FlashForward: Future Shock

We’re here at last. The final episode. Let’s deal with the sweet, pretty, dull people first. Keiko, Bryce, Nicole, I’m looking at you.

Bryce rushes down to the immigration facility to find Keiko. The grumpy clerk tells him she was released an hour ago. She refuses to give him any further information, so Bryce pours his heart out about how he flew to Tokyo just to try to meet Keiko, and how he really loves her even though he’s never met her. The clerk replies, “In my flash forward, I had $100 in my pocket, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it got there.” Bryce fishes around in his wallet. In exchange, she gives him the phone number for the sushi restaurant where he saw Keiko in his flash forward.

Outside the facility, Nicole apologizes to Bryce for not telling him about Keiko. Bryce apologizes for stringing her along when he knew he was in love with Keiko the whole time. Brokenhearted, Nicole speeds away and, in her distress, somehow manages to drive straight into a pond. She starts to drown, but a nice random guy named Ed rescues her. So all ends well-ish for Nicole.

Meanwhile, Keiko and her mom, under the supervision of Immigration agents, stand in the security line at LAX for their flight back to Tokyo. Impulsively, her mother poses a distraction by pitching a loud fit to give Keiko a chance to slip away and find Bryce. Oh, lordy. Making a ruckus in a security line and/or sneaking out of a security line is exactly the sort of thing that results in a terminal evacuation. No worries. I’m sure all the thousands of other travelers in the terminal don’t want their pressing travel plans to stand in the way of Keiko finding true love.

Bryce and Keiko finally meet at the sushi restaurant and, presumably, live happily ever after. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter -- we’ll never, ever hear anything more about them, and hey, I’m okay with that.

Mark sits in a holding cell, charged with being drunk and disorderly and stupid beyond all rational comprehension. Stan bails him out and drives him back to their office. For some damn reason, Stan apologizes to Mark. For not fully understanding the depth and breadth of his idiocy? It’s unclear. Anyway, Stan calls Aaron and passes the phone to Mark, so Mark can receive a pep talk from his friend/AA sponsor.

You’d think Aaron would have more pressing matters at the moment, seeing as: a) he’s on the run and hiding from gunmen in a remote part of Afghanistan, and b) his daughter Tracy died in his arms last episode. But wait! Ace physician Khamir takes another peek at Tracy and decides she’s somewhat less dead than he previously thought. So, sure, Aaron’s got plenty of time to give Mark a metaphorical shoulder-punch and to sternly tell him to stay off the sauce. Do Aaron and Tracy ever make it out of Afghanistan? We’ll never know, and I don’t think anyone will lose sleep about that.

So some miscreant has rigged the Federal Building with bombs. Lots of bombs. Five or more, located on multiple floors. Didn’t we find out last episode that the FBI was on super-duper extra-high alert for Flash Forward Day? And yet someone managed to sneak in there and plant a whole slew of bombs? Yep, that sounds about right. The FBI could bring a pretty good lawsuit against this show for slander, what with the way the Feds are portrayed as a pack of bunglers. Stan evacuates the entire building. Megalomaniac Mark decides the bad guys must have planted the bombs for the express purpose of destroying his evidence wall, so he rushes into the building.

Heavily-armed men attack and massacre the bomb squad members (all of whom were wearing body armor, BTW), then swarm the building after Mark. For no particular reason, Stan and Vreede go in as well.

Olivia and Charlie snuggle on a blanket on the beach and watch fireworks. Lloyd arrives, Dylan in tow, and tells Olivia he absolutely needs to recreate the conditions in their flash forwards in order to have his breakthrough about the equation. Olivia agrees, even though she was adamantly opposed to this idea at the end of last episode, so they all head back to the Benford house.

Charlie shows Dylan around. She’s downright chipper for someone who had a vision that her dad was going to be killed later that night. A vision which apparently traumatized her for months, traumatized her so much she was unable to talk to her parents about it, even though it could possibly provide the key to solving the world’s biggest mystery. Yet here she is, on the night in question, chirping away to Dylan about cookies. Anyway, it turns out it’s Dylan, not Lloyd, who writes the equation in lipstick on the bedroom mirror. Lloyd frets about not being able to solve it, then he makes out with Olivia.

