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Lost Season 5 Episode 14: The Variable

Now this is what an episode of Lost should be like. As much as I enjoyed the breather provided by Laurel & Hardy Miles & Hurley, tonight’s episode was the kind of fast-paced thrill ride that the best episodes of Lost always are. Let’s recap and analyze…

We begin in 2007, as Desmond is rushed into the hospital with Penny and Charlie by his side. Penny and Charlie are in the waiting area as Desmond is operated on, and Eloise Hawking walks up. She apologizes to Penny and says it’s her son’s fault that this happened. The look on Penny’s face was great as she said, “Your son is Benjamin Linus?” Eloise sets her straight and we cut to 1977 Dharmaville.

Daniel is getting off the submarine and we get our only true comedic moment of the night–Miles says, “Once you left for Ann Arbor, I figured you got rich and invented the DVD or something.” In addition to the big laugh he got from me, Miles confirmed my suspicion that Daniel had just been working for Dharma off-island all along. Daniel shows Miles the “Class of 77” photo to explain why he’s back, then asks to see Jack. Once they get to Jack’s place, Jack tells Daniel that Eloise is the reason he came back. After Daniel guesses correctly that Eloise told Jack about his ‘destiny’, he promptly bursts Jack’s bubble and says his mother was wrong.

Flashback to Young Daniel playing piano.  Eloise explains to him that destiny is about using your gifts to their fullest, and apparently not about playing the piano. When Daniel says he can make time, she responds, “If only you could.”

Miles and Daniel head to The Orchid, so Jack goes to Sawyer who reveals a bound-and-gagged Security Phil in the kitchen cabinet. Not to digress too much, but for some reason I was really pleased to see him locked in the cabinet. I’m sure Patrick Fischler is a fine character actor, but I just can’t stand him in this role. Although, I guess that may be the point of the character–if so, it worked.

Daniel and Miles arrive at The Orchid, and they see Dr. Chang arrive shortly after them. We are then treated to the scene from the season premiere, only this time from Daniel’s point of view. After the part we saw on the premiere, Daniel actually approaches Chang and tells him he only has six hours to evacuate the island. Daniel’s “proof” isn’t very convincing though, since it consists of telling Chang “I’m from the future!” Chang is also unconvinced when Daniel tells him that Miles is actually his grown son. I thought Dr. Chang was going to buy it for a minute, but then Miles slams the door shut with a quick denial. Once Chang leaves, Daniel tells Miles he just had to make sure that Chang does what he is “supposed to do”.

Flashback to doctoral graduate Daniel, who is with Theresa (pre-brain melting) when Eloise appears. Eloise makes it obvious that she is not happy with Theresa and takes Daniel to lunch. After Daniel tells his mother about his $85.1 Million grant from Widmore, she pisses him off by telling him to stop wasting his time on Theresa. Eloise hands Daniel a gift, then leaves the restaurant. The gift is Daniel’s journal, complete with an inscription:

“Daniel,

No matter what, remember I will always love you.

Mother”

She also left Daniel with the check, which I think was pretty weak. I thought it was interesting that Eloise considered a relationship with Theresa to be as worthless as playing the piano. I think it’s interesting that Eloise doesn’t even entertain the possibility that these other pursuits could be an intricate part of nurturing Daniel’s genius. 

Back in ’77, Sawyer is presenting the gang with two options: 1) Steal the sub and leave the island, or 2) Go into the jungle and ‘back to square one’. A knock at the door brings Miles and Faraday (or Twitchy if you prefer) into the conversation, and Daniel presents option 3) Let’s go talk to The Hostiles since my mom is one of them. His reason? Daniel says she can get them all back where they belong. My first thought on this was that our people are going back to 2007 where they ought to be.

Another flashback, this time it’s Daniel crying at the fake Oceanic 815 wreckage on the ocean floor. Widmore pays Daniel a visit and offers him a new opportunity. Daniel has some kind of mental disorder thanks to an experiment on himself, which he says he tried first before trying it on his research assistant Theresa. Apparently Daniel’s brain only got partially melted. Daniel tells Widmore that he doesn’t understand why the wreckage is making him so sad, so Widmore decides to cheer him up by admitting that he staged the entire thing. Widmore then tells Daniel that the island will heal his mind and memory. When Charles tells Daniel that he needs shouldn’t waste his talent, Daniel says that sounds like something his mother would say.  Charles says they’re old friends.

