Thursday, November 05, 2009

Flashforward 1.07: The Gift

I apologize that I didn't get a chance to blog on last week's Flashforward. By the time I'd actually watched it, I figured most of the chatter was probably over. And it was more of the same for me -- it had crazy cheesy moments (when Mark was racing after the guy he'd seen in the mask and they were blaring a BAD version of Bowie's "Scary Monsters," it just seemed odd... it's like the music supervisor knows how to pick good music, but the editor just doesn't know how to use it subtly. The music is always turned WAY up and then it cuts off immediately, rather than having it slowly play throughout the scene); it had some good moments, like the looks on the faces of everyone when Simcoe and his kid both showed up at the Benford house; it had rare moments of humour, like when Simcoe ran to the nurse's station and had to describe his son as dressed like "a... uh... um, well... pimp." It had another good moment when Mark and Olivia fought in the kitchen and he blamed her for an affair she hadn't yet had, and then when she tried to blame him for a drinking problem he hadn't started up again, he told her she couldn't imcriminate him for a crime he hadn't yet committed. RICH. To which she basically said, "Oh, RICH." That made me happy. And it had one moment in it that I adored: Simon talking about Shrodinger's Cat. It still presented numerous questions for me: if Charlie is actually talking to Dylan during his flashforward, then why was her response to her own flashforward that nothing would ever be good again and that "D. Gibbons is a bad man"? Where did that name even feature in the flash we just saw? So the episode still fell a little flat. Better than the previous week, but nothing stellar.

A few of you sent me an article that stated that David S. Goyer, the creator of the show (who is known for writing Batman Begins, Dark Knight, and Blade) was paired up with another guy who was trying to show him how to draw out the story, and that guy was recently booted off, leaving Goyer to his own devices. This week's episode, "The Gift," was the first one that would be a Goyer episode only.

To which I say, "HALLELUJAH!!!" This episode was GREAT. (Oh thank you thank you thank you... our patience has paid off!) It wasn't an hour of semi-boredom with a shocker of a cliffhanger. It was DARK, really dark, with sudden movement in tone, many backstories getting filled in, NO REPEAT OF OLIVIA'S FLASHFORWARD (bless 'im), the fabulous Alex Kingston joining the group (which is interesting to me... she used to be married to Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes' brother, and I remember at the time it wasn't an amicable split, so... awkward? Probably not, since it was over a decade ago...)

The whole story of the Blue Hand club was amazing and creepy and made me think, What DO you do if you didn't see anything in your flashforward? If you knew you were going to be dead in 6 months, would you just drink and do drugs and commit crimes and have a lot of sex and just go crazy? Is there a segment of the population that could soon create utter chaos? (But then I also think, what if you were JUST SLEEPING in six months? Or drunk and passed out? Or having surgery and were unconscious? I mean, you can't tell me that on April 29, 2010, at 10:02pm PST, NO ONE is asleep on the planet. Come on.)

But finally... FINALLY... we had our first step forward in the puzzle when Al stepped off that building, effectively cancelling out his flashforward and changing Celia's, Fiona's (who won't be reading a report with him now), and anyone who knows Celia. Her boys might have had sad flashforwards, but now they'll be happy ones. Is that the end of it? Maybe not necessarily... maybe "Celia" will still come forward and be killed in another way, but who knows. What I love is that there's now hope that you can change your destiny. Olivia doesn't have to have that affair; Mark doesn't have to be a lonely alcoholic; and maybe Demetri doesn't have to die.

Callum Keith Rennie is here! SO excited to see his name in the opening credits. Leoben from Battlestar, Billy Tallent from Hard Core Logo (PLEASE see that movie if you haven't... and yes, the band took their name from his character)... the guy is freakin' amazing. And he's a Canuck (therefore = evil).

The writing was better, the storytelling devices were used effectively, and even though we saw that bird hit the window a few times, it never felt like we were being bashed over the heads. It actually worked structurally, as if we see that bird flying into the window over and over, the same way Fiona and Al have it flashing through their heads over and over. We moved into new characters, with Bryce telling Nicole about his Japanese dream (and please assure me that I wasn't the only person on the planet who did NOT know that Nicole is played by the same woman who plays Jane, Roger Sterling's young wife, on Mad Men?! Someone told me that this week and I just stared at them... then watched this episode with an "Oh. My. GOD." reaction... talk about a versatile actress; I didn't even RECOGNIZE her!!)

And then there's Aaron. We finally see more of his story, the scene of Tracy by the road, and then.... AAAAAHHH!! Now THAT was an ending. How it aligns with her lying in the desert in Iraq isn't clear and won't be for several more months, but I'm more than intrigued.

And who is Annabelle? Simon was fingering a bracelet with her name on it.

