When the show LOST was on the air, I was a fan of the show. During the last season, I would write recaps on each episode. I would pour my own thoughts into the tiniest details presented during the show. It was a lot of fun to write them.

Since the show ended, I’ve kicked around the idea of recapping a show the way I did with LOST. Despite a few false starts, I still haven’t found a show that I’d enjoy recapping. I’ve thought about revisiting some favorite LOST episodes and recapping them.

So, here we go. This may be a one-time thing, but it’ll be fun. If you’ve never watched the show I will have spoilers galore in this post.

Who is your constant? Who is the person, or being, you’d be lost without? Lost may be an understatement.

“The Constant”

Let’s go back to the Island. Season three ended on a high of our castaways seemingly about to be rescued. Everyone, with the exception of Locke, rejoiced at this likelihood. It was a false hope. The castaways rescuers were not interested in rescuing them, but rather in finding the Island.

The castaways were starting to realize this as season four progressed. However, as the episode begins, there isn’t that doubt. We see Desmond Hume looking longingly at a picture of Penny Widmore as he rides in a helicopter. His thought is the trip to this mysterious rescue boat will lead him to answers. In the season three finale, Desmond and Charlie manage to incapacitate the Looking Glass Station. The Looking Glass was under water. While there, Charlie manages to connect with Penny. Penny and Charlie talk, and he tells her that Desmond is alive. Charlie thinks this will help them to be rescued, but Penny tells Charlie it is not her boat that is trying to rescue them. As he is told this, two things happen simultaneously. Desmond hears Penny’s voice and runs to where Charlie is, but Charlie makes eye contact with Mikhail (an enemy). Mikhail has a grenade in his hand and is about to blow a hole in the station, flooding it. Charlie quickly closes the blast door and locks it, thus saving Desmond’s life. Through the window, Charlie quickly writes on his hand “Not Penny’s Boat” and shows it to Desmond. Charlie drowns, and Desmond returns to the surface to find out what is going on.*

*I’m reminded how I didn’t think anyone would read my LOST recaps because they were lengthy, but that was never the case. The recaps scared away people who had no idea about the show, and rightfully so. Losties? They read them. I have nothing to worry about with this recap.

Some context with Desmond. Penny has been Desmond’s hope while he was stranded on the Island for over three years. Before the Island, Desmond had loved Penny but was always at odds with her father, Charles Widmore. Charles’ presence brought tension and conflict into Desmond and Penny’s relationship. In an effort, to prove himself to Charles, he enters in Charles’ race around the world. As he does, he crashes his boat on the Island. The same Island that Charles wants to get back to and rule.

When Desmond crashes, he is rescued by Kelvin Inman. Kelvin is a part of the Dharma Initiative. Before then, Kelvin had a connection with Sayid Jarrah during the first Iraq War, having been Sayid’s head captor. For three years, Kelvin and Desmond lived together in the Hatch (Swan Station), entering the Numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and then pressing the button every 108 minutes while “saving the world”. There is one day where  Kelvin is drunk and he inadvertantly shows Desmond a secret passageway that leads to a fail safe. If the timer isn’t pressed, you turn a key in the fail safe and blow up the Hatch.

Secretly, Kelvin has been fixing Desmond’s boat when making excursions out into the Island. Desmond realizes Kelvin is up to something, and one day follows him. He confronts Kelvin once, and a fight ensues. Kelvin doesn’t believe anything will happen if the timer runs out. Desmond refuses to believe that, partly because he doesn’t want his life to have been wasted the past three years. You’d think part of his motivation in “saving the world” was he is thinking he would be saving Penny.

Desmond accidentally kills Kelvin in the fight. He takes his fail safe key and runs back to the Hatch. The timer has just ticked down, and the Hatch is starting to fall apart. Desmond quickly enters the Numbers to release the energy buildup and reset the timer. While the timer resets, it is too late for those on Oceanic flight 815. They crash on the Island.

A few weeks later, Desmond is despondent and is contemplating suicide. Before he does, he plans to read Charles Dickens’ novel, Our Mutual Friend. In it is a note from Penny telling him not to give up in his moment of greatest desperation. Penny had placed it in the book, knowing Desmond would read it at a time of crisis. It is Desmond’s first contact with Penny in over three years, and he loses it. He starts tearing up the Hatch, but then he hears a banging on the door. It is John Locke, who is at a similar moment of crisis. Desmond turns on a light, which shines up into John. Both have renewed hope.

