Dan is a man with a plan. After weeks of questioning what exactly Daniel Faraday knows or doesn't know, and whether or not we should trust him, Wednesday's episode of Lost, the show's 100th, gives us a peek into that complicated brainiac's melon, and what we find out is scary to contemplate. It seems that Daniel wants to prevent the folks at the Swan station from drilling, because it will release a dangerous amount of electromagnetic energy, killing many and launching a series of events that will eventually cause the crash of Oceanic 815. To counter this, Faraday thinks the best course of action is to detonate a hydrogen bomb. Come again, Daniel... while I pick up the pieces of what was once my staggeringly capable brain, read on!
Namaste, y'all! Let's get the Daniel backstory out of the way before we cover Operation Boom-Boom Island Bye-Bye, shall we? (Brain not quite working still. With any luck, my college roommate wasn't lying when he told me that Newcastle Brown Ale contains important brain-enhancement properties.) Onward!
Young Daniel likes the tickle the ivories, and count the ticking of the metronome. His mom, however, can't just enjoy his prodigious skills and be all: My boy is so talented. Instead, she asks the tweaky tween: "Do you know what destiny is?" She explains that he has a gift that he needs to nurture, with something other than piano-playing. "I could make time" [to play the piano], Daniel argues. "If only you could," a young Mrs. Hawking replies ominously. Burning question: Why do Daniel's parents (Hawking and Widmore) both have British accents, but he doesn't?
At his Oxford graduation, Daniel is the youngest doctor ever. But instead of an "atta boy," Mrs. Hawking insults Daniel's girlfriend, Teresa the doomed research assistant, and gives him a journal — the journal, in fact, which will later play a key role in future events.
Daniel also reports that he received a 1.5 million-pound grant from Charles Widmore, but is apparently unaware that he's his father. "Daniel, no matter what, remember, I will always love you. Mother" reads the journal's inscription.
Back to "Confirmed Dead"
We now revisit the scene from Season 4's freighter-folk flashback episode. Daniel is watching the news report that says that Oceanic 815 has been located on the ocean floor, and that everyone on board is presumed dead. He's really upset, but he doesn't understand why. (Oh, we know why, Dan.) Charles Widmore shows up, and pointedly explains that they've never met. He offers him a job on the freighter, and explains that he can finish his work on the island, where the passengers of Oceanic 815 are, in fact, still alive.
Further, his recent memory lapses — presumably the result of his questionable Oxford experiments that fried poor Teresa — will be fixed by the island. Widmore is sounding a lot like Daniel's mother, but that's because, Widmore explains, they're old friends. Any thoughts on who the unseen Caroline in this scene might be? (Aside: My observant colleague Matt Mitovich points out that the Wired mag we see in Daniel's house bears the cover line: "The Super Powers Issue -- X-Ray Vision, Invisibility and Time Travel -- The Impossible Gets Real!")
A short time later, an adult Daniel is forlornly playing the piano again. Mama Faraday shows up, and her surprising mission is to encourage Daniel to travel to the island with Widmore's crew. She repeats Widmore's claim that he'll be healed by the island. "You really want me to go? Will it make you proud of me?" Daniel asks pitifully. Yes, Daniel, it will, so off he goes. It's interesting that with all the daddy issues floating around, and with the confirmation that Daniel's daddy is Charles Freaking Widmore, it's Daniel's mother about which he could log some hard time on the couch discussing.
Penny and Charlie are rushing through the halls of the hospital where Desmond is coding on a stretcher. Mrs. Hawking is there too. She attempts polite chit-chat, but Penny is all: Who the F are you, dignified old lady? "I believe it's my fault that Desmond has been shot," Eloise announces. She came to apologize for making Desmond a casualty in something much larger than him. But wait, casualty? Jewel might not know what that word means, but I do! What is she getting at? "For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next," Eloise reports. Eek!
Except for now, what happens next is that Desmond appears to be OK, and he repeats his promise to his wife: "I promised you, Penny, I promised you. I'd never leave you again," he whispers. Aw. This better not be a fake-out or there will be anarchy of a level not seen since Nikki and Paolo met a certain spider species!
