Thursday, January 14, 2010

5.14 The Variable

Follow along! The episode guide for “The Variable” is in Finding Lost — Season 5, pp. 197-209, followed by a chapter about the Wired magazine issue that is on Daniel’s couch when Widmore comes to visit him.

The episode where one of my favourite characters dies. Sniffle. The episode where we discovered just how integral he was to everything going on, having been the spawn of Eloise and Charles, the once-royalty of the Others. The episode where Jack goes from living in the Land of Denial to actually having faith in something for the first time. What a whopper of an ep.

Fun things I noticed:
• What has happened just before Eloise comes out to tell Daniel about his destiny? It’s like she’s just gotten a phone call or something telling her to get back on track.
• “I can MAKE TIME.” Probably one of the most significant lines of the episode.
• I still think it’s kind of shoddy writing that Dan goes to Jack, delivers this crushing news and then just leaves. Why bother to go to him in the first place? Also, this ep is filled with inconsistencies direction-wise (the worst being the terrible synch between the old footage of Daniel watching TV and the new stuff. Or how about Dan wearing the black DI uniform on the way to the Swan that turns grey once he gets there? Who was the continuity person on this ep?!
• I still get the biggest kick out of how Eloise signed the journal, “Mother.” SUCH a loving mum.
• The fact that Jeremy Davies wasn’t nominated for an Emmy this year proves the Academy ISN’T PAYING ATTENTION.
• Widmore tells Daniel they’ve never met. If he’s telling the truth, does that mean Eloise left before Widmore could meet him? Or did Widmore leave before she gave birth?
• I know at the time I said Eloise Hawking was one cold-hearted bitch, but you really can see the pain in her eyes as she’s telling Daniel to fulfill his destiny. I have to believe she hoped he could somehow change his fate.
• Is there anyone reading this who knows Korean and knows what Jin says when Hurley says, “That’s not good.” I’m assuming it’s some sort of expletive?
• I find it a little strange that Radzinsky immediately suspects Sawyer of being the bad guy. LaFleur is head of security, and Phil is a lackey. If he’s tied up, why not assume he’s the bad guy and LaFleur was dealing with him? Maybe the fact the guy’s in the closet could have raises suspicions…

Wow... we only have one more week after this. I can't believe it's gone by so quickly!!


humanebean said...

"I just got shot by a PHYSICIST!!!"


Marebabe said...

Nikki, your highlight for this episode is also my highlight. Jack to Kate: “We disappeared off a plane in mid-air and ended up in 1977. Gettin’ kinda used to insane.” Love it!

I’m intrigued by the suggestion you made in your book that maybe Eloise wrote some of the notes in Daniel’s journal. This totally works for me IF her handwriting looks enough like Daniel’s that he wouldn’t notice the difference. I suppose it could happen.

And here’s another awesome catch. When Young Daniel was doing his piano practice with the metronome, you wrote: “The metronome is keeping time, but he keeps GETTING AHEAD OF IT.” Quite different from not keeping up with it. I didn’t make that distinction because, in my experience as a piano teacher (many years ago), I learned that it’s a rare student who can actually stay with a metronome. I was like S1 Sawyer in that moment. “Piano student not staying with the metronome. Woo boy, howdy, now I’ve heard everything. What’s next, cop eatin’ a donut?” Remember when Little Sun was practicing at the beginning of “The Glass Ballerina”? She was sorta staying with the metronome, but she fell behind it slightly, which is quite typical. It gave the scene a dash of realism for me.

So, the writers did a very clever thing in this Young Daniel scene, hiding little time travel Easter eggs like the phrase “make time”, and later focusing on adult Daniel’s watch. And you rightly pointed out the appropriateness of Daniel playing Chopin’s “Fantaisie-Impromptu”, as his wish to become a pianist is merely a fantasy. But in real life, I would never combine a metronome with any piece by Chopin, or any of the Romantic composers, for that matter. Here’s a fun exercise that will illustrate my point. Many people have had lessons and can play piano “a little”. If that’s you, try this: Chopin’s Prelude No. 7 in A, at 16 bars long, is by far the shortest and easiest of all his piano works. Try playing this Prelude, staying EXACTLY with a metronome. It doesn’t matter what speed. If you succeed, I bet ya laugh! Anyone who knows how the works of the Romantic composers should sound will immediately label such a performance ridiculous.

