Two important things about this week and they’re both about time.
First, since I was so slack in getting the recap done for last week’s episode, I’m gonna burn this one out just as quick as I can.
Second, if you thought that having Desmond become unstuck in time was a novel idea, well, you’re exactly right. It’s an idea that comes directly from a novel.
Two words. Slaughterhouse Five.
Lots to cover and not much time…or lots of time…
Best kiss ever.
The episode starts with Desmond looking at the crumpled picture that he and Penny had taken way back when. Frank is using a cheat sheet that Faraday drew for him to help him navigate back to their boat. Sayid, watching Frank consult the sheet and then fly directly into a thunderhead, is less than impressed with the Lapidus Flying for Dummies approach.
A little turbulence and Desmond is…elsewhere.
He finds himself in an army barracks, waking to the sound of his an angry sergeant (I assume sergeant. I don’t know much about military designations, but I’ve seen Stripes enough times to figure that only sergeants are that perpetually pissed off) waking the men for morning calisthenics. When Desmond is slow to haul his enlisted ass out of bed, he earns the wrath of the Sarge. Sarge wants to know why Hume is so slow to come to his mark. Desmond tries to explain that he was having a dream that he had trouble waking from.
A few military cliches later and Des is in the yard doing crunches when he suddenly finds himself back in the helicopter. Only this time, unlike a “regular” flashback or even Hume’s previous time jumping, he has no memory of Sayid, Frank, the chopper or where he is or how he got there.
Enter the Slaughterhouse Five angle. I write a 5,000 word essay on Lost every week, but it would be easy to write double that on Slaughterhouse Five alone.
I’ll try to restrain myself.
Back when Desmond first did his little time hopping routine, a lot of people thought he was not so much time travelling as he was “unstuck” in time. This “unstuck” concept is the main plot device in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five. Normally, this would be a sidenote, but I think it’s a weird enough parallel that I’ll devote a little recap space to it.
“Slaughterhouse-Five spans the life of a man who has “come unstuck in time.” It is the story of Billy Pilgrim experiencing different time periods of his life, most notably his experience in World War II and his relationship with his family. The book is a series of seemingly random happenings that, in combination, present the thematic elements of the novel in an unraveling order.”
Slaughterhouse Five is one of those must read classics that I have only recently gotten around to reading. In fact, I read it only a few months ago. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking of Desmond and his time jumps. If a real person “came unstuck in time” it would be exceptionally disorienting. Vonnegut conveys this quite well in the novel and I remember thinking that Desmond seemed almost too comfortable with the concept when he first started jumping. The freaking out in the helicopter Desmond fits my idea of how a reasonably normal person might react in that situation.
Vonnegut uses Pilgrim’s experiences as a soldier and a time traveller to roll out various commentaries on the human condition, most notably the futility of war, the futility of anti-war sentiments, the concept of free will and the inevitability of death. Every time a death happens in the novel, the narrator comments “So it goes,” to remind us that there is not a damned thing anyone can do to stop death. The time travel that Pilgrim experiences is the result of his interaction with a race of aliens who are able to perceive time in a way that we cannot. To them, time is a physically available dimension, just like up/down, side to side and back and forth are to us. The aliens have no concept of now and then, before and after. To them, it’s all the same. If you think that sounds confusing, it is. Think of it like this: To the aliens in question, moving back and forth through time is no different or stranger than you and I moving from home to office. Pilgrim gets used to it over time, as Desmond seems to.
In Desmond’s case, he seems to be dealing with only one shift, from a specific point in the past to a specific present, not a random selection of times. We have seen him shift to other points previously. Perhaps it’s something that he’ll get a handle on and learn to control.
The point is, Lost might not be a retelling of Slaughterhouse Five, but it’s borrowing heavily from many of Vonnegut’s ideas. I highly recommend the book, if only for the visual of a World War II era human on display in an alien zoo with a hyper-erotic porn star who they’ve chosen to be his mate.
Desmond should be so lucky.
Okay, here endeth the unstuck in time lesson. Keep it in mind though.
On the beach, Jack is still concerned that the chopper has yet to arrive, despite having left a day ago. Charlotte protests that she only knows what Jack does, since she’s been with him the whole time since the chopper left.
Juliet notes that unlike she and Jack, Charlotte seems remarkably unconcerned about the fate of the helicopter, despite the extreme weirdness of it not having arrived at a boat anchored a twenty minute flight out to sea.
