In “The Variables,” we follow three story lines: Penny and Desmond, Daniel's life before the island and the island in 1977, all of which center around the story of Daniel Farraday. Daniel initially showed up on the island with questionable intent, but he has become a pivotal character in the Lost universe. I, for one, have long had a soft spot for Danny boy, from his tragic love for Charlotte to his all too familiar habit of writing in and referring to his journal.
One of last episode’s big cliffhangers was Scottish hottie Desmond’s fate after being shot by Benjamin “I’m going to kill your daughter but I'm a softie for kids” Linus. The show opens with Desmond being rushed into the hospital on a gurney while Penny and baby Charlie run alongside. The tears, they are aflowin’.
Later, as Penny sits in the waiting room, Eloise Hawking comes walking into the room. When this lady comes a calling, you know there’s going to be trouble. She tells Penny that it may be her son’s fault that Desmond was shot. Benjamin Linus is your son!? Penny exclaims. (I said the same thing in my head!) Oh heavens no, says Eloise, my son is Daniel Farraday. Cue the scary music.
Back on the island, circa 1977, we watch as Dharma folk emerge from the submarine. Who should poke out his head asking for a little help but our own Daniel Farraday. “Long time, no see” he says to a stunned Miles. Miles asks why he’s back and Daniel shows him the new recruit picture featuring the beloved Hurley, Kate and Jack. "Make haste! Take me to Jack!" Daniel exclaims.
Daniel bursts in on Jack, but first we are treated to a quick shot of Mr. Fox’s impeccable pecs. Mmmm. Why did you come back, Jack?! Yo mama. My mama what? Yo mama tole me to. Well, I’ve got news for you, you don’t belong here.
Now we flash forward, erm, backward to little Daniel playing a piano. Young(er) Eloise walks in and asks him if he knows what destiny means. No, I’m just a kid. Sheesh. Well, if one has a special gift, then it must be nurtured, she explains. She asks him how many beats on the metronome since he began playing. 864, he replies. (4 and 8? Hmm.) Math is your gift and it is my job to keep you on task, she tells him, and that means you’ll have to give up the piano. I can do both, I can make time, he says. If only you could.
Back on the island, Jack pays a visit to the Sawyer/Juliet abode while Miles and Farraday “run an errand” but Jack nearly gets the door shut in his face by Sawyer before Juliet steps in. I think we all know who wears the Dharma coveralls in that relationship. Sawyer explains that wormy security guy Phil has a tape of Sawyer and Kate taking Ben to the hostiles. Where’s Phil, Jack asks. Sawyer leads him to the closet where we find Phil, bound and gagged on the floor, looking a little less than pleased with his accommodations.
Meanwhile, Miles and Farraday sit in a Jeep outside the Orchid. When Dr. Chang drives up, Daniel follows him into the construction site. We hear Dr. Chang say “If you drill even one centimeter further, you risk releasing that energy. If that happened, then God help us all.”
Daniel puts on a hard hat and sneaks in to the tunnel where he sees a man being carried out on a stretcher. Would that be the fellow with the extremely unfortunate dental work? A worker says to Daniel “Did you hear that? Time travel. How stupid does that guy think we are?”
Daniel introduces himself and tries to convince Dr. Chang that he needs to evacuate the island because they are about to be rocked by an explosion with 30,000 times the power of what they’ve seen underground. When Dr. Chang is not convinced, Daniel resorts to telling him the truth: I’m from the future. Hey, it worked for Marty McFly. Sadly, Doc Chang is not as easily convinced as Doc Brown.
Daniel follows him out. To prove himself, he asks Chang to look at his equations, some of which won’t be discovered for 20 years. Miles sees what’s going down and comes over to say that Daniel had too many drugs on the sub. Daniel then drops the bomb: Miles is your son. I was secretly hoping that Miles would say it was true and we would have a tearful father-son moment, but Miles denies it. Dr. Chang hops into the robin egg VW van and puttputts off. Miles asks Daniel what he is doing and the response is typical Farraday/Hawking mysteriousness “You’ll see.”
We now visit Daniel at his graduation, where he throws about his long wavy locks and canoodles with the doomed Theresa. Eloise walks up and invites him (and only him) to lunch. Once seated at the Indian restaurant (Love me some Tandoori Chicken!), Daniel complains about the way she treated his girlfriend. She tells him he needs to be focusing on work, he doesn’t have time for relationships. The women in his life will only be terribly hurt. Is she trying to spare her son some of the pain of losing Theresa in the lab accident? As the discussion becomes more heated, he reveals that he has just received a 1.5 million pound grant from Charles Widmore. Before she leaves, she says she only came to congratulate him and gives him a gift. It’s the journal we see him looking in so often. The inscription says, “No matter what, remember that I will always love you.”