The above was rather a long tangent, but I think it goes along beautifully with all the time travel stuff in this episode. And S5 was definitely the Time Travel Season!

Anonymous said...

So much we see in hindsight! Watching this episode a second time, knowing that Eloise is going to shoot her son at the end, you see now just how much pain it's causing her to have to keep him on that course. Now her coldness toward him is explained; if she knew all along he'd one day die at her hand, she couldn't allow herself to get close to him. Still, one would think a *decent* mother, even one tasked with ensuring the future occurs as it's supposed to, would do whatever it took to prevent her son from that fate.

And interesting theory, Nikki, about Eloise having added some of those journal entries. It explains so much!

Nikki Stafford said...

Oh Marebabe, we're even more kindred spirits than I originally thought. I, too, was a piano teacher several years ago!! :) And I do agree that most kids play ahead of the metronome (rare is the child who falls behind... they're almost always trying to beat it). But Daniel doesn't play like most kids... in fact, his timing was so good, he was playing quite consistently ahead of the metronome. He's not rushing it, he just doesn't have it going at the correct rate for the speed he's playing, I don't think. And I wondered if that could be a hint. Daniel aged faster than most people, lived more in his life than most people, and found ways to "make time"... but he was still lost in time in the end. :(

verification word (I NEVER get these!!) "throngsi: a synonym for crowdsie. Also used as a phrase, as in, "what the throngsi, the throngdo."

Nikki Stafford said...

P.S. I agree with your assessment of not using a metronome for the Romantics. It's all about the feeling of those pieces, and slowing it down and speeding it up as the emotion calls for it. I bet you were an excellent piano teacher!

paleoblues said...

Eloise says: “And it’s my ........ job........ to keep you on your path”. What was she going to say instead of job?

She also says: “ The women in your life will be terribly hurt.” as if to suggest it would be because he would spend so much time on his work. But we know differently.(Theresa, Charlotte)

Maybe each of the Oceanic 6 is a variable in the Valenzetti equation.

Where the heck is Sayid?

tiasabita said...

I, too, love the idea of Eloise making entries in Dan's journal! And that makes perfect sense, @studiorose, that Eloise maybe couldn't get that warm and fuzzy with Dan cuz she knew she had to kill him in the past/future. And I agree with @paleoblues - 'It's my ....job to keep you on your path' was not what she wanted to say. She wanted to say 'It's my job as your mother, as someone who loves you more than anything...', etc.

Dez was in bay 7 in the ER and Mile's mom lived in Apt 7. Are they adding a new number to THE numbers?

LOL for me was how fast Juliet gave up the code to the fence when Sawyer called Kate 'Freckles' and asked her to come with them to the beach.

Maybe it was just me but it sounded like Dan said 'TerEEsa' when he introduced Eloise to her and then 'TerAYsa' when talking about her to Charles.

Charles told Dan they'd never met before but judging by the way the caretaker just stared and backed away from the door she had definitely met Charles before.

If Phil's tied up in the closet can't he hear Sawyer, etc, talking about going back to square one and know where to find them? I wonder what they would have done with him before they left?

Dan doesn't have a British accent like mummy and daddy. Did he grow up in LA since that's where the Lampost is? Not important!

This was the first episode I watched with subtitles and it was interesting how many subs didn't match the words exactly - the same idea, just not exact. Funny was Sawyer saying ......'punched the man in the damn face' and the subs said 'punched him in the nose'.

poggy said...

Great post as always, Nikki. I always assumed it was Eloise who left the island first, and probably before Daniel's birth (maybe to protect him/put him on the right path to fulfill his destiny?), also because we see Widmore being banished around the time Ben kidnaps Alex - and wears that questionable wig, lol!

The Question Mark said...

I just realized that "Daniel" is an anagram for "denial"...

The relationship between Eloise & Widmore is so enticing and mysterious! How did they hook up? Why did Eloise leave the Island? Did Widmore begin sleeping with Penny's mother (whoever SHE is) while Ellie was still pregnant with Dan?

Pamalamb said...

Oh Nikki - that picture you choose for this episode makes me so sad :(
Daniel was the hardest character to lose for me!

When I first saw this episode it was really a disappointment to me, because I had stupidly read a major spoiler that said Daniel would be killed by his mother in this episode and I spent the whole episode waiting for it and hoping it wasn't true. When it finally did happen I didn't get to have the jaw dropping moment that I love so much. Needless to say this cured me from every reading major spoilers again! This time however, since I already knew what would happen, I was able to really get into the episode and appreciate it! I still hate that Daniel died though. I think that in season 6 we will find that Daniel has much more to do with what's going on then we thought.

