Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lost - "The Variable"

***Note - if there is anything worthwhile to discuss during tomorrow night's "clip show", I'll put my thoughts here.***

It's time for you to Choose Your Adventure! You come across a Lost Blog Post for next week's episode "The Variable" on the Internet. Do you...

A. Read ahead right now, fully knowing that it will just make next week seem even longer as you anxiously await new Losty goodness.

B. Exhibit self-control and wait until April 28th to read the episode preview like normal. Prevent unneccessary overhyping of "The Variable" and find a new website to keep you busy for the next week (I strongly suggest http://www.hulu.com/chuck ) before returning full attention back to Lost for the final four episodes of the season.

Choose wisely!

Episode Title: "The Variable"


Brian's Deeper Meaning Guess: Last season, Lost cruelly forced us to remember high school math lessons in the Desmond-centric classic episode "The Constant" (which will probably go down as one of my Top 5 Lost episodes of all-time when all is said and done). If you recall, that was the trippy conscious-hopping episode where Desmond's mind jumped between 1996 and 2004, where he had conversations with Faraday in 2004 that he passed along to Faraday in 1996, ending with the heart-felt phone reunion with Penny that had all but the toughest of tough guys choked up. I'm going to be referencing that episode a few times in this episode preview, so if you don't remember it, now might be a good time to head over to Lostpedia and re-read the summary: http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/The_Constant


Next week's episode (remember, tomorrow night is a clip show called "The Story of the Oceanic Six" that may or may not have any worthwhile new information in it) is entitled "The Variable", which seems to be the other side of the equation. In math, you've got constants (things that don't change) and variables (things that do change). They're basically opposites. On Lost, we learned that a "Constant" was an "anchor" to keep someone grounded when their mind and consciousness were jumping around in time. Per Faraday, it needs to be someone or something that exists in whatever time periods the person in jumping between - and the jumper needs to care greatly about and would recognize it/him/her. For Desmond, this was Penny Widmore. At the conclusion of the episode, we discovered that Faraday had written "if anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant" (more on this later).



I'm guessing that a "Variable" will take on a similar Lost-specific meaning next week. If you've been reading my Blog this season, you know where I'm going with this - but I think a "Variable" will be something that can break the rules and change the future. In some ways, the concept of a constant is represented by Faraday's "Whatever Happened, Happened" adage, but the concept of a variable is going to be represented in "Sucks to That, I'm Changing Things". Much like a Constant was a person, I'm thinking the Variable will be a person - in this case, Daniel Faraday, who has found a way to alter the past. But how? More on that later as well...


Such buildup!


(Note: my other initial thought when I saw this episode title was the Valenzetti Equation. Remember that? It was a mathematical formula that predicted the end of the world using 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 as numerical representations of human and environmental variables. If you need a refresher, I talked about it a lot in this post from 2006: http://lost-and-gone-forever.blogspot.com/2006/09/numbers-finally-explained.html

Dharma was trying to change these numbers, which would change the formula, which would prevent the world from ending. Since the Numbers have been nearly non-existent on Lost ever since the Swan Hatch Implosion, I don't know how they would really tie-in to this week's episode, but it is curious that they deal with "changing things" and "preventing the end of the world" while ironically Faraday "changing things" might just bring about the end of the world.)


Guest Stars: Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Sonya Walger as Penelope "Penny" Widmore, Alan Dale as Charles Widmore, Francois Chau as Dr. Pierre Chang, Fionnula Flanagan as Eloise Hawking, Patrick Fischler as Phil, Eric Lange as Radzinsky, Sarah Farooqui as Theresa, Alice Evans as younger Eloise Hawking, Wendy Pearson as E.R. doctor, Todd Coolidge as paramedic, Peggy Anne Siegmund as caretaker, Jennifer Sojot as E.R. nurse, Spencer Allyn as young Daniel Faraday, Michael Dempsey as foreman, Maya Henssens as young girl, Ariston Green as workman, Marvin DeFreitas as young Charlie and Brad Berryhill as anxious guy.


Guest Star Breakdown: Lots to be giddy about!


