Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NEW!: FlashForward 1:3 – 137 Sekunden

Overall: 7.5 – A somewhat weaker episode compared to the previous two, but still better than average.

Cut for spoilers.

Plot Synopsis:

In the Los Angeles FBI office, intelligence regarding the global blackout has begun to flood in from various agencies around the world. Most of the information seems pretty worthless – but when one agent comes across a report from Germany that claims that a Nazi imprisoned in Munich has requested to see Mark by name, Mark, who recognizes the Nazi’s photo from his flashforward, jumps at the chance to pursue the lead. Both Mark and Janis fly to Germany to speak to Herr Geyer, who demands that he be allowed to return to the U.S. in return for telling them what he knows. Janis is strongly opposed to releasing a known mass murderer based solely on Mark’s flashforward, but Mark’s curiosity is simply to strong, and, holding his nose, he agrees to a compromise – Geyer will reveal a little of his flashforward, which Mark will proceed to verify before closing the deal. Geyer, after stringing them along with a little Jewish numerology, tells them the name of the customs agent he saw in his vision. Back home, Demetri tracks down the young man in question, who confirms that he saw Geyer in his own flashforward. Geyer’s release is secured, after which Geyer informs Mark that on the day of the blackout, he saw all the crows outside his prison cell die. The information is apparently useless, and Mark curses the fact that he was played – up until he has an epiphany at an agency wake and decides to check world crow population numbers for the past year. Sure enough, on the day of the blackout, there was a massive – and global – crow die-off. He cross-checks and discovers that a similar die-off occurred in southern Somalia in 1991 – and that the local population reported a mass loss of consciousness in the same time frame. We then flashback to Somalia, 1991, where a young goat-herd witnesses a flock of crows suddenly dropping from the sky. Tracking the crows, he finds a village overshadowed by a smokestack that is emanating a mysterious cloud.

Meanwhile, Demetri reunites with his fiancée, Zoey, who is eager to share the details of her flashforward, in which she saw herself walking down a Hawaiian beach in her wedding dress. From what we see of the vision, the other figures on the beach are much too distant to accurately identify, by Zoey has concluded that it is Demetri she saw in her vision. Demetri says nothing to discourage this notion and agrees to an April 29 wedding date even as he continues to track down clues to his own murder.

Also: Aaron seeks out his ex to get permission to exhume his daughter’s remains – permission Kate doesn’t give. Aaron calls on Mark to push through his paperwork anyway, and the DNA test conducted this time around once again confirms that the person in the grave is Tracy. And Felicia, Stan’s wife, tells Olivia that in her flashforward, she saw herself putting a strange young boy to bed – a boy she later sees at an agency funeral.

Writing: 7.5

Some of the writing in this episode is a little too tell-not-show. We have, for example, a scene in which Stan observes that many people are living for the future, making decisions based on what will happen rather than what could happen – a speech whose point, while true, is already quite clearly illustrated by the actions of the principal characters and thus doesn’t need to be spelled out in words. Writers – take care to remember that your audience is quite capable of intuitively grasping larger themes without having their hands collectively held.

The use of a Nazi to symbolize ultimate evil is not especially original, but Herr Geyer still reveals much about Mark’s burgeoning obsession. In the meantime, we learn more about Aaron’s family life – mainly, that his relationship with his wife was and is rotten – and we meet Demetri’s fiancée, who innocently twists the knife for our Korean FBI agent. With these storylines, the episode does a still-solid job of both fleshing out the ensemble and maintaining the suspense despite its sometimes clumsy pontificating.

By the way: The flock of crows falling from the sky was a deliciously frightening touch.

Acting: 7.5

What a discovery! John Cho is actually a pretty funny straight-man. We also see strong performances from Gabrielle Union, Christine Woods, and the gentleman who plays Herr Geyer, who does an excellent job subtly conveying deviousness. Unfortunately, O’Byrne still does nothing for me – there’s simply not enough emotional and vocal variation in his delivery.

Message: 7.5

I think we can pretty safely say that if the future happens precisely as prophesied, it will be because a lot of people are running around trying to fulfill this possible future, not because our future is determined from the get-go. As my co-author wondered aloud, what would’ve happened had, say, Demetri turned in our bong-smoking future customs agent? I doubt that Jerome is important enough that changing his personal future would have had galaxy-shattering consequences – Q would interject here that not even Jean Luc Picard is that important – but still – the flashforwards clearly have inspired a touch of fatalism among many. This, the show seems to be saying, may be why God does not usually give us the privilege of knowing our future.

And speaking of God --

Wild Hope of the Week Which Probably Won’t Be Fulfilled: What if the characters ultimately discover that the mad scientists/terrorists behind the global blackout aren’t actually responsible for the flashforwards? What if the future flashes turn out to be a complete mystery, leaving open the possibility that God is somehow involved? Wouldn’t that be great? I think so – but perhaps that’s because I’m Catholic - and an Early Edition fan.


(The FBI agents at the Los Angeles office sift through the deluge of incoming data.)
JANIS: “I’ll see your ‘boring’ and raise you an ‘insane.’” (She reads from a file.) “‘The flashforwards were caused by a toxic gas that released from deep within the earth as a result of crustal rifting.’”
AGENT: “Great. So the earth farted and we all blacked out.” – LOL!

(After Demetri accidentally knocks over Jerome Murphy’s bong, Jerome tries to stammer an explanation.)
DEMETRI: “That’s okay – I know what a bong is.” – Hee!

(And later, in the same scene…)
JEROME: "Look, um, home slice? If I get tagged for this, that's it for me. They won't hire me with a drug bust on my record."
DEMETRI: (deadpan) "It does seem unlikely, yeah.” – Snerk!

STAN: “There are no words for this -- none that mean half a damn, anyway. The people we love are gone, and they're not coming back. And we'll miss them. But things are going to get better. The sun's going to rise on a new day. I know it doesn't feel like it will, but that dawn is coming. There's hope. One of the agents here repeated something that a friend had mentioned to him. And he said, 'We're all prophets now.' You know, I can't think of a prophet worth a damn that didn't suffer. And I also can't think of a prophet that God didn't love.” – Nice!

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