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Lost: The Constant

Desmond: "Eight years from now, I need to call you. And I can't call you if I don't have your number."

Okay, Sherman. Set the Wayback Machine to 2.342, and oscillate at eleven hertz.

So. Now we know. The "side effects" of the Island combined with the Hatch explosion made Desmond bounce back and forth in time like Billy Pilgrim alternating between Dresden and Tralfamador. It wasn't actual, physical travel because only his consciousness took the trip. Desmond remembered the present while in the past, but had amnesia in the present. I'm sooo confused. And what on earth does Daniel Faraday's pink hairdryer in 1996 have to do with the Island?

I do like Desmond and his beloved Penny, our Island-crossed lovers, and that final scene on the phone really got to me. I was mildly disappointed that Desmond wasn't "special," that anyone could basically get unstuck in time... but I must admit that Daniel Faraday telling Desmond to go find him at Oxford in 1996 was pretty freaking cool. And I think I like Faraday now. I get the feeling he's not evil, that he means well. (I think Frank's okay, too. Not so sure about Charlotte, though.) And I really want to find out what happened to Faraday. Why was he crying when they found the wreckage of 815? If he was jumping back and forth, he must have known the wreckage was a setup, right?

The big news for me was the three month calendar in the communications room: October, November and December, 2004. Every day until December 24 had been crossed out, and George Minkowski said they had been waiting there, bored to death. What would be on the previous page? Did they happen to arrive around September 22, for instance? I'd think the calendar was a lie, except that Penny told Desmond she'd been searching for him for three years, too. So much for my handy time distortion theory that explained "taller ghost Walt." Although it didn't really explain why the helicopter took off at dusk and landed in the middle of the day.

My favorite little crossover flashback cool moment was Charles Widmore bidding on a journal written by the first mate of the Black Rock. She set sail from Portsmouth, England on a trading mission to the kingdom of Siam and was lost at sea, we know where. The journal was owned by the family of Tovard Hanso. Was that how the Dharma Initiative found the Island in the first place? Widmore won the journal in the auction. He is up to his ears in all this, somehow.

One big question about that men's room scene. Why did Widmore leave the water on, and carefully not touch the faucet handles? It made absolutely no sense, but it was so deliberate that it had to mean something. And I mean, more than a Howard Hughes phobia sort of thing, because Widmore did flush the john.

Character bits:

This episode's Desmond flashbacks must have taken place before the season two finale. Desmond's unauthorized trip to Oxford didn't explain how he ended up in prison. He was a private here, but a corporal in the other flashback. And he wasn't AWOL; he had two days leave, so this wasn't how he ended up in jail for "not following orders."

Speaking of ranks, Desmond is obviously a major commitment phobe. He joined a monastery to get out of marrying Ruth, and he joined the army to avoid Penny. Desmond, Desmond, Desmond. At least he regretted it this time.

Sayid was a good friend to Desmond. And he hasn't known him long.

"If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant." That means something definitely went wrong for Daniel Faraday. But we knew that already.

We finally met time-tripping George Minkowski, and now he's dead. There were several other characters: Ray the nasty doctor, the guy with the tatts who said he was from Vegas, and Omar from Florida. We didn't see Regina. And who left the sick bay door open? Their "friend on the boat"? Again, I'm thinking Michael. Although I wouldn't call him a friend.

Bits and pieces:

— No eye scene at the beginning, but we sort of got one in the middle. When Ray the nasty doctor checked Desmond's eyes, we got a close-up of Desmond's left eye, then the right. And then Desmond immediately went back to eight years ago. Later, Desmond tried to use the light in his eyes to make himself go back. Was this a hint about what the "eye" scenes actually mean?

— No whooshing sound when Desmond went back and forth. Probably because it wasn't a flashback.

— Daniel said it was a random effect, sometimes hours, sometimes years. That explained Desmond's Charlie-visions.

— There were a huge number of, well, numbers. I'm sure I didn't catch them all because I never do, but here we go.

Frank's heading was 40 miles north at 305 degrees, 7 K (knots?) east.
Five minutes in Desmond's present took 75 minutes in the past.
The Black Rock set sail March 22, 1845.
The journal was lot number 2342, same as the device setting.
Widmore's bidder number was 755.
The journal sold for 380,000 pounds.
The date was December 24, 2004.
Penny's address was 423 Cheyne Walk.
Her phone number was 79460893.

— I'm glad we didn't spend all that much time with the army stuff, because I have to say I wasn't all that interested in the Private Benjamin, Officer and a Gentleman pushups in the rain.

— Was Henry Ian Cusick wearing a wig in the present or the past? That military haircut was convincing, but it wasn't quite as short as some of the other soldiers. Interestingly, in 1996, Desmond had no hair, but Daniel Faraday had a ton.


