Sayid, Desmond, and Frank are flying toward the freighter. Sayid wonders why Franks insists on flying straight through the only huge thunderhead in the sky. They shake and shimmy, but make it through. But Desmond is disoriented and highly agitated. He doesn’t recognize Sayid or Frank anymore, nor does he know why they know him or how he got into the chopper.
It seems that the trip from the Island to the freighter has caused Desmond to become unstable in time. On board the freighter, he is taken away and locked in a room to await the doctor. There, he meets Mikowski. The former communications officer is strapped to the bed and receiving sedative injections because he, too, is slipping back and forth in time. Even worse, Mikowski’s buddy suffered the same symptoms and is now dead.
Sayid works out a deal with Frank, trading his gun for Frank’s phone. Sayid calls Jack and says they made it safely, but tells of Desmond’s condition. Despite Charlotte’s chiding, Dan has decided the tell Jack and Juliet that some people exhibit ‘side effects’ when they travel to and from the island. Dan insists on speaking to Desmond, so Sayid and Frank bring the phone to the brig. After asking Desmond a few questions about where and when he is jumping to, Dan tells Desmond the next time he jumps, to go to Oxford and find him (Dan) in the year 1996 (8 years earlier). Dan gives him some settings and a name (Eloise) that must be important.
Desmond finds Dan in 1996 and convinces him that this is no hoax. Dan is experimenting with time jumps; Eloise is the lab rat that proves it can work. Dan isn’t able to help Desmond by stabilizing him, but he does impart an important tip: if Desmond can establish a constant in 2004, this wil stabilize him and save his life.
Unable to contact Penny, Desmond finds Penny’s father, and, surprisingly, the Desmond-hating dad gives Desmond Penny’s new address.
In the present, Mikowski leads Desmond and Sayid to the radio room, then dies from the effects of time travel. Despite wires being cut and the entire room in a shambles, Sayid is able to get a phone working in about 60 seconds. Desmond makes one more jump and is able to convince Penny in 1996 to give him her number, and not to change it for the next 8 years. He promises to call her on Christmas Eve, 2004. Desmond makes the call; he makes contact. He and Penny confirm their love for each other. Desmond has has constant, and he is saved.
Back on the island, Dan looks through his old notebooks and finds the following note: "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant".
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, even if at times it was outrageous and silly. The performance by Jeremy Davies (Dan) was fun to watch – he puts so much energy and sincerity into his quirkyness.
It is looking more and more like there are two alternative timelines running here. In one timeline, the island exists and there are survivors of Oceanic 815. In the other timeline, there were no survivors and no island. And perhaps Ben found a way to escape from one timeline into another.
Dan’s notebook note (If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant) seems to indicate that he is also traveling through time.
The journal on auction is from a boat called the Black Rock (the same one that shipwrecked on the island). The first mate who wrote the journal, Tovard Hanso, has the same surname as Magnus Hanso, the founder of Dharma.
Despite the entire room being trashed, with huge bundles of wires severed, Sayid takes a look and says (in regard to fixing it): "Give me a minute." I had to laugh out loud at this – this seemed cartoonish.
Minkowski: I'm George Minkowski. I'm the communications officer. Before they strapped me down here, all the calls to and from this boat came through me, in the radio room. And every so often, I'd get this flashing light on my console. An incoming call. We were under strict orders never to answer it.
Desmond: So? What's that got to do with me?
Minkowski: Those calls came from your girlfriend. Penelope Widmore.
Desmond: I'm sorry, how is a rat running through a bloody maze so incredible?
Daniel: What is incredible, is I just finished the maze this morning. I'm not going to teach her to run it until an hour from now.
(After entering the ship's communication room and seeing the equipment in complete disarray)
Desmond: Can you fix it, brother?
Sayid: Give me a minute.
Penny: I'll find you, Des -
Desmond: I promise -
Penny: No matter what -
Desmond: I'll come back to you -
Penny: I won't give up -
Desmond and Penny: (in unison) I promise. I love you.