FlashForward Episode Eight: Playing Cards With Coyote

It’s been two months since the blackouts. There’s a news broadcast about Al’s suicide and the possibilities it suggests about how the events seen in the flash forwards can be changed.

Lloyd sends an email to several parties, titled “We have to take responsibility.”

Janis returns to work and gets hugged by Stan, who is especially paternal in this episode. Lots of comforting shoulder pats. When Janis tries to resign, Stan won’t let her, claiming he needs her in the office. She confesses that, in the wake of Al’s death, she’s confused about her own future.

Simon shows up at the hospital while Lloyd is doing card tricks for Dylan. Simon refers to Lloyd as a Nobel finalist, which is a little confusing. Nobel finalists aren’t publicly announced, are they? I just a spent a few minutes hunting for a conclusive answer at the official Nobel Prize site, and I can’t say for certain, but no, it doesn’t seem like Lloyd would know he was a finalist. Anyway, Simon is Not Amused about Lloyd’s email (they make repeated references to a “Myhill”, who is either another recipient of the email or the name of a company). Lloyd wants to go public with the information that they were responsible for the blackouts. Simon is rather vehemently opposed to this idea. He suggests he and Lloyd settle their dispute in a civilized way, i.e. with a high-stakes hand of Texas Hold ‘Em. If Lloyd wins, he and Simon will reveal their role in the blackouts to the public. If Simon wins, they’ll keep their mouths shut.

Mark and Olivia roll around in bed together, celebrating the notion that their future can be changed. Poor cute Al -- his death is cause for a lot of rejoicing this episode. Mark gives Olivia a gift, which she doesn’t open. Demetri calls and interrupts their nuzzling and cuddling: The police department in Barstow sent the FBI video footage of the murder of a man named Parovsky, committed by a man with three stars tattooed on his arm, just like the tattoo on the man trying to kill Mark in his flash forward. The video was shot by a woman named Ingrid Alvarez on her camera phone. Janis produces enhanced photos of the footage -- one of the photos, a close-up of the star tattoo, was on Mark’s evidence wall in his flash forward.

At the hospital, Olivia opens her gift from Mark: a sexy black bra and matching underpants, which is what she wore to greet Lloyd in her flash forward.

Aaron’s house: Tracy, sleeping on the couch, wakes up crying and screaming. Aaron rushes to comfort her. She struggles with crutches, and we see she has a prosthetic leg. She won’t let Aaron tell anyone, her mother included, that she’s still alive. More, she refuses to talk about what happened. Aaron lays some guilt on her, mentioning that he’s been through hell thinking she’s been dead for two years. I’m firmly on Team Aaron here. Oh, and Tracy? Call your mom.

Janis, Mark and Demetri go to Barstow to interview Ingrid Alvarez, whose roommate has just been murdered in what was most likely an attempt by Parovsky’s killers to silence Ingrid. She tells them about Parovsky’s murder: She was walking to her car after work and spotted three men fighting in the alley. She hid and called 911, then filmed the assault with her phone while she was on hold. She saw the victim give the men a case before the two other men killed him. One of the assailants was gray-haired; the other was a muscular blond. She heard them mention something about “QED.”

Simon and Lloyd play cards in a casino. I’m actually less than fascinated by watching people playing cards, but Simon’s running patter is pretty entertaining. When he snarks to Lloyd about how Lloyd’s prize for winning would be confessing to mass murder, he casually explains to the aghast other players that “confessing to mass murder” is just a Manchester figure of speech. Dominic Monaghan is a fine, fine addition to this cast. Another player mentions something about an Inevitability Index: People are trying to calculate the odds of the events seen in the flash forwards actually happening. Simon claims it’s a scam, because the future has already happened. (Not that either of the assailants in Ingrid’s footage resembled Simon, but it’s probably worth mentioning that Simon punctuates his remarks on the subject with “QED.”)

At the hospital, Nicole talks to Olivia about how she’s feeling optimistic now that she knows the flash forwards might not come true. Olivia is feeling upbeat as well, as are Mark and Demetri. And won’t they all feel silly when Zombie Al pops up to show the future can’t be changed? (I feel certain that Zombie Al is within the realm of possibility. It was implied last episode that Al was Creole, what with his dirty rice and all. I could totally handle a good voodoo plotline, if it means bringing Al back.)

Tracy finally confides in her father: Two years ago, while working long-range reconnaissance on an village in Afghanistan, she’d witnessed military contractors working for a private firm called Jericho (aha -- not Jericho missiles. That makes much more sense) massacring everyone in the village. She reported this to her superior officer, and a week later her Humvee was ambushed. She’s been in hiding ever since.

Against Tracy’s wishes, Aaron secretly tells Mark that she’s still alive. Since other soldiers in the Humvee were blown to bits, Aaron theorizes that they buried Tracy’s leg with parts from other soldiers. Hence the DNA match during the exhumation.

