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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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53
/100

Episode 8 - Playing Cards with Coyote

28 March 2012

Synopsis: As the world learns of Al’s sacrifice everyone begins to question whether their vision will come true or not. Mark decides to take matters into his own hands when he kills a man who has the three star tattoo on his arm. Aaron believes in his vision and uses it to convince Tracy to open up to him. She talks of a military conspiracy. Janis begins to explore sperm donation. Simon and Lloyd play cards to see whether or not they should go public about their part in the blackouts. A whole cadre of men with the star tattoo are up to something.

The Good: Once more a few nice touches here and there are worth pointing out. I was very pleased to see Al Gough’s suicide as front page news. After such a global event people would be ravenous to hear stories of those who claim to have answers. Al’s sacrifice has a nice effect on some of the characters who begin to doubt what they saw. Janis’ vision has clearly wakened her maternal instincts and the emotions she felt are drawing her to fulfil her vision.

Where as Mark and Olivia take some out to celebrate the possibility that they won’t break up. It was good to see them try to reconnect and a really nice irony when his gift of underwear only made her doubt their relationship more. It wasn’t just that she was wearing the underwear in her vision that made the point well about their faltering marriage. It was his return home having murdered a man for simply having a tattoo. Essentially Mark killed a man because he saw in his vision a man with a similar tattoo. That sounds like a recipe for a guilt ridden man to hit the bottle one day.

I liked that Tracy was furious with her father for confiding in Mark. If she really believes a military conspiracy is trying to kill her then she should be paranoid. Aaron seeing the vision come true as a confirmation of his seemingly miraculous vision made sense. I also liked that Zoey suggested the obvious to Demetri, that he quit his job to avoid being killed. His reply was good too, why late fate kick him around and make him quit his career. He might get run over tomorrow anyway, why not go out doing what is right?

They are certainly giving Simon some snarky lines to deliver and as we knew already, he can do it well.

The Bad: If generic was my word of choice last week then sadly clichéd is definitely the word this week.

The final scene was pure unadulterated rip off. From the X-Files to 24 to Prison Break to Alias to Lost to Heroes…well you get the picture. Secret organisations and military conspiracies are so common on TV shows now that to face yet another feels like a disappointment in itself. Nor did the revelation that an entire group of soldiers wear the offending tattoo seem very shocking. It seemed obvious that Mark was jumping to conclusions and even more obvious that he is destined to sweat over his fate for much longer than eight episodes. But anyway, once a man carries the highly secret package of rings to a mysterious older man sitting alone in a dark building the rich cliché centre of this particular scene was truly apparent. He sat at an empty table with one light on him in the middle of a giant warehouse. Why? For “dramatic” or clichéd effect I suppose. Like all bad guys he then spit out a seemingly meaningful and clever historical quote and shot the man he was talking to. Yawn.

Still a cliché is a cliché because at some point it worked. What didn’t work here was the entire Simon and Lloyd plot. Card games are going to look clichéd after many a Casino Royale has entered popular culture. But to have one man constantly lose and then play a winner-takes-all hand makes the result about as predictable as the proverbial one legged man in an ass kicking contest.

Worse than their actual game though was the huge logic hole at the centre of their story. If their experiment did indeed cause the blackouts then they will be imprisoned for life. How could they not be? If you accidentally launched nuclear weapons do you think people would say “Well everyone makes mistakes.” No, Simon and Lloyd are looking at becoming prisoners for life and hated by millions whose lives have been destroyed. Yet they discuss revealing the truth as if they will soon be on chat shows discussing their wacky theories and basking in some kind of weird celebrity. The writers clearly haven’t thought this through because Lloyd has no intention of leaving Dylan to try his luck in a foster home.

As for Mark killing a man, well the plot just wasn’t engineered to take advantage of this dramatic idea. Only once Mark entered the building with his weapon armed did the direction make it clear what was on his mind. A different set of writers and certainly a different actor might have played up all episode long the conflict raging inside his head. But that didn’t happen and the feeling that he was killing an “innocent” man for his tattoo became all too apparent. I’m not sure what to think of him and Demetri now that they are washing their hands of murder. Again if these characters were better defined and showed us more real emotion then this story may well have been more compelling.

Aaron remains a bland and uninteresting character. To hand his unknown daughter a military conspiracy plot is going to be a tough sell for viewers to care about unless her character gets established quickly.

The Unknown: What were Jericho up to in Afghanistan? How are the US military involved? Who are the three star soldiers? Who is the man with the case of the rings? What are the rings for? Is the Detroit man wearing one of the rings? Is their a mole in the LA FBI office? If so, who is it?

Best Moment: Olivia looking at her underwear. No seriously. That moment conveyed the depth of her thoughts without needing any dialogue.

Epilogue: I don’t want to wade into conspiracies when I don’t yet care about these characters.

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