I noticed this time how much pain 40ish Eloise has in her face when she is speaking to young Daniel. I think as time went on she was able to mask the pain more, but in this scene she looks like she just wants to hold him close and say "forget every thing I said honey, you can do anything you want." Too bad she didn't!

I love the line at the beginning of this episode when Penny says "Your son is Benjamin Linus?" and Eloise says "Good heavens no!" Ha!

Ambivalentman said...

I remember a lot of people saying how creepy it was for Dan to approach lil Charlotte on the swing set to tell her to leave the Island and never come back. I didn't have that issue the first time, and this time around felt even more sympathy for the tortured Daniel. He's lost two women he's loved to time travel-related illnesses. Who can blame him for pleading with lil Charlotte?

Great episode, although I really want to know what took place in Ann Arbor for Daniel that made him have to return.

Lastly, if Hawking has to use the Lamppost Station to locate where the Island will be, how come the DI (and later the Others) can come and go with little problem on the submarine?

Anonymous said...

I just remembered something I noticed during the "rushing Desmond into surgery" scene. Did anyone else think the nurse that told Penneh to wait outside looked almost exactly like Miss Klugh? Later, when a different nurse comes to tell Penneh that she can go see Desmond, she says, "This nurse will watch your child," but we never really see that other nurse. Could it have been the same one? Could she be Miss Klugh? Is she going to kidnap little Charlie?

Okay, I know Klugh supposedly died a few years earlier after being shot, but ol' Patchy "died" several times, too. Maybe Klugh didn't really die, the island quickly healed her, and now she's been sent to snatch the kid (by whom, I don't know - could be Jacob, "the Island," Ben?).

Fred said...

When Daniel is shot by Eloise, he realizes she always knew this would happen. But if this always happened, then why does Eloise tell Penny she doesn't know what will happen next? I think that is the whole problem of LOST, that at some point time moves in a choatic manner (call it what you want, multiple timelines evolving, timelines threatening one another with annihilation), but if what happened, happenend, then the end result is not known continuity but uncertainty. So even the explosion of the bomb at the Swan only contributes to what happened, happened. Had it not, then present day Eloise would not have expressed concern over not knowing what would happen next. (This may have been foreshadowed in Desmond's conversation with Eloise where she wore the unlooped pendant (snake biting tail, or not in this case)). We've also had lots of hints about "loops" and "circles", the words seemingly coming up time and again. For time to move on, there may need to be a loophole. But for safety, or "God help us all," there may need to be a closed loop of time. Anyway, poor Daniel must have realized just before dying that his plan would fail, and that Eloise's putting Jack et al. on the plane was to ensure the possibility of closing the loophole in time (telling that Daniel points out to Jack that he and Kate and Sayid were not supposed to be in 1977).

JS said...

Everyone has made such great observations, and see things I never did. rewatch almost over = sad.

The whole question of whether or not they are supposed to be in 1977, of Eloise sending everyone back either to close the loop, or to change what happened, does trip over itself, if we stay in the same time line. If what ever happened happened, then there is not free will, or at the least, people act according to rules that they cannot break away from. BUT, if there is an alternate timeline, then it makes sense. Did I just say that??

I think deep down, Eloise believes something will change. Even if the universe has a way of course correcting, she may at least try to get out of killing Daniel herself.

But the thing that continues to bother me - How does Dan know/think that this is not their destiny to come back? How would they/he set off the bomb if they weren’t supposed to be there? I doubt we'll get that answer.

Couple of other things:

- I love that Radzinsky is such a ... jerk

- When Dan speaks to Charlotte, he tells her she has to leave, but not that she can never come back. That is actually the only thing we know for sure was supposed to happen that didn't exactly. Maybe something, maybe Gregg Nations missed it.

- Richard must really be used to people acting like they know him when he has never met them before – Locke, Sawyer, Dan

- Both Eloise and Chang say "God help us all". Interesting for a scientist.

- I like Penny so much better HERE than in flash forward

- Jeremy Davies is excellent – I love the way he barely speaks above a whisper

SonshineMusic said...