Given that this week is Faraday-centric, the inclusion of Richard Alpert excites me even more than usual. Is Faraday interacting with him in 1977 on-Island? Or has he interacted with him at some point over the three years when he was off-Island? The mere thought of that makes my mind race with tantalizing possibilities about Faraday secretly being a double-agent for the Others (and his mother, Eloise) while he was working inside Dharma, learning their secrets, figuring out ways to take them down from the inside, all the while learning from them the truth about the Island and its powers. Wow. I'm going to stop here, since this is a classic example of Brian Overhyping, and when Alpert shows up walking in the background on-Island in 1977 without any speaking lines, we're all going to be really really disappointed.


Then we've got Penny and Widmore. Are they appearing in 2008, advancing their storyline, getting them closer to returning to the Island with Desmond? Will we finally see Widmore forgive Desmond and tell him that he needs him to help get back to the Island for the upcoming "battle"? Or are they appearing in 1996, in the scenes from "The Constant", only this time from the perspective of Faraday, who might have been trailing Desmond to try and figure out what was really going on? I'll take either possibility!


Continuing the guest star excitement we've got not one - but two appearances by Eloise Hawking - both in her old lady 2008 form, and also a much younger, hotter (I'm guessing 1974-1977 form?):




(Seriously. I'm picking up what she's laying down. Figure out a way to make her a series regular or spin her off into her own series Lost writers!)


Hot Eloise's inclusion (along with "Young Daniel Faraday") might mean we'll finally get our answers about if Faraday was born on-Island, when Eloise left the Island, and if Widmore is his father after all... or maybe she'll be paying a visit to Faraday in 1977 with Alpert to talk him into becoming a secret Other double-agent?


I'm guessing Old Eloise will appear in conjuncture with the Penny / Desmond / Widmore storyline, providing the knowledge they need to also return to the Island  - although if that storyline isn't actually happening this episode, it might mean she's going to appear in 1996 to Faraday to explain to him how all this time travel stuff works, give her "universe course correction" speech we heard her give Desmond two seasons ago, or again - reveal Island secrets that are going to prove useful for Faraday later on his journey.


Lastly, we have a reappearance of Faraday's former flame Theresa (possible pre-comatosed state?), a slew of doctors and nurses and the usual Dharma suspects like Chang, Radzinsky, and Phil - who is now a prisoner inside Sawyer and Juliet's love shack.



What does it all add up to?


It looks like we're going to see a LOT of Faraday's backstory... like, maybe even all of it. If you think about it, there's the potential to see his birth, everything that he did between 1974 and 1977, and maybe even some of the stuff he did in 1996 and beyond, after his meeting with Desmond leading up to boarding the Freighter. Dare I say it? I dare: let's put Faraday on the Deathwatch 2009 list - although I anticipate that if he dies, it won't be until the season finale, after he causes The Incident...


Episode Description: On the 100th episode milestone for the series, the time of reckoning has begun when Daniel Faraday comes clean regarding what he knows about the island.


Episode Breakdown: Happy 100th Episode, Lost! For most traditional shows, this is a big deal, since it's the number of episodes most networks want before they'll buy a show in syndication - but for Lost, whose reruns have been airing on Sci-Fi for the past year or so, they never had anything to worry about. But that's not to say that this week's episode isn't going to be monumental - it most certainly is, but not from a business standpoint. Rather, from a storyline perspective, this is it - the episode that will kick us into the mad rush of action and reveals building up to the season finale. It also is potentially an episode that provides a shift in our fundamental understanding about the Island - that line about "coming clean regarding what he knows about the Island" could mean a lot of things. Maybe Faraday will be like "I was just faking it, I really know nothing about this Island". Or maybe he'll be like "I know everything about this Island, why it's weird, and what Smokey is. You better sit down" followed by a twenty minute monologue answering all our questions. Most likely, it's going to come down somewhere in between, but that's not to say we won't get some revelations that make us re-examine everything we thought we knew about the Island.


It's also true - "the time of reckoning" has come for a number of storylines on Lost. We've got Faraday back on the Island, presumably to carry out some "plan" that may have dramatic repercussions on the lives of our characters and the rest of the season. We've got Sawyer, who now has Phil tied up in his house, with his cover about to be blown inside Dharma. We've got Horace and Ben's Dad growing increasingly suspicious about the actions of Kate, Jack, and Hurley - so their cover is about to be blown as well. Finally, we've got Pierre Chang who may or may not know that there's time traveling going on, that most members of Dharma are destined to die, and that his grown son is walking around the same Barracks that his baby son is at... whose interaction may or may not rip apart the space time continuum.


