FlashForward: Blowback

After last week’s fast-paced and interesting installment, it’s disappointing to see how quickly FlashForward has already slid back into its former rut of tedium and bad pacing.

We discover Aaron has a prison record for getting into violent bar fights. He’s still hiding his surly, unpleasant, alcoholic daughter Tracy (Genevieve Cortese) from military contractor Jericho, which Tracy believes was behind the attempt to kill her in Afghanistan. Tracy gives a few more details about how she escaped from them: Khamir, the man in Aaron’s flash forward, helped smuggle her out of the country in the cargo hold of a humanitarian relief plane.

Aaron tells Tracy’s friend Corporal Mike Willingham (Mark Famiglietti) that she’s alive and staying at his house. Next thing you know, Tracy gets violently kidnapped by armed thugs. Aaron might not be the brightest guy on this show, but he puts it together that there might be a connection between those two events. He kidnaps Mike and roughs him up. In his guise as a mild-mannered Department of Water & Power worker, Aaron then pays a visit to Jericho’s head honcho, James Erskine (James Remar), whom he threatens in a highly ineffectual manner. Aaron taps Erskine’s phones and discovers Tracy has been taken back to Kandahar. Which we sort of knew would happen, since Aaron finds Tracy in Afghanistan in his flash forward.

Demetri and Zoey: Oh, man, this plotline stinks. Determined to prevent Demetri’s grisly fate, Zoey drops by Mark’s house and grills him as to any possible reasons why he’d maybe want to murder his good buddy and partner in the future. Mark doesn’t really want to play this game -- as far as he can tell, he doesn’t want to murder Demetri -- but Zoey pushes him. He reluctantly mentions the suspected FBI mole -- he knows Demetri isn’t the source of the leak, but if it turned out he was, it might be a reason to kill him. Enraged at this slight against her fiancé’s integrity, Zoey snaps at him to go to hell and flounces out. Words can’t express how much I hate this kind of crap. Look, Zoey: For all of Mark’s faults, he genuinely likes and respects Demetri. You badgered him to come up with a purely theoretical reason, and as soon as he did exactly that, you turned on him. It’s stupid and childish, and it makes me lose all respect for Zoey.

Zoey serves Stan with papers to release information about the Mosaic project to her. She also decides she’s going to represent accused terrorist Alda Herzog (Rachel Roberts) to get access to everything she claims to know about Demetri’s murder. Zoey and Demetri squabble and squabble and squabble about the way she’s disrupting his workplace. They reconcile long enough to decide to destroy the future murder weapon -- Mark’s gun -- but then discover it has disappeared.

Believe it or not, this Demetri-Zoey nonsense is still more interesting than Janis’s plotline, in which she takes prenatal vitamins and browbeats the head of a fertility clinic into helping her get pregnant, even though her obstetrician has warned against it, thanks to her bullet-ridden uterus.

In the episode’s sole mildly-interesting plotline, Mark and Lloyd attempt to walk through the events of Lloyd’s flash forward, which of course include Lloyd lolling around in bed with Mark’s wife. Awkward! Mark shows Lloyd a sketch of D. Gibbons, and Lloyd claims not to have any idea who he is, even though they discussed him in their flash forwards. “I don’t have time to play Pissy Brit with you,” snaps Mark. Oh, Mark, there’s always time to play Pissy Brit. I've squeezed in several rounds of Pissy Brit today already, and it's not even 9 AM yet.

Lloyd remembers that, in his flash forward, Simon texted him a formula, which was also written on the bedroom mirror in lipstick. He also remembers talking on the phone with Mark about something called the QED, which Lloyd figures refers to quantum electrodynamics. Mark finally gets Lloyd to admit he knows D. Gibbons: He’s actually Dyson Frost, a presumed-dead professor at Oxford who stole Lloyd’s research and passed it off as his own.

