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FlashForward

FlashForward is a drama based around an incident where everyone on Earth loses consciousness and sees a vision of their future. ABC 2009-2010

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Episode 3 - 137 Sekunden

28 March 2012

Synopsis: Demetri is told he will be shot but no more. As Mark wades through intelligence reports he comes across one from Germany which mentions him by name and he now remembers was in his flashforward. Mark and Janis head to Munich and agree to free former Nazi Rudolf Geyer. Aaron has his daughters remains exhumed but testing says it is her.

The Good: This episode contains the first hints that perhaps FlashForward could provide the kind of television which its premise demands. A former Nazi takes advantage of the chaos to play mind games with the FBI and secure his release while we see a distinctly supernatural looking incident taking place in Somalia. Together these incidents take the story in interesting new directions and should encourage viewers to stick around and see the plot thicken.

The story of incarcerated Nazi Rudolf Geyer is a really interesting one. While not quite brilliant television it certainly has plenty of good elements to it. First and foremost is that the story is simply a set up to provide Mark with the clue he needs to find out about the Somalian incident. Essentially all the time spent with the Nazi is not important to the plot. This is the type of story which television shows need more of. Not all episodes should involve stories with direct relevance to the plot. Anyone who has watched a lot of 24 knows how draining and straining this can become. A lot of police investigations are bound to follow seemingly irrelevant leads and so the writers needed to make this story interesting in itself.

And this they largely succeed at. They are helped enormously by the casting of Curt Lowens as the ageing Nazi. In his brief screen time he gave Joseph Fiennes a lesson in projecting a personality and displaying authentic emotions (see Best Moment). His sure footed and creepy performance made his scenes eminently watchable. But credit the writers for how they dealt with his scheme to win his freedom. Amidst the chaos it would be natural for plenty of people to try and take advantage of the situation. So naturally Geyer’s claims look very suspicious and the frustrated warden Krieger played his role well to give a sense of the anger which his freedom would arouse.

The suspicion was joined with a very welcome bit of moralising from Janis who points out all the reasons why Geyer should not be freed. Mark of course follows his vision and that too is rightly questioned as the arbiter of the dilemma. With all the implications, moral and flash-related taken into question the plot keeps you guessing. Geyer’s intriguing Kabbalah explanation delightfully turned out to be as spurious as it sounded and the old criminal got to grin about his success once more. That sense of being duped was nice because it again added to the feeling that the world was in an uncertain state and that that uncertainty was helping to create the future which Mark is trying to prevent.

This end to the story was good too, giving us the huge visual of a symbol in the sky over Somalia in 1991. Essentially for any viewers who were turned off by a plot which didn’t seem to get us very far, here was the antidote.

Elsewhere we meet Demetri’s fiancée Zoey who intriguingly thinks he is alive and marrying her in her flashforward. There are also more attempts to give a sense of the destruction which the blackouts caused. Stanford prepares and delivers a eulogy for all the officers in his department who died which was good to see. There was a tremendous shot of a devastated airport followed by a nervous CEO being forced to fly in order to keep business going. It looks like the show doesn’t intend to focus on the blackouts but at least these scenes provided a bit of effort in that direction.

The Bad: The most difficult part of FlashForward’s concept at the moment is the idea that the future will come true as people saw it. Now that everyone seems to be accepting that what they saw was their future, someone would, I repeat would, prevent it from happening. With billions of individuals realising that they had seen their future many a problem springs from the idea that they will now all live out that moment as they saw it. For a start surely everyone would now be on the lookout for that date and time to see whether anything strange would happen. i.e. in their flashforward itself, wouldn’t they have been aware of having seen this moment before? But ignoring that, many people would follow Mark’s idea of burning his friendship bracelet. Someone would do something to make sure the future couldn’t happen the way it appeared to them. Murder, suicide, mutilation, vandalism, take your pick, any one of these would be occurring across the world as desperate people tried to prevent their own future from coming true. The show needs to establish that the flashes won’t come true as seen.

Otherwise this episode presides over some missed opportunities. Demetri’s reaction to Zoey’s flash is all wrong. Again for the third episode in a row he seems to be jumping to conclusions. Although we see her staring at a distant groom, she doesn’t mention that when she describes it. So he appears to be a moron for not asking her point blank if she saw him alive and well. So what was she doing? Marrying someone else? Had she not been informed of his death? It wasn’t clear if he knew what to think or why he lied to her as a result. If he thought maybe she was marrying someone else then he wasn’t scripted to act that way.

Another missed opportunity was the moral dilemma Demetri found himself in at Jerome Murphy’s house. The prospective customs officer had a bong in use and a drug bust would ruin his chances of getting the job. Here was a chance for Demetri to change the future and therefore maybe, just maybe avoid his own death coming to pass. He chooses not to because he is a nice guy and doesn’t want to make Jerome suffer to benefit himself. But that part of the story is simply implied and not drawn out. If the producers intend to show the future happening as it was seen then this needed to be a monumental scene. It would have marked Demetri out as a man of great moral virtue if he had put someone else’s career before his own needs. Instead the moment passed without comment.

Mark once more is all intensity and no emotion as he deals with Geyer. The writing and his acting don’t really take advantage of the moral dilemma he is in. While Janis shows admirable personality and morality he falls behind clichés about taking a leap of faith. It’s hardly a leap of faith now that D Gibbons has confirmed his flash was not a dream. That scene was crying out for Mark to break down and admit his drinking and marital issues and convince Janis that he had every good reason why he needed to free the murderer.

Mark also looks slightly strange for not asking his daughter for more information about D Gibbons. Surely he needs to ask her for a physical description and any other details at some point?

We meet Stanford’s wife who has a vision of herself adopting a boy. As it seems Olivia will be semi-adopting Dylan, it sounds a little like overkill. And as if the parental emotions weren’t being strained enough we have Aaron tracking down his ex-wife to tell her about what he saw. Like Mark, Aaron really isn’t showing enough personality and there was something unconvincing about the parental argument over their daughter’s death. Such a tragic issue would require a lot more convincing emotion on both sides.

Perhaps most odd was Aaron’s advice to Mark to do whatever it takes to protect his family. He couches this shaky moral advice in the context that since the blackouts the “rules” have changed. As Aaron is Mark’s sponsor and meant to hold him accountable for his behaviour, such seemingly reckless advice just sounded odd. He then got Mark and Demetri to break the law in order to help him which also went unremarked upon.

The Unknown: Obviously the crows and Somalia. Once more the issue of Nicole the babysitter comes up. What did she see and where is she? If Aaron’s flash is true then who faked his daughter’s death and why?

Best Moment: There’s something wonderfully creepy and different about the Geyer scenes. They are filmed in a dark room with the light focusing on the old smiling face of evil. His gentle German accent and twinkling smile give him an extremely watchable visage. The writing is strong enough to make him look like he is playing them and telling the truth at the same time. He begins to tell them about the 137 seconds with reference to his time in concentration camps. He looks like he enjoys the sound of his own voice and the story he is telling. Janis, disgusted by the old man interrupts and asks “Is this going somewhere?” He gives a frustrated smile and turns to her, changing tack effortlessly to bring her into the conversation. That frustrated smile was the best moment. Somehow so convincing, so real and also just a part of the script. Sometimes those moments stay with you and remind you why you love this particular art form.

Epilogue: The mistakes and missed opportunities continue to pile up but this is a good episode in many ways. The investigation holds the attention well and gives you hope that the show could become very intriguing.

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