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Up to date as of February 07, 2010

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This article is about the episode. For the fixed value, see Constant.
"The Constant"
Season
Episode

4
05
Airdate
February 28, 2008
Running time
42:09
Production code
{{{pc}}}
Flashback
{{{flashback}}}
Flashforward
{{{flashforward}}}
Flashsideways
{{{flashsideways}}}
Centric character(s)
Day(s)
Directed by

Episode transcript
[[{{{transcript2}}}|Part Two]]

[[{{{audiotranscript}}}|Commentary transcript]]

"The Constant" is the fifth episode of Season 4 of Lost, and the seventy-seventh produced hour of the series as a whole. It was originally broadcast on February 28, 2008. Sayid and Desmond hit some turbulence on the way to the freighter, which causes Desmond to experience some unexpected side effects: his 1996 consciousness travels to 2004 and back multiple times. The episode follows Desmond's 1996 consciousness in one continuous narrative between the two years.

Contents

Synopsis

2004 - Helicopter

Desmond panicking in the helicopter

Desmond is on the helicopter with Sayid and Frank, looking at a picture of Penny. Frank is flying the route that Daniel gave him, and Sayid becomes worried when it leads them straight into a thunderhead. They experience some turbulence. The turbulence becomes progressively worse and Frank struggles to remain on the correct bearing. The helicopter begins to drift from the 305 heading to a heading of 310 and Desmond begins experiencing flashes.

1996 - Royal Scots Regiment

Desmond wakes up in a military barrack

Desmond wakes up in a Royal Scottish Regiment military barrack at Camp Millar (north of Glasgow, Scotland) as the morning drill begins. His Sergeant-Major starts to shout at him because he did not respond promptly to the wakeup call. He demands an explanation and Desmond explains he was having a very vivid dream about being "in a helicopter, Sir,...and there was a storm, Sir, and...I...don't remember the rest, Sir." The Sergeant-Major comments that it was at least a military dream but still mocks Desmond. As punishment for Desmond's lack of concentration the Sergeant-Major orders the entire platoon to get ready for the morning routine in double time, 4 minutes instead of the normal 8 minutes.

2004 - Helicopter/Freighter

Keamy talks to Desmond

Desmond wakes up in present time after his flash and is noticeably disoriented. He struggles with his seatbelt and is panicking, appearing as if he wants to jump out of the helicopter. Sayid tries to calm him down, asking him if everything is okay. Desmond, puzzled and afraid, asks Sayid what his name is, not recognizing him. Desmond then pulls out of his pocket the picture of him and Penny, which appears to relax him. The thunderstorm soon clears, and the helicopter lands on the freighter. Keamy and Omar come running toward Frank, asking who Desmond and Sayid are and why he brought them with him. Frank explains that they are survivors from Flight 815 to which Keamy replies that he shouldn't have brought them on board. Desmond is distressed and starts yelling that he doesn't know Sayid and Frank. Sayid agrees to let Keamy and Omar take Desmond to the doctor, but Desmond has another flash before they can.

1996 - Royal Scots Regiment

Desmond stands in the yard while the rest of his platoon do crunches

Desmond is in the rain, standing while all the others in his platoon do crunches. His Sergeant-Major ridicules him and makes the entire platoon run as a punishment for Desmond's erratic behavior. Afterward, Desmond speaks to one of his friends in the platoon, and tells him about the "dreams" he has been experiencing. His friend appears to be in disbelief but asks if there was anyone he knew in the "dream." Desmond then remembers that in the helicopter he was holding onto a photo of Penny. He ventures to a nearby phone booth to call her. However, just as he is about to go in, another person from his platoon comes out, bumping into him, sarcastically thanking him for the extra work the Sergeant-Major made them do on the account of Desmond's disobedience. As Desmond reaches down to pick up the dropped coins, his consciousness returns to the freighter.

2004 - Freighter

Sayid on the freighter's deck

Keamy and Omar introduce themselves and bring Desmond down to the sick bay, only to lock him in. Desmond panics and starts pounding on the door and screams to be let out. He hears a voice behind him saying "You have it, too." Turning, he sees a man lying on a bed, strapped to it. The man asks him if "it is happening" to Desmond as well.