@Nikki: you noted that Eloise signs her name "Mother", but isn't that also what Daniel calls her? Not Mum or Mom or Mommy (HA! I totally can't picture ANYONE calling Eloise Mommy!) but Mother. Seems quite indicative of the gap in their actual relationship.

You guys all have such insightful things to say about these episodes so I'll just nod along. This was toward the end of our insane, 8 episode, New Year's marathon and my brain was a little on overload, so my notes were a bit incoherent and redundant. Ah! Now I want to go back and rewatch them, but I loaned out S5. Let me just rewind time......

verification: MistRa - a device used to keep the Egyptian god from getting too hot.

Ambivalentman said...

@JS: Thanks for pointing out that Daniel never actually says "never come back." Maybe this is what always happened, though. Children's memories -- memory in general, really -- are very subjective. When Charlotte tells Dan about when she met him as a child, she said, "he told me I had to leave the island and never ever come back. He told me that if I came back I would die." That's not close to what he said, but combined with the craziness of everyone leaving on the subs, etc., could this be an example of her memory being a bit exaggerated?

This is why I love the show though -- so many ambiguities.

By the way, don't think I've said this before, but it's a real pleasure reading everyone's comments. I've been on other forums -- as I'm sure you all have too -- and the community here is so much more intelligent, receptive, and loving than any of ther others I've been a part of. I look forward to spending season 6 with all of you.

Steven Christopher Coleman said...

I also want to see what happened right before Eloise goes and gives seven-year old Daniel the destiny speech. Did Jacob visit her and tell her that she needs to repeat the loop again? I also question what has been her source of information all these years. Did Daniel write down everything he knew in just one journal during this three years in Ann Arbor? And doesn't Jack have the journal last in "Follow the Leader". Eloise can't be a speed-reader and have a photographic memory if so. I hope Season six explains some of this.
I can't watch that scene with all of them in the Dharma house without thinking of the Jimmy Kimmel skit he did about going jet-skiiing. It is hilarious.

JS said...

Steven Christopher Coleman - I also question what has been her source of information all these years. Did Daniel write down everything he knew in just one journal during this three years in Ann Arbor? And doesn't Jack have the journal last in "Follow the Leader". Eloise can't be a speed-reader and have a photographic memory

a - I have been wondering the same - she knows way too much to get it from his journal. I would think she would have had to live through some things a few times to really get the whole course correction thing.

b - I question where the journal is when. Kind of like the compass, but at least they try to show us how it got around. I too hope this is explained in S6, but fear it won't be.

Scott said...

@SonshineMusic: I'm pretty sure Daniel calls Eloise "Mom" during the piano scene (but will need to check that to confirm)

@Ambivalentman: When Daniel is talking to Charlotte, the scene changes to Kate and Jack before we see him leaving her (I believe there is even a long shot with K&J talking in the foreground where we can see the conversation continuing. I wondered if it was intentionally left ambiguous to make us wonder if he had said it again.

Verification word: priacc: a prias/cadillac hybrid?

EvaHart said...

I'm always a little sad when a main character dies on Lost, but Daniel was my favourite character and even though I knew what was going to happen I have to admit a few tears came out. :(
Serously though, how great are the writers, the actors and everyone else who makes lost happen, to make me and a lot of others actually care about all these charcters after just a few series and to be actually upset by their death. This is one of the many reasons why I love Lost.

Despite everything,after watching this episode again I could tell how hard it was for Eloise to send Dan back to the island. The scene where Dan asks if going back will make her proud is just so moving and well acted. Also in a weird way, Eloise being rude to Theresa was probably her way to try and save her as she knows what will happen to her from teh journal, or she is just really mean.

Apart from the obvious, one of the saddest moments for me was when Dan asks Miles to drive him out to the pylons and he just silently hands him the keys, as if Miles has lost faith in him. Remember Miles is the one person on the island he has known for longest so it must have affected him.

I do think who Charlie is left with will be important, and probably someone we know already as they didn't show us who it was. Here's a random idea, could it be Jacob? As you can get male nurses and although many people still associate a nurse with women that could have been done to put us of the trail.

Nikki, in your book you mention why Dan's last name is Faraday, when his parents are Hawking and Widmore. The only thing I can think of is that as Dan didn't know Widmore as his father its safe to assume he probably used his mother's name when he was a child. But when he decided (or was pushed) to go into Physics its likely he changed his name to avoid having the same last name as another famous Physist- Stephen Hawking. Although Micheal Faraday is another famous Physisct he isn't actually alive anymore. Notice when Eloise tells Penny who her son is, she says Faraday in such a way that makes it seem like she didn't give it to him and possibly dissaproves of it.