...and that's not even talking about the Locke / Ben / Sun, Widmore / Desmond / Penny, or Ajira 316 / Shadow of the Statue storylines - which we all left pretty much in the middle of a lot of action. It's all coming together - both from a season and a series perspective. I get the feeling that the remainder of this season will focus on resolving the time travel storyline, getting everyone back to 2008 - but will also get the proper pieces in place to setup the final season. So I doubt we're going to get resolution to these three additional storylines this season, but we'll at least get them to the place where we can hit the ground running next year without a lot of setup needed.


As for this week, the episode description basically boils down to Faraday explaining what he knows. To understand what that might be, we need to look at the timeline of Daniel Faraday, which can get a little confusing - so I'll go about this two ways. From a strictly "Timeline Perspective", here are the major events:


1954 - Faraday meets Eloise and the Others, helps them deal with the Jughead

1970ish - Daniel Faraday is born (somewhere, to someone)

1974 - Faraday leaves the Island

1974-1977 - Faraday spends three years off-Island, presumably starts working with Dharma

1977 - Faraday returns to the Island

1994 - Widmore begins funding Faraday's research

1996 - Faraday meets Desmond, who provides him with settings for his experiment

September 2004 - Faraday cries when seeing the Oceanic 815 wreckage

December 2004 - Faraday arrives on-Island from the Freighter


It's strange, but Faraday (along with Sawyer, Juliet, Jin, and Miles) has never seen 2005 or beyond, even though the "present" on Lost is now 2008. But we also need to look at the life of Daniel Faraday from the order that he actually experienced it, which will lead me to my theories about this episode.



So from a "Daniel Faraday Perspective":


1970ish - Daniel Faraday is born (somewhere, to someone)

1994 - Widmore begins funding Faraday's research

1996 - Faraday meets Desmond, who provides him with settings for his experiment

September 2004 - Faraday cries when seeing the Oceanic 815 wreckage

December 2004 - Faraday arrives on-Island from the Freighter

1954 - Faraday meets Eloise and the Others, helps them deal with the Jughead

1974 - Faraday leaves the Island

1974-1977 - Faraday spends three years off-Island, presumably starts working with Dharma

1977 - Faraday returns to the Island


Keep this Perspective in mind, and let's consider the possibilities...


1977 Faraday would know everything that led him to that point in his life. He would have the acquired knowledge from years of study in the 1990's and his time spent on the Island (including all the time-skipping). Being the only time-skipping character who actually left the Island (that we know of), there's the potential to do a lot of damage. Faraday could do fun stuff, like gambling on sporting events for easy profit (Back to the Future Part II Style), but I think he spent the years between 1974 and 1977 focused on one thing - saving Charlotte (or maybe getting our Survivors back to 2008, but I like the Charlotte story better). In order to do so, he realizes that he is going to have to find a way to alter the past, to change the present, which is seemingly impossible... or is it?


When Faraday time-skipped to the early 2000s, he told Desmond that he was "special", that "the rules" didn't apply to him. Most people (myself included) took this to mean that the rules about changing the past don't apply to Desmond thanks to the huge blast of funky electromagnetism he endured when imploding the Swan Hatch. Whatever happened, happened... unless you're Desmond Hume - and then you get to decide what happened through your actions.


If Faraday wants to change the past, he has to become like Desmond - he also would need to become "special" so that the rules don't apply to him. The only way we know of to become special involves the unique electromagnetic properties of the Swan Hatch, so I'm guessing Faraday is returning to the Island with the single mission of exposing himself to those funky powers. During his time spent with Dharma, Faraday probably worked out a plan to figure out precisely how he was going to do this, and now he's back on the Island to carry out that gameplan.


However, Desmond also knows that there are risks involved in becoming "special". Thanks to the exposure to high levels of electromagnetic energy, there's the risk of becoming "unstuck in time" when traveling to or from the Island - just like Desmond and Minkowski. If Faraday is going to carry out his mission and (I assume) leave the Island afterwards, he would need to take precautions to prevent suffering the same bloody-nosed fate as Minkowski. He would need a Constant.


