The viewers of Lost are a canny bunch, so when a character like Daniel says “Any one of us can die,” about 90% of the people watching know immediately that he’s just given himself the mortality rate of someone operating a toaster in the bath during an earthquake. And dutifully, after saying that, Daniel didn’t make it past the end credits.
I won’t lie, it’s an upsetting death. The character had been the best new addition to the show in years, and his absence for the last few episodes was heavily felt, so to see him brought back only to eat a bullet – well, let’s just say you could feel your emotions being played with.
Still, it wouldn’t do for a newbie to eclipse the popularity of the regular cast, and it’s for that reason that ubernerd Daniel had to die – but not before we got a whole episode about him. There’s a definite sense that his lifespan was truncated, as we get several major revelations stuffed haphazardly into one episode. His mother Eloise gets confirmation as being one of the ‘Hostiles’ at the same time as Widmore. Widmore himself turns out to be Daniel’s father. Daniel’s previously hinted-at memory troubles belatedly get a full explanation. It’s almost as if, having made the decision to bump off everyone’s favourite scientician, they have to tie up the loose plot threads as well.
It makes for an episode that’s equal parts pleasantly startling and gut-wrenching. The final scene of Daniel realising that his mother knew his ultimate fate paints both of them in a new light. The reason for Eloise’s distance throughout Daniel’s life becomes clear, as does her obsession with destiny. She becomes more sympathetic as a result.
Daniel’s re-appearance in this episode serves to move the plot forward in several significant ways. He signposts the imminent discovery of ‘energy’ beneath the Swan hatch that’ll lead to the infamous button-pushing. He explains that the future might not be quite as set as we’ve been told. And he mentions Jughead – Chekov’s Atomic Bomb – which suggests that we’re going to be treated to some spectacular fireworks in the forthcoming season finale.
Meanwhile, Sawyer and the rest of the Dharma-initiate crew manage to get themselves further into a bad situation, even starting a gunfight with the local psychopath, Radzinsky. With their cover well and truly blown, it’s fair to say that they need an exit strategy quickly, and it’s probable that it’ll come in the fulfilment of Daniel’s assertion that they can change the future. All signs are pointing to Lost‘s most mind-blowing finale yet, and in a season already soaked in time-travel-based craziness, it’s going to take something really off the wall to best it.
Although it’s likely Daniel will turn up again, even the island’s healing properties are unlikely to be enough to save him. For now, it’s important to remember the good times, and start picking out a new favourite character who’ll be immediately marked for death. That Miles has been racking up fans, recently…
Check out a review of episode 13 here.