Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Midside: S4E05 The Constant

This episode was that doucehbag Mystery from VH1’s the Pickup Artist’s dream. If you’ve ever wanted a random ridiculous pick up technique, listen to that guy and reference The Constant. Here’s the technique:

-Put on a giant furry hat.
-Use eyeliner.
-Buy ski googles and wear them when you’re not skiing, but never over your eyes.
-Variant pseudo-ancient wooden carved googles are a plus.
-Paint your finger nails.
-Wear a ruffled shirt a la a bad magician or old school French fencer.
-Never look your “target” directly in the eyes or be nice to her.
-Always use a random creepy “opener” like “Do you floss before or after you brush?”
-Make statements of values such as “I’m not a douchebag even though I look like one.”
-Be on the look out for IOIs, indicators of interest, such as hair touching. Be careful to make sure the girl’s hair isn’t just out of place when she touches it.
-“Neg” the girl or, in other words, compliment her by “playfully” belittling her.

Yes, follow this short list of suggestions (read: requirements or you’ll be an AFC, average frustrated chump, not American Football Conference). Not only that, but couple the Mystery Method ™ with the fifth episode of the season five of LOST and you’ll have the ultimate pick up technique. This episode feature concepts such as:

-Can I have your number so I can call you in eight years?
-If you give me your number, I’ll leave you alone, I promise.
-I need you to be my constant so when my consciousness jumps across time periods I won’t get Butterfly Effected.
-I just flew off a mysterious island and don’t know who these people around me are, but I love, oh shit, the battery on the phone on this freighter is about to die.

Seriously, you know Mystery was watching this episode and foaming at the mouth at the prospect of going up to a girl and asking her to be a constant. Then, when she asks what the constant was, he’d make a joke about the LOST episode and transition (or whatever stupid fancy word he gives to conversational segue ways) into the rest of his “crap-nique”. You know he was watching too because, unfortunately, he’s enough of a geek to be enthralled by the, um, mysteries of LOST. And he’s the guy who posts all his ridiculous theories on message boards, flames you when you post a critique or question, and then somehow you’re the one who gets banned. It’s like some sick twisted world where Desmond isn’t tied to any time period and Daniel has long hair and teaches at Oxford, er, wait a minute.

Conversely, we now have the ultimate LOST screening question for meeting strangers. Simply go up to someone you would like to talk to and ask them “Will you be my constant?” or “Can I have your number so I can call you in eight years?” and they’ll either get the joke and laugh or react ridiculously (such as staring at you like you’re blankly or saying something mean) proving they don’t watch LOST, which pretty much means they aren’t worth talking to anyway. I mean, come on, if you aren’t watch LOST, what are you watching? Hereos? Rock of Love? My Dad is Better than Your Dad? Grey’s Anatomy? Exactly.

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 3

Note to future writers and directors of science fiction/fantasy television programs and movies: if something is going wrong with your character’s brain, I understand, but do NOT make him bleed from the nose. All you’re going to do is make your audience think of The Butterfly Effect (at least anyone in my age group because Ashton Kutcher is like sooo hott) which, when the nose bleeding happened in that movie, just made everyone think the main character was doing cocaine, especially in the second movie.

Hold on, brief aside. Look, I love to make fun of Daredevil and Darkness starring Anna Paquin (especially the latter because you have to say starring Anna Paquin to give it any sort of relevance to anyone) by calling them the worst movies ever, but The Butterfly Effect 2 is literally the worst movie ever. If you can think of everything awful to put into a movie, then it’s in that movie. Unlikeable main character? How about a good looking 20 something with a good job with a promising future that changes the past because he didn’t get the promotion he wanted? He is possibly the whiniest character ever. A previously use device that is actually made worse? How about rather than reading a journal of blacked out memories the dude just looks at pictures to travel back in time? A random homosexual scene for no reason? Yup, the guy wakes up from gay sex FOR NO REASON. A short run time? The movie has to be about 90 minutes long. Useless minor characters? Yup…though now that I think of it, the actress who played his girlfriend is pretty hot and you do get to see side boob, so, I take it back, The Butterfly Effect 2 is not the worst movie ever. It is a steaming pile of shit though.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have The Butterfly Effect 3, which does a few things for me. First off, it explains where Desmond has been for the first four episodes of the season. Sometimes I hate how these writers manipulate me, and they did it again. They made me miss Desmond and then gave me, essentially, 44 pure minutes of “Brothery” goodness. At least we know why he’s been MIA.

