Flash Forward, Episode 102 “White to Play”

Olivia: “Whatever you tell him, just be sure to tell him you love him.”

Lloyd: “Is parenting really that simple?”

Olivia: “It’s the only simple part.”

Looks like we’re developing a core theme to Flash Forward, that of dealing with a family and its own survival.  Little “Charlie”, the daughter of main characters Mark and Olivia Benford, is understandably freaked about whatever she saw in her flash forward and it’s causing her to pull away from them and the rest of the world.

That and serious questions about the validity of the flashes makes up the content of the second episode of the series, “White to Play.”  Last week Charlie woke up from her nap having had a vision that there were “no more good days”.  Tonight we see she recognizes the little boy in the hospital as well as the name of the enigmatic D. Gibbons.  “Gibbons”, as we see, is also wandering around at the periphery of the event, having been tracked making a phone call to the mysterious “Suspect Zero” who was captured on tape at the Detroit baseball game walking around mysteriously while everyone else slept.

Benford and his partner Demetri Noh track down a suspect to Utah who seemed to play a part in the events of the blackouts.  Hiding in a doll factory warehouse, he utters a strange phrase just as he unleashes an explosive trap, “He who foresees calamaties suffers them twice over.”  Visible near Gibbons are what appears to be a bank vault monitor, a computerized game of chess, and a computer CPU in the liquid tank that eventually ignites.  Gibbons escapes and a fellow non-visioner, a local sheriff, is killed.

Eventually a charred cell phone is recovered and Gibbons is found to have been in communication with Suspect Zero during the blackout.  Just relationship these two have is unknown.

Short Takes

1) Suspect Zero is described as male, 150 pounds and 5’8″.  Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from LOST) is 5’7 and probably close to that weight.  I would bet anything he is our mysterious Suspect Zero.  I would imagine we’ll be seeing him enter the action soon.

2) The concept of the future being immovable – that you can’t change your future – is still an oddly contradictory statement.  On LOST (which this show continues to parallel in terms of tone and feel) relies on the fact that when a foreseen event is changed, the universe “course corrects” itself and causes the same thing to happen a different way.   I don’t know if Flash Forward will follow the same general rules (which, if it does prove to somewhat be in LOST’s universe – based on the Oceanic Airlines sign seen last week in the background – would force the issue).

But if it’s not then there are only two more possibilities.  That the future for these people is set and immaleable, that the visions they’ve seen (or not seen as in Demetri and the Sheriff’s cases) will happen exactly as they were seen without alteration.  The other possibility is, yes, now with foreknowledge of the events they will likely all change as everyone begins taking steps to run from or run toward them.  Like ripples in a pond (or the brush of a butterfly’s wings) all actions people take are now different than they existed before because there’s foreknowledge affecting them.  If Demetri, learning as he did from the woman who called him in response to his Mosaic posting that he would be murdered on March 15, 2010, takes all the knowledge of his murder she will tell him and deliberately plans to be elsewhere on that day, it can’t help but be a different outcome.

But here’s the butterfly in the ointment – Agent Benford saw himself investigating Project Mosaic.  All the pieces on the board were there, the pieces they are now putting together bit by bit.  If they were seeing a future that had no knowledge that they would have a vision of it, how could he be working on the project to determine why there were blackouts?  Are they all seeing a future that indeed includes their new experiences and knowledge?  And if you think too hard, it turns in on itself with multiple knowing/knowing that you know/knowing that you know that you know/etc.  Ouch, I have a headache.

3) I really like the fact that Mark and Olivia are communicating with each other about the substances of their visions.  Olivia has been completely honest with him about running into the man who she seems to be destined to be with, and working through the difficulties that may or may not result.  Mark is close to being completely honest, although hasn’t yet told her about falling off the wagon on that night.  The show could have easily, like so many other soapy shows do, had Olivia keep the info from him.  But her sharing the progress of her visions coming true actually rings more true to real life.  And I like that.

4) Speaking of the stranger in her vision, Lloyd Simcoe – how does he not recognize Olivia?  In the future that she saw he was in bed with her, got up to make a phone call and came downstairs where she eventually saw him sitting on the couch.  Obviously, he would, or will, know why he’s there and who she is so her explanation that he never saw her face in her vision shouldn’t matter why he doesn’t recognize her.  I think his memory of events is a key plot point.  Either a) he does recognize her from the visions and is confused as she is, but just didn’t say anything when they spoke, b) doesn’t recognize her from the visions and actually had a completely different vision – which would indicate the man she saw was not the same man she just met, or c) he is/will be involved in the conspiracy and is keeping their connection to himself on purpose.  As mild-mannered and fatherly as he seems to be, he bears a lot of watching.

5) I still don’t trust Noh – not the person he is now, necessarily, but maybe the person he will become.  His absence from the car wreck during the blackouts still hasn’t been addressed or explained.  Could he have been controlled by those responsible while everyone was unconscious, to do something specific?  Maybe he finds out what happened to him during the course of the show and changes sides.  Or goes into hiding.  Maybe his memory will be protected in the future so that his vision in the past was a blank.

6) I very carefully freeze-framed the “Missing Persons” wall, certain there would be a picture of someone from LOST on it (Zach and Emma were my guesses) but couldn’t find anyone.  I did see a remarkable number of duplications – multiple copies of the same sheets of paper scattered all over the wall.  Either the set designers were lazy and didn’t want to make 500 different “Have You Seen My Family” posters and simply reused the same ones over and over, or perhaps in context of the show people actually posted multiple copies.  Seems like a bit selfish, taking up space when someone else might want to use it.  Also an abnormally large number of missing dogs.  Sparky?  Sparky???

That’s all I have for this week.  As the season progresses I am assuming each week we’ll see another piece or two added to the Fox Mulder ™ Wall of Conspiracy.  Eventually the mosaic will become clearer and clearer.  And the conspiracy will deepen.  I’m looking forward to it…