At Casa del Lafluer, Sawyer asks Daniel, “Your mother’s an Other?” Sawyer then proceeds to argue against Daniel’s plan, making it extremely clear to me that he really does like the life he has built with Juliet, and he does not like the idea of leaving Dharmaville. Juliet gives the sonic fence code away, so Jack, Kate, and Daniel decide to head for The Others. Sawyer tells the rest of the gang to get their stuff so they can head back to the beach, adding that once they’re done chasing The Others, Jack, Kate, and Daniel will know where to find them. As they head toward the motor pool, Daniel takes a quick side trip to talk to -no surprise here- Young Charlotte. Before they can get away clean, Radzinski shows up with his black jumpsuit gang.  A gunfight ensues, with both Daniel and Radzinski getting incidental wounds.

A final flashback to melty-brain Daniel as Eloise encourages him to take Widmore’s job offer, saying it’s ‘important’. Daniel just wants to know one thing, “If I go, will it make you proud of me?”

Back in ’77 at the sonic fence, Daniel confirms what Miles told us a few episodes ago–they are currently in their own present time, which means any one of them could die. Back in the village, Radzinski shows up at Sawyer’s house, and just when we think Sawyer’s bullshit artistry will save them, Phil is discovered in the cabinet. Things don’t look good for Sawyer and Juliet, but I just can’t believe they won’t find a way out of this.

In the jungle, Daniel explains his new theory to Jack. In a few hours, Dharma drills into the energy at The Swan, causing what we will come to know as The Incident. That causes them to build the button, which Desmond will one day not press, bringing down Oceanic 815. While his previous theory focused mainly on the Constants, Daniel is now focused on the Variables, by which he means people. He now contends that their free will and reasoning mean that they can break the cycle–unfortunately his brilliant plan involves destroying the energy by detonating the hydrogen bomb we saw at the beginning of the season.

In 2007 with Penny, Eloise tells her that for the first time in a long time, she doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Cue a nurse to tell Penny that Desmond is out of surgery–he reminds Penny he promised never to leave her again. As Eloise leaves the hospital, Widmore approaches and explains he had to sacrifice his daughter, and Eloise quickly reminds him she had to sacrifice her son as well.  Charles then confirms what I had suspected since the 1954 skip on the island–he is Daniel’s father. This earns him a nice slap from Eloise.

Approaching The Others campsite in ’77, Daniel tells Jack and Kate to wish him luck, then enters the camp alone with his gun drawn. He trains his sight on Richard Alpert and demands to speak to Eloise Hawking.  Richard tries to tell Daniel that she’s not there, but Daniel keeps waving the gun. The camera is tight on Daniel and Richard when a shot rings out. As the camera pulls out, we see that it’s Daniel who has been shot–by Ellie. as she stands over a dying Daniel, he says, “You knew. You always knew, but you sent me here anyway.” Daniel’s face goes blank. LOST.

The last scene was a total brain melting moment for me.  It’s not that I thought Daniel was invincible, I just enjoyed him so much that I wanted him to stick around. I really wasn’t prepared for him to die tonight, but at least they told his full story before killing him. I know that the Island sometimes brings people back, but I don’t think that’s going to happen with Daniel. He shared his full plan with Jack, so now it’s up to him to carry it out. At this point, I can’t wait for old lady Eloise and Charles Widmore to get their payback for sending their son to be killed by Young Ellie. It seemed clear by the look on Richard Alpert’s face that Daniel’s death was not necessary.

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April 29, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Science, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lost Season 5 Episode 14: The Variable

Lost Season 5 Episode 12: Dead is Dead

Any issues I had with a slowdown in last week’s Kate episode, were definitely resolved tonight thanks to a focus on Ben, Widmore, and Locke.  Let’s break it down.