Mark and Stan become increasingly convinced there’s a mole in the FBI reporting their movements to someone. Mark believes that’s how men with assault rifles will gain access to the Federal building during the events in his flash forward. Yeah, the mole is Agent Vreede, who was in the building during Mark’s flash forward and who saw himself going out the emergency exit for unknown reasons. Of course it’s Vreede. Unless that’s too obvious, and it turns out to be… dunno. Janis, maybe. Still, I’m betting it’s Vreede.

When Aaron confesses to Tracy that he filled Mark in on her situation, she panics. Aaron tries to reassure her by telling her about his flash forward, which proves she’s alive in the future: They’re in Afghanistan, in a bunker or a cave with graffiti on the walls. Aaron went outside the bunker and talked to a tall, dark man with a scar, who told him, “The account has been verified,” and Aaron gave him an envelope. Tracy identifies the man as Khamir, a field medic who nursed her to health. She doesn’t mention what she saw in her own flash forward.

While Mark and Demetri stake out the exterior of Ingrid’s place, Ingrid shows Janis her exotic pet birds. Ingrid says in her flash forward, she saw herself working at the Bronx Zoo. When the lights suddenly go out, Janis protects Ingrid while Mark and Demetri enter the building. Mark shoots and kills a gray-haired man with the three stars tattooed on his arms. Because the other murderer is still at large, Janis tells Ingrid they’ll need to place her in the Witness Protection Program, which meshes with her flash forward of living in New York.

Poker game: Simon is winning by a significant margin. He (foolishly) declares they’ll play one final hand, winner take all. Oh, Simon, what are we going to do with you? Simon has four of a kind… but Lloyd trumps him with a straight flush. He tells Simon the game was too important to leave to chance, so he cheated by doing magic tricks with the cards. You know, Lloyd, maybe you shouldn’t have mentioned that.

In the office at night, Janis visits websites on sperm donation. She shows Stan a slightly less blurry photo of Suspect Zero at the stadium in Detroit during the blackouts. Janis and Stan can barely make out a ring on the man’s finger.

Mark comes home. He tells Olivia he killed the man who was going to come after him, in order to change his future. Olivia hugs him tightly, though she looks kind of freaked out by Mark’s actions.

In an unidentified location, a man with a shaved head and three stars tattooed on his arm removes a suitcase from an armored car in the rain. Another man brings the case to a middle-aged man, who is seated at a table inside a warehouse. The middle-aged man examines the contents of the case: a series of rings with thick bands and large center stones, like class rings. “There were supposed to be seven,” he observes, before quoting a little Oppenheimer and shooting the man who brought him the case.

Well. That was enigmatic.

Comments

levitatethis said…
I liked seeing people trying to take charge of their lives in this episode instead of resigning themselves to what might happen. I'm curious to see whether the choices they all make end up altering things or taking them to the same end but on another road.

I have to say I was a bit annoyed when Mark said he'd killed the guy who was coming to kill him in the future based on the tattoo. Why would any of them assume that that guy would be the only person with that tattoo? I expect more from FBI agents and though it was a small thing it was a tad detrimental to the character.

Simon and Lloyd play cards in a casino. I’m actually less than fascinated by watching people playing cards, but Simon’s running patter is pretty entertaining. When he snarks to Lloyd about how Lloyd’s prize for winning would be confessing to mass murder, he casually explains to the aghast other players that “confessing to mass murder” is just a Manchester figure of speech. Dominic Monaghan is a fine, fine addition to this cast.

I really dug Dominic Monaghan this episode. From the way he steered the conversation at the hospital to the banter during the card game, he had a lot of presence and I was drawn in by what he was saying and why.
Morgan Richter said…
I was disappointed in Mark for killing the guy, too (and I suspect Olivia was as well). It definitely was on the wrong side of the line between what FBI agents should/shouldn't do.

Dominic is bringing a lot to the role. I like how Simon seems brainy and calculating and reckless and sinister and debauched all at once.
Patrick said…
An enjoyable episode and they handled Tracy's return pretty well.

My criticisms are really about how it is written. There seems to be a lot of repetition in scenes. How many times have Simon (who is fast becoming one of the real stars of the show) and Lloyd done the chat about Lloyd not being available to talk, Lloyd wanting to take responsibility, and Simon seeming very pleased about being to blame for the disaster? The conversation never develops, it's just Claire and Noah all over again.

And I wouldn't have started the episode with another Celia letter voiceover. Oh and by the way, Al dies leaving that letter. The least Demitri could have done was deliver it in person or have some FBI agent deliver it. I wouldn't just find out Celia's address and drop it in the mail. That seemed a bit casual.

My other complaint is that the writers are being a little dishonest about the FF. As the plot develops they suddenly reveal new bits about what people saw that were never previously mentioned (or shown). Aaron was tortured by his vision but he never mentioned to Mark (or anyone else) the bit about leaving Tracey's bedside, going outside, and having a conversation with a man with a scar. This could have been helpful information!
Patrick said…
Imagine if Mark ends up responsible for Celia's death, that could trigger the drinking, and Olivia sleeping with Lloyd. I'd be a bit unhappy with that, though, as it would mean that in the FF Al was in London feeling guilty about Celia and Mark was drinking for the same reason. much better to let the Celia story go.