Faraday hesitantly tries to explain the situation over Charlotte’s protests. It seems that the on island perception of time is a little different than it might seem. It seems that we all sort of knew that, but it really was nice to have it confirmed, if only by a guy who thought it was a good idea to wear a tie on a rescue mission.
I can’t take all these casual dressers!
“It’ll be fine. It’ll be fine, as long as Frank flew on the bearings that I gave him…if he stayed on it…it, it’ll be fine.”
“And what if he didn’t?”
“Then there might be…side effects.”
Side effects like Desmond flipping out and trying to fight his way out of the cockpit of a helicopter flying two thousand feet above the ocean.
Frank manages to get them safely to the boat, where they’re greeted by a couple of big guys who want to know who his passengers are.
“Survivors of 815.”
“And you brought them here? What the hell were you thinking?”
Interrupting the questions, Desmond again loses control, screaming that he isn’t supposed to be there, demanding to know who the strangers surrounding him are. The bigger of the two greeters asks Frank when all this began and then calms Desmond down and gets him aimed toward the sickbay. Sayid wants to accompany him, but the greeter’s word that he’ll be able to see Desmond once the doctor examines him and some reassuring eye-speak with Frank seems to satisfy Sayid for the moment. As they escort Desmond toward the ship’s superstructure, he is once again…elsewhere.
After a disconcerting moment of re-orientation and Sarge’s order for the troop to take a run as punishment for Desmond’s disobedience, he’s loading a truck with an army comrade. He tries to explain what happened to him, but naturally, his buddy is skeptical. When Desmond realizes that the one recognizable element of his experience was the picture of him with Penny, he drops what he’s doing and heads to the nearest phone to call her.
As he nears the booth, one of his other army comrades deliberately bumps him on his way past, a small repayment of the debt owed for causing the troop to suffer the Sarge’s wrath that morning. Desmond drops his change and as he bends to retrieve it, he’s…elsewhere.
“I’m not here. This…this isn’t happenin’.”
“You are here and this is happening.”
As they walk toward sickbay, they introduce themselves. The big guy is Keamy and the little guy is Omar. I guess I can stop calling them Spike and Chester. We also learn that their last port of call was Fiji, so the two men assume they’re still in the Pacific Ocean.
You’re gonna love it here. Shuffleboard on deck in an hour! Freshen up!
I say assume, since nothing is certain on this show.
The two leave Desmond locked in the sickbay while they go and fetch the doctor. Desmond demands to be let out, yelling that he’s not supposed to be there. Obviously, he’s still very disoriented. As he pounds desperately on the door, he hears a voice from the shadows. It’s a man, strapped to a bed. A man with a familiar voice.
“Hey. Hey. Hey! It’s happening to you too, isn’t it?”
When Regina said Minkowski couldn’t come to the phone, she wasn’t kidding.
Up on deck, Sayid watches an exchange between Frank and Keamy. He figures that the folks on the boat know what’s happening to Desmond. Frank assures him that if they do, they aren’t sharing the information with him.
“Then perhaps you can share how we took off at dusk and landed in the middle of the day.”
Frank gives him a look that says “I would love to explain it to you, but I don’t have a bottle of scotch handy.”
(*Why you need scotch to dull the pain of any time travel sidenote: Dusk to mid-day is a hell of a lot longer than 31 minutes, no matter which way you spin the big hand. It seems obvious that all speculation of time running differently on the island might have just been blown out of the water. If I had to guess, I’d say there’s a “bubble” of distorted time around the island and while inside the bubble time perception might be off (how many times have our castaways left the beach in broad daylight only to find themselves in the jungle in the dead of night seemingly a short time later?) the relationship of time is relatively stable, possibly fluctuating in both directions by several hours or even days, but basically in close sync. In my head, I see the real world as a fixed point and the island as a pendulum on an elastic band, fixed to the real world but swinging forward and back, sometimes ahead of and sometimes behind “real” time. Transitioning from one to the other will take a longer or shorter time, depending on the island’s position on the arc of the pendulum swing AND on the length of the stretching elastic. The elastic represents the “bubble”, which seems to be variable in the amount of time lag it produces. If I was writing the pseudo-science, I would use the “stretchiness” of the elastic to explain why sometimes the transition is easy and other times it isn’t. As the island’s time lines up most closely with time in the real world, at the very bottom of the pendulum arc the transition is smoothest, whereas at either extreme of the swing, the elastic is stretched so much that any in/out movement between the island and the outside world is extremely difficult.)
