FlashForward – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (S01E18) – Episode review

I’ve been off the FlashForward bandwagon for a while now, so I caught up with this week’s episode to see if it was still worth watching.

Knowing that [[FlashForward (TV Series)|FlashForward]] is getting a critical mauling makes it tempting to go with the flow and savagely rip the show apart. The thing is, I feel there’s sufficient mystery in the show to keep me engaged, even if I sometimes have to look the other way and pretend something ridiculous just happened.

This week’s episode is very Janis Hawk centric. We get – through a series of disorienting and out-of-sequence flashbacks – a big reveal that Janis is a triple agent. So, despite being led to believe that she was simply a mole within the FBI, it seems that she’s helping the CIA to watch the mysterious organisation that has her watching the FBI. Phew. That’s a lot of work. I hope the three pay packets are worth it.

Minor grumble: If Janice was feeding information to “Mysterious Agency, Inc”, but secretly working for the CIA, why did she want to quit Mysterious Agency the day after the blackouts? Surely she’d have spoken to her handlers at the CIA first?

In other Janice news, the fish shop lady who’s been giving her instructions orders Janice to kill Mark Benford. And she does it in such a throwaway fashion, like she just thought it up on a whim. Why kill Benford? Why now? What’s the point – we know he has a FlashForward, corroborated by Lloyd Simcoe’s FlashForward.

Wooly bending of the FlashForward rules

Flipping over to the non-event that is Aaron Stark’s package tour of Afghanistan, we see him driving with his guide. The said guide talks briefly about a FlashForward involving seeing his wife and child dying in a car accident which he survives. Then, they encounter a blockade and a number of gunmen open fire on them, presumably killing the guide. Um…so how’d you have a FlashForward then?

I grant you, maybe the guide was simply wounded by that shot to the chest. But the gunmen proceeded to spray the van with bullets while Stark hid behind it. I’m guessing the guide in the front seat took quite a few additional bullets.

Why’s this relevant? People who died before “the event” didn’t have a FlashForward. Duh.

Funny autistic Sylar moments

James Callis plays the strange autistic Gabriel, a man who follows Olivia Benford around with weirdly accurate ominous warnings. Here’s a funny thing though – if I described a dark-haired man with thick-rimmed glasses, stubble and a cap pulled low…called Gabriel…I’d be describing Sylar from the first series of Heroes. But with autism.

It’s unintentional, I’m sure, but it’s hilarious that no-one spotted this glaring similarity. I wonder if he can lobotomize people with his index finger.

The appearance of Gabriel feels like a clumsy way of giving Olivia Benford some relevance to the future of the show other than being Benford’s long-suffering wife. She’s the key to the future. Blah blah blah.

Anyway, to sum up, FlashForward isn’t nearly as intelligent or compelling as the series concept promised in the beginning. And yes, it totally feels like they’re making it up as they go along. Bending and breaking their own rules at will. And it’s the grimmest show I’ve ever watched. Nobody’s having fun, nobody’s smiling. But…switch your brain off, and it’s a decent hour’s worth of escapism. It can be totally ludicrous at times, but maybe what the show needs to do is work in a tongue in cheek knowingness to acknowledge how outlandish it all seems. Because watching some of those poor actors delivering their lines with straight faces is one of the funniest parts of FlashForward.

10 Comments

  1. tomalak

    No, Mark can still die. The guide can also die despite having had a flash forward.

    Why?

    Because the flash forwards were glimpses into possible [probable?] futures, not dead-set ones. This has been covered pretty explicitly on the show. An FBI agent who had a flash forward committed suicide early on in the season to introduce this point and let the fictional world know that their fates are not fixed, and Demetri Noh (who knew he’d get killed because he did not have a flash forward) has now been saved and is likely to stay saved. And pretty much the entirety of last week’s episode dealt with the concept of multiple possible futures, forks in the road, and how many variations Frost had witnessed in his many early flash forwards.

    So, no woolly bending. Perhaps you should re-write this article now that you know that most of your premise — the writers making it up as they go along and breaking their own rules — is complete rubbish.

    I think I have a pretty solid prediction for the next few episodes; we know that on April 29th, Benford’s daughter overheard Vogel saying that Mark was dead. We also now know that Vogel is handling Janis as a triple agent, and that Janis has been ordered to kill Mark. Now of course, she cannot do this; I reckon she and Vogel are going to come clean to the Mosaic team, and together they’ll fake Benford’s death to bring the bad guys out of the shadows and to protect Janis’s cover within their organisation.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Hi Tom. Thanks for your comment.

      I’m going to point you to the top of my review where it says I’ve been away from FlashForward for a little while. Clearly I’ve missed some important stuff. Big pain in the ass when shows go on holiday for such a long time and you miss their return episodes!

