I think you need a degree in physics to keep up with tonight's installment of "Lost." Near as I can tell, we've learned that the island and its immediate environs are big hunks of 3-D swiss cheese, full of all kinds of holes your consciousness can fall into and out of on its way to goodness knows where, or when. I just know there's a wrinkle coming up soon with a character named Madeleine. Or L'Engle.
Our intrepid traveler in this episode, "The Constant," was Desmond Hume. This we should've been able to predict. As usual, nice work from Henry Ian Cusick, who is underrated as a "Lost" hero, in my book. It takes a good actor to be convincingly nutso. I was surely convinced by the end of the seg, penned by Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof and directed by Jack Bender.
I'm guessing I'm not the only one who spent the first 20 minutes or so of the seg trying to figure out if Des' scenes in the military boot-camp setting were flash-forwards or flashbacks. Des loses his mind and his memory while he and Sayid and pilot Frank are helicoptering in to the boat and hit a rough patch, weather and otherwise.
"This is wrong," Desmond tells his fellow grunts. "I'm not supposed to be here." Bet he's not the first recruit to the Royal Scots Regiment to utter those words.
Back on the island, we get a flash of Juliet's steely charm as she forcefully gets Faraday and Rebecca to spill a little of what they know about the problems of time-perceptions and the unfortunate side effects that some folks experience when traveling to and from the island. I was utterly confused at 9:30 about what they were trying to say, but by 9:55 the explanation seemed to be that because of the turbulence in the copter, Desmond's consciouness was traveling back and forth between 1996 and 2004.
As if those kind of frequent flier miles aren't hard enough on a guy, it turns out he can be prompted to do certain things in the earlier or later time frame by Faraday, who seems to think it's 1976, by the looks of his hair in the flashback scenes.
As much as this seg had us on the couch thinking "huh?" most of the time, it was heartening to see Des reach out and touch Penny at long last, first during the last days of John Major's reign as Britain's prime minister in 1996 and later during those dark days of late 2004 when civilization had to come to grips with the grim fact that George W. Bush would be a two-term president.
(Talk about being confused: I completely missed the Black Rock-Hanso Foundation connection to the scene at the auction where Des meets up with Old Man Widmore as he's bidding on the ledger. I mean, completely missed it, until smarter "Lost" lovers than I pointed it out to me on Friday.)
Penny's a good egg, clearly. She didn't smack Des around in his desperation to get her phone number -- for use in eight years, he assured her back in 1996 not long after they broke up. And even though he's an impulsive mad man who joins the military, and then decides to sail around the world, she never stops thinking about him. It's so darned intriguing to hear her tell Des, just as their 2004 satellite-phone connection is dying, that she's been "researching" the island. She comes through for him in a big, sweet, constant way, and leaves him with the parting words that every castaway wants to hear: "I won't give up."
Also heartening to see our old friends the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42) making a big comeback in this seg. They were referenced in so many ways I lost count. I know they've never really left the "Lost" ensemble, but the digits must've signed with an aggressive new agent because they got a lot of screen time this seg.
For one, Penny's London apartment circa 1996 was at 423 Cheyne Walk. Her phone number was (if my ears were working) 7946-0893. I'm sure there's a way to slice or dice those numbers to make them correlate to the others (and the Others).
From the actions of Faraday and pilot Frank in this episode, I think it's safe to say that they are basically sympathetic to the Oceanic 815 survivors' cause. Frank's a literal kind of guy. "I am trying to help you," he tells Sayid. Sayid can be forgiven for not letting his guard down.
I'm not at all convinced about the motivations of anthropologist Rebecca. Juliet wants to pound her into the sand - you can just feel it in her big scene in the seg.
On the big boat, it's fascinating to learn that communications officer George Minokowski went batty only a few days before Des and Sayid show up. I seem to recall that Faraday and Miles were speaking to a "George" on the phone in earlier episodes. Actor Fisher Stevens is someone I've always liked since I first saw him as a bad guy, a Steven Spielberg-esque wunderkind director, in a "Columbo" seg (one of the later ABC installments) years ago.
Stevens seemed to be channeling Dwight Frye as Renfield from "Dracula" in some of his closeups. This was not a good episode to snack to. What was up with those nose bleeds, anyway?
R.I.P., Eloise, the white rat. You were great in your closeups -- clean pink paws, shiny coat, nice whiskers -- a credit to your rodent race.
Random thought that occurred to me after last week's seg: Is it possible that Miles is related to the scientist of Asian descent in the Dharma training films? I think in one he calls himself Edgar Halowax, and in another Marvin Candle. Just a thought...
(For the record, ABC only posted three shots from this week's seg on its press site. And one of them was virtually identical to the Fisher Stevens shot above.)