Why does Eloise say it is explicitly Dan's fault that Desmond was shot? I know it was technichally his fault that he was in LA but the way she says it, it feels like it was Dan who pulled the trigger.

When Dan asked for a gun suitable for a beginner, I literally yelled a 'Thank You' at the television. I have always been slightly annoyed at how most characters can handle a gun perfectly. I just love Dan even more for saying that.

@JS and Ambivalntman
I know we didn't see Dan tell Charlotte not to come back but they are still talking when the camera moves away, may be he did say it to her but we just didn't get to see it?

@Nikki Totally agree with you over Jeremy Davies not being nominated for an Emmy, I have seen him in a
few other films and he is just as brilliant as he is in Lost.

Sorry for the long post, but there is just so much to talk about in this episode!

Marebabe said...

@ambivalentman: Regarding the "never come back" part of Daniel's speech to Little Charlotte, notice how at the end of that scene, there's a brief wide shot when we can't hear what Daniel is saying anymore. But it looks like he is still speaking. Some have speculated (and I agree) that this may be when he said all that other warning-type stuff.

Marebabe said...

OK, this is a lesson to me. I should always, ALWAYS read all the way through every single comment before replying. I now see how extremely redundant my last post was. Anyway, I guess we're all on the same page with the "never come back" thing, right? ;)

Teebore said...

Has hard as it was to lose Daniel, I can only imagine what's to come next.

Don't you take Desmond, show, don't you do it!

Jenn said...


I agree that they better not dare take Des! He is the key to everything! I don't know exactly what I mean by that, but I know that that's what I think!

I feel that his 'ability' to move about in time makes him a more important player than he appears to be.

However, the fact that Henry Ian Cusack's name isn't on the regular cast role for S6 probably means that I am wrong about this?!

SonshineMusic said...

Maybe Daniel didn't say, don't come back, because he knew that it would cause her to WANT to come back. maybe he was trying to change the original way it happened?

Daniel may call Eloise mom as a child, but I don't think he ever calls her anything but Mother as an adult, which is when she gives him the journal.

JW said...

My favorite thing about this week's episodes is the DVD menu with Dharma Girl!

Joan Crawford said...

Ah! My verification word is


which is obviously what Naomi calls herself these days.

crazyinlost said...

@tiasabita-"LOL for me was how fast Juliet gave up the code to the fence when Sawyer called Kate 'Freckles' and asked her to come with them to the beach."
I so hear ya. Jealousy is a powerful thing, but it seems like Sawyer and Kate just keep doing it to themselves.

@JS/Ambivalentman-but they didn't show the whole conversation. I remember we were watching from a different point of view while he was still talking to Charlotte, so maybe we didn't get to hear the whole thing. Plus, if she was time jumping, she would have just come from that time when Dan talked to her, so it wasn't a memory, it was an expirience she just re-lived.

crazyinlost said...

Looks like a bunch of people already responded to JS and Ambivalentman. Sorry, I've gotten into responding to people as I read. My bad

crazyinlost said...

@Marebabe-and obviously I didn't read your next post before I posted! Duh

Azá said...

Did anyone notice the Rabbit-like figure in Eloise's glass of water whilst her and Dan are out for their lunch?

Look very, very closely as she bends down to get the book and then hands it over to him - there is a rabbit in the glass!

Blam said...

Nikki: I still get the biggest kick out of how Eloise signed the journal, “Mother.” SUCH a loving mum.
Well, to be fair, she knows from reading the journal that he will name rats after her. A chicken-and-egg thing, sure, but maybe we should be praising her restraint.
"Daniel: I hope you'll think of me when you attempt to send the brainwaves of rodents through time. Enjoy growing up to look like Charles Manson after ransacking Rivers Cuomo's wardrobe, and try not to fall for the first frigid redhead you meet! Love, Mother."
Verification word: distra -- wd. frgmt. Often used by easily confused or inattentive people. ex. "Sorry I couldn't talk before; I was distra... What was that?"

The Rush Blog said...

Looking back, I could see why Daniel's plans to return everyone back to September 22, 2004 didn't work. In order for his plans to work, Jughead would have to destroy the island's energy. It is possible that Daniel failed to conceive the possibility that the island's energy was more powerful than the nuclear bomb.