Back on the beach, Jack and Juliet are worrying about the helicopter, as they haven't heard from Desmond or Sayid for a day now. Juliet notices that Charlotte and Daniel are not so worried, even though the freighter is only 40 miles away - 20 minutes of flying - and questions them about it. Against Charlotte's advice, Daniel admits that the perception of time on the Island might be different than the time experienced off the Island. He says that as long Frank uses the bearings that were given to him, the people on the helicopter should be fine. If not, there could be "side-effects".

Minkowski, relaxed from the drugs

Meanwhile, on the upper deck, Sayid surveys the freighter. He notices a closed-circuit camera on the railing beside him. Looking up to a higher deck, he sees Keamy and Frank arguing. As Frank comes down the stairs to meet with Sayid, Sayid asks him why they left at dusk but arrived in midday. Frank doesn't know. Sayid asks for the phone, which Frank will give him only if Sayid gives him the gun. Sayid gives Frank the gun and calls Jack. He tells Jack that Desmond doesn't seem to remember anything; Jack puts the phone on speaker. Daniel asks if Desmond has been subjected to an intense dose of radiation or electromagnetic energy. He then says that by coming out of the Island, some people "might get a little confused", but it is not amnesia.

In the medical room, after Minkowski falls asleep, a doctor, Ray, enters. Minkowski wakes up and tells Ray that "this" will happen to everyone else once they go back to the Island. The doctor injects Minkowski with a sedative. The doctor then examines Desmond's eyes with a light, so he can "help him". In the middle of a phrase, Desmond has another flash.

1996 - Royal Scots Regiment

Desmond calls Penny in the military base

After picking up the coins on the ground, Desmond enters the phone booth to call Penny. Troubled by his call, Penny tells him that he shouldn't be calling her as he broke off with her and then joined the army. She adds that she has moved, and hangs up after telling him to not call her anymore. When Desmond tries to respond, the flash stops.

2004 - Freighter

Faraday talks to Desmond, while going over his notes

Sayid and Frank come down to the medical bay to bring Desmond the satellite phone, but Ray pushes the alarm button. Sayid quickly gives the phone to Desmond, because Daniel, who is on the other end, urgently needs to speak with him. Daniel asks Desmond "what year" he thinks he is in. Desmond answers that it is 1996 (8 years ago). Daniel then asks him where he is "supposed to be". When Desmond tells Daniel that he is supposed to be on the base, Daniel tells him to catch a train to Oxford to meet with his past self and gives Desmond some mechanical settings to relay, along with an extra phrase that Daniel assures him will convince him that the story is legitimate. When Omar and Keamy enter the bay to stop the call, Desmond has another flash.

1996 - Oxford University

Daniel and Desmond watching the rat experiment

Desmond visits Daniel at Oxford. The 1996 Faraday chastises some students and rants to himself. Desmond approaches and tells Daniel that he has been to the future where that Daniel told him to find him in the past. Daniel is suspicious, feeling that his colleagues are playing a prank on him. Desmond recites the settings Daniel gave him: 2.342 and 11 Hz. Faraday's interest is piqued, but not sufficiently. Desmond then uses the final piece of information Daniel had given him on the phone: "I know about Eloise."

Desmond goes with Daniel to a secret room, where Daniel does what "Oxford frowns upon". Daniel then asks Desmond if his future-self remembers this particular meeting between the two men, to which Desmond responds negatively. Desmond adds that "maybe you just forgot", which makes Daniel laugh. Daniel adds that one cannot change the future, as he puts on an anti-radiation vest.
Desmond and Faraday watch as Eloise is exposed to the purple light
Desmond asks why he doesn't get one, but Daniel says that it is necessary only for prolonged exposure (as he does this kind of thing 20 times a day). Desmond asks why Daniel doesn't put something on his head, but Daniel again laughs at the comment. Daniel pulls out a rat from a cage, named Eloise, and puts it in a maze. After calibrating a machine according to Desmond's instructions, Daniel turns it on to "unstick Eloise in time". The machine emits a bright purple ray on the rat and then stops. Quickly, Daniel takes off his anti-radiation vest and looks at the rat without doing anything yet, as "she is not back yet". When she is, Daniel removes the little door at the beginning of the maze to let the rat walk in it and find the exit. Without any hesitation, the rat quickly finds the exit. Daniel is extremely happy but Desmond doesn't understand why this is incredible. Daniel answers that he built the maze the morning before, and he is not going to teach the rat how to run it until an hour later: he has sent her consciousness, her mind, in the future. Desmond then confronts Daniel as to why he sent him here if not to help him. He then adds that Daniel in the future is on an Island, to which Daniel replies: "Why would I go to an Island?"