Instead of trying to explain the whole wonky time thing to Sayid, Frank changes the subject back to Desmond.
Do you like his hair better short or long? I find him handsome either way.
“Listen, I don’t know what’s happening to your buddy, alright? But you gotta trust me when I tell you this. I am trying to help you.”
“You want to help me? Give me your phone. Let me call my people.”
“You give me that weapon and I’ll give you this phone.”
Sayid makes the trade and puts in a call to Jack.
He explains that something has happened to Desmond since they left. His description of the Scotsman’s condition catches Faraday’s attention.
“What your friend’s…Desmond… Has he recently been exposed to high levels of radiation or electro-magnetism?”
Jack and the crew share a “Does an imploding electro-magnet strong enough to suck cutlery and belt buckles across the room and throw hundred pound metal hatch covers hundreds of feet through the air and turn the whole freakin’ sky a pretty shade of lilac count?” look.
“Okay, look…we don’t know why, but going to and coming from the island, some people can get a little…confused.”
Juliet asks if this is amnesia.
I cannot convey the depth of Faraday’s concern, certainty and simultaneous uncertainty as he assures her that it’s not amnesia.
Back on the boat, Desmond is trying to wake Minkowski from an eyes open coma state. His lights are on, but nobody’s home. Finally he comes around.
“I was just on a Ferris wheel.”
I was just dating Michelle Pfeiffer. Let me go back in time!
Just then, a lab coat wearing gentleman comes in.
“See, Ray? I’m not crazy. It’s happening to him too, Ray. And it’s gonna happen to you. It’s gonna happen to all of us. Everyone, once we start heading to that island again.”
Ray gently pushes Desmond aside, then pushes some sleepy time joy juice into Minkowski’s arm as the restrained man repeats “Nothing can stop it!” until he goes nappy-time.
As if noticing Desmond for the first time, Ray turns to him and asks how he’s feeling. You’d swear by his tone that everything is perfectly normal, despite the fact that Ferris wheel riding mattress monkey Minkowski was just preaching doom and gloom at the top of his lungs until Ray sent him for a ride on the narcotics express.
He asks Desmond to let him check his eyes and Des seems to relax a bit as Ray does what seems like normal doctoring. Ray shines the light in Desmond’s eyes in what looks like a routine check, but before he can say “There’s no place like home,” Desmond is…elsewhere.
Desmond finds himself picking up his change in the rain, right where he was the last time he was here…er…now…er…then…er…there…er…in that uniform! Time travel descriptions are a bitch.
Hello? Do you like my hair better long or short?
Scooping up his fallen coins, he hurries into the telephone booth and jams the money in and quickly dials a number. Two European rings later (Impressive…Hollywood usually has European phones ring in the traditional North American style) Penny answers. When Desmond asks for her help, she reminds him that he was the one who left her to join the army. He tries to convince her to let him see her, but she’s purely pissed with him and tells him in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want to hear from him or see him anymore. He tries one more time, but he’s…elsewhere.
Ray is still checking his eyes but notes that Desmond went bye-bye for a bit and asks him if he just experienced something.
At that moment, Frank barges into the sickbay with Sayid. Ray tries to protest, but Frank tells him that he has Faraday calling from the island and he needs to talk to Desmond.
Ray tries to keep Frank from letting Faraday talk to Desmond, but Sayid grabs him and throws him against the wall, ordering Frank to give Desmond the phone. Ray is able to press an alarm button on the wall, as Frank hands Des the phone.
“Desmond? My name is Daniel Faraday. We met yesterday before you took off, but I’m guessing you don’t remember that. Am I right?”
“Took off? What?”
“Desmond, we don’t have long to talk, so I need you to tell me what year you think it is.”
“What do you mean, what year do I think…it’s 1996.”
Okay, so definitely not your normal Lost flashback. We knew that, but it’s nice to have it spelled out for us.
“Alright, Desmond, Desmond look, you gotta tell me, where are you?”
“I’m in some kind of sickbay…”
“No, no, no, not right now, Desmond. Where are you supposed to be, where are you in 1996?”