Mark mentions his daughter Charlie called D. Gibbons a “bad man,” presumably because of something she discovered in her as-yet unrevealed flash forward. Since D. Gibbons is far and away the FBI’s biggest lead as to the cause of the flash forwards, Lloyd thinks it’s damn weird that Mark hasn’t asked Charlie for details about this. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Lloyd, thank you for expressing what the audience has been wondering since September. It is weird. This whole business with Charlie and D. Gibbons was first raised in the second episode and has barely been addressed since, which is sloppy and inexplicable. Mark kind of shrugs it off, saying he and Olivia haven’t wanted to traumatize Charlie further, but… No. There’s no good excuse.

Dyson Frost, it seems, wrote a paper on the mirror test, which concerns recognizing levels of consciousness on animals. Frost worked with crows, which makes Mark think of the dead crows in Somalia in 1991. Which, like Charlie’s connection to D. Gibbons, is another crucial plot development that was addressed early on and then shuffled to the sidelines, though at least the dead crows have been occasionally mentioned since then.

Mark again asks Stan if he can fly to Somalia, accompanying one of Red Panda’s aid missions. Stan defers to smarmy CIA agent Vogel on this, who decides to send Demetri and Janis instead. He claims it’s because Mark is too valuable, though it’s transparently because he can’t stand Mark and wants to cause him as much grief as possible. I can dig it. Vogel wants Janis and Demetri to access the single mysterious tower around which all the crows died. Simon appears, looking like hell from his various misadventures last episode, and insists he go with them, seeing as how the tower is based upon his original design.

It's too late in the season to waste time on episodes that move this slowly, guys.


Anonymous said…
This was a very slow episode. In fact I'm pretty sure I mentally tuned out a couple of times because your recap mentions things I totally missed. The pacing of this show, the one step forward now shuffle that info off to the side and maybe we'll address it ten months from now, is a pain. There are a few small elements I like, but overall this show is turning into a bit of a chore for me to watch.
Morgan Richter said…
This was tedious to sit through. Like you, I'm exasperated with the way interesting things happen, then get put to the side, to be addressed (maybe) at some later date. At this point in the season, I have no patience for plotlines that don't directly tie into the cause of the flash forwards. Maybe the Tracy-Aaron-Jericho business will eventually tie into Somalia (or maybe not), but right now it doesn't, and it's not interesting enough to take up so much time. Ditto for Nicole's crisis of faith, or Bryce's here-today-gone-tomorrow terminal cancer. Don't get me started on Janis's attempts to get pregnant. Demetri maybe getting murdered by Mark in the future should be a whole lot more interesting than it is.

In fact, right now Simon and to a lesser extent Lloyd are the only characters holding down plotlines that are sustaining my interest. The rest of it? Maybe some of it will pay off later, but right now I feel like it's wasting my time. (Careful readers might notice that it's also making me a little grumpy.)
Patrick said…
I share the views of Morgan and levitatethis. Almost didn't watch the episode and was just going to rely on the recap.

Agree that the Janice and Zoey stories were excruciating. The only part of the Zoey story that keeps me interested is the feeling I had all episode that she works for the bad guys and will be the person who shoots Dem. There was this look on her face all episode and I'm convinced this will be a twist yet.
Patrick said…
If I was the actress who played the terrorist I'd be talking to my agent about the role. Just gets to do a few seconds every now and then. Always thought she'd be very important and she might still be.
Morgan Richter said…
If Zoey does in fact turn out to be the one who shoots Demetri, I will forgive this storyline for much of this tediousness. Janis's pregnancy storyline... I don't think there's any way to make it more interesting.

Final verdict on this episode: Not enough of the hobbit. Whenever Simon is in the picture, I can excuse a lot of the show's flaws, just because his plotline is interesting and his character is compelling. When he's not around, I have no patience for it.
Patrick said…
What date is it on the show? Janice needs to conceive next week to be in her second trimester on April 29. So is it still November 2009 or something? At this rate we will never get to April 29 for the end of the season.
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah, the long, unscheduled break to retool the show messed up the timeline. Wasn't Demetri supposed to be killed in mid-March? So all that's been thrown off schedule. The season won't wrap up by April 29th.
Patrick said…
The second trimester is weeks 13-24 of the pregnancy. So April 29 is at least 13 weeks away on the show.

