Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lost Episode Review 4.05: "The Constant"

Quote: " I love you, Penny. I'll always love you."

Buh-bye, Jate. Or Skate. Or Sackate. Or whatever you want to call the endless love triangle that we really just don't care about anymore. Penny and Desmond are not only the best couple on the show, but I think they've my favorite all-time pair of star-crossed lovers. And I'll admit I got a bit verklempt when Desmond's phone call went through.

And folks, we have the first candidate of the season to bump "White Rabbit" off my Top 10 Lost Episode list.

Lots of stuff to talk about today. Onward!

1. Okay, Doc, what's up with all the freakily neato time travel-y stuff?

First off, physics are not my forte. But despite this, my one disappointment about the episode was how much you had to suspend disbelief in all the "science" we saw. However, given that I suspend disbelief very easily, let's go through what we've learned today about the island and time.

1) Daniel's been conducting time travel experiments since the mid-nineties, frying rat brains with a giant pink hairdryer (which, as Lostpedia points out, may have been taken from Slaughterhouse 5). He again reiterates that you can't change the future and that the process is unstable unless you have a constant.

2) The theme of instability is something TPTB mentioned in the EW preview for this episode (I don't read these before the episode airs, BTW, but they're well worth checking out afterwards). Remember that there was only a 31 minute time difference between the two clocks in Daniel's first experiment, but that it took the helicopter a day to reach the freighter. Methinks this does not bode well for those people who aren't part of the Oceanic 6. Or Ben. Or Desmond, perhaps.

3) We know now that Daniel's memory is likely screwed up from years and years of irradiating rodents and that he's probably bounced around in time before much like Desmond did this episode. The reason he was probably crying over the TV report on Flight 815 being found in the season opener is that he probably was remembering something from the future that's all muddled up inside his brain now.

4) Island time is now about a day in the past. Imagine if this difference were to increase exponentially? Ruh-roh, Raggy.

(Edit: I originally had this backwards in my review. Obviously it's not so bad if the outside world begins moving much, much faster than island time. That would mean if the Oceanic 6 came back to the island they could basically pick up right where they left off).

5) The freaky time travel stuff only seems to happen to people that have been exposed to massive amounts of radiation or electromagnetism. Since Sayid wasn't affected, it seems that merely being on the island during the Discharge isn't enough to trigger it. Desmond was affected because he was in the Hatch. So who else could be affected by this that we know?

Charlie was in the Hatch too, but he's dead.

Eko was also in the Hatch, and he's also dead. That leaves... hmmm...

Methinks John Locke might not want to leave the island, given he may have killed his only possible (evil) constant last season. What about the rest of the Others? What about Juliet? She's a lab geek too, she probably had some radiation exposure. I'd totally be bouncing around myself - I'd probably have to use, I dunno, maybe the Simpsons as my constant. It's been around for twenty years. =)

2. So now that Desmond's off the island, does he stay off? What happens if he goes back?

Okay. So Desmond makes it successfully off the island, but he can't be one of the Oceanic 6 since he wasn't on the plane. So is he alive in the real world and in hiding (Penny could certainly whisk him away somewhere with all money) or is he dead?

And what happens if Desmond tries to go back - not that I think he would - Does the whole process start over again? And can Desmond still get his flashes now? It would probably be very, very useful if he could.

3. So who's Ben's mole on the boat and why is he/she helping the Losties?

The person who opened the sick bay door is most likely Ben's mole. Was it one of the guys just saw (we met Keamy, Omar and Ray, the Doctor) or someone new? Frank said he was trying to help them, but I don't think he's a good candidate for the mole since he was just hired for this mission to get Ben. It certainly wasn't Minkowski or Brandon.

4. What's Charles Widmore's interest in the island?

We now know Charles Widmore has, at the very least, in interest in the island, given that he owns the only surviving journal from the Black Rock (that he purchased all the way back in 1996). Remember too that the original Henry Gale's balloon, who crashed on the island likely back in 2003, was also sponsored by Widmore.

Question now is, did Charles himself sponsor the freighter? And was he also responsible for giving Desmond's photo to Naomi? Maybe it was a possible bonus mission for her, i.e. "BTW, if you happen to run into this man, please kill him. Painfully, if possible."