“I…I’m at Camp Miller, it’s ah…Royal Scottish Regiment, it’s just North of Glasgow.”
Jack tries to interrupt, but Faraday shushes him.
“Desmond listen, when it happens again Desmond, I need you to get on a train. Get on a train and go to Oxford. Oxford University, Queens College Physics Department, alright?”
“Because I need you to find me.
Hunt me down and warn me that wearing ties everywhere will only make me extremely uncomfortable in the long run.
Officially one of the weirdest conversations I’ve ever transcribed. I normally don’t like to use that much dialogue at once, but the conversation just demanded to be transcribed so we could see it in print.
Faraday then grabs his journal, saying that without it, he won’t believe Desmond. Time travel paradox things like that are why Captain Janeway always hated temporal mechanics. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.
Jack asks a perfectly reasonable question. “Why does he think he’s in 1996?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s unpredictable, it’s a random effect. Sometimes the displacement is only a couple of hours, sometimes it’s years.”
“Wait, wait. This has happened before?” That’s two good questions in a row for Jack. And he didn’t cry once.
Faraday retrieves his journal and while Sayid is holding the sickbay door shut against the ship’s crew, Faraday relates the numbers that Desmond has to tell him in order for his past self to believe Desmond is telling the truth.
“When you find me at Queen’s College, I need you to tell me to set the device to 2.342. Alright, you got it? 2.342 and it must be oscillating at 11 Hertz.”
Desmond writes the numbers on his hand as best he can.
2.342…um those look familiar…23, 42…
Hardest Sudoku puzzle ever.
“And one more thing, Desmond. If the numbers don’t convince me, I need you to tell me that you know about Eloise.”
Just then, Spike and Chester…er, Keamy and Omar bust through the hatch into the sickbay. As Keamy is wrestling the phone from Desmond, he’s…elsewhere.
On the phone at Camp Miller, in the rain. Again.
A sunny day at Oxford University finds Desmond stalking Daniel Faraday. Faraday is handing what looks like a term paper on Quantum Physics back to a student, quietly admonishing him about it not being original. The student leaves and Desmond confronts Daniel.
When Daniel asks him why he is there, Desmond tries to explain that he’s come back from the future and needs Faraday’s help. This convinces Faraday that his colleagues are playing a not terribly funny prank on him because of his unconventional work.
As he walks away, Desmond recites Future Faraday’s instructions for the device, stopping Former Faraday in his tracks. Former Faraday asks where Des got the numbers and Desmond tells him that he got them from Future Faraday. When it looks like Former Faraday is about to walk away, Desmond drops the Eloise bomb.
(*Second sidenote of a LONG recap: Was I the only one who assumed that Eloise was going to turn out to be a student that Former Faraday was fondling?)
Former Faraday takes Desmond to his office, where he does “all the things Oxford frowns upon.”
“This future version of me, he referenced this meeting right? Obviously. So I would remember you coming to Oxford, right? I would remember this, here, right now.”
“Actually…no. Maybe you just forgot.”
“Yeah, right. How would that happen.” Oh, just ask the three of clubs….
As Former Faraday puts on a lead apron, Desmond has questions about Daniel’s equipment.
“So this, this is changing the future?”
“You can’t change the future.”
Do you like my hair better short or long?
When Des asks what the apron is for, Daniel tells him it’s for radiation. A little concerned, Desmond asks if he gets one. Apparently the radiation is only dangerous after many repeated exposures.
“What d’you put upon your head?”
A great question, for which the lack of an answer goes so far to explaining so much.
Former Faraday takes a white lab rat from her cage and introduces Eloise to Desmond. So if Faraday was having an affair with Eloise, we all have questions about his equipment.
Putting the rat beneath what looks like a cross between a McDonald’s heat lamp and a hair dryer, Former Faraday explains that if the numbers Desmond gave him are correct, the device “Will unstick Eloise in time.”
Billy Pilgrim, Future Faraday’s tie and now Eloise.
A few seconds of zap with the heat lamp and Eloise goes quiet. After a few seconds, Former Faraday declares that she’s back and pulls the gate on her maze. He’s quite excited as she runs the maze flawlessly. Desmond is less than impressed.
“I’m sorry, how is a rat running through a bloody maze so incredible?”
“What is incredible is I just finished the maze this morning. I’m not gonna teach her how to run it until an hour from now.”
