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Flash Forward, Episode 109: “Believe”

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First of all, apologies for missing last week’s episode – I’m not sure what happened, but Wednesday rolled around and I remembered I hadn’t written a review.  So I punted.  Anyway, again, 23 days after the next episode and here we are again.

At least it’s not Wednesday…

Tonight’s episode marked another step in the format for “Flash Forward” that I hope continues, where some of the lesser stories are given more screen time while the main plot advances more or less in the periphery.  Aaron and his daughter, and Dr. Bryce and his mystery Japanese lady are obvious secondary plots in the overall scheme, but are interesting nonetheless and help flesh out the characters that support our leads.

After Al’s suicide that proved the future could be changed, we have seen characters going in different, more confident directions.   However we also see those whose trust in future events provides a solid basis to continue to live, and also those who sees their future crumbling around them.

1) We’ll start with Aaron and his daughter Tracy – like a chip off the old block, she’s drinking it up like dear old dad (used to do) and refusing to take responsibility for it.  Sounds like my daughter.  Well, not the drinking part, but the part about getting her homework done and not forgetting that paper that’s due tomorrow and not accepting that it’s her fault. But I digress.  Tracy’s terrified of being found and killed by mysterious paramilitary group “Jericho”, and has taken to drowning her sorrows in the bottle – regardless of the fact she’s living with an alcoholic father in AA.   Listen, Tracy, I know getting a leg blown off must be tough. I cry when I bite the inside of my cheek by accident.  But hey, cut the old man some slack.  It’s not his fault you ran off to join the military to “follow in his footsteps”, no matter you might think, and it’s certainly not his fault you decided to start boozing it up to take the edge of certain doom off.  He’s thought you were dead for 2 years, cut him some slack and don’t “go somewhere else where I can drink”.

“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth as to have an ungrateful child” – Shakespeare.  I think.  I quoted this to my son last night who was watching with me.  He just kinda looked at me.

But back to Aaron – he certainly reacted violently to Mark’s accusations of sending Olivia the text regarding his own future drinking indiscretions.  Obviously under a lot of stress, I’m not sure it warranted that reaction.  I certainly understand Mark’s point of view… only two people knew he had been drinking in his flash, Aaron and Wedeck, so in his mind it either had to be one of them – or someone else that’s spying on him.

Maybe it’s just my personality but I always find it difficult to understand how people (especially on TV) always find ways to shut themselves out of interpersonal relationships when the going gets tough.  Are there that many people in real life whose initial reactions when under stress and in pain is to close up, lash out, and reject the very friends they’ve cultivated?  I know my tendency when I’m having trouble is to seek out those close to me and talk with them.  Maybe it’s just me.  But I thought Aaron’s reactions to both Tracy and Mark seemed pretty self-centered and a little petty.  I’m not liking his character right now as much as I did initially – maybe it will straighten out when he actually has something to do, like travel with Tracy to Afghanistan to fulfill their parts of the flash forward..

(as an aside, regarding Mark’s strategy of talking to Aaron and Wedeck about the mysterious text: I think his intentions were not necessarily out of anger at his two friends, nor did I think he was really accusing them.  I think he trusts them both, and still does, but he had to get it clear in his mind that both were totally innocent of it so he could concentrate on figuring out who outside his circle has been spying on him, and alerted Olivia.  The only way to start that process successfully was to practically come out and accuse them both and get their raw, angry reactions – if one of them had done it, it’s likely they would have confessed on the spot.  I expected Mark to go back, apologize, and explain his actions (maybe that’s what he intended to do later on Aaron’s doorstep but was unable to break through Aaron’s barriers) but he may have damaged both relationships.  Poor Mark, so tragic and yet so unsympathetic…)

2) Now we have Dr. Bryce and his Japanese beauty flash forward.  We finally get a pretty clear glimpse at the reasoning for his near-suicide in the premiere, though the rationale behind it is still a little confusing.  He has Stage 4 cancer, which is a Very Bad Thing, and got a presumably very short life expectancy.  Through the kind of despair many people with terminal illnesses go through, they decide that the only way to not let cancer beat them is to do the deed themselves, in Bryce’s case with a gun.  But his flash forward seeing himself alive, and with a beautiful woman, 6 months in the future comes as an epiphany to him.  Even the hopes of a promising clinical trial are not enough to dissuade him from his fated path – he feels he will be healed regardless of the circumstances and survive to meet his dream girl.  He learns Japanese, heads to Tokyo on some leads to find her, but ultimately returns empty-handed.  Whether he will decide to pursue the clinical trial now is unknown.

Meanwhile we meet said Dream Girl, the lovely and talented Keiko (did you see the long-lost Nurse Alyssa Ogawa as Keiko’s mom?  Dr. Beverly Crusher’s trusted head nurse from Star Trek: TNG makes a nice appearance, and it was good to see her.  She was lovely then and is still lovely now).  Poor Keiki is an engineering/robotics whiz trying to make it in male-dominated Japanese business society but can’t hack the glass ceiling so decides to hie over to the States to seek her fortune.  Inevitably, she and Dr. Bryce will meet in a Japanese restaurant somewhere in L.A. much to their mutual surprise.

So do we have a new series (semi-) regular in Keiko?  Or will we not see her again until Flash Day in April?  Not sure how that plot thread will go – maybe there will be a series of near-misses and coincidental bypasses while hilarity ensues.  Hmm… yeah, I hope not.

3) Finally, the ongoing FBI investigation.  Um, yeah, not much to tell there.  The CIA/NSA/Homeland Security rep who met with our heroes certainly felt Demetri was being dodgy with them, but finally relented to release a recording they’d made of Deena Araz (“Behrooooooz!!”) calling Demetri to warn him of his imminent murder.   They also were able to provide the closeup of Suspect Prime’s Little Orphan Annie decoder ring (See!  The alpha symbol stands for ANNIE!!! It’s so perfect!) but can’t clear up his face any more.  Now we have blue hands, alpha symbols, Japanese “Believe” characters, plastic dolls, chess pieces, friendship bracelets, swans, butterflies and cute fuzzy bunnies providing clues to our heroes of the enemy’s nefarious deeds (ok, I made the bunnies and butterflies up.  But at this point are they really that farfetched?).  Yet another dangling plot thread to be resolved next week.

Oh, sorry, make that two weeks.  Apparently Turkey Week doesn’t get a Flash Forward.  Fine, I’ll eat my stuffing and just pout about it.

But – not to spoiler anyone – the previews for the next new episode make it look like a doozy.  Action! Confessions! Mark overturning tables!  More fun than you can shake an alpha ring at.

See you next time, In a Flash.