Wednesday, November 25, 2009

V - "It's Only the Beginning"

If I were a betting man, and I haven't been since the freaking Pirates beat out the Mets in 1990, I would stay far, far away from putting any money on whether V will be back in the spring.  Last night's episode, "It's Only the Beginning," did nothing to make a prediction any clearer.  Like the four episodes in this introductory "pod," last night's episode was up and down, and seemed to lack direction.  Here's why:

*On the positive side, I pretty much love everything involving the V's themselves.  The idea that the V injection actually will help humanity, but that they are secretly poisoning the flu vaccine?  Awesome.  That Anna referred to Lisa as her "young," instead of "child" or "daughter?"  Creepy cool.  Joshua's assistant sacrificing himself for Joshua (a leader of The Fifth Column), knowing that his sentence would be, as Anna decreed with relish, "Skin him!"?  Intriguing.  The V suicide pill turning them into ash?  Weird.  Anna nakedly doling out The Bliss?  Trippy.  The phalanx of V ships awaiting a war with Earth?  Fantastic.  All of this really brings life to the V's as characters and mystery to the story.

*On the negative side, I pretty much hate everything about the humans.  That's not to say the performances are bad, because, save one, they're not (I'm looking at you Mr. Huffman).  Rather, as I complained about last week, the writing for the humans is just dreadful.  I mean that whole conversation about how human predictability will be exploited by the V's was awful.  The idea was actually a great insight (I'd venture to say all beings perceive those of lower intelligence to be predictable), but the dialogue expressing the idea made me cringe.  It was on par with an afterschool special.  And speaking of predictability, of course Jack was in the Army.  Of course Valerie was pregnant (I knew that as soon as she mentioned she was tired in the first scene).  Of course Chad had a medical problem only the V's could detect.  I state this last one becuase besides some Acting 101 looks that say "I just don't like what's going on here," Chad has never been given anything to say that would have us believe he minds being exploited by the V's.  Since he hasn't put up a fight against being the V's media stooge (and, no, saying he'd like to see more of the medical bay doesn't count), we have no reason to suspect he'll think twice about the V doctor's diagnosis.  I don't know; they really need to make some leaps and bounds when it comes to their Earth-bound characters.

Quick Hits:

*I do have to give the designers kudos for their work on the show.  The costumes, lighting, scenery, effects, music, everything is top notch.  I especially love the cinematography: they find such great angles for shooting Morena Baccarin to make her look lacertine.  When she told Lisa that she wanted to meet Tyler, Baccarin looked like she would sawallow him whole.

*Really?  Valerie is Tyler's shrink?  It wasn't enough that Ryan and Erica are now working together?  There needed to be another link?  Really?!?

*Jack is the first character I've ever seen to actually wait in the car when told.  Just ask Chuck!

*Doc Jensen brings up a great idea in his recap today: what if Anna is actually benevolent and working against the soon-to-arrive armada to save humanity?  I don't think we're going there, just yet.  However, this would completely upend the show (which may be a good thing), and would be least plausible in the character of Ryan.  Wouldn't that mean Ryan is actually working against Erica, Jack and the safety of Valerie?  I guess the explanation would be that Ryan thinks he's helping humanity, but really isn't, and will come to understand Anna's true intentions.  Mehtnks such a story will get very complicated, and as we have seen, I doubt the writers have the stuff to handle it. 

OK, that's all for 2009.  Whether ABC will pick up an additional nine episodes for the spring is beyond my guess.  If they do, I think they will have to receive major assurances that the quality of the writing will improve dramatically.  I hope they do, because I generally enjoy shows like V, and there are some great actors on the show.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see if any of ABC's mid-season replacements are hits.  Make sure you check out Jay and Jack's VCast and Doc Jensen's recaps at  Please leave your thoughts below in the Comments section.  I'll post any news on the status of V as it is released.  Until then...



Friday, November 20, 2009

FlashForward - "Believe," Ctd

Well, I can honestly say that my worst fears were not realized in last night's episode of FlashForward; namely, that we would have another "Stranger in a Strange Land" situation.  Did I think "Believe" was the great episode some thought it was?  No.  Was it a nice change of pace?  Sure.  Was it completely necessary?  Absolutely.  The risk FF waded into when the show was created and pitched as a sci-fi-ish, high concept serial drama (like it's big brother, Lost, and any other serialized show) was that the "weirdness" of the technical parts of the story (i.e. time travel, weird science experiment gone awry, flashbacks, etc.) might turn off a large segment of the viewing public.  As series co-creator David S. Goyer points out in his interview with EW's inimitable Doc Jensen, this needs to be counteracted with a healthy dose of character development.  Hence, after a few weeks of sometimes repetitive plot points (need to help the people who jump on the train late), we received almost an entire hour devoted to Bryce: how he came to the point of suicide, what he saw in his flash, and the ramifications thereof.  This was really a great character study, and in a sea of great actors on this show, Zachary Knighton stepped up and proved he belonged beside them.  We were given a sprinkle of plot for the other main characters, and I will touch on them briefly, but this was Bryce's (and Keiko's!) night, so let's start with them.

*The title credits picutre was of Keiko's wrist tattoo, received after she quit her job and was planning her escape to America.  Anyone out there read Japanese?  Did the tattoo say "believe" or are we all being hosed?  Let me also mention here that my original hypothesis that these title credit pictures may be overarching-series-mystery clues might not bear any fruit.  They appear to be just a flash of something important that will appear in that night's episode.  I will keep cataloguing them, however, on the off chance that there is something super-cool about them all taken as a unit.

*We learn that four weeks before the blackout, Bryce is told that his renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) has moved to Stage 4, and has spread to his brain and lungs.  When offered the possibility of another round of chemo, he refuses and proceeds to become distraught and unaware of his surroundings; which is made abundantly clear as he unknowingly backs into some jackass' hot rod.  His sadness turns into anger as he continuously slams into the hot rod.  Two weeks later, Bryce begins to zone out during surgery to the point Olivia tells him he should reconsider whether medicine is the proper field for him.  He then goes to see a psychologist in hopes of dealing with his believed death sentence.  Not receiving sufficient answers there, he turns to thoughts of suicide, the pier, a revolver, and a meeting with fate.  I know what I just wrote is more straight recap than what I normally write, but what it illustrates is the path that leads a man to suicide.  Bryce is obviously a smart guy who uses a fine-tuned body to perform complicated, meticulous surgeries that save people's lives.  Now, cancer is robbing him of his mind and body, and as a doctor, he understands this reality all too well -- he will not be able to save his own life.  This was all important background to understand why Bryce was on that pier.  Nice grace note, by the way, of Bryce unconsciously putting his seat belt on when he got in his car.  A nice little sign that he (or his subconscious at least) wanted to fight for his life.

*I think this was the first time we saw someone's whole flash.  Bryce, who, in his flash, now speaks pretty fluent Japanese, met up with Keiko in a Japanese restaurant.  He seemed very relieved to see/meet her (as she did, him), and caressed her arm, revealing her wrist tattoo.  I got a great feeling of love and fulfillment from the pair during the flash.  Bryce did, too, as this was enough to turn his outlook around, leading him to go in for another round of chemo and learning Japanese, despite being very sick.  In his words to Olivia, after she saw him nearly pass out and disovered his chemotherapy mainlines, his flash gave him "something to live for."  I loved the questions being recited by the Japanese language tapes while Bryce was throwing up, "How are you feeling today?  I hope you are well.  Can you give me the directions?  I am lost.  Who are you?  What do you want?"  These words perfectly summed up Bryce's state as they are the questions Bryce was surely asking himself on both literal and more thematic levels.  Great writing.  Olivia then gets Bryce into a trial for an experimental cancer drug in Houston, but with his time away from the hospital, he searches for Keiko.  He finds his way to her home, but he is denied meeting her by her mother, who had kicked Keiko out of the house for insisting that she wanted a different life than the one planned for her, and wanted to marry for love.  Distraught, and no doubt still believing that his time on Earth may be limited, Bryce called Nicole looking for support.  Her advice, "Sometimes you just have to be patient."  Which we will have to be, as well.

