My fascination: Daniel & Desmond – part two.

The Constant is easily the best episode of Lost, and is one of the greatest episodes of any television program ever. Whilst in Flashes’ we got to learn that time-travel was possible, in The Constant we got to learn how it was possible and why Desmond had leapt to a different point in his own timeline. Whilst flying toward a freighter, twenty miles off the coast off The Island, in a helicopter Desmond finds himself reliving his time in the army in 1996 some eight years earlier. Despite the fact that this is the second time we’ve seen him leap he doesn’t appear to know what’s happening to him at all. Stranger still is that when he then leaps back to the present he no longer recognizes anyone else on the helicopter, or has any clue as to why he’s on a helicopter in the first place. Shortly after this we find out why Daniel Faraday has chosen to come to The Island, and what happened to Desmond when he turned The Failsafe key, when – on learning just how disorientated Desmond was – he asked the question; “has he recently been exposed to high levels of radiation, or electromagnetism?” When Daniel get’s to talk to Desmond, he asks him to find him in 1996 and to give him a specific setting for a machine he was working on. So, again, we have an Ontological Paradox – as it turns out that the setting has no point of origin – and over the course of the episode we realize that they are both part of a Predestination paradox – as in whatever happened, happened. Their meeting in 1996 always happened. – only due to his own exposure to radiation, Daniel has no memory of it, and has to consult his journal to find out. With Desmond ‘unstuck in time,’ leaping back and forth between Christmas eve 2004, and at some point in 1996, Daniel tells Desmond to find a Constant – something he really cares about in both presents – and to make contact with it to anchor him properly in both those presents. Throughout the episode we witness several different outcomes of not doing this, which all end in death. When Desmond asks; “can it be a person?” We then discover why Desmond and Penny mean so much to each other, and as to why she had never given up looking for him, when they share one of the most moving phone calls I have very seen. As with The Time Traveler’s Wife, it’s the love story that defines this story as much as the time-travel. It is a truly great piece of television. Even if you were not a fan of the series, I urge you to go and watch it. You wont be disappointed.

The Constant isn’t the last of Desmond’s time-traveling, he is forced to do it once more in season six. And, when I say forced, I mean tied to a chair and sat in front of a huge electromagnet. Unlike the previous two times however he ends up at some point in his distant future, and when he eventually leaps back he has a whole new outlook on life…

Without doubt the time-travel episodes of Lost are some of the most complex, but they are also some of the best written. The most important part for me however, was the fact that they started out with the type of paradoxes that they were going to employ, the rules to time-travel they were going to use, and then adhered to them strictly throughout the series, despite what the characters thought they could do. And, when I say characters, I mean characters, for it wasn’t only Desmond that got to time-travel…

To be continued…

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