Episode 22 - Future Shock
8 February 2012
Synopsis: Stanford picks Mark up from jail and gets a call telling him that two bombs have been found at the FBI office. They race to the scene and Mark heads inside. The masked gunmen come looking for him but he kills most of them. In the meantime he finds out why Gabriel moved his string and discovers the time of the next blackout. Lloyd supplied him with the date thanks to Dylan writing out the formula and a chance text from Simon. Simon and Demetri make into NLAP but can't prevent the next blackout. Janis is taken to hospital and discovers she is having a boy. Keiko and Bryce find one another, Nicole is saved from drowning and Tracy wakes up.
The Good: I'm glad Lloyd found Olivia through her FBI tail rather than by more implausible means. I also loved the distraction which Janis' baby problems caused. Now there is a genuine dilemma which even the most security conscious guard couldn't ignore! I wouldn't be surprised to see that idea used in other drama shows at some point. I did like Demetri's relentless suspicion of Simon. A good FBI agent would be suspicious of a man who stole evidence and disappeared. I suppose Stanford using the toilet to his advantage instead of for a bodily function was a nice irony. The immigration guard asking Bryce for a bribe was pretty funny. It makes you wonder how many good ideas were squandered by the team who made Flashforward.
The Bad: Otherwise it was more of the same nonsense that led to Flashforward being cancelled. Long ago I predicted that the next blackout would come hot on the heels of April 29th. That's not because of any clues in the story. It's because the writers built the show around people's visions to an extent that never felt real. Sure we can't imagine how we would react if we got a glimpse of the future. But we do know from many a horrible tragedy that people endure, that life goes back to normal. The day after 9\11 people were back at work, life changed but it went on. In Flashforward it was so hard to relate to any of the characters when all of their behaviour was dictated by or revolved around these glimpses of the future. So naturally the writers were planning on building season two around another set of visions. I for one am glad I won't have to see them.
The worst offender has to be Bryce and Keiko's story. They only met because they saw themselves meeting in their flashforward. And that moment only came about because both went to extreme lengths to make it happen. It doesn't make any sense that that could happen, it's a paradox. Worse than that was the idea that both could be in love just from the memory of being in love. But what was that memory of? They had never met, their "love" was nothing more than euphoria at having found one another. Worse even that that nonsense was Bryce blowing off Nicole. All season he has been painted as Mr Nice Guy and now he tells her that he was never very interested in her. No he's really in love with a girl he knows zero about. Add to this madness was Keiko's mother deciding to help her daughter out at the airport. There's nothing quite as heart warming as the stereotypical patrician Japanese mother having a last minute change of heart and risking arrest and serious criminal charges just to push her daughter toward a strange foreign man she has never met but fell in love with from a two minute glimpse of the future. Classic stuff.
Then we have Gabriel the savant who somehow worked out when the next flashforward would be. But instead of blurting out to the authorities to save lives he created a very complex pattern of clues for Mark Benford to work out when it was already too late to alert the world. And to that implausibility, Dylan manages to solve an equation which has eluded the greatest minds in the world by pure chance. Nicole's drowning vision turned out to be incredibly pointless. As did Tracy suddenly developing a pulse after her foolish Dad and friends assumed she was dead.
Stanford looks like a moron for driving Mark back to the FBI office where he knows gun men will be coming for him. I wasn't too happy with Stanford not calling for backup once the bullets started flying either. I know there were bombs in the building but why risk his own life against men with machine guns when a hundred officers are standing outside? In general the big shoot em up sequence wasn't very memorable or tense as it became increasingly clear that Mark would Jack Bauer all his would be assassins. There should be no way he could survive the attack on the FBI but one suspects he would have been miraculously ok to begin season two had there been one.
I loved Aaron reminding Mark that ultimately we all have a choice. For Flashforward to try and preach to its audience about free will is as rich as irony gets. The show has built all its major plots around the future coming true and dictating the present. Aaron himself only minutes ago was insisting his daughter would live because he saw it happen. The show had no depth from start to finish.
The Unknown: The kangaroo came back, I guess we will never know what that was about. Lita was wheeling Janis off somewhere which seemed ominous. It also seemed like Charlie was having a flashforward very deep into her future. But hey, forget about it all.
Best Moment: I really did like the idea of taking an actual ill person (Janis) and dumping them in front of a security guard so he would be legitimately distracted. For years we have sat through unconvincingly easy break-ins in our drama shows. Now we know there is a better way.
Epilogue: A predictable, poorly thought out and uninspiring end to a season which matched that description.
A show like Flashforward does damage. It damages the chances of other sci-fi shows from being commissioned by major networks and that is a great shame. The next Lost may take much longer to arrive because of pale imitators like this.
I have discussed at length the flaws in Flashforward. The obsession with the future, the lack of real characterisation and all the silly details which were poorly thought through. But I will save my final comment for Mark Benford or Joseph Fiennes. I don't think I have ever seen such an unconvincing lead character on a show before. It shocks me that neither he, the directors or the writers realised that his stiff, extremely intense, awkward performance was hampering the show rather than helping. He never seemed convincing as a real person and that was a major factor in the show's lack of success.
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