*I guess I should briefly talk about Bryce's intended love.  Keiko was introduced to us as she prepared for an interiew at a prestigous robotics company.  We quickly learned that she was not intended for the conservative buisness world and society of Japan.  She named Jimi Hendrix as an idol, and that she enjoyed playing guitar.  She did not want to be set up with a man pre-approved by her mother, and when she was brought into a meeting to serve tea to those gathered because she was the only woman in the department, she exhibited her independent streak, and quit.  This independence led to a fight were her mother when Keiko denounced her mother's plans for her.  Keiko was kicked out of the house and she ran, with her guitar, to Los Angeles, on Bryce's plane!  We saw that in her flash she will meet Bryce in a Japanese restaurant, but it is in L.A., not Japan.  One other note, Keiko was watching a video of Bob Dylan's "Shelter From the Storm."  This song is incredibly apt, as it speaks of a man "burned out from exhaustion" and "poisoned" who seeks refuge with a woman.  Certainly sounds like our man Bryce, right?  However, the song turns in its second half, when the man says "Now there's a wall between us, somethin' there's been lost / I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed."  Does this mean that post April 29, 2010, Bryce and Keiko's relationship will falter?  Will she not be his savior?  I hope not, but we'll "have to be patient."

Quick Hits:

*In non-Bryce/Keiko happenings, we had Aaron trying to deal with, on the surface, that Tracy drinks and that he, as a recovering alcoholic, can't have alcohol around.  What this really was all about, however, was that Aaron blamed himself for Tracy being in the situation that she is in.  First, Aaron was in the military, and Tracy "enlisted to be just like me [Aaron]."  Second, as alcoholism can be genetically passed to one's children, Aaron was worried that he may have "inspired" that in her, too.  Obviously, neither of these are his fault, but he is acting as a parent, and wants to protect his daughter from all threats, both those he may have control over (Jericho), and those he doesn't (her enlistment, alcoholism). 

*Mark, upon discovering the text sent to Olivia about him drinking in his flash, interrogated both Aaron and Wedeck (the only two people he told about is flash) about whether they texted Olivia.  Both vigorously denied it.  In fact, Aaron, stressed out about Tracy, blew up at Mark and told him to find another AA sponsor.  Dang!  Although, Mark did deserve to be slapped down (figuratively by Wedeck, and literally by Aaron); he was awful accusatory in tone and word choice.

*Did you catch Vreede's sideways look when the NSA agent told them that they traced a suspicious call back to one of their phones?  Perhaps Jay and Jack's caller was right?  Is he the mole? 

*The call was the one Demetri received from the woman who said he was going to be murdered March 15.  Audio analysis pointed them to the nightly Symphony of Lights celebration in Hong Kong.  Wedeck, understandably, did not want them to go, but Mark has a plan to secret he and Demetri away to China to investigate the lead.  Man, the L.A. FBI bureau has a pretty healthy budget.

*The NSA agent also todl the group that Suspect Zero's ring has an Alpha symbol on it.  I loved the fact that Wedeck asked the question all of us were, How could a symbol on the ring be determined but not Zero's face?!?  I love when shows do that.  I went back to the end of last week's episode, "Playing Cards with Coyote," and yes, the rings that were given to Ricky Jay did have the same Alpha symbol. 

From my preview for "Believe," well, we got what I expected, a Bryce-centric episode.  There was no Janis at all (boooo!), no Lloyd or Simon, and little amounts of everyone else.  There was some acrimony in Mark and Olivia's marriage, but it was short-lived, and while Aaron had the most screen time after Bryce, nothing major happened. 

Prediction:  As Suspect Zero had the missing ring, and Ricky Jay didn't seem to happy about it (evidenced by, literally, shooting the messenger) I predict Zero is actually a traitor to the group that caused the blackout.

OK, that's all for this week.  Again, sorry for the more straight-up recapping, but FF took a well-deserved pause in the breakneck pace it was setting, and let us really get to know the motivation of one of its heretofor neglected characters.  The thread of escape, Bryce from his illness/death, Keiko from a restriced society, and even Aaron from alcoholism and Demetri from fate, was woven well throught the episode.  We were given something Ivory pure to root for (Bryce/Keiko's relationship) and we were able to reflect upon how profound the events of the blackout truly were on people's lives.  To paraphrase Aaron, many people, post-blackout, are "not the people they used to be."  For some (Bryce, Keiko), that is a blessing.  For others (Tracy, and maybe Olivia and Mark) a curse.  The episode allowed us to become reacquainted with the stakes of what occurred October 6th.  With that in mind, I believe FF will move forward with a greater sense of urgency and consequence.  Remeber to check out the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack, and we'll meet again over FF in two weeks time.  Leve any comments or theories in the Comments section below, and, as always, thank you very much for reading.

I'm off to build a robot that can feed me jellybeans.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FlashForward - "Believe"

Hello all.  Tomorrow night's episode of FlashForward is titled, "Believe."  As the preview at the end of last week's "Playing Cards with Coyote" focused on Bryce and his search for the Japanese girl he saw in his flash, the title obviously refers to the Japanese character Bryce also saw in his flash that Nicole translated as "Believe."  I am not against a Bryce-centric episode.  Of all the main characters on the show, save Nicole, Bryce has received the least amount of attention, so finding out more about why he was going to kill himself, what exactly he saw, and what the importance is of the Japanese girl will be very interesting.  However, this episode is just begging to be compared to what is universally considered Lost's worst episode, "Stranger in a Strange Land." 

In that episode, Jack flashes back to Thailand, where he meets a mysterious woman (played by Bai Ling) who claims she can look into people and tell them who they are. As Jack has always wondered what his purpose is in life, he asks her to tattoo on him who he "is."  His tattoo's meaning is the title of the episode, "Stranger in a Strange Land."  He is then beat up by Thai locals and kciked out of Thailand.  The whole mess is very bizarre and really had nothing to do with nothing.  If "Believe" is mostly a Bryce episode and he is led on a journey to Japan, all I can say is that the payoff better be good.  If not, many Lost fans (which I would argue a supermajority of FF watchers are) may think FF has jumped the proverbial shark.  What else am I looking for tomorrow night?  Let's see:

*The only other person I saw in the preview last week was Demetri (stupid Cablevision DVR).  According to the written preview for "Believe" on, the FBI is going to try to track down the caller who told Demetri he was going to be murdered, you know, waaaaaaaaay back in episode two, "White to Play."  It's about time, right?  I'll be interested to see how they get back to this topic.  I really hope it's not a situation where Demetri says, "Remember how I got that call I was going to be murdered?  We should probably figure out who called me!"  Here's hoping it's more integrated than that.

*Jack from the FlashForwardCast does a Carackpot Theory every week.  Last week's was that Mike, Tracy's fellow soldier who told Aaron that she was dead two episodes ago, is Suspect Zero.  He based his theory on the fact that the actor who plays Mike is 5'9", 145 lbs., just like the description of Suspect Zero.  I went back and rewatched Mike's scenes in "The Gift," and we never saw his right hand, the one on which Zero is wearing a ring.  I'd like to see some information on the rings, their importance (do they block the effects of the blackout?), and whether Mike has anything to do with the blackout conspiracy.

*Will Lloyd, having won his poker game with Simon, really go public with their responsibility for the blackout?  Being as it is only November, methinks not.  What game is Simon actually playing though?  What is their true responsibility?

*I think I want some major Janis action.  She was becoming a favorite character of mine, so now that she has been essentially sidelined for the last two weeks, I want to see her make important contributions in the office this week.

*With major parts of their flashes believed to be eradicated (Olivia trashing the lingerie and Mark killing 3-Star), I don't suspect we'll see a lot of angst in the Mark/Olivia relationship this week.  This is A-OK by me.  At some point, their marriage will have to be strained again, so I prefer that the show take a break from it for a week or eight, and return to it next calendar year.  Mark will likely be busy helping Demetri find the caller, but what motivation does Olivia have on the show other than avoiding Lloyd?  I hope the writers give her something else to do.

