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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lost 4x05: The Constant

As someone who loves time travel stories, do I even need to say that I watched most of this episode with a shit-eating grin plastered across my face?

Lost continues to successfully manipulate the concept of time, both for the characters and the audience. Was this episode a flashback or a flash forward? To the audience, it was technically a flashback, featuring 1996 Desmond instead of 2004 Desmond, but as far as Desmond himself was concerned, it was very much a flash forward.

Faraday, who, with this episode, cemented himself as the most interesting and intriguing of the Freighties, plays a central role, both in righting Desmond’s time-displaced consciousness and in throwing further fuel onto the “what is up with time?” fire. His line that the perception of time on the island isn’t necessarily the same as that of the people on the helicopter is significant for two reasons. First, he specifically says “perception of time”, not time itself; I think it is important to note that time itself isn’t changing, just how the characters are perceiving it. Secondly, he mentions that the difference in perception is between the helicopter and the island, not the boat and the island, which suggests to me that there is something between the two, through which the helicopter passes, that alters the perception of time. This would allow for communication between the boat and island via the satellite phones (whose signals would go up and over the time distortion) and the fact that it seems the dates of the two line up, while still accounting for the delayed missile, as it would have had to pass through the distortion.

This episode also introduced the freighter proper, and it was suitably ominous, from the pair of heavies that manhandled Desmond (there’s an image for you, ladies) to Minkowski strapped down in sickbay, to the foreboding “the captain wants to see you” line and a couple of new mysteries. Frank, the easy-going pilot in Jimmy Buffet gear, seemed even more out of place abroad the ship, with his laid back demeanor, willingness to help out Desmond and Sayid, and desire to waste away in Margaritaville emphasizing how odd he seems in context of whatever it is the boat and its crew is really there to do. Incidentally, if the mission of the island-bound Freighties is to capture Ben, why were the Absent-Minded Professor, a female Indiana Jones and a Ghostbuster sent ashore instead of people like, I don’t know, the hired goons back on the boat?

Highlight
Call me a sissified dandy if you, but I thought the phone call at the end, with Desmond finally reuniting with Penny, albeit briefly and voice-only, was fantastic. Not going to lie, I got a little teary-eyed. The suspense-would Penny answer? Would the battery last? Was Desmond about to drop dead?-punctuated by the rapid fire editing, added weight to the phenomenal performances to really make the scene a highlight of the season so far.

Did You Notice?
The bearing Frank was following, according to his cheat sheet, was 305. The bearing that Ben gave Michael at the end of season two was 325. Also, Eko (remember him?) had carved 3:05 onto his Jesus stick, which Locke noticed when burying him at the beginning of season three (“…look north John 3:05”).

Daniel said their perception of time on the island is “not necessarily” the same as to those on the copter; he said the same thing to Jack, regarding their presence on the island, that the Freighties were “not necessarily” there to rescue them.

Mrs. Teebore said the doctor was flashing the light in Desmond’s eyes to check for a pupillary response. Desmond’s pupils didn’t dilate as they adjusted to the light, indicating some kind of brain/nerve damage.

We can add Tovard, the last known owner of the Black Rock log, to our growing list of Hansos, along with Alvar and Magnus.



I made a point to pause and take a closer look at the soldier who bumped into Desmond and knocked the change out of his hand when Desmond was entering the army phone booth, but it wasn’t anyone I recognized.

Questions?
What caused Desmond to become unhinged in time? Frank seemed to be following the correct bearing, but he may have been veering off of it ever so slightly because of the storm. Was it something in the storm? Just passing so near whatever it is that causes this problem?

Who wreaked the communications equipment, and why wasn’t Minkowski allowed to fix it?

Who opened the sickbay door? Ben’s man on the boat? Michael?

The producers have been specifically very adamant that none of their time travel stories will cause a paradox; so how do they explain the fact that Future Daniel had the correct specifications to give to Desmond, because Desmond gave them to Past Daniel? Does Daniel have memory problems (as has been suggested previously) so that when he’s on the island, he doesn’t remember Desmond visiting him and giving him those specifications?

Why did 1996 Desmond’s consciousness come forward? Just because 1996 was eight years in the past, and eight is one of the numbers? Just because Army Desmond is one version of Desmond we haven’t seen yet? Or is there some significance to that time?

Why was Penny calling the boat constantly and why was Minkowski under strict orders to ignore the calls?

What caused Penny to go from “leave me the hell alone, Desmond” in 1996 to “a person with money can find anyone” before he went on the boat race, and then, subsequently, seemingly devoting her life to finding him?

Could the effects of traveling through whatever-it-is around the island that distorts time be the cause of the “sickness” that afflicted Rousseau’s crew? Blackouts, madness, and nose bleeds leading to death: to the uninformed, those symptoms would certainly suggest some kind of disease.

Does Desmond’s time jumping have anything to do with him getting kicked out of the army, as established in his first flashback?

When did Daniel write that Desmond would be his constant in his journal? Right before we saw it, or in 1996, after Desmond visited him, or somewhere in between?

When/where did Present Desmond’s consciousness go when 1996 Desmond’s mind was in his body (in the present, Desmond was either conscious with his 1996 mind or blacked out, when his mind was back in 1996). For that matter, last season in Flashes Before Your Eyes, when Present Desmond’s mind was in the past, reliving all those events and talking to creepy jewelry store lady, where/when was Past Desmond’s mind?

1 comment:

Dr. Bitz said...

This equation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerr_metric
was on Faraday's blackboard....sweet.