2004 - Freighter

Desmond tries to "get back"

Back in the bay, Keamy takes the phone from Desmond. He and Omar bring Frank outside the room, because the captain wants to talk to him. Sayid adds that he too wants to talk to the captain, to whom Keamy answers sarcastically: "I'll be sure to let him know. In the meantime have a seat." Desmond tries to "get back" using the doctor's flashlight but doesn't succeed. After Sayid calls Desmond by name, Minkowski suddenly reacts, freshly woken up. He tells them that he is George Minkowski, the communication officer. Before they strapped him down to a bed, all the calls to and from the boat went through him in the radio room. Every so often, a light flashed on his console, to indicate an incoming call. They were under strict orders never to answer these calls, which were from Desmond's girlfriend: Penelope Widmore.

1996 - Oxford University

Faraday explains the importance of a constant to Desmond

Desmond wakes up in Daniel's Oxford room. Desmond replies to Daniel that he was in the "future" for about 5 minutes. Daniel seems somewhat astonished that Desmond was "gone" for nearly 75 minutes and tells him that the more time he goes back and forth, the harder it gets, as in his case the progression is exponential. Desmond then notices that the rat is dead, from a brain aneurysm. Desmond confronts Daniel about it, but Daniel says that he doesn't know if Desmond is going to die also. Eloise's brain short-circuited, she couldn't tell the difference between the past, the present or the future, as she didn't have anything to attach herself to: she did not have a constant. Daniel tells him about the need for Desmond to have a constant, something that is present in both times and that he sincerely cares about and can recognize. Desmond grabs the phone and calls his constant, Penny, but the number has been disconnected.

2004 - Freighter

Sayid and Desmond release Minkowski from his bed

When Desmond's consciousness returns to 2004, he knows he has to contact Penny. He tells Sayid, but Minkowski interrupts them to say that two days earlier, someone sabotaged all the equipment. All communication with the mainland has been lost. Minkowski could have fixed it but he's "unstable." Sayid asks where the radio room is and frees Minkowski to show them the way. Sayid asks how they are going to get out of the room, but Minkowski notices that the door is open: they seem to have "a friend on this boat", as Minkowski says. Desmond notices that George has started to bleed from his nose. They prepare to leave.

1996 - Auction

Mr. Widmore at the auction

Charles Widmore is bidder #755 at a Southfield's auction for lot #2342, the journal of the Black Rock's first mate. The contents have not been published and are unknown to anyone outside the family of the seller, Tovard Hanso. Charles wins the auction for £380,000. Meanwhile, Desmond arrives at the auction and tries to get past the guard to talk to Widmore. After the auction ends, Widmore walks out and agrees to talk to Desmond quickly. At the men's bathroom, Desmond says that he needs to get in touch with Penny immediately. He doesn't know how to reach her as her number has been disconnected. After Widmore talks about Desmond's cowardice and his "second thoughts", he ultimately gives him her address so that she can tell him herself that she hates him. As Widmore leaves the bathroom, he leaves the faucet on. Just as Desmond is about turn off the faucet, the flash ends.

2004 - Freighter

Minkowski dies, after not being able to find a constant

On the boat, Sayid, Minkowski, and Desmond are going to the sabotaged radio room. Minkowski says that "it" is happening faster and is getting harder. Desmond then asks George how it happened to him. Minkowski tells him that they were bored out of their minds, waiting for their orders, anchored "here", so he and Brandon, another crew member, decided to take the ship's tender to see the Island. But Brandon started acting erratic so they turned around. Soon after, Brandon died and Minkowski grew unstable. Sayid looks at the destroyed equipment and asks Minkowski who is responsible for the damage. George doesn't seem to know and adds that he feels sorry for the person when the captain finds out. He suddenly phases out again. Sayid uses his military expertise to repair the phone. Desmond notices a calendar that says the year is 2004. Sayid sees it also and notes that it's almost Christmas. As Desmond realizes the date he starts to bleed from his nose, and suddenly Minkowski has a fit and bleeds from his face. Minkowski's final 'trip' cost him his life, as he returned to 2004 he died, his last words being I can't get back.