"If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant."


Faraday had this written in his journal in 2004. Keep in mind, this was BEFORE all the time-travel stuff started on Lost, BEFORE he found out that Charlotte was going to die, BEFORE he came up with his plan to "become special". In my mind, this means that 1996 Faraday had a journal containing information that he wouldn't have needed until 1977 (which sounds funny, but keep in mind the Daniel Faraday Perspective Timeline!). This means that before he left for the Island in 1977, Faraday must have sent something to himself that he would receive sometime before 2004. It almost creates a neat "loop" for Faraday's storyline. He's just a normal physicist, walking around Oxford, dating Theresa, happily oblivious to any of this - then he receives a journal from HIMSELF from the 1970's and his mind is blown. He starts reading his research and carrying out the experiments discussed within. Some of it probably makes sense to him, some of it probably doesn't - but over time he slowly begins to understand more and more. But the journal never leaves his side. That's when he meets this "Desmond Hume" in 2004, he runs off by himself and reads his journal that references Desmond - and suddenly it all starts to make sense. I'm guessing Faraday has had a number of revelations like this over the course of his life from the 1990's to 2004... maybe there was even some reference to the Island, the Oceanic 815 Crash, and his "gameplan" to become "special". I'm guessing this would kinda freak him out - maybe even driving him to be slightly crazy (queue the first time we met him when he was crying when viewing the wreckage of Oceanic 815!).



On the other hand, once he ends up on-Island in 2004, having this information would suddenly be really, really useful. It would explain how Faraday knew so much, knew to bring the equipment necessary for his payload experiment, noticed that light didn't "scatter right", etc - because he sent himself information about all of this, information he gathered through his time on-Island and his time with Dharma.


It all makes sense!


(Note: yes, it's possible that Faraday simply wrote about Desmond in 1996 after meeting him "just in case" he ever ended up getting unstuck in time, but that's a far less exciting theory than this one.)


You could take this a few steps farther if you want, having Widmore start funding Faraday in 1994 because he met him in 1977 off-Island while Faraday was working with Dharma and learned the truth. Likewise, you could have 1977 Faraday return the favor to Widmore by giving him stock market information about the next thirty years that could turn Widmore into the wealthy businessman we see today. My mind boggles with possibilities!!!


But I'll stop here. I think I've already built up this episode enough to ensure we will all be disappointed by it - but this should give us all something to chew on and discuss over the next week while I'm away.


Don't let the Blog burn down without me! See you next Wednesday for "The Variable" Instant Reactions!



omanni said...

Great work again Brian!

I was thinking many same things that you wrote, but your thoughts are much more deeper than mine.

Well, why else would I read this blog :D Also great thing that you are analysing guest stars and stuff.

I have started to think that maybe skipping survivors can't skip back to present (2008). At least not all of them. Instead they might start aging in the 1970's and some of them are still in the island in 2008 (30 years olders). Maybe they are "hiding" in the temple or some other place, controlling smokey and whispering. Well Ben's judgement little bit ruined my "skipping survivors controllin smokey" theory ;-). Still I can't abandon the theory that some of the skipping survivors stays in the island during 1974-2008 and are aging.

lost and back again said...

Amazing, enlightening preview, Brian. You’re a genius. {{Here’s a halo.}}

And you’ve put Daniel Faraday on the Deathwatch 2009 list. You’re an evil genius. {{Give it back.}}

BTW, Daniel Faraday isn’t the only time-skipping character who actually left the Island. John Locke did too.

<<"If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my Constant.">>

If Daniel causes The Incident on the island in 1977 which gets everyone back to 2008… and something “goes wrong”… and Desmond Hume isn’t there (in space and time)… then Daniel could go all Minkowski and bleed out… which could possibly be reeeeeally bad.

Um, bad for whom?

If Daniel’s dying were bad for the Island, and the Island really, really needs Desmond to return // he never should have left // you’re not supposed to leave, Jack // we have to go back, Kate… then Ms. Hawking was spot on when she told Desmond the Island isn’t done with him.

