"The Variable"

JANUARY 16, 2011

AIRED: APRIL 29, 2009

Congrats, Lost! You made it to 100 episodes, which was something increasingly rare for a show to do in the age of Tivo and Hulu and all this other shit that puts my job at risk. But given the serial nature of the show, they couldn't really do much to celebrate the occasion in-show, as say Friends or something would do (big guest stars or something). Instead, "The Variable" is definitely a die-hard fans only affair, focusing on one of its strangest characters (one we haven't seen in several episodes to boot) and featuring the clumsiest shootout in action/adventure show history.

Seriously, Jack seemingly can't hit the broad side of a barn when the Dharma assholes start shooting at him (mostly due to Daniel's idiotic decision to carry a gun in his hand like it was a notebook or something that DOESN'T CAUSE PANIC). Now, one could argue that Jack, being a doctor and all, didn't want to just shoot people, but it hasn't stopped Juliet. Plus he seems to be taking his job as a janitor very seriously, and most janitors I've known are never more than a spilled soda or puke puddle away from opening fire. And apart from Dan, the "bad guys" obviously can't hit any of our guys, so we basically have a 2-3 minute shootout of no consequence (that no one else comes to help either side shows how ineffective it was - I like to picture someone looking out the window, seeing these yahoos shoot up everything BUT each other, and figure they had better things to do).

Later, Daniel has one of his best ever scenes, where he explains that none of them were safe since for them it was their "present" (something I hadn't thought of), and then explains what he plans to do - stop the energy from ever being released, which would kick off the chain of events that led to their plane crashing in the first place (something I HAD thought of). It's a bit vague, but we're led to believe that it was his studies at Ann Arbor that allowed him to realize that they COULD change things in the past, unlike what he thought before. This is part of the problem with time travel in rushed TV shows - it took a while for me to wrap my head around the fact that he'd been gone for three years, let alone that it was the time he needed to figure out that he was wrong. So it's clumsy, but I stand corrected: it wasn't inconsistent writing on their part with regards to the "Whatever happened, happened" concept - it was just vague writing for what was kind of an important change in a character's beliefs.

This could have been remedied if they had scenes of him at Ann Arbor in the flashbacks, instead of nonsense about his mom disapproving of his girlfriend (or, since it was the 100th episode, they could have pushed for an extra 10 minutes or something). They also needn't have bothered with the "reveal" that Widmore was his father (hey, that means his "constant" is also his brother-in-law!), because it's not important and just seems like "fan-wanking". We never know why him and Eloise split up (maybe because she shot their time-traveling son?), and until that moment I never even considered that Daniel's father was unknown. You know, I don't know who Sawyer or Charlotte's dads are either, I'm surprised they didn't make up some nonsense for that too. WE DON'T NEED TO KNOW ALL OF THEIR FATHERS.

I quite liked the first scene, of Daniel playing the piano and frustratingly declaring his desire to "make time". As someone whose time is stretched dangerously thin (having an unhealthy obsession with earning Xbox Achievements doesn't help), I really sympathized with him here, and it made me kind of sad that Daniel died at the end of the episode, as I was sort of hoping he would figure it out.

Yesterday I mentioned that this was a "sequel" of sorts to "The Constant", because it dealt with the other side of the equation, but when I said that I had forgotten that this episode had what almost seemed like a send-off for ("Constant" stars) Desmond and Penny. He reiterates his love for her and that he would never leave her again, and we find out that his injuries are not life-threatening. And Ben has apologized and no longer plans to kill Penny (though they don't know that), so it could very easily and acceptably be the last time we see these two (indeed it WAS in season 5), as all of their issues have been resolved and there are no major unanswered questions about them, provided we accept "he was exposed to radiation" as the reason for Desmond's unique time traveling skills. Which we should, since they never explain it any further.

Tomorrow - a Richard episode! That's three "first time" centric episodes in a row!

Where are we?


  1. I loved how Hurley referred to 1954 as "Fonzie Times", when technically HE was in Fonzie times. Stuff like that is why Hurley rules. You're doin good work here and on HMAD Brian, keep it up.

  2. A great Hugo moment was when he did his cannon ball into the ocean. Sometime in season 4 when he thought he was getting off the island. He really carried a lot of the happiness in the show for me and that was a great moment I thought. But looking back I do think that was about 15 seconds before he found out his best friend was dead and the boat was full of bad guys. Anyway 10/10 on cannonball.