*I don't expect a lot out of the Aaron/Tracy story either.  We received a massive download of information last week, and FF likes to have its characters take turns in the spotlight next to Mark.  Same for Wedeck, although I would like to see some more about how his wife ends up mothering that Muslim boy she saw at the FBI funeral.  And why is Wedeck so emotional all the time?  Not that I'm complaining: I have no problem with men showing their emotions.  He just seems to take everything going on in his co-workers' lives to heart.  Is there some motivation behind this?

*Oh, and who the hell is Coyote?

That's about it, folks.  Again, this looks to be a very Bryce-centric episode.  Weird Asian characters (words, not people) and mysterious women aside, I don't think FF will fall into the same trap as Lost did, however, there is always the danger of driving what has been a very compelling narrative, straight into a brick wall, and halting the momentum necessary to get the show through the doldrums of December and January.  Here's hoping the production team succeeds because FF has become one of my favorite shows to watch and discuss.  Speaking of discussion (segue!), if you have anything to ask, say or comment upon, please leave your note in the Comments section below.  Check out last week's recap for a refresher of what's going on.  Thoughts on tomorrow's episode hopefully up this weekend.  Until then...


Lost - Uh Oh, Ctd

An update on a story from earlier this year.  Back in April, I brought you word that Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Desmond, was being sued by a former Lost staff member for sexual harrassment.  It seems Cusick has settled the suit.  The terms were not disclosed, but all parties (the plaintiff, Cusick, ABC, Bad Robot and whomever else) have agreed to payment in lieu of a suit.  Obviously, if the staffer was wronged, no amount of money is probably sufficient, but I am glad the parties have worked out an amicable agreement. 

Now get Desmond back on the screen!

V - "A Bright New Day"

Last night's episode of V, "A Bright New Day," was significantly better than its previous outing.  Yes, the show is still experiencing some growing pains, but it was encouraging to have it move in a positive direction this week.  Hopefully, with one more outing in this "pod" of episodes, the show will remain on this positive trajectory and will be renewed for the spring.  Here's what piqued my curiosity this week:

*Why are the V's waiting to anihilate humanity?  Why plant sleeper agents here for 20 years (and did they arrive as kids, who "grow up" and age like humans?) to "weaken" humanity?  They have space ships that travel bewtween galaxies!  Couldn't they just wipe us out in a heartbeat?  Assuming that they can't, why not?  What does humanity possess here on Earth, or in itself, that can repel the V's?  Separately, I really enjoy Anna's media manipulation.  Although I didn't predict the assassination attempt would be staged by the V's (like some did), that event, combined with the meeting with the Widow Faulkner was expertly done.  Along with the whole Chad Decker storyline, the series is actually creating a great commentary on American political media today.  Let me also shout out to Morena Baccarin for her spectacular portrayal of Anna.  Her rehearsing her conversation with the widow was so perfectly creepy, because you know there are any number of politicians of all stripes doing the same thing as I type this.  One last point, was the widow actually brainwashed or hypnotized by Anna, or are Anna's powers of persuasion just that good?

*I love everything surrounding the Fifth Column resistance of traitor V's.  The questions that surround the movement are probably the most intriguing on the show.  How long has the Fifth Column exisisted?  Why was it formed in the first place?  Why didn't the V's wipe them out totally?  Fear of sleeper cell exposure?  Who is John May (and which actor will end up playing him?)?  What are the other four columns?  I was jazzed by the twists that Cyrus was now working for the V's and that Joshua (Dale's doctor on the mothership) was a member of the Fifth Column.  Totally unexpected, at least the Joshua part (had to figure someone from the original resistance would try to go back to the V's, like Cypher in The Matrix).  Moreover, I'm very interested in what "reconnecting" and "The Bliss" are.  Is this, too, like The Matrix, in that V's are hooked into some kind of euphoric existence, whether that be a physical connection, or mental/emotional connection with their race?  This kind of stuff gets my blood pumping. 

*It's fortunate that the V stories do get my blood pumping, because I'd otherwise flatline with the humans.  The writers just aren't giving Jack and Erica good material.  The lines two good actors were given last night when discussing their resistance planning were just awful.  It's not a case of actors making absurd things sound bad (look at how Alan Tudyk can make saying "She saw my real face," sound completely believeable), it's that they are given just completely unnatural things to say.  And really?  Erica would just let some random priest sift through classified FBI files?  Really?!?  The writers need to stop wasting Elizabeth Mitchell's talents. 

*Then we get to the Tyler/Lisa story.  Listen, I get it.  I get the need for the plot-line, and the reveal at the end that Lisa is Anna's daughter was completely awesome.  So was Lisa's look of regret that she is manipulating Tyler as the last image of the episode (again, V-V interaction, not human-human).  And yes, Laura Vandervoort, who plays Lisa, is ridiculously beautiful.  But she's also looks like she's in her 20's, and Tyler is only supposed to be 16/17.  Plus, as I have mentioned before, Logan Huffman is not up to this role.  Where the hell did his "New Yawk" accent come from?  And why did it disappear after three lines?  I mena, I'm certainly interested in more opportunities for Lisa to be in her underwear, and I do liek the basic plot of having a V try to recruit a human kid for whatever purpose, I just wish that kid was a better actor.

Quick Hits:

*Think Elizabeth Mitchell finds it weird calling someone else Jack besides Matthew Fox?

*Of course there's another V at the FBI!

*I like that the V's disintegrate when they die.  Very, ironically, Earth-friendly.

*Georgie (and Dale?) had kids with, presumably, a human.  What are V-Human babies like?!?

OK, that's it for this week's V.  Again, a better episode than last week, and hopefully onyl moving up from here.  Doc Jensen will have a recap up at this afternoon, and Jay and Jack have a new V podcast up already.  Take a listen, they are pretty entertaining guys.  Please leave any comments, questions or theories below.  I'll be back next week with some more thoughts on the fourth, and perhaps final, episode of V.  Until then...


Friday, November 13, 2009

FlashForward - "Playing Cards with Coyote," Ctd

Well, it finally happened.  I was disappointed in an episode.  I found last night's FF, while still a good hour of television, not up to the standards set in the great run of recent episodes.  I expected there to be...I don't know...more in this episode.  I mean, from the second the 3-Star guy was discovered, I knew there would be more than one guy with three stars tattooed on his arm.  But, we'll get to that in a bit.  Here's my thoughts on "Playing Cards with Coyote":

*The title credits picture was the Ace of Hearts.  We had seen during the open that Lloyd pulled an Ace of Spades when performing a magic trick for Dylan, so when the Ace of Hearts flashed, I figured it wasn't Lloyd's, although I had no real reason to believe so.  Obviously, I was proven wrong.  Any other meaning to the card?  I don't think so, although the Ace of Spades is usually considered the card of death, so maybe the Ace of Hearts has the opposite meaning?  They all have new life after Al's "gift?"

*When I saw the slo-motion opening, like that of "Black Swan," and as I didn't recognize Celia at first, I was expecting a grim scene.  Instead, we saw the exact opposite; we saw the "rebirth" of most of our characters.  Celia was given life by Al.  Aaron returned home to Tracy.  Janis returned to work after her brush with death.  Mark and Olivia rekindled their marriage.  It was a nice visual illustration of the changed reality our characters now exist in.  In Mark's words, they could all "celebrate second chances."  Last note, good news travels fast.  Al's death, and subsequent letter to Celia that said he changed the future was quickly picked up by the press.  Guess we don't have to worry about people knowing they can control their futures.

*Speaking of, there were interesting comments on the nature of the future as we and our characters now understand it.  Janis wondered "should I lean into my future?  Do I fight it?  Our choices still matter."  Nicole stated "Everything is up to us again."  Olivia agreed with me that they must take action proactively to change the future they saw in their flashes when she said, "maybe we have to work that much harder" to do so.  Mark was proactive when he, admittedly, killed 3-Star in the pet store to change his future (dramatic irony alert!).  On the other side, we had Simon waxing poetic on determinist philosophy, stating that there is "no such thing as fate, free will or 'there but for the Grace of God.'"  I certainly thought that the nature of the future would now be, at least to some extent, settled.  Turns out I was wrong; we will be having many more discussions on what is and isn't set in stone, and what the characters can change.  Then again, all of these statements that the future can be changed gave me a "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," feel. 