Um, how did she know that?

Maybe Daniel should have picked Richard Alpert to be his Constant. Seriously. The guy is always there.

jon. said...

Well there you go with the deathwatch, again! Why must someone die? Can't we just get along? :-)(Except Rose and Bernard -- I say annihilate'em)

Great Faraday prognosis. I'd be thrilled if it all plays out like that.

But even if Faraday subjects himself to the same weird island powers that Desmond experienced, then we still have the question of exactly HOW he will thereafter, once capable, in fact change things and bring the people back to 2008.

I hope it won't be too easy; "I'm special now so I'll turn the FTW and then all will be fine and dandy". I hope for some greater surprise.

jon. said...

I meant FDW. Hard to keep up with all the acronyms.

Brendan said...

I'm really hoping we get some sort of mind-blowing explanation for why Faraday was crying when he first saw the (fake) Flight 816 wreckage on TV. There's a real opportunity there for a classic OMG Lost moment.

Think of it this way - imagine if in The Constant we only saw Penny on the phone on Christmas Eve 2004, all emotional and weeping, but we didn't hear the conversation and didn't know who she was talking to. Then, in some later episode, they reveal the whole Desmond time-slipping thing.

I'm hoping for something like that to play out with Daniel Faraday.

jack said...

One small detail -- does Whidmore know Desmond was on the Island? Please refresh my memory as to how and when Whidmore learned this?

Kris C said...

Brian: you mentioned that our time skippers (Sawyer, Juliette, etc.) have not gone past 2005. Didn't they jump forward to 2008 (briefly) when they were in the boat and being shot at (possibly by the Shadow Statue people)??

Daniel said...

Brian mentioned that from their perspective, 2005 was their present. That 2008 sequence was just a short little thing for them, that they didn't know much about.

Daniel said...

Widmore must have known that Desmond had been on the island the whole time, otherwise why would Naomi have brought a picture of Penny?

Of course, Desmond went to visit Widmore a few episodes ago and it looked like all that stuff was out in the open.

Some have speculated that Widmore manipulated Desmond into finding the island.

VictorC said...

Oh man, awesome episode episode preview, now I'm really excited for this episode.

Oh, and there's no way I could wait a week to read this kinda stuff, man.

timcourtois said...

ok, I never bought the whole, "whatever happened happened" thing. I think Faraday's been semi-lying all along. (Remember when he told Sawyer he couldn't talk to Desmond in the Hatch when they were time skipping? And then as soon as Sawyer walked away, he started banging on the Hatch to talk to Desmond and change the past/future?

I think Faraday can ALREADY change the past. Otherwise, how could he send a journal to himself? I think "whatever happened happened" has been a red herring all along.

jack said...

Daniel - i forgot entirely about Naomi carrying that photo to the Island. firstly, i wonder how Whidmore knew Desmond was on the island? (assuming he didn't trick Desmond to go there in the first place). I guess if it was a manimpuation by Whidmore, Naomi carrying the photo of Penny would be intened to make Desmond believe it is Penny's search boat to rescue them. Anyway, i suggest this story line here should be further examined by on this board at some point.

Daniel said...

add it to the list!

Tim, I'm with you about Faraday, I've always thought he was giving us false info. (intenionally or not)

One thing about that throws me though. Remember Miles and Hurley discussing time travel at the dining room table? Miles was speaking clearly and understandably that "whatever happened, happened" (WHH) I felt this was the producers speaking directly to the audience and giving us the time travel rules. What did you guys think about that?

Gibbo said...

I'm sorry but the only exception to WHH is Desmond(and possibly Farraday if Brian's theory is correct).

Like the person above mentioned, when Hurley and Miles had that conversation, that was a way for the writers to explain it to the audience.

Admittedly, nothing is ever black or white with Lost there's always a grey area. But I dont think the writers would blatantly tell us one thing, and do something completely different. I just dont buy it.

Hobbes said...

