This week, we at Head To Head considered: What’s your favorite storyline about time travel?
My favorite time travel story has to be “The Constant,” Lost‘s most emotionally resonant and self-contained episode. Except for the one where Nikki and Paolo got written out, at least, but we don’t talk about that. Anyway, “The Constant” follows Desmond Hume when he begins to exhibit strange symptoms, namely that he continually finds himself traveling to his time in the military, years prior. The issue: spontaneous time travel. As Desmond flashes back and forth between his old life and his island life in increasingly short bursts (bursts that may become fatal), he finds himself in need of a “constant,” an anchor point between both worlds. That comes in the form of his star-crossed beloved Penny, who manages to save Desmond’s life when a phone call stops his uncontrollable time traveling. Not only will “The Constant” leave you permanently terrified of nosebleeds, but it manages something a lot of time travel fiction lacks: genuine, devastating emotion.
In the series Doctor Who there’s one golden rule – certain events are constants in history and can never be changed. In a series of specials that proceeded David Tennant’s departure, Waters of Mars puts the Doctor in an event that he knows is a constant in history. Without revealing too much, the Doctor makes a decision to alter this constant event for the sole fact that he can. For the first time in a long time his companions aren’t there to keep the dark side of himself in check. He lets his pride, his anger, his own desire to control get the best of him and because of it, the survivors of Bowie Base One take matters into their own hands to ensure history remains unaltered. Seeing the survivors rebel against the Doctor so fiercely is heartbreaking. The man set to protect humanity has now made it into his own plaything. It’s refreshing to see the Doctor as a fallible character, that even for him time travel can be a temptation rather than a tool. Especially for rabid fans like myself.