5. So, uh, what's going to happen when the Christmas tsunami hits the boat?

So we now know that it's officially Christmas Eve 2004 on the freighter, Christmas Day on the island (remember the time difference). The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that caused the tsunami that devastated parts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand hit on December 26th, 2004. Now we don't know exactly where the freighter is, but presumably it's going to be affected, should the writers stay true to current events (and the writers have regarding the 2004 Red Sox and U.S. elections).

Something to keep in mind for the next couple episodes.

Other tidbits:

* Numberage: Penny's new address - 423 Cheyne Walk & the frequency that Faraday gives Desmond is 2.342.

* The name of the freighter is "Kahana"

* Daniel's really my favorite of the new characters.

* Sayid better kick some evil freighter people ass in the next couple episodes.

* So what happens to Desmond's future consciousness when he's flipping? Again it seems very similar to Days of Future Past, as I've mentioned before.

* Below is Frank's "cheat sheet" for those interested. Lost UFO has a lot of other images, especially of Daniel's journal pages. He seems to like the idea of "imaginary time" quite a bit, whatever that means.

Summary: I'm going to give this one a 4.7 out of 5. It would be a perfect score, but I have to deduct something for all the hokey science stuff. I know it's all good sci-fi, but c'mon, the guy had a giant pink radiation gun in his study. Please. I have to jump through hoops and ladders nowadays just to get the smallest amount of the most harmless isotope. But I LOVED Desmond's and Penny's story. She waited for him, just like the real Penelope. And, again, I think if there's a tragic ending to the show it will be that Desmond has to sacrifice a chance to spend the rest of his life with Penny to save the world.

Damn, guess we'd better pick up a case of kleenex at Costco. Can't wait for next week and don't forget to vote in the poll too! =)


someGirl said...

Oh Dr Jay!! What a fab-tastic episode. It was ubber intense....Jay, do you think Jacob is like Desmond and Minkowski? That his consciousness is suspended everywhere, past present & future and that's how he can tell Ben what to do?? And that he's trapped because he has no constant or (body for that matter)...he's just thought traveling back and forth...and THAT is why he asked Locke for help???...I'll completely disregard this thought in about 3 minutes

“The reason he was probably crying over the TV report on Flight 815 being found in the season opener is that he probably was remembering something from the future that's all muddled up inside his brain now.” THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT DURING LAST WEEKS CARD GAME BETWEEN DANIEL & CHARLOTTE!!

I have nothing more of any value to add...Love reading your review Jay.

Missie said...

Desmond-centric episodes never seem to disappoint. And as a bonus- alot of Des and Sayid and not many others! :) And I too have not liked an on screen couple (Des and Penny) this much since Westley and Princess Buttercup.

Missie said...

OK- I still haven't read your post, but I have to get this out before I forget. You reminded me that Charlie was in the hatch atthe explosion, and therefore could be predisposed to the time travel thing. But Charlie's dead. BUT- as he says in the season opener, "I'm dead, but I'm also here". Perhaps Hurley is being visited by a time-traveling Charlie pre-death? (And if you are really digging this time-travel stuff, I cannot recommned the book The Time Traveler's Wife enough. Bit of a tangent, but so very good.)

Missie said...

Me-again. Question- wasn't the Island BEHIND 31 minutes in Daniel's first experiment, right? Now it's a day ahead. Seems very fluctual.
Penelope waits 40 years for Odysseus- be interesting to see if the time table is similar for Penny.

Jay said...

Thanks Ana! Honestly I'm not sure what to make of Jacob yet - we really don't know a whole lot about him. But one thing's for sure - if the island is destabilizing Jacob is likely going with it - probably why he needs Locke to help him.

Miss - regarding the time difference, remember the "payload" timer from Daniel's experiment was coming onto the island from the freighter, not heading off of it. =)

Missie said...

I looked at your shots of the Daniel's watches, and I guess my confusion comes from my interpretation of how they work. I thought they were watches that were synched on the boat, and are now reading different times. Are they in fact more like stopwatches which are simply counting time up?

Caroline said...

I had to watch the whole episode online this morning - damn Dish TV and thank goodness for the internet.

