Here is Jeff Jensen's recap of The Constant.
In a romantically moving episode, Desmond's 1996 consciousness takes over his mind now, but his connection with Penelope saves him
Is there a doctor in the house? I mean a real one? Because I need one. Yep, folks, I have the flu — the really nasty kind. The kind that sent me to the hospital on Wednesday. Ick! The last thing my doctor wants is for me to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. I need rest! So here's what we're going to do: I'm going to outline some talking points for your message-board discussion. Then, next week, I'll post more thoughts on the episode in my Thursday Doc Jensen column. Thanks for being gracious, kids.
''Unstuck in time''
That phrase, cited in last night's episode, comes from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, in which Billy Pilgrim finds himself toggling between time periods of his life, including a trip to an alien planet. In the process, Pilgrim nearly loses his mind. It's a good touchstone for Desmond David Hume, who began tripping the time fantastic after Frank Lapidus flew his chopper into an ominous (electromagnetic?) thunderhead, part of an offshore ring of weird-science weather that seems to encircle the Island. This is my interpretation of what went down: Desmond's Island-present consciousness was displaced by his Island-past consciousness. Then, that 1996 mind toggled back and forth through the entire episode while Island consciousness remained MIA until the end of the show. Am I getting this right? If I weren't so amazingly sick in the head right now, I'd be more confident. I'm counting on you to help a brother out here.
The anti-love boat
We finally got to go aboard the freighter last night. Turns out it's not exactly a Carnival cruise ship. Sayid and Desmond were greeted by two creepy-tough deckhands, whose smug smiles were about as cryptic as the Mona Lisa's. What secrets do these two hold? After being thrown into sick bay, Desmond met a man strapped to a bed and also suffering from the time-warp blues. His name was George Minkowski — we've heard his voice on the satellite phone since the season premiere — and he shares the same last name as Hermann Minkowski, an egghead physicist who introduced the fourth dimension of time into standard 3-D models of reality to create ''Minkowski space-time.'' One last thing about the freighter: It appears Ben's spy (my bet: Michael) recently sabotaged the communication systems. No wonder everyone's a little paranoid. What do you think the freighter's true agenda is?
Desmond's flashbacks took place in 1996. We finally got a peek into his military days, and I don't think we've seen the last of that story; we still don't know how he wound up in military prison. After receiving some cryptic instructions from Daniel Faraday, Desmond sought out the Island-past version of the quirky freighter physicist. Their encounter had a Marty McFly-Doc Brown meet-cute vibe to it. Faraday, we learned, is obsessed with time travel, and with Desmond's help, he was able to fine-tune his consciousness-transfer/time-travel device. One unfortunate side effect: death by brain aneurism. Oxford-era Faraday told Desmond that in order to keep sane amid this uncontrollable quantum leaping, he needed to tether himself emotionally to something that bridges the past and present — a constant. Desmond, natch, picked Penelope, giving the episode an unabashed romantic vibe that had my wife in tears. If I hadn't been experiencing a profound state of physical ickiness, I might have been squirting tears instead of coughing up phlegm.
Upon finishing that last sentence, I passed out for 30 minutes — kinda like the way Minkowski collapsed whenever he flashed. Poor Minkowski: He went the way of Faraday's lab rat, Eloise, and died from a killer nosebleed. And I was looking forward to the Fisher Stevens experiment, too.
The Black Rock ledger
Continuing Lost's renewed interest in everyone's favorite beached slave ship in season 4, Desmond sought out Penelope's father, Charles Widmore, in order to learn her whereabouts. He found Widmore at an auction house, bidding on the ledger to the Black Rock. Why was Widmore so interested in the ledger? I don't think it's a simple matter of treasure hunting. I think Widmore thinks the ledger includes info on the Island's location. He wants either to find it or to prevent others from doing so. Another theory: Buying the ledger was designed to create the appearance of being interested in searching for the Black Rock. I wonder if he was setting that salvage vessel up to find the (faux) wreckage of Oceanic 815. Yes, I am saying that Widmore is one of the main puppet-master villains of Lost; he has traded off of forbidden knowledge of the future to build his wealth. In other words, he's Biff from Back to the Future 2.
The show ended with an emotional climax as Desmond made good on his promise to Penny to call her on Christmas Eve, 2004. (I guess that means next week's installment will be the very special Christmas episode of Lost. Also, isn't there supposed to be a tsunami occurring in the Lostverse about this time?) Yet as I watched Des and Pen declare their love for each other, I couldn't help wondering if we're being set up for a tragic finale. Wouldn't it stink if, in the end, just as Des and Pen were about to reunite, he suddenly collapsed from a killer nosebleed?
Okay, that's all I got in me, so I'm off to bed. Some other burning questions: What's up with Faraday's own spotty memory of his Desmond encounter? And what do you think his note about making Desmond his own constant meant? Post away!