Second, it makes me feel sorry for the Scot. Is there a character’s head that has been messed with more on LOST? Sure, Locke and Jack have both had to continually confront their daddy issues. Sure, Kate has had to continually run all over the freakin’ place (although, all everyone pretty much does on this show is run back and forth across the island. Oh, you just got back from finding the tail section survivors? It’s time to run to Other Village to find your son). Sure, Sayid has had to continually come to grasps with the fact that he’s such a badass he can torture information out of anyone. However, none of this suffering compares to the utter mindf*ck that Desmond has had to perpetually face. First, he gets kicked out of military and immediately threatened by his ex-girlfriend’s extremely rich father to never see her again. Then, he tries to join a boat race and ends up crashing on an island. Then, he ends up pushing a button every 108 minutes in a hatch with stuff from the 70s and 80s where a dude killed himself. Then, his button pushing partner dies. Then, people blow up the hatch, climb down, and one turns out to be the random douchebag doctor you saw running a stadium. So what do you do? You pull a Kate and run away like a coward.

Which, by the way, does anyone else think it royally sucks that in the middle of all this crap Desmond keeps getting called a coward by people in his past? He’s a coward? Do you jump between time periods? No, and if you did you’d just try to pull the totally amateur move of getting yesterday’s lottery numbers. First off, watch a time travel movie. That never works. Second off, this is LOST, you know what the numbers are, just play them.

However, you can’t run away. Your boat keeps coming back to the island. So, what do you do? You turn the Swan failsafe key and end the button pushing scourge. How are you rewarded? You jump back to the moment you hurt your girlfriend and, since you can’t change the future, you’re given the illusion of free will and as you try to exercise that “free will” you’re convinced that you have to “save the world” by not proposing AGAIN.

So you don’t and you wake up naked on an island with the apparent power to see the future. But you don’t see the complete power, you see one British dude getting killed over and over again. Normally that wouldn’t bother you because you’re Scottish and he’s English, but this guy was in Lord of the Rings and has fledgling relationship with a cute blonde Australian who has a child out of wedlock. You HAVE to save him. So you try, a few times, and figure out it’s impossible.

You come to terms with the problem and tell the guy he has to die. He finally mans up, thank God, and sacrifices himself for the good of everyone on the island (and the show in general). But, as he’s dying, he writes “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” on his hand, basically saying that the entire reason you sacrificed him backfired, so he should have just written “I DIED FOR NOTHING. THANKS!”

But finally, FINALLY, things seem to be looking up. You get on a helicopter and fly to a freighter on bearing 305. The only problem is, the island has some weird time barrier, and you forget everything, actually believing you’re 8 years in the past. Finally, you get to the freighter and figure out, on top of everything, it’s Christmas Eve which means you didn’t even get off in time to get any presents this year. Finally, through the use of information gained in both time periods. Hey, you’re getting good at this. You call Penny, making her your “constant” and what happens? What happens?

The battery on the phone dies!

Long story short, Desmond is now my third favorite character. He’s like the ultimate reluctant hero. He continually gets screwed over, but adapts to time traveling with ease. Plus, he’s got a cool accent, a cool catch phrase, and a hot girlfriend. What’s not to like? Which, by the way, I could care less (yes, I said could not couldn’t, look up “sarcasm”) about Kate and Sawyer or Kate and Jack or Kate and The Cheat anymore. As long as Desmond and Penny end up together (which they will because they are OUR constant), it’s all gravy (and turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing).

LOSTOLOGY

Yes, I skipped a section this week and renamed the first section. The first section title wasn’t applicable and the second section title was unnecessary, unless you really wanted me to point out that one of the guys on the freighter was the guy who had a confrontation with Roxy in the Dead Like Me episode “Sunday Morning”. And I just pointed that fact out anyway, so consider this paragraph the second section of this week’s column.

For this section, I’m just going to look at a few things Daniel said:

-You can’t change the future.

This comment explains how the writers are going to get out of time travel paradoxes and the such. By jumping through time, Desmond isn’t doing anything, rather, he’s experiencing things. The difference being cause and effect. Actions are causes and have effects. They change things. Yes, Desmond can take actions in the past, but there are no true effects because it doesn’t change anything. This inability to change things essentially means he only has the illusion of free will in the past. He isn’t pre-destined to go back or anything, but when he goes back his actions are limited to repeating what he already did and small actions with no consequences. The way the universe or whomever insures this illusion of free will is using people like that old lady in Flashes Before Your Eyes to negate free will by convincing Desmond not to propose to Penny.

This inability to change the future explains that old lady’s “course correction” comment, especially in light of Desmond’s visions of Charlie dying. Desmond’s knowledge of the future made him try to change the future by saving Charlie from death. However, each time, the universe “course corrected” and Charlie died anyway. Eventually, Desmond had to realize he couldn’t change the future and had to let Charlie go.

