Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Constant: Daniel
I've been raving for the last few episodes about Jeremy Davies' brilliant turn as Daniel Faraday, the mad scientist who has been sent to the island for reasons not yet fully clear. In "The Constant," Davies upped that performance to award-worthy, and made me even more intrigued about this guy. Forget flashforwards concerning the Oceanic Six... I want to get some more flashbacks of this guy!

So what's going on with him? We see in this episode that he used to do his research at Oxford University. He specialized in time travel and anomalies in time-space, and was constantly doing experiments involving electromagnetic flashes. He tells Desmond that he would conduct these experiments up to 20 times a day, protecting his body with a lead vest, but, as Desmond points out, not his head. Now that Desmond is experiencing time flashes in his consciousness, the first question Daniel asks Jack is whether or not he's encountered an electromagnetic surge of some kind.

Has Daniel experienced what Desmond is going through, as a result of not putting something on his head during these experiments? He's written in his journal in the past that should anything go wrong, Desmond is going to be his constant. So... has it already happened? Has he already been to the future in his consciousness?

But what about his memory? If he's already been to the future, shouldn't he have had a memory of all of this happening before? In "The Economist," Desmond comes walking up over a hill and Daniel doesn't seem to show any recognition, despite Desmond being crucial to his experiments in 1996.

But in "Eggtown," we see Daniel and Charlotte playing a card game where she's showing him cards, then turning them over, and he can only remember two out of three of them. Daniel is suffering from some sort of memory loss, which must make his research (and daily life) so frustrating for him. Was the memory loss caused by his exposure to radiation? Or was it caused by him becoming unstuck in time?

All of this brings us back to the first time we see him, in "Confirmed Dead," where he is sitting on the couch watching news of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. A woman (who was later revealed by producers as his "caretaker") finds him crying, and asks him what's wrong, and he says, "I don't know." Could he have some residual memory of being in the future and knowing these people who are now "confirmed dead"? Is it possible that Daniel is a time traveller who forgets his travels as soon as they happen? What if he's already been to the future, but doesn't remember doing it? Some part of his unconscious could remember it, and that's why he's so upset on the couch.

We have a GREAT discussion going on in the comments here, so check it out if you want to find more insight into the episode. My next post will be pulling my favourite theories from those.

21 comments:

Saza said...

Cuse-Carlton stated in their recent podcast how incredibly popular Faraday already is. I believe it is a 2-fold reason....not only for his excellent and intriguing acting- but also because his character represents the first open, good and honest person who has a LOT of answers for what is going on....and is willing to share.

Brian Douglas said...

Daniel's memory loss is not limited to just flashes. Otherwise, he wouldn't have had a problem remember the cards Charlotte had shown him. They may have originated from his consciousness shifting, but the effects are not limited to his flashes/travels.

Speaking of the card-experiment in Eggtown, Darlton said that they were testing the effects of the island on memory loss. Reading between the lines, I interpret that to mean they were trying to see if the island's healing properties had an affect on Daniel's memory lapses.

In a only few episodes (i.e. by the end of "The Economist"), none of which have focused, on him, Daniel has become my favorite character in the show.

Steve gee said...

waDo you think now that Dan Faraday realizes who his "constant" is that more and more of his memories will come back? Will we find out that he knows more about the island's properties than the other people?

I'm also wondering just how many times Desmond went through his own life. When he turned the key for the fail safe in the hatch and everything imploded/exploded. The jolt of electromagnetivity triggered his ability to see future events that involved him and people around him. After this past episode it isn't that he could see the future but that he's already lived through them and it's really his past memories(he just didn't know it at that time). If there is only one path that means what he did see was going to happen no matter what he or anyone else did (Charlie dying, Claire getting on the helicopter).

Nikki: I know that the guy who plays Richard is involved with that Cain show but do you think that the writers are going to leave us hanging as to where this temple is that they all went to. I would think that these people, if they are the original inhabitants of this place (Let's count those toes), that they would play a key role in this season now that there homeland has been exposed.

Saza said...

Hmmmm.....on my second watching of the episode- I re-noticed Desmond's eyes dilating strangely right when he has a time travel moment. (The doctor seemed to know something about this....)


WHICH REMINDS ME of the very beginning of this show with Jack's eye dilating. Could this imply all of our 815'ers are on some kind of "trip"? In Farraday's own words, the displacement can last second's or even years.

Does he know of a case of someone being displaced for years?