Desmond digests the implication. “So, you sent her to the future?”
“Consciousness. Her mind.”
“So, how does that help me.”
“You? I don’t understand. Am I supposed to help you? Didn’t I send you back to help me?”
“I don’t know why you sent me here. All I know about you is you, you end up on some bloody island.”
“An island? What island? Why would I go to…”
Darn. I was this close to learning how tanning beds were invented.
The sickbay. Desmond is once again in the “now” as Frank tries to calm Keamy and Omar down. He tries to explain that Faraday wanted to talk to Desmond, so he brought him the phone. Keamy is annoyed that Frank let the tie wearing head case talk to Desmond.
“He said he could help.”
“Faraday can’t even help himself.” At least, that’s what Ray thinks.
So, do Keamy and the Keamettes know about Faraday’s little memory trouble? Whether they do or not, the captain wants to talk to Frank. Sayid also wants to have a chat with the captain but Keamy is in no hurry to bring the new passengers to meet him. He locks the sickbay door behind him as he leaves.
Once they’re gone, Desmond desperately scoops up the discarded light that Ray used on his eyes and starts flicking it at his own peepers. He mutters that he needs to get back, which Sayid assumes means to the island. Calling him by name, Sayid asks Desmond to please explain to him what’s going on.
From the mattress in the corner, Minkowski chimes in. “Desmond? You’re Desmond?”
“Do I know you?”
“I’m George Minkowski, I’m the communications officer. Before they strapped me down here, all the calls to and from this boat came through me in the radio room and every so often, I’d get this flashing light on my console. An incoming call. We were under strict orders never to answer them.”
“So? What’s that got to do with me?”
“Those calls came from your girlfriend. Penelope Widmore.”
Before Desmond has time to process this new information, he’s…elsewhere.
(*Recognizable voice sidenote: I’ve been calling Minkowski “Minkowski” all through this recap even though he only now introduces himself. I figure most folks recognized the voice and made the connection.)
In Former Faraday’s lab, a disoriented Desmond comes around after something like seventy-five minutes in a catatonic state. FF asks him how long he was in the future this time, and Des figures around five minutes. 75:5 or so. Keep that number in your head fellow travellers.
“Why does this keep happening?”
“In your case, I’m guessing that progression is exponential. Each time your consciousness jumps it gets harder and harder to jump back. I would be careful crossing the street if I were you.”
Just then, Desmond notices Eloise. “What happened to her?”
So it goes.
When Desmond wonders if the same thing will happen to him, FF starts in with an equivocal explanation, but Desmond is really, really fed up with not understanding what’s happening to him. He grabs FF and shoves him up against his equations.
“If this keeps happening, am I going to die?”
“I don’t know. I think Eloise’s brain…short circuited. The jumps between the present and the future…she eventually…she couldn’t tell which was which. She had no anchor.”
“What’d you mean, anchor?”
Pointing to his equations, he explains that everything is random in the time jumps and that every equation needs an anchor, a constant. Desmond needs to find something familiar in the future. Something that exists in both times that he really cares about.
(*Really pseudo pseudo-science side note: This is about as scientific as an episode of Jimmy Neutron. Still, it’s such a great plot device, we’ll let it go.)
“This constant. Can it be a person?”
“Yeah, maybe. But you’d have to make some kind of contact. Didn’t you say you were on a boat in the middle of nowhere?” When FF sees Des dial his phone, he asks who he’s calling.
“I’m calling my bloody constant.”
Unfortunately, his bloody constant has bloody disconnected her bloody phone. Desmond runs out of FF’s bloody lab and down the bloody stairs, but before he can get to the bloody bottom, he’s bloody…elsewhere.
After a moment of disorientation, he looks in the mirror and sees a much shaggier guy than the one doing crunches in the rain not long ago. Minkowski knowingly says “You look a lot older now, huh?”
The two men are understandably confused when Desmond says he needs to call Penny. Sayid puts into words.
“Calling your girlfriend is not our priority right now.”
“Listen, brotha. I don’t know you, but you seem to know me. So if you and me are friends, I need your help. I need to call Penny, now.”
Minkowski puts the brakes on Desmonds headlong rush to make his call. It seems that two days ago, someone sabotaged all the comm gear, leaving the boat incommunicado with the mainland.
“I probably could have fixed it, but then…I went nuts.”
