Saturday, November 7, 2009

FlashForward - Al Gough Changes Everything

There have been some assumptions made by the main characters about the nature of these flash forwards, many of which were challenged in this past episode, The Gift.

One assumption made is that the flash forwards are inevitable. No attempts to avoid the future will work, instead, they will drive you further toward the event. This is especially true for those who saw nothing. The assumption if you saw nothing has been that you will be dead. Therefore, all those who saw nothing, such as Demetri Noh, are facing a death sentence.

Our agents investigated a group discovered in the investigation of who shot them, the Blue Hand Group. They were associated with a group who hadn't seen anything during the blackouts. They called themselves ghosts, because that is what they believed they were. As ghosts, they allowed themselves to do whatever they wanted, torture, drugs, and suicide games. Many of the ghosts decided to commit suicide to end the pain of their uncertainty.

The agents had to pass a test when the entered the den of ghostdom. A man put a gun under his throat and pulled the trigger - nothing happened. Al Gough picked the gun up, put it under his throat, and pulled the trigger, to have nothing happen. Demetri made a joke that the gun must be empty, but the man opened the barrel and let out the lone bullet. When Demetri confronted Al about it a few minutes later, Al pointed out that he had a flash forward - he knew couldn't die.

We finally learned more about Al's flash forward during this episode. It turns out he spent part of the time on the phone with his lawyer. A young mother of twins had died, and Al had somehow killed her. Al was clearly devastated, and the sadness in his eyes throughout the episode was palpable. He talked with Fiona Banks (played by the fabulous Alex Kingston) about the sadness she felt about a bird that died flying into her window in her flash forward. He suggested that she put tape in the window to prevent the bird from flying into it, but she dismissed the idea - the bird would probably just fly into another window.

There appeared to be a team meeting at the end of the episode. As Al passed Demetri, he told him that he couldn't make it to the meeting, but had left an envelope on Demetri's desk. Then, as Demetri read what was in the envelope, Al made his way to the top of the building. The contents of the envelope told Demetri that it wasn't inevitable, and the letter was to the young woman that Al would somehow kill in the future. The agents swarmed to the roof, but Al wouldn't be dissuaded. He then fell to his death.

And all the rules changed.

This wasn't a perfect episode by any means. Al's pain and sadness was completely out of the blue - I really don't mind a little obvious foreshadowing here and there. Nor was it explained why Al accompanied Mark and Demetri this time when everyone had worked in pairs before. Also, Simon Costa was missing from the episode until the very end, during the musical interlude as we and the characters absorbed the meaning of Al's act, when Simon was seen musing over a bracelet that had the name "Annabelle" on it. Where did that come from? There was also a storyline involving the babysitter and Bryce, where she interpreted the Japanese symbol that Bryce had seen in his flash forward. That fell a little flat. However, the scenes between Aaron Stark (Mark's AA sponsor whose name I am just now learning) and a soldier who had served with Stark's daughter, were effective.

But it was Al who dominated the episode, as well as Al's decision to change his seemingly inevitable future. By committing suicide, he changed the flash forwards of at least three people: Fiona Banks, Al, and the young mother. Suddenly, everyone may have more control over the inevitability of a future they may or may not want. Demetri might live, Mark might not relapse into alcoholism, and Olivia might not have an affair.

For the first time since the series started, I'm eager to see the next episode. Now I'm hooked.

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