Monday, November 23, 2009

FlashForward 1.09: "Believe"

“Come home, Bryce.”


So I kind of loved this episode the first time I saw it, but it didn’t hold up as well on rewatch as I might have hoped. I did appreciate that this episode was, for the most part, focused on Bryce’s story. Of course, since it’s FlashForward, there were still other stories kicking around- just three instead of the usual five or six! I think the episode relied too much on punch-to-the-gut moments for its emotional resonance, however, which I why I think I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about it after the second go ‘round. All in all, it was a more solid entry in the series than last week’s laughable episode, though.

The first emotional punch-to-the-gut happens right at the beginning of the episode. Bryce is looking at some images in a hospital office- either a CT or MRI- I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know which. The twist is that the images are Bryce’s. He has stage four cancer, specifically renal cell carcinoma. The cancer isn’t responding well to treatment, and although we don’t hear the doctor give a specific prognosis, it’s presumed that Bryce isn’t long for this world. Bryce doesn’t want any aggressive treatment. His family had just been through an ordeal when Bryce’s father died of lung cancer, and he doesn’t want them to go through that again. He’s not dealing with his prognosis well, though. He repeatedly smashes his car in the parking garage, and after a conversation with his therapist, ends up on the pier with a gun, right where we saw him when the blackout hit.

In the present, the flash forward has inspired Bryce to continue with cancer treatment so he has a shot at living to see his future. The treatments are taking their toll, though, and people at work are beginning to notice. Olivia discovers the truth when she examines Bryce following an almost-fainting spell and notices he has a central line. Olivia pulls a few strings and gets Bryce enrolled in a clinical trial with a med school friend of hers in Texas. Instead of flying to Texas, however, Bryce flies to Japan. Because, you see, that’s what was in Bryce’s flash forward. Meeting an Asian woman in a sushi restaurant. Bryce showed one of his drawings of the woman to a patient of his who is a Japanese native, and the patient recognized the logo on the t-shirt of the woman in the drawing. It’s the logo for a sushi restaurant just outside of Tokyo.

“Believe” also introduces the story of Keiko, the woman from Bryce’s vision. She’s a robotics nerd who secretly just wants to break free and play awesome guitar like Jimi Hendrix. She spent most of her life working towards a career in robotics, but when she finally lands a job at Japan’s best robotics firm, it isn’t all she hoped. She doesn’t like being cooped up at a desk all day, and the fact that, at home, her mom is trying to push her into what amounts to an arranged marriage, doesn’t help make her life any more tolerable. The final straw is when she gets called into a meeting of the higher-ups in her company. She is excited at first, thinking her opinion will be valued. It turns out they just wanted her to serve tea. Since they hired her, they didn’t think it was worth it to hire a second woman just to serve tea. Now I know next to nothing about Japanese culture, but some of this feels too broadly drawn to be realistic. The CEO of the company is almost like a cartoon.

When Bryce hightails it to Japan, he doesn’t end up finding what he’s looking for. He finds the sushi restaurant, where some of the employees recognize his drawing because several members of Keiko’s family work there. They give Bryce the address to Keiko’s family home. Keiko’s mom isn’t thrilled to see Bryce, though. She’s still stinging from the fact that her daughter said there was someone else out there for her. And ran away. She doesn’t tell Bryce any of this, though, just threatens to call the police and slams the door. Bryce is devastated and calls Nicole. She advises him not to try to rush things and to just come home. It turns out that Bryce’s flash forward actually took place in a Japanese restaurant in LA, and guess who disembarks the plane a minute or so after Bryce? Why, it’s Keiko, of course.

The rest of the stories in this episode are really afterthoughts when placed next to the sweeping, multi-national story of Bryce and Keiko, but I’ll include the run-down anyway. First and foremost, Mark Benford continues to be a broody jerk who I would really rather not see on my television. This week Mark continues the “let’s see if I can alienate everybody who cares about me” tour by being accusatory towards Aaron and Wedeck after he discovers the “Mark was drinking in his flash forward” text on Olivia’s phone. Aaron tells Mark he’s not Mark’s sponsor anymore, and Wedeck tells Mark to get out of his office. Smooth moves, Benford.

Granted, Aaron has a bit of a reason to be irritable. Tracey has returned from abroad to be a raging alcoholic like her dad, and Aaron’s feeling quite a bit of guilt over it. It doesn’t help that Tracey’s alcoholism means she always has alcohol in the house, and Aaron cannot be around alcohol at all. Yeah, this story is pretty darn clichéd and going nowhere fast.

The most intriguing of the secondary stories takes place at the FBI. The NSA has arrived with enhanced baseball stadium “Suspect Zero” footage. They analyzed the ring on Suspect Zero’s finger, and it has a lower case alpha on it. Have the FlashForward writers been watching Dollhouse? Because that would be kind of cool. Anyway, the NSA rep is being especially coy an unhelpful, and when confronted about it, she says that she’s wary of revealing too much information because one of the members of the MOSAIC team has been red flagged by the NSA. That would be Demetri, and it’s because of the creepy, untraceable phone call he received about his murder. After much glaring by the FBI agents (kinda lame, if you ask me), the NSA agent agrees to give Demetri a copy of the phone call audio. Vreede comes to a very interesting conclusion after analyzing the audio- the call was placed from Hong Kong. Mark thinks it’s time for a road trip to Hong Kong, but Wedeck doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Mark tells Demetri they’re going anyway. I smell next week’s source of drama.

No comments:

Post a Comment