“The Constant” is an episode from the fourth of six seasons of the critically acclaimed drama series, Lost, which aired on the American Broadcasting Company between September 2004 and May 2010. The initial opening of Lost begins with a plane crash on a deserted island. Throughout the extent of the series, the survivors of the crash are challenged by fear of the unknown island, desperation for food and water, and most importantly, each other.
The deserted island in which the series takes place is not Just any island – that is, it is not able to be found by anyone living outside of it – and once the characters are iving there, they essentially have no way out. They are trapped, and can be found by no one. There is a mysterious group of civilians who are called “The Others” living on the island when Oceanic flight 81 5 crashes.
This group of “Others” is part of the scientific research organization called the “Dharma Initiative” which has placed several stations at differing locations on the island, a sequence of numbers that seems to appear in lives of characters from the past, present, and future and personal connections among characters of which they are unaware. The main character of focus in the episode “The Constant” is Desmond Hume, a man who was captured on the island long before Oceanic flight 81 5 crashed.
He is residing in the hatch, an underground room that supposedly releases an electromagnetic charge to prevent a large buildup of electromagnetic energy. Desmond is forced by the means of survival to punch numbers into a computer for several years, told that if he refuses to punch the numbers the world as he knows it will come to an end. At one point, Desmond misses the timer on the computer and does not punch in the numbers on time. As a result, a massive electromagnetic field is released, attracting all metal object to the hatch, and consequentially causing Oceanic flight 815 to crash on the island.
Desmond manages to stop and therefore safely disperse the electromagnetism by punching the code into the computer after it hits zero, but is too late to prevent the plane from crashing. By season four, Desmond has already begun to interact with the survivors on the island. In the previous season, Charlie, another survivor from the Oceanic 81 5 crash, had come into contact with Desmond’s old girlfriend Penny, and informs Desmond hat a boat which a woman by the name of Naomi had brought to the island, did not in fact belong to Penny as Naomi had claimed.
Charlie then drowns, leaving Desmond with several unanswered questions. Realizing that Naomi’s story is false, Desmond gets on a helicopter with Sayid and Frank to fly to the freight. As the helicopter flies through a storm, Desmond begins to have flashbacks of a familiar reality to his past in 1996 before his life on the island. Shifting back and forth between the past and the present forces Desmond to lose all memory of the island and Sayid, who is accompanying him on the helicopter.
Sayid’s concern leads him to contact Daniel Faraday, a man on the island from the freighter, in order to receive some kind of answer to what Desmond is experiencing. Daniel explains that what Desmond is experiencing is actually a form of time travel, and explains to Desmond that when he reverts back to 1996 again, he needs to find Daniel at Oxford University and seek out his help. Here, Daniel performs a test on his pet rat, Eloise, and realizes that Desmond is experiencing a shift of consciousness through time travel.
Eloise dies within less than two hours due to the stress to her brain. Daniel informs Desmond that in order to stop the time travel, he must find a ‘constant’, something that exists in both 1996 and 2004, the present year. A man strapped to a bed on the freighter by the name of Minkowski is experiencing the same consciousness travel as Desmond but for a longer period of time, and due to the high stress once again caused by the time travel, and the fact that he is unable to find a constant, Minkowski also dies.
Frightened, Desmond chooses Penny to be his constant and realizes that in order to fulfill it, he must acquire Penny’s phone number and call her from the freighter on December 24, 2004, that day. When Desmond travels back in time once again to 1996, he finds Penny angry and unwilling to speak to him, but explains himself and pleads, saying he needs her phone number and promises not to call for eight years. With the help of Sayid, Desmond uses a phone located on the freighter to call Penny and finds out she has been searching for him for the past three years and she knows about the island.
Back on the island, Daniel is searching through his old Journal in which he wrote notes during his time at Oxford, and found an old not he had written, “If nything goes wrong, Desmond Hume is my constant. ” This episode of Lost is an excellent work and is full of several artistic and technical hallmarks, some of which are displayed best in the physical and emotional pain Desmond experiences through his time travel between 1996 and 2004. It is obvious throughout the episode until the end that Desmond is having many difficulties controlling his actions due to the fact that he is unable to control when his body switches between the two years.
In 1996, he wants to obey his sergeant major’s commands when he is in the army, but his consciousness is reacting in ways he is nable to control and he is therefore unable to fulfill any of his responsibilities. Desmond’s lack of concentration causes the sergeant major to become so angry that he forces all of the army men to complete extra physical labor. Desmond then leaves to find Daniel Faraday and is again unable to control his conscious actions. He is desperate to find an answer to what is happening to him, and begs Daniel for his help.
Desmond witnesses Minkowski die on the freighter due to the same problems he himself is having, and recognizes that if he does not find a constant, he will soon die. When Desmond needs to find Penny to be his constant, he again experiences great frustration because she is initially unwilling to speak to him. However, when she finally gives in and offers Desmond her phone number, Desmond returns to 2004 and immediately calls her to find that she has been searching for him for three years. The episode then presents to the viewer a glimpse of Desmond again in 1996, where he is smiling with gratitude.
Harmony is present once Desmond is able to connect with Penny and he is finally able to complete his mission and bring an end to the once unstoppable and unwanted time travelling experiences. The Constant” is not harmonious until this point in the episode, when Desmond realizes that his long-lost love is searching for him and knows about the island. This also represents an element ot ‘Lite and Death’ because when Desmond witnesses Minkowski’s realizes it is absolutely necessary to find a constant in order to survive. Both the acting and cinematography in this episode as well as in the entire series is incredible.
It is a turning point in the series because it introduced time travel as no longer a question in the world of Lost, but an actual that is definitely possible. This lone answered several questions for the viewer. The episode explained why Desmond lost his memory and why time travel occurs; and new, important characters are introduced as well. Faraday is notably in this episode one of the most important characters because he is able to explain the time travel Desmond is experiencing – and how to stop it – and seems to understand the island better than anyone else.
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