*The whole Simon/Lloyd confrontation hit some highs and lows for me.  The low was the poker game; it felt so inconsequential to me.  Yes, I know Lloyd won (by cheating.  Not a good example for Dylan!), so, in theory, they will announce the fact that their experiment was responsible for the blackout.  However, I think there is no way in hell they are announcing that.  Simon will not let that happen.  The highs though revealed some interesting mysteries.  First was Lloyd's email to folks with a address.  Now, I'm sure many of you used the Google to find out what NLAP is.  All I could find that was somewhat relevant was the National Laboratory Audit Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Los Alamos does some of the nation's most important work in astrophysics, nuclear security and computing.  Not too hard to see how work there could relate to the blackout.  Further, 3-Star's victim worked in aeronautics.  Possibly at Los Alamos?  Second, both Simon and Lloyd mentioned Q.E.D.  So, too, did 3-Star.  Now, the most common definition for Q.E.D. is quod erat demonstrandum, meaning "which was to be demonstrated."  However, the second definition is the abbreviation in physics for "quantum electrodynamics."  We know that Simon and Lloyd are physicists, so for me, this is the actual definition they meant.  Perhaps electrodynamics are responsible for the blackout.  Why 3-Star was discussing it, I have no idea.  One last thing, will Myles, an apparent co-conspirator of Simon/Lloyd, be important?

*As we saw at the end of last week's episode, "The Gift," Tracy is indeed alive.  She explained that when her Humvee was ambushed by Jericho, a Private Military Contractor, she was left for dead with a missing lower right leg.  She was somehow able to escape, and went on the run, evidently aided by a man named Kahmir.  It was revealed that in Aaron's flash, he saw a conversation he and Kahmir had about "the accounts" being "verified."  Tracy is scared that Jericho is after her because she saw Jericho brutally wipe out am Afghan village.  How does this tie in to the "accounts?"  Further, Tracy appears to be injured again in Aaron's flash: she has cuts on her face and is in bed.  Does she go back to Afghanistan to try to take on Jericho, only to be captured again, and Aaron is there to negotiate her release?  Is she somehow in an undercover situation?  Color me confused by this storyline.  Although, it was great to see the interaction of this father's joy at the seemingly impossible return of his daughter, with a daughter's fear of exposure to the point that she doesn't even want her mother to know she is alive. 

*There was just something about the Mark/3-Star plot that fell short with me.  Perhaps it was all of the concentration on the pet store owner/witness.  I liked how Mark's flash kept, well, flashing during he and Demetri's pursuit of 3-Star through the store; it really added to the tension.  However, Mark's killing 3-Star was anticlimactic for me because I just knew 3-Star's entire group would have the same tattoo.  How could they not?  It was way too early in the season for that threat to have been neutralized and Mark's flash rendered moot.  A lot of build-up for nothing.  Well, there were a couple important things that came from this story: 1) that Mark admitted to Olivia that he killed the guy to alter his future (as opposed to defending himself); 2) there is a mole in the L.A. FBI office (maybe it IS Agent Vreede!); and 3) the bad guys are supposed to have seven rings, but only six were in the case taken from the aeronautics guy killed by 3-Star.  A theory on that in my Prediction below.  Lastly, the man receiving the rings was none other than magician extraordinaire, Ricky Jay(!), who delivered maybe my favorite line of the series to date after shooting a stooge, "Now we're sons of bitches."  Awesome.

Quick Hits:

*My immediate reaction upon seeing Lloyd and Dylan in the opening?  "What the f*&$ is Dylan still doing in the hospital?!?"  Well, he's got a DVT, or deep vein thrombosis.  This is, apparently, a common hospital malady because patients aren't moving around a lot, and blood can pool into clots that can clog veins and arteries, or break off and move into the heart, lungs or brain.  Then I felt bad for hating on the autistic kid who could die via blood clot. 

*Simon said he had "doubts" about the cause of the blackout.  Just being cheeky, or is there really another explanation?

*I audibly said, "Whoa!" when it was revealed that Mark purchased the lingerie Olivia was wearing in her flash.  Nice move FF writers.  Kudos.  To change her flash, was it sufficient that she threw the gift out?  I'm thinking, no.

*Tracy's voice-over was terrible, and I think she's the weakest actor on the show (so far).  This brings up a pet peeve.  I know that sometimes it's hard to get proper sound while filming (especially for outdoor scenes), but why is the state of TV looping so poor?  You can always hear the difference in the VO sound and the "live" sound, and God forbid that the looped portion be synced to the person's mouth moving on screen; it looks terrible!  There is no worse offender than reality TV shows, but come on people!  Technology has to be good enough that you can make the loops sound right!

*The Bronx Zoo uniforms are a lot better than the one on Ingrid in her flash.  Egad!  Oh, and I called witness protection program as soon as I saw the blond hair in her flash.  Like the FBI would ever put protected witnesses in NYC.  Please.

*Lloyd insisted that he and Simon "had to take responsibility" for the blackout.  Why?  Doe she have regrets because of Dylan's mom dying, or is there something else motivating him?

*Janis was looking into sperm donation to have her child.  Interestingly, Wedeck was very supportive of this (not that he'd have a reason not to).  This is like the third time we've seen him be very concerned about Janis' personal life.  To me, it feels like something is brewing there.

*What was the Coyote from the episode title?  Did I miss something while writing notes?

From my preview of the episode, I think I actually got a lot of what I was looking for.  Al's sacrifice profoundly effected everyone; it does seem the characters must purposefully change their futures; Jericho was involved in Tracy's disappearance and there was definitely some tension in the Aaron/Tracy reunion; Janis was back and rethinking her path, admittedly because of Al's death; and we need more info on the Simon/Lloyd dynamic.  It's funny, because I had most of wishes for the episode granted, but I still felt underwhelmed.  I guess there's no winning with me.

Prediction: We know there is a ring missing, and that Suspect Zero was wearing a ring in Detroit.  I predict that 1) the rings prevent the wearer from blacking out; 2) Suspect Zero stole the ring and is actually a "friend;" and 3) because acquiring the rings was obviously important, and the rings prevent the effects of the blackout, there is going to be another blackout by the end of the season.  A 3-in-1 Prediction; I'm feeling generous!

OK, that's all I have for "Playing Cards...."  Again, a good episode, but, I thought, a step back from the last couple weeks.  It says something about the quality of the show that I was disappointed by a B- effort.  Pleas leave your thoughts, theories and questions in the Comments section below.  Tune into the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack.  I'm writing this before I listen to their latest episode, but Jack is claiming on Twitter that he knows who Suspect Zero is.  Hmmmm....can't wait to hear that crackpot theory!  Thanks always for reading, and passing the word on about the blog.

I'm off to apply for the MacArthur Prize.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FlashForward - "Playing Cards with Coyote"

Good afternoon everyone.  Tomorrow night's episode is titled "Playing Cards with Coyote."  I really have no idea what that means, but because we saw Simon and Lloyd playing cards to decide whether they will tell the world about their "experiment," it appears that the title may be as simple as the fact that they are playing cards.  If this was Lost, I'd never think that title should be taken at face value, but as FF has been actually giving us answers to questions every week, the opposite may be true.  Only question is, then, who is Coyote?  I assume we'll get that answer tomorrow night.  Here's what else I'm looking for:

*How does everyone react to the meaning of Al's death?  Obviously, everyone will be very upset over Al's suicide, but how long does it take for them to realize that the flashes can be changed?  What does it mean that they can change their futures?  Who will even want to?  I hope this means Mark and Olivia will attempt a reconciliation, at least for a while.  How does Demetri accept his possible murder now?  Will he pull a Doc Brown and wear a bulletproof vest?   The characters' reactions to Al's series-exploding act will be very interesting.

*I'm also interested in whether my Prediction from "The Gift" will be true: that a person must proactively change their future.  This ties in with the question of who would want to change their futures.  I expect Mark, Olivia, Demetri and Nicole, obviously, would want to change their flashes, but what about everyone else?  Will the circumstances surrounding someone's supposedly "positive" flash actually reveal itself to be a horror?  Like...

