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Lost: Season 4 - The Constant (Review)

Lost, Season 4

Review by Jack Foley

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the first episode of Lost: Season 4 entitled The Constant.

What’s the story? Sayid (Naveen Andrews) and Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) hit a bit of turbulence on the way to the freighter, which causes Desmond to experience some unexpected side effects.

Why so good? Who the…? What the…? How the…? Why the…? Just when you thought Lost couldn’t get any more confusing, along comes a humdinger of an episode that transported your mind to another dimension. Time travel, romance, loyalty, trust, brain meltdowns, betrayal – you name it, The Constant delivered…

Digging a little deeper: Henry Ian Cusick seems to be a magnet for some of the weirdest and most intriguing episodes of Lost. In season three, for example, he was put through the emotional wringer for an episode entitled Flashes Before Your Eyes

Now, five episodes into the richly absorbing season four, he gets The Constant, a mind-bending tale of time travel with romantic undertones.

Having got himself on board a helicopter with Sayid, which took them to a freighter piloted by the island’s potential rescuers, Desmond experienced some mid-flight turbulence and was suddenly transported to his time back in the Army.

Seconds later, he was back in the present, unable to recognise Sayid or his predicament and threatening to jump out of the helicopter. Once on the freighter, meanwhile, his mental state worsened as the jumps between time and location became more frequent.

Sayid eventually patched him through to mystery new island-dweller Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) who offered to provide Desmond with some form of explanation if he went and visited him in the past, while he was lecturing at Oxford.

In doing so, Daniel urged Desmond to find a constant – something or someone special to him that could exist in both time frames, and which might prevent his death. In desperation, Desmond chose Penny (Sonya Walger), his long-time love interest, now estranged, who held the key to his fate.

Part of the fun in watching this episode unfold was working out just what was going on. Just as Desmond had to play catch up, so did we. And just as his search for answers became a race against time, so did ours as we became emotionally invested in the character’s destiny.

As ever, there were more questions posed than answers given. How can the island make people time travel? And why not everyone? Why just a few? Can anyone on the freighter really be trusted? And who is the spy that Ben recently talked about? Is Desmond really safe? And does Penny have a bigger part to play? Her pledge to find Desmond, no matter what, helped the episode to deliver a genuinely poignant conclusion.

Besides the most obvious, pressing questions, there were also several other supporting issues to consider, mostly concerning logic. If Daniel Faraday had already met Desmond, why did he need reminding (the episode ended with him finding a note he had scrawled to himself, stating that Desmond was his constant). Has Daniel just transported himself to the future and skipped the intervening years?

And likewise, if – as stated during the episode – you can’t change the future (another surefire clue) why hasn’t Desmond previously been able to remember his encounter with Daniel. Or are we supposed to assume that the island has played a part in memory erosion?

What was the significance of the auction that Penny’s father attended (if any)? And will be see more of Desmond’s army experiences, that obviously helped to shape the man he is today?

It’s all mouthwatering food for thought indeed, made all the more appetising by the knowledge that an end has now been promised by 2010. On current form, Lost is sprinting to the finish line amid a flurry of heart-pounding revelations and daring story arcs. And while our heads may be sore from all the scratching, it looks set to be a wild, exciting ride to the finish line, so long as the producers can continue to deliver episodes of this quality.

The Constant was not only intellectually stimulating, and downright exciting, but emotionally involving to boot…

What did you think?

  1. Absolutely the best episode in the series so far and proof that Lost is still as inventive as ever. Desmond probably holds the key to the whole riddle, so I await his next standalone with keen anticipation. Nice round-up though…

    James    Mar 6    #