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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 7 - The Gift

28 March 2012

Synopsis: Al, Demetri and Mark head to a meeting of the blue hands, a death club for those with no flash forwards. They arrest the organiser of the meeting who insists that the future is set in stone. Al reveals that in his flashforward he had accidentally killed a mother and orphaned her children. He commits suicide to prevent that from happening and prove that the future can be changed. Demetri tells Zoey about what he really didn’t see. Nicole begins volunteering at the hospital and helps Bryce piece his vision together. Aaron gets a visit from Mike Willingham, a soldier who saw his daughter die. Then she appears in his house.

The Good: Well they finally did it and credit to them for that. The writers make a very big deal out of Agent Al Gough’s death, proving that the flashforwards won’t come true as people saw them. It was a very needed step and shows that the writers aren’t completely out of touch with how their story is coming across to viewers. Suddenly worlds of possibility open up allowing characters to see the flashforwards as their Jacob Marley moment rather than as their destiny.

The writers do make some effort to make Al’s story seem touching and tragic. By establishing him since the first episode as a regular character his death was a surprise and he certainly played his brooding sadness just fine. It was good to see him making his favourite food for the last time and extending an offer of friendship to the woman who shared the flashforward with him. It all built a sense of where he was going emotionally. As did the scene where they interrogated Raynaud who rubbed it in that their destinies were sealed and unchangeable.

In a nice touch Fiona fixates on the bird who crashed into the window in her flashforward. It was a mundane occurrence but when that is the vision of the future which you had, then you probably would fixate on it. She had become locked in to the feeling of helplessness over seeing the bird dying. A nice example of the little character sketches which the flashforwards can provide. Not all visions should be significant.

Elsewhere Demetri and Zoey had some decent dialogue which inched them toward looking like a real couple. I’m glad that she could tell he had been behaving differently since the blackouts. If they were really that close then you would expect her to. Seeing Aaron’s daughter alive in his house seems like a good development. The idea of him spending the next six months travelling around Afghanistan seemed a really dull idea when it was so obvious that she was alive.

The idea of the death clubs is a good one. Once more I like the thought process of the writers in working out how the world might react to such a traumatic event. The Russian roulette game to get in to the club made sense too, otherwise you assume lots of curious people would be showing up and poking their nose in.

The Bad: Unfortunately the show just can’t shake the feeling that everything is generic. Al’s death could have meant so much more if we knew more about him. We know literally nothing relevant about his life before the blackouts. Therefore we have no bond with him and his death is sad in theory but not really in practise. This brings out one of the major issues with the show’s characterisation. These characters are all responding to the flashforwards but not talking about the past. From the past is how we will learn who they are, we need to know their motivations, their goals, their history. Why was Bryce going to kill himself? How did Mark become an addict? Have Zoey and Demetri had to overcome prejudice to be together? Did Al have siblings, girlfriends, religious faith? Without knowing any of this these characters seem thin. They respond to only what’s going on in front of them and we have no real context to understand or sympathise with their reactions.

If Al’s flashforward and character had been better established then both his death and his participation in the roulette game could have meant so much more as dramatic moments. We also don’t know why he didn’t contact his attorney to ask about his flashforward. Maybe he saw the date of Celia’s death or the way it happened? If Al had put his story into Mosaic then maybe other people would have been able to piece together when the accident happened and why. Again more detail on who Al is might have covered for these seeming logic holes. His suicide can be seen as an overreaction too considering that just by taping the windows we know the flashforwards won’t come true as they were seen.

Adding to the unconvincing nature of the characters is their reaction to situations. Again Zoey brings up her vision but she doesn’t seem curious about it. Shouldn’t she be racking her mind to see if she can remember if she definitely knew Demetri was there? Similarly Corporal Willingham says he knows Aaron’s daughter was dead, yet his memory makes it clear that she could theoretically still be alive. Again it reminds me that no one is grilling Charlie about D Gibbons.

Although the death clubs were a nice idea, in reality it looked and felt unconvincing. The clubs were full of goth or shabbily dressed people torturing one another. Well you can imagine that sort of thing going on but wouldn’t a death club attract a more diverse clientele? Shouldn’t there be people who were there talking, arguing, drinking, having sex? Obviously there is only so much they can show us but the scene had again such a generic feel. The way everyone responded like sheep when the alarm went off and calmly walked to where they were supposed to felt weird. These clubs are meant to be secret and subversive, why does everyone know exactly what the alarm means?

The Unknown: We see Simon touching a necklace which says Annabelle. Who is she? How did Aaron’s daughter get home and is she missing any limbs?

Best Moment: The build up to Al’s suicide and the actual jump were pretty solid stuff. For a moment you thought they might wuss out and have Al not die so it was almost a relief to see him go.

Epilogue: The show continues to move in a good direction with its overall arc plot but the characters remain woefully underdeveloped.

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