Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost episode recap – “The Variable” (S5E14) airdate 4/29/09

Oooh - big 100th episode tonight! Very exciting ...

We open with Desmond being rushed into the ER in the aftermath of his being shot and subsequently beating Ben. Penny and baby Charlie wait and wait for news. Eloise Hawking comes to the hospital and apologizes, telling Penny that it is her son’s fault that Des has been shot. Penny: “Your son is Benjamin Linus?” Eloise: Ugh – no, my son is Daniel Faraday.

Thirty years earlier, Island – After helping Daniel get out of the sub, Miles wants to know why Daniel came back. Daniel shows him that group photograph, saying this is the reason he came back. He cuts off Miles’s sputtering and says he needs to see Jack pronto. When they get to Jack’s cottage and wake him up, Daniel immediately pounces, asking how they got back here to 1977. Jack looks to Miles for explanation. Miles: “Don’t look at me – I just carried his luggage.” Jack babbles about being on a plane, being told by Daniel’s mom that it was their destiny to come back. “I got news for you, Jack,” says Daniel, “She was wrong – you don’t belong here at all.”

Quite some time earlier, little boy Daniel is practicing the piano. His mum tells him that his playing is beautiful, then asks him if he knows what “destiny” means. She goes on to tell him that his gift is his mind, his talent for science and mathematics, and her job is to keep him on his path, with no more time for distractions. Hence, no more piano. Young Daniel is sad, saying that he likes the piano and he’ll make time for it. Manipulative Eloise shakes her head, “If only you could.”

Island, 1977. Daniel rushes out of Jack’s cottage and asks Miles to take him to Orchid Station. They jump in a Dharma jeep, driving away over Jack’s shouts of “What do you mean your mother was wrong?” Jack then goes to Sawyer’s cottage and reports that Daniel is back and talking all kinds of nonsense. Sawyer frowns, and then says that he’d love to trade theories on this but he’s busy right now. He tries to close the door but Jack puts his hand out, wondering what Sawyer could possibly be busy with at 6:00 a.m. Um, that’s a little personal, dontcha think? But then a fully dressed Juliet tells “James” to let Jack in on their little secret: they’ve got Phil trussed up and stuck in a closet.

Out at the Orchid, Daniel impatiently waits until Dr. Chang shows up, and then tells Miles he’ll be back in ten minutes. He follows Chang into the Orchid, thumbing through his leather-bound journal (remember that – with all the calculations and wacky notes?) on the elevator ride down. He overhears Chang instructing the worker not to vary a centimeter from the prescribed coordinates and sees the dead guy being carried out on the stretcher (remember that from earlier this season?). Then he introduces himself to Chang and tells him that he needs to order the immediate and entire evacuation of all people on the Island. Chang’s like, um, what? Daniel says that the dead guy that just left is a casualty of the electromagnetic energy the Dharmites have tapped into down here – Chang interrupts to say that the energy is currently contained; Daniel agrees that it is, “down here” – and in about six hours, a catastrophic eruption of that same kind of energy is going to burst through the Swan Station. Chang laughs at him, asking what could possibly qualify him to make such a prediction. With much gravitas, Daniel replies: I’m … from the future.

They ride the elevator back up and Daniel chases after Chang, begging him to look at the equations in his journal. Miles tries to pull Daniel away but Daniel rides right over him and says, “Dr. Chang, Miles is your son … from the future.” Chang looks intently at Miles and asks if this is true. Miles, unable to look at his dad, says no. Chang has had enough and drives off in a Dharma van. Miles looks at Daniel unbelievingly and Daniel just says, with all earnestness, that he’s trying to make sure Chang does what he’s supposed to do. But then he won’t tell Miles what that is.

Flash to Daniel in graduation robes. He introduces Theresa (remember her from “The Constant”) to his mother but Eloise completely snubs the girlfriend and tells her son that she is taking only him to lunch. At lunch, Eloise chides Daniel, telling him that he is losing focus – he needs to put his work first, over all other distractions. Daniel complains, saying that he is focused … he even just got a huge research grant from some industrialist magnate - Widmore, he thinks the name is. Eloise’s eyes go wide at Widmore’s name. Then she hands her son a wrapped gift and leaves. Daniel opens the gift distractedly: it’s the leather-bound journal.

Island, 1977. Sawyer has called a meeting: Kate, Hurley, Jin, Jack and Juliet are there. He starts by reminding the new arrivals that he’s been back on the Island for three years now. It’s his home and he doesn’t want to leave - he looks at Juliet when he says this – but they don’t have a damn choice now that Phil is onto them. He says their options are two: they commandeer the submarine and go back to the mainland or they head off into the jungle and start from scratch. Jin immediately says that he will not leave, not if there’s any chance that Sun (remember her? she used to be on this show …) is still on the Island; Hurley seconds him.

