Hi, my name is Barry.
For the next several months, at least until D-Day, I will be along with you on the journey that is ABC’s new series “Flash Forward”. And hopefully for a while thereafter. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Before I start my general review of the show, let me preface things by saying I’m a huge fan of LOST. If you’ve never seen LOST, or worse have an active dislike for ABC’s other major sci-fi genre show this may not be the review for you – there are a lot of similarities between the two shows and I’m probably going to be referencing it from time to time. Forewarned is forearmed, and whatever happens happened.
We start the premiere episode of FF (as I’ll be calling it in shorthand from now on), “No More Good Days” very, very similarly to the premiere of LOST – in chaos. The camera opens on one man, our main protagonist FBI Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes), upside down in a wrecked car. The scene is quiet with only the tinkle of broken glass and falling oranges (?). He climbs out of the car, into a scene of car wreck bedlam just as Jack came upon the immediate plane crash on LOST. He seeks out his partner who was thrown away from the car, Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) and together seek to lend aid in the immediate aftermath as well as apprehend the fugitive they had been chasing, Alda Hertzog (Rachel Roberts). Together they realize as they look at a devastated Los Angeles, that something much more terrible has happened than they can imagine.
But it’s more than the two of them and their surroundings in trouble. Mark’s doctor wife Olivia (Sonya Walger) and her whole surgical team black out during a operation. His AA mentor Aaron Stark (Brian F. O’Byrne) loses consciousness while working atop a electrical power pole. Meanwhile, his daughter Charlie (Lennon Wynn), her babysitter, his boss Stanford Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance) and co-worker Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) Olivia’s intern Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton) all have similar experiences – they all black out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. In fact, the entire world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. Except it wasn’t exactly a blackout as Mark and his people discover. Everyone in the world had a vision – a vision of themselves and what they were doing six months in the future, on April 29, 2010.
And those visions – good, bad and non-existent – are now the fuel that drive the series.
The rest of the episode deals with the next several hours as the world tries to pull itself back together after the major incident. Theories abound and are discussed, such as radiological attack, natural phenomena and religious event until it slowly dawns on everyone’s collective consciousness that they all envisioned the exact same moment in time, six months down the road.
There are visions of lost children returning, important meetings, inexplicable romances with people as yet unmet, trips to the bathroom and likely millions of mundane other things – yet two types of vision are the most disconcerting. One is Mark’s vision of himself in his FBI office in front of a great Mosaic bulletin board filled with hundreds of clues to the cause of the incident. He is drinking and frustrated, when masked gunmen invade, laser sights swinging all around, to chase him down. The other vision is that of his partner, Demetri – that of nothing at all. An explanation he fears means his own imminent death.
The premiere ends with the two Benfords attempting to reconcile conflicting visions and Agent Hawk discovering surveillance camera footage of a shadowy figure seemingly awake and unharmed during the 2 minute blackout.
Here are some quick observations – realize so far we really know nothing, and most speculation other than the most general is fairly pointless, but here are some points I noticed that may bear scrutiny as, ahem, time goes by:
1) Being the LOST fan that I am (as well as The X-Files) I’m used to conspiracies on top of fiendish plots wrapped into master plans – with the vision of masked gunmen there seems no doubt that a group engineered the blackouts for some unknown reason. Whether the Flash Forwards were a bug or a feature is also unknown, but seemingly one or more of them were able to withstand its effects.
A big contradiction I had right off the bat – just after the initial car crash and subsequent moments of wandering around Mark Benford did, he called Demetri’s name several times. The partner was seemingly nowhere to be found. Then after he has moved several yards from his car, he sees Demetri a good ways away, still looking dazed. Now, it’s perfectly possible the young agent was thrown from the car before it crashed though I’m not sure how – Demetri was across an exit gap in the roadway, and Mark had to jog around and through other cars to get to him. If Demetri had waken before Mark, why didn’t he try to revive his partner? Why wander off by himself?
I think his absence during that initial time is suspicious and may be tied to his inability (or unwillingness) to admit to his lack of a vision.
2) A common theme in the large Mulder-like mosaic of clues in his office are several unknown references to colors. Blue Hand. Red Panda. A Black Swan. The color references were too many not to be significant.
3) I’m sure many people on the web will spend a great deal of time painstakingly dissecting each image on the big board for analysis so I won’t try to do it here as well. However one did strike me and it was shown several times in the Flash Forward – that of a machine of some kind. A mechanical device, fairly sizable, with a large wheel and gear mechanism. At first glance I thought it might be a diagram of a bunker or a (dare I say it) hatch. Possibly with a wheel-turning entrance. Somehow it seemed interesting.
4) Mark’s pupil, as the Flash Forward commenced, was a spiral galaxy.
5) We know that at least one figure did not collapse for those 2:17. Security cameras caught a fuzzy figure walking about while everyone else was having their moment.
So, at the end of the first hour, what do we have? What seems to be a good start for a new mystery/adventure series, where the overarching question will seem to be “What Happened?” But, since the characters’ individual Flash Forwards – what they were, what they mean, what their consequences were and how they will deal with this foreknowledge – will be the backbone of the show. Just as LOST’s mythology is full of smoke monsters, ancient statues, Dharma Initiative and miracle healing, its true value and interest lies in the characters – how their lives inter-twine and how they each deal with being thrust into one another’s lives. On FF, people now know they will know people they’ve never met, do things they never would intend to do, and exist in a world six months removed. Can the future be changed? Is it set in stone, with all our actions merely chess pieces on the board guided by invisible hands? Does knowing the future give one the ability to shape it, change it, even use it to our own ends? Many peoples’ visions included viewings of newspapers and TV from the future which foretell sporting events and Stock Market rises – how could knowing what will happen possibly not affect that very future?
I see a very bright future for this show, as we unlock the mysteries week to week, discuss the possibilities and pitfalls, and more importantly learn who these people are and why they are the main characters in our story. Why do we need to know about this particular group of people? Why are the important or special? It may be that we learn all we need to know soon, because April 29, 2010 is not that far away – likely the first season finale. What could happen on the show after that real-time date passes by? Could be nothing, could be everything.
What are your theories?
Barry watches FlashForward from the safety of his internet bunker — Inn At The Last Home.