Sunday, November 15, 2009

FlashForward 1.08: "Playing Cards With Coyote"

“Twenty million deaths on our shoulders. Isn’t that what you said? If that doesn’t qualify us for Godhood, tell me, what does? Let the games begin!”


The latest episode of FlashForward attempts to, once again, juggle several of the show’s many ongoing plots, and it succeeds with some of them more than others. Gough’s death has affected everyone. All the characters are now reevaluating whether or not the future they saw (or didn’t see in Demetri’s case) will definitely happen, and some take very drastic actions to try to change the future for themselves. The “butterfly wings and hurricanes” concept is always an interesting one to ponder. Can any single action, be it killing a person or simply throwing out some lingerie, sufficiently change the future so that the painful potential future events that worry many of the characters won’t ever happen?

We again start this episode with the now infamous “Letter to Celia,” narrated again by the now late Al Gough. Demetri did his job, and Celia has now received Als’s letter. This opening seemed to be more for showing a plot point than creating any emotional impact, however. Instead of the beautiful, artistic openings I’ve come to expect from the show, we simply learn that Celia took Al’s letter to the press, and now “The Future Can Be Changed!” is plastered on newspapers throughout the country. It’s a good explanation for all the characters, even those who aren’t FBI agents, to be thinking about changing their future, I suppose.

There is one particular sign that life at the FBI is returning to some sense of normalcy- Janis has returned to work. Wedeck seems strangely close to Janis now. He seems to take every opportunity to make gestures such as touching her on the shoulder. Given Janis’ preferences, I’m sure it’s not supposed to be construed as harassment, more like fatherly concern, but it’s still odd and slightly awkward, and it stood out to me. Janis doesn’t really want to go back to work yet, but Wedeck gives her no choice. He encourages her to not let discussion of whether or not the flash forward future is set in stone influence her thoughts on whether or not she truly wants to bring a baby into the world. By the end of the episode, Janis is Googling “sperm donation.”

Olivia and Mark are celebrating their possibility of a second chance at a beachfront condo when Mark gets an important phone call from Demitri. A woman shot video on her cell phone of a man getting shot in an alley. What makes the video especially important is that the man doing the shooting had three stars tattooed on his arm, just like Mark’s attacker in his flash forward. Now that I think about it, an awful lot of our main characters are getting attacked or attacking in their flash forward. Besides Mark, there’s Nicole being drowned and Simon strangling someone to death. It’s interesting that these three events would all happen in the exact same two minutes.

The “three star guy,” as Mark puts it, situation is a minefield of “can we change the future” questioning. I like that Mark calls him “three star guy.” I’d much rather give guest characters in TV episodes names like that than bother looking them up on IMDB. Just lazy, I guess. Anyway, the woman who shot the video’s name is Ingrid Alvarez, and she owns a bird shop. When she saw herself working in the Bronx Zoo in her flash forward, she put her shop up for sale, but there were no buyers. She decided to stay in California, thinking it’s for the best that she gets to be with all her birds. Mark, Demetri, and Janis set a trap for the three star guy. They put word out that Ingrid has been released from FBI custody, and then they stake out her bird shop to see if three star guy will show up to try and kill her (he already killed her roommate). Three star guy takes the bait, and Mark ends up shooting him.

The shooting is considered justified since three star guy certainly would have killed Mark and Demetri if he had the chance. It also doesn’t hurt that Mark and Dem agree among themselves to tell the story so it sounds more dangerous when they’re questioned about it. Mark kind of tortures himself over it, as he is want to do. He’s really quite a broody character. He reaches almost Angel (from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and…um… “Angel”) levels of broodiness as he gets home and embraces Olivia while whining/crying about how he killed a man to give them a chance. Surprisingly, Olivia is sympathetic. Then again, she has just committed the much lesser crime of throwing away a gift of lingerie from Mark because she was wearing the lingerie in her flash forward with Lloyd. Ingrid didn’t escape without having a wrench thrown into her plans, either. An associate of the three star guy got away, so she has to go into witness protection. I’d bet they relocate her to New York, even though I thought WITSEC usually favored smaller, more out-of-the-way cities where their charges couldn’t be so easily recognized.

Aaron is probably the most determined of all the characters, except maybe Bryce, to have his future come true. Things with Tracey aren’t going well. She seems to have some form of PTSD, and she wakes up every morning screaming from flashbacks to when she was attacked. Aaron wants to know what happened to her, which seems perfectly reasonable since, as he mentions, whatever Tracey got herself into results in both she and Aaron being in Afghanistan in six months. Tracey resists for a while, but she finally tells more of the story. Her convoy was attacked by soldiers from Jericho, a private military contractor. She suspects she was attacked because she saw Jericho soldiers completely wipe out a village for no good reason.

Simon and Lloyd spent the episode playing a really cheesy poker game to decide whether or not to tell the world they caused the blackout. I think they’re giving themselves a bit too much credit, though. The final scene was of a remote camp of some sort that’s filled with guys with three star tattoos. One of them delivers a case (seen in Ingrid’s cell phone video) that contains six rings, but there are supposed to be seven rings. The messenger gets shot for his trouble. I’m wondering if these guys might be Jericho, and the wiping of that village had something to do with putting up another tower like the one in middle-of-nowhere Somalia. It made for a significantly intriguing and creepy ending, at least. It makes up for that ridiculous poker game where Simon had awful, on-the-nose, pontificating dialogue. Lloyd (who wanted to go public) won the game, by the way, so I guess our band of self-important scientists won’t be secret much longer.

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