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 nlap.us.com 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.
*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.