In the season two finale, Desmond and Locke would square off in the Hatch. Locke’s faith in the Island, primarily pushing the button in the Swan Station, is put to the test. During Desmond and Locke’s conversation, Desmond realizes he caused the crash of Oceanic flight 815. Locke is unmoved, though, and destroys the computer for entering the Numbers and pushing the button. As the timer hits zero, chaos ensues. Locke realizes his mistake. Desmond enters into the secret passageway to turn the key in the fail safe and blow up the Hatch. As he is about to, he once again professes his love for Penny.

Desmond survived the explosion of the Hatch. In blowing up the Hatch, and saving the world, he inadvertently gives a signal for him to be found. Two individuals are at a station searching for such a signal, and they locate the signal’s whereabouts. They report their findings to Penny, who has never given up looking for Desmond.

Desmond and Penny have always had the other in mind when living their lives the past few years. The other has guided their decision making, and they have put the other ahead of their own interests if necessary.


*Was all that context necessary? Well, it was fun to revisit wasn’t it?!


Sayid and Desmond are on their way to the alleged rescuers’ boat. They are being flown by Frank Lapidus. Lapidus has to keep a constant path when entering and exiting the Island, or bad things can happen. They fly into a storm, because it is in the path they must take, but slightly go off course. This causes Desmond to flashback to eight years previous. Not even flashback. His 1996 self dreams of his 2004 self before going back in the time/body of his 1996 self.*

*Got that?

In 1996, Desmond is in the boot camp of the British Army’s Royal Scots Regiment. He is understandably off kilter as he awakes to the sound of his instructor yelling at him, and his fellow soldiers, to get out of bed. His slight delay in standing at attention, since he is trying to get his bearings, causes repercussions for him and his fellow soldiers.

As he is trying to explain himself to a fellow soldier, as they are doing situps in a storm, a thunderclap happens and his 1996 self is in his 2004 time/body. He doesn’t know what is going on as he looks around and sees Lapidus and Sayid in a helicopter. He doesn’t know who they are. He attempts to jump out of the helicopter. Sayid tries to stop him, but this only causes Desmond to panic more as he realizes this mysterious person knows him.

On the Island, Jack Shepherd and Juliet Burke are worried over what has happened to Sayid and Desmond. Two of the alleged rescuers, Daniel Farraday and Charlotte Lewis are not worried. Conflict ensues and Daniel does his best to calm things down by explaining why Charlotte and he are not worried.

Your perception of how long your friends have been gone? It’s not necessarily how long they have actually been gone.

Daniel then says all should be fine if Lapidus flew on the path he marked out for him, but if he went slightly off course there will be “side effects”. And there are side effects, but only for Desmond it appears.

Back on the helicopter, Sayid manages to prevent Desmond from jumping out of the helicopter. Desmond sees the boat approaching, but then notices the picture of Penny in his hand. This calms him a bit. And it foreshadows a bit. The only thing his 1996 self recognizes in 2004 is Penny.

When they land on the boat, the crew runs to the helicopter and is angry to see Flight 815 survivors with Lapidus. Desmond loses it and starts yelling at everyone. The crew do not seem surprised by Desmond being out of sorts and take him to sick bay. Sayid is dubious at their intentions, realizing all is not as they seem. He plays along with things…for now.

1996 Desmond syncs back up. His regiment is still doing situps in the storm, but he is standing for some reason. He is once again trying to get his bearings as his commander yells at him. The regiment now has to run as Desmond tries to process what is going on. Later, a fellow soldier asks him what’s the matter, and Desmond tries to explain the chaos his mind and self are engulfed in. He talks about how he was on a boat and he didn’t recognize anything except for Penny. He takes off for a phone so he can call Penny, but as he is about to call his mind and body unsync.

