NOVEMBER 24, 2010
AIRED: FEBRUARY 14, 2007
It's sort of fitting that we got our first real introduction to Penny and Desmond's relationship on Valentine's Day, when "Flashes Before Your Eyes" originally aired, because their episode "The Constant" would be pretty much the most moving and romantic episode of the series. Also, this episode is, like love, completely friggin baffling the first time around.
The first time, I thought it was all just a dream/hallucination; that he was subconsciously reflecting on these past events (moving in/breaking up with Penny, asking for her hand in marriage, etc) and inserting his present day memories into them. It's only now, knowing (more or less) how the time travel element on this show worked that this episode really makes total sense to me. If I'm understanding correctly, it's not Desmond's body but more his conscious/brain that does (due to his radiation exposure or whatever)? So he goes back and forth through time, but not in a physical sense - he looks the age he should in that time period, but has the memories from the other. But he's also an alcoholic, so he gets a bit hazy on details. Right?
Well either way, it's an intriguing episode, and any time they give an episode over entirely to Desmond (it's even the rare episode without Jack and/or Kate), I'm happy. And I love the framing device, with Charlie and Hurley getting him drunk and then telling his tale. It takes longer than usual to get to the first flashback, but once it starts, we don't return to the island until the end of the episode, which is also pretty rare. It's one of those things that you might not even realize at first - "Hey, when are they going to cut back to the Island?" - because Desmond's story is more intriguing than most of our characters anyway, but he's also got a lot of catching up to do since he wasn't around for the first two seasons.
One minor thing bugs me about the setup though - Locke calls Charlie and Hurley back into the jungle to tell them that Eko is dead and that the rest of the folks will be looking to "them" to keep morale high and all that. Hurley I get, but who the hell (besides Claire) looks to Charlie for anything like that? Two weeks ago the guy was trying to drown babies! These people have no recollective memory whatsoever. It's just a contrivance to get him away from the beach so that Desmond could do his thing, but I think it would have worked even if he was still on the beach - he could have been distracted with Sawyer's stash or something and thus not have gone after Claire right away, thus giving time for Desmond to run back and dive in and add Henry Ian Cusick to the collection of Lost actors who take the time to take off their shirt when they dive into the water.
Anyway, back to Desmond, was anyone else kind of sad to discover that the photo of him and Penny was a mock background? Especially since they break up right after - you always think that it was taken on some sort of wonderful trip, but it was actually in front of some cheap grade school backdrop, moments before they broke up. The scene with Widmore is also heartbreaking - Desmond's all happy and enjoying the story about the whiskey, only to discover that the jerk is using it to contrast how little he thinks of him. Dick. It's also interesting how similar it is to the scene where Jin applied for a job, with the guy asking him about some vague things on the resume and our hero being forced to admit his shortcomings.
Of course, at the time we did not yet know that time travel would become such a big element on the show, and/or that it would spread beyond Desmond. I can't say for sure if it was the best idea; sure there were some great little moments that came out of it (Hurley's idea to "write" Empire Strikes Back is possibly the funniest "plot thread" in the show's history), but it just seemed primarily designed to fix a bunch of plot holes (not to mention cause a massive "I give up" movement amongst fans). Plus it continued keeping our characters separate, which was a big blunder no matter how you slice it. The fact that Hurley and Sawyer, whose friendship during S3 and S4 made for one of the most enjoyable pairings ("If you hurt one hair on his curly head..."), only had like two or three scenes together over the course of the final two seasons is just insane. And don't get me started on keeping Jin and Sun apart for so long. So while this may be a pretty good episode, it's also the beginning of the end, sort of - I liked the rest of 3 and most of 4, but 5 and 6... they just, er, lost me for the most part. Nice work, Desmond.
Where are we?