A frantic knocking interrupts them. Sawyer grabs his gun and answers the door: it’s Daniel. “Welcome to the meeting, Twitchy,” smiles Sawyer. Miles follows Daniel in and Sawyer grabs him, asking if Daniel is still acting crazy. Miles rolls his eyes and reports that he’s currently on a whole new level. Great, groans Sawyer. Daniel starts in immediately, saying that what he’s here to do is of critical importance … and does anyone know where he can find the Hostiles? Calmly, but with a slight edge in her voice, Juliet asks why he needs to know that. He says that one of them is his mother … and she is the only one on this Island that can get them back to where they belong. I’m sorry for all the ellipses but Daniel … uses a lot … of … dramatic pauses … when he speaks.

Flashback to the first time we met Daniel, crying as he watches television footage of the Oceanic 815 crash. He has a visitor, however: Charles Widmore. Daniel apologizes for getting himself dismissed from Oxford and wasting the grant money, but that’s not why Widmore is here. He’s here to offer Daniel another opportunity: the plane crash that Daniel is currently sniveling over is an elaborate fake, set up by Widmore, and the real plane is on the Island – the fabulous Island that will help Daniel’s research and heal his time-traveling fractured mind. “Your gift shouldn’t go to waste,” Widmore says gently. Daniel smiles and says that he sounds like his mother. “That’s because we’re old friends,” says Widmore.

Island, 1977. Sawyer: “Your mother is an Other?” Yup, she was Ellie way back in 1954. Juliet and Sawyer press the issue, wanting to know what Daniel is planning, but he says he’s not telling them anything. Jack tries to intercede, saying that they might as well help Daniel since they obviously don’t belong here at the Dharma camp. Sawyer snarls that he’d been belonging here just fine until the O6ers came back. So Jack turns to Kate (who has mercifully been silent this whole time) and asks her if she remembers how to find the Hostiles. He says that he never asked what happened to Aaron or what her reason was for returning to the Island, but he bets it’s out there, not here. Sawyer cuts in, saying that no matter what her reason is, “helpin’ H.G. Wells here talk to his mommy ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.” He then slips up and asks “Freckles” to come with them.

Juliet gets a sharp look on her face and then she tells Kate the code to get through the sonic fence, saying that she should take Daniel: “It’s over for us here anyway.” Kate, Jack and Daniel turn to go, Daniel first asking Miles if he’d be willing to drive them. Nope – Miles just tosses them the keys, which Daniel pockets regretfully. As they leave, Sawyer tells them that when they realize their mistake, the rest of them will be back at the beach where it all started. The door closes and Sawyer instructs the remaining Losties to gather their things and meet back here in twenty minutes. Then he goes and takes Juliet’s hand, squeezing gently. She has tears in her eyes.

Kate tells Jack and Daniel that the Hostiles will not be happy to see them and they need to bring some guns. Daniel gets distracted again and tells the other two that he’ll meet them at the motor pool. He’s seen little girl Charlotte (whose accent is rawther appalling) swinging in the compound playground. He tells little Charlotte (who is way too young to assimilate any of what he tells her, really) that if Dr. Chang tells a bunch of people to get on the submarine and leave the Island, she and her mommy need to go. Unless he can accomplish what he’s setting out to do and then everything will be fine.

He rejoins Jack and Kate as they’re raiding the weapons locker at the motor pool. Unfortunately Radzinsky and his armed goons interrupt them and things get very tense very quickly. So tense that everyone starts shooting at each other and Daniel gets winged in the neck. They are pinned down but Kate thinks they can make a run for the jeep so sharpshooter Jack gives them some cover by shooting a barrel of fuel, causing a big ol’ explosion (Mythbusters would tell you that such an explosion is a television/movie fallacy). They get away but a furious Radzinsky screams to sound the alarm.

Flash back to an adult Daniel trying to remember how to play the piano – his mind is all but shattered from having performed those time-travel experiments on himself. Eloise comes in to talk to him about the job offer from Widmore. She says that it is very important that he accept this opportunity. Daniel whines that he can’t do it; his mind is so fragmented that he can’t do the necessary math anymore. Eloise says that if what Widmore says is true, that the Island can heal him, then he would be able to go on with his work if he goes there. Pitifully, Daniel asks if taking the job would make her proud of him. She says yes, it will. Then he’ll do it.

Island, 1977. Jack examines Daniel’s neck wound (it’s jus a flesh wound) while Kate turns off the sonic fence. The two men have some time travel talk that I don’t really pay attention to: the gist is that this 1977, right now, is their present and any of them can die here. Ooh, I think that’s called “foreshadowing” – how subtle. Kate gives the okay and they start their hike.

