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.


  1. When you meantion the Kanji behind the Japanese woman that Bryce was drawing, you make it sound as if Kanji is Japanese for "believe" (though, in your defense, so did the show). Kanji is actually one of three written systems the Japanese use. They are symbols the Japanese "borrowed" from the Chinese.

  2. Hey Anonymous. Thanks for he heads up. It totally seemed to me that Nicole said the character itself was kanji, and that kanji meant "believe." I should have done some due diligence and checked it out myself. Sorry about that. Do you know which character it actually was and what it meant?


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