Last night's episode saved Flashforward, in my mind. It had all the elements I've been looking for, and intrigued me enough to actually make me look forward to the next ep, rather than feel like I'll be begrudgingly tuning in waiting for it to get better. Everything about this ep raised it up. No, I still don't know anyone's names (I've been relying 100% on IMDB to get the names right for this write-up) but that will come in time.

So... was anyone else similarly cheered by last night's ep?


Robert said...

Hm...should I restart watching this show? I had practically given up on this and now I hear it might be getting better...

Still, is this like Heroes' Bryan Fuller coming back and saying the show will be better only that never happens? I guess we'll have to see.

fb said...

i just finished watching last night's episode and i heartily concur: it was great! MUCH improved. the blue hand stuff (i keep automatically thinking 'blue man group' whenever i hear them talk about blue hands, and it makes me snicker) was so creepy. i was surprised that the guy who wound up jumping off the building (like you, i still don't know the names yet) was the one who played russian roulette; i thought it would have been demetri, as he knew he wasn't going to die that night, but on march 15. but i get why they did it the way they did.

and is it wrong that i totally WANTED the guy to jump off the building? because that was the only interesting, game-changing resolution. if they had talked him down, then it meant a status quo for the future, and everything would still unfold as it should. but by him jumping, he changed everything and i just love that idea.

as for jane siegel-sterling/nicole ... i have the exact opposite problem! i CAN'T NOT see nicole as jane! :( every time i look at her, i keep thinking, does your husband roger know you're babysitting someone else's children in california? she looks exactly the same (facially) to me, i think that's the problem. even with different clothes and a different hairdo, her face is jane to me, not nicole. (it's the same reason why i'm having such a difficult time with sonya whatsername as olivia -- to me, she's still penny. and yet, i totally buy dom monaghan as NOT-charlie. weird.)

i really enjoyed this episode, though, and if this is the trajectory the show is on for the rest of the season, i'm in!

asiancolossus said...

Nik said:
The whole story of the Blue Hand club was amazing and creepy and made me think, What DO you do if you didn't see anything in your flashforward? If you knew you were going to be dead in 6 months, would you just drink and do drugs and commit crimes and have a lot of sex and just go crazy?

So what would YOU do Nik if you had no flashforward? No need to elaborate on the have lots of sex part we love you but we don't need to know that kinda stuff LOL

Nikki Stafford said...

asiancolossus: So what would YOU do Nik if you had no flashforward?

Ooh, wouldn't you like to know?! Um... probably just blog on it. ;)

Ashlie Hawkins said...

I'm so glad to hear that this show is picking up...I watched the pilot episode and was intrigued, but have fallen behind and have all the episodes since then waiting on my DVR. I was starting to give up hope, but now I think a marathon might be in order to get caught up! I've also been reading the book (which I'm really, really enjoying) and couldn't decide if I should finish the book off before getting too far into the series or if it would make any difference. Has anyone else read the book and have any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

That isn't quite accurate. David S. Goyer was co-showrunner on all these episodes, including this one and the bad ones, with Marc Guggenheim. He's left, but that won't have any effect until after the twelfth episode when Goyer becomes sole showrunner. But Goyer was still involved with the stuff people have disliked, so don't think Guggenheim leaving is some sort of magic bullet to fix all the show's problems.

Jennifer said...

@fb, ha ha...the blue man group! Those blue hands kept looking familiar and I couldn't think why. Thank you!

@Nikki, I thought they addressed in an earlier episode the issue of people sleeping during their flashbacks and how that was different from not having a flashback at all. Sadly I don't recall exactly what they said. I definitely liked this episode better than some of the previous ones!

Leah said...

Sooooo glad you are still blogging about this! Yay!

JS said...

This was much better. I re-interpreted scenes with later scenes, and wasn't sure if he was really going to jump. But this means that we do not know what is going to happen on the show too, whereas before, we were on a death march to April 29th. Many pieces moved forward this episode. It is back on my watch list.

Thanks, Nikki. I wasn't going to watch it, then started reading your entry, and stopped as soon as I saw you said it was great, watched it, then read the rest.

Anonymous said...

Significantly better. And look, Alex Kingston - River Song from Doctor Who!

THAT'S who Nicole was. I knew I knew her and it was bugging me.

dmc said...

In my flashforward I was watching FlashForward and it was actually an intelligent and exciting show.
And now I find out that my flashforward won't come true?

But seriously what really sucked is that if this were a good show I would have cared about what happened to Al - but I didn't.

obscure said...

Here's something I'm wondering, though -- Does anyone now care about the flashforwards? Since we now know they aren't 100% written in stone, does it matter what anyone saw?