Simon, Janis and Demetri arrive at the National Linear Accelerator Project building in Palo Alto. Janis, who’s been having some severe pregnancy-related cramping, approaches the security guard at the gate and asks him to call an ambulance. While the guard scrambles to help her, Demetri and Simon sneak inside the facility.

Janis gets carted off to the hospital, where an ultrasound shows there’s nothing wrong with her baby. She also discovers that, contrary to her flash forward, she’s having a boy, not a girl.

Demetri and Simon drink beer and squabble with each other, while Simon tries to hunt down the file he’d uploaded into the mainframe which brought about the first global blackout. Remembering he sent Lloyd some kind of text message in Lloyd’s flash forward, Simon texts Lloyd with Lloyd’s old electronic signature -- the formula for a damped wave, to signify a tearful goodbye. Physics humor. Gotta love it.

Lloyd receives the text and realizes the formula is the missing part of his equation. He smooches Olivia and calls Mark to tell him there will be another global blackout sometime in the next two days.

Mark examines his evidence wall and realizes Baltar moved stuff around to send him a message that the next blackout will happen at 10:14 -- which is in just a few minutes. He’s suddenly swarmed by a whole bunch of men with assault rifles. He’s outnumbered and outgunned. Which is exactly what he saw in his flash forward all those months ago, and yet he still didn’t bother to prepare for it. Oh, Mark Benford. I think I’ll miss you the least of all.

So there’s a lot of chaos in the Federal Building, as Stan, Vogel and Mark each shoot it out with the bad guys from their various locations. Mark calls Stan and tells him about the upcoming blackout. Stan gets out of the building and spreads the news.

At the lab in Palo Alto, Simon discovers someone is accessing the mainframe from outside the building. The particle accelerator fires up.

With just a few seconds left before the bombs detonate, Mark runs for the exit… but the second global blackout strikes before he makes it out.

Worldwide, everyone collapses. We see a kangaroo hopping down a deserted street, which is a callback to the pilot, back when this show was fresh and shiny and new and interesting. It makes me kind of wistful and sad.

While Janis lies unconscious in the hospital, Lita -- the only person still awake, thanks to the QED ring she’s wearing -- wheels her out of there in a wheelchair.

This time, the flash forwards take place at some point further in the future. The only vision we really see is young Charlie’s. Now a teenager, she tells someone excitedly, “They found him!”

Back in the present, the Federal Building explodes, presumably (hopefully?) taking Mark with it.

Messy and unsatisfying, but you know what? Doesn’t matter. It’s over. Farewell, FlashForward. You started out so well, but your time had come.

Comments

levitatethis said…
I actually watched this episode (after barely paying attention to the last two) and...well...whatever. I agree it was unsatisfying and I honestly couldn't remember why I cared about it in the first place.

One of my biggest problems with this show was that characters didn't act like actual people. They said or did things (or didn't do things) like normal people so actions or words ended up feeling forced and false to me. Which meant I couldn't connect to the characters. And it's not about liking or agreeing with the characters, but believing them. Which I didn't.

Favourite moment? At the end when Mark was running it looked like he was aiming to jump out the window and hurl himself at the helicopter. The thought of that cracked me up even if it wasn't what the show was doing...though knowing this show, it probably was.

Well, Morgan, another crappy show come and gone. Can't wait to see what you end up covering when the new television season starts.
Morgan Richter said…
Yeah -- everyone's actions, especially in the latter half of the season, just became so arbitrary and weird. Why did Olivia change her mind and decide to go back with Lloyd so they could play out their regularly-scheduled flash forward? Why did she then make out with Lloyd? Why was Charlie so blithe and happy on the day her dad was supposed to die? Why does Mark do any of the idiotic things he does? I ended up feeling very distanced from these characters.

Can't wait to see what you end up covering when the new television season starts.

