Sorry for the delay on the recap, but as I said, it was a busy day at work yesterday. Anyway, here I am on a miserable day here overlooking midtown Manhattan, reflecting on a great episode of FlashForward, "A561984," the fall season finale. As we found out yesterday, FF will not return with new episodes until March 4, after the Winter Olympics. With such a long layoff, there will be no reruns once the show returns, which is a good thing. However, that means three months have to pass before casual viewers can see the show again, which is a bad thing. The show's numbers have been dripping downwards since its premiere, and reached their lowest levels during this past episode. Will casual viewers wait three months to see the show again? One would think, then, that the fall finale would include a major cliffhanger to pique the audience's interest for those three months. Do I think the actual episode did? No. Did the three-minute preview for the back half of the season? Oh yeah. I'll talk about that preview next week where I normally write a post about the upcoming episode, but first things first. Here are my thoughts on "A561984":
*The title credits picture was the words "Help Us" written in what seemed to be blood, on a cheesesteak menu or sign. Now, I will fully admit that I was watching the show at midnight after working all day and until 11:45p, but I don't remember seeing "Help Us" anywhere during the episode. Usually the placement of the title picture is rather obvious during the episode itself, but I didn't see it. Did anyone? What is its meaning, both to the story and on a meta level? Should we as the audience be clued into something by the fact that the picture wasn't in the episode? I'll have to watch the episode again.
*The title refers to the serial number on Mark's gun: the gun that, according to Nhadra Udaya (the woman who warned Demetri about his impending murder, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo) is used to kill Demetri on March 15. This obviously, seems highly unlikely because why would Mark kill his partner? Mark even asked this very question, but was given no answer. She said that she feared too much information might bring about unwanted circumstances, but what are the circumstances? Doe she want Demetri to die, so that something else will still occur, or vice versa? What is the "incident" she seems so worried about? Could it be THIS ONE?!? Likely not, but what game is Nhadra playing?
*Chess, it looks like. We saw her later with The Chess Player, aka D. Gibbons. The file the FBI had on Gibbons referred to him as "Deacon," but didn't vocally reference him as such. Production error, or is that Gibbons' name? Regardless, we do now know that D. Gibbons and The Chess Player are one and the same. We saw in Nhadra's office that she and Gibbons were building their own version of Mark's bulletin board. Back in my recap for "White to Play," I scoffed at one of the characters' suggestion that D. Gibbons was seeking an explanation for the blackout. Now though, as he is clearly aligned with Nhadra, perhaps he is. It got me thinking that while the FBI is investigating the cause of the blackout, perhaps Gibbons and Nhadra are investigating a result of the blackout. In other words, perhaps they saw something that will occur on April 29th that seems impossible, and they are trying to discover the circumstances that lead to that event, otherwise known as "the incident."
*Speaking of the blackout, we actually had the follow-through of Lloyd's poker victory. Surprisingly, Simon allowed Lloyd to announce to the world that their experiment was the cause of the blackout, even though Simon wasn't so certain. As scientists at the National Linear Accelerator Project (the origin of the nlap.us.com e-mail address), Simon and Lloyd were trying to recreate the Big Bang using a particle collidor, a copy of the experiment currently being conducted by CERN (for more info on the experiment, read here). An unintended consequence, as Lloyd explained it, was the blackout and coinciding flashes. Well, obviously, people were a little upset about that, to the point that one woman stole a security guard's gun and shot at Lloyd.
(Can I pause here to say, there is no way in hell that wooden podium was going to stop a bullet. Lloyd was directly behind where the shot hit. Why can't a crazy woman grabbing a gun and shooting wildly just miss? That would be way more believable than the podium stopping the bullet. OK, rant over. Thank you for your time.)
*Whether it was the audience's reaction, the gun shot, or just his desire to escape liability, Simon was adamant that NLAP's experiments were not responsible for the blackout, declaring to Lloyd that it was now "war between us" (which reminds me of Raoul's similar declaration to the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (sorry, my wife has been in the show for a combined five years and will be returning to it in the New Year)), and he was going to prove it so. He went to the FBI to assist in finding the true cause of the blackout. We learned that the towers built in Somalia in 1991 are actually super-lasers used to amplify radio waves. Problem was, Simon created the towers...in 1992! Uh, what the what?! The only explanation I can come up with involves the Many-Worlds Theory Lloyd told Olivia about later in the episode (illustrated with the idea that Olivia was supposed to live in the building Lloyd's eventual wife did at Harvard). As far as I can understand, Many-Worlds Theory states that every possible outcome of every possible situation co-exists simultaneously in an infinite number of universes. Possibly, someone involved in the blackout conspiracy found a way to see into one of the other universes, and bring the laser technology back into this world. Heady stuff, I know, but do you have a better theory?
