Sunday, May 2, 2010

FlashForward 1.17: "The Garden of Forking Paths"

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, Demetri, but in all likelihood, one of us will die today.”

-Dyson Frost

“The Garden of Forking Paths” is the conclusion of the “Demetri’s gonna die” arc on “FlashForward.” It’s also the conclusion of the life of Dyson Frost. I have a feeling that Frost’s death is going to cause many complications for the MOSAIC team in the months to come, given that Frost probably could have answered most of their questions about the blackouts and how to stop them. Unfortunately, I think that plot about Demetri’s murder ended more with a whimper than a bang. It was sort of predictable, and it won’t be one of those TV moments that I look back on fondly for years to come.

One thing I did like about this episode is that it cleared up part of the sort-of cliffhanger ending of the last episode right away. The episode opens with Charlie at the FBI telling what happened when Dyson Frost sat down next to her at the carnival. He gave her a print of a famous painting with a message to Mark on the back. Wedeck manages to get the most information out of Charlie, asking her to just close her eyes and remember everything she can. Olivia is kind of resistant to the whole thing. After Wedeck is satisfied they have all the information they can get from Charlie, he takes her to his office for jelly beans so Mark and Olivia can have a much needed chat. Unfortunately, this means more drama for those of us who hate Benford drama. Mark thinks Charlie should see a therapist, but Olivia disagrees of course. She thinks that if she creates this happy, perfect life for Charlie, everything will be fine. I think I’ve got to side with Mark on this one, surprisingly. Charlie’s going to have to learn to cope with unpleasantness.

Zoey goes to see Alda, the blonde terrorist from the pilot whom Zoey recently agreed to represent. It’s March 15, and Zoey’s getting antsy that Alda hasn’t given up any information on Demetri’s murder yet. Alda says she’ll tell Zoey what she knows if Zoey manages to get her a same-day Habeas hearing. A flashback to six months before the blackout leads us to believe that Alda might indeed have some useful information. She’s walking with a representative of the shadowy organization responsible for the blackout, and they’re on their way to meet Dyson Frost. The shady guy tells Alda that if Dyson ever starts not cooperating, they’ll need her services to take care of him. Dyson explains to Alda some of what he’s been up to with his flash forward experiments, then he shows her he has video of the conversation she just had where she was instructed to kill him if he gets out of line. Creepy stuff.

In the present, Frost is having a similarly creepy conversation with Demetri. It’s so convoluted, though, that I kind of tuned some of it out. The gist of it is that Frost has been through flash forwards hundreds of times, and he’s been mapping the different futures he sees each time. On March 15, sometimes Demetri dies, and sometimes he dies. He’s basically trying to set up some bizarre situation (a gun on a timer) to make sure he isn’t the one to die this time around. He doesn’t seem to really mind if Demetri happens to survive, but he wants to survive, too.

Mark and an FBI team are at a train station, where Mark is supposed to be getting some sort of message from Dyson Frost. Eventually, a little kid approaches Mark and gives him a Superman backpack. Mark picks up the cell phone inside, and a bit of a wild goose chase begins. Frost has Mark say some things to throw the other agents off track, then Mark dashes through an air vent and out to a rental car.

On Frost’s orders, Mark takes the car out into the middle of the desert. Frost says he wants to turn himself in and help the FBI stop future blackouts, but Mark doesn’t quite trust him. Frost wants Mark to put on handcuffs, but with some deft maneuvering, Mark puts the handcuffs on Frost instead. Mark tries to maneuver him towards the car, thinking Frost can tell him where Demetri is, but that doesn’t exactly go as planned. Alda’s request for a Habeas hearing was a set-up so she could dramatically escape out of a blown-out window, and she’s followed Mark to the desert. She shoots Frost and rides away on a motorcycle. Mark desperately tries to get more information out of Frost as Frost takes his last breaths, but Frost dies before saying anything useful. Mark begging for information from a dying man was pretty pathetic, but Alda’s escape was pretty badass, at least. It was like something out of “White Collar” with a bit more of an edge.

Mark hops in the car Frost had been using and fires up the GPS, hoping it will give him some clue to where Demetri is being held. Looking at the streets stored in the recent searches on the GPS unit, Mark has a breakthrough. One of the street names is the same as the artist who painted the artwork Frost gave to Charlie. Mark finds himself at a large industrial park, not sure what building he’s looking for. Zoey comes in for the save. Before leaping out of that window, Alda told her that in her flash forward, she heard someone say Demetri’s body was found in building seven. The FBI team quickly determines the correct building and sends Mark to it.

Inside, Mark sees Demetri tied up in the chair, and he sees the rig with the gun. Almost anything he tries to do to save Demetri will set off the gun. There’s no stopping the timer. Mark’s plan is to try to move the gun a little bit so it won’t be aimed at Demetri anymore when it goes off. Mark remembers Charlie said that when she was talking with Frost, Frost said his favorite Dr. Seuss book was “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Mark hopes that by disconnecting a red wire, then a blue wire, he can get a little more room to maneuver the gun. His plan works just in the nick of time. Demetri is safe, but MOSAIC has suffered a setback. Frost had mapped out all the potential futures he saw on the wall behind Demetri. When Demetri got up from the chair, it triggered water to spill down the wall, erasing all of Frost’s notes. I have a feeling the producers of FlashForward were inspired by the blast door map from the “Lost” episode “Lockdown” for this one.

There’s one other small subplot in this episode that could have interesting implications for future episodes. Vreede pays a visit to Olivia in her office. The FBI recovered a cell phone from among the belongings of the homeless guy Frost shot in the previous episode. A search of the phone indicated it sent the infamous “Mark was drinking in his flash forward” text. Olivia doesn’t think she recognizes a photo of the homeless guy, but Vreede takes her along with him to the morgue anyway. Part of his brain was larger than normal, and Olivia thinks the guy was a “savant.” Vreede and Olivia pay a visit to a doctor specializing in savants- the homeless guy had taken the doctor’s address book, but the doctor claimed not to know him. Foiled in their investigation, Olivia and Vreede get coffee from a coffee cart and encounter an awkward man named Gabriel. Gabriel is another Savant, and he wants to continue the homeless guy’s mission. He claims he’s seen Olivia at this coffee cart many times before. Olivia, however, has never gotten coffee there in the past.

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