Christian Bale and Jeremy Davies: Two guys who have gotten disgustingly skinny just to make a movie.
As you may have already heard, somebody dies this episode. So we’ll hum and dance for a moment to allow you to decide, if in fact you have not already seen “The Variable,” whether or not to continue reading. Hey, did you see that T-Mobile ad last night with the woman driving in the desert who pulls over, grabs a chainsaw out of the trunk and proceeds to cut down a telephone poll, which falls over and pulls another pole down, then another, and so on like a row of dominoes? It’s a dumb ad. The woman is wearing a tiny dress, which is hardly appropriate apparel for operating dangerous equipment. And who channels her rage over high home phone bills by taking it out on our already fragile public infrastructure? That’s hardly a constructive way of dealing with one’s anger. But what’s really dumb is the small print that appears at the bottom of the screen as the chainsaw is cutting into the telephone pole. The text reads: “T-Mobile does not encourage vandalism. Do not attempt.” Really, T-Mobile? Don’t you have a bylaw stating that any company ad which requires this kind of fine print disclaimer should automatically be canned? Next thing you know Jeremy Piven will be hawking T-Mobile products.
Ahem. Hopefully that gave the hesitant enough time to get off the fence. Pressing forward then.
Eloise Hawking is a terrible mother. For maybe the first time in the entire show, we have a character with mommy issues, not daddy ones. Poor Daniel Faraday. He might’ve been a great pianist, or at least a solid keyboardist for Drive Shaft. But his mother closes the lid on the piano keys and looks deeply disappointed that Daniel should ever experience a shred of what the rest of us call “fun” or “joy.” Presumably she made him keep his braces on an extra six years just to ensure he never got a date to prom.
We also think Fionnula Flanagan, who plays Eloise Hawking, may be our least favorite actor on “Lost.” She plays Eloise to the point of camp: the arched eyebrows, the sinister smirking. She lays everything on real thick. There’s nothing especially complicated about her character — she’s just manipulative and evil. So is Widmore, but Alan Dale shades his character with a little more subtlety. When he talks to John Locke in the Tunisian hospital, you understand why Locke might believe Widmore’s version of events.
That’s not to say that Eloise Hawking the character isn’t as formidable a monster as any father yet seen on the show. She has used her son as a pawn in a chess game we still don’t understand yet, withholding her approval and being awfully nasty to a potential daughter-in-law just to get what she wants from Daniel. If we’re supposed to feel conflicted by the “sacrifice” she alludes to when talking with Widmore outside the hospital, it’s difficult to do so when we don’t know for what (or whom) she’s actually sacrificing. Her inscription in Daniel’s journal reads, “No matter what, remember I will always love you. Mom.” Apparently her pen ran out of ink before she could add, “P.S. I will kill you.”
What does she gain by killing her son? Hopefully we’ll find out soon, but until then this episode left us dissatisfied. Talk about a downer. Quixotic Daniel, the one man who seemed capable of outthinking the island, gets rubbed out by mum and pop. Before he goes he does set into motion several key events, notably planting a seed of doubt in Dr. Chang’s mind (and introducing him to his son Miles). He also tragically reenacts his scary old man speech to Charlotte at the swingset. Is this a heroic gesture that will (for the time being) save Charlotte? Or just one more instance of Daniel’s “Whatever Happened, Happened” theory eclipsing Daniel’s own free will? “We can’t be so naive as to think nothing can happen to us,” Daniel tells Jack as Jack treats his neck wound. “Any one of us can die, Jack.” And so one does.
The good news, at least if you’re Mike Allen: Next week’s episode, “Follow the Leader,” showcases … you guessed it … Richard Alpert. And possibly The Templars. Stay tuned.