Outside the hospital, Mrs. Faraday meets contemptuous with Charles Widmore. Widmore explains he can't go inside because his relationship with Penelope is one of the things he has had to sacrifice. "Don't you talk to me about sacrifice. I sent my son back to the island, knowing full well..." Eloise replies, but she doesn't finish because Widmore reminds her that Daniel is his son too. We all knew that already though, right? Eloise slaps him and leaves. Let's backtrack a second. Knowing full well what, Eloise? You don't mean? (Gasp.) Read on.
Daniel Shagaday is all: Behave, baby! disembarking from the sub. Miles exposits that everyone apparently knew that Dan returned to Ann Arbor, but that they didn't think they'd see him again. Dan produces a copy of the Oceanic 6 Dharma portrait and reports that they're why he's back. He has to see Jack... immediately!
"How did you get back here?" Daniel asks, and Jack reports that they were on a plane, just as Mrs. Hawking told them all to. "Did she tell you it was your destiny?" Daniel asks.
"I've got some bad news, Jack. You don't belong here at all. She was wrong." The hell? A frantic Faraday has to get to the Orchid.
[Exclusive sneak peek at Star Trek happened here. I'm not a Trekkie, so forgive me for not knowing the correct nerdspeak, but Captain Kirk basically soils himself while trying to lose a mammoth snow beast and a giant red dinosaur-like thingy with a super-crazy-scary-wet mouth-part that will haunt my nightmares forever. Thanks, J.J.!]
Meanwhile, the Oceanic 3 (Jack, Kate, and Hurley — hey, where's Sayid?) and the Dharma 4 (Sawyer, Miles, Jin and Juliet) meet with Daniel to get some intel on what to do next. Poor Jimmy Barrett (aka Dharma Phil) listened in quietly, tied up in the cabinet. We need a new collective nickname for them. The Otherton Sestet?
Daniel is lurking in the Dharma caves waiting for Dr. Chang, and we're seeing the first scene from the season premiere again, this time from Daniel's perspective. Daniel tells Chang he needs to order the evacuation of everyone from the island because in six hours, a catastrophic release of electromagnetic energy will take place at the site of the construction of the Swan station. To punctuate his crazy talk, Daniel tells Dr. Chang that he's from the future and that Miles is Chang's son. The always expressionless Chang is, like, I have no expression to convey my response to your crazy talk.
Naturally, Miles is pissed because he kind of always is. What about "whatever happened, happened"? he asks. Daniel reports that he needs to make sure that Chang is going to do what he's supposed to. "What's that?" Miles asks. "You'll see," Daniel replies.
Daniel shows up just as the Otherton Sestet (I like it, it's like a jazz band) debates their escape options: commandeer the sub or head back in the jungle and start from square one. Please, no! "Welcome to the meeting, Twitchy," Sawyer says to Dan, and then, under his breath to Miles, "Is he still crazy?" Miles is like: Bitch, please. Interestingly, both Jin and Hurley say they want to stay on the island.
"Does anyone know where I can find the Hostiles?" Daniel asks. He tells the group that Eloise Hawking, his mother, is an Other. (New lyrics to the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" swirl through my ale-addled thinking cap: "Whether she's your mother/Or whether she's an Other/Stayin' alive/Stayin' alive." Daniel reports that they already met "Ellie" back in 1954, or "Fonzie times," as Hurley calls it. Heh.
Sawyer goes full LaFleur and decides to take the floor, demanding that Dan tell them everything he knows. He repeats that they don't belong there, and that he needs to find the Hostiles. Jack tells Kate to bring him to them. But before Kate can agree or disagree, Juliet gives up the fence code — 141717 -- and tells Kate that she should bring Daniel. "It's over here for us anyway," she says, and Sawyer mentally throws his hands up.
Kate, Jack and Daniel head over to the motor pool to scare up some firepower on their way to Hostileburg. Sawyer says the rest of them will pack and head toward the beach.
