Sunday, April 11, 2010

FlashForward 1.14: "Better Angels"

“There will be one more war in this land. My war. I will rule this country. The better angels- the better warriors- will win.”


It’s hard to look at “Better Angels” on its own since I know what’s coming next. It’s not the fault of you (very, very) few readers that I had an incredibly busy two weeks and got really behind on blogging, though, so I’ll do my best. This episode centers (as much as any episode of FlashForward can center) around the MOSAIC team-minus-Mark trip to Somalia to check out the towers that were built there in 1991, one year before Simon actually invented them. Yep, FlashForward is about to delve into time travel, with all the potential paradoxes that entails. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Janis is on her way to Somalia instead of the fertility clinic, and she makes it known to Demetri how very unhappy she is about that. She has even more reason to be unhappy when the team actually arrives at the tower. They immediately encounter gunfire. The man behind the gunfire is a local warlord named Abdi. He doesn’t buy the cover story that the team is part of a Red Panda humanitarian trip. He manages to get them to admit they’re part of a CIA operation. He wants to know why they’re at the towers. He was away from the village on the day of the 1991 blackout, and when he got back, everybody he knew was sprawled out on the ground. He thought his entire village had been murdered, so he ran. Abdi means business- he kills the tem’s translator before even really introducing himself.

The team has a pretty decent plan for trying to get out of captivity. Demetri and Vogel stage an argument between themselves, and in the chaos, the CIA/FBI team manages to overcome Abdi’s goons who had been guarding them. The escape is short lived, though. Just as the team is close to their transport out of there, Abdi and his remaining goons approach, firing heavier weapons than they had before. The team is not going to be able to complete their mission or go home without making Abdi happy. Abdi says that in his flash forward (or “prophesy”, as he put it), he sees himself speaking in front of a crowd talking about the “better angels.” He feels he is powerful. He thinks he must have fought a great war and taken over the whole of Somalia. Before he’ll let the team go, he wants an agreement that the US will give him war supplies.

Janis thinks that Abdi misinterpreted what she saw. Miraculously, there’s an internet connection in middle-of-nowhere Somalia, and Janis introduces Abdi to the MOSAIC website. She shows Abdi that several people reported on the website that they saw him. He wasn’t making a speech talking about how he conquered the Congo, though. He was speaking at an African peace summit. He was quoting a speech originally delivered by Abraham Lincoln. Another interesting detail that Abdi himself remembers is that he’s wearing his mother’s necklace while giving the speech. Abdi relents and agrees to take the team to the one remaining tower.

Back in LA, there’s plenty of Benford drama going on, as always. Too bad you can’t see me roll my eyes as I type this section of the post, because that’s definitely what I’m doing. I am so beyond sick of Benford drama on this show. Desmond seriously needs to just flash his consciousness from the Lost universe on over to the FlashForward universe and rescue “Penny” (both Desmond’s wife Penny and Olivia Benford are played by Sonya Walger) from Mark and Lloyd. Both Mark and Lloyd are equally broody. Desmond used to have a bit of a flair for the dramatic, but during his time on the Island pushing the button, he grew up and got over himself.

Anyway, there are two pieces to the Benford drama, and they eventually come together. First, Olivia is still set on the plan she proposed back in the first half of the season. She wants Mark to run away from LA with her. She thinks that by going to another city, they can escape what they saw in their visions. Particularly, she wants to go to Denver. It’s got several good hospitals, and an FBI field office to boot. Mark is hesitant about the idea, which Olivia correctly interprets to mean that he’s not going anywhere. He still feels like it’s up to him to save the world. Of course.

The second piece is that Wedeck tells Mark he needs to find out what Charlie saw since it’s related to the MOSAIC investigation. Mark wants to take Charlie into the FBI to talk to some people who are specially trained to handle this type of situation, but Olivia wants to talk to her first. Olivia’s attempt is successful. After a lot of coaxing, she finally gets Charlie to give more detail about her vision. It all seems like pretty benign stuff until the very end. Charlie looks out the sliding doors at the back of the Benford home and sees two men in suits conversing in the back yard. One of them says matter-of-factly, “Mark Benford is dead.” Later on in the episode, we see this scene from Vogel’s perspective. He’s the one Charlie heard. Pretty sketchy stuff. As stupid as it is for everyone to base their upcoming actions on this isolated bit of knowledge (we don’t even know if Vogel got an accurate report), it certainly makes me not trust Vogel one bit.

The other subplot of this episode involves Bryce and Nicole. Bryce is rushing back to whatever he’s working on at the hospital after some chemo-induced vomiting when he runs into Nicole and she drops and Organic Chemistry book. Bryce asks Nicole about the book, and she bashfully says that working at the hospital has inspired her to take a pre-med class. Later on, when they’re joking about Nicole one day being “Dr. Kirby,” Nicole happily says that in twelve years, they’ll really be working together. Bryce immediately comes back down to Earth. In twelve years, he doesn’t think he’s going to be around.

Back in Somalia, the team has gained entrance to the tower, and it’s trying way too hard to be like “Lost.” The look is long-abandoned utilitarian, much like the hatches on the Island. There are squeaky doors and flickering fluorescent lights. There are also mass graves and mysterious video tapes. The video tape is of Dyson Frost (aka D. Gibbons) interviewing Somalis once they came to after the 1991 blackout. Vogel finds a mysterious door that leads to a mass grave of all the villagers. I guess Frost didn’t want to leave any trace of his experiment.

Abdi finds the body of his mother- he knows it’s her because the necklace he remembers is still around her neck. He’s incensed, and he wants to take out all his anger and frustration on Simon, since he knows Simon at least had something to do with the blackout technology. Without even trying to use any less extreme measures, Vogel brutally shoots Abdi. Janis is shocked, and all she can do is mutter something about a bunch of visions now not coming true.

After what was clearly a very long day, Janis and Dem are blowing off steam with a bottle of alcohol provided by Dem. Janis is still broody about the fact that the baby she had in her vision isn’t going to exist. When Demetri is drunk, he apparently loses all ability to control his feelings for Janis, which I assume he usually manages because he knows that Janis, as a gay friend of mine once put it, “doesn’t like his genitalia.” Demetri suggests that he can be the father of Janis’ baby. Janis first laughs hysterically and says that the idea is gross, but it seems like she’s about to have a change of heart. She really wants Willa to be born. Yeah, she wants to name her daughter Willa. And I thought she was cool.

Later on, Demetri can’t sleep, presumably because he just cheated on his fiancé. He’s back in the tower rewatching the mysterious Dyson Frost video. There’s a bit at the end of the video that nobody caught the first time around, and it makes for a pretty creepy episode cliffhanger. Dyson calls Demetri out by name. It appears Dyson has been flash forward-ing so much that he knows a great deal of what’s going to happen in the future, including that Demetri is supposed to be murdered.

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