All I think through the entire episode was that Lost was back! (after the unfortunate episode last week). I got chills too many times to count.

Great review Jay - and I love reading everyone's comments - I have given up over on The Lost Diary - there are just too many people having too many conversations.

Jay said...

Miss - Whoops - I had a line backwards in my review (even though I had it correct later on).

Bottom line here: I think the timers are regular clocks. Basically the way I interpret them is that it's 2:45pm on the island and 3:16pm on the freighter. For this to be true, you have to kinda discount the travel time entirely. There is something weird about when things arrive on and off the island, but the bottom line is that the actual time on the island is about 31 minutes behind the freighter in "The Economist" and about 24 hours behind the freighter in "The Constant." In other words, the outside world is starting to move faster in time relative to the island. Does that make sense?

Thanks Caroline! I'm always amazed at how many people comment over at TLD. I still love Daniel's recaps though and I agree 100% with your feelings on the episode. =)

Imperceptible Me said...

Jay I loved, loved, loved this episode. Penny and Desmond- they are the real deal and I was crying like a baby by the end of the episode. Yep, Daniel Faraday is my new Lostie fav. I can't wait until next week AGAIN!

Capcom said...

It must have been the ferklempt heard roung the world! :o) That Des and Pen scene was SO awesome. I agree, Sackate, even Jatiett, is so over.

The thing about not changing the future still has so much wiggle-room. For instance, if you didn't find your constant, you'd die, and then you wouldn't be in the future anymore, so the future (yours anyway, and everyone you affected) would be different. There are many other examples, even from Mrs.H herself.

It's possible that Frank could have opened the sickbay door, if he's being honest about trying to help. Wouldn't expect him to be the mole, per say, but just a regular helping kind of guy.

Good reason for why Naomi had the Des/Pen photo! :o)

I love Dan too! Such a gentle geek.

Capcom said...

P.S. Imaginary time is a theory on the "form" of time by Stephen Hawking, where time (or the universe) is the shape of a sphere that expands. Like "Hamlet's nutshell", as it's put in his book.

Of course there's a lot more to it, and I don't pretend to even remotely understand this theory. :o)

Jay said...

Oh, that's cool Capcom - I didn't have time to look it up, but I certainly will now. Guess I have some reading to do. =)

Capcom said...

If you're at a book store (or have the books) it's described in both 'A Brief History of Time' and 'The Universe in a Nutshell', listed in the index of both books. Last year I found both books printed into a single book, on the bargain table, and it's been a big help with this show! :-D

Capcom said...

FWIW, I've been thinking about the stormy event horizon area around the island, and how time on the island and on the boat appear to be the same, as per the calendar in sickbay. I wonder if it's something like a electronic PN junction. That is, whatever makes up the island's EM forces, or field, has some kind of boundary which doesn't just fizzle out when it gets far away from the island. That is, it's got a definite edge to it.

Where that edge butts up against normal non-island atmosphere, it creates the storm field, or event horizon, where the edges of normal atmospheric conditions, sort of mingle with the island's EMF atmospheric conditions, and they combine at the edge like a PN junction, but forming this very turbulent area of mixed conditions that is difficult to get through.

The reason that I was thinking this is because of the calendar. If Walt comes back, and time hasn't passed farther off-island, how can they expain his growth? Maybe they can, if you can get caught in this "atmospheric junction" area, for "years" while you age, and then you manage to get back on the bearing and make it out. Then time would not have changed in the world, but it has passed for you while you were trapped.

Oh well, just a thought.

Jay said...

It's funny, Capcom. Provided they don't explain the "event horizon" in more detail in the next two episodes, I was going to write an extended entry (perhaps on the Lost Elders) talking about just this possibility. There's a Fantastic Four story actually, one of my favorites, that has something similar to that.

And I think you're dead on too that something happened to Michael and Walt in that bubble (maybe because Ben gave them the wrong bearing).

Capcom said...

Oh wow, I can't wait to see what you're writing about it! Well, I can honestly say that I have never read a Fantastic Four comic in my life (a situation that I should probably remedy), so it all came from my little pea-brain. And I haven't thought about P-N junctions since I took electronics courses 10 years ago, so I was surprised when that popped into my head out of the blue. :-)