LOST Notes, Season 5, Episode 14: The Variable

James “Sawyer/LaFleur” Ford: Whatever her reason is, helping H.G. Wells here talk to his mommy ain’t got nothing to do with it.

LOST, Season 5, Episode 14

The Variable

I. The Manchurian Physicist

A. “Hey, sorry guys, my mom says I’m too smart to take piano lessons any more. What’s that? My lunch money? No, I packed a…oh dear.”

B. Seriously if Ma Faraday’s “destiny” is to help her son hone his mind to be as sharp as possible, then she has a poor understanding of the college admissions system by eliminating all of his extracurriculars. I guess she had a legacy case at Oxford, except that her name is Hawking, dad’s name is Widmore, and the kid is Faraday, because everyone loves each other enough to keep having uncomfortably emotionless conversations but not enough to share a surname.

C. I hope there were other tests that went into the “my kid’s a genius” conclusion than the metronome quiz. Yes, there’s a chance your boy is unlike any other children his age in that he can keep track of huge numbers almost subconsciously and present the answer without hesitation. Or maybe he’s just like all other children his age in that he lies to his mother.

D. Ms. Hawking needed to spend some time learning what being a stage mom is all about. She’s got the catty reverse-Oedipus thing going great, but when you push the kid to finish school at a record-setting accelerated pace and reward him with a Moleskine notebook, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out he’d named a rat after you later on.

E. Go figure, a few years after college and Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius is single, watching TV all day and needing his dad’s help to land a steady job. You see that, Mom?! Maybe I’m just a time-traveling physicist and I’m just waiting for the rich British guy to get here!

F. So Ma Faraday, who says “God help us all” if destiny isn’t fulfilled, spends most of her time saying the universe will course-correct itself and goes so far as to kill her own son twice (since encouraging him to go back is pretty much a death sentence). Meanwhile Daniel swears she’s wrong, rejects “whatever happened, happened” to talk about changing destinies, except he fulfills his with Charlotte and tries to push Dr. Chang towards his. So they both think the other is wrong, but just slightly.

II. YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE PAST YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE PAST OH WAIT MAYBE YOU CAN CHANGE THE PAST

A. Sure, the kid runs off to study in Ann Arbor for three years, never writes, never calls, comes back dressed in all black, doesn’t tell us anything about what he’s been up to and suddenly thinks everything we told him about the world is wrong. I’m telling you, it’s the pot.

B. Why is everyone content with not finding out anything Daniel did in Michigan for three years? Are we supposed to dechipher that ourselves? The question is WHEN is Bo Schembecler, right? If Daniel needed to study abroad for three years to realize that the constant isn’t the only part of a scientific equation, then I must once again take issue with his parenting. Maybe if he wasn’t home-schooled at an advanced level from the start, he would have been forced to do a science project. When I was in grade school, my first project consisted of taping exercise weights to a remote control car to see if that made it slower [spoiler] It did. [/spoiler] That’s right, I had the science project ecquivalent of “the sky is blue” but I got an A (I used shiny paper) and I KNEW HOW IMPORTANT A FUCKING VARIABLE WAS. He needed three years of postgrad work to solve for X or wait until Matt Damon put down the mop and did it for him. Sorry if I’m not brimming with confidence over the incredibly well-plotted strategy of “I’M FROM THE FUTURE!” I’ve been to Ann Arbor, and even in 1977 it sure as shit is not the future.

C. I’m sure Sawyer kicks himself every day for naming himself LaFleur on his first introduction. And I’m sure it’s just as natural for Miles (and everyone else) to call him LaFleur on first reference as it was for Walt to call Locke “Jeremy Bentham” after taking to him for three minutes after school one day. The problem I have is that there’s a threshold, probably somewhere around DAY FUCKING TWO, where you can broach the topic of “Call me Sawyer.” Does everyone need to be satisfied with the reason why? Are they going to shoot you because your nickname seems suspect? “I’m really into Mark Twain.” There, I just did it for you. And since you’re putting down books like a librarian’s holodeck fantasy, it makes just enough sense for no one to question you except Phil, but Phil questions everything because he either isn’t getting laid or prefers to keep his brow furrowed at all times.

D. Hopefully one of the mysteries we’ll learn before the end of the show is “what is Dr. Chang’s degree in?” because up until now, it looks like he double-majored in Being a Dick and Making Video Blogs with a minor in Eventually Losing Your Arm. That man hasn’t dropped a word of science since he became three-dimensional, and since racism was more “fun” and “blatant” in the 70s, part of me thinks he was bestowed his doctorate the minute he became The Only Asian Guy. They probably would have made Miles a doctor, too, except they wanted to seem progressive. Oh, and because Miles seems insistent about that mustache.

E. It’s a shame Hurley wasn’t around to see Faraday totally bum his “speaking for the audience” schtick about Miles and Dr. C. (fanfic: I’ll bet he would have said, “Dude.”) Apparently the Doc also took some classes in Being Oblivious To The World Around You, because if Daniel fucking Faraday is connecting the dots for you then there is something wrong with your brainstem.

F. Of course Kate was eventually going to help Daniel and Jack. Now, she got that hot counter-offer for a three-way Big Love beach party with Sawyer and Juliet (note how quickly Juliet gave up the gate code once she figured THAT out), but she needed the option that was the most anti-establishment, the one that had the most nebulous and immediately ignorable consequences, and the one that gave her the best option to run away from her existing situation. The only way Sawyer could have won her over is by pulling the tarp off a Dharma spaceship and suggesting they live on Jupiter.

G. You know, it was probably a tough decision for Daniel to break down and talk to baby Charlotte when he swore he wouldn’t, but maybe if he’d taken some of the time devoted to denying the inevitable and focused it on the more effective strategy of talking to an ADULT about getting her off the Island, he could have accomplished his goal without feeling like an idiot. The girl volunteered her family’s chocolate policy to a complete stranger! She grew up to be an ANTHROPOLOGIST! In three years, you didn’t think that warning the girl seemed like a lost cause (pun not intended, but accepted regardless)? Moreover, why didn’t you walk away from that swingset confessional thinking “Oh my God, I just did that retarded thing I swore I would never do even though I am the smartest man ever, maybe I should rethink what I’ve been writing in my composition book since forever.”

H. Smarter Dharma bureaucratic decision: giving the janitors keys to the gun safe, or keeping the loaded guns next to the giant FUEL drums in the motorpool?

I. Given Radzinsky’s rational demeanor and glowing personal skills, I am really perplexed as to why everyone else would want to keep him cooped up in an underground room with a task every three minutes to keep him from ever leaving. That kind of thing would destroy a more ill-tempered man.

J. I’m no scientist with an Island-powered new brain, but when I think of preventing catastrophe, my mind doesn’t go right to a 20-year-old leaky hydrogen bomb. I guess that’s what makes him a genius!

K. I would like it if everyone who chose to storm into the camp of a people known casually as “The Hostiles” would take off the Dharma jumpsuit first. I’m sure there’s something to be said about announcing your intentions before you even get there, but progressing without the octagon-shaped target over your heart might help you make some headway with the locals before shit gets real. Also, how does one gunfight and one neck wound turn Faraday from a novice into Clint Eastwood? Sticking up the whole camp and giving Richard the three-seconds treatment is a bold move for someone whose previous firearms achievements were limited to “not dying.”

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