1996 Desmond’s mind is back in 2004 Desmond’s body. He tells the crew that this isn’t happening and he isn’t there, but the crew tell him he is “there”. They lead him to sickbay, but lock him in there. Desmond pounds on the door wanting answers. He hears a voice from someone else in sickbay. They tell Desmond, “It’s happening to you too, isn’t it?” Desmond starts to realize he isn’t hallucinating and that he is cycling between these two time periods in his life.

Sayid is still on the deck of the boat. He observes the crew and the surroundings and begins to understand this isn’t a rescue boat. He also realizes the time of the day has changed drastically since they left the Island. He witnesses the boat’s captain, Keamy*, confronting Lapidus about something. As Lapidus leaves, Sayid talks to him trying to get answers. Lapidus assures Sayid that he is trying to help. While the trust is growing between these two, Lapidus wants Sayid’s gun before he hands over his phone so Sayid can call his friends on the Island.

*Damon Lindelof would indirectly blame the fans for the creation of Nikki and Paulo, and their demise. One of his arguments was nobody cared at this point who they were. Well, Keamy was a new character, and he was interesting. Granted, it’s nice when you don’t have scenes where you are taking a crap. That helps your character a bit.

Sayid calls Jack. Jack, Juliette, Daniel and Charlotte converse with Sayid about Desmond’s condition. Daniel knows what has happened. He says Desmond is “confused” and doesn’t have “amnesia”. It is something worse.

*What could be worse than some of the things experienced on the Island already?

In sickbay, Desmond is hovering over the person who is with him. The individual is strapped down to a bed and in an apparent catatonic state. Desmond is trying to rouse him, and finally the guy snaps out of it. A doctor, Ray, then enters and the guy is yelling at the doctor that someone else has it and that he isn’t crazy. He shouts that this will happen to everyone as they try to go to the Island. The doctor calmly gets a syringe and injects something into the guy as he is furiously trying to get out of the bed he is strapped to. He falls asleep. The doctor then turns his attention to Desmond, and Desmond understandably does not want the doctor to inject him. The doctor puts down the syringe and pulls out a light to check Desmond’s eyes* so he can “help him”.

*As it is said, eyes are windows to the soul.

The doctor asks Desmond to tell him what the last thing is he can remember, as he shines the penlight in his eyes. Immediately, Desmond snaps back to 1996. He is still in the rain by the phone. He scrambles up into the phone booth and calls Penny. She answers, but is a bit frustrated to hear Desmond’s voice.

PENNY: Hello?
PENNY: What do you want?
DESMOND: Uh, Penny, listen…I’m in trouble. I’ve been…I think something is happening to me. I’m confused. I…I need to see you.
PENNY: You broke up with me and then you joined the army. And now you call with expectations, that I still care about you? Yeah, I’d say you are confused Desmond!
DESMOND: No, no, I’m not…It’s…I’ve got two days leave starting tonight. Can I, can I, can I come and see you?
PENNY: No! No, and don’t bother showing up at the flat Desmond because I moved.
DESMOND: Moved? Where?
PENNY: It doesn’t matter. Look, Desmond, I’m going to go. Please, just don’t call me.
DESMOND: No, no, listen, Penny, Penny, Penny I need you.

And Desmond snaps back to 2004 with the doctor still shining the penlight in his eyes.*

*While none of us have experienced what Desmond did in this episode, I’m sure many can understand the grasping for a shred of hope like Desmond was in the conversation with Penny. We are reaching out to someone we love, or loved, and it may have been someone we hurt in the process. Our life may seem like it is falling apart, and we are trying to get our bearings. We reach out to someone who helped us in life, and it seemed like life was never better now that life seemingly is falling apart.

The doctor realizes something just happened to Desmond, but then Sayid and Lapidus barge into the room. Sayid has Daniel on the phone and need for him to talk to Desmond, but the doctor won’t have it. The doctor tries to keep his ruse going of “his patient”, but Sayid forces the issue. The doctor hits an emergency button, and a warning goes off. Sayid subdues the doctor, and gives the phone to Desmond. Daniel asks Desmond questions, and the realization is made by all that Desmond thinks he is in 1996. Daniel tells him to find him, in 1996, at Oxford University where he is a professor.

Understandably, this is ludicrous to everyone who hears this. Never mind everything that has happened to a majority of our cast that has been on the Island, what is happening to Desmond? Crazy…apparently.

