Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost 5.14: Eloise, Daniel, and Obsession Trumping Paradox

Another top-notch, wrenching, conceptually breathtaking time travel story on Lost tonight - 5.14 - which skirts around paradox, but is thoroughly explicable on the basis of obsessed human nature.

Daniel has returned to the island in 1977 - that is, the Daniel we know, who lost his love Charlotte, and understands better than most the possibilities and limitations of time travel. Nonetheless, he has a daring plan - do something that will prevent "the incident" that made the "Hatch" a necessity, which in turn will allow Flight 815 not to fall out of the sky, and instead make it safely to L.A.

Kate and Jack agree to help him - a good thing, too, because Hurley or Miles might have known enough to stop Daniel, if they had had any time to think about it. If Daniel had succeeded in changing the past, that would mean that Kate and Jack and all Losties would never have been on the island in the first place. So Kate and Jack are supporting Daniel in his plan without realizing the consequences.

But of course Daniel's plan can't succeed - because, if it did, then we would suddenly be shifted to a completely different story, off the island, in which Kate would probably be in prison and Jack would be practicing medicine in Los Angles. So the only real question is, what would stop Daniel?

The solution is heartbreaking but elegant. Daniel needs the help of his mother, Eloise, young and on the island with the hostiles in 1977. Eloise, as we know, is Ms. Hawking (and it turns out, as many viewers also have guessed, Charles Widmore is his father). Daniel waves a gun to Richard, who tells him Eloise isn't there, but a shot rings out and Daniel is killed - a shot fired by Eloise.

With his last breath, Daniel asks Eloise how she could have sent him, her son, back to the island, knowing that she as her younger self would kill him in 1977? The younger Eloise of course has no answer, because she could at that point in her life have had no knowledge of what the adult Daniel looked and sounded like.

But from that moment on, she will carry the memory of having killed a man who said he was her son. And she soon enough will realize that that wild man on island was indeed her son. So, why, as Daniel asked, did she get him to go back?

The only answer is that making or keeping things in the island the way she thought those things should be was more important to her than her son's life. Cold, cold, indeed.

By the way, there's nothing paradoxical in this result - as there would have been if, say, Daniel had been the one who killed his mother, before she conceived him. That event would have thrown Lost right into the teeth of the perennial grandfather/grandmother paradox, which can just as effectively occur if the time traveler does something to prevent his mother from being his mother.

But the coming attractions, if I saw them correctly, seem to be showing Jack now trying to do what Daniel Faraday was trying to do - stop the events which led to 815 crashing - and that would lead to paradox about as profound as it gets...

Two other points -

1. Daniel may not be dead, which would make Eloise not as cold as I said above. After all, young Ben survived his wound in healing Hostile hands...

2. I would've have liked to have seen a little more about what Daniel did and learned in Ann Arbor...


PS ... did you see the little flashes in the commercials, with the tag "What did you see?" Keep staying tuned - those are little previews of my friend Rob Sawyer's "Flash Forward," which will likely be following Lost on ABC next season...

10-min podcast review of Lost 5.14

More Lost - see : The Richard-Locke Compass Time Travel Loop ...

and Lost Returns in 5 Dimensions and 5.3: The Loops, The Bomb ... 5.4: A Saving Skip Back in Time ... 5.5 Two Time Loops and Mind Benders ... 5.6 A Lot of Questions ... 5.7 Bentham and Ben ... 5.8 True Love Ways ... 5.9 Two Times and a Baby ... 5.10 The Impossible Cannot Happen ... 5.11 Clockwork Perfect Time Travel ... 5.12: Ben v. Charles, and Locke' Slave ... 5.13: Lost Meets Star Wars and the Sixth Sense ... The Problem with Baby Aaron and the Return of the Oceanic Six

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