Friday, February 29, 2008
On Lost the Desmond episodes are always among the most freewheeling and enjoyable, and last night's "The Constant" was no exception. It's not just because the writers have given themselves greater flexibility with what is now definitively a time-traveling character, but that Henry Ian Cusick's range as an actor is apparently boundless. Back in season two, it took guts to revolve the show's two-hour finale around a character we had barely met, but Cusick made his character a center of gravity that he has continued to supply even when confined to the sidelines.
In "The Constant," Desmond returned to the stage, helicoptering with Sayid (the also underused Naveen Andrews) and pilot Frank (Jeff Fahey) to the boat parked offshore, but not before undergoing the first of a series of flashbacks to his stint in British boot camp eight years earlier. We have had an inkling of the uniqueness of Desmond's flashes before -- that on account of the meltdown of the hatch, he is able to anticipate random events in the future and have some kind of lucid experience of the past. The twist this time is that the "present" Desmond loses his memory of the events on the island and is put in mortal danger, unless the "past" Desmond is able to help him save himself.
Something this convoluted would be hopeless in the hands of another actor. Credit Cusick, then, with making Desmond's temporary amnesia as plausible as his enduring love for Penny (the touching Sonya Walger). "The Constant" also featured a terrific showcase for Jeremy Davies -- who finally got to cut loose as Faraday in the flashback scenes at Oxford -- and gave us a respite from Ben's grinding machinations and the Who Will Kate Choose? suitor sweepstakes between Bachelor Number One ("He's a hot-headed doctor whose dream date is a cuppa coffee!") and Bachelor Number Two ("He's an inveterate con artist who can offer a romantic honeymoon on the lam!"). As last week's dud episode made amply clear, Kate, for all her good qualities, inevitably chooses herself. (It also made clear, in his closeups during the flashforward scenes, that Matthew Fox's sadly botoxed face is giving him even less expressiveness; bring back the beard fast.) Desmond is a much more intriguing and involving character -- one whose future still feels uncertain.