Only writers as brilliant as those behind “LOST” could give us an hour of television like this. No other episode has gone as far as “The Constant” in giving us a look at some fundamental theories behind the series, and yet at the same time pack an emotional wallop that reminds us that it’s the characters, not the mysteries, that are at the heart of the show. The truly mind-bending realizations Desmond has as his consciousness jumps between 1996 and 2004 will probably give us weeks of material to dissect and analyze. But, honestly, all I wanted to do was watch that final phone call between him and Penny over and over again.
So “The Constant” took us unabashedly into the realm of time travel, but not really. While Desmond and Daniel struggled to carry information across a span of eight years, the writers leave themselves enough slack so that we’re still not entirely sure what’s happening. Oxford Daniel thought Desmond’s arrival was a joke because of “the paradox” the Achilles’ heel of time travel stories that has vexed everyone from Doc Brown to Hiro Nakamura. By acknowledging it (and giving us all a headache), “LOST” has almost weaseled around it. Add in the notion of consciousness moving through spacetime (your brain apparently checking out on one side when busy on the other), and…
Well, frankly, I don’t know what it means. Yet. But man, I love it.
And Jen reminds me of “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” and Desmond’s conversations with Ms. Hawking about the future course correcting, and about being able or unable to effect change. I think we’ll have to watch that episode again, and this latest one a few more times, to get anywhere near an answer.
Why Desmond? Daniel keys on electromagnetism, which of course recalls Desmond’s survival of the hatch implosion. We also see George was being suffering the same “side effects,” after a disastrous attempt to get near the island with his shipmate Brandon. (Brandon, notably, went nuts and ended up dead… like Rousseau’s crew.) Now, Locke was also in the hatch when it blew, which makes me wonder if he’s having visions, or just going bonkers. And Charlie was there, too. Could that be how he could be in Hurley’s future, but not? Does that mean Eko could make another appearance?
But speaking of “side effect” sufferers… I was so busy blubbering over the phone call that I almost missed the last scene with Daniel, where he checks his notebook and finds his note from the past: “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume is my constant.” Suddenly it’s suggested that Daniel himself has been doing a bit of flashing back and forth. So maybe that’s why Daniel was so upset by the TV news reports of the Oceanic 815 wreckage in “Confirmed Dead.” Was he was remembering Desmond’s visit years before. And maybe the reason he’s having trouble remembering just three playing cards is because he’s been around the block a few too many times?
Daniel also expressly states that the discrepancy could be a few minutes (like the rocket test) or years, which opens up a whole world of possibilities if we’re going to see characters make the trip off the island.
Leaving aside time anomalies, though, there were still some solid “real world” clues tonight. It was good to see Mr. Widmore again, and a bit curious to see him presented as almost sympathetic to Desmond. But lo and behold, he’s at an auction for the journal of the first mate aboard the Black Rock! And the seller, one Tovard Hanso. What information could they want from a ship lost on March 22, 1845 off Madagascar. A ship we know is sitting in the forest on the island? And mixed in with Desmond and Penny’s declaration of love, we get confirmation that Penny knows about the island, and that just like at the end of Season 2 she’s not going to give up trying to find it.
- It was great to get a solid date out of this episode. It’s Dec. 24, 2004. Of course, that detail will get all the “Tsunami!” fans excited. It means we’re two days away from the Indonesian quake that could possibly shake things up on the island.
- When Daniel asked Jack if Desmond had been exposed to radiation or electromagnetism, Jack just shrugs. Did he really not have any idea about what happened to The Swan Station? I guess he was on a pier on the other side of the island at the time…
- Who opened the sickbay door for Desmond, Sayid, and George? George says Desmond and Sayid have a friend on the boat. Likely guess: Michael. Unlikely guess: Alternative universe George.
- Jen got quite a thrill out of seeing Roy, a.k.a. Mark Vann, a.k.a. “Ecklie” on “C.S.I.” It was also good to see Fisher Stevens, finally. Hope he’s not dead dead.
- The next item up for bid after the Black Rock journal? Something related to Charles Dickens.
- Numerologists will have a field day with this episode. The device had to be set to 2.342, at 11 hertz. Mr. Widmore was bidder 755. Desmond’s 75 minute trip at Oxford felt like 5 minutes in 2004. Penny’s phone number. Penny’s house number. Basically, I lost track of all the numbers. Never mind if they had any connection to The Numbers. Anyone?
- Locations: St. Andrew’s Cathedral near downtown Honolulu played Oxford. An old military facility on the slopes of Diamond Head was Camp Millar (Royal Scot’s Regiment).
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