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'Lost' - The Variable

The 100th episode of ABC's castaway drama

Lost hit the century mark this week, celebrating its 100th episode in a somewhat subdued fashion. While viewers got the long overdue Daniel Faraday episode theyve been waiting for, The Variable suffered from poor cast utilization and utter predictability. Perhaps my expectations for a 100th episode were unreasonable.

I am virtually certain that The Variable was not written or designed to be a 100th episode. This one lacked the presence of too many key characters: Locke, Ben, Sayid, and Sun. With a large cast, I acknowledge that it is difficult to integrate everyone in a meaningful way, but for a milestone episode, a better effort needed to be made.

This episode was full of flashbacks of Daniel Faradays life, which painted a cool and distant relationship with his mother, Eloise Hawking. As the episode develops, it became immediately clear to me that Daniels father was Charles Widmore. Ive suspected this for a while, so it was no shock. In fact, I saw it coming the moment Eloise spoke about Widmore.

After Faraday told Jack and Kate that any of them could die at any time, it was obvious that someone was going to die. And the camera shots tried to lead the viewer into thinking it was Kate, but I wasnt going to bite. In the end, a younger Eloise Hawking shoots Faraday, and he laments why she sent him on this path that would lead him to the island, knowing that she had already shot him in her past. After the icy relationship had been established, was Faraday really shocked that his mother would do such a thing?

It is unclear if Daniel is dead, but judging by the way the shooting of a young Ben was handled in Hes Our You, it is possible he is not. Still, the dialogue, and the sadness he experience when he saw young Charlotte seemed to imply that this death is real. "Lost has already used a shocking shooting to end the episode Hes Our You" and so doing it again just a few weeks later lacked originality. Still, it was a powerful ending. Being shot by ones own mother has to be one of the worst possible ways to die.

Some may consider the revelation that people are uncontrolled variables, and that they can indeed change events, a major revelation. I do not. Why would viewers be going through all this for an entire season if things werent going to change? It was not only predictable, but inevitable. Without the ability to change events, the entire series would be pointless. This revelation, if you call it that, was inevitable.

After a run of several strong episodes, Lost has slipped into mediocrity. While none of the recent episodes have been bad, they havent been anything special. For a 100th episode, average simply isnt good enough. While the shooting of Faraday at the end was stunning, I expected something much more from the rest of the episode than learning the identity of Daniel Faradays parents.

What Worked

The ending was excellent. Jeremy Davies is a fine actor and if his character is indeed dead, "Lost just got a bit tougher to watch. He had slowly become one of my favorite characters.

I loved the title - it makes it a companion piece to the season four episode The Constant."

What Didnt Work

In an era of highly publicized kidnappings and Amber Alerts, I cant help but feeling that Daniels talk with young Charlotte was just a bit creepy. I know he loved her as an adult. I know the writers are not implying anything unseemly, and Davies played the scene with sincerity and dignity, but it is still just a touch odd.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

The Variable was written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. It was directed by Paul Edwards. It stars Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry OQuinn, Josh Holloway, Elizabeth Mitchell, and Michael Emerson.

About the Author

Dr. Dan Compora is an associate professor at the University of Toledo. He specializes in science-fiction and fantasy literature and folklore. He lives in Lambertville, Mich.
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