The episode opened in ’77 with a man entering the Others camp on horseback.  His first stop after dismounting is to get in Richard Alpert’s face and chastise him for saving Young Ben.  Richard quickly responds that the Jacob wanted it done and that we all know the island chooses who the island chooses.  This seems to satisfy the man, who asks for the boy’s name and enters the tent.  After telling Young Ben that living with Dharma doesn’t mean he can’t be one of them, he introduces himself as Charles Widmore.  I had a major ‘oh duh’ moment when this was revealed.  For some reason I didn’t see this coming, and I feel like after last week it should have been pretty obvious.  Ultimately I think the fact that this guy didn’t seem to look anything like old man Widmore must have been what fooled me.  

Ahead to 2007 and Locke sitting next to Ben in the infirmary when Ben wakes up.  Ben immediately tells Locke that he knew he would be resurrected, to which Locke asks why Ben seems so surprised to see him then.  Ben, quick on his feet as always, tells Locke while he believed it, it’s another thing to actually see it.  Ben also tells Locke that he’s headed to the main island to be judged for breaking the island’s rules. Like the rest of us, Locke wants to know who is going to the judging.  Ben says they don’t have a word for it, but I believe you call it The Monster.  Awesome–who hasn’t thought about Ben getting ravaged by Smokey ever since we saw Mr. Eko get devoured?  I must admit though, that Ben has become a character I love to hate.  I find myself wanting to see what web of bullshit he’ll spin next.  Speaking of, Ben promptly makes an ally of Cesar, by planting some serious doubt about Locke.

Next, we cut to a 20-something Ben and Ethan at approximately age 12.  Ethan’s making a bunch of noise and almost blows their cover as they sneak up on a sleeping Danielle.  As we guessed, Ben steals Baby Alex.  In addition, he tells Danielle that if she wants to live, every time she hears whispers she has to run the other way.  I believe this is the first time anyone has openly acknowledged that the whispers are the cue that the Others are coming.

In Ben’s old office in 2007, Locke decides it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Ben is quick to tell Locke that killing him was the only way to get the band back together to play the Island Reunion Tour ’07.  Ben also reminds us that like so many other things, he did it for the best interests of the island. Locke cracked me up with, “I was just hoping for an apology,” then telling Ben that he would like to help him go and get judged. At this point I was already starting to enjoy this new Locke.  In addition to being resurrected, it appears the Island gave him a pair of balls.  The head for one of the canoes on the beach, but are confronted by Cesar a a few guys.  Cesar starts getting in Locke’s face and questioning his motives.  After leading us to believe he’s going to throw Locke under the bus, Ben surprises Cesar by pulling out the sawed-off shotgun he stole from him and giving him a slug to the chest.  Ben looks at the other men and says, “This gentleman and I are going to take a boat, does anyone else have a problem with that?”  I love when Ben talks shit.  Once back on the mainland, Locke figures out that they’re heading to Ben’s old house so he can summon Smokey.  Locke also calls bullshit on Ben for the second time tonight, as he figures out that this has nothing to do with breaking the rules and everything to do with Ben letting Alex die.

This leads us into another flashback to 20-something Ben, this time with a middle-aged Widmore who is now old enough to played by Alan Dale.  Charles is upset with Ben for failing to kill Danielle and Alex, and reminds Ben that he is making decisions for the good of the island.  Ben asks if that’s what Jacob wants and then offers Baby Alex to Charles so he can kill her himself.  Rather than kill the child, Charles turns and walks away.  I may be premature, but I think this is the moment when Ben asserts control over The Others and Widmore starts to become diminished.

Now we’re back in 2007 Dharmaville, and Locke wants to know why the Others moved in after killing the hippies.  Before Ben can spew more lies, a light comes on in Alex’s old room.  Locke tells Ben to go check it out, and after some brief suspense it turns out to be Sun & Frank.  We find out that Christian told them to wait for John Locke, and they think that’s crazy talk.  Ben tells them to look out the window.  John tells his resurrection story and Sun doesn’t believe him–but Lapidus REALLY doesn’t believe him and plans to head back to the crash site.  Locke warns Sun that her only chance to see Jin is by coming along, so Frank heads back solo.  Locke tells Sun that Ben has something to take care of, so Ben goes into his cubby-hole and summons the smoke monster by pulling a drain plug and talking into a hole in the ground.