*...Aaron and Tracy.  Tracy came back at the end of "The Gift," but what are the circumstances of her return?  I think something weird happened with that group that attaked her humvee.  I expect they are involved in the blackout, and perhaps Tracy is working for them?  I have a feeling something is going to go awry in Aaron's reunion.

*Will Janis still be recovering and otherwise out of sight?  I didn't realize how much I'd miss Janis until last episode.  I feel like I need to see her reaction to Al's death and what that means for her own future.  Will she decide to get pregnant now?  Will she come out to her co-workers?  Did she get her alarm clock back?  I hope we get some Ms. Hawk tomorrow night.

*In the preview for "Playing Cards...," Lloyd again referenced "our experiment" when speaking with Simon.  that certainly leads me to believe that my Prediction is wrong and that they actually were responsible for the blackout, albeit perhaps unwittingly.  The vibe I'm getting from Lloyd is that he's a bad guy attempting to go straight.  What is Simon's deal anyway?  Whose side is he on?  And where the hell are Suspect Zero and D. Gibbons?

In sum, I think we will get two major storylines tomorrow night: 1) FBI-related folk dealing with the idea that the future can be changed; and 2) a massiv edownload of Simon/Lloyd backstory.  We should also get a dash of Aaron/Tracy and Janis.  As FF has been getting better and better every week, I expect the same tomorrow night.  Compared to last night's V, this may be the best hour of television for the week.  Don't forget to listen to the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack, and if you need a refresher on last week, check out my recap of "The Gift."  Thoughts on "Playing Cards..." over the weekend.  Until then...


V - "There is No Normal Anymore"

Last night was the second of four episodes of V that will air this fall before ABC decides whether to bring the show back for at least nine more episodes after the Olympics air in February.  Essentially, ABC is gambling that the four November episodes will hook enough people that they will wait more than three months for the series to continue.  If the next two episodes are like last night's, I'm not sure 2010 looks promising for the show.  Because the series may disappear after two more weeks, I don't want to get into an in-depth review of each episode...yet.  So, I will offer some brief thoughts on the next couple episodes, and reassess next year. 

*For all the wonderful, sweepng bombast from the Pilot, the show really slowed down last night.  I am not opposed to a more contemplative pace; I mean, no show can move at 1000 mph the whole series.  However, to throttle back so quickly, and, more importantly, not placing proper emphasis in the slowdown, is troubling.  To me, the most intriguing things about the world of V are: 1) the renegade Visitors, like Ryan, that may work against Anna's V's; 2) the human resistance; and 3) any possible split between Anna, Marcus and the just-arrived Visitors.  All of these, seemed to be merely touched upon, instead of a deeper treatment.  Instead, we got a lot of Tyler making Lisa mad because he punched a guy, Fr. Jack moving a bunch of boxes and dithering over whether or not to go to the authorities, and waaaaay too many camera lingerings on "lizard-looking" people that may or may not be hidden V's.  Now, I like the tension of wondering who is and who isn't a sleeper V.  It's actually a great dramatic device.  However, sloppy directing can make this ridiculously melodramatic, and that's what happened last night.  We get it, Erica and Jack don't know who is a V, and we don't either; there is no need to make the mystery so obvious.

*The fault I describe above has nothing to do with the actors.  They are all top-notch, and doing some great work making what could be a hokey concept work for the most part.  Even the guy who plays Tyler, Logan Huffman, is doing a good job; he just has had some bad material to work with so far.  On the other hand, as I mentioned in my thoughts on the Pilot, Scott Wolf seems to be the weak link here.  He had a major storyline in last night's episode (feeling guilty about not being harder on Anna in their interview), but it just felt flat.  His smugness is not smug enough.  His deceit is not deceitful enough.  His sincerity is not sincere enough.  It appears he will be a major player in the series, so, two more episodes to bring your game up to the rest of the cast, Scott.

*There were some great moments though.  As Doc Jensen (he of the great Lost recaps) noticed in his recap of "There is No Normal Anymore," it appears that the arrival of the Visitors is early.  As Doc asks, why are they early?  What forced their hand?  I find this, combined with the counterinsurgent V's, very intriguing, and something to be watched.  Also, the return of Dale (Alan Tudyk), Erica's bad-V partner was completely unexpected and could be very cool.  Will he immediately go after Erica?  Does he have to lay low to further the V's agenda?  Does he have a new agenda altogether?  This may end up being the best part of the series' immediate future.

All in all, I was disappointed by "There is No Normal Anymore."  The too-quick slowing of the story was a bit jarring, and the general a-directional feel of the episode left me disheartened.  Now, production on the show had been suspended for five weeks, ostensibly to allow for major revisions to the pace and feel of the show.  So, if ABC does follow through with airing the show next spring, we will hopefully see the fruit of the hiatus.  I think V can be a really great show as it has an intriguing concept, a plethora of talented actors and some fantastic effects.  I just hope that last night was the nadir for the series.  If not, at least we might get Juliet back!  For a full recap, check out Doc Jensen's recap at Entertainment Weekly, and Jay and Jack have a new V podcast to add to your library.  Again, I'll offer some thoughts on next week's episode after it airs.  Until then...


Saturday, November 7, 2009

V - "Pilot"

Hello all.  I finally had the opportunity to watch the V pilot.  ABC, for some odd reason, decided it would be better to prevent people from watching the premiere of its much-hyped, very expensive new series for four days if they missed it on Tuesday night.  Anyway, it finally showed up on Hulu this morning.  I have to say, really dug the pilot episode.  I haven't decided if I will give it full Entertaining Thoughts treatment yet, but I wanted to get down some first impressions of the series.

*Wow, this show is expensive.  The CGI budget must be absolutely through the roof.  Plus, it appears that they are actually shooting in NYC.  While there were some nice tax benefits for shooting in New York, there had been reports that the tax credit had expired.  Anyway, the look of the show is very high-end and sleek, which looks amazing (and is almost necessary for us to believe in inter-galaxy space travel), but is never cheap.

*Elizabeth Mitchell, awesome.  She gave such a wonderful turn as Juliet on Lost, so I am very sad to see her leave our island friends (although she will be returning in some fashion.  WARNING, slight Lost spoilers in link!).  However, Lost's loss(!) is V's gain.  If this show survives, it will be on the strength of two female main characters, which is awesome, because when was the last time that happened?  Mitchell is certainly up to the task, so how about...

*...Morena Baccarin?  She plays Anna, the leader of the Visitors.  I had never heard of her before, but she's evidently been popping up on TV here and there over the past few years.  I expect to see a lot more of her in the near future.  Besides the fact that her face has been plastered all over numerous bus stops, taxis, and billboards, I thought she really delivered in the pilot. She has this great, well, slightly reptilian look that is obviously perfect for the V's.  The shape of her face is kind of colubrine, yet she is very attractive and quite alluring.  Hell, I'd be willing to listen to an alien that looked like her.

*I think the rest of the cast seems pretty strong, with one exception.  Sorry, Scott Wolf, the jig is up.  I know he's supposed to be playing a plastic, egotistical news magazine anchor, but I thought he was just awful.  No sincerity in his performance.  I know his character shouldn't be sincere, but I didn't even get from Wolf that his character was aware of his insincerity.  I don't know, maybe he'll grow on me.  He just seemed so wooden, especially compared to his castmates.

*Loved the twist that Ryan, played by Morris Chestnut, is a traitor to the V's.  One of the storylines going forward, I expect, will be how the Vs come to grips with emotions (if they even have them at all).  This will be most easily given to Ryan and other traitor V's to play.  He certainly seemed emotional, so I'm hoping that this issue is explored.  Like, will Lisa, one of the ambassador V's played by Laura Vandervoot, actually develop feelings for Erica's son?  I think this could be very interesting.

*Actually, I really hope they explore the above because I am concerned with where the story goes.  The reason the original V worked was because it was a miniseries.  Visitors came to Earth, tried to slaughter humanity, and a resistance pushed them back.  How does that story sustain itself, in an interesting and compelling fashion, after a season?  I know we'll get allegories on media obsession, acceptance of outsiders, the human condition, etc., and of course the human-V war, but can that all be sustained over three or four or five seasons?  I'm not so sure.  Then again, I thought the pilot was pretty awesome, so perhaps I should have a little faith.

