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Red Right Hand: TV08: LOST: "The Constant"
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.


TV08: LOST: "The Constant"

Continuing my review of my favorite episodes of stuff from the last calendar year.

There will be spoilers.
If all the episodes-- if half the episodes were as solid as this, no one would complain about Lost. Here we have all the elements. A solid sci-fi premise in time travel, done in a way that isn't even prohibited by the known laws of physics. There are, in fact, even reasonable hypothesis that make this appear to be possible (though requiring ridiculous level of power and knowledge we just don't have yet). Additionally, you get continuity checks both meaningful and double-takey. You get a character story that has weight and and episode that even comes to a satisfying conclusion while still leaving questions open to the future, but not questions resulting from that particular satisfying conclusion. I mean, there's something to the answers raising question thing, but sometimes you just want an answer.

The answer here wasn't so much to one of the many ongoing mysteries. The answer here was will Desmond and Penny be together again.

As Desmond is bounced back and forth in time (in mind only, not physically) he meets a Daniel that hasn't met him yet, and researching the time travel that he's currently experiencing. He tells him of the need for a "constant," something that is present in both times and that he sincerely cares about and can recognize. His constant is the woman he loves and lost, but must hang onto, if not for his sanity then for his very life, Penny.

You're right there with Desmond through this whole thing, you're as lost as he is and you're getting answers as he does. And being Lost, you're trying to figure things out faster, so there's a little extra tension, the kind you wish you could just write, but you have to count on an involved audience. The luxury of writing for Lost, eh? You get to metagame your audience.

And through it, you understand his plight and you feel it as he begs on Penny to not understand why, but to just do something for him. This 1996 Penny who has broken up with Desmond and want to have a clean break while he pleads for her phone number so that he can call, not tomorrow, but next month, but in eight years, but he can't tell her why.

And the phone call he finally gets to make from the freighter in 2004 to Penny (tense in itself with a ticking clock as Sayid tried to repair it after it was sabotaged) not knowing if she'll actually be there, if she'll answer, if she even cares about him at all has the most built up anticipation of any moment in the series so far and it threatens to make you cry as the two are telephonically reunited. There is such joy and relief and live in that moment...that is the satisfying conclusion to Desmond's quest, not just in the last hour of time travel, but for the series.

I'm just a little amazed that this one didn't get an Emmy nod.
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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