Lost: The Variable

I thought I was going to have to do math this week – functions and binomial equations were mentioned during pre-screening – but luckily what we saw was the equal and opposite of “the constant”.

I may go a bit unorganized here and just do a running list of questions. Let’s go.

  • Who is Penelope’s mother?
  • Maybe it’s Eloise, which means Daniel & Penelope are the Luke & Leia of Lost. Or maybe I’m projecting based on the “Hoth” reference from two weeks ago.

  • Who else in the narrative – outside of those on either flight (Oceanic 815/Ajira 316) and the boat folks – is experiencing their linear lives out of calendar order?
  • I really don’t have an answer here, but my gut tells me that there are others who are unstuck in time based on the events of the island. Plus, how hardcore is Eloise’s belief in destiny that she would send her own son to his death at her own hands.

    BONUS: who else guessed that Widmore was Faraday’s dad? Show of hands (be honest).

    Also: loved LaFleur/Sawyer calling Faraday “H.G. Wells”. Gotta love The Time Machine.

  • What do any of these numbers mean?
  • 141717

  • Who are the other women in Faraday’s life?
  • “They’re all going to get hurt.” Or kill you 30 years in the past. Nice touches though to tie in all the previous Faraday flashbacks.

    Theresa, Carolyn and Charlotte, for sure, plus Eloise. Who else?

  • Can the past or future be changed?
  • I’m still listing this item as “TBD” but it’s interesting that Faraday changed his mind on the subject.

    In all fairness, he seemed sick and suffering some memory loss when he was dependent on “the constant”. On the other hand, he walked right into his own death, probably a little bit aware of what his mother might do.

    Which begs the question: did Faraday have some kind of death wish to escape any “destiny” his mother had “planned”?

    Would fulfilling your purpose in the face of supposedly being smart enough to avoid it count as a revolutionary act?

    Did Eloise expect him to change anything or is she firmly in “the constant” camp (especially since she told Penelope she didn’t know what would happen next).

    Working against Faraday: his own words: “I tried to avoid saying this (to Charlotte). I didn’t think I could change things; maybe I can.”

    Gut check time: if you had to write the final scene in the entire series (just over a season away) do the events on the island ever “happen” or is there some kind of global reset that isn’t quite Newhart or a Snow Globe or Purgatory but is somehow satisfying? I’m leaning that way myself but I’m willing to entertain alternate theories.

  • Belonging
  • Related to the “big question” above, where do our characters belong?

    Together? (Live together, die alone)
    Apart? (Whatever happened, happened)
    What will happen?

    Very existential, I know, but nice to see the greatest themes of Lost front and center.

Good episode. Only two left this season.

See you next week and in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Lost: The Variable

  1. Maybe Eloise doesn’t know what is going to happen because she just realized that Daniel is alive in some time. She has lived all of these years knowing that she killed him (believing that it cannot be changed because “The Universe has a way of course correcting” as she tells Desmond.) but has now discovered that he is living somewhere or some”when” as the case may be. Now her theory is shot to pieces. I don’t know. This whole time travel thing is starting to confuse me.

  2. I’m reallly not sure that Eloise knew what was going to happen, with the time-hopping and then Daniel getting shot. Sending Kate, Jack, etc back was introducing a new variable — one that brought Dan hopping a sub from Ann Arbor after seeing their picture. It was that the set off the chain of events leading to his death, and I think it was that new variable she was referring to when she said she didn’t know what was going to happen now. What do you think?

    Oh and I’m pretty sure Eloise isn’t Penny’s mom, because of the whole, “Widmore, you had a child with an outsider!! Be banished, you!”

    And I have no idea how they will tie it all together in the end. But I vote for “together” — if they go their separate ways I think it will be less of a meaningful ending.

  3. E says:

    You know, I was pretty firmly in the camp of “The people from the present who are living in the past can change the future”, but this episode made me wonder a bit. If Eloise sent Faraday to his certain death, maybe the changes that Faraday seemed to think he could make were meaningless because the course would correct regardless. I wonder if Jack & Kate will try to set off Jughead in order to stop “The Incident”, and end up causing it.

  4. How long have Jack and Company been with the Dharma Initiative now? Long enough for a photograph of them to get to Ann Arbor and back? Where did Faraday get that picture?

    (Also: Where did Faraday get that last name?)

    The question Jack and Kate should be asking themselves is this: Are their relationships worth killing everyone else on that plane? Is Charlie getting clean and dying better than Charlie landing in LA as an addict? Whose lives are better if 815 doesn’t crash?

    This week’s episode suffered from LOST’s most terrible vice, in my opinion: brief, urgent declarations of mysterious import followed by running towards trouble that would be diffused if only they’d stopped to talk for one damn minute. E.g.:

    FARADAY: Jack! You’re not supposed to be here! This is so bad! Dangerous!
    JACK: What do you mean?
    FARADAY: No time, we gotta go! Hurry!


    FARADAY: I’m going down there. I don’t how a gun works and I can’t stop for even thirty seconds to explain myself.
    KATE: Wait!
    JACK: Let him go. Better to be reckless and crazy. What could go wrong?
    FARADAY: Ouch! My guts! Mom — WTF?!

  5. Heather, I think you’re right about the episodes. My apologies.

    Crystal, I’m confused by the time travel as well.

    Sarah& E, good call on the whole Widmore banishment/Penny’s Mom point.

    Will, thank you for asking about the photo. I hadn’t even considered the timing issue.

    I appreciate all your points about the action and narrative structure of the episode and I can see why they bothered you. I think it’s all a device to help propel the action – whatever action – Jack et al take to some kind of season-ending, break-neck kaboom.

    And I really agree that “changing” the outcome to stop the crash would be truly catastrophic, and I’m not engaging in hyperbole.

    I think the “change” that will happen will happen in the future and somehow (hopefully) be satisfying.

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