1996 - Penny's flat

A shocked Penny answers the phone

Desmond awakens in the same bathroom as before, the sink overflowing with water. After refreshing his face, he goes to see Penny. She opens the door to a distraught Desmond. Despite clear signs that Penny wants to have a "clean break" from Desmond, he insists, pleading for her phone number. After entering the flat, he tells her that he needs her phone number so he can call her in 8 years (December 24th, 2004). Ultimately, after a bit of reassuring, Penny gives Desmond her number: 7946 0893.

2004 - Freighter

"If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant"

Desmond comes back from another time skip and tells Sayid the London phone number. Sayid repairs the phone, dials it, and then gives it to Desmond. Desmond then engages in a heartwarming phone call with Penny, preparing Christmas; she has been looking for him for three years, also confirming to Desmond her conversation with the late Charlie. Penelope is wearing a ring on the ring finger of her right hand. She knows about the Island, has researched it, and is trying desperately to find him. They exchange their love for each other, and the battery dies out. A happy Desmond then thanks Sayid, seemingly having remembered everything. He is now "perfect".

On the beach, Daniel begins flipping through his journal until he comes to a page that reads: "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant."

Trivia

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General

  • This is the first episode that doesn't use flashbacks or flashforwards as a narrative device. We experience Desmond's flashes as he does -- chronologically -- as indicated by dialogue and movement carried on through both time periods.
  • This episode featured several elements which were clues from the alternate reality game Find 815:
    • Penny's phone number is 7946 0893 in London. "020 7946 0893" was a Season 4 bonus clue in Find 815. (Find 815 clues/January 9)
      • The 020 region code was not introduced until 22nd April 2000. Before this London had a code for Outer London (0181) and Central London (0171), and the local number had 7 digits, not 8. All 0171 numbers were converted to 020 7 on this date. So Penny's number would have originally been 0171 946 0893.
      • Although this looks to be a UK telephone number in London, it is an unassigned number (Ofcom specifies that numbers beginning with 020 7946 0 are for drama purposes [1]).
    • Penny's address is 423 Cheyne Walk in London. "423 Cheyne Walk" was a Season 4 bonus clue in Find 815. (Find 815 clues/January 9)
      • It is near where Desmond's photograph with Penny was taken. In addition, Widmore Industries has its offices in the same neighborhood. ("Flashes Before Your Eyes").
      • Cheyne Walk is a famous street in London known for its famous inhabitants. Residents have included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, George Eliot, Dante Rossetti, and Henry James (who wrote The Turn of the Screw).
    • "Queen's College, Department of Physics" and "Southfields" were Season 4 bonus clues in Find 815. (Find 815 clues/January 30)
    • "Camp Millar" was a season 4 bonus clue in Find 815. (Find 815 clues/January 23)
The calendar on the wall
  • The ledger that Charles Widmore buys in the auction is the same as the journal referenced by Oscar Talbot in Chapter 5 of Find 815. Talbot was working for a branch of the Widmore Corporation, and says that his employers had the journal.
  • According to the calendar on the wall, as well as Desmond, the real-time events of this episode take place on Day 94 (Christmas Eve), two days after Sayid, Desmond and Frank left the Island.
  • Southfield's, the organization holding the auction, is an anagram for "shifted soul." This might have been done to reflect the way that Desmond's mind, or soul, was "shifted through time. (anagram)

Production notes

Bloopers and continuity errors

Parking fee collection machine outside Penny's townhouse ("The Constant")
  • In 1996 when Desmond is first seen in the military training doing push-ups it is raining extremely hard - and yet the soldiers have very strong shadows - suggesting it is actually a very sunny day.
    • This is entirely possible in the changeable temperate climate of the British Isles.
    • This is also possible because they were doing their exercise under spotlights.
  • Outside Penny's house in 1996 Desmond passes a parking fee collection machine. The type features a solar panel on the top that powers it. These were not introduced nation-wide in the UK until 2002.
  • On the blackboard in Daniel's office, Schrodinger's equation for the time evolution of a wave function is missing the Hamiltonian operator. The equation should read: math, instead of math.
  • The helicopter is in flight to the freighter but the RPM and oil pressure gauges, seen while viewing Daniel’s map taped to the instrument panel, both read zero which indicate the engine is turned off.
    • This may be a result of the Helo being struck by lightning on the way to the island.
  • The Queen's College, Oxford, does not have a physics department. Instead, the University of Oxford has various physics sub-departments situated throughout the city.