Back to the Others and Ben is a bit older–looks like the late eighties since Alex is about 3 or 4 and the Others are now in Dharmaville.  Richard Alpert walks up and lets Ben know that the submarine is about to leave.  Even the Richard tells him he doesn’t have to Ben makes a point to go to the dock to see a handcuffed and somewhat older Charles Widmore being escorted to the sub.  Ben doesn’t miss the opportunity to chastise Widmore, telling him this is what he gets for breaking the rules by leaving the island all the time and fathering a child with ‘an outsider’.  Widmore makes it clear this isn’t over and says, “I’ll be seeing you boy.”

In 2007 Dharmaville, Sun tells Ben she doesn’t believe Locke was really dead.  Without confessing, Ben assures her he was, then tells her how surprised he is that Locke was resurrected.  He says that ‘dead is dead’ and that the resurrected Locke scares the living hell out of him.  After a rustle in the bushes, Ben tells Sun to go inside because he can’t control what’s about to come out, and that’s when instead of the smoke monster, Locke appears out of the jungle.  I see two meaning here and I think both are true.  This is confirmation that while Ben was able to summon the smoke monster in season four, he did not ultimately have control over it.  Also, I think this is a clue that Ben is no longer calling the shots.  Since Smokey isn’t showing up, Locke decides they have to take a walk.

Back at the dock in Los Angeles, but not at night, Ben is on the phone with Widmore.  He called just to tell Charles that he is going to kill Penny.

Cut to Sun, Ben, and Locke walking through the jungle.  Ben wants to know how Locke just knows where to go, and John tells him that now he knows what it was like to be him before.  Ben figures out they’re going to the temple about 50 yards before they get there.  Locke stops been from opening the door and points him toward the hole in the ground that Danielle’s unfortunate shipmate got dragged into by the smoke monster.  Before climbing down, Ben tells Sun if she ever gets off the island, he needs her to find Desmond and apologize for him.

Cut back to Ben at the dock.  He shoots Desmond and approaches Penny with his gun raised.  Toddler Charlie comes up from the cabin, distracting Ben long enough for a wounded and adrenaline filled Desmond to tackle and beat the absolute shit out of him.  I had been thinking and hoping all along that Desmond was the one who worked Ben over, so I’m glad to see I was right on that one.  Like it or not, I’m a fan of Desmond/Penny.  Here’s hoping they find their way back to the island as well.

In an odd sequence that I hope will make more sense before the end of the season, Lapidus arrives back at the small island, only to have Ilana knock his ass out after he fails to answer her riddle, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?”  It seems like I heard some speculation that the rest of the people who survived the crash were really Others, but my money  says they are Widmore employees.  I mean you can’t tell me he didn’t have a search setup to notify him when Hugo Reyes decided to buy a last minute plane ticket (or 79).

The big scene this week came with Locke and Ben walking through a tunnel under the temple.  Ben is acting very strange and then insists he can proceed on his own.  Locke agrees and Ben promptly falls through the floor into another chamber.  Locke leaves to find a way out, leaving Ben to explore the chamber.  Ben approaches an altar with a hieroglyph depicting Anubis interacting with what appears to be the smoke monster.  There is a large stone in the floor with a grid of holes, and just as Ben starts to look at it, the smoke monster begins to enter the room through the holes.  It quickly surrounds Ben, and we then switch to a perspective inside the smoke monster, where Ben is shown a series of his own memories about Alex.  After making Ben relive the moment of Alex’s death, the monster dissipates and reveals a corporeal Alex.  Ben’s joy is short-lived as Alex slams him against a column and says she already sees his thoughts about killing Locke again, and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t vow to obey John Locke.  Ben agrees and Alex disappears.  Moments later, Locke appears with a vine to lift Ben out and asks what happened.  Ben says, “It let me live.” LOST

I’ve rattled on a bit too long tonight, but I guess that shows how much I enjoyed this episode.  I am really enjoying this new version of Locke, and I hope it isn’t just a tease.  I would like to think that despite their wishes, both Widmore and Ben are no longer leaders on the Island.  I expect Locke to reunite the Oceanic 815 survivors (including Rose & Bernard) and take his place among the Others.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lost Season 5 Episode 12: Dead is Dead