Jack wants to interject himself into things and try and fix it, but that won’t do any good. It does allow Jack to look like a strong leader, though, as he pesters Daniel for answers. Daniel tells Desmond some numbers to convey to 1996 Daniel , 2.342 and 11 Hertz* for the “device”. Desmond quickly writes down the numbers on his hand. And if telling 1996 Daniel about the numbers doesn’t work? Tell 1996 Daniel about Eloise.

*Yea, more coincidences of the Numbers! 23! 42! 15-4=11!

1996 Desmond “wakes up” in the phone booth. The line is dead. The numbers he had just written down on his hand when on the boat in 2004? Gone. He gets up. Scene cuts to Desmond at Oxford, looking for Daniel. He finds him and tries to talk to him, but Daniel is skeptical. He thinks his colleagues are pranking him. Desmond relates the numbers to him, and Daniel starts to believe but wonders who Desmond is. Desmond then says he knows about Eloise, and he is instantly Daniel’s best friend.

They go to Daniel’s laboratory, and start to converse about the past/present/future. As Daniel starts to mess with a machine…

DESMOND: So, this is changing the future?
DANIEL: You can’t change the future.

And here we have another theory thrown out by our esteemed LOST writers and creators. Everything is already determined, and there is nothing we can do about it. This thinking is found in other religions and philosophies. Some Christians would say this is exactly what “predestination” is.

Eloise turns out to be a lab rat. She is put in a maze while Daniel preps the machine with the numbers Desmond gave him. The machine? It will “unstick Eloise in time, just like you (Desmond)”.*

*Which begs the question how you can resolve that if you can’t change the future?

Eloise is released in a maze, and runs through it perfectly even though it has never been in it. In fact, it was to be trained to go through it in an hour. Desmond appropriately asks if Daniel sent Eloise to the future. That isn’t the case. It’s the consciousness. The mind.

While it’s all fascinating, it doesn’t seem to be helping Desmond out. He jumps back to 2004, and the boat’s crew are storming the sick bay to stop 2004 Daniel from talking to Desmond. Keamy wrestles the phone from him and is mad at Lapidus for letting Daniel talk to Desmond. The crew doesn’t think highly of Daniel and they storm out of the sickbay, leaving behind Desmond, Sayid and the patient strapped to the bed. Once the patient hears Desmond’s name, he has a connection with him. The patient is the communications officer. He routinely came across calls looking for Desmond. They calls were from Penny.

Desmond comes back to 1996 and Daniel is writing on a chalkboard. Daniel theorizes that every time he “jumps” it will be harder for him to “jump back”. At this point, Desmond notices Eloise, and she is dead. Desmond asks about it, and Daniel does little to answer. This causes Desmond to get upset, since he is wondering if he is also going to die. Daniel doesn’t know.

DANIEL: I think Eloise’s brain short-circuited. The jumps between the present and the future, she eventually couldn’t tell which was which. She had no anchor.
DESMOND: What do you mean, anchor?
DANIEL: Something familiar in both times. (pointing to chalkboard full of formulas) All this? This is all variables. It’s random. It’s chaotic. Every equation needs stability, something known. It’s called a constant. Desmond, you have no constant.* You go to the future nothing there is familiar. So if you want to stop this, then you need to find something there. Something you really, really care about, that also exists back here in 1996.
DESMOND: This constant…can it be a person?
DANIEL: Yeah…maybe. But you have to make some kind of contact. Didn’t you say you were on a boat in the middle of nowhere? (Desmond dials a phone.) Uh, who are you calling?
DESMOND: I’m calling my bloody constant. (Call doesn’t go through since the line is disconnected. Desmond storms out and down a stairwell.)

*Everyone knows who his constant is instantly.

Desmond jumps back to 2004. He looks at himself in a mirror and stares. The patient relates to him since he is experiencing the same jumps through time. Desmond shares how he needs to call Penny. Sayid tries to explain how calling his “girlfriend” won’t help.* Desmond won’t hear it. The patient explains how they could use the radio room, but it’s been sabotaged recently. He thinks he could fix it, and then they all realize the door to the room is open. The patient surmises they have “a friend” on board the boat.** The patient is starting to bleed through the nose as they all get ready to leave.

