t really think these reviews are clever or fun. And pop-culture riffing is tiresome.

  • Mel

    How clever and insightful it is to list all the things that would be paradoxical about a paradox.

  • DM

    Instead of talking about a man who embraced a paradoxical scheme out of desperation? There is a giant “why” lingering over this problem, and this review goes to great lengths to avoid really looking at the question. We all know Faraday’s plan to beat destiny is ridiculous. You have to ask if he is a reliable narrator. How does this influence characters who have less knowledge? Consider this: Jack and pals have had about three days to consider their situation and the rules of time travel. Their actions are going to be influenced by crappy assumptions, bias, and a lack of information.

    What happens if Faraday is wrong? That’s where I see the set-up for the remainder of the season.

  • Erikire

    “Halfway through this episode, the 100th episode ever in a mostly glorious series, I came to the sad conclusion that this might just have been one of the dumbest episodes they ever wrote. It wasn’t just the writers who were dumb. It was also the characters”

    YOU’RE SO RIGHT!
    And Clever & Funny!

    If we consider a multiple-realities universe, there’s no problem with paradoxes… Wiiiiii!

  • (This is long and I apologize, as often happens this comment got a lot longer than I initially intended. All that I ask is that if you are going to comment that you please read the whole thing. Thank you.)

    I will join the “disappointed in FB’s review” camp. Generally I’m against any kind of “Monday Morning Quarterback” approach to Lost episodes because a season of Lost in and of itself tells a distinct story and I don’t think it is fair or wise to review or critique the parts without first seeing the whole.

    That said I’ve always enjoyed FB’s stuff, even the critical bits, because they’ve always seemed to me to be an evenhanded intelligent and well thought out view on 48 minutes of television’s most challenging show. This review lacked a lot of the grace in language that the critical quality of alot of FB’s other posts and it came off sounding really petty to me.

    There are a few complaint archetypes that I loathe to hear and this review contained one of them: The characters “acting stupid”. People bring this up like this is a new thing or they say “they always have acted unrealistically but now it’s even worse!”. Really? These characters have in the past: Asked no questions of importance to characters who would know the answers (Juliet really, does Richard not age? Seriously, can you give me a real answer about this?). They withhold information from each other for absolutely no reason or a petty one (Kate not telling Jack about the fake beards and costumes in the medical station). They just flat don’t investigate anything (Hmmnn that’s a strange cable in the sand extending deep into the ocean and going straight in to the jungle – oh well, I guess I could never know what this is, I’ll just move on and if something interesting happens to me I’ll just forget about it until it’s convenient.) And on top of all this every character seemingly has had a gun in their hand as a means to resolve something or they just point it at another character (re-watch the series and send me a dollar every time this happens if you don’t believe me. I’ll be waiting, sitting on a fat stack of your Washingtons).

    I also agree with whomever wrote that watching “The Variable” and FB criticizing Eloise as the tragic character is the wrong “reading”. She’s right, Eloise is not tragic, she’s pathetic. We’re supposed to feel bad for her (pathos). She kills her own son and doesn’t realize until way too late. She’s not tragic for a lot of reasons. However, Daniel IS the tragic figure in this episode. For a character to be tragic in classical terms (i.e. Aristotle’s Poetics) he or she needs to fulfill the following requirements:

    First of all to be tragic in the first place the character has to contribute to his or her downfall. That’s the difference between tragic and pathetic (pathetic relating to “pathos” or sympathy/empathy), which I think is an argument you can have about Daniel’s character. For the sake of conversation I’m going to argue that Dan is a tragic character and not a pathetic one.

    Dan contributes to his downfall due to an over reliance on his science which is his character’s…

    Hamartia, or “tragic flaw” as it is incorrectly translated. Literally it means a “gap or hole in logic”. The “hole” can be moral, ethical, logical or whatever but there just has to be a disconnect between what the character does or thinks to what the reader/viewer knows is right. I think all of us watching had an inkling that Daniel got a little too deep into his science and that “Whatever Happened Happened”, his original theory on time travel was and is most likely the correct one.

    Next we have “hubris” or tragic pride. This just has to mean an error in judgment which leads to a fall. So we have Dan deciding that yes, he can, with a little hydrogen help, change the past. Which directly leads him to the Other’s camp which directly leads to him being shot by his own mother. Ouch.

    Then we have “Anagnorisis” or awareness, as in a wake up call where the character realizes his error. In the moment Dan is dying he realizes that he can’t change the past. His mother was always going to kill him to prevent him fro changing anything. In this moment Dan presumably comes to realize that the WHH theory is correct and that “the variable theory” is wrong. The awareness must also come too late for the character to do anything about it. I would say in the moment of death satisfies that requirement.

    Lastly and perhaps above all else the character must possess an element of goodness. If the character possesses no good qualities than he can have no tragic flaw. Dan is such a kindhearted and gentle character that I think we can all agree he has an element of goodness about him. Which makes his demise so tragic.

    A tragedy must always ask “what if?” What if Macbeth didn’t become the one man Scottish crime wave? What if the quarantine didn’t get in the way of alerting Romeo to Juliet’s state of faux death? What if Daniel Faraday didn’t ask so many “what ifs”?

