LOST Revisited: “The Constant” (Feb 29)

Another theory bandied about is that Jack’s dad is one of the Oceanic Six. I don’t think we’re done with Christian, but I’m not convinced he’s alive in any kind of traditional sense. Regardless, I think the Six have to be people who were on the passenger manifest. If Christian is somehow alive, I think he has to leave the island like Benry apparently does, lurking in the shadows. Still, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him. There’s clearly some weirdness involving Jacob, but there’s no way that one of the Six is a guy who was pronounced dead and was flying as luggage. That might raise some eyebrows. I have the feeling we’ll be seeing both Christian and Michael again soon, and when we do, it will be pants-wettingly awesome.

Now, the structure of this episode sort of makes the standard chronological rundown sort of a mess. I think we’re going to have to take it as a big chunk and then catch up with all the crazy continuity they dropped on us late in the game.

Desmond’s flashbacks always confuse me, because they generally feature Desmond seeing the future in his flashbacks. However, the indication is that his Freaky FutureVision™ is a result of the hatch explosion. Desmond probably wasn’t seeing the future when the things he remembered actually happened, or else a lot of the things that have surprised him shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Still with me?

What Desmond’s flashbacks indicate is that he’s come unstuck in time, as Kurt Vonnegut put it. His past was actually altered by the hatch explosion. Go back to last season’s “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, and you’ll see that the flashbacks of that episode may well be Present Desmond switching places with his past self, exactly the opposite of what happened in this episode. In fact, Desmond’s precognition could just be his present consciousness jumping into his future body. It only happens momentarily, just enough to know how things turn out.

Now, the amazing thing is that Desmond can not only change the future, but the past as well. Penny and Daniel both (sort of ) remember Desmond’s foray into the past. Prior to the hatch explosion, his memories are different. Otherwise, he would have recognized Daniel and Sayid upon meeting them, as they figured into his past. (“Hey, you’re that guy from the boat in the future!”) Basically, right up until the hatch exploded, 1996 went a certain way. And after the hatch exploded and Desmond stopped experiencing time in a linear manner, 1996 went differently.

Apparently, passing through whatever it is that keeps the island 31 minutes out of step with the rest of the world intensified Desmond’s abilities, with Desmond’s time-lapses becoming both lengthier and more frequent. For me, this episode answered one of my big questions, as I couldn’t logically reconcile Desmond’s flashbacks. This is actually pretty neat. The Season Two finale featured Desmond in flashback before the hatch exploded, and his flashbacks were completely linear. Right up until the hatch exploded, time was normal for him. After that, his flashbacks went all crazy. (I loved Daniel’s simple question. Why yes, he has been exposed to massive amounts of electromagnetism recently.)

This helps point to what’s wrong with Daniel. The words in his notebook read “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant”. The Daniel who wrote those words was clearly embarking on some sort of experiment. And we know Daniel’s having memory problems. Of course, that might just be his lack of a protective head covering when working with radiation. (That was pretty funny, by the way.)

By the way, that moment in 1996 was the last time Desmond saw Penny. If you’ll remember, he went to prison as a deserter. This week, we saw him up and leave the army to cure his paradox. I’ll bet they didn’t take kindly to that. And not that I think about it, Desmond’s life still follows the same broad strokes it used to. He still deserted the Army, but before the hatch explosion, he probably didn’t leave to meet Daniel. It’s sort of like the way he could change the future slightly, but sooner or later, Charlie had to die. Desmond can change the details, but not the major stuff.

Also, Jack was clearly off by a couple of days when he said they’d been on the island for 100 days earlier this season, given that this episode happens on Christmas Eve. That’s only 94 days. And since the calendar on the freighter matched up fairly accurately with the Lostaways reckoning of time, the distortion around the island is not as bad as some people have postulated.

