Episode 13 - Blowback
30 March 2010
Synopsis: Zoey takes every step she can to prevent Demetri from being killed. She offers to represent Alda Hertzog in exchange and information on how to save him. Mark takes Lloyd to his house to walk him through their phone call. Lloyd admits that he knows who D Gibbons is. Agent Vogel sets in motion a plan to head to Somalia while Janis gets her fertility treatments started. Aaron confides in Mike that Tracy has returned and is living with him. She is soon abducted and Aaron takes out extreme measures on Mike and the head of Jericho to get her back.
The Good: This was a surprisingly good 'catch your breath' episode. After the orgy of revelations and developments in the previous episode it was nice to have so many logical and honest conversations between characters. In most cases it helped make those characters seem a bit more real and likeable.
Mark certainly gets credit for putting aside the emotion of walking his cuckold through his house to further his investigation. Both he and Lloyd overcome the awkwardness of their situation and share what they know. This leads to the setup for a trip to Somalia which should provide a nice change of scenery for the gang. I like little touches like Vogel talking about the shots they will need to take before they go or Janis pointing out the treaties they are breaking. They help add a nice veneer of reality to the investigation. I also liked Mark explaining that he had tried to quiz Charlie on what she had said about D Gibbons. That closed an annoying plot hole.
Janis' attachment to the child she was having in her flashforward is a nice piece of writing. Though it will never be fully explored in this show (I suspect) it is an intriguing idea. The emotional reaction she had to seeing herself and feeling pregnant and happy had had a profound effect on her. She is now determined to make that moment happen because she has already developed an attachment to 'that' child. Certainly the explanation of that emotional motivation helps us relate to her decision to go ahead and get pregnant despite not being in a rush to have children before the blackout.
The show still hasn't quite got what it takes to make viewers really care and bond to its characters. But I give the producers and writers credit for the efforts they went to with Zoey and Aaron. Unlike so many characters in so many dramas, Zoey does whatever it takes to save the man she loves. It's all so logical, she quizzes him, his partner, his boss, his suspect. She asks questions to try and find an answer, she uses her legal expertise to try and help him. It makes her seem like an intelligent, determined and loving person. He did well too, understandably being uncomfortable with her invading his world. But then accepting that her motives were as pure as possible and showing his gratitude. The decision to melt down Mark's gun is a sensible one and its disappearance could lead in many directions.
So to Aaron whose acting had been good enough so far to carry an ultra-gritty role in a show without the gravitas to match it. His reaction to hearing the news of his daughter's death was believably shattering. Thereafter his bitter determination to be a man of action was pretty good. I liked the way the flashback to him in prison helped explain how he could be so brutal with Mike while adding that layer of understanding to his prior experience with injustice.
The scene where he beat down Mike was strong stuff (see Best Moment) and fitted with the enjoyable part of the episode - seeing characters take logical and just actions to achieve their goals. The obvious injustice of what has happened to Aaron and Tracy make him a sympathetic figure. Seeing him head straight to the head of Jericho's house was an intriguing idea. It left you wondering if Aaron was making a beyond foolish decision or being the admirable 'man with nothing to lose.' I liked the way he used his job to gain access to the house and because he was able to put a bug on Erskine's phone calls I think Aaron came off well.
The Bad: As I say, Aaron's story is too gritty for this show. It feels like the plot of a major motion picture, with a man willing to break any rules to get his daughter back. I doubt Flashforward has the ambition to take it to the logical and brutal extremes that it ought to go. Certainly Aaron looked pretty foolish by confronting the head of Jericho rather than laying low. It's a constant problem on TV shows. If these huge evil corporations are really so threatening then shouldn't our heroes always die pretty quickly once they pose a threat?
When you think about it it's pretty funny that Jericho needed Mike as their spy to find out where Tracy was. Surely if they were looking for her then the first place they would have looked was her father's house?
Similarly dumb was Lloyd's refusal to give up D Gibbons' real identity. Why on earth would he withhold that information? As far as he knew Gibbons was just some fraudulent physicist, there was nothing which would suggest revealing that would have negatively affected anything. The writing just wanted to script Mark to get the information out of him through questioning.
The Unknown: I'm not going to pretend to understand the legalise which allowed Zoey to demand Stanford to hand over classified files for her to read. Or for her to use that information to get herself a job as Alda's lawyer. But it all seemed pretty convenient to say the least.
Who took Mark's gun? Was it the mole?
Best Moment: The build up to Aaron's confrontation with Mike was solid. I liked that Mike attempted to keep his cover by going for a burger with Aaron. I also liked that he implied he was being coerced into betraying Tracy. That seemed his likely motive after they had served together.
But this scene was all about how far Aaron was going to take it and it didn't disappoint. He seemed genuinely and understandably capable of crossing a line. His threat to break his arm and the way he stamped on his face was all appropriate violent coercion. I think it did a good job of making you sympathise with Aaron while injecting some good action into the episode.
Epilogue: A surprisingly stable and sensible episode. The key is for the show to work on two things right now. Making the characters and their interactions seem real so that we care about them. And making each episode feel significant so that viewers want to stick around for the next one. The show isn't beyond saving but it's a steep uphill battle.
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