Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LOST The Variable, first thoughts

As always *SPOILERS* if you aren't caught up, so continue reading at your own risk, because, this is our present, so we have to be careful.

Tonight was the 100th episode of LOST, which usually entails something major happening, and this episode is no different.  It also used the occasion to hearken back to the greatest episode the series has offered thus far, The Constant.

The title of this episode was The Variable, which is a major part of an equation,  In mathematics and science, a variable is a symbol that stands for a value that can change.  It occurs in opposition to constants, symbols that can not change.  Variables and constants are fundamental to all modern mathematics and in science.

This episode featured Daniel Faraday, but was interspersed with Desmond Hume.  The Constant was a Desmond-centric episode that was interspersed with Daniel Faraday.  In the Constant, Desmond searches for a way to connect to his constant, Penny.  In this episode, Faraday believes that he is a Variable.  In the Constant, Desmond is correct in believing Penny is his Constant and lives because of it.  In this episode, Faraday is incorrect and dies because of it.  In both episodes, the terms constant and variable are both used by Faraday.  In The Constant, Daniel tries to explain to Desmond why he needs a constant.  He shows his equation on his blackboard to Desmond and says, all of these are variables, what we need is a constant.  In The Variable he says to Dr. Jack, "I've spent so much time on the constants... I'd forgotten about the variables."  He goes on to tell Dr. Jack and Kate that they are the variables, they have free will, they can change the future.

Shortly, the Incident that requires the pushing of the button every 108 minutes will occur.  The Incident that will force Desmond into pushing that very button for years before he decides enough is enough.  And by deciding not to push that infernal yet necessary button, Desmond causes Oceanic Flight 815 to crash.  Then when Locke takes over the button and decides, like Desmond before him, not to hit that damnable button, the Island becomes visible allowing Widmore to send his freighter folk to the Island.  But if that original event never occurs, neither will any of the rest of it.  If Faraday is right and they are variables, then they can keep that Incident from ever occurring.

The thing is, Faraday is still stuck acting as a constant.  He hasn't done anything differently then he always did.  Widmore (and all who surmised that Widmore was Faraday's father, you can have your cookie now, congratulations) sent him to that Island, and his mother backed Widmore's play, knowing that they were sending Faraday to his death.  To his death at his mother's own hands.

Which, the second that he told Sawyer's brain trust that he needed to find the Hostiles I knew was his fate.  I hadn't put together how much of a parallel there was between this episode and The Constant yet, but I knew that Faraday was destined to die at his mother's hands.  It seemed inevitable.  I hoped that the episode would surprise me and end differently, but it didn't.  And honestly, it couldn't.

Desmond found his Constant and lived.  Faraday had to fail in finding his variable and die.  Constants and Variables are opposites.  They exist in opposition to each other.  And yet you need them both in order to find the answer.  The Constant helps you find the Variable.

Faraday tells Dr. Jack that they are the Variables, but if you watch the Constant you realize that he is incorrect.  Desmond is the Variable.  Desmond is the one that can change things.  He's done it twice before.  Possibly a few more then that, but two very important times.

Earlier this season, Faraday uses Desmond to seek out his mother.  Desmond has a memory that he didn't have until Faraday talked to him in the past.  Faraday even acknowledges at that point that only Desmond could do this, that Desmond is special.

In The Constant, when Faraday has Desmond seek out the Faraday of 1996, Faraday has created a new past for himself, one in which he had met Desmond, despite the fact that when he told Desmond to seek out his past self he had no memory of any such meeting ever having occurred.  That is because at that point, the meeting hadn't ever occurred.  Unlike with everyone else, Desmond is not subject to "Whatever Happened, Happened".  After Desmond went back and met with Faraday, there was a new note in Faraday's journal.  One that would not have been there before Desmond's trip.  It said, "If anything goes wrong, Desmond will be MY constant."

The problem is, Desmond isn't a constant, never was.  Desmond is the Variable.

So, if the question is, can our LOSTies keep the Incident from occurring and changing the entire history of the Island causing their plane to never crash in the first place?  Then the answer is Yes, but only with Desmond's help.

And as it stands right now, I have no idea how they're going to get it.

Okay, that's not exactly true.  I do have an idea.  Eloise Hawking.  She's in 1977 and she's with Desmond in present day.  Plus she knows how to get people to the Island.  The problem is, from her own words, "For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next."  Which is a little problematic for our heroes.  Great time for her to run out of Future Knowing Ability.

Well, I suppose we know now where our last three hours of LOST this season are taking us, attempting to keep the Incident from occurring.  Looks like we're headed to an epic finish these next two weeks and then we'll be thrust into that awful time known as LOST-hiatus as we wait for the final season to begin next January.

A couple of other things I wanted to hit on from this episode...

I loved how Young Faraday was playing the piano to a metronome, a constant mode of keeping musical time, and yet was speeding up and slowing down his tempo despite it.  And when his mother told him that he had other things to focus on he told her, "I can make time."

And also, I thought it was interesting that we finally got the answer to the question of who faked the plane crash, a mystery we were reminded of in the last episode, and it turns out that it was Charles and not Benry.  So, at least Michael was told the truth about that.

Until Next Time, let us remember Faraday, one of the show's greatest characters.  Although he wasn't even with us for a full two seasons, he will be sorely missed.  To Daniel Faraday.

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