Recurring themes


Recurring themes in Lost
Black and whiteCar accidentsCharacter connectionsDeceptions and consDreamsEyesFate versus free willGood and bad peopleImprisonmentIsolationLife and deathMissing body partsNicknamesThe NumbersParent issuesPregnanciesRainRebirthRedemptionRelationshipsRevengeSacrificeSecretsTime
  • There are several references to the Numbers:
    • Desmond's consciousness moves back and forth between 1996 and 2004 — 8 years apart. (The Numbers)
    • Desmond's drill sergeant tells the recruits they have 4 minutes to "get in the yard" instead of the usual 8. (The Numbers)
    • Penny lives at 423 Cheyne Walk (4-23 or 42-3). (The Numbers)
    • The frequency that Faraday gives Desmond is 2.342 (23, 42). (The Numbers)
    • The auction lot number of the Black Rock diary is 2342. (The Numbers)
    • Faraday says that while Desmond was in a catatonic state in his room at Oxford, 75 minutes had passed. Desmond perceived the same amount of time as 5 minutes. The ratio of 75:5 is equivalent to 15:1. (The Numbers)
    • The helicopter is marked with "N842M". (The Numbers)
  • Both the adjustment numbers for Daniel's experiment and the Black Rock auction lot share the same number, 2342. (Coincidences)
  • At the auction, Widmore is bidder number 755, the same numbers as the time ratio. (Coincidences)
  • Charlotte earned her doctorate at Oxford. Daniel taught there. (Coincidences)
  • Minkowski is unable to find a constant and dies as a result. On the other hand, Desmond is able to find a constant (Penelope) and apparently manages to avoid death. (Life and Death)
    • In 1996, Faraday helps Desmond by explaining to him the need for a constant. Faraday ends up on the Island with Desmond. (Character connections)
  • The doctor, Ray, examines Desmond's eyes. (Eyes)
  • Daniel asks about Desmond being in contact with electromagnetism, a force that seems to affect people who come and go off of the Island. (Electromagnetism)
  • Desmond and his military colleagues are exercising in the rain. It's also raining when Desmond calls Penny from the booth. (Rain)
  • Daniel and Charlotte initially withhold from the survivors the effects of traveling to and from the Island. (Secrets)
  • Desmond thinks he was having a dream at the regiment. (Dreams and visions)
  • Eloise, central to the plot, is actually a rat. (Animals)

Cultural references

Cultural references in Lost
(direct references only)
ArtBooksCarsGamesMovies and TVMusicPhilosophyReligion and ideologiesScience
  • Charles Dickens: After the auctioning of the Black Rock ledger, some of Charles Dickens' belongings are placed up for bidding. Desmond himself has a deep relationship with Dickens' novels since the telling Our Mutual Friend is supposed to be the last novel he wants to read before he dies. (Literary works)
  • Hawaiian language: As the helicopter approached the freighter, a sign near the landing pad indicated the name of the ship: Kahana. Kahana means the drawing of a line, cutting or turning point in the Hawaiian language. [source: Pukui & Elbert, Hawaiian Dictionary] (Science)
  • Relativity: The majority of the notes on Daniel's chalkboard and notebook are (introductory) notes on Special Relativity and General Relativity, with a small amount of quantum mechanics scattered in. (Science)
    • Special Relativity deals with linear contractions/dilations of space and time
    • General Relativity deals with the curvature of space and time
    • There have been evidences of both Special and General Relativity on the island - as Faraday pointed out (and his payload experiment showed), there is a contraction of time when you go to or leave the island.
  • Faraday constant: Faraday wrote in his journal, "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant." In physics and chemistry, the Faraday constant is the amount of electric charge per mole of electrons. The Faraday constant was named after British scientist Michael Faraday, and is widely used in calculations in electrochemistry. (Science)

Other works with similar content

Many science fiction books, movies and shows deal with the same subject as this episode.