Now, into the parts of the episode that won’t blow your mind with paradoxes. I like that Frank is a little more sympathetic toward Sayid and Desmond. The guys on the freighter are jerks for the most part. I’m thinking Frank is not that popular there. Also interesting that the freighter people aren’t quite sure where they are. A little bit lost themselves, it seems. Obviously somebody knew how to find the island, but they didn’t let poor little Keamy and Omar in on the secret.

Our numbers popped up in the episode! Daniel had to set his machine to 2.342, which is of course, 23 and 42. The lot number at the auction was also 2342, and Penny’s address was 423.

Finally, we meet Minkowski, played by Fisher Stevens. After hearing him referenced since last season, he dies in his first appearance? I’m calling shenanigans! But, you know, Mikhail had to die three or four times. And Creepy Ethan’s Season One death did not slow down his appearances at all. He’s another guy who’s unstuck in time. I have to wonder if he and Brandon approached the island during the hatch explosion. Of course, plenty of Lostaways were near the hatch, and they’re stuck in linear time. There’s more going on with Minkowski. He was their communications officer, and he had a phone that Penny would call and nobody could answer. So Penny knew about the freighter and she could contact them, but nobody seemed that interested in talking to her. Did she hire the freighter to find Desmond, only to have Abaddon and the Fantastic Foursome take over the mission? And who sabotaged the equipment? Minkowski said it happened two days ago, but I’m not exactly clear on what ‘two days ago’ on the freighter corresponds to on Lost Island. Did one of the Fantastic Foursome trash it before leaving on the helicopter? Was it Benry’s man on the boat? Was it the thus far unseen Regina? That freighter is a freaking floating game of Clue. It’s pretty safe to say that Benry’s man on the boat is the one who let them out of their sickroom, though. (I find myself thinking that Benry’s spy is Michael. It would take a darn good explanation to justify, but it would sure be interesting.)

OK, at the auction, we have all kinds of fun stuff. The item up for auction is the diary of a crew member on the Black Rock, which was lost at sea on March 22, 1845. We’ve seen the Black Rock, and we know where it was lost. That’s the landlocked boat where everybody gets their dynamite! Still not sure how it got that far inland, but there you go. And the first mate who wrote the log that survives? Tovar Hanso. As in The Hanso Foundation. That Hanso. Could this be when the island was first discovered? Has Hanso been covering it up for 163 years? I still believe that the unaging Richard “Batmanuel” Alpert was on the Black Rock when it ran aground, but that still leaves a lot of questions. It does explain his desire to wipe out the Dharma Initiative. If Hanso skipped out and left him stranded, 130 years of stewing is a pretty good motivation to kill all the people put there by Hanso’s great-grandson. All sorts of good stuff to think about, encapsulated in four lines of dialogue.

And people really wanted that diary. I’m guessing it was a mix of people who wanted the diary to unlock whatever secrets could be found, and people who knew exactly what the secrets were and didn’t want them falling into the wrong hands.

When Desmond and Charles Widmore are talking, the item up for auction is something that Charles Dickens had on him when he died. I couldn’t make out the specifics, since the dialogue overlapped. But if you’ll recall, Desmond’s favorite author is none other than Dickens!

When Desmond calls Penny, she says that she’s been “researching the Island”. Once again, certain people have access to information about the Island, though they’re often missing critical pieces, like the location. There’s a lot going on here, with any number of people on the outside with interest in the Island. I’m not sure why, though. Sure, there’s a certain scientific interest with the fact that it’s invisible, time lost, and has a fluid geography. Still, all these wealthy people must have something to gain. It seems to me that a crazy island that kills pregnant women and has a pet smoke monster that eats you if you don’t repent is not the financial bonanza they might be expecting.

Now that Daniel’s found his constant, is he going to get better? Can he finally give us some answers? It looks like the Fantastic Foursome are getting violent next week. Wow, if only somebody had told Jack they can’t be trusted. But where would Jack find a bald guy who has plenty of good advice? Where, I ask you?

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