Starting mid-July, it'll be the USA Network trifecta of Covert Affairs, White Collar and Psych. Then hopefully some promising new shows will debut in the fall. I'll have to investigate further to see if anything looks cool/fun/endearingly awful. My picks for last season -- FlashForward and V -- sure failed to live up to potential, so my track record is pretty marginal.
Patrick said…
There were some nice scenes and lines - I liked the scene when Bryce had to bribe the security person, and the way he rolled his eyes when he realised what she wanted. Most of it was nonsense. It's too easy to expose the inconsistencies but here are just a few.

The change of presidency plotline was never resolved, so what was that all about?

Having the Mosaic board spell out the time and date of the next blackout was also ridiculous. One writer obviously fancied himself or herself as a genius at puzzles but this was as bad as some of the stuff that Dyson Frost used to do. Why were the bad guys so obsessed with killing Mark when it was clearly too late to stop the blackout. Fair play to Mark though or sobering up very quickly and not wanting another drink - I think he's beaten this alcoholism thing. Even Olivia didn't notice he had been drinking when she was talking to him.

Remember in his original flashforward he had written 'Who else knows?' This was ignored as well.

Thanks for the recaps Morgan - you kept us interested in the show. But can I have those 23 hours back please?
vallikat said…
Borrowed my mom's laptop to post this.

Favourite moment? At the end when Mark was running it looked like he was aiming to jump out the window and hurl himself at the helicopter. The thought of that cracked me up even if it wasn't what the show was doing

I had to actually laugh at this moment. I really thought that he was going to hurl himself at the helicopter in a final act of idiocy. In my head I was trying to tell him that the blackout was coming so he'd never be able to hang on, but he just kept running. I think I'm sad he didn't make it that far. It would have been a fitting end for a bonehead character.

In some ways I think this ending could have been a nice lead in to a next season if there would be one. It resolves most things, rids us of Mark, And possibly sets up some interesting things between Janis, Simon, Demitri, and Lita. They would just have changed the flashforward to some closer point in time and then it could have been done. But alas we'll never know and I can't say I'm at all bugged. Cancelling this show was a mercy kill.
Morgan Richter said…
In the second half of the season, the writers tried much too hard to load episodes down with clever puzzles (I feel like I should put clever in quotes there) -- Dyson Frost's chess moves and word games, Baltar rearranging Mark's evidence wall to spell out the time of the next flash forward. I get the idea behind it, but: a) this all tended to be information that should have been revealed organically some other way, and b) the puzzles themselves were pretty nonsensical.

I don't feel like bashing on the show too much -- beating the metaphorical dead horse and all. It's over. It was a failed experiment that could have turned into something pretty good, if the creative staff had taken a little (or a lot) more care with the scripts. As it stands, Patrick, I'm with you -- I want those 23 hours back.

Vallikat, the idea of a Season Two minus Mark and focusing mostly on what happens next with Janis and Simon and Demetri is not a bad thing at all. All the same, I'm glad we don't have another season to sludge through. One was more than enough.
Patrick said…
Well, I finally made it over to America for my volcano ash -postponed trip.

My frustration with FF (and before that Heroes, and to a lesser extent Lost) comes from the fact that things were not worked out in advance and, as a result, the show went off the rails very quickly. Compare that to Doctor Who.

The new series with Steven Moffatt as showrunner has a story arc built into every single episode. Russell T. Davies used to do the exact same thing (although the arc didn't impinge on on individual episodes). If someone like Moffatt had been in charge of FF the 22 episodes would have been loosely sketched out, there would have been proper twists that weren't revised a few episodes later and it would have made sense.
Patrick said…
DVD box sets are enormous sellers. But you will never want to watch a series through a second time unless you know that overall it will be coherent and enjoyable. So Heroes season 1 but not beyond that. I think Lost was fun for what it was - but it clearly won't all come together if you start watching it again from the beginning. Too much was improvised. At least Lost provided lots of fun when you were trying to make sense of it. And there was some great scripts and some great acting. Moffatt has built things into this season that will only make sense when you watch the episode a second time - after you've watched the whole season. So people who have watched it on tv will still want to buy the DVD box set to see how this added layer reveals new things.

