Sunday, August 22, 2010

FlashForward 1.22: "Future Shock"

“We’re all lined up where we’re supposed to be.”

“Future Shock,” fittingly, was a series finale that essentially failed because of the hubris of the producers of “Flash Forward.” In a way, this is an appropriate ending to the series, because that hubris was really the downfall of the series overall. Around this time last year, I remember watching interviews with the two men who were showrunners at the time (they had each left that position by the time this episode aired) talking about how they had a multi-season plan for the story they wanted to tell. They were so confident that they would have those several seasons to tell this story that they left many, many questions unanswered. I don’t think this episode would have really worked even if we had gotten a season 2, but the problems with the episode are magnified when we know we don’t have any more episodes in the pipeline.

When the episode begins, none of the characters are where they’re supposed to be to experience the futures they saw in the October blackout. Pretty early on, though, we start to see events unfolding that will take most of the characters closer to what they saw. First, Bryce shows up at the detention center and bribes the guard at the reception desk for Keiko’s phone number. This was one of the few scenes that I actually really liked in this episode, even though it involved the horrific Bryce/Keiko/Nicole triangle. I thought it was amusing that Bryce saw the guard was reading a romance novel and thought if he appealed to the “epic romance” of his story with Keiko, she might give him Keiko’s number. It turns out that she’s willing to give up the information alright, but she wants a bribe in exchange.

In other news, Tracey miraculously suddenly has a faint pulse (spoiler alert: she’s still alive at the end of the episode), and Demetri, Janis, and Simon are planning their infiltration of NLAP. The idea is that Simon will hack into the mainframe and get as much information as he can on Hellinger and his crew for Janis and Demetri. As the trio arrive at one of the gates to NLAP, it’s obvious that Janis isn’t doing so well. Something painful and baby-related is going on with her. She tries to hide it, but she’s not successful. Demetri wants to turn around and get Janis to a hospital, but Janis insists that this is too important an opportunity to pass up. Janis being in distress provides the distraction Simon and Demetri need to get into NLAP. Demetri wants to stay behind and help Janis, but since the security guard has called for an ambulance for Janis, Simon convinces Demetri that she’ll be just fine. She’s on her way to the hospital, after all, where she would later find out that her baby is healthy, but a boy instead of a girl.

I’m going to wrap up the Bryce/Nicole/Keiko story all in one go now because it irritates me too much to weave it in and out of the rest of this post. Nicole shows up as Bryce is leaving the detention center. Bryce isn’t pissed at her anymore, but he still dumps her, saying he loves Keiko even though he’s never met her. Some people might say that’s romantic. I say it’s silly. Meanwhile, at LAX, Keiko’s mom is quite awesome. She causes a major disruption to distract all the ICE and TSA officers so that Keiko can make a break for it and go try and find Bryce. Nicole starts to drive home from the detention center and ends up driving into a lake, only to be rescued by a nice guy who has been thinking about her since her flash forward. I imagine that had the series continued, they would have turned into a romantic pairing, but it feels hollow. Bryce almost gets shooed away from the restaurant where he is supposed to meet Keiko, but a waitress recognizes him as “Keiko’s man” and lets him in. Keiko fights traffic all the way to the restaurant, but she eventually gets out of her cab and walks. The two have the “reunion” Bryce saw in his flash forward.

The Benfords are of course at the center of all the action in this episode. Each is pretty quickly put back on the path of where they “belong.” Wedeck bails Mark out of jail and ends up having to go back to the FBI building before he can take Mark home because bombs have been found throughout the building. Lloyd and Dylan show up at Olivia and Charlie’s little beachside campout. Wedeck tells Mark to stay in the car, but like all good television characters, he can’t possibly obey that order. Mark asks Vogel to keep an eye on his family, then he heads into the about-to-explode FBI building. If a bunch of bombs about to go off wasn’t bad enough, the pack of scary guys with masks and guns that Mark saw in his flash forward are now in play, too. They just mow down everybody they see in the building, including the bomb squad.

At the Benford house, Lloyd and Olivia are shocked to find that in the brief time he’s been there, Dylan has managed to go all Beautiful Mind and scrawl the equation from Lloyd’s flash forward on Olivia’s mirror in her lipstick. It’s the tachyon constant, which, as we learned in the last episode, is the biggest unsolved mystery in physics (or at least it is in the “FlashForward” universe). At flash forward time, Simon thinks he ought to send Lloyd a text like Lloyd said he did in his vision. Simon sends Lloyd a mathematical “wave” as an inside joke that somehow lets Lloyd figure out the tachyon constant and determine that the next black-out is immanent. As in it could occur with in the next day or two. Mark narrows down the time by following the connecting lines on his conspiracy wall that Gabriel changed around during his last visit to Mark’s office. Mark realizes that the next black-out is going to happen at 10:14 PM that very night.

Olivia shoes Charlie away from the door just in time to avoid hearing Vogel say “Mark Benford is dead.” It turns out that Vogel wasn’t actually announcing Mark’s death when he said that. He was just telling the other agent that Mark had decided to do something so crazy that Vogel didn’t see how Mark could survive it. Speaking of Mark, his cell phone rings, which draws a rain of machine gun fire to his office. The whole place is completely torn up, which is pretty creepy. Because Mark is the main character on a TV show, though, we know that he somehow escaped the bullets. We later see him outrun the guys with the guns and take down a few of them. The one part of this sequence that I like is that Wedeck manages to take down a guy with a gun or two himself…from the toilet. That’s especially funny if you remember Wedeck’s flash forward from the pilot. Mark manages to get a hold of Wedeck on the phone, and he tells Wedeck to warn the President that another black-out is about to happen.

At NLAP, somebody using remote access takes control of the facility right out from under Simon. This mysterious person activates the collider, clearly trying to start another global black-out. Simon desperately tries to shut it down, but he doesn’t succeed. He offers Demetri the QED to get him through the inevitable black-out, but Demetri says he wants to actually see his future this time. We then get to see the black-out, which is depicted as a montage of people passed out around the world interspersed with quick images which we can guess are probably from our characters’ futures. The images were so quick that it’s pretty impossible to hypothesize which image belonged to which character, though. Mixed in with all this, we see a quick sequence in the present of Leeta taking Janis out of the hospital. The final image is of an older Charlie telling someone “they found him.” Then the FBI office completely explodes.

The main reason why I found this episode unsuccessful as a series finale is that it left so much open-ended. I think it’s always smart to create a finale every season that wraps up most things but leaves one thread, and not an especially niggling one, that can be explored next season. That way, it’s win win. If the show is canceled, the audience gets a decent amount of closure. If the show is picked up, you have a place to start telling the next chapter of the story. FlashForward left so many threads open and began so many new mysteries that it really wasn’t satisfying. It’s like they assumed they would have plenty more time to tell their story, and obviously, they didn’t. Ah well, after I post this blog entry, I probably won’t give the show another thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment