Wow. I had this feeling that The Constant was going to be dismal, depressing and possibly deadly for dear Desmond. How wrong I was! How relieved I am! Well, I guess I wasn't exactly wrong; poor Desmond really went through a traumatic experience. I think this episode is definite Emmy material for Henry Ian Cusick. What a range of emotions! I love that this episode was every bit as perplexing as Flashes Before Your Eyes; in fact, I'm thinking of it as that episode's bookend. They go together so perfectly, and this one really seems to show that Desmond's time traveling is a side-effect of the hatch implosion.
I felt so sorry for him at the beginning of the episode, getting yanked around in time and having no idea what was going on, and at the same time there was something comical about it. Or maybe the Desmond overload was just making me giddy. This was also like Flashes in that barely a minute passed on screen without Desmond. It was a bizarre format, bouncing back and forth and not really being quite sure where the "real" Desmond was grounded. Time travel makes my head hurt. Early on, Mom asked, "So is this a flash-forward or a flash-back?" I answered, "It's a flash-sideways!" And that really seemed about the most logical way to describe what was happening there.
We really didn't see why Desmond got booted from the army, unless we're supposed to assume that it had something to do with him acting crazy, only supposedly that was something that happened in his new past, not his old past, so that wouldn't have been it, and you'd think his going back would have changed a lot of things; I wonder if we'll start to see any strange effects. Time travel is very, very dangerous stuff. This episode reminded me of a lot of things. Star Trek. Journeyman. Back to the Future. *shudder* Premonition. *shudder*
But it also seemed wholly original and absolutely brilliantly executed. I just had a big goofy grin on my face from the moment I saw Penny's picture at the beginning of the episode. I cheered, and then I cringed and said, "Ooooh, I sure hope they don't kill Desmond!" And then I cheered again.
I didn't think the helicopter was going to land on the freighter in this episode. I thought it would land somewhere else, in some mysterious vortex or something, and Michael might be there, and everything would be very weird, but I definitely thought the chopper was going to go down in the storm. But it didn't. It was so strange spending most of the episode with 1996 Desmond in 2004, especially with Sayid, who was so obviously concerned about him, even though they haven't really spent a lot of time together, at least that we saw, though I suppose hiding Naomi was a bonding experience. Now that they've been through this ordeal together, I think they will most definitely share a bond; after all, by putting him in contact with Penny, Sayid saved Desmond's life. And he seemed deeply moved by the long-distance reunion to which he was a witness.
Desmond and Penny finally connecting again was one of the emotional high points of the entire series thus far. I wouldn't have expected it before tonight; I thought if they reunited - and I hoped they would - that it would be at the end of the series, and face to face. It did occur to me that "the constant" of tonight's title would probably have something to do with temporal anomalies if it was a Desmond-centric episode, and when Daniel was yammering on about constants to Desmond, I thought that the constant might be the photograph. But no, it was actually Penny herself. And somehow I managed to majorly miscalculate the date, and when I saw that calendar and Sayid pointed out that it was almost Christmas (which I thought was rather ironic, considering that he's a Muslim), I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge, jumping up and down and shouting to the streets below, "I haven't missed it!"
I want to give Darlton a great big bear hug. They gave me my Christmas after all, and there may be more to come. Of course, that also may mean the tsunami is imminent, but let's think happy thoughts, shall we? Because I certainly do feel happy after this episode. And wasn't that a gorgeous tree at Penny's house? There was such joy and passion in their reconciliation, I could have sworn they kissed, even though that was completely impossible. It felt like they genuinely touched each other from across all those miles. (And how eerily appropriate it is that I picked Same Old Lang Syne for my Penny and Desmond tribute when their story comes to a climax on Christmas Eve...) Anyway, it was one of the happiest moments on LOST ever, a perfect ending, and then I heard the creepy music and saw Daniel leafing through the journal, and I thought, "Oh, no, something is going to come along to ruin this." Instead, what I saw written there - "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be MY constant" - was an immense comfort. Now Daniel's fate is tied to Desmond's, and to my mind, that makes Desmond's position considerably more secure. If they kill off Desmond, Daniel most likely dies along with him, and I don't think they're going to be in any hurry to kill off two major characters at once, especially when there wouldn't be much of an element of surprise involved.
And let's talk about Daniel, because I believe he is starting to fill a void. Now, granted, if I could trade him to have Charlie back, I would, but I think Daniel is just adorable, in an extremely eccentric Doc Brown sort of way. I wanted to not trust him, I really did, but doggone it, he won me over almost immediately, and I like him more with each episode. His interaction with Desmond here is wonderful. He comes across as intensely interested in him, both from a scientific standpoint and out of deep concern for his fellow man (and possibly, as Nathan suggests, romantic interest; I'll have to keep my eye out for more hints on that, which could complicate things...). I get a sense of profound empathy with Daniel. It also seems that he is used to being on the fringes of society. I love that he taught at Oxford, and his hippie-ish hairdo was groovy. I think it's both sad and funny that his colleagues are always teasing him because of the tone of his research. Daniel thinks outside the box. That's important. When we met Eloise, I immediately thought of Flowers For Algernon, and that made me sad, especially when Eloise died. It really looked like Desmond was in trouble. But Penny wasn't kidding when she said she would always stand by him, even if her behavior in 1996 might seem to indicate a change of heart. Penny saved Desmond.
Alas, there was nothing and no one for George Minkowski to cling to, and I was really surprised that they killed him off so early, since I thought he was supposed to be a major character this season. I want more Fisher Stevens! Ah, well; it's always sort of disappointing to hear him without a crazy accent anyway... Frank really does seem to be with the good guys; I think he's the funniest of the newbies and Daniel's the sweetest, and I love them both. I'm still undecided on Charlotte, who it seems I know the least about, though with her name, I'm pretty primed to like her. (And the whole time delay thing reminds me of how differently time works in Narnia than on Earth.) Miles is obnoxious, but I think he's more petty criminal than evil mastermind. I really think these four are pawns, and I'm not sure how much they understand about the intentions of their employers.
I want to read that Black Rock journal! Obviously, so does Charles Widmore. I'm guessing he plans to scour the journal for coordinates or some other clues as to how to reach the island, and I still can't help but think the race was somehow orchestrated as a way to get Desmond there. But that would require Libby being in on the conspiracy too, I suppose, and them somehow rigging his instruments so that he sailed to the island without knowing it... Or maybe the race was just more generally intended to have someone find the island. Somehow or another, Charles Widmore is very involved in the bid for control of the island, and I'm pretty sure we don't want it to fall to him. I was a little surprised he gave Desmond Penny's address, but I guess he wanted to rub it in his face that Penny didn't want anything to do with him anymore. Little he knew...
I hear that Juliet has a flashback coming up, which probably means more Tom, which definitely means a happy Erin. I suppose it might be a couple of episodes before we see Des and Sayid again, but I'm okay with that. They're not exactly in friendly territory at the moment, but they've got each other, and it seems Frank as well, and Desmond has a renewed sense of purpose that should sustain him for a while, anyway. It will have to be enough to sustain me too.