Saturday, December 5, 2009

FlashForward 1.10: "A561984"

“A techie, chess-playing, social misfit physicist. Well, that should narrow it down.”


This week’s FlashForward, taking a step back from the more coherent “Believe,” once again tried to advance way too many stories. The thread that ties some (but not all) of the stories together is characters doing stupid things and having to face the consequences. Mark and Demetri disobey orders to go to Hong Kong, and Mark in particular makes a huge mess when they get there. Lloyd and Simon give their press conference, and Lloyd and Dylan’s safety is put in jeopardy. Zoey is still diligently planning the wedding, and her realization about the truth of her flash forward is all the more painful.

One thing that I liked about the episode is its use of “A Christmas Carol” as a framing device. It really does tie in thematically with FlashForward, especially the idea of whether or not one can change the future. Clips of a performance of “A Christmas Carol” that I’ve never seen before were played at the beginning and end of the episode.

Demetri and Mark arrive in the Hong Kong airport to be greeted by a man who claims he’s FBI and warns them to go home. Mark takes a cell phone call from a furious Wedeck. This conversation was pretty amusing, from Mark answering the phone with “Hey, Cupcake” to Wedeck smashing one of the …five…flatscreen televisions in his office following the very frustrating call. Your tax dollars at work, my fellow Americans.

Lloyd and Simon are engaging in their own foolish pursuit. They’re holding a press conference to announce their belief that their experiment caused the black-out. It’s interesting to watch how different these two characters really are. Lloyd is feeling guilty and wants to confess to everyone, and Simon just wants to get out of there as quickly as possible. Lloyd is stumbling through his apology, and Simon ends up having to take over. Simon takes a slightly different tack, though. He tries to deny at least some responsibility. The whole thing doesn’t last very long, though (although it is televised worldwide). A woman in the audience grabs a security guard’s gun and tries to shoot at Lloyd and Simon, blaming them for the death of her family. Simon’s had it, and if Lloyd continues the mea culpa tour, it will be “war between [them].”

Mark and Demetri advance their investigation by looking for elements of Persian culture in Hong Kong. Demetri wants to go to a news stand that sells Persian newspapers and Iranian cigarettes, but Mark takes them to a Persian restaurant. The restaurant proprietor claims he doesn’t recognize the voice of the woman from the call, but Mark doesn’t believe it. He tells Demetri to wait outside, and he proceeds to threaten the proprietor with U.S. government action such as rendition and prison in a place like GITMO. It’s really a sad commentary on what happened to our country in the first two-thirds of the decade that these threats work. He gets a name, Nhadra Udaya, and learns that she eats a late dinner at a nearby dim sum restaurant. It’s interesting to see how protective Mark is of Demetri. Beyond telling Demetri to go outside, Mark also lied to Wedeck about Demetri’s knowledge of whether or not they had permission to go to Hong Kong. It’s especially interesting considering what Nhadra reveals about the future

Mark and Demetri crash Nhadra’s dinner at the dim sum restaurant. Nhadra doesn’t want to give up any more information, because she believes Demetri’s death is the first of a whole line of very troublesome dominoes to fall. She thinks that if she doesn’t tell Mark and Demetri about the future, the future won’t happen. After some whining and yelling from Mark and pleading from Demetri, she finally relents somewhat. The big secret is that the person who will murder Demetri…is Mark. Nhadra proves this by rattling off the serial number on Mark’s gun. This makes Mark go even crazier than he already was. Which is saying a lot. When Nhadra won’t disseminate any more information, he flips the table over, puts his gun to Nhadra’s head, and drags her out of the restaurant. The hostage situation doesn’t last for long, though. The FBI guy from the airport (who is actually CIA) and a whole squad of agents or police of some sort put a stop to the whole thing, and Nhadra gets away. Mark, understandably, gets himself fired. He gives Demetri his gun and ammo, as a symbol that he has absolutely no intention of killing his friend.

There are some additional revelations about Demetri happening Stateside as well. Zoey is desperately trying to put together the wedding that she saw in her flash forward. We hear her, in a flashback, however, tell Demetri that she didn’t actually see him in the flash forward, but she figured he must have been there. That was a bit of a dirty editing trick, since we already saw that conversation, minus the final few seconds that change everything. She did, however, see Demetri’s parents at the event, so she keeps calling them, trying to get them to agree to go to the wedding. When she sees a single white rose at a memorial service for a colleague, however, she realizes that she wasn’t seeing her wedding. She was seeing Demetri’s funeral. She was carrying a single white rose in the vision and let it drop on the beach. Zoey goes to talk to Mrs. Noh, who tells Zoey that she now approves of her as a daughter-in-law. Zoey is determined to change the future. Beyond the big plot reveal, I found it interesting that they’re still holding memorial services, presumably for people who died during the blackout. It’s one of the rare occasions where we get to see the shear scope of the devastation the blackout caused.

Lloyd and Simon are both dealing with the press conference fall-out in different ways, and Simon’s is actually more positive, believe it or not. He shows up at the FBI, and he wants to help with the MOSAIC investigation. He wants to prove his innocence. Wedeck and Janis show him the Somalia photograph, and the strange towers happen to be a device Simon invented. The really strange thing is that the device isn’t even through testing yet, and Simon didn’t even think of the idea until 1992, one year after the photograph was taken. Somebody (with time travel capabilities, maybe?) has stolen Simon’s idea, and Simon’s not happy about it. He agrees to help the FBI look for D. Gibbons, even though Simon doesn’t recognize him. The FBI is going to have a tough time with their search, though, considering D. Gibbons is currently hiding out in Hong Kong with Nhadra.

Lloyd, however, is preoccupied with protecting Dylan. When Janis shows up at the hospital to talk to him (where she also got a fertility clinic referral from Bryce), he realizes that it would be easy for anyone who wants to harm Dylan to find him. He wants Dylan transferred to a more secure facility, but he’s having trouble finding anybody willing to help him. Olivia steps up, however, and puts the transfer through. She’s weakening when it comes to Lloyd. They talk about how he went to Harvard in 1998, and Olivia was supposed to as well, but she moved to LA to be with Mark. Lloyd mentions his late wife lived in the building where Olivia was going to live. I really just don’t care about either character enough to find this either charming or annoying.

The transfer, kind of predictably, doesn’t go as planned. Olivia starts to suspect something is wrong when the ambulance crew wants to rush the process of moving Dylan. When Olivia starts to protest and calls over a security guard, the security guard gets shot. The ambulance guys hustle Lloyd into the ambulance, leaving Dylan crying in Olivia’s arms. Now this plot is finally getting interesting.

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