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.
*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.