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The Constant
The Constant
Season 4
Episode 5
Air Date February 28, 2008
Writer(s) Carlton Cuse
Damon Lindelof
Director Jack Bender
Flashback Desmond Hume

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While traveling to the freighter, Desmond begins to experience certain time related side-effects, and needs Daniel's help to correct the imbalance.


Desmond, Sayid, and Frank experience turbulence flying in the helicopter from the island to the freighter 130 kilometers offshore. Desmond suddenly flashes back to 1996 when he is serving in the British Army's Royal Scots Regiment. When his mind returns to the helicopter, he does not know who he is with or where he is. After the helicopter lands on the boat, Desmond continues to flash between 1996 and December 2004. Several of the shipmates take Desmond down to the sick bay where the communications officer, George Minkowski, is tied to a bed. He is also experiencing flashbacks to his past. The freighter doctor comes into the room and administers a shot to Minkowski and begins to examine Desmond. Both Sayid and Lapidus are concerned and confused as to what exactly is happening to Desmond.

In an attempt to help his friend, Sayid talks Lapidus into giving him the satellite phone in order to contact Jack on the beach. Sayid makes the call and explains the situation and Jack hands the phone to Daniel. Daniel realizes that something is wrong and asks if Desmond had recently been exposed to large amounts of radiation or electromagnetism. Sayid and Lapidus take the phone to Desmond in the sick bay, where Daniel asks Desmond what year he thinks it is. Desmond responds that he believes he is in 1996; Daniel understands what has happened. He explains that the next time Desmond flashes back to 1996, he must take a train to Queen's College, Oxford University in England, and find Daniel in the physics department. He must give a message to Daniel—a series of numbers which are the correct settings for a machine he is working on (setting 2.342, oscillating at 11 hz). In order to get the past Daniel to take him seriously he tells Desmond to say that he knows about "Eloise."

Desmond manages to find a younger Daniel at Oxford, and, as predicted, is met with some skepticism. However, the message makes an impression and Daniel soon takes him into his laboratory where he is experimenting with some kind of time machine. Eloise is a laboratory rat that Daniel is running an experiment on. After resetting the machine to the new settings given to him by Desmond, Daniel places Eloise in a maze and exposes her to purplish electromagnetic energy. The rat appears to go comatose, then awakens and runs the maze. Desmond is confused by Daniel's excitement over the rat's successful running of the maze, until he is told that Eloise has never been introduced to the maze, and that Daniel had been planning on doing so in an hour. Daniel explains that Eloise's consciousness traveled ahead in time. He is intrigued when Desmond mentions that when he travels to the future, he finds himself on an island in the Pacific.

Desmond realizes that, like the rat, he is caught in some sort of warp in the space/time continuum that is toggling his consciousness between two different bodies at two different points in time and space. The periods in which he is in either time line are becoming shorter and shorter. Soon thereafter, Eloise dies of a brain aneurysm brought on by the exposure to the time lapse. While in the lab at Oxford, Daniel tells Desmond that the only way that he can survive is to find a constant factor in both the past and the future. Desmond realizes that his ex-girlfriend Penelope Widmore can be that constant, someone that he can recognize in both the past and the future to be his anchor. He rushes to Penelope's father, Mr. Widmore in order to contact Penelope. Mr. Widmore is at an auction bidding on Lot. 2342 for a journal owned by Tovard Hanso (who is presumably related to the Hanso Foundation). The journal was written by the first mate of the ship, The Black Rock.

Desmond races against time to find Penny in 1996, who is distraught over their break-up and doesn't want to see him. When he finds her, she is sad and angry. Desperately, he pleads for her phone number, asks her not to change it, and vows to call her on Christmas Eve 2004. She asks him to leave and he begs her to remember him if there is any chance that she can still love him. He walks away into the night. Back on the freighter, Sayid, Minkowski, and Desmond manage to escape the sick bay with the help of an unknown person on the ship. Minkowski suffers one of his own time warps and dies, just as Eloise had. Sayid temporarily repairs the communications equipment, which lasts just long enough for Desmond to place the call to Penny. Desmond hopes that Penny will remember what he asked of her back in 1996. Penny answers and in a tearful voice tells Desmond that she has been looking for him, and that she still loves him. The call is cut short after the promise that they will one day be together again.

The episode ends with Daniel flipping through his notebook in which he finds a note reading: "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant."

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