    There’s an interesting argument to be made about Daniel maybe not being tragic at all and that he is pathetic, merely time and fate’s fool but someone else can do that. I can see both perspectives but I’m putting my money on Dan being tragic.

    Now for the conceit. This show is obviously not above criticism, I don’t want anyone to think I’m one of “those” people. I groaned when I heard Kate say (paraphrasing) ‘Lets get some guns so something can explode’ and Jack said (paraphrasing) ‘Let me facilitate that’. I thought that portion of the episode was completely unnecessary and just a little too convenient for my liking. As such, Lost is an entity created by humans therefore subject to numerous flaws. I know everyone gets that. The reason for this post is that I thought this was quite a moving episode and a really good swan song for a great character. I also feel that perhaps by season’s end FishBiscuit will come to like this episode. Though not as good as the “Greatest Hits/Through the Looking Glass” 1 – 2 emotional and mythological punch I still thought it was a great episode and I think this has been an excellent season overall. I am excited for the final three hours of this season so we can see how all the pieces we’ve been given this year fit in to place.

    If you’ve stuck with me until right now I thank you sincerely. If you’ve skimmed this and are going to comment…you’ve made a powerful enemy…

    • TDV

      powerful enemy, lol.

    • Erikire

      Very interesting analysis…

      Perhaps Daniel never understood the whole complications of Time Travel / Course Correction…
      OR
      He was convinced that he could change the things to happen, and being shot/killed by his own mum was part of the plan…
      Maybe we’ll get some answers, maybe not.

    • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

      Never apologize for being long winded. I never do, but then again, I guess that’s why no one ever responds to my posts 😉 It is refreshing to read someone’s analysis who seems to actually watch the show…

      Also, thank you for brilliantly pointing on the many instances of character’s “acting stupid.” Ever since I first started watching this show many of those same questions confounded me. The lack of communication and outright secret-keeping (whether by lying or omission) between the characters especially. Run down the painstakingly detailed list of Secrets on Lostpedia, who is keeping them, who has been privy to them… it’s fascinating…. and absolutely mind-numbing. I’m reminded of an excerpt from Alex Garland’s “the Beach” that it’s in the backpacker’s (travelers) nature to ‘spread the news.’ By that definition, all of the island’s inhabitants seem to be the anti-backpackers. It’s almost as if they were all asked to a seminar or room 23 style mass brainwashing, “Don’t trust anyone… Hide everything that may turn out to be useful from anyone and everyone.”

      I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slapped my head and said to myself or whoever may be listening in the room, “If they just stopped and sat down in a big circle for a moment, and SHARED… this thing would be over in a matter of episodes.” But that’s what it comes down to… it’s a plot contrivance. And it’s arguably one of the driving theme of the show. It has been since day one, so I can appreciate it.

      A brief aside…. I started watching this show (around the beginning of the 3rd season–the weakest period of Lost to date IMHO) because I randomly asked my roommate Farhan what that Castaway show he watched religiously every week was all about… And he told me about Desmond and the button. And I was HOOKED! Hadn’t really seen more than an episode, if that… In retrospect I’m a little miffed he kinda spoiled the whole reveal of season 2 but it matters not. The Swan’s story arc is still my favorite part of the show… But I was excited to learn, as I caught up by watching the 1st and 2nd seasons in a matter of a few days via DVD (MARATHON!) that the show was much more than I expected. What struck me the most was the storytelling and the characters. At one point, this was a show about how different we all are, while still so similar. How we are strangers with different paths that are all interesting and convoluted and SOMETIMES interconnecting. That we can pass a person in an airport terminal or on the way to our seat, a complete stranger, that has a life as complex as our own. That they occupy a different universe, their own, but that it intersects with our own and they are no less important than ourselves, we are no less important than they are. We need one another. But the barriers to reaching that level of understanding between two individuals… to strangers, are immense. And we are never completely forthright with anyone. Sometimes we are never completely forthright with ourselves. Will we ever KNOW anyone? Can you ever KNOW anyone. Those were the themes and questions that drove the story and though they were maddening, I always thought they were executed with grace.

      • The Swan story line is one of my favorites too and that does kinda suck that your buddy ruined it for you but it’s definitely one of those things that is just as cool to watch even if you know the way it’s going to end. I started watching Lost halfway through the first season and thinking about the bevy of implications the Hatch had just blew my mind at the time. It’s amazing to me now to think back at that time and how so many people stopped watching the show mid way through that season. I remember when “Fire + Water” aired and Lost fans just rioted. It was a straight Charlie character episode. This coming hot off the heels of the mythology rich “32nd Psalm” people were more or less done with episodes that didn’t delve deep into the Island’s myth. Of course the absurd “two weeks of new episodes followed by 4,139 days of repeats” didn’t help but I knew a lot of people who abandoned ship that year and the ratings reflected that. That was also the first year where I started reading smug pop culture writings declaring Lost had jumped the shark despite never having watched a single episode of the show themselves.

        And yet, everyone I know who watched the show in marathon style like yourself cites the Second Season as their favorite, for those of us watching it live it was the most frustrating year by far – yet I would argue the most rewarding. It introduced us to the Dharma Initiative and to the Others of which we would come to ascertain that there were Other Others within the Others. We had the tailsection crew, we Walt showing up in the jungle soaking wet talking backwards the end Sgt. Peppers, we had Mr. Eko, we were introduced to Ben and we had Michael shouting “they have my boy!” every other second – it was just great.

        Besides that, what other show spends an entire season showing you the myriad of capabilities, intrigue and mystery of something and then just friggin’ blows it up at the end? That’d be like Seinfeld destroying the diner in the last episode of season four…actually, that’d have been pretty cool…

        • DezziesOtherLifeBrotha

          Agreed. I can understand where fans would have fallen off the bandwagon, but if watched in succession, the second season is really where the show took it up a notch and remains my favorite. The first season is probably overall aided by better individual episodes, but as soon as that dharma music cued after Locke and Jack look down into the hatch, nothing was the same. Desmond’s storyline and the atmosphere of the swan, the sounds and lighting, the Locke vs. Jack faith vs. science, the food drops, the blast door map, henry gale, the crackly voice over the loudspeaker before the lockdown, the failsafe key, the sky turning purple… there were so many exciting mysterious things that revolved around the swan itself. It’s always been exciting and interesting when we discover a new Dharma Station, some have been immediately intriguing, such as the Lamp Post and the Orchid, whereas some have sounded cool only to be a letdown when we finally visit, such as the Looking Glass or the Tempest, some still confound but ultimately lack the depth of mystery the Swan provided, such as the Pearl or the Flame, some have been more less milquetoast such as the Hydra and some have been just outright dull (I’m looking at you Arrow–although there may be more to that station to be revealed.) None (with the possible exception of the Orchid) have even come close to the level of complexity and mysterious elements that comprised the Swan. I’ve missed those episodes ever since and I’m glad we are returning to that storyline at last!

          sidenote: I am more understanding of fans who fell off the bandwagon in the first 5-6 episodes of season 3 (I could write a whole book on how terrible that period of Lost was.)

    • Michel

      Wow, great response. I do not copletely dislike FB’s review, but I also have minor quips about it, and you sum it up all and even improve some of ther points.

      Bottom line… I want to be like you when I grow up.

      • Ha, thanks. You can start by watching a lot of Mystery Science Theater and reading too much Renaissance Humanism. I also prefer Coke to Pepsi and sitting to standing.

        • Michel

          Luckily, I have the last 3 of those 4 checked 😉

  • blindeyesnowsee

    So good to find you again! I’ve been reading DocArtz and saw your reviews here and am very glad to catch up with you again! ALWAYS LOVE your insights, pics and vids! In fact I spent this past week just catching up on this past season skimming through all of season 5’s episodes you’ve covered! Wonderful READS !

    – blindeyesnowsee / bens

  • INawe

    Nice post…

    I like to point out something regarding the Variables and the Constants..

    Faraday changed the past twice (without paradox) by sending information to his past self through
    Desmond..
    I believe maybe that happened because the only way for someone (Variable) to change whatever happened without paradox and course correcting, is through their Constant.

    And about Daniels mother… and her cruel acts…and his father Whitmore,
    well.. they are Others… dont the others loose their “Innocence” upon joining the others? That is of great mystery to me.
    Why-How the Others loose their “Innocence”.. ?

  • troia

    just a quick note….

    ” Juliet would still be holding book club, Alex would be alive and Ben would die of a spinal tumor.”

    if they set off the bomb wouldn’t young ben die with everyone else on the island?…long before pregnant Russo makes it to the island…and if the bomb kills everyone then Juliet would never have been recruited to come to the island?

  • neoloki

    I realized maybe halfway through this not so glorious recap that maybe this was the dumbest recap I have ever read.

  • neoloki

    Faraday wrote in his book that if anything goes wrong desmond will be my constant, not desmond is my constant. Huge difference.

    • Wow nice call. Obviously Dan’s mind started deteriorating but not in the way Desmond’s consciousness was being ripped every which way in “The Constant”. Someone should re edit Dan’s book and underline the “IF” with red ink.

    • Michel

      I’m sorry… but something DID go wrong with Faraday. In the Constant, Faraday was shown unafraid of the radiation of the pink laser… but we know the radiation messed up his mind. And he knew that Desmond’s trouble was happening due to exposure to very high EM radiation levels. Then, Faraday’s memory problems are solved, around the time he gets to the Island and contacts the Desmond from the present. And the other person who got too exposed to the pink laser radiation was Theresa, which ended up have conciousness jumps all the time, until she was only but a vegetable.

      Too many coincidences, don’t you think?

      • Interesting. What “cured” Dan. Seeing Desmond from the present or by simply being on the Island like Chaz Widmore promised. Both work for me.

      • neoloki

        Actually, they explain Dan’s memory problems during “The Variable” and both Eloise and Widmore tell Dan that by going to the Island it will heal his mind. I don’t believe this has anything to do with Desmond.

  • Eric

    Dear fishbiscuit
    No comments on the finale? 🙁

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