All in all, I reacted very positively to V.  ABC has decided that it will air four episodes in November, then put the show on hiatus until next year, perhaps to pair it with FlashForward or Lost.  I think I'll watch next Tuesday and decide then if I want to really dig into the series like I have with FF and Lost.  The ratings for the first episode were through the roof, garnering ABC its highest series premiere ratings since a sorta successful island adventure about survivors of a plane crash.  So, if V can keep those numbers up, I expect we will be seeing it around for quite some time, and I'll know my dedication to the show won't be for naught.  If you have any thoughts or theories on the show, please drop them in the Comments below.  Stay tuned to Entertaining Thoughts for more on V.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FlashForward - "The Gift," Ctd

What is this?  This post is actually going up on Friday?  Yes, yes it is.  Don't get used to it or anything, but I decided to take notes on the show as I watched it last night so, here we are with my thoughts on a game-changing episode of FF on Friday.  It appears that my Prediction from last week was actually true, unfortuntely for Al, who I was really hoping (especially as the beginning of this episode wore on) would become a main character.  So much for that.  What will Al's sacrifice mean for our remaining FF friends?  Well, let's find out.  As Al's "gift" will obviously have far-reaching implications for all of our main characters, let's first discuss what they were up to last night, then Al, then what Al's sacrifice means for the show.  Alright?  Good.  In the words of the dearly departed, "Here we go.":

*The title sequence picture was of a bullet with "Not Today" written on it.  I actually loved the device of using Russian Roulette as a test for entrance to the Blue Hand.  It's a nice metaphor for the unknowable twists of fate and the inherent risk we all accept just by getting up in the morning.  Of course, at the time, Al thought it was impossible that he would die from the gunshot.  That is what makes the whole scene that much eerier upon reflection, as we now know that there actually was a one in six chance he would blown his head off right then and there.  The writing on the bullet ends up being a lie: anyone's death could very well be today.

*Mark/Olivia:  I liked the fact that they were at least trying to put on happy faces and get along.  When each said s/he trusted the other, it was so agonizingly forced, but with enough "I love you" that I don't think this couple is over just yet.  Plus, you could see how hurt Mark is by the whole situation when he started to cry while watching The Adventures of Squrrielio with Charlie.  This is a man who doesn't want to lose his family.

*Olivia/Lloyd: Lloyd, using the excuse of saying "thank you" again to Olivia for helping Dylan, insisted that there was no way he was going to allow himself to come between Olivia and Mark, and Olivia assured him of the same.  He even described how he and Dylan were going to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area as if to prove that he was acting honorably.  However, the whole time I couldn't detect any sincerity from either of them.  The vibe in the room seemed to be saying "we like each other," and the scene dripped with all the awkwardness of a junior high school co-ed dance.  Perhaps their attitude will change once they learn the flashes won't necessarily come true; but perhaps they want their flash to occur.

*Demetri/Zoey: The stress of believing he is going to be murdered in a few months, combined with his increasing nihilism after his experience with the Blue Hand and fellow "ghosts" (i.e. people who didn't have a flash), finally got to Demetri.  After a couple blow-ups with Zoey (and really, who hasn't had fights with their fiance over wedding preparations, even without knowing you were going to be murdered?), he finally admitted to her that he didn't have a flash.  Their whole relationship in this episode, quite obviously echoed that of Mark and Olivia last week (Zoey/Olivia: "I want you to be honest!"  Demetri/Mark: "You want me to be honest?!?").  This structure actually bothered me.  I would have preferred that Demetri's admission came the same week as Mark's: the paralell would have lent itself to some interesting directorial opportunities.  As Zoey held tight to her flash of their wedding, it was at this point that I really started to feel (contrary to my previous belief) that FF might actually kill off Demetri.  I could see the Powers That Be saying, "Oh, you don't think we would kill off John Cho because he's John Cho?  Well, we've been telling you this whole time he's going to die, so we killed him!"  By the end of the episode last night, I was back to thinking he won't die, but for a few minutes there, they had me.

*Bryce/Nicole: Bryce was drawing again.  As I thought, he was indeed drawing an Asian girl; a Japanese woman, actually.  We know she was in his flash, but we don't know her significance yet.  Nicole, who has started to volunteer at the hosiptal to make amends for whatever it is she hasn't done yet, informed Bryce that the Japanese character he was seeing was "kanji," or "Believe."  1) I could have done without this little bromide; it just seemed so false.  Of course the words he saw was "Believe!"  He didn't kill himself because of it.  How mystical! *eyes rolling*  2) Really?  Nicole randomly speaks Japanese?  Did she learn from the same place Mark learned Sufi?  Oh, and it appears Nicole thinks Bryce is cute.  Anyone know how old these people are supposed to be?  I think she's still in college, and he's obviously out of med school.  Age difference a bit odd, right?  Whatever.  As you can tell, I'm not that into this storyline.

*Aaron: In hindsight, we were being set up from the beginning of the episode to finally come to grips with the idea that Tracy, Aaron's daughter, was actually dead.  The tastefully named Mike (a member of Tracy's unit) showed up to bring back Tracy's pocketknife to Aaron.  Mike relayed the story of how he saw Tracy die, at the hands of "Jericho," which I assume is a sketchy KBR-type contractor in the Middle East.  I have never thought Tracy was dead, not after Aaron dug up her grave, and not after Mike relayed the story; however, when Aaron seemed to accept his daughter's fate (finally), I have to say, Brian F. O'Byrne's performance had me doubting.  I imagined Aaron would begin an investigation into Jericho, that would eventually lead to the blackout.  Boy was I wrong!  There she was, looking none the worse for wear, sitting in Aaron's house at the end of the episode.  Have to say, that put some hop in my step.

*Blue Hand: At first, it seemed that there would be some grand Mosaic significance to the group.  However, as I look at it now, I don't see how they are connected to anything.  We were introduced to the concept of "ghosts," i.e. people who didn't have a flash, and how Blue Hand found them through Mosaic, but I don't see the reasoning behind this storyline other than providing Al the motivation for his "Gift" to Celia.  I mean, the freaky-ness of the "club" was interesting, and I guess it was a short mediation on how some people would treat their knowing, impending death (or, for that matter, knowing that they will definitely live for the next six months), but it just didn't amount to much for me.  The whole "blue hand represents a portal" shlock uttered by Raynaud?  At this point, meaningless to me.  If someone got more out of the Blue Hand than I did, please leave your thoughts in the Comments, because I am at a loss.

*Al: Poor, poor Al.  We learned that Al was haunted by his flash, because in it, he found out that he would kill a woman, named Celia, which would orphan her twin boys.  It wasn't clear if he learned her name in the flash, but he did end up finding her via Mosaic.  She was a "ghost," which confirmed Al's flash, as he assumed that "ghosts" would be dead by April 29.   Al could not live with this responsibility, so he decided to give to Celia (and Demetri, Mark and the others) a future free from the dread of what she expected to come true (her impending death), by killing himself.  I have to admit: I was very upset by this.  I know he didn't have a lot of screen time, but I dug Al, and his protrayal by Lee Thompson Young.  In these serial shows though, and as has proven by Lost, the unexpected death of main characters can ring profoundly through a series.

What Al's death proved is that the flashes don't, necessarily, represent a set-in-stone future.  I don't think FF's theory of time involves the "course-correction" idea propounded by Lost.  Rather, I think the future can be permanently changed.  Now, if this is the case, it kind of destroys the purpose of the flashes because, if our characters aren't scared/worried/hoping for their flashes coming true, all of their motivation disappears (with the exception of finding out who caused the blackout, I suppose).  So, I actually propose that the future can be permanently changed, if a person proactively changes it.  In my theory, if a character just goes along with life passively toward April 29, then the flash will occur as the person saw during the blackout.  However, if the person takes proactive steps to change render their flash impossible (like Al jumping off a freaking building!), then the flash will not occur.  No course-correcting.  No fate.  Where the conflict in the series will lie going forward then, is in each character 1) realizing that s/he can change the future, and 2) deciding whether or not they want to change what they saw. 