  • Quantum Leap: This science fiction television series' plot involved scientist Sam Beckett leaping to various points in time, usually constrained within the period of his own lifetime. In some cases, the time-traveler was able to get in contact with characters of his own past, resulting in a predestination paradox. Each episode of Quantum Leap featured a scene where the time traveler sees his reflection in the mirror and is surprised by his appearance, much like Desmond experiences here. (Movies and TV)
  • The Time Traveler's Wife: This novel by Audrey Niffenegger is a science fiction inspired love story in which a man with a "Chrono-Displacement" genetic disorder unpredictably experiences time travel. The novel's conflict centers on his wife, the daughter of a wealthy family, coping with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. The protagonist finds that his time travel is aggravated/triggered by stress. A central theme, unlike many other time travel stories, is that it is not possible to change the past or future. (Literary works)
  • Je t'aime, je t'aime: In this 1968 film by French director Alain Resnais, when a man is sent back in time repeatedly by scientists, he seems to have only a vague understanding of where he is or where he came from. When he returns to the future, he is comatose. They also first experiment on mice, like Faraday. Resnais' films often deal with the relationship between time and memory. (Movies and TV)
  • All Good Things...: The series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation features Captain Picard in three different timelines. He becomes "unstuck" in time, like Desmond and Billy Pilgrim. Also, Desmond's trip to contact Daniel at Oxford is reminiscent of Picard's trip to visit Data at Cambridge. In the Season 4 DVD commentary Damon Lindelof confirmed that "All Good Things" was a big influence in writing "The Constant" episode, while Mark Goldman states that he took inspiration from the Star Trek episode's editing style in deciding how to piece together Desmond's time jumps. (Movies and TV)
  • La Jetée: In this 1962 short film by Chris Marker, scientists send an unnamed protagonist into the past (and later, the future) through experiments designed to expose human consciousness to "time waves." Only those of a stable mental disposition can successfully receive these waves and travel through time without going mad. The main character, referred to as the Man, falls in love with a Woman in the past, but his decision to stay with her results in his own death (an event he had witnessed as a child). (Movies and TV)
  • Twelve Monkeys: This is a feature film based on La Jetée. The character of Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt) is very similar to Daniel in 1996 (in both appearance and mannerism). (Movies and TV)
  • War Without End: In this episode from the 1990s television series Babylon 5, several of the main characters enter a temporal rift in space. When one of them (Captain John Sheridan) loses his "time stabilizer" device, he is said to be "unstuck in time". He disappears physically and travels into the future. Later when he briefly reappears, the character Ambassador Delenn, played by Mira Furlan (Danielle Rousseau), gives her own time stabilizer to him. She then becomes "unstuck in time" herself. (Movies and TV)
  • Flowers for Algernon: In this book by Daniel Keyes, a man, Charlie Gordon, has a surgery performed on him to increase his intelligence. This same procedure is also performed on a mouse, Algernon. Both Charlie and Algernon become smarter, but eventually Algernon dies, causing Charlie to fear for his own life. This is analogous to Desmond and Eloise. Eloise travels through time in the same way that Desmond does; when she dies, it causes Desmond to think he may be next. (Literary works)
  • Back to the Future: The scene in which Desmond convinces the 1996 version of Daniel Faraday that he is from the future by reciting information that only Daniel himself would know is reminiscent of the scene from this movie in which Marty convinces Doc that he is from the future by telling him how he came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor. (Movies and TV)
  • The Remarkable Case Of Davidson's Eyes: This episode shares similarities with this H.G. Wells short story, which follows the story of a man who sees a different reality/time after an incident during a thunderstorm. The story references "a kink in space" that allows the man to remember a dream concerning a ship and an island inhabited by penguins in the South Seas. (Literary works)
  • Primer: In this 2004 film written and directed by Shane Carruth, two young scientists discover a way to send themselves back in time. As they repeatedly toy with temporal paradoxes, though, they find that their experiments are riddled with side effects -- including bloody noses. (Movies and TV)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Sayid asks "How do we get out of here?" and Minkowski replies "Uh, through the door". This same exchange was said between Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams when they try to escape the pod people. (Movies and TV)
  • Bible: Desmond tells his sergeant that he had a dream. Like Daniel Faraday, the biblical prophet Daniel is known to have skills in interpreting dreams (Daniel 1:17, Daniel 2:14). (Literary works)
  • The Million Dollar Hotel: In this 2000 movie, Jeremy Davies' character's love interest is named Eloise. Here, Jeremy Davies' character's pet is named Eloise. (Movies and TV)
  • The Butterfly Effect: In this 2004 movie, Ashton Kuchter's character has epistaxis after going to the past or to the future. (Movies and TV)
  • VALIS: In this Philip K. Dick novel, seen in the previous episode, the main character Horselover Fat (himself a version of author Philip Dick), gets exposed to a pink laser which provides him with knowledge perceived to be from God. This 'living information' reveals details from the future. (Literary works)
  • Slaughterhouse Five: Desmond confides his vivid dreams to his military friend Billy. Billy Pilgrim is the main character in Slaughterhouse Five, the second chapter of which begins with the narration, "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time."; Daniel says he will unstick Eloise in time. (Literary works)
    • Billy Pilgrim sees the future, and even predicts his own death; Desmond predicted Charlie's death and other events on the Island.
    • One of Desmond's fellow soldiers is named Billy; Billy Pilgrim was also a soldier in WWII Germany. (Literary works)
  • Flashforward: Desmond loses his consciousness of 1996 and experiences events from 2004 through the senses of his future body. In the novel, all the people on Earth lose their consciousnesses of 2009 and experience events from 2030 through the senses of their future bodies. (Literary works)