      I’m interested in your closing theory though – and that would explain why Vogel was written into the Mosaic team: as a closer contact for Janis and perhaps specifically for this fake death. Still, I’m more interested in Olivia Benford’s storyline than Mark’s right now. I mean, if Gabriel is right, and she’s meant to be with Simcoe, how much damage could it do to the universe if she made a different decision?

    2. Gerard McGarry

      If the FlashForwards aren’t absolute, if they don’t reflect what’s going to happen in the future, isn’t it a bit of a bust?

      I mean, surely the concept of the series being that people got a glimpse of their future lives – isn’t it making the point that the future isn’t set in stone? If the future events can be changed or avoided, doesn’t that detract from the poignancy of the flashforwards in the first place?

  2. Crystalclear

    Watch that part again. The guide says he and his wife and daughter were in the car and they blacked out .  Then he goes on to say something about what good is a future without his family. Im pretty sure he is describing what happened on the day of the black out , not his flash forward. Maybe thats why he agreed to help Aaron, because he knew he was going to die soon anyway? Seems like he didnt really care.

     In response to your question ,I think one of the interesting things about the show is the premise-will your Flash Forward  happen if you didnt already see it?  Would Janice have become pregnant otherwise? Seems unlikely given her  lifestyle  It appears that  Dyson/Frost discovered there is still the possibility of multiple futures, and he was trying to control which one happened, at least for him.

    Im really hoping this show makes it another season, but Im probably in the minority.

     

     

     

     

     

  3. Justice1954

    1) The guide in the car does not talk about his flashforward. He says that during the blackout, he was driving with his wife and kid. The car crashed when they blacked out, and the wife and kid both died. He then goes on to say that it doesn’t matter what he saw during his blackout, because a future without his family is not worth living. There’s no reason to believe he saw anything … which would make sense, cause he done died.

    2) The episode previous to this one does make it clear that the future is not set in absolute stone, but Dyson Frost, who was studying the FFs more closely and apparently knew more about them than any other character we’ve seen on the show, had discovered that certain futures were far more likely than others (I don’t remember the exact percentage, but he says that in 76 percent or so of future timelines he has researched, he and Demetri both die on March 15.) Likewise, Special Needs Baltar says that in ALL the timelines he has seen EXCEPT for this one, Olivia is romantically involved with Lloyd and not with Mark. Finally, Frost discovered than ALL potential timelines concluded in on a date in late 2016 and nobody ever saw anything past that.

    So the idea is not that there are an infinite amount of possible futures, but a finite amount, some of which are more likely than others, and all of which resolve in the same overall conclusion. I think this is pretty good from a dramatic-storytelling point of view. It’s too bad that it seems very unlikely FF will get to tell its whole story, cause it seems like it has a decently-plotted out idea of where it’s going.

  4. Gerard McGarry

    @crystalclear and @Justice1954: Thanks for clearing that misunderstanding up! The way I’d read it, Stark had been asking what the guide had seen. I think he said “What’s your story” or something and I’d assumed that he was asking about the guide’s FlashForward, since that’s a common question in this series.

    Your explanation makes a lot more sense from the point of view of the story!

    I could probably get down with the idea of multiple timelines and multiple futures. And the idea that your FlashForward can influence your decisions so that you end up working toward the FlashForward that you saw.

    Hey, if any of you fancy blogging next week’s episode of FlashForward, there’s a blog facility here on Shout for all our users. It might be fun to have a few FF fans reviewing the episodes alongside me to get a feel for all our opinions!

  5. Rosie-Lee

    So, here’s the thing.   The End …. 2016

    Does this mean I have to watch Flash Forward until 2016 to get what’s going on?

    And, let’s face it, if futures can change in the FFs, you can do just about anything you like with the programme.  Cle–ver.

     

  6. Crystalclear

    Welll…

    I watched an interview at the beginning of the series, ( wish I had saved the link) where the original writer said he had actually written out the entire story – that would end in 6-7 years? ( 2016 sounds about right).  So if the show lasts all those seasons I would say yes, thats when the final conclusion would happen. Sadly, Im not sure that will happen, so they will probably have to make some alterations depending on how many seasons we get.

     

    1. Rosie-Lee

      Thanks Crystal.   I guess as these Flashforwards get more sophisticated, the world will be flashing forward by years, rather than months, so Dyson Frost must have seen what was going on in 2016, but did he write The End, meaning it was as far as he got, or did he mean the end of the world?  And could it ever mean the end of the world because the future is not set (Sarah Connor where are you when I need you?).   Oh my poor brain.

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