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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 18 - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

8 February 2012

Synopsis: We see Janis' recruitment and various times when she has handed over FBI information to a lady in a fish store. We see her guilt and disgust over the blackouts and her original recruitment by Vogel to be a double agent. In the present she steals Frost's plans for a device which predicts blackouts but fails to destroy them all. Mark finds one of the QED rings hidden inside Frost's chess piece. Olivia and Vreede head out to the abandoned Raven River psychiatric hospital where Gabriel was experimented on by Frost. Gabriel tells her that she is supposed to be with Lloyd and that she is on the wrong path. Aaron arrives in Afghanistan and is taken to meet Kahmir.

The Good: Janis being a double agent is a twist which makes more sense than her betraying all of her friends for a few dollars. The structure of the flashbacks was good so as to show us a more complex picture that we might have imagined. At first it seemed like the story was pretty weak with Janis being foolish enough to betray her country simply for temporary financial security. But we then saw her guilt and tears over being a part of the blackout and perhaps an indication that she saw something else in her flashforward. Finally of course we see Vogel recruiting her to be a double agent. The connection to Vogel hasn't been exploited as perhaps it could have been so far but it will add another layer to their interactions from now on. The scene where Mark confronted Janis in his office and she had to lie her way out of being caught was suitably tense and fun to watch.

Gabriel's insistence that Olivia is an important part of the puzzle is intriguing. It appears as if she would have gone to Harvard, married Lloyd and been friends with Gabriel if it weren't for someone intervening. The Raven River experiments certainly add depth to our understanding of Dyson Frost and how he could have known so much about the future.

The Bad: Aaron's travels in Afghanistan were forgettable and clichéd. Any time a character is put in such vague danger and then equally vaguely rescued is going to reek of false tension. Real tension comes from the audience anticipating danger before it happens, not anonymous gunmen threatening a death which we know won't happen anytime soon.

Speaking of which the cliff-hanger that Janis is going to have to kill Mark doesn't really work either. We know Mark isn't going to die until April 29th at the earliest and this episode makes it clear that Janis wouldn't cross that line anyway. That's the trouble with Janis' flashback, it inoculates her from any real guilt. She is a double agent, so no matter what she does that is bad, she is really doing it for good. I appreciate that they showed her feeling guilty and trying to quit but ultimately the characterisation remained very thin. We don't really know much more about Janis than we did before. The flashbacks made it clear she has had a bit of a hard time but didn't have time to explore all the conflict, confusion and misery which such a situation would doubtless cause her.

As for Olivia being an important part of the puzzle. Well the problem with that is that we have no reason to care about Olivia. Beyond being a good mother and doctor and a somewhat unreasonable wife we don't know anything real about her. We haven't seen enough sides of her to bond with her or value her role in the show. Gabriel's revelations seemed like yet another attempt to justify her adultery. After all she was clearly destined to be with Lloyd and someone threw her off the right path, it's not her fault she finds him so irresistible.

It seemed odd that Janis went to Professor Corey with Frost's blueprints instead of running them past Lloyd and Simon first.

In general this was just one of those episodes which reminded you of the artificiality of flashforward. Aaron finds the right man and escapes a dangerous situation. Gabriel follows Vreede and Olivia to Raven River and escapes her FBI guard at her house. Janis knows Vogel already. They all seem such manufactured moments, there's no authenticity to the show. It's been one of the shows biggest weaknesses all along of course but something about these particular plots in conjunction made this episode feel bland and uninspiring.

The Unknown: Gabriel says "they can't solve it without you" to Olivia. Is that true, why and is that a generic 'they' or does he know more about who is trying to solve what? Janis' flashforward shows her discussing the health of her baby at greater length with her doctor. When asked whether she wants to know the sex of the baby Janis begins her answer with "Considering the circumstances..." Does she simply mean the circumstances of the baby's health or is something else going on?  

Best Moment: Janis lying to Mark's face, a tense moment.

Epilogue: This was a strange meeting of two of the shows issues. On the one hand the mythology side became increasingly complicated with experiments, double agents and Afghan operations. And to balance out such complexity the show needed something to ground it back in reality and make the characters seem real. But instead the whole episode felt bland and manufactured.



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