It’s really too bad that there isn’t another communications expert on board.
Sayid asks, “Where is the radio room?”
Oh. Right. Gee, that’s lucky.
Minkowski offers to guide them. Of course, there’s still the little issue of being locked in sickbay. Too bad that there isn’t someone on the boat working against the freighter folk.
Oh. Right. Gee, that’s lucky.
“Looks like you guys have a friend on this boat.”
While Sayid checks the corridor, Desmond helps Minkowski to his feet. As the guy starts to get up, he notices that his nose is bleeding. A sure sign of brain trauma, at least in Hollywood. As Desmond hands him a soon to be bloody tissue, he’s soon to be bloody…elsewhere.
Still in the stairwell, Desmond collects his wits and heads for the nearest auction. How Desmond found out that Mr. Widmore would be at the Black Rock auction is a mystery, but one that I don’t think anyone really cares about. I’m just as happy to leave that off my list of questions. I don’t think we need another mystery to worry about.
We will get to the journal after we have finished auctioning off the rest of Tori Spelling’s personal belongings.
From the auctioneer, we learn that the Black Rock set sail from England on March 22, 1845 on a trading mission with the Kingdom of Siam. Siam? I wonder if any of the sailors had life defining tattoos done while they were there?
(*Geography sidenote: Thailand used to be called the Kingdom of Siam.)
On auction is the journal of the First Mate, one Tolvard Hanso. The journal was found seven years later among the artifacts of pirates, on Madagascar. According to the auctioneer, the contents of the journal have never been seen outside of Hanso’s family. The bidding on lot 2342 starts at one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.
Lot 2342? Um…those numbers sound familiar…
Bidding is fast and furious, with several audience members and a phone bidder (Anyone care to bet that the phone bidder is NOT Mr. Paik?) drive the price up, but ultimately, bidder 755 (A NEW set of Lost numbers, perhaps?) is the winner at three hundred and eighty thousand pounds. It’s Mr. Widmore. During the auction, Desmond tried to barge in to see the scotch hoarding bastard, but was stopped by security.
When Widmore sees Desmond, he is surprisingly pleasant to him, even asking him to walk with him as he leaves. Of course, being the prick that he is, he doesn’t walk far. Just to the washroom, leaving Desmond standing uncomfortably as he empties his bladder.
Desmond explains that he needs to get in touch with Penny and surprisingly (again) Mr. Widmore, he of you’re not good enough to touch my scotch, let alone my daughter fame, actually writes down the address and hands it to him. Of course, being the prick that he is, the note is accompanied by a lovely diatribe about what a coward Desmond is and a smug assurance that Penny will tell him herself what she thinks of him.
In a bizarre but effective display of alpha-male dominance, Widmore leaves the water running, certain that Desmond’s subordinate nature will force him to turn it off for him. As Desmond reaches for the faucet, he’s…elsewhere.
Back on the ship, Desmond hears from Minkowski that his time shifting will not only get harder but start happening faster. He and his two amigos sneak stealthily and quickly through the ship to the radio room. As they travel, Minkowski explains that he and someone named Brandon were bored while the ship was anchored and decided to take the ship’s tender and headed for the island for a look see.
(*Nautical sidenote: I was pretty sure, but looked it up anyhow, since I’m a landlubber. A tender is a small boat towed or carried by a larger one, but not a lifeboat as such.)
Before they got very far, Brandon started acting crazy.
“Where’s is he?”
“In a body bag.”
So it goes.
The three men arrive in the communications room. Every wire looks to have been cut, every console smashed. Sayid asks who did it, but Minkowski doesn’t know. Apparently the captain doesn’t either, but when he finds out…
Before he can finish his sentence, Minkowski goes catatonic.
Seemingly neither surprised nor moved by Minkowski’s face plant, Sayid simply says, “After your call, someone has to tell me precisely what is going on.”
Desmond keeps his eyes on the prize.
“Can you fix it brotha?”
“I need a minute. Do you have the number to make the call?” As Sayid asks, Minkowski starts to convulse. Desmond tries to call to him, to tell him to come back but Minkowski stays…elsewhere.
As he checks his pulse, Des notices that it’s not exactly the year he thought it was. He sees the 2004 calendar, marked off to Christmas Eve. When he mentions the year, Sayid misunderstands and remarks that he hadn’t realized how near to Christmas it was.
