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While explaining the rules of time travel, Daniel Faraday is insistent that time cannot be changed - whatever happened, happened.

In The Constant, Desmond (or his consciousness) goes back in time and meets Daniel Faraday in 1996, and interacts with Penny. These actions have concrete results in the present, as Penny answers Desmond's phone call, and Daniel has written in his notebook about their meeting.

Yet, when Daniel and Desmond meet in 2004 and pre-crash during the time jumps (in Because You Left), Desmond has no idea who Daniel is.

If Desmond and Daniel met in 1996, why doesn't Desmond recognize Daniel later?

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    Desmond is special.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Jun 25, 2016 at 12:17
  • 1
    Yes, Desmond is special in that he seems to possibly be able to affect time - which is directly at odds with him not remembering Daniel
    – phantom42
    Jun 25, 2016 at 12:28
  • Daniel specifically tells Desmond (and therefore, us) that "the rules don't apply to you". Since so much of the show is unexplainable magic, we simply have to accept this as another one of those rules that don't apply to Desmond. He doesn't remember Daniel because at that point, the timeline hadn't yet been modified. The rule that the timeline is constant simply is not true in any case where Desmond is involved.
    – Paul L
    Jun 27, 2016 at 13:37
  • if anyone can find a definitive quote that backs up desmond being exempt from continuity, feel free to post an answer. the best i've seen during my re-watch is faraday saying "the rules don't apply" but without going into exactly what that means
    – phantom42
    Jun 27, 2016 at 13:49

3 Answers 3

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Actually if you listen closely, he does recognize Faraday, albeit vaguely. While they are speaking, Desmond asks 'Do I know you?'.

Here is the scene:

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  • The question was why doesn't Desmond recognise Daniel in the 'present', i.e. 2004, when the freighter comes to the Island, after their meeting in the clip above. Desmond doesn't recognise Daniel in the clip because this is the first time they've met. He asks, "Do I know you?" because Daniel says, "Desmond."
    – lmhrpr
    Apr 17, 2017 at 11:57
  • Link is dead, can you find an updated one?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 10, 2019 at 15:36
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Taken from the "Because You Left" episode on Lostpedia:

Faraday reiterates that Sawyer won't be able to meet Desmond because Desmond didn't remember meeting him in the past, and that he can't change whatever happened in the past.

I take this as, Daniel says that Desmond won't be able to meet (aka recognize) any of them (even tho he said Sawyer), which is why he doesn't recognize Daniel when he opens the door.

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    Note that you can use quote markdown, >, at the beginning of a paragraph to indicate a quote. Also when referencing some article you should provide the link to it. I have done this for you now but if there is anything else you want to add you can edit your own posts!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 10, 2019 at 15:35
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Desmond is "special" and the rules of time travel don't fully apply to him. Let's revisit that scene.

DESMOND: Do I know you?

FARADAY: Yeah... in a way. But listen, that's not important. What is important, Desmond, is what I'm about to say to you. I need you to listen. You're the only person who can help us because, Desmond... the rules... the rules don't apply to you. You're special. You're uniquely and miraculously special.

It's true the first time Desmond met Faraday was the year 1996, but he wouldn't actually fully experience that memory until the year 2004 when his consciousness jumped back and forth between the two timelines (The Constant). So in chronological time they'd already met, but in terms of Desmond's personal timeline, they haven't. The Desmond in between those timelines is understandably confused and thinks he recognizes Faraday, but can't explain how.

By all accounts, Desmond lives his life post-1996 without remembering that he'd one day end up on a boat miles off a magical island with a man named Sayid, or that a shopkeeper once told him that if he went on his sailing trip he'd end up pressing a button on that island every hour to save the world (Flashes Before Your Eyes). Desmond doesn't remember what happened during his mind's journey to the past until they happen to him "for the first time" in 2004.

But then why doesn't he remember Faraday the second (third?) time they meet in 2004 (The Economist)? Because Faraday is right, Desmond is special and their meeting effectively changed the timeline. That's why Desmond is the only person who seems to notice the Island "flashing" during the main characters' time travel, and why he snaps awake in 2007 remembering for the first time an encounter he had never remembered before.

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