Daniel Faraday took center stage on Lost last night and, if it indeed was his send-off, Ol’ Twitchy went out in a blaze of glory. “The Variable” was great television, at once exciting and thoughtful, plot-driven and deeply philosophical. Lost has juggled their stable of characters and multiple story-lines with ease, once more inspiring faith in a writing staff that deserves to be commended. Lost cynics have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the writers to finally paint themselves into an insurmountable corner. The time travel aspect of season five appeared risky, plot-wise, but it appears that Lindelof and Cuse were in control all along. Looking back on “The Variable,” there is much to discuss, so let’s get into it.
Back to the Beach
Before we get to the real in-depth stuff, I want to touch on one scene in particular that, while perhaps not terribly important to last night’s plot, struck me emotionally in ways I did not expect. Sawyer calls everyone to his house to discuss their options. They have to go back to Square One – The Beach. Why was I so excited to hear this? Why did nostalgia rise up within me? Not only did I feel like all of our favorite characters belong back at the beach, I got the sense that they wouldn’t mind going back there either. It just goes to show how much the characters have endeared themselves to me, I suppose. Maybe no one else felt that way, but it struck me as odd that, even though I know a trip to the beach would be a move of surrender, it’s what I secretly desired.
What part does Desmond have left to play in this saga? What do Eloise and Charles have up their sleeves? Does Desmond have to go back? We probably wouldn’t have seen this much of Desmond this season if the writers didn’t have big plans for Mr. Hume, though it’s hard to know exactly what part he will play. Getting back to the island would prove difficult, especially with most of our characters stuck in the seventies. I’m an unabashed fan of Hume, and would love to see him get back into the fray, but I think we’ll have to wait until season 6 for that to happen.
Fate vs. Free Will
Fate vs. Free Will has emerged as one of Lost’s main themes. As far as deeply philosophical debates go, it’s also something that I’ve pondered from time to time. I tend to believe in fate more so than free will, if only because I think we all make the decisions we’re going to make at any given time. You’re always going to be yourself, for whatever that’s worth. So, what is Lost trying to tell us about fate? That no matter how much you think you might be able to change the future, you are powerless to its cruel hand? Daniel Faraday, the man who was certain that the future was going to happen as it was always supposed to, eventually found hope that he could indeed change the future, that he had previously overlooked the variables, only to waltz head-first towards his tragic destiny.
We’ll get to that event later, but I’m struggling with what Lost wants to say about all this. Have the Oceanic 815ers been destined to do exactly what they’ve done? Has the whole series been about them careening towards their ultimate destiny? Will each of them play a decisive part in the the island’s fate? If Daniel Faraday, the only character who remotely understands what is going on and had ideas about how to change the ostensibly immovable future, what chance do our heroes have of changing anything?
The Hatch Explanation
This is another chicken and egg question to ponder – how far in advance did that writers have the reasons for the hatch’s existence planned out? The further, the more impressive, right? I like the hatch explanation, and it ties in well to the plot, though I still don’t get why the numbers were necessary. I’ve heard some people wonder why they needed a person in the hatch to manually push the button, but I love it. It’s kind of like the Doomsday Device in Dr. Strangelove – by having one of their own press the button, Dharma set up a scenario, in their minds, where it was either them in control of the island or no one.
The Death of Daniel Faraday
Beautiful storytelling. The moment Eloise shot down Daniel in the Others camp, it all made sense – his destiny, Eloise’s peculiar parenting, the futility of Daniel’s plan. And count me among those who believe that Daniel is dead for good. They can’t give us another fake death this season, and it works too well plot-wise for the writers to take it back. I, like everyone else, will miss Daniel to no end, but people die on Lost. That’s just the way it is.
The Season End Game
Presumably, the last three hours of Lost’s fifth season will all happen within a few hours of island time. Jack and crew get ahold of Daniel’s notebook, and try to follow the instructions laid out within that notebook. I’m wondering what part the present-day members of the cast will play. Will Ben, Locke, and Sun even show up? Also, is anyone else as confused as me as to what the hell season 6 is going to be about. I have a colleague here at BuddyTV who thinks that season 5 will end with Oceanic Flight 815 landing safely in Los Angeles, negating everything that’s happened since the show’s first episode. While that would be shocking and awesome, where would that leave us? Ideas, theories, thoughts? Comment below if you’ve got ’em.
–Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)