I wonder if Simon really is responsible for the FF? He and his scientist friends (I paused the screen and got their names) were certainly working on something, but I wouldn't be surprised if they knew nothing about Somalia. Also, we've seen Simon's FF. He wasn't at that stadium, so who was?
Morgan Richter said…
It's a darn good thing Simon is so entertaining, because Patrick, you're right -- there's been a lot of repetition in the Lloyd-Simon scenes.

And yes, it would've been helpful to know all of Aaron's flash forward at the start. We were purposefully misdirected to think he found Tracy alive for the first time in Afghanistan. I don't think it really changes anything, but it seems like an unnecessary bit of trickery.
Dan said…
Just once I'd like to see duelling card players stake everything on one hand and then have that hand turn out to be, I dunno, a pair of 4s vs Jack High

Or not bet everything on one hand when you're miles ahead. Because for a genius, that's just dumb.
Morgan Richter said…
The only thing dumber than betting everything on a single winner-takes-all hand during a super-high-stakes poker game when you're miles ahead? After you win that hand, telling your opponent you cheated. I wanted to knock Simon's and Lloyd's heads together after that scene. I'm starting to see how they managed to kill twenty million people by accident.
Patrick said…
Morgan, new Doctor Who episode aired last night. 'The Waters of Mars'. Very atmospheric - I just watched it on youtube and it seems to be available for short time, keywords Waters Mars and '1 of 7' and so on...
Morgan Richter said…
Patrick, thanks. I knew this was the big Who weekend, but I haven't managed to see it yet. I'll track it down.
Dan said…
I wanted to knock Simon's and Lloyd's heads together after that scene.

Yes, for acclaimed geniuses, they were both rather dumb in that scene. Which is not impossible - even geniuses can get caught up in the excitement of the situation and their attempts at one-upmanship and say or do things they shouldn't. I'm just not convinced that was the interpretation the writers wanted us to draw.

Another okay episode. I'm a bit worried about all the separate mysteries they keep throwing out there. What did we add this time? Mysterious guy at the end? The Jericho people (a shout-out to the television show? That show certainly seemed riddled with evil soldiers)? How far did we progress on existing mysteries? Awake dude wears a ring.

I'd really like them to start tying some of these together. It all feels very scattered at the moment.

(And, yes, I know that's how Lost did it. I watch Lost. I know Lost. Lost is a favourite show of mine. FlashForward, you're no Lost.)
Morgan Richter said…
It all feels very scattered at the moment.

It made me a little cranky. But then again, last week's Heroes and V both made me cranky too, and I've given up on Glee due to crankiness, so I sort of suspect the problem lies with my own damn attitude these days, which, granted, can certainly stand to see some improvement. (I'm going to try to not be so venomous towards Heroes tonight. That's the goal. Baby steps.)
rakeback said…
Flash Forward has taken some very interesting turns lately, but as the suicide of the FBI agent proved, there is a paradox in people seeing their future. If they can kill themselves they alter what happens to everyone else seen in their flash forward and thus change the future. The show reminds me of Back To The Future.
Morgan Richter said…
The show reminds me of Back To The Future.

Minus the lively soundtrack from Huey Lewis and the News, but yeah, I see your point, rakeback. I'm interested to see what things are going to look like by the time the timeline catches up to the flash forwards -- whose are going to be the same, and whose are going to be entirely different. (It'd be a complete cheat -- yet sort of funny! -- if all the flash forwards change and all these mysteries never get solved: we never find out who tries to drown Nicole, we never find out about Bryce's mysterious dream girl, Janis never gets pregnant...)
Patrick said…
Simon tells Llyod in the hospital:

'But I still have doubts as to the cause of the blackout'.

I think that line is very significant. The scientists were working on something big, but they may or not have been responsible for the blackout. Unless one had a connection with Somalia then there is something bigger going on that Simon might not even be aware of.

I looked again at the names in Lloyd's email. He sent his message to:

Gordon Myhill
Gabe Calyson
Elizabeth Rhee
Phillipe Tarhan

all have nlap.us.com addresses.

Myhill seems to be the most significant.

By the way, Morgan, you have 62 posts for this year compared to 51 for last year, so well done!
Morgan Richter said…
Thanks for the list of names, Patrick. "Myhill" would seem to be key.

It'd be interesting if it turns out Lloyd and Simon didn't cause the flash forwards. I suspect they'll be revealed to be at least somewhat culpable, but the bigger picture may be more complex than that.

By the way, Morgan, you have 62 posts for this year compared to 51 for last year, so well done!

Thank you. I'm overcompensating for my slothful "two posts per month" summer.

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