Why did I read that huge Lost spoiler on io9 last week — and, more importantly, why did it turn out to be true? Spoilers and lamentation after the jump. More lethal spoilers, below.
Listen, show, you and I have been through a lot together, but Daniel Faraday? You had to kill off one of my favorite characters, and not coincidentally the only guy who seems to know what's really going on? This is where the inevitable cries of "He's not dead!" arise — I know, because that's exactly what my husband said last night. And, hey, that's what Lost has led us to believe: nobody's dead dead, except for those people who really are. But I think Dan's little talk with Jack out by the sonic fence (that "anyone of us can die") was the writers' way of saying Dan's really gone — and, alas, that's also what TPTB said when they announced last month that one or two major characters would die this year. So goodbye, Dan. I will miss you. (Unless Richard drags him into the The Temple, fixes him up, and somebody else is the major character who die dies. Hoping against hope here, folks.)
We got to know a bit more of Faraday's story in "The Variable" — mainly that in a show rife with characters with daddy issues, Dan's problem is with the other parent. Eloise Hawking is not going to win a "Mother of the Year" plaque any time soon. She squelches young Daniel's love for music and college-graduate Daniel's relationship with the doomed Theresa — all in the name of Dan's destiny and nurturing his special gift for science and mathematics. As a result of her relentless pushing, Dan becomes Oxford's youngest doctorate, loses his own memory and sends Theresa into la-la land as a result of his work (loved Widmore telling him that he planted the fake 815 wreckage, because Dan won't remember it in the morning). Then, heartbreakingly, because Eloise says it will make her proud of him, Daniel accepts Widmore's grant, thereby going to what Eloise knows will be a certain death on the island — she pulled the trigger, after all. What makes Daniel's presence on the island so important that she will, as she later says, "sacrifice" her son?
On a positive note, she gave him his journal. I wonder if she's written more in it than the inscription, i.e., some of her own observations of time and space on the island.
In 1977, Daniel tells Miles he has returned from Ann Arbor after seeing the Dharma Class of '77 picture with Jack, Kate, and Hurley, but it later becomes clear that he knows "the incident" is going to occur in mere hours. Does seeing the picture trigger his hasty return, or is that his cover story for Miles? At any rate, Dan heads straight to Jack, and after finding out that Mama Eloise told Jack it was his destiny to return to the island, informs Jack that she was wrong. Before answering Jack's questions, Dan heads to The Orchid. There, Dr. Chang scoffs at Daniel's warning that in a matter of hours there will be a catastrophe at The Swan. Daniel tells Chang he knows what's going to happen because he's from the future, then ups the ante by outing Miles as Chang's son. When Miles denies the relationship, Chang tells Daniel to stay away from him.
Daniel then goes to Sawyer's house and tells the Losties (already assembled to figure out their next move now that Phil knows that LaFleur/Sawyer helped deliver Ben to the hostiles) that his mother has the information to get them off the island. (But does she in 1977, or is that knowledge that only comes with her years of research that haven't yet occurred?) Jack and Kate, armed with the fence code supplied by Juliet (Sawyer, you big dope, never call your ex by your nickname for her in front of your current partner), take Dan to the Hostiles so he can meet up with her. But first he meets up with little Charlotte — and no wonder she later remembers being frightened by the crazy man with the pedophile vibe. Icky.
Daniel tells Jack and Kate that in his lifelong study of relativistic physics, he's concentrated on the constants, not the variables — people, with their reasoning and free will. He proposes to detonate Jughead thereby negating the catastrophic release of electromagnetism from the Swan. (I'll take Dan's word that an h-bomb blast will somehow have a better outcome). As a result, he will effectively change the past — and the crash of Flight 815, caused when Desmond doesn't push the button, thus never happens in the first place. But where will this leave the people who were on board the plane? Kate goes to trial — and never spends a joyous three years with Aaron. Locke is confined to a wheelchair, and works at a box company. Rose dies of cancer. Sawyer remains an unredeemed criminal and never experiences true love with Juliet. And so on. Dan thinks his plan will get them out of 1977 — but do they really want to go back to life as it was in 2004?
Meanwhile, Radzinsky sounds the alarm after he catches Daniel, Kate, and Jack arming themselves for their trip to hostile territory, and a gunfight ensues. When the slightly injured Radzinsky bursts into LaFleur's house ("Just got shot by a physicist!") to tell him Dharmaville's been infiltrated, he discovers Phil, bound and gagged in the closet. Radzinsky takes Sawyer and Juliet into custody.
Everything goes tragically awry when Daniel announces his arrival at Camp Hostile by firing two shots into the ground. He threatens to shoot the ever-calm Richard (who can't quite place where he's seen Dan before — it was in 1954, of course) unless he produces Eloise. Before Richard can fully explain her whereabouts, she shoots Daniel in the back. With his last breath, he tells her he is her son.
In 2007, Desmond is rushed into the emergency room. In the waiting room, Penny is visited by Eloise Hawking, who apologizes for Desmond becoming a casualty in a conflict that's "bigger than any of us." She admits that for the first time in a long time, she doesn't know what's going to happen next. But Desmond survives — whew! — and though for a moment it seemed like Eloise might steal little Charlie, the Hume family seems safe for the moment.