Monday, November 2, 2009

FlashForward - Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

I thought I'd give an update on my complicated relationship with FlashForward. As you know, it was promoted (you could argue it was overpromoted) as the next Lost, with a riveting storyline and intriguing characters. But the first few episodes left me flat. I just couldn't get into it.

But this last episode gave me hope. Interestingly enough, at first I was completely annoyed by the episode, by its use of an old cliche. The FBI agents had been shot at, and one was in danger of losing her life. As Penny, I meant to say Olivia, did everything she could to save the agent's life, the Assistant Director, Wedeck, ordered his other agents to go home and rest. But Dimitri Noh couldn't do it. No, he needed to use his anger at what happened to his friend to try to find the killers. Yada yada yada. Noh and his partner, Gough, then entered a house thought to belong to the killers, without calling for either backup or a warrant. Whatever!

But the episode, fortunately, had other elements that elevated it above this. First, we got a good eyeful of Dominic Monaghan's Simon Costa. Costa is a brilliant and lascivious physicist who saw himself choking someone to death in his flash forward. He gleefully tells this to a young lady he has just bedded after meeting her on a cross country train. It was a very sinister scene, made more so by the ambiguity over whether the young lady survived her encounter with Costa.

Simon Costa could not be further from Charlie Pace (or Meriadoc Brandybuck, for that matter). Monaghan brings a lot of life to this role.

We also learned that Costa and Lloyd Simcoe are partners, with others, involved in whatever caused the black out. Perhaps I was right in thinking that it was Simcoe who was observed on camera walking around while everyone was unconscious.

There was also a bit of a sense of humor. As Mark took his daughter trick-or-treating, all were amazed to see a kangaroo hopping through. How random!

But the best part was the fight between Mark and Olivia. In the pilot, we learned that Olivia will apparently have an affair with Lloyd Simcoe and Mark will have a relapse of his alcoholism. Olivia told Mark about her flash forward, but Mark didn't reciprocate. He told his sponsor (whose name still escapes me) it was because Olivia promised to leave Mark if he ever started drinking again. His sponsor encouraged Mark to tell Olivia, but he didn't.

In the meantime, Olivia's revelation of her flash forward was affecting her marriage, especially after Olivia met Simcoe. Mark was angry and clearly distrustful of Olivia, despite Olivia's protestations that he was punishing her for something that hadn't happened yet. Things had settled down between them when Simcoe's son, Dylan, marched into the Benford home, declaring, "It's my home too." Dylan has autism, and in his flash forward, the Benfords' daughter, Charlie, gave Dylan permission to get a cookie, saying, "It's your home too." That's how Charlie and Dylan knew each other.

Lloyd comes to the Benford home to collect his son, and in his visit there, he recognized the living room from his own flash forward. He looked at Olivia, who literally walked into a waking nightmare of her husband and future lover confronting each other. Mark ran Lloyd and his son out, barely agreeing to shake Lloyd's hand.

In the kitchen, Mark exploded at Olivia, accusing her of being closer to Lloyd than she had revealed. Olivia defended herself, then turned the tables on Mark, demanding to know everything that happened in his fast forward. Finally, ashamed, he revealed that he was drinking. Olivia's face turned cold. When she became angry, he defended himself, arguing it hadn't happened yet (duh!). Olivia reminded Mark that this had been her point, then stated, it's starting already. And it is. Mark's not drinking yet, but he's out at all hours, he's lying to Olivia, and he clearly doesn't trust her. Is this the breach that leads to the affair?

One theme that the show is exploring is the cyclical effect that the flash forwards are having on the characters and the action in the show. Mark is put in charge of the black out investigation because of the board of clues he saw. Many of the clues were written out not as they emerged but from Mark's memory. Dimitri is reckless, because he believes he will be dead by April. Nicole Kirby is devestated when her injuries put her fertility at risk, despite the fact that she was heavily pregnant in her flash. Olivia is uncomfortable around Simcoe, for nothing less than the fact that she will have an affair with him.

Most of us look to the future with no clear idea of what will happen. These characters have some fairly clear ideas. And this knowledge is affecting what they do. Making it more likely that they will be in position when the day actually arrives.

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