Tag Archives: The Constant

Lost, The Morning After: Critical Responses to “Ab Aeterno”

Critical Responses to “Ab Aeterno”

March 24th, 2010

While I remain content with my review of “Ab Aeterno” from last night, I think that this is definitely one of those episodes that warrants a second look based on the kinds of responses I’ve seen to the episode online. While being able to write about the episode in advance of its U.S. airing due to Canadian simulcasting conflicts is wonderful, and will last for another week at least, it means that I’m writing about the episode in a relative bubble, and there’s enough hyper-intelligent people watching this show that things will emerge which complement or contradict my own thoughts.

Considering the depth of mythology material presented by “Ab Aeterno,” and the fact that some people are throwing around comparisons with Season Four’s “The Constant,” there’s plenty of discussions surrounding the episode, so I want to highlight some of those reviews while, admittedly, using them to make some points that have come to me since watching the response last night.

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Constants, Favourites, and the Overlooked: 10 Important Episodes of Lost

Constants, Favourites and the Overlooked: 10 Important Episodes of Lost

February 1st, 2010

When you start listing your favourite Lost episodes, you’re inevitably going to overlap with other people’s lists. However, this overlap occurs for many possible reasons: it just isn’t that these episodes are the best, but rather that they are (as James Poniewozik’s list at Time points out) important. Yes, we pick the “Pilot” and “Walkabout” because they are stunning episodes of television, but we also pick them because of how they informed how we understood this world and its characters, and if they hadn’t worked then the show would never have been what it was. Similarly, we choose “Through the Looking Glass” and “The Constant” because they managed to introduce hugely complex narrative devices while remaining grounded in emotional stories of love and loss that broke/healed my heart, respectively.

And while those other lists cover why those episodes are constants on these futile efforts to focus our love for the show in such a narrow fashion, I want to focus on some other relatively common episodes and similar episodes that are not nearly as common on these types of lists. While it might mean that some of the episodes are not equal in quality to others, it nonetheless demonstrates that Lost is a show that had its roadblocks, and the ways in which it managed to overcome those concerns and anticipate/reconcile potential problems may be its most important televisual legacy.

So, after the jump, the six episodes that (in addition to the four mentioned above) round out my lost of “10 Lost Episodes that I have Deemed Important for the Sake of This Particular Article, but Which Do Not Constitute a Definitive Top 10 List, Which Would Be Impossible to Write.”

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Lost – “The Variable”

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“The Variable”

April 29th, 2009

I will admit right now that I feel sort of like a low rent Daniel Faraday right now, my attempts to put myself on a different sleep schedule in a way not that different from Daniel’s attempt to realign himself with another time. This means that while I had planned on writing this review about five hours ago when I woke up from a short nap designed to prepare me for an eight-hour night shift this evening, instead I’m writing it after six hours of sleep and will have to skip Thursday night television in order to try to find some nap time.

I share this story not just because of my recent tweet about potentially mixing more personal anecdotes with blog posts, but also because it’s an example of providing some greater context to events, which is essentially the point of “The Variable.” The episode really only has two functions: it serves as an escalation of the “plot” (remember that thing?) that has been mostly dormant since our cast ended up in the 1970s, giving us a sense of how the end of the season is going to develop, and it serves as an answer to the question of what Daniel Faraday has been up to since we last saw him trapped in 1974 with everyone else and nobody is really talking about him.

Perhaps it’s the weird sleep schedule, or that I wasn’t feeling great when I watched the episode, but I was kind of disappointed by this, the show’s 100th episode, at least on the latter point. At times feeling like another drop in the “parental neglect” bucket for the show, the tragic journey of Daniel Faraday was strong in isolation and yet when applied to the rest of the episode and the rest of the series felt too inorganic. Yes, I empathize with Daniel, primarily thanks to Jeremy Davies’ strong performance, but at the end of the day it felt as if Faraday’s storyline was tied so closely to the island that his individuality, and its connection to our other characters, was lost in the plot.

I understand that this is the entire “point” of the episode, but I found it a little bit clumsy in its execution even if I feel they’re ramping things up at the right pace as we march towards the finale.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Lost – “The Constant”

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“The Constant”

Season Four, Episode Five

Airdate: February 28th, 2008

It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, or watched Lost’s fourth season, that “The Constant” makes it into Cultural Learnings’ 2008 Television Time Capsule. The story of Desmond Hume’s altered state, trapped between his time on the island and a period years earlier shortly after his breakup with Penny, the episode is the very definition of what made the fourth season of Lost one of its best.