*Sayid and girlfriends. Remember the bad storyline of how he fell for spoiled and whiny Shannon, despite an alleged deep love for Nadia? Sayid was a tool to somehow garner sympathy for Shannon’s demise. Didn’t work.

*You think it’s Lapidus? Oh no. Our main man Kevin Johnson!

Unfortunately/Fortunately, Desmond jumps back to 1996. He’s still in the stairwell.* He gets up and leaves. We are now at an auction house, and an item is up for bid. It’s related to the Black Rock, a mysterious ship that has all sorts of random Island and Dharma Initiative connections. The auctioneer gives some history with the item up for bid. It’s a journal belonging to one of the crew, Tovard Hanso, of the ill-fated Black Rock.** We then see Charles Widmore in the audience to buy Lot #2342***. Charles wins a bidding war and purchases it for 380,000**** pounds. Or, over $600,000 USD.

*Why wouldn’t Daniel have followed him out of the laboratory before after their conversation? Wouldn’t he have checked on Desmond to some degree?

**Another random detail/question put forth that was never intended to be answered. The Hanso family was big in the LOST mythology. In one episode, coming across these questions reminds me how unsatisfying the series finale was.

***Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!

****Numbers! 42-4=38. (Now add zeroes.) You can make lots of numbers with the Numbers.

Charles Widmore gets up to leave the auction after winning the item. Desmond wants to talk to him, and he agrees.* They talk in the bathroom as Charles takes a leak. Okay. Desmond wants to connect with Penny. Charles seems amused by this and doesn’t miss the opportunity to tweak Desmond. Desmond asks why he hates him so much, and Charles replies, “It’s not me that hates you.”** He then gives Desmond Penny’s address and says, “I’ll let her tell you herself.” He was confident he knew Penny***.

*How did Desmond manage to find Charles in such a short time, especially if he is jumping back and forth in time?

**Wrong. See Episode 3×08.

***Wrong again.

Charles washes his hands, but leaves the water running since he is a germaphobe.* And, in perfect timing, Desmond jumps back to 2004. The patient tells Desmond it will get harder and the jumps will faster.**

*Watch how he turns on the faucet without touching it with his hands.

**It happens faster, unless it is expedient for the scene to not have it happen faster.

The three of them make their way to the radio room. Once there, the patient goes catatonic again. Desmond asks Sayid if he can fix something together so he can make a call. Only one problem, Sayid needs a number to enter. Desmond doesn’t have it…yet. In the radio room there is a calendar, and Desmond sees it. 2004. It dawns on him more what is going on*. Sayid mentions how he didn’t realize it is almost Christmas. (It is Christmas Eve.)

*Wouldn’t this help anchor him as he jumps back and forth? He can identify differences between the two jumps?

The patient starts to bleed profusely. He is dying, and says, “I can’t get back”*. He dies, and Desmond realizes he is next.

*Get back from/to what…the jumps? He seemed awfully calm in explaining what was going on, yet he can’t differentiate? I don’t buy that, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t deal with the narrative of the episode. Moving on…

Desmond jumps back to 1996. He is on the bathroom floor of the upscale auction house*. He gets the address Charles gave him, and heads out for Penny’s The address? 423 Cheyne Walk**.

*Who knows how long he has been out, but again how convenient no one has noticed him lying there while the sink overflows.

**Numbers! 4! 23!

Lucky for Desmond, or writer’s intervention, Desmond makes it to Penny’s. He knocks on her door. Knocks again. Knocks some more. Penny answers and she is upset to see Desmond. He talks his way into her place and makes the ask for her number, saying he won’t call for eight years. He admits his mistakes, knowing he shouldn’t have ended the relationship. Penny is mystified by all this talk, but Desmond pleads for her number. He will call on December 24, 2004…Christmas Eve. Penny doesn’t want to give it to him, but he keeps asking. She gives it on the condition he leaves. He says he will, and she gives it to him. 7946-0893*. She wonders why he won’t write it down, but he says how it won’t do any good.**

**Refer to earlier when Desmond wrote down the numbers Daniel told him.

Desmond jumps back to 2004, in perfect timing. Or as Sayid says, “Excellent timing.” The phone is ready for the call. Desmond gives Sayid the number. Sayid makes the call, and it rings. It rings 14 times. And is it is about to ring a 15th* time, Penny picks up**.


