Monday, June 7, 2010

FlashForward 1.19: "Course Correction"

“Your volunteering here is starting to feel a little convenient. I don’t trust you, Simon, not for a minute.”


“Course Correction” is the episode where the blatant “Lost” fanboyishness of the “FlashForward” writing/production staff went from endearing (thank you for allowing us to have Penny and Charlie on “Lost” this final season!) to over-the-top. When I first saw this episode, I could have sworn that one of the characters took “The universe has a way of course correcting” right out of Mrs. Hawking’s mouth, but on rewatch, I think this was stated in about every way possible just short of taking the actual dialogue word-for-word from “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” They talk about a certain character “course correcting” or about the universe “pushing back,” for instance.

As is most likely already apparent, this episode mostly focused on a question that has been present for much of the series- just how much of the future they saw during the blackout can our characters actually change? There was also an attempt to further develop the character of Simon, but due to skimping on any explanation of the motivation behind some of Simon’s actions, it wasn’t as compelling this time as it was in “Revelation Zero.” The episode opens with a flashback to two days before the blackout. Simon and Lloyd are at NLAP making final preparations for their big experiment when Simon gets a call on his cell phone. It’s his mother informing him that his father has died. Simon needs to head to Toronto immediately. We then see that two days later, the experiment proceeds on schedule without Simon, and the blackout almost immediately follows.

In the present, Lloyd and Celia, the woman who was supposed to be killed by Al Gough, debate whether or not the future they saw can be changed. The whole interview troubles Lloyd throughout the rest of the episode. He feels guilty trying to reassure people when he has no clue what the long-term affects of the black out are going to be, and he knows darn well that another blackout is more than likely going to happen. He discusses his inner pain with Olivia, who is only too happy to indulge him and show him a bunch of brain scans to prove that the flash forward didn’t hurt anybody. The only thing amusing about that plot was Mark barging into Lloyd’s house to question Lloyd about Simon and being kind of thrown for a loop when he sees Olivia there.

Simon is dealing with his own drama throughout the episode. He’s being driven somewhere (probably to the FBI) when he sees his long lost sister Annabel by the side of the road. There are clearly multiple guns pointed at her (we can see the red laser sight dots on her face), and she tells Simon that the people holding her want the ring (the QED, not the One Ring, silly Hobbit!). Simon reluctantly says he’ll do what he’s told and gets back in his vehicle, but not before making note of the license plate on the van that transported Annabel. At the FBI, he tries to pay off an analyst to run the plate without telling anyone.

Of course the FBI analyst isn’t going to risk his job, and Mark confronts Simon about what Simon asked the analyst to do. He eventually gets Simon to admit that Annabel has been kidnapped, but Simon doesn’t admit to knowing anything about what might have provoked the kidnapping. Mark and Wedeck wonder if Simon has been compromised. As Mark is about to take off in search of the mysterious van, he has to stop Simon from coming along. Mark doesn’t trust Simon. He’s going to save Annabel, but he wants to have a long chat with Simon afterwards. At this point, Simon starts acting more shady than ever. He sees he’s been locked out of the FBI computer system, and somehow that provokes him to do exactly what the nefarious blackout people want him to do- steal the QED.

I guess maybe being locked out makes Simon second guess whether or not Mark is really going to try and save Annabel, but the whole thing just doesn’t flow well. Simon goes on a goodbye tour of sorts, first finding Lloyd in the parking garage and thanking him for being a good mentor. Mark does find Annabel, of course, and when he calls Simon to let him know, Simon sort of says his goodbyes to Mark and Annabel, too. Back at the FBI, more analysis of the footage from the Detroit baseball stadium has revealed that Simon is suspect zero. Mark questions Annabel, and she says that her captors wanted Simon because they say he’s going to cause another blackout.

Bryce and Nicole both have to make a choice about whether or not they want to focus on the future or live in the present. Bryce finds out from his oncologist that the experimental protocol worked, and Bryce’s cancer is now in remission. Actually, I didn’t even realize that Bryce even went through with the experimental protocol. I thought he went gallivanting around Japan instead of visiting the doctor running the trial. Guess I was wrong. In the mean time, Nicole was given the assignment to help out some nurses who will be giving flu shots to detainees. One of those detainees is none other than Keiko. Nicole is about to tell Bryce about Keiko when Bryce surprises her with the remission news first. He surprises her even further by saying he wants to live in the present and giving her a huge kiss. Nicole thinks better of telling Bryce about Keiko at that moment. This is a decision she’ll obviously come to regret.

I saved the most compelling plot from this episode for last. Yeah, there is indeed another plot (and I didn’t even go into that much detail on the Lloyd/Olivia drama that happened this week). This is “FlashForward” after all! River Song…err…Inspector Fiona Banks from MI6 (sorry, “Doctor Who” is my newest TV obsession) is back in town. She’s investigating the murder of a member of the Blue Hand group. In fact, there’s been a rash of Blue Hand murders, and the victims are all killed in a manner that most closely approximates how they were supposed to die. Fiona and Demetri pay a visit to Mr. Slingerland, a history teacher they encountered during their initial Blue Hand investigation. Mr. Slingerland waxes on about course correction and pushing back, and he makes a comment about not advertising surviving your flash forward death on television.

One of the victims was killed by poison in his coffee, so Fiona and Demetri pay a visit to a local coffee shop. The barrista remembers the victim, and he remembers that someone matching Mr. Slingerland’s description was with him. Piecing that together with Mr. Slingerland’s TV comment, Fiona and Demetri figure out he’s the murderer, and Celia is probably going to be the next victim. This conclusion is correct, and Demetri crashes into Mr. Slingerland’s car right before Mr. Slingerland crashes into Celia. Demetri yells to Celia that she should run. Unfortunately, she runs right in front of Fiona’s car. Later, Fiona gets the dreaded phone call that Al Gough was supposed to get. Celia suffered severe physical and neurological trauma, and she isn’t expected to survive.

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