Wednesday, April 29, 2009

5x14 "The Variable" Review

It's been a day for 100s, though for different reasons, for different people. For most of the world, today marks the 100th day that U.S. President Barack Obama has been in office. However, for the Lost nerds of the world, this was a completely different 100 entirely. April 29, 2009 marked the first airing of "The Variable," the official hundredth episode (though some would debate 100th hour) of everyone's favorite Island drama. And the hundredth episode did not disappoint. But really, did you think it would?

Let me begin at the end: Daniel Faraday is dead. I say this to you with a heavy heart; Daniel was my favorite character of the show. But alas, his light was snuffed out by his own manipulative mommy (that's a first for Lost), Eloise Hawking. I have to commend the writers of Lost, however, for giving Daniel such a spectacular send-out episode, and such a great death. While I hate to see Jeremy Davies leave the show, I wouldn't have him do so any other way. Maybe he'll return as a guest star...I could possibly see that happening.

But regardless of favorite character deaths, this episode was one for the books. While it wasn't quite on par with the similarly named "The Constant," the episode was still quite revealing about Daniel, and was the second episode in a row (after two weeks ago's "Some Like It Hoth") to reveal shocking details about a science teamer's father. I feel like this episode really rounded out the character of Daniel, giving him a short but meaty arc.

The episode began with Penny waiting anxiously in the hospital while Desmond was rushed into surgery for the bullet wound that Ben gave Des back in "Dead is Dead." While I really didn't think at the time that the shot had even hit Des (the camera showed not even the slightest speck of red), it was quite believable to me that the flimsy paper sack hadn't been able to stop the bullet. I'm pretty sure that Desmond hadn't gone to the grocery for kevlar.

Meanwhile, on the Island, we picked up right back where we had left off last week, with Daniel getting off the sub and getting greeted by Miles. While the new recruits were being told that they weren't going to be getting their much needed rest, Daniel didn't stick around to listen and instead barged in on Jack, telling him that the "destiny" that Eloise had forced upon them was actually just a giant crock, and that they weren't meant to be on the Island. That's pretty tough for Jack to hear at three in the morning, but he held up considerably well.

And then we went into a super-freaky Lost intertitle, which was different in some little way. I can't quite put my finger on how it was different...maybe it was the stars surrounding the title, or perhaps it was the Starship Enterprise zooming through Lost's "O". It was quite disconcerting, and I'd rather Captain Kirk keep himself out of my Lost.

We then got a flashback to Dan's childhood, where he, like Ben, was a talented pianist, though Eloise insisted that he should give it up and instead focus all of his time on science. Perhaps this was part of her role as "temporal policeman," as she was once described by Damon Lindelof. After all, she stated that it was her "job" to keep him on the path to science.

Back on the Island, we had a little recap of the opening scene of "Because You Left," in which Daniel observed Pierre while Pierre was at the Orchid. And then Daniel dropped the bombshell: He was from the future. But did he honestly expect Pierre to believe him? Pierre brushed it off as a cruel joke, much like Daniel brushed off Desmond's claims of time-travel in "The Constant." And he didn't get any backup from Miles, even when he revealed to Pierre that Miles was his son. Miles simply denied this and went about his day.

We got to see Phil trapped in the closet this week, which I thought was funny, especially after Phil's incessant annoyingness throughout the past few episodes. Too bad he had to be discovered by that incredibly angry Stuart Radzinsky.

Earlier in the year, I stated that Stuart Radzinsky was like the DHARMA version of Frogurt. I take that back completely; he's much, much worse. Radzinsky's paranoia really went off the deep end this week, and we got to see him angry firing shots at almost all of our favorite characters, as well as screaming at everyone to get on the ground. Through my utter hatred of this character's actions, I try to take solace in the fact that eventually, one of those shots that Radzinsky fires will be a shot at himself, leaving only a brown stain for Kelvin Inman to point to. But for now, he's got Sawyer and Juliet in custody. I'll bet we'll be seeing even more of Radzinsky next week in some shape or form. Will Oldham be involved? I hope so.

We got to see a little bit of Theresa Spencer this week. If you don't remember, we had previously seen her in a coma during "Jughead," where she and her sister were visited by Desmond. Apparently she was Daniel's squeeze/lab assistant, though we really don't know what Daniel did to make her so invalid. All we know is that he tried it on himself, and presumably only came out with severe memory loss.

Speaking of memory loss, we also got to go back and look at the opener of "Confirmed Dead," which was Daniel crying while watching the Oceanic wreckage report on the news. Many fans speculated that this was due to Daniel time travelling or something else mysterious and relating to Daniel's time spent on the Island. But no, it was because it simply made him sad. He explained this to Charles Widmore, who personally came and recruited him to go to the Island, though Desmond did not remember their meeting. And also, Widmore confirmed that he staged the wreckage, finally giving a solid answer to the debate that's been going on between fans as to whether or not Ben was responsible. For more information on this debate, see Nickb123's earlier blog post.

We found out this week for sure that Ellie, who we saw in "Jughead," was actually "Eloise Hawking." Did anyone not see that coming? It's one of the most predictable twists of the entire show.

There was a pretty cool firefight at the motor pool between Radzinsky and his men and Jack, Kate, and Daniel. Jack took charge, making me proud of the character for the first time in a long time. Daniel got clipped in the neck as well. When I saw him go down, I was sure that he was a goner. Imagine my relief when I found out he was okay. Well, until he got shot by Eloise later. "Destiny," as Ben says, "is a fickle bitch."

Before he got shot, however, Daniel spilled the beans to Jack and Kate about everything he knew about the Island. We got a very cool speech about constants and variables, with the titular variables being people, who possess free will. Daniel stated that he intended to stop the incident by detonating the Jughead. Will the Losties follow through with his plan? They just might -- the prevention of the incident (or at least the evacuation of DHARMA) will mean that Oceanic 815 never crashed, that the freighter never came to the Island.. Is it possible? Can two different, parallell timelines be created in the Lost universe? I kind of hope so, because that would be incredibly complex, and a fantastic storyline for next season. Of course, there's also the argument that it could develop Donnie Darko-syndrome (too complicated for the average bear). Either way, I'm incredibly happy with what Daniel was saying, and I was buying into every word.

And then he got shot, and died. And before anyone says anything, there's no question in my mind that he is dead. The camera stayed on his unblinking face long enough to pound into our heads that he really is dead. As much as I hate to say it, he's got no chance.

The only question that this episode really left me with is this: where does the Comic-Con Dharma booth video fit in? That was obviously Daniel's voice in the background arguing with Pierre, but apparently there's no way that this could happen. your hypothesis in the comment section below. I'd love to hear it.

All in all this was an episode for the books, and probably one of my personal favorites. Episode 100 was all the hype they built it up to be, and it was the best hour of television all week. Quite possibly it was the best episode of Lost this year. What do you think? Again, share in the comments section below. Come back again next week as the LP blog reviews "Follow the Leader."
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