Now, the obvious debate is that Desmond made so many small changes, thwarting death over and over, that Charlie’s death became “meaningful” and had an effect, it changed the future. I reject this assertion. From a storytelling standpoint, yes, Charlie’s death was more “meaningful”. However, any change he made, if he had a change at all, would simply be course corrected. Sorry Charlie fans.

In summary, in this instance, Locke is correct, it is fate. It is destiny. Now is there a plan behind that fate and destiny? That question is yet unanswered.

-Desmond’s consciousness was jumping between time periods.

This statement effectively explains his visions from last season. He wasn’t viewing the future, he was jumping forward and remembering pieces when he jumped backwards. This statements also has to make you wonder about all the flashbacks and flashforwards on the show. Repeatedly, as the mythology on this show has deepened, I have said that the flashbacks are more than an interesting storytelling technique. They are part of the mythology. There is a reason they have to be used. First, Eko say flashes of his past in the smoke monster. Then, Desmond’s first crazy time adventure was called Flashes Before Your Eyes. Now, we have this episode.

Stay with me here, but what if the conciousness of everyone who’s on the island jumps through time? What if the flashbacks aren’t stories we’re watching, but experiences the characters are having that they don’t realize they’re having? This idea works perfectly with the parallel nature of the island stories and flashback stories in the future. The characters had to re-experience their pasts in order to make the right choice this time on the island. Then you have to wonder if the entire island is the “course correction” mechanism and these characters are being shaped in order to help in the process.

Another interesting thought in this same vein is that every flashforward episode except Hurley’s has ended on a scene in the future rather than island (and in Hurley’s episode, he was not seen after the final scene of his flashforward). Have the Oceanic Six’s consciousnesses’ jumped into the future to stay and jump back for island flashbacks?

-Was Desmond exposed to radiation or electromagnetism?

The first thing Daniel asking this question makes me think is that George and Brandon were and Daniel thinks that’s why their brains got Butterfly Effected. The second thing this makes me think is that yes, Desmond was, and that is why he is aware of his jumps and why leaving the island screwed up his brain. The consciousness jumping obviously messes with your brain and so does the amount of electromagnetism that Desmond was exposed to. This difference between Desmond would explain why he’s aware of it and no one else is.

There are, of course, a billion questions about all this stuff, the least of which is not: Can Desmond go back to the island? Among others are: What does Ben know about all this stuff? It has to be something because of constantly leaving the island. When they strapped Juliet into the submarine, did they give her something to combat or aid the jumping? Someone I watch with made an interesting point about babies. They literally have no past. So, do they die on the island because their consciousness has nowhere to jump to? Did Aaron survive because he was old enough to have a past in the womb? Could also those people who say Future Aaron looks retarded actually be right? Did the island screw up his mind by messing with it in its developmental stages?

You have to love a Desmond episode. Since the season two finale, they’ve always been a completely awesome mindf*ck. He’s a great character and the time travel element is superb. The Constant is by far the best episode of the season so far. It was a nice turn around after Eggtown (which isn’t as bad on second viewing).

FREDDY ADIEU

I must apologize this week for this column being a little late. I was distracted by the LOST video game “Via Domus”. It came out on Wednesday, but Blockbuster didn’t get it until Friday. My friend and I played for about five hours on Friday and two on Saturday before finally beating it. Here is my official review of the game:

-Unless you need to own every LOST thing EVER, rent it and don’t buy it.
-The best parts of the game are the graphics and the storyline. It’s cool walking around areas such as The Hatch (my favorite part of the game) and The Hydra. The storyline is enough to keep you interesting.
-All the characters aren’t voiced by their actors and are mainly stereotypes. It did give me a new perspective on Kate though. She is genuinely nice in the game and seems to have a crush on your character. Very interesting.
-There isn’t much to actually game play besides solving some math puzzle via fuse boxes and running away from the smoke monster.
-Though the game was written in episodic format, there were only seven episodes and it felt kind of stunted.
-If you’re not a fan of LOST, or even just a casual fan, you’ll hate the game.
-If you’re a diehard, which you probably are if you’re reading this column, you need to play this game for the ending alone. Let me just say this: It wasn’t a coincidence that it was released the same week as The Constant.

As always, I’ll see you next week, and if you disagree with anything I’ve written here, well then:

Shut up, you’re wrong.

Jayemel can be reached by email at jmlesniewski@gmail.com.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

this is sad but I think I have to read your lostology columns after every episode now, sometimes out of interest, sometimes to understand what happened or get a new perspective and a lot of the time to remember that weeks episode in the context of previous episodes, they are very insightful and informative, so well done. But, a lot of the time, like hearing anyone's comments on anything confusing or mysterious, the whole thing becomes that much more muddled for me, which sucks because I usually have to catch up on these episodes at like 2 in the morning and then my brain hurts before I go to bed.