Nice work Brian, I was thinking the whole Faraday book thing too. With Hurley wanting to send his notes to George Lucus for Empire Strikes Back, it occurred to me too that perhaps Faraday had done the same thing to himself. Perhaps explaining why he was crying when he saw the Oceanic news. A realization that the book he "mysteriously" received was somehow more real than he initially thought or gave credence to and was overcome with an epiphany-like moment.
Also with Chang’s video and his plea that the “Dharma Initiative must be reconstituted”, I did think there was a possibility for the Shadow of the Statue people to simply be DI returning to the island. However there just seems to be a deeper cultish connection with the island for them, leading me to side on the theory they are involved with a pre-others/Alpert/Egyptian breakup shla-mozzle.

D-Bone said...

Quick side note - clip show was a bust, totally lame. The only thing it confirmed was that Widmore was the one who planted the fake crash.

Query - The SotS people seem very knowledgable. They know about Widmore and his mission. They know about the flight to the island. Illana's cover story for capturing Sayid was obviously a front for her to board the plane. How is it these people know so much but don't recognize Ben, a major player in the history of the island?

D-Bone said...

Furthermore, why did Illana need to capture Sayid and bring him on the flight? Why didn't she just board as a normal passenger like Bram and anyone else who is in their group?

lost and back again said...

D-Bone, did the clip show confirm that Widmore faked the plane crash? I didn’t watch enough of it to see that part. The show was redundant and confusing. It was a waste of time, really. And a lost opportunity. I mean, if the network simply wanted to make the season last a week longer, it could have explored Egyptian mythology, delved into literary references (and interviewed Stephen King), discussed time travel theories (and hyped Stephen Hawking’s role in advancing theories of cosmology), or simply interviewed cast members.

Anyway… um, yeah… the Shadow people sure know a lot.

We’ve already figured they’re not on Widmore’s team. And they could be on Ben’s team. But Brian thinks they’re more likely Island Ancients (pre-Other Others) or neo-Dharmites trying to reconvene per Dr. Chang’s Comic-Con appeal.

<< Speaking of Dr. Chang… should we be wondering why he wanted the body of the death-by-dental-work guy? Did he want it like Richard Alpert wanted Paul’s body? Did he want to interview it like Miles did? >>

Anyway, I LOVE Brian’s theory that the Shadow people are on a third team that knows a lot about Widmore (Dharma) AND Ben (the Others)… a team led by Eloise Hawking. That lady has crazy, mad skills... pent up anger management issues… a highly-motivated, time travel expert for a son… hieroglyphics in the Lamp Post station… and people working for her. Remember Brother Campbell? He brought Desmond and Penny together. {{Brother Campbell gets a halo for that!}}

D-Bone said...

Yes, the narrator spoke it as a factual statement during one of the segments.

Other than that, waste of time.

Gnolog said...

That's right. The narrator DID say that Widmore faked the wreckage at the bottom of the ocean.

But I don't know if I want to believe it.

There is some evidence to support it, for example, the man that was dead on the table that Miles "read" as his audition for Naomi. Apparently he was in the process of delivering information to Widmore, which included a receipt of sorts for a plane.

You can interpret this either as he was delivering the payment info to Widmore as his "proof of purchase", or perhaps the dead man was a spy who was bringing the documents to Widmore after having stolen them from Ben.

Just my two cents.

jack said...

The dead guy Miles communicated with was likely blackmailing Whidmore. Why else would Naomi have his dead body in a body bag? Whidmore had her take him out.

D-Bone said...

While I see both sides of the argument, my opinion is that these lame clip shows are for the average viewer who can't keep up with the complexity that is LOST. The average viewer doesn't read Brian's blog or analyze it like we all do. Therefore, I think the information presented in the clip show is meant to clarify things and not mis-lead them.

Steve said...

Why of why do people forget Alvar Hanso?

Could he be the third party? Sure, I know that he funded dharma, but it's also 2007. His grandad was the captain of the black rock.. and died on the island. Had he ever been on the island? Maybe they mixed in with the 'others' and created a variant from the 'true blooded' ancients?

Steve said...

For those bad with math, I'm going to say a "I told you so" in that the year is 2007, not 2008!

The clip show confirmed it, saying that the plane ajira suvivors was in 2007.

Daniel said...

has it really been a point of contention?

Gibbo said...


Batchout said...

I am pausing at the Jump. Thanks Brian for venturing into the unknown(by me) Happy Finale! (I will return)