Monday, October 19, 2009

NEW!: FlashForward 1:2 - White to Play

Overall Rating: 8.3

Building on the creepy-crawly edge-of-your-seat quality of the sterling pilot episode, the Mosaic investigation leads us through a very effective and suspenseful chain of clues which give us our first glimpse of the elusive D. Gibbons. What's remarkable about all of these early episodes is that they manage to push forward the personal/emotional character arcs for all or at least nearly all of the main characters every single week without the stories feeling scattered. This is an absolute CLINIC in ensemble script-writing.

cut for spoilers (anyone who hasn't gotten in on this show...GET IN NOW!!)

Plot Synopsis:

When Charlie Benford starts showing signs of instability at school, Mark and Olivia are called in to discuss the situation with a guidance counselor who recommends they get to the bottom of what she might have seen in her FlashForward. In the meantime, at the FBI office, agent Benford is running down the D. Gibbons lead when a woman named Didi Gibbons waltzes right into their LA field office and asks to see agent Noh. She's the victim of identity theft, it turns out - her business line of credit has been used in two completely different locations at the exact same time, leading a team of FBI to Pigeon, Utah. There, they meet the local sheriff - a woman who says she did not have a vision during the blackout - and set up a stakeout to try to catch D. Gibbons before he skips town. After hours of observation of the city bus terminal, they're about to give up on agent Benford's future-clue when they notice an abandoned doll-making shop which triggers a memory for Mark. On the Mosaic wall, he'd seen a photograph of a charred doll. When they move to investigate, they find the old store clearly inhabited, but riddled with booby-traps that tip off D. Gibbons to their presence. He waits for them to get close enough, utters a cryptic warning: "He who foretells calamity suffers through it twice," instigates a gunfight in which the local sheriff is shot and killed, and makes his escape, igniting an explosive on his way out. It's a dead end. Back at the field office, the agents post their visions on the Mosaic Collective website and almost immediately, agent Noh receives a call from a mysterious stranger - a woman who claims to have read an intelligence report during her FlashForward which indicates that he will be shot three times in the chest on March 15th, 2010.

Meanwhile, Olivia meets the father of her young patient Dillon Simco and is startled to realize that he's the man she saw in her FlashForward where her husband should have been. His name is Lloyd and he introduces himself. He's seeking advice on how to tell his autistic son that his mother has died. Without being callous, she makes every effort to get away from him as fast as possible - naturally hoping to protect her marriage. When Charlie spots Dillon in the hospital, she flips out and demands to know who hurt him - obviously she knows him somehow, and she admits to having seen him in her vision. Later, when Mark gives her a good night kiss, she awakes and explains her schoolyard outburst. She says she was mad that the other students were saying the FlashForwards were going to come true. Her vision was a terrifying encounter with D. Gibbons, who she says is "a bad man."

Writing: 9.5

As good as the pilot was, this episode was written even more tightly and demonstrated a higher level of skill. We had a nice mix of comic relief, high emotional drama, bone-chilling suspense and mystery working and the series is but two hours old! I just wanted to highlight a few of the great director's choices and touches that I thought really made this episode work. I don't know if my co-author was saying this at the same time, but during the stakeout in Pigeon, when the red out into the empty bus terminal (surrounded by snipers and completely away from any possible cover, no less) they chose to shoot it with a wide angle crane view and it just made me picture her getting shot from afar with Agent Noh looking on in disbelief. I said to myself "oh crap...she's about to die..." and then I spent the next ten minutes afraid of every turn around every corner, every opening of every door, etc. waiting for that shoe to drop.

The foreshadowing and trail of reminders about the impending future are omnipresent. I didn't notice it the first time I watched this second episode, but it was a nice touch to have Mark start a fire so he could burn Charlie's friendship bracelet - a symbol of his commitment to fight his vision and his wife's as well. I also love how they continue to give the creepiest lines to's an old horror movie tactic, but an effective one. "D. Gibbons is a bad man." YIKES!