Few people who watched FF on tv will want to buy the boxed set. So, if studios were even looking at it from a purely commercial point of view it would make sense to put some real thought into things.
obscureviews said…
I wonder if NBC's The Event can avoid the same problems. Oh, I probably jinxed it just by writing this line, I bet I wrote it about FlopForward last year. And Day One.

The key seems to be tighter plots, less superfluous sidestories whose only purpose is to convince us that this is a hugely important story that affects all sorts of people everywhere! Including you, yes you!
The latter is especially important because these shows tend to go for "international" and "diverse" and just end up embarrassing themselves because their writers aren't up for the task and have to rely on stereotypes.

They'd produce much better TV if they didn't focus so much on the status and level of success that they want to achieve with their show ("the next LOST", "international phenomenon" etc.), and instead focused on telling a story.
Morgan Richter said…
With FlashForward, I definitely get the impression that some ideas were worked out in advance, but then were changed drastically or abandoned somewhere along the line. Nicole's plotline certainly stinks of that -- they must have had something in mind why someone would want to murder her (and why she'd think she deserved it), and somehow I doubt the original idea was "some nice guy was trying to save her, but she misunderstood his intention." If that's the case, then along with the importance of going into a series like this with a solid plan, we can also see the importance of sticking to that plan. Otherwise, you end up with a disjointed mess.

Patrick, I'm glad you finally made it to this side of the pond! I hope you have a fantastic visit.

Anna -- Yeah. While I think shows like Heroes and FF have good intentions at the start with trying to have an epic scope by introducing lots of plotlines and lots of side characters, it's not worth it if the writers don't spend the time and energy fleshing out those characters and side plots (and, hopefully, eventually tying them back into the main plot arc). I keep coming back to Nicole -- she wasn't the worst character on FF, and she didn't even have the worst plotline, but why on earth did we spend a season following her? How did her plotline tie into anything? What did we learn from her? Did her character show any development? Did she have goals, and did she work toward those goals? She spun her wheels for an entire season. They kept throwing ideas at her -- she's the Benfords' au pair! she's Tracy's childhood friend! she's caring for her mentally unwell mother! she dabbles in Catholicism! she volunteers at the hospital! she sees someone at the hospital who she thinks will later try to murder her! she's in love with Bryce! -- and it became increasingly obvious that no one involved with the show had the slightest idea what direction this character should take. Frustrating.

Still, all in all, FlashForward was better than Heroes. I realize that's damning it with faint praise, but it's the best I can do.
vallikat said…
I think shows like Flashforward (and I expect this is true of Heroes and Lost although I never watched either) are geared for a more intelligent audience than your average TV viewer. Or perhaps I should that they should be. I think the science aspect demands it. Thus this show required intelligent, science-minded writers who all had a common goal in mind. That's really not what we got.

I don't pay close enough attention to the credits to notice who the writers were for any given episode. However I do know that they weren't always the same week to week. I also know that fact was glaringly apparent in the huge inconsitencies and plot holes that spelled the demise of FlashForward.

As it stands I can mourn the loss of the show that could have been, but I can't really feel too broken up about the show that was.
Morgan Richter said…
Also, FF and Heroes and Lost were all heavily serialized shows, with very few (if any) standalone episodes, which really amps up the necessity of having a strong, coherent, cohesive narrative that runs all the way through the season. Lost, I think, managed to consistently pull that off fairly well, whereas FF and Heroes just mangled it. In FF's defense, the first half of the season -- pre-winter break -- was much more cohesive. It had its own problems -- the pacing was slow, and the characters weren't terribly relatable or believable -- but things made more sense. It was only the back half of the season, after they replaced the two showrunners with new people, that things just became sloppy and nonsensical. Which is a big sign that the writing staff was not all on the same page -- presumably, they're all meeting together daily and breaking down the episodes together to ensure that, while each episode may credit different writers or teams of writers, it's all still essentially a product of a collective hive mind. With that last stretch of episodes, it sure didn't seem like this was the case.
Dan said…
So, uh, I guess the kangaroo did it?

Wily creatures, kangaroos.
Morgan Richter said…
Dan, I'm sad we've been denied future seasons, if only so we could figure out the relevance of the kangaroos.

No, that's a lie. There is nothing about me that's been sad we've been denied future seasons.

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