The reason is found in the episode’s seamless integration of heavy science fiction subjects (radiation-driven time travel) with the show’s most powerful love story. Ever since his flashes began, Desmond has been the character most often directly involved with the science fiction, and on some shows such characters feel like tools, less characters than tools of exposition. But at the same time, Desmond unrequited love with Penny has been one of the show’s most enduring storylines.

The two storylines meet in near perfect harmony in “The Constant.” They each alter one another in the right way: the element of time travel is made more understandable when their relationship is caught in between it, while their relationship, although already compelling, becomes even more remarkable when it is able to transcend both space and time.

While there may be some disagreement about whether or not the show’s finale delivered on the season’s promise, I don’t feel as if anyone could argue that its most emotional moment called back not to Jack and Kate’s flashforward but rather this episode’s pivotal moment, the phone call that will go down as one of the show’s most powerful sequences.

YouTube: The Phone Call

And, as a result, “The Constant” shall enter the Time Capsule as a sign that Lost has continued to evolve: always a science fiction show driven by its characters, those two parts of its identity had never been in such stunning partnership before this episode. As we prepare for the show’s fifth season (which starts January 21st on ABC), I have perhaps an unreasonable confidence that this is the benchmark towards which Lindelof and Cuse will again strive.

Let’s hope I’m right.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview: Nominations Predictions for The “Other” Awards

When people predict the Emmy Awards, they predict the big awards: the ones with names we recognize, the ones that we’ll see on TV, and the ones that we’ll remember when the show is over. However, there are dozens of Emmy Awards given out each year, and when the nominees are announced Emmy fantatics like me will be poring over the epic list looking not just for the usual suspects but rather some of the trends that emerge elsewhere.

And it’s really a question of trends more than individual categories – I can’t possibly predict a category like Best Direction in a Comedy Series, but I can tell you who is likely to be kicking around and what kind of shows will perform well in the category. It’s one last bit of Emmy coverage before we head into tomorrow, where I’ll have live coverage of the nominations themselves followed by the full list of nominees and full analysis of how things went down. In the meantime, let’s discuss the “Other” awards, ranging from writing to directing, guest acting to individual performance, and everything in between.

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

Trend: The category is usually used to represent the best in episodic television along with the year’s standout pilots. It’s considered one of the best categories, mainly because of said high quality.

Changes: Unlike last year, there’s no show that is going to dominate with a large number of episodes in the tradition of The Sopranos – only Mad Men has a chance at that.

Watch for: Lost’s “The Constant” seems like a lock unless something goes hideously wrong (Even last year, with the show snubbed, they won a nomination for “Through the Looking Glass,” while the Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Damages pilots might represent new series on the list.

Repeat Offenders: Ronald D. Moore was a surprise nominee for Battlestar Galactica last year, so he could be back. Meanwhile, since three Sopranos episodes made the cut last year, there’s room for some returns – David Simon is likely back in the race for the finale of The Wire, for example.

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

Trend: A huge, expansive category representing quality drama pilots and standout segments of established series.

Changes: We don’t know if we’ll see yet another seven nomination kudos list, but if we do it means more of the same from the Academy.

Watch for: In terms of the year’s pilots, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll see cinematic Damages and intoxicating Mad Men on this list (Alan Taylor, who directed the Mad Men pilot, won for The Sopranos last year). As far as other series go, expect Lost’s Jack Bender to pop up again.

Repeat Offenders: Battlestar Galactica could see another nomination here, but Heroes and Friday Night Lights are likely both going to miss the cut. There could be other series, however, that would be more than willing to step in and fill the gap (The Wire and Dexter, in particular).

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Assessing the Contenders: Lost – “The Constant”

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Episode: “The Constant”

During its resurgence in creative vision during the latter portion of its third season, Lost had a number of highpoints. “Flashes Before Your Eyes” was a complex journey into the series’ murky but fascinating science, “Greatest Hits” was a character piece capable of completely changing the audience’s view of Charlie, and “Through the Looking Glass” used the show’s own conventions against itself for one of the most effective season cliffhangers in a long time.

And yet I think “The Constant,” the fifth episode of Lost’s fourth season, is better than all of them.

Now, I don’t make this statement in spite of those other episodes, but rather out of appreciation: “The Constant” borrows all of their various elements but manages to weave them into a single, cohesive hour of television. It is an episode that, although capable of standing on its own outside the context of the series, also represents the various parts which define the series’ high quality. It is what everything was building towards, the kind of episode that a show can only earn with hard work and practice.

And the final product of all of that work is Lost’s Emmy Submission this year, and it might well be the deciding factor in getting the show it’s second nomination or win in the category.
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