But first! Daniel sees Charlotte on the Swingset of Emotional Significance, and decides to tell her all that stuff that Charlotte remembered him telling her. "I'm not allowed to have chocolate before dinner," the adorable young Charlotte says to a clearly emotional Dan. Sound familiar? That's what Charlotte said just before she kicked it.
That Good-Time Charlie Radzinsky shows up, and he's on to them. Guns are drawn, and the most ridiculous gunfight ever ensues, in that the two parties couldn't have been more than 20 feet from each other. Radzinsky and Daniel both appear to be shot, although Daniel's injury is superficial. Jack has had enough of this, though, so he shoots a handy, 55-gallon drum of fuel and the whole place goes boom and they beat feet out of there. "Sound the alarm!" says Radzinsky.
They make it through the fences, and Jack is like: What ever happened to "whatever happened, happened."? Daniel explains what a few of my colleagues summarized nicely for me last week during the off week (and it took most of the week for it to stick): "This is our present," he says. "When we met, did I have a scar on my neck?" (No.) "Any one of us could die."
Juliet and Sawyer have a nice moment where they reaffirm their support for each other, but before they can make a clean get-away with Hurley and Jin, Radz & Co. show up, find Phil and take them captive.
It's time for Daniel to do some explaining. Why do they needs guns to go talk to Daniel's mother? "You don't know my mother," Daniel foreshadows. He lays out his plan: Once Dharma discovers the energy that is being released, they're going to cement it all in like Chernobyl in what will become the Hatch. In order to maintain safe levels of the energy, they're going to push the button every 108 minutes for the next 20 years. One day, Desmond is going to screw up and forget and Oceanic 815 is going to crash. The freighter will be sent, and ABC will have a nice cash cow for its prime-time lineup on its hands. But we can't let that happen, Daniel emphasizes.
They can change all that. They still can't change the past though. "I've been spending so much time on the constants, I forgot about the variables," he says. As Charlton Heston might put it, the variables are made of peeeeeple who have free will. "We can change our destiny," he claims.
How is he going to destroy the energy that launches this series of unfortunate events? "I'm going to detonate a hydrogen bomb," he says and Jughead laughs heartily. Oh. I was afraid he might say that.
Of course this plan sounds insane. But Jack is getting used to insane. It does, however, raise some questions. What happens when he detonates the bomb? Is there a big metallic, sucking noise like a flash and then everyone is back on the plane sucking the salt off their Chex mix? What happens when Jughead "happens"?
Like he's strolling down Park Avenue after a leisurely Tuesday afternoon champagne brunch, Daniel enters Hostileburg with a gun and asks to speak to Eloise. Richard lies and says she's not there. "Do we know each other?" Richard asks. In reply, Daniel asks where Jughead is, the bomb "I told you to bury." As nonplussed as ever, Richard attempts to get him to put down the gun. But it's too late. Daniel is shot in the back and collapses. The shooter: his own mother, who, Daniel figures out, always knew this was going to happen, and sent him there anyway. "I'm your son," Daniel tells her, just before the thump! I hope she's proud now. Wow.
What did you think of "The Variable"? Were you satisfied to get confirmation that a) Widmore is Daniel's father and b) Widmore faked the plane crash? What do you think of Daniel's plan to blow up the island to reboot the Oceanic survivors' reality? Is Daniel really dead? And how are they going to make it all happen?
No sign of Daniel in the previews, but I'm honestly wondering if that bullet did its job. That can't be it for Faraday, can it? "If we do what's written in that journal, none of this would have happened. All this misery," Jack says cheerily. "To change their future, they must erase the past," the narrator says. "If you're wrong, everyone dies," Kate counters. This is no time for a debate, Kate. Or is it?
[Any thoughts on ABC's practically subliminal promos for Flash-Forward that appeared throughout tonight's telecast? The network is calling it a companion piece to Lost, and it'll star Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger (Lost's Penny!) and John Cho. "What did you see?" is its tagline, and my answer is a tiny ultrasound and kids exiting a school. But apparently there were three more clips that I missed. Any insight from the peanut gallery?]
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