Friday, October 2, 2009

FlashForward 1.02: "White to Play"

“In my experience, fiancées aren’t really big on their grooms dying before the wedding. Ruins the first dance. Heavy corpse. Bad wedding etiquette…or something.”


Last night’s episode of FlashForward continues several plot threads that began in last week’s pilot. It isn’t an especially focused episode. In fact, as I was taking notes, I had a bunch of one and two sentence paragraphs because it was so all over the place. But it does reveal some tantalizing bits of information. There is plenty of creepy imagery, too. Especially if you’re afraid of dolls.

Although the very first images of the episode are kind of lame computer generated images of Earth, things soon get better. And creepier. “Ring Around the Rosy” sung by small children can be heard as we see the playground at Charlie Benford’s school. “Ring Around the Rosy” is an extremely appropriate song choice here. The song, despite its child-like lyrics, is actually about people dying from the Plague. It’s a nice juxtaposition with the kids at the school as they play a new game called “Blackout.” I’m surprised school personnel let the kids play “Blackout,” considering how much we generally try to shield kids from anything unpleasant these days. I’m also surprised that Charlie didn’t get in more trouble for hitting a kid who wanted to know what she saw during the flash forward and then running out into traffic.

After the stunt Charlie pulled, Mark and Olivia are, understandably, called to the school for a meeting. Mark is actually called away from his job at the FBI, where a Deputy Secretary from the Department of Homeland Security has arrived to be this week’s skeptic and reason to have the other FBI characters repeat what they already know about the ongoing mystery of the flash forwards. At the school, Charlie’s teacher tells Mark and Olivia that they really need to get Charlie to tell them what she saw because it is clearly affecting her. I have two words for Charlie’s teacher. Hell yeah.

Olivia takes Charlie out of the school for the day, and Charlie accompanies her mom to work at the hospital. There are military personnel guarding the hospital. Other than the clearly military helicopters we occasionally see flying over LA, this is one of the few signs we see on the show that there’s actually been a disaster. Olivia’s first job: stitch up Charlie’s favorite teddy bear that got torn in the school fight. I’m left wondering why, if Olivia tells a co-worker that “it’s all she can do to get out of the OR,” and she claims she doesn’t have time to visit patients, is she stitching up a toy? Lloyd Simcoe wants to know that too. He’s a patient’s father, and more importantly, the guy from Olivia’s vision. Olivia tries to brush him off. She tells him to talk to Dr. Varley (the formerly suicidal resident) instead. Olivia continues to dance around Lloyd for the rest of her shift. She takes Charlie for a walk only to have Charlie completely freak out when she sees that Lloyd’s son Dylan, who she knows by name, is hurt. Olivia also gives Lloyd some heartfelt advice on how to break the news of his ex wife’s death to Dylan, and Lloyd does indeed take that advice. I guess the writers are trying to show us the couple’s chemistry here. I’m not sure I buy it.

Back at the FBI, Mark and Demetri have an interesting argument when Demetri notices Mark’s friendship bracelet. Demetri takes the bracelet as a sign that Mark isn’t trying to stop the future seen in the flash forwards from happening. We see the men take opposing, but not entirely incompatible, views. Mark wants use flash forwards, and make some elements of them come true, for knowledge about the future that can be used in preventing it. Demetri wants to stop the flash forward future at all costs. As the men debate, they find out that D. Gibons, a name that is significant because it was on Mark’s conspiracy wall, has arrived at the FBI field office. She’s DeDe Gibbons, owner of a cupcake shop, and she comes bearing cupcakes. Her flash was of an unhappy phone call with her credit card company, where she was telling them that she didn’t care about pigeons and they should talk to Agents Benford and Noh at the FBI.

Eventually, the agents realize Dede’s credit card was cloned. Using “pigeon” and “Utah” as clues, they realize the significance of Pigeon, UT. Olivia shows up to the office, and she brings Charlie. She tells Mark what happened at the hospital, including that Lloyd is “the guy.” She doesn’t think Lloyd recognized her because he probably didn’t see her in the flash. I really do appreciate Olivia’s honesty here, and it kind of bugs me that throughout the first two episodes, Mark never reciprocates by telling Olivia that he was drinking in his flash forward.

Mark and Demetri go to Pigeon. This is where things start to get really creepy. They meet up with a local police officer who just so happens to have not seen a vision, just like Demetri. Mark recognizes an abandoned factory, and he, the police officer, and Demetri decide to go inside. The doll factory is seriously creeptastic. Somebody triggers an alarm that makes a sinister version of “Ring Around the Rosy” play. They find a random guy near a huge window and a countdown clock. The random guy says menacingly “He who foresees calamities suffers them twice over.” Shots are fired. Then there’s a huge ass explosion. As there tends to be in this sort of situation. The local police officer was killed in the gun fire, and Demetri isn’t especially freaked out by it.

While Mark and Demetri are off living a horror movie, the rest of the FBI crew makes two important discoveries. The first is that Suspect Zero from the ballpark is 5’8,” 150 pounds, and probably male. I’m wondering if that height and weight corresponds to a certain Lost veteran whose appearance in a few weeks I’m very much looking forward to? The other important discovery is that faux D. Gibbons, probably the creepy guy from the creepy doll factory, made a call to Suspect Zero thirty seconds into the blackout.

Late at night, Demetri and Janis are still at the office. They decide to put their stories on the Mosaic website. This pays off for Demetri in an unexpected way. He gets a call from a woman who read his post. She was reading an intelligence briefing that says he was killed on March 15, 2010. Beware the Ides of March, Noh!

Mark, meanwhile, is at home burning his friendship bracelet in the fire. After another frustrating conversation with Olivia, he goes up to Charlie’s room to kiss her good night. She wakes up. Charlie is confused about the flash forwards. She doesn’t understand what her vision could be warning her about. Mark asks what she saw. Her reply? “D. Gibbons is a bad man.”

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