**Now, who knows what the time zone differential is here. The Island could move, but we guess it is currently between Sydney and Los Angeles due to Oceanic Flight 815. If Flight 815 didn’t cross the International Date Line, then it is Christmas Eve on the boat. If it is afternoon or evening, this makes it early in the morning London and perhaps why Penny took her time to answer the phone. If the Island is across the International Date Line from Sydney, then at best it is nearing midnight on Christmas Eve in London. Doubtful, since London is 10 hours ahead of Hawaii, but it never does good to bring logic into this. Penny, once again, is taking her time to answer the phone.

We see Desmond holding the phone.

PENNY: Hello?
DESMOND: (taking a moment to let it sink in) Penny?
PENNY: Desmond?!
DESMOND: Penny, you answered. You answered, Penny.
PENNY: (Cut to Penny in her home, dressed well. A fire is going and the presents haven’t been opened yet*.) Des, where are you?!
DESMOND: I’m…I’m…I’m, I’m on a boat. Um…I’ve been on an Island. (Sayid looks up. Desmond remembers.) Oh my God, Penny, is that really you?
PENNY: Yeah! Yes, it’s me. (Both Desmond and Penny are crying as they speak.)
DESMOND: You believed me. (Cut to Penny who has a look of sheer joy on her face. back to Desmond.) You still care about me.
PENNY: I’ve been looking for you for the past three years. I know about the Island. I’ve been researching it. (radio static) …and when I spoke to your friend Charlie that’s when I knew…I knew you were still alive. I knew I wasn’t crazy. (both smiling uncontrollably) Des, are you still there?!
DESMOND: Yes I’m here! I’m still here! Can you hear me? (radio static interrupting more)
PENNY: Yeah, yeah, it’s better.
DESMOND: I love you Penny. I’ve always loved you. I’m so sorry. I love you.
PENNY: I love you too.
DESMOND: I don’t know where I am but…
PENNY: I’ll find you Des…
DESMOND: I promise…
PENNY: No matter what…
DESMOND: I’ll come back to you…
PENNY: I won’t give up…
DESMOND: I promise…
PENNY: I promise…
DESMOND/PENNY: I love you. (phone dies)

*The time zones don’t match up well, but does anyone care? It’s a classic scene from the show. And, there’s still time for answers to be revealed…right?

Hope found. A verse in the Bible, depending on translation, is “hope delayed makes the heart sick”. Desmond is sick no more.

The call worked.* Desmond connected with his constant, and the jumps stopped. His 2004 mind comes from nowhere to reconnect with his 2004 body. Happy ending…sort of.

*Daniel said you couldn’t change the future, but the 1996 interaction Desmond and Penny had would appear to have changed the future. Of course, this leads into a deep dive of what Daniel really meant, and if Desmond actually did anything to change the future.

On the Island, we see Daniel furiously going through his journal. He’s looking for something. He finds it. “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be MY constant.” Daniel smiles.* Boom. Roll end titles.

*And, something else that is thrown out there for Losties to ruminate over forever even though it will never be addressed again in the series.

The idea of a constant. It’s true. The obvious connection with a constant, especially since much of the episode takes place on Christmas Eve, is with Jesus. For Christians, Jesus is our anchor amidst the chaos of life. He is our compass who leads the way. Jesus came into this world to be the new constant for people.

Outside of Jesus, my constant is my wife Jana. It seems to me whenever we are separated for even a day my life gets off-kilter. She is my anchor. I know she feels the same. We anchor each other. What a wonderful thing in a marriage. I yearn to be with her. I’m at my best when she is around.

Who is your constant? Another question, perhaps, do you need a new constant? Or a better constant?

2 thoughts on “The Constant {LOST Recap Flashback}

  1. Enjoyed the post. Has me all nostalgic. Also, I loved the use of the word “anchor”. Sometime you’ll have to hear a song I wrote called “Anchor”. It lines up completely with the last 2 paragraphs of your post. Thanks for writing this!


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