Episodes #2: Lost, The Constant (Season 4, Episode 5)

A lot of what was great about Lost often gets dismissed amongst the debates surrounding the mythology of the series, the lack of explanation for some of the show’s key questions and the finale being more memorable for its polarising ambiguous ending than anything else drawing heavy criticism from many sectors of unsatisfied fans. The controversy over 2010’s finale often overshadows and taints the memory of Lost. As a show that tried extremely hard to take on a project of such immense scope, the quality of some of the episodes often gets overlooked in favour of easy conjecture and censure.

Season 4’s The Constant is one of the episodes charged with introducing the time travel arc in the show, and was deeply celebrated as one of the finest pieces of television of 2008, considered in the nominations for a wealth of Emmy’s that year. Though the show was derided time to time for losing the plot and chasing bizarre tangents to the core narrative, it can be said that this is the episode where the show rediscovers its footing and where it begins its march to the finale. Concentrating on what the show does best, The Constant is an exemplary piece character-driven drama and reconstructs the audience’s investment in meticulously drawn characters that they can believe in that previously fell to the wayside for wackier explorations into the Island.

The episode primarily concerns the relationship between destined paramours Desmond and Penny, their troubled devotion to one another being a key source for emotional release on display in an episode from season 3 Flashes Before Your Eyes. Their relationship is shown as touching, poignant and most of all profoundly real, a testament to Henry Ian Cusick and Sonya Walger for their performances. While the activity of life on the Island often borders on the absurd in its complexities, the story of Desmond and Penny’s romance is simple and easy to digest in that their distance has made them stronger and their only dramatic need is to be together. The introduction of time travel and revelations of smoke monster identities muddy the narrative but nothing is clearer in this storyline than in the powerhouse final scene where Sayid manages to get a phone working so that Desmond can engage his love in a beautifully impassioned phone call that underlines just how meaningful the show is when it’s at its best.

Add to this astoundingly powerful scene the presence of new addition to the cast Jeremy Davies as the compelling Daniel Faraday and the episode is absolutely killer from start to finish. Faraday’s introduction at the beginning of the 4th season is one of the decidedly more underrated initiations of a show with a fine history of bringing in fresh blood. Developing a cult following for the captivatingly intuitive scientist, the character can be directly attributed to making the time travel aspect of the show engaging, and his interaction with Desmond regarding the distortion in time in this episode is just as important to making it such a success. This episode can be looked upon as the birth of Faraday as a popular cult character and the show would not have been the same without the brilliant scientist to guide the audience through the complicated time travel arc that arose in the following seasons.

After the success of the aforementioned Desmond episode Flashes Before Your Eyes, Lost fans became accustomed to look forward to reading in the TV guide that the night’s episode would be focused on Cusick’s character and it’s easy to see why. With a simple and easily relatable end goal, Desmond’s story of parted lovers and the concept of the bliss of rediscovering one another is one that is easy to understand in the context of television narrative. Sidling away from the science fiction and metaphysical aspects that makes the show tick, The Constant is a decisive indicator of what made Lost such an overwhelming success. Putting aside the time travelling and symbolism of the poignancy of the Island, Lost at its heart is a story about people and is driven largely by character. Desmond’s narrative is a love story first and foremost and is one that is so perfectly delivered and subtly conceived that it seems difficult to imagine a scene greater in encapsulating the ecstasy of reunion than on display in the phone scene of The Constant. Forget the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle, Desmond and Penny is the best love story of the show and underlines just how good a show can be when it emphasises its strengths.

 

For more Episodes, check out the previous edition at https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/episodes-1-the-good-wife-heart-season-1-episode-17/.

 

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~ by jrhett on February 23, 2012.

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