Desmond: "What's that for?"
Daniel: "Radiation."
Desmond: "Do I get one?"
Daniel: "You don't need one. It's for prolonged exposure. I do this twenty times a day."
Desmond: "So what do you put on your head?"
Does that explain what happened to Daniel?

Desmond: "You believe me? You still care about me?"
Penny: "I've been looking for you for the past three years. I know about the Island. I've been researching..." At this point, an entire phrase was garbled. Argh.

Four out of four polar bears,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. One of the few episodes that i revisit frequently just for how well it's done. This is probably the highlight of season 4 for me. That phone scene was pure distilled epicness.

  2. This may very well be my favourite episode to date. I loved absolutely everything about it. It made me laugh; it made me jump; it made me cry. What else do you need from an episode of television?

    I am a hopeless romantic, so I love the idea of a constant being the one thing that grounds you no matter where you are in your life. What a wonderful idea and it was so well illustrated here.

    I thought that Desmond and Daniel together were a simply lovely pairing. The scenes at the lab at Oxford were charming, but then I just love mad scientists. And the throwaway line, "what do you put on your head?" made me laugh out loud.

    The call at the end between Penny and Desmond had me in tears, but they were streaming at the end with the note in Daniel's journal about Desmond being his constant. What a wonderful thought -- I hope we get to see that one day.

  3. Although it didn't really explain why the helicopter took off at dusk and landed in the middle of the day.

    It also really, really doesn't explain Faraday telling Jack and Juliet that their "perception" of time might be off. Time passes at the same rate, or close enough, on both the Island and the freighter. We know that because the freighter events took place midday, like the Island events. So perception of time, or time itself--if we can talk about "time itself," which I don't think we can--is only variable in transit from the Island to the wide world outside.

    I'd forgotten how this show collects coincidences like a sweater collects cat hair. Just before rewatching this episode, I watched John Oliver's interview with Stephen Hawking. In that interview, Hawking said that his concept of "imaginary time" was the one thing that no SF writers had used, since they couldn't understand it.

    In Faraday's journal, on the page opposite "If anything goes wrong...Desmond..." are the phrases "imaginary time" and "real time."

    Clearly, Stephen Hawking has come unstuck in time and is watching me watch Lost. He knew all this would happen.

  4. Brilliant episode,Desmond and Penny's love is the true costant.
    The love trascends the time.
    The time on the island moves on differently.

  5. i thought it was kind of sad for daniel that his constant was a complete stranger. does that mean there is no one in his life that he loves like desmond loves penny? what a sad, lonely life if so.

    what a love penny and desmond have. true love which is rare in this life. pure dedication to each other despite his commitment issues (that is a paradox, eh?).

    very cool about the history of the black rock ship. but how did it get so far inland?? when i first saw the episode with the black rock, i thought 'slaves to time' was its theme -- how true that is. i predict that all the survivors will be slaves to time trying to get off the island.

  6. This. This episode is what we watch television for.

    From the minute I invited my son to rewatch Lost with me (my 3rd time) I was waiting for this episode. Lost is my all time favorite show and I suppose it always will be, and this is my favorite episode of Lost, and I suppose it always will be. It’s an episode so perfect that it practically transcends the very show I believe to be the best ever made. Pull this episode out of the series and show it on its own with a tiny bit of exposition and it would still be nearly perfect.

    I snuck a glance at my son during that moment when Penny and Desmond finally connect and he was mesmerized. He’s caught me sneaking a peek at his reactions now and then and gives me that look only a teenager can (watch the show, not me!). Not this time. He was caught up in the moment, his joy as big as those on screen, and at that moment, I was glad to have once again introduced someone to my favorite show, and may favorite episode of TV of all time. Perfect.


    PS - I think it would be lovely if the writers at douxreviews considered doing a favorite episodes article. Or maybe they have? I should look for that. I would love to comment on some other nearly perfect episodes I have watched through the years.

    PSS - I guess I’m not alone! I googled Greatest TV Episodes of All Time and The Constant is right up there on just about every list there is. :)

    1. DreadPirate, I'm really enjoying your comments. :)

      The perfect time to do a favorite episode article would have been right after the series ended. I think I was just too wiped out at the time. One of our writers did a list in 2020:


    2. Billie - thank you for your kind comments! I am really enjoying the rewatch, although with us watching the S5 finale tonight, it’s going way too fast!

      My comment on best episodes was if the writers had ever considering putting together a list of their favorite episodes of ANY series? With the common interests on this site it would be cool to see how common their favorite moments were.

      In the meantime, I will take a moment to review the link and see how many of my favorite Lost episodes are there. Thank you for sharing!


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