So Demetri is still about 6 weeks away from being shot in March. They need to speed things up fairly quickly. We can't start season 2 and still be building up to the events seen on 29 April.

If Zoey does shoot Dem then the FF makes perfect sense. Dem's mother gives Zoey a look of pure hatred, even though they have since reconciled. The memorial service could be a set-up to trap Zoey. That's why she drops the flower, because she realises it's a set-up.

Dem would have drugged himself to be unconscious in the FF, and that way not send a message back in time to Zoey that her attempted assassination had failed.
Patrick said…
My other guess - and this is just another odd vibe I picked up this week and last week - is that Janice will conceive in Somalia and Simon will be the father. Don't even ask me how this will come about - maybe they think they will die or maybe she wants an intelligent father and he volunteers.

I do not for a second believe that Simon designed the towers aged 13. I know that's the story we are expected to believe by the writers - but I'd much prefer if the designs had been sent back through time, or that the towers existed outside of the timeline.
Morgan Richter said…
I hope your guesses are correct, Patrick, because that all sounds more interesting and well thought-out than what I suspect will actually happen. I'd love it if we discovered Demetri had deliberately drugged himself during his flash forward to (for whatever reason) disguise the fact that he didn't die in the future.

I'm hoping there's some cool twist to Janis's pregnancy. Because, dramatically speaking, "I saw myself pregnant in my flash forward, so I went to a clinic and picked out a sperm donor and got pregnant, the end" is pretty sucky. So, yeah, if Simon turns out to be the father? That'd sure be unexpected.
Anna said…
Heh. I stopped watching this episode when the water in Aaron's kitchen caught fire.
Morgan Richter said…
Oh, lordy. Was it water? I guess my brain explained it away by assuming Tracy was cooking something that caught fire. It was a bafflingly dumb episode overall. I was kind of amazed at the whole "Aaron tells Mike about Tracy, so Mike promptly has Tracy violently kidnapped, then goes for a drive with Aaron without thinking Aaron might know he was behind the kidnapping" sequence of events.
Anna said…
I would not have paid attention if it had not been for the dramatic close-up of the boiling water, with the spaghetti lying next to the stove.

After watching the rest of the episode, I have to agree that a lot of things did not make sense, Mike's behaviour is high on the list. It's... like they didn't tell the actor that his character was evil. And Aaron betraying Tracy's whereabouts, in the same episode that reveals him as a mega-competent Super Spy? Nothing that happened in this episode was the least bit surprising. Every twist was predictable as hell, and not much of anything happened in between.

Of all the plotlines this episode, I think only the Mark/Lloyd scenes were... somewhat interesting, even though sloppily written. I was rolling my eyes through most of the rest. Especially Janis' storyline. It more and more feels like she's only a lesbian because that makes her getting pregnant even more unlikely. The entire existence of this character now revolves around her baby wish. Jesus Christ. But even Zoey and Demetri were annoying, and this used to be a storyline I had an interest in... o_o What the hell, FlashForward.
vallikat said…
It wasn't the water that caught fire. The water had boiled away causing the pan to catch fire.

That said, I was very disappointed in this episode after the last one. I was quite pleased with the way Flashforward returned after hiatus and I thought "now, finally we're getting somewhere." Then last week's episode comes along (which I finally watched last night) and I was quite let down.