*I guess I should mention the Olivia/Lloyd situation. After his announcement, Lloyd was persona non grata around L.A. As a result, he thought Dylan wouldn't be safe, and wanted to move him to another hospital. Olivia agreed to help him and called in a favor at a children's hospital. As soon as I saw the EMT's who were there to transport Dylan, I just KNEW they were bad guys. I'm sure I wasn't the only one, but one question: if the EMT was so blase about killing a security guard, why not Olivia? He just hit her (don't you harm Sonya Walger!). Why leave witnesses? Bad bad guys!
*Why did Mark keep protecting Demetri? He took all the heat from Wedeck, put himself in danger with Nhadra, and took on the CIA agent in Hong Kong, which led to his being fired (and Wedeck's great line about "pooch screwing"). It was almost as if he was trying to get fired. Does he think that if he no longer works for the FBI he can't be in his office on April 29th? Something to keep an eye on.
*Wow. Janis has got baby fever! She wants that kid and wants it now. Liked her line about being "super gay." Nice moment of levity.
*Either Simon or Lloyd stated that they could not be charged with a crime because they were just conducting a science experiment. I'm not saying it's definite, but I'm pretty sure they could be charged with criminal negligence. They did kill 20 million people (as we keep hearing about).
*I thought the whole Zoey/Mrs. Noh storyline was filler. Yes, Zoey did finally realize what we've suspected for a long time: namely, that her flash did not show her at her wedding with Demetri, but rather his funeral. There was a touching moment where Mrs. Noh admitted that she was staying away from Zoey because she had the same flash of Demetri's funeral, but otherwise, I didn't feel it moved anything forward, as opposed to the rest of the storylines.
*I dug Hong Kong CIA agent Marshall Vogel, played by Michael Ealy. He, interestingly, said that he has "nothing to lose." What that means, I have no idea. But I liked his attitude so I hope he shows up in future episodes. I thought I saw him in the extended preview for the second half of the season, so it appears we may be seeing more of him.
*Thought the opening scene of Mark watching A Christmas Carol, specifically the scene where Scrooge is pleading with the Ghost of Christmas Future. Nice metaphor for Mark's deep desire to change the future he has seen.
From my preview for "A561984," I was way off on the meaning of the title (it wasn't a date, obviously); the show did accelerate the action in creating some momentum to get us through the next three FF-free months; the public did not take kindly to Lloyd's admission at all; and I nailed the fact that Olivia was going ot help Lloyd with Dylan (as if I was out on a limb there!); and we did get a huge reveal concerning Nhadra -- she's working with D. Gibbons!
Prediction: Nhadra and Gibbons will cause a second blackout to avert "the incident."
So there you have it folks. No more FlashForward until March. The story moved apace, and although I may not have been overly effusive above, I really enjoyed both how the plots developed and the speed at which we are moving now. I can't say I'm eagerly awaiting the answer to a cliffhanger (like, say, where/when the hell are the Lostaways), but the overarching mystery has been pretty perfectly pitched so I am jazzed for the return the show this spring. I just hope others are coming along for the ride. Doc Jensen of EW.com, he of the famous Lost recaps, has begun recapping FF. His first theory-filled recap can be found here. I'm eager to read it myself. Remember to check out Jay and Jack's FlashForwardCast as well. Lastly, if you are Twitter-inclined, I can be found at twitter.com/MikeNJD. If you have any thoughts, theories or questions, please post them in the Comments sections below. As I said above, I will post some thoughts on the mega-preview that appeared at the end of the episode next week. During the hiatus, should any FF news appear, I will post on that as well. Of course, there is plenty of TV and other entertainments (and sports, and politics, and other stuff) to talk about, so make sure you check the blog regularly for more Entertaining Thoughts. Thank you for reading.
I'm off to purchase a lucky Chinese cat.