Brian Douglas said...

steve gee: Darlton has said we will be seeing more of the Others in the next couple of episodes.

Don Edwards said...

Y'know, I usually hate time travel stories, especially when you consider that time is simply a unit of measure invented by humans and nothing more (i.e. TIME as an entity, or whatever, just doesn't EXIST) but I'm a lost-nut, so i'll guess i'll stick with it for a little while longer and see how they pull this off.

as long as say, Hurley doesn't appear in the shower one day and wonders about the crazy dream he had, anyway!!!

Brian Douglas said...

don edwards: time isn't just a unit of measure invented by humans, it is a physical property of the universe. Otherwise, chemical reactions (and therefore life) wouldn't be able exist.

Brian Douglas said...

matthew: You're still thinking linearly. There are two theories on time travel: one is the alternate timelines theory, which Darlton has explicitly said that this show is not going to use. The other is the one timeline theory, which is consistent with Darlton's comments: there is one, and only one 1996 where Desmond flashesforward to 2004, and the events of the Constant play out. There isn't a version where this event doesn't happen. Faraday never came up with the numbers for his machine on his own, 1996 Desmond never went to see him without future flashes, etc. This seems counterintuitive since our minds are accustomed to thinking about time linearlly, but in any story invovling time travel, time is by the nature of the beast nonlinear.

Darlton has also said that in the Constant, it is 1996 flashing towards the future.

As to what causes the future flashes, does there need to be a separate incidient? Is it not conceivable that the present event pulls Desmond's 1996 conscious forward to 2004? Again we think 1996 has to happen before 2004 because that is how we perceive events, but just because we perceive things that way, doesn't mean that is the way they are. If I close my eyes, the wall across the room is still there even though I can't perceive it. Just cause we are blind to the future, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Don Edwards said...

brain douglas:

dude. what the hell does chemical reactions have to do with anything? If you're trying to tell me that the only reason things happen is because of a "timestream" then I have to question your reasoning here...moreover, if time is, as you say, a physical property of the universe, then I say prove it. Prove to me that time, as a physical entity exists. There is nothing tangible in the universal plane of things that exist that can't be proven. Light, radiation, the smallest of smallest particles...all these things can be proven in their existence whether it's by sensory perception, or it's reaction to some other physical entity...but "time" has no physical effect on anything. There are physicalites to it. You can't introduce it into any other part of an physical equation and watch the reaction. So I maintain...time is simply a unit of measure introduced by human beings to help keep track of their day to day events. It has no physical countenance. It cannot be manipulated, destroyed, or prolonged in any way.

Think outside the box for a minute and you'll see a lot of things.

fiveagainst said...

I think the scientists in the crowd have to side with Brian on this.

Granted, the minutes, hours and days that we measure are an invention of human culture. However, if Humans were taken out of the picture, the arrow of time would still march on.

Chemically speaking, time is what allows chemical reactions (and therefore, Life) to exist. Sound and radio waves, as well as the transmission of light are all dependent on time.

Causality is also time dependent. The direction of Time's Arrow is what allows us to see how causes precede effects. Otherwise, instead of seeing a glass fall off of a table and shatter on the ground, we'd see a bunch of shattered pieces of glass reforming, without cause, into a glass.

If time didn't exist as a universal constant, wouldn't we be able to remember our future?

Looking into this, I came across a philosopher named David Hume. Granted this isn't a big revelation to the Lost universe...but it gave me a nice 'Ah-Ha!' moment. David Hume, who shares a name with Desmond, wrote about the causality and perception.

Yet another reason why Lost is so damn cool!

Nikki Stafford said...

Steve Gee: If I were a bettin' woman, I'd say Cain won't last much longer, and Nestor will be back on Lost. If they're not able to get him on for season 4, I'll bet he'll be back for season 5. They won't dump the Others like that.

Brian and fiveagainst: The physics are definitely fascinating, and I see what you're saying about time being a physical property of the universe. However, being a non-scientist, I think I'm more with Don on this one, that at the end of the day, the story is king, and frankly, Back to the Future and Journeyman -- where a person can go back in time to change the present -- is simply a much better story. I know Darlton have said there's only one timeline, but if you go back in time and change things, you've just changed the timeline to the one that's there now, making it one timeline. So there could be a loophole in what they're claiming (Darlton have always been sneaky that way) and things in the past really CAN be altered by the present. Could they do things on the island in the present that could actually change the future we see in the flashforwards? Do we know for certain that those will happen, or are they possibilities? It's all so intriguing, I love it.

fiveagainst: I'm not one for shameless self-promotion (oh wait, I AM!!) but I have a whole chapter on Hume in my latest book. :)

Saza: I can totally believe Faraday is incredibly popular. I love him. Now THAT is how you introduce a new character (take THAT Nikki and Paulo!)

