"The Constant"

DECEMBER 20, 2010


As if the parts of “The Constant” that everyone remembers/loves weren’t good enough, I totally forgot that this is the episode that introduces Keamy, one of my all time favorite Lost villains (possibly because he’s one of the few that never turned out to be not so bad after all), played by the underrated Kevin Durand, who is often the best thing about bad movies (Legion, Wolverine). A shame he didn’t last longer, but he definitely helped add some much needed danger to this season, which was often too busy with everyone being vague and looking worried to include any actual menace.

But anyway, “The Constant”! Such a great episode. Not only does it finally make some goddamn sense out of “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, but it also provides one of the most emotionally charged moments of the entire series, when Desmond makes his phone call to Penny at the end. I’ve probably seen the episode 5 times now and I still tear up when, well, when they do. I like these two folks. And it’s underplayed, but I like that Sayid, for once, drops his “I need answers!” attitude long enough to let Desmond do something a little more personal. Dude knows from lost love.

I also like how they sort of help us share Desmond’s disorientation by surrounding him mostly with folks we don’t recognize either. With the obvious exceptions, we’re seeing all of the characters Desmond talks to in this episode (Dr. Ray, Mankowski, Keamy, his fellow soldiers) for the first time – he doesn’t know them, and neither do we. It’s a tough concept to get your head around, so little things like this help (sort of like how telling the story backwards was the only way to really make an audience understand the affliction Guy Pearce had in Memento).

It’s also a wonderfully edited episode, as each of Desmond’s flashes are perfectly jarring; you never get ‘used’ to it, and you feel his disorientation every time. After 4 years of hearing the “vrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooom” sound every time a flashback was about to start or end, it was sort of fun to have a little mystery for once. Of course, some of the flashes go a bit long to serve the plot (he takes a train to Oxford?), but I can forgive that.

Speaking of which, they never really capitalized on the whole “time doesn’t work the same way” element. Other than a back-door explanation for how folks’ hair always grew so long (what’s with Juliet’s 80s style this season, by the way?), they basically mention it and never really go back to it. Probably because they didn’t want to figure out the math involved (I’m still unsure how it works – so one day on the island is like two elsewhere? Or vice versa?).

Of course, as great as this episode is, it really blows the whole time travel element wide open, and that was, in my opinion, what hurt the show’s overall merit. Once everyone started traveling through time, the show became about a bunch of rules (and exceptions to those rules to smooth plot holes) instead of the characters, almost all of whom took to traveling through time fairly easily. Oh well. Doesn’t make the episode as a whole any less worthwhile – it’s still one of my top 5 episodes and easily the highlight of this season. Just goes to show you how much I can forgive when they put the characters first. Make me cry, I’ll forget all of the problems!

Where are we?

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