Back at Sawyer’s cottage, Sawyer stops his frenzied packing long enough to make schmoopy eyes at Juliet, who is rightfully pretty pissed at him. He says that she called it: the end of their utopia once the O6ers arrived. Juliet: Duh. He asks her if she’s still got his back and she stares at him, hard-eyed, and asks if he’s still got hers. Just then the alarm siren starts blaring. It’s that nut Radzinsky who bursts into Sawyer’s cottage, complaining that he just got shot by a physicist who was aided by the new recruits. “We’ve been infiltrated!” he shouts. But then he pauses, because Phil is awake and banging around in the closet loud enough to be heard over the siren. Radzinsky pulls open the closet door (almost shooting poor Phil with his itchy trigger finger) then turns and aims his gun at Sawyer and Juliet. Oops. He shouts at them to get down on the floor – now!

Out in the jungle Kate uses her madd tracking skilz to lead the boys to a stream for a hydration break. Jack asks if Daniel really needs a gun to go talk to his mom. Daniel: “You don’t know my mother, Jack.” So Jack tries another tack, asking if Daniel cares to elaborate on his “we don’t belong here” theory. Daniel explains that in about four hours the Swan Station crew will tap into that massive pocket of electromagnetic energy, the release of which will be catastrophic. So then they’ll have to cement the energy pocket over, like they did at Chernobyl, and because of this one accident the Dharmites “will have to spend the next twenty years keeping that energy at bay by pushing a button. “A button that your friend Desmond will one day fail to push … causing your plane to crash.” And because the plane crashes, the freighter will come, and his beloved Charlotte will be on the freighter … and that entire chain of events will start this very afternoon. Unless they change it. You can’t change the past, but you can affect the variables that can change the future. If Daniel is successful today, the hatch will never be built and Oceanic 815 will land in Los Angeles like it’s supposed to. (But then what will I watch for the last five years?) Kate asks how he plans to destroy the energy. Daniel: “I’m going to detonate a hydrogen bomb.” Kate and Jack: Holy shit.

Back to the hospital where Desmond is (hopefully) getting his gunshot wound fixed, Penny is having a hard time getting her head around the fact that this crazy white-haired lady is Daniel’s mother. Eloise tells Penny that Desmond has become a casualty in a conflict that is much bigger than he is. Penny panics at this – is Desmond going to be okay? But Eloise says that for the first time in a long time she doesn’t know what is going to happen next. A doctor interrupts to tell the women that Desmond is in the recovery room and asking for Penny. He’s doing fine. Thank goodness!

Penny goes to see her darling Desmond. She says she thought she’d lost him. And he reminds her that he promised he’d never leave her again. Smoochies! Meanwhile, Widmore accosts Eloise as she leaves the hospital, asking if Desmond is all right. She says yes, and his daughter is in there too. Widmore starts to say that his relationship with Penny is one of the things he had to sacrifice. But she cuts him off, saying that she knows about sacrifice, having sent her own son back to the Island while knowing full well that … “He’s my son too, Eloise,” says Widmore. Really? She pauses, slaps him and marches away. So Daniel is a true Island child then.

Island, 1977. Kate, Daniel and Jack are still tromping through the jungle, Kate fretting that Daniel is talking about erasing everything that’s happened to them. “It’s insane,” she complains. Jack points out that they disappeared off a plane and ended up on the Island thirty years in the past (Friend Mouse: not to mention the polar bears and the Smoke Monster and all these people coming back from the dead and Locke walking and the three-toed statue and Ageless Richard) – so he’s getting used to insane. They finally come upon the Hostiles’/Others’ camp and Daniel dashes ahead, Kate and Jack lurking in the shrubbery. Daniel raises his gun and tells the assorted Others that he wants to speak to Eloise. Richard comes out and says that Eloise isn’t here right now … and doesn’t he know Daniel from somewhere? Daniel starts to get agitated, insisting that Richard take him to Eloise now now now. Richard speaks soothingly but Daniel raises his gun, pointing at that pretty, pretty face. He starts to count and at “3” there’s a gunshot. Richard flinches. But it’s Daniel who’s been shot. He sinks to his knees and behind him we see that it’s circa-1977 Eloise who shot him in the back.

A gasping Daniel stares up at his mother: “Eloise! You knew. You always knew. You knew this was going to happen and … you sent me here anyway.” Eloise bends over the strange little man she just shot and asks him who he is. Daniel says that he’s her son, and she recoils, slightly. And then I think Daniel dies. Aw – that’s sad.

Previously on Lost / next time on Lost

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