Literary techniques

Literary techniques in Lost
ComparativeIronyJuxtapositionForeshadowing PlottingCliffhangerPlot twist Stock Characters:  ArchetypeRedshirtUnseen character
Story:  FlashbacksFlash-forwardsFlash-sidewaysRegularly spoken phrasesSymbolismUnreliable narrator 
  • This episode is the first to contain neither a flashback nor flashforward. Instead, Desmond's consciousness from 1996 is traveling between 1996 and 2004 within the context of the present time narrative.
    • The Desmond-centric episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes" also has Desmond "time travel", but only in the context of a flashback that spans almost the entire episode.
  • Minkowski says he can't get back. (Regularly spoken phrases)
  • In 1996 Daniel wonders if his future self knows about his meeting with Desmond, to which Desmond says Daniel probably forgot. Daniel replies sarcastically, "Yeah, how would that happen?" Daniel would later suffer from some form of memory loss. (Foreshadowing)  (Irony)
  • In 1996 after Daniel covers his chest to protect himself against the radiation of his ray and explains Desmond that he (Daniel) needs it because he is constantly exposed to it, he seems surprised when Desmond points that he should be covering his head as well. However, he just shrugs it off and proceeds with the experiment. This is probably foreshadowing the cause of Daniel's chronic loss of memory as seen in the future. (Foreshadowing)
  • Minkowski says "We anchored here" about the freighter just while Desmond is trying to anchor himself during his time-traveling experiences. (Juxtaposition)

Storyline analysis

Storyline analysis in Lost
A-MissionsCrimesEconomicsLeadershipO-MissionsRelationshipsF-MissionsRivalries
  • Desmond's love for Penny anchors him in time. (Relationships)
  • Sayid trades his gun for communication. (Economics)


Episode references

The comm panel ("The Constant")/("Through the Looking Glass")
  • Sayid is asked to perform urgent electronic repairs under mysterious circumstances, and calmly does so without demanding a full explanation. ("Orientation")
  • Daniel asks if Desmond had recently been exposed to high levels of radiation or electromagnetism. ("Live Together, Die Alone")
  • Frank is told by Daniel to follow a bearing of 305, which is a Northwest direction. Eko's stick bore the inscription "Lift up your eyes and look north - John 3:05", Which Locke later followed as a bearing ("I Do")
  • Ray puts a light in front of Desmond's eyes, which is also reminiscent of the title of another episode, ("Flashes Before Your Eyes").
  • Penny tells Desmond she was told he was alive and on an island when she spoke to Charlie. ("Through the Looking Glass")
    • Moreover, in the radio room, there is the same communications panel that we can see in The Looking Glass communication room. ("Through the Looking Glass"). The only difference is a strange object on the right in the place of the orange led. This machine seems to be in good condition respect to the other in the same room.
  • Desmond and Daniel have a conversation regarding Daniel's memory, which is shown to be affected in earlier episodes. ("Confirmed Dead")  ("Eggtown")


Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
More details...
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Constant/Theories
  • What is contained within the journal of the Black Rock's first officer?
  • What is the nature of the time differential between the Island and the outside world?

External links

  • ABC Primetime Grid
  • ABC Medianet Press Release Bundle (02/11/08): PDF
  • TIME Top 10 TV Episodes 2008 1. Lost, "The Constant"

This article uses material from the "The Constant" article on the Lostpedia wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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