Brian Douglas said...

don edwards: That's where you're wrong. You can measure time dilation effects in high speed aircraft. If time was just a construct of human the mind, then time dilation wouldn't happen. But we can and have measured it, so therefore time has to be a property of the universe.

Now if you don't want to take my word for it, I suggest you buy yourself a ride on a high-speed aircraft and some radioactive clocks, and measure how long the take to decay at rest and in flight.

As to checmical reactions (I should preface this by saying I'm refering to non-reversable chemical reaction, not those that are at equilibrium). They go in one direction, increasing in entropy as time moves forward. There is more entropy in the universe today than there was yesterday, and there will be more tomorrow than there is today, and so on. This manifestation of time.

A simular argument can be made about the expansion of the universe.

Nikki: Darlton has explictedly said that the flashforwards we see will not be changed. Even if minor details change, like how Charlie dies for instance, the "course corrections" will ensure that the flashforwards happen just as we see them.

Nikki Stafford said...

I'm probably in the minority here, but to be perfectly honest, I wish Damon and Carlton wouldn't set things straight in interviews and say what's right and what's wrong. Why can't we continue to discuss purgatory, or that the flashforwards might only be suggestions or that there is more than one timeline? I don't like that they establish what is canon and what isn't OUTSIDE of the show in interviews, rather than just doing it right on the show. I like speculating, and I don't like having parameters on my speculation.

But maybe that's just me. :)

Brian Douglas said...

I think Darlton was concerned people wouldn't be invested in the flashforwards if they changed them.

Brian Douglas said...

Nikki: Sorry about informing you of the Darlton comments. I will refrain from doing so in the future.

Emilia said...

I think the discussion on the physics we've had this week has been so interesting! I hope the comments made will be confirmed in future episodes.

But I think Nikki is right when she says the story is king at the end of the day. The truth is, the concept of time traveling (as well as the flashbacks and flashforwards we've been seeing since the beginning) is a vehicle to explore the importance of making connections.

This episode was called "The Constant," which implies that the connection Desmond has with Penny, past and present, has been both spiritually and now literally sustaining him. If this were not so, the writers could have easily killed off Desmond in this episode, showing that he had no constant and that nothing really mattered to him.

The flashbacks and flashforwards have shown us the same thing: time is really a factor in our circumstances (sometimes we're on an island, sometimes we're not) but there is something about us and our lives that remains constant, and that is what makes the characters who they are.

All that said, if someone says "wormholes" one more time...

Lanfer said...

I don't know what the policy on spoilers is, or if it applies to the new game, Lost: Via Domus, but here goes.

** SPOILER ALERT**

I just watched the ending of the game on YouTube and from what I can gather, a survivor of Flight 815 needs to get off the island to show the world a picture explaining how some woman, Lisa, truly died. After a chase through the jungle and Locke biding him farewell (what?), the man gets on a boat and starts to sail away when a loud noise fills the sky and Oceanic Flight 815 rips apart over his head.

Next thing you know, the man opens his eye in classic Lost fashion and finds himself on the crash site. Even more surprising is the very woman whose death the man was attempting to prove hurries next to him, telling him that they made it and that they weren't dead.

It's pretty interesting and kind of somewhat fits into the whole time jumping thing explained in last week's episode, but then again, it's a whole different situation where one event is duplicated and overlaps on itself. It's even more puzzling with Dan telling Desmond that there is only one future, a point being debated by the appearance of the dead Lisa.

Locke wishing the new guy luck on the mainland is also a brain buster but what are you gonna do!

Brian Douglas said...

emila: "wormhole"

Emilia said...

brian: lol

Steve gee said...

Just to let you know that abc.com has two sneak previews to tomorrows episode "The Other Woman". Which I'm assuming they mean The "Other" Woman, who we see talking to Juliet and then disappears shortly after Jack arrives. I still have a feeling that the people on the boat are going to gas the entire island and wipe everyone out somehow.

Don said...

michael is ben's guy on the boat.