One thing that was glaringly aparent to me after this episode though was that for the characters on the show it is still November. So is Flashforward going to have to have a flashforward in order to catch things up to where they are supposed to be come April 29 or are we just always going to be 4 months behind?
Morgan Richter said…
Hi, Vallikat -- yeah, I sort of think the timeline is going to stay messed up, probably due to the extra-long break the show took to do some retooling (which, by the way, would have been totally worth it, had all the remaining episodes of the season been up to the quality of last week. Alas, this episode was one of the worst of the series to date, so I'm not sure all that retooling time was well spent). April 29th is going to come and go, and the show will still be lagging several months behind.

Anna, I'm with you on Janis's storyline. At least last episode she got to run around with Simon and actually do, like, FBI stuff. This episode was all about her baby wish, which just seems so arbitrary (e.g., "I was pregnant in my flash forward, so now my primary goal is to have a baby, even though I'd never thought about it much before."). It's disappointing.
vallikat said…
"April 29th is going to come and go, and the show will still be lagging several months behind."

This is my fear. Considering the ratings I don't believe ABC will stick with it long enough to make it until April 29th in show time. Thus, we'll probably never get any resolution to what happens on that date let alone any of the other unanswered questions.
Morgan Richter said…
I hope ABC lets it finish out the season. I don't think there's any chance of renewal, but it'd be a shame if we never got answers to some of the bigger questions. The ratings aren't promising, but hopefully ABC will at least let it wrap up gracefully.
Patrick said…
On reflection I think Mark will shoot Demetri - but only because he wants to fake his death to confuse Zoey. That explains the FF - the bad guys genuinely believe that Mark killed Demetri in March but they can't understand why. So they send Zoey to work in the FBI building and grill Mark. Notice the way she kept asking him the circumstances in which he might hypothetically shoot Demetri. Marks mentions the mole in the FBI. So Zoey and her paymasters will plant evidence to incriminate Demetri, and an episode will end with Mark shooting him.
Patrick said…
I've never written a season of a tv show but I don't think it would have been incredibly difficult for the writers to have plotted out this show. They could have used Mark's Mosaic wall as an inspiration and charted out where they wanted to be each week. So by episode 3 Janice should have been pregnant, by episode 5 Mark's marriage should be over, by episode 8 Demetri should have been shot, and by April 29 in real life we should have been at April 29 on the show (with or without the extended break).

I also found it funny that when I googled Flashforward over the weekend the first suggestion was 'Flashforward cancelled' in the not-so-helpful suggestion bar.
Patrick said…
Do you remember that episode with the President and the Vice President? No, neither do I. Sloppy.
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah, why do I think all the intrigue with President Peter Coyote and the Asian assassins who shot Janis and ambushed Stan and Demetri in DC will never be mentioned again? Blue Hand Gang, anyone? It's kind of discouraging.

Patrick, that'd be very, very interesting if it turned out that Zoey has been working for the bad guys all this time. I really hope there's some clever explanation about Demetri's death (or "death", depending on how it turns out). Ever since Zoey realized her flash forward was at his memorial service, not at their wedding (which is just a preposterous mistake to make), I've kind of lost interest in that plotline. It needs a cool twist.
vallikat said…
Speaking of Zoey's Flashforward -

Perhaps I dozed off and missed this so does someone know the answer to this:

Why are they having the memorial 6 weeks after he is killed?
Morgan Richter said…
Vallikat, that's a good point about Demetri's memorial service. I suppose getting everyone to Hawaii would take some organizing and advance planning, and sometimes it's just not convenient/possible to have an immediate memorial (my mom's memorial service, for example, took place four months after her death). So the delay could end up being significant, or it could have some more innocuous explanation.
Dan said…
So, yeah... can Patrick send his consciousness back in time and write a much better version of this show?


The only people I now like are Simon and the CIA dude.

Stan's exasperation with the antics of his underlings is also kinda entertaining. And if Aaron had been pulling batshit-crazy superspy type shenanigans all along, I'd have liked him too perhaps. But this all just came out of nowhere.

Everybody else bores me senseless.
Morgan Richter said…
Dan, my friend, it's all downhill from here. Each episode gets just a little bit worse than the one before it.

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