Now, I had Predicted last week, after Simon's Schrodinger's Cat story, that this would be the case (score one for me!), so this was already in my mind as I watched last night.  Then, we got a number of clues: 1) Demetri emphasizing the line "I call it the way to change the game," when discussing playing Madden football with Al (and Al's echo of this right before he jumped); 2) Al, after his suggestion that Fiona tape the window so the bird won't fly into it, saying, "It's worth a shot;" and 3) Zoey saying, "We get to choose," in response to her and Demetri's conflicting flashes (and repeating Simon's statement last week that "the observer decides").  Despite all this, I was still sure that Al would be prevented from jumping.  Even as he was falling, I thought, somehow, he wouldn't die.  When he did, I was shocked.  Utterly shocked.  And that is the sign of a great televsion show.  Now that the paradigm has shifted, from an unchangeable future to a pliable one, it will be very interesting to see how each of our characters reacts to their new situation.

Quick Hits:

*That was a very cool fountain at the beginning of the episode.  Anyone know where it is?

*Turns out the "We know you are one of us" flyer was generated by the Blue Hand, and was received by Celia.  If I'm not mistaken though, the word "demteris" was not on it during the actual program.  Odd.

*Heh.  The FBI agent wore a Police shirt to a raid. 

*I have always liked Alex Kingston, who played Mi6 agent Fiona Banks last night.  I wonder, know that Al is dead, whether she will be on the show in future episodes.

*I couldn't tell if it was the "ghosts" being tortured, or people who knew they wouln't die being tortured.  Either way, I would not spend those six months being dunked in a bathtup while wearing a submissive harness.

*Who is Annabelle, and how does she relate to Simon?  The name bracelet looked like a kid's bracelet to me, so is Annabelle Simon's daughter?  A long-lost sister?

As far as what last night's episode answered from my preview, it was a mixed bag.  Aaron did step to the fore, but I was way off on the Blue Hand.  Lloyd did seem to be at least the slightest bit interested in Olivia, but I couldn't detect any game he was playing.  Lastly, Janis didn't even appear in the episode, so the pattern has been broken (tell Agent Dunham), and you know what?  I missed her.  Fast recovery Miss Hawk!

Prediction: A person must proactively change the future by making their flash impossible.

That about wraps it up.  Again, this was a game-changing episode for this nascent series.  I'm hoping they don't paint themselves into a corner by making the flashes completely irrelevant (since they can be changed), but I have faith they know what they're doing.  The show has just been getting stronger and stronger, so I'm already looking forward to next week.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the Comments section below.  Also, if you like what you read hear at all, please pass the word on to your fellow FF watchers.  Don't forget to check out the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack.  Thank you for reading.

I'm off to sail some boats in a fountain.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

FlashForward - "The Gift"

No, I don't think ABC will be airing a one hour version of the movie made famous for showing Katie Holmes' breasts.  Instead we will get a more PG-13 rated hour of one of my new favorite shows, FlashForward.  I'm hoping the show keeps its momentum after a great episode last week.  Here's what I'm looking for tomorrow night:

*From last week's preview of "The Gift," it appears we will be jumping around storylines rapidly.  First off, we see someone approach Aaron with the "truth" about his daughter.  I couldn't tell if the guy speaking with Aaron was someone we've already met, but I'm willing to bet it's one of Aaron's daughter's fellow soldiers.  It seemed after he dug up her grave he was finally satisfied that his flash was going to prove untrue.  Aaron is an interesting character who has been pushed to the periphery too often, n my opinion.  It will be great to see him move to the fore, and see his hope return with a vengeance. 

*Demetri appears to have his hands full tomorrow night.  Not only did we get a glimpse of a confrontation with Zoey (will he finally tell her about his flash, like Mark told Olivia last week?), but it appears he will attempt to infiltrate the Blue Hand.  He is Asian after all.  I do expect to see Demetri admit his flash to Zoey, but am unsure what the outcome will be.  I figure she'll be supportive and say that it doesn't mean his death, but perhaps she may want out of the engagement ("Why are you lying to me?!?").  If Demetri does join the Blue Hand, will he now work semi-permanently undercover?  I think this is a distinct possibility, and assuming the Blue Hand has something to do with the blackout, maybe that is why Demetri didn't have a flash: he will still be working with them come April 29th.  Hmmmm.....  Last bit: to me, it looked like Rutherford was the guy with blue hands raising his arms in the preview.

*We also saw in the preview that Lloyd approaches Olivia; about what, I'm not sure.  She certainly doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with him, at least in the little bit we saw.  Is this because she actually feels a pull towards him and her flash could come true?  What game is he playing?  Does he like her romantically, or does he have some alterior motive, perhaps trying to cause a rift between her and Mark so Mark will drop the Mosaic case?

*Our pattern of Demetri and Janis flip-flopping the focus of the B story may come to an end this week.  With Janis in the hospital, recovering from her surgery, she can't really do all that much.  However, in the preview we did see someone (and to me the someone looked like a white woman, based on her hands, sweater and hair) looking at a document that said, "We know you are one of us.  Demetris."  First off, let me say that I first pronounced the last word like this: "duh-MEE-triss."  As opposed to how it is probably pronounced: "deh-MEE-trees," like "something that belongs to Demetri."  Demetri's.  Does this have something to do with Demetri himself, or is it a request to meet at a Greek restaurant?  Either way, the first sentence is very interesting.  If it is Janis who received this note (is this the "gift" the title is referencing?), she is one of whom?  Something tells me the gay mafia doesn't work in such mysterious ways.  Instead, was this actually Zoey finding a note from Blue Hand that is telling Demetri has been accepted to the group?  Color me intrigued.

That's about it folks.  Again, the show has been developing quite a bit of momentum, and I hope it is sustained.  A few more great outings, and word-of-mouth should really propel the show to finding a larger audience.  Don't forget the guys over at the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack.  Please leave any thoughts or theories in the Comments section below.  I should be able to get my thoughts on "The Gift" up on Saturday, after I finally watch V.  ABC won't put the premiere episode online until then.  That's smart.  Make sure that all those people who are interested in the show, but couldn't catch it last night, are frustrated for four days, and perhaps decide to not watch it at all.  Great work.  Anyway, until then...


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FlashForward - "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps," Ctd Part II

Sorry for the delay in getting my thoughts up, but I had to use the excuse of celebrating a friend finishing the NYC Marathon so I could engorge myself at one of the finest family-style Italian eateries in New York.  Anyway, I thought this was a very important episode.  Not only did we finally get to see Simon in action, a major piece of the FF puzzle may have been revealed.  What was that?  Well, read on...

*The title sequence picture was of the skeletal Blue Hand on, what looked like, a building pillar or box (something rectangular).  Obviously, we learned later the Blue Hand had some significance, but I don't think we saw it in this location during the episode.  Is this a hint to another location in which the Blue Hand operates?  More on the blue Hand below.

*The title itself (besides the Halloween tie-in) comes from the same-titled song and album by David Bowie.  According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), the song "chart[s] a woman's withdrawal from the world and descent into madness."  Does this remind you of anyone?  Especially as it was playing during a certain FBI agent's chase of men wearing masks that are haunting his future?  Hmmmm.....

*I bet Dominic Monaghan was loving the fact that he got to portray a player.  Prior to FF, he had been primarily known for playing an at-times timid, but merry hobbit, and a druggie rock star.  To be able to play dangerous, mysterious, and to have a way with the ladies -- that's a pretty nice change.  Is he really a quantum physicist?  We have no reason to doubt him (besides being relatively shady and hanging out in the backs of cars); just seems a little odd.  It was, obviously, interesting that Simon was strangling someone to death in his flash; the guy certainly wasn't familiar.  The fact that Simon was "satisfied" by killing the guy is really of not much importance to me.  It doesn't tell us if Simon was acting for "good" or "evil," just that he was probably happy he wasn't the one lying on the floor.  Although, it does bring up one thing for me: it certainly appeared that the guy Simon was fighting was considerably larger than Simon.  To me, this means Simon has some kind of super secret spy agency training.  We don't know much about him, but Simon is quite an intriguing character.  It was interesting, though, that he said to Lloyd at the end that Lloyd "disappeared to L.A.," implying that Lloyd was running from Simon and their group.  Further, Lloyd mentioned that 20 million people dies from "our experiment."  Perhaps my Prediction that Lloyd and Simon aren't intentionally behind the blackout is incorrect.  We'll have to wait and see.