(*Will they or won’t they sidenote: If the show uses the tsunami of December 26, 2004 as a major plot affecting event, that would seem to blow their “we had a plan from the beginning” mantra out of the water. Now, there’s nothing wrong with adapting the story to include a real world event that would have a minor impact in the Pacific Ocean, but if the plot turns on the tsunami, that would pretty much prove that there was no plan at all.)
As he looks up at Des, Sayid sees that the Scot’s nose is bleeding, which as we noted before is a sure sign of brain trauma, at least in Hollywood.
Right then, Minkowski once again starts to convulse.
“I. Can’t. Get. Back.” With those words, Minkowski is…nowhere.
So it goes.
“What happened to him?”
“The same thing that’s gonna happen to me.”
And once again, he is…elsewhere.
The sink in the bathroom has overflowed and is spilling onto the floor where he’s lying. He gets up, turns the faucet off, splashes some water on his face and rushes out to find his bloody constant.
At 423 Cheyne Walk, Desmond knocks frantically on the door.
4, 23? Again, there’s something familiar about those numbers…
Penny finally answers and Desmond tries to get her to give him her new phone number. She’s not about to give it to him, since he’s the one who left her. He’s reduced to begging her to listen to him. Finally, she relents and lets him in to say what he has to say.
“I know this doesn’t make any sense because it doesn’t make any sense to me, but eight years from now, I need to call you and I can’t call you if I don’t have your number.”
Penny says what any sane person would say in this situation. “What?”
“Look Penny, just…just give me your number. I know, I know I’ve ruined things. I know that you think things are over between us, but they’re not. If there’s any part of you that still believes in us, just…just give me your number.”
“What’s to say you wouldn’t call me tonight or tomorrow?”
“I won’t call for eight years. December the twenty-fourth, two thousand and four. Christmas Eve. I promise. Please Pen.”
“If I give you the number, will you leave?”
“Seven nine four six, oh eight nine three.”
Desmond starts repeating it under his breath, trying to burn it into his memory.
“All that and you’re not going to write it down?”
“It wouldn’t do any good. You have to keep that number!” As he starts to rant that she has to keep the number for eight years, she shoves him out the door. He continues to rant at her door, pounding on it, shouting that he’s not crazy and that she has to believe him, then he’s…elsewhere.
In the radio room, Sayid reminds Desmond that he still needs the number…
“Seven nine four six, oh eight nine three. It’s a London number.”
I’ll forgo the sarcastic remark about how lucky this is, since it’s just so darned romantic.
Sayid has the patch complete but he’s not sure how much juice is in the battery. He dials the number and hands Desmond the handset. At this moment, Desmond seems to be…bothwhere.
After a whole whack of rings, Penny finally picks up.
“Penny, you answered. You answered Penny.”
Smiles all around, then and now.
“Des, where are you?”
“I’m…I’m…I’m…I’m on a boat. I’ve been on an island. My God Penny is that really you?”
Finding his constant seems to have brought his consciousness back to the present.
“Yeah, yes it’s me!”
“You believed me. You still care about me.”
“Des, I’ve been looking for you for the past three years. I know about the island. I’ve been researching it…[garbled]…and then when I spoke to your friend Charlie, that’s when I knew…you were still alive. That’s when I knew I wasn’t crazy.”
The battery on the phone starts to run down, their conversation gets some heavy static. It clears up momentarily…
“I love you Penny. I’ve always loved you. I’m so sorry. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I don’t know where I am, but”
“I’ll find you Des.”
“No matter what…”
“I’ll come back to you.”
“I won’t give up.”
“I love you.”
I liked my hair better short, too! Finally, an answer!
(*Impressive dialogue, direction and editing sidenote: The final “I love you” is simultaneous and I couldn’t help but note as I transcribed the dialogue that the back and forth between them on the phone at the end felt very musical, like the back and forth singing in an opera. It takes some great acting and editing to pull that off in a scene with actors in two different rooms on telephones. Very impressive.)
Sayid apologizes that the phone’s power finally gave out.
“Thank you, Sayid. It was enough.”
So Des really is back in his own head. I wonder how long that will last?
Back on the beach, Future Faraday is leafing through his journal. He comes across an entry and stares at it. It is written in red and takes up a whole page.
“If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.”
And PS, don’t forget to buy milk.
Um…just exactly how much does he have to care about his constant?