I also appreciate their choice to show the FlashForwards multiple times, each time presenting them with a little more clarity and a little more attention to detail. Our first glimpse of Janis Hawk's sonogram seemed like a normal, beautiful moment for a pregnant woman...the second time, it looked more like a painful experience. The first glimpse of Mark's FlashForward, the drinking from his flask seemed like an afterthought, the second time around, it looked like a crutch he kept going back to over and over. The Mosaic board itself was never shown clearly enough in early viewings for the audience to get a feel for what was up there, but each time we see it again, more and more details emerge. It's really rather remarkable.

Acting: 8.5

Noh was a little flat in the pilot, but I think that may have been intentional...the first four episodes, when viewed in sequence show him becoming increasingly emotional as the shock created by the idea that he might be dead in six months is replaced by white-hot fear when his speculation seems to be confirmed. In the meantime, Olivia's interactions with Lloyd are already bursting with (dare I say it) CHEMISTRY...and oh yes...terror. And I can already sense that the pressure of his job is going to get to Mark and he's going to wind up hating himself for some of the things he has to do to track down the men responsible for the blackout. There's a reason he ends up back on the sauce and they're laying the groundwork for it even here (though more so in the next episode). The lesser players all did a fine job with the possible exception of Didi Gibbons - who, I must say, could have played a lot more hilariously than she was.

Message: 7.0

It's early yet, so it's difficult to tell with any certainty what master message is going to be sent by this season's episodes...I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and look for things to be positive about. I am impressed with how Mark and Olivia handle their shared FlashForward nightmare. They obviously believe that their marriage is worth fighting for. I do not know how many couples would still be able to have an open dialogue after something like this - especially when the "other man" suddenly enters their lives. I am also pleased to see the villain placed in the role of determinist. It seems to me that if you want to take something away from the second episode, it's that "fate" an enemy...and that the "good guys" will spend the next six months fighting to stop it.


MARK: In the meantime, we should run down what you saw.
GOUGH: There's nothing to run down, Mark.
MARK: If you were in a meeting, that means you must have been here. You had to have seen something.
GOUGH: I didn't see anything.
MARK: How can you be so sure?
GOUGH: (looks around, closes his office door and steps inches away from Mark's chest) OK, I wasn't in a meeting. I was having a bowel movement.
MARK: I'm sorry I asked...
GOUGH: No, asked, now you're gonna get the full blow by blow. It gets better! I was also in the Jon during the blackout. I hit my head on the door when I came to. And get this...Johnson was in there too. The poor bastard was drowning!
MARK: What'd you do?
GOUGH: What do you think I did? I gave him mouth to mouth. If you breathe a word of this...e-mail, chat, voice, blog psot, twitter, I don't care...I will ship you out to a cornfield at the ass-end of nowhere so fast your head will spin. Is that clear?

OK...that cracked me up so hard when I saw it...I must admit. :)

MARK: Either way, we need to make her see that you and I are OK. We are OK, right?
OLIVIA: Well, I met with my divorce lawyer this morning.
MARK: That's funny, I met with mine last night. - hee

LLOYD: How do you begin to tell a little boy that his mother is dead?
OLIVIA: However you do it, just make sure you tell him that you love him.
LLOYD: Is parenting really that simple?
OLIVIA: That's the only simple part. Take care, Mr. Simco. - Truer words were never spoken.

CHARLIE: Daddy? What happened at was because all of the other kids were saying the FlashForwards were going to come true.
MARK: Only the good ones, sweetie...I promise.
CHARLIE: If the bad ones aren't going to happen, then why did people have them?
MARK: Think of them like when you Mommy's driving and the light turns yellow. They're a warning.
CHARLIE: I don't understand my warning.
MARK: What do you mean, Charlie? Did you see something scary in your FlashForward?
CHARLIE: (nods...looks afraid to even say what she's thinking) D. Gibbons is a bad man. - ooooohhhh....creepy.

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