*What I can confirm, however, is that it seems that we do have my first confirmed failed Prediction.  After "White to Play," I predicted Charlie and Dylan would know each other because they were both kidnapped by D. Gibbons.  Turns out, they know each other because they are, at least, taking refuge at the Benford home, if not living there.  I thought it was a great piece of writing that Dylan kept repeating the line "It's my house too," only to find out that Charlie actually told him that in his flash (of course, when Dylan first said this, I thought he meant that his mother's house was "his house too.").  This whole reveal was crafted very well.  From Charlie and Dylan's Squrrielio handshake greeting to Lloyd's realization of where he was, it was probably the most well-created episode to date.  One question though, what was the deal with the passenger on the bus?  I mean, it was nice that he wanted to help Dylan and all, but didn't it all seem a little too emphasized for that character to just disappear.  I feel like either there is a deleted scene involving the passenger, or we will be seeing him again in the future (no pun intended).

*Speaking of the confrontation between Mark, Lloyd and Olivia, how freaking awesome was that scene?  Very awesome.  As it was dawning on Mark that Lloyd was the man from Olivia's flash. you could see Joseph Fiennes, oh so subtly, seethe right underneath his calm demeanor.  The controlled venom with which he spat his order for Lloyd to leave and his slight head turn away when he shook Lloyd's hand was perhaps Fiennes' finest moment of the series to date.  Likewise, Jack Davenport matched Fiennes' intensity as he thanked the Benfords for their "hospitality."  All the while, the camera cut back to Olivia and her trepidation over the whole encounter.  But was that also a hint of disgust with Mark's reaction?  A hint of admiration for Lloyd's handling of the situation?  Oh, I think so, and I think it directly led to...

*...Olivia's outing of Mark's drinking in his flash.  Yes, there was some circuitous arguing about "only hav[ing] this moment," and being "obsessed with what we saw."  This, from earlier in the episode when Olivia first saw Mark after his run-in with the Badass Asian Assassination Squad, was in direct contrast to Mark's blaming Olivia for her affair with Lloyd that hasn't happened.  These accusations, of course, were ridiculous, and only led Olivia to pry the truth out of Mark about his future drinking.  While I was glad that he finally did admit this to Olivia, his righteous indignation, culminating in him shouting, "Don't condemn me for something I haven't done yet!" was quite unbelievable.  I mean, it was believable for the character, I just couldn't believe he could be so hypocritical.  I didn't have to believe it for long as Olivia voiced the audience's thoughts asking him, incredulously, "Do you even hear yourself?"  The real dagger came moments later when she stated that they just don't trust each other anymore.  Ouch.  I understand that he drank in the past, but is she really willing to throw their whole marriage away based on a possible future occurrence?  It appears so.  I figure that this relationship will be one of the through-stories for the entire series, so I don't expect a resolution soon.  However, one question: do you really think Olivia, knowing all she does about the future, would still fall in with Lloyd in six months?

*The whole Blue Hand thing is very odd to me.  It's not odd in that it is implausible or anything like that.  I don't know, perhaps it's just that we haven't learned enough about the group yet for me to place them properly into the story.  It appears from the preview for the next episode that we will be learning a lot more about the Blue Hand, so I'll reserve judgment (for lack of a better word) until next week.  I do have a couple questions: 1) why was the one victim's hand painted blue (besides being a calling card of the group); 2) why do they seem to all be Asian; and 3) does D. Gibbons have any connection to the group?  This plot-line did provide John Cho with some nice moments.  I liked Demetri running hot after returning from D.C. and finding out that Janis was shot.  Now, I don't know how much of his anger and go-get'em attitude as based on what happened to Janis and how much was based on his own prophesied doom, but it was nice to see these moments from him.  Lastly, I like Al, played by Lee Thompson Young.  With the introduction of Rutherford (the guy whose passport was found by Al and Demetri, and whose case was referenced by Al in his flash), and his search for Celia, it appears that Young may become a series regular.  If so, his actions raise a couple questions for me: in Al's flash, 1) what is the significance of the bird flying into the window (was it a crow??); and 2) who was he on the phone with and why did the call make him look so disconcerted?

*Perhaps the most important scene of all, though, was Simon's description of the Schrodinger's Cat theory of quantum physics.  As Simon explained, in quantum physics, if a problem's solution is unknown, all possible solutions exist at the same time, until the moment the observer sees the revealed solution.  In Simon's words, "the observer decides."  He actually played on this earlier, by telling his lady friend that the "flash forward was caused by you."  In quantum physics, in a way, he is right.  This principle that all eventualities occur at the same time until the observer decides, I believe, is the secret to the mythology of the flashes themselves.  To me, now, the flashes are just one possible outcome of the future.  Each individual person can, and will, decide what their future will actually entail.  If true, this obviously has profound consequences for the characters and the series, as none of the flashes will necessarily come true.  Fortunately for us, we'll know on April 29, 2010.

Quick Hits:

*I thought this was a brilliantly directed episode by Bobby Roth.  It was so good that this was the first time I wrote down who driected an episode.  Roth also directed "Gimme Some Truth," and other shows, including two episodes of Lost: "Whatever Happened, Happened" and "The Man Behind the Curtain."  In "Scary Monsters," there was some great work all episode, especially the juxtaposition of Simon's Schrodinger's Cat story (will the cat live or die) with Janis' surgery, and the pan from Lloyd to the entering FBI team.  Great use of The Beatles' "Across the Universe" (although I'm not sure whose cover thate was).  The repeating line of "Nothing's gonna change my world," was perfect, and played in direct contrast to Simon's theory, and, of course, everything that has happened in the characters' lives since the blackout.  Awesomeness.

*Dylan was Flaaa-vor Flaaaaaaaav!!!

*OK, I'll bite, what the hell is going on with the kangaroo?!?  I've referenced this before.  There has to be some significance to this, right?  Right???

*I like the idea of there being a Times Square celebration like New Year's on the flash forward date.  Very cool.  I just hope they remember that the ball should actually drop at 1:00am on April 30, 2010, not the 29th.

*I guess I should mention something about Janis.  Although it seemed like we spent a lot of time in the hospital and with Janis, in actuality, not a lot happened with her (the B story focus was on Demetri, following our episode pattern).  She did, however, have surgery that will make it almost impossible for her to have children.  And she was really upset about it.  Which was weird, because, as she said, she "didn't even want a child."  What will this mean for her flash?  I have no idea.  Nice that Maya sent her flowers though.

*ABC, you have been showing us Simon taking off the Frankenstein mask (interesting choice, nay?) in the back of Lloyd's car for weeks now.  How is there supposed to be any suspense if you show us the big ending?!?

From my preview for the episode, I missed on Simon's explanation for the blackout (no tie-in to the Assassination Squad, Somalia or anything else...yet), totally whiffed on the Olivia/Mark/Lloyd confrontation, was sort of correct about Janis' epiphany that she may actually want a child, got half of the Demetri story right (he was the B story, but nothing to do with Zoey), and totally nailed Mark's coming clean about his future drinking and subseqent destruction of the Benford marriage.  3 for 6?  That'll get me to Cooperstown, so I'll take it!

Prediction:  The flashes are NOT the definite future, just possibilities.  Our characters will have the power to change them, which they will.  Slightly.

That's all my friends.  Again, I apologize for getting this up late.  I should be able to post this week's thoughts on Saturday.  Look for a preview of "The Gift" tomorrow.  Don't forget to check out Jay and Jack's FlashForwardCast.  As always, thanks for reading.

I'm off to put away my Obi Wan Kenobi costume.

Monday, November 2, 2009

FlashForward - "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, "Ctd

Hey folks.  I'm sorry, but I won't be able to get my thoughts on "Scary Monsters..." until tonight or possibly tomorrow morning.  I fogot my notes at home, so I won't be able to write them up until later.  I'm excited about it to because I think there was some really important stuff last Thursday (or tonight for my international readers).  Thanks for understanding, and stay tuned!