FlashForward – The Gift (S01E07), episode review

FlashForward - The Gift

Episode 7 of [[FlashForward (TV Series)|FlashForward]] could be a pivotal one for the series. There was a huge focus in The Gift on the aftermath of the flash-forwards and how people responded to them. As always with this show, the theme of self-fulfilling prophecy and whether destiny is already written come to the fore.

Let’s review the episode today by exploring the key themes? And naturally, there’ll probably be a ton of spoilers for those of you who didn’t bother to watch…

Already Ghosts?

For Mark Benford’s ([[Joseph Fiennes]])FBI team, there’s a trip to a Fight Club style gathering – a club of people who, like Demetri, have no vision of the future and assume themselves to be dead within the six months. The murders from last week’s show turn out to be suicides, and it doesn’t take our FBI chums long to work out that the ‘blue hand’ is a sort of suicide pact between the ‘ghosts’. Benford refers to it with customary constipated expression as “A book club…with bullets”. Benford, Demetri and Gough infiltrate the club and discover a torture chamber of sorts – people whose future is bleak and who invite torture, pain and possible death to distract them from their fate.

Very lazy of ABC to redirect their alreadyghosts.com to the FlashForward homepage instead of creating a tie-in property to really freak the viewers out. But hey, what do I know?

All of this has a profound effect on Demetri, who recognises the sense of alienation in his ghostly peers. After struggling with his feelings, and upsetting his delightful fiance, he eventually decides to embrace whatever time he has left. He also admits to his fiance that he didn’t have a vision, but she’s adamant that she saw their wedding. Although we still didn’t see Demetri’s face at the wedding…

Agent Gough

We got a great insight into the little-used character of Agent Gough. After some cute camaraderie between Benford, Demetri and Gough, we also got flashes that Gough felt he was responsible for a death in the future. WTF? All he knows is that he hasn’t committed the act yet.

As the investigation into the blue hand group continues – nice touch that the blue hand was using the Mosaic database to find members, BTW – Gough is clearly weighing up his options. In the initiation test to enter the club, he’s the first to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger – something that’s very alarming in retrospect.

Interestingly, as Demetri finally decided to engage with life, Gough decided to check out. His suicide would prevent the death of the woman in his flashforward and it would be the litmus test that proved the flashforwards weren’t set in stone (back to the central theme of the episode, eh?) And so, he pitches himself off the FBI building before his colleagues can do anything about it. Judging from the exploded skull on the ground, this probably isn’t a bluff by the scriptwriters!

I found this refreshing though. Last week’s shooting of Janis Hawk didn’t do much to persuade us that the future was changeable. Gough took the final, decisive action, and hopefully that’ll open the dialogue between the characters as to whether they’ve been right in just accepting their visions instead of questionning them.

The Benford Marriage

Relegated to a much smaller role this week than in Scary Monsters…, the Benfords are still struggling with their own perceived marriage breakdown. Judging by the body language between the two in the bathroom, Mark didn’t get any action the previous night. And could Olivia have looked any happier when Simcoe told her he was moving back to the Bay Area? Although I did detect a little bit of tension between them, and I choose to label it “sexual”.

However, Gough’s suicide seems to provide a hint that the marriage might be salvaged after all. If the future isn’t written, then presumably they can save their relationship. Well, assuming Benford can lay off the booze and Olivia doesn’t lay under Lloyd Simcoe.

Aaron Starks Not-Dead Daughter

There’s nothing more heartwarming than when a dead child returns from the grave. That’s what’s about to happen with Aaron Stark’s killed-in-battle daughter. However, first we have a sudden, deeply mysterious appearance of a former soldier who knew her in Iraq or Afghanistan or whereever it was that a rocket launcher blew her up.

Mystery Soldier comes along and gives Stark a penknife that he has seen in his flashforward, a symbol of hope that he’ll be reunited with his daughter in the future. But then the guy comes back to him and tells him not to get his hopes up, his daughter’s definitely dead. Because even if she did survive the rocket attack, her leg got blown off and there’s no way she’d be able to hop all the way back to base.

Then what happens at the end of the episode? Daddy Aaron walks into his house and who’s sitting there at the kitchen table like she wasn’t a corpse? Yep, little Tracy. And not a hint of rigor mortis about her. The way this part of the story played out was utterly unconvincing, and unless there’s some crazy conspiracy about to reveal itself, I’d question why Mystery Soldier decided to come forward with his gift of hope, then chose to tell Aaron “No, your daughter’s dead. It’s just a penknife, why’d you have to read so much into it?” And then said daughter suddenly reappears.

What a crock of shit in an otherwise tight and interestingly written episode.

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