We return to Daniel’s living room. He’s clearly a shell of the man he used to be (or will become again on the island). He’s watching television news footage of the flight 815 airplane on the ocean floor. There’s a knock at the door and Charles Widmore enters the room. Daniel says he has a condition that affects his memory and he doesn’t recognize him. When Charles tells him his name, Daniel recognizes it from the research grant. As Charles sits down, he moves a Wired magazine with the subtitle “The Impossible Gets Real.” To which I say, INDEED. Charles says he has come to offer him a new opportunity, but Daniel is distracted by the images of the plane crash. Then Charles comes clean: it’s a fake and I did it. He wants to send Daniel to the island, saying it will further his research and show him things he never dreamed of. More importantly, it will heal him. Charles says he wants to do this because Daniel is a man of tremendous gifts and it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Daniel remarks that he sounds like his mother. Charles says it is because they are old friends. Little did we know how good of friends they used to be, though.
Back in Sawyer’s cabin, Daniel is doing his best to convince Sawyer to show him where the hostiles are so he can find his mom. Jack is on board but Sawyer resists and Juliet seems to be on his side until he calls Kate Freckles. Nobody likes to hear their main squeeze call his old flame their pet name and Juliet is no exception. She turns to Kate and volunteers the code to the fence. With the code in hand, Jack, Kate and Daniel head off into the forest to find Eloise while the rest of the group plan to go back to the beach. As they are leaving, Sawyer grabs a tearful Juliet’s hand and says “Time to go.” So much in just three words. It is the end of their life together on the island and the beginning of an uncertain future that may or may not have the two of them together.
On their way, Daniel sees young Charlotte on a swing. As he approaches, she tells him she’s not allowed to have chocolate before dinner. Ah, the deliciousness of Lost, those were Charlotte’s dying words. He tells her that Dr. Chang will be coming and she and her mommy have to leave. He says “You cannot be here. You have to leave. I tried to avoid telling you this. I didn’t think I could change things, but maybe I can.”
Jack, Kate and Daniel encounter the very cranky and badly coiffed Stuart and some Dharma lackeys as they are getting guns from the Motor Pool. A firefight ensues, old west style, and Daniel is shot in the neck. Jack does the old "fuel canister explosion as diversion" so they can escape. As they drive off, Stuart yells out "Sound the alarm."
Back in his living room, Daniel stumbles in his attempt to play the piano. Eloise walks in and says she heard that he had been offered a job and that it is very important that he accept this opportunity. Now, we had some inclination that Daniel was a momma’s boy, but when he says he’ll do it only after she says it will make her proud, we know for sure.
Jack, Kate and Daniel drive up to the sound barrier and Kate disarms it as Jack treats Daniel’s neck wound. It's just a flesh wound. (Said with British accent.) Daniel says “I guess I’m lucky” Jack asks what luck had to do with it? He thought Daniel said whatever happened, happened? But Daniel squashes that, telling him that this is their present, any one of us can die. That right there is what we call foreshadowing.
As they collect water in a stream, we finally learn the reason Desmond had to punch in those numbers all those years. In four hours, the Dharma guys will drill into a massive pocket of energy and the result will be catastrophic. They will contain the energy in the Swan, otherwise known as “the hatch.” Decades later, when Desmond fails to press the button, it causes the plane to crash and thus the entire chain of events that led to them all being there now.
Here we finally get to the crux of the issue. All along Daniel thought that you can’t change the past. But he spent so much time focusing on the constants that he forgot the variable: PEOPLE. People can change their destiny. He thinks they can destroy the energy under the island by detonating a hydrogen bomb.
We return to the hospital, where Eloise is telling Penny that she’s not sure if Desmond will be okay, that it is the first time in a long time that she didn’t know what was going to happen. A nurse comes out and says that Desmond is in a recovery room and is asking for her. When she goes in, he says “I promised you, Penny, I’d never leave you again.” Now that is love, my friends.
As Eloise walks out of the hospital, Charles Widmore steps out of the shadows. Eloise tells him that Desmond is fine and he should go see his daugher. He says he can't go in because he sacrificed his relationship with her. Eloise cuts him off to say, “don’t talk about sacrifice, I had to send my son back to the island knowing full well that…” Whaaaat?? Charles says, “He’s my son, too.” She slaps him and gets into the cab. Well, hello. Now we know why Charles has been so interested in him all these years.
Daniel walks into the Other camp, guns ablazing, asking for Eloise. Richard plays it cool and says she isn’t there. Daniel asks about the bomb, but still Richard holds out. Daniel begins the time honored tradition of counting to three.
At the count of two, a shot rings out and blood shows up on Daniel’s chest.
Behind him we see Eloise with a rifle in her hands. As she rushes up, Daniel says, “You knew, you always knew, and yet you sent me here anyway.” She asks who he is. I’m your son, he says, and then he goes still.
Best Lines of the Show
Miles: (When Jack looks to him to explain Farraday’s presence.) Don’t look at me, I just carried his luggage.
Sawyer: (To Daniel) Welcome to the meeting, twitchy.
Hurley: You guys were in 1954, like Fonzie times?
Jack: Insane? We disappeared off a plane in midair and ended up in 1977, I’m getting kind of used to insane.
Let's Get Sussing!
- Had Eloise just returned from the island where she killed Daniel when she asks him about destiny?
- Is the name of the salvage boat, the Christianne One, significant?
- Why doesn't Daniel have either Eloise's or Charles' last name?
- Has Eloise traveled through time? Is that how she knows everything?
- Why is Daniel so troubled by the plane crash on the television?
- Is Daniel really dead?