While the suicide storyline was compelling, it seems like it sort of... breaks the show. The whole premise was people see a glimpse of their future, but now it's just a possible future, which isn't really that interesting. This is the same problem Heroes had -- when it looked like New York was DEFINITELY going to be destroyed, there was great suspense. In subsequent seasons, when we knew the future could be changed, who the heck cares what future Peter sees, or what future paintings HRG sees? There's no drama there because you know the characters can just change it.

With Flashforward, something like John Cho dying has lots of suspense. It's a life or death storyline. Good stuff. But now... since the future can be changed... does it matter? He can just wear a bulletproof vest on that day and bam, he survives. If Olivia doesn't want to have an affair, she could just... not do that. The show has based so much of its drama on these flashforwards but now it seems like they don't have any weight to them.

Does anyone else feel like this or am I just rambling incoherently?

Anonymous said...


I agree with you, and perfect comparison with Heroes. Although I do think this was the first episode that was emotionally moving, (especially Demetri's dilemma, which finally started to ring true) the whole conceit of the show (time vs fate vs free will) has been confused (read: not confusing for the audience, but unsure of how to shape a narrative from its own themes) from the start. It's been little more than Desmond trying to save Charlie in season 3, although there there was the added intrigue of "course correction." It seems like Flashforward is going to have to introduce something like "course correction" to continue.

Benny said...

Nik, I agree about the "D. Gibbons" thing, but with my idea described below, I wonder what Charlie saw. We saw Dylan's perspective but not Charlie's... it will be interesting until/when we see it.

@obscure: I see your point, but what I took from last week's show is that the future is like Schroedinger's cat, you don't know what happened until you open the box.

The flashforwards were a peak in the box but when everyone woke up, the box still hasn't been opened. They see one possibility and it drives people to act, either to make it happen, prevent it, or it drives other motivations (i.e. the ghosts).

Think of Demetri and Zoey, what if they saw two different possibilities? This is only a theory, another (with no real grounds) is that the FF were a shifting from one reality to another, the visions were a peak at what was SUPPOSED to happen... again, no grounds in the show!

@Anonymous: Mark Guggenheim's involvement stopped at episode 6 - last week's - and therefore he had no direction in "The Gift". Despite both he and Goyer being execs, Mark was the lead showrunner, so everything that made it to air had his touch over David's. In terms of story, it was mostly David but as far as storyTELLING, Mark had the last word.

Susan said...

fb I agree that Al jumping was a good thing for the storyline, but I liked the character and was sorry to see him go. In this episode some of the interaction with him and Demetri showed us some of the humor that is mostly lacking from this show.

Al definitely changed his future, as well as Fiona's, but it was a rather extreme method. The other characters will still have to find a way to avoid their futures.

A.G.Wooding said...

I know what you mean about names, anytime I watch a new show now I force myself to find out just who the main characters are and what there names are because there's nothing more annoying than not knowing. I still can't remember the name of Echo's first handler in Dollhouse, the one whose now head of security and yet he's like my favourite character.

This episode hasn't aired yet in the UK yet so I'm glad it's good even though I don't know why it's good because I felt like the only one who was liking the show in the entire world, there's been so much stick against it.

The only thing that ever annoyed me was constantly showing us the flashes, because there is nothing worse than the writers looking as if they're talking down to the viewer. The Wire had an amazing following and never once dumbed itself down so why should this show.

Eamonn said...

In the Halloween episode, did anyone else think the gang member on the bus was Orlando Bloom? I looked it wasn't him, but that guy looked an awful lot like him.

JennM said...

Ok. I finally caught up with this show. I don't love it or hate it. It seems to have a lot of potential. I think that Al (is that his name?) jumping from the roof was great plot twist, but it was sad as his character was both interesting, and good-looking to boot. I am loving Gabriel Union. She's great. I really enjoyed the Blue Hand aspect, and I think it opens a lot of doors—hopefully the writers take it in an interesting direction. My critique? More Dom. The show just needs more Dom!

I did a double-triple take when I saw that gang member. I totally thought it was Orlando Bloom Dressed as William Turner for Halloween! Ha!

crazyinlost said...

Jenn-I agree with you. Where's Dom Mon? Him being on the show got me all excited about it. Also, I'm with Eamonn and you about the Orlando Bloom look-alike. My son pointed it out to me and commented he looked like the pirate version. Yeah, he must've been dressed up for holoween!

The Question Mark said...

I really enjoyed this episode (finally got to watch it tonight). My thoughts were:

-I was really sad to see Al die, just when he was starting to get some much-needed screentime. I loved him in Smallville, but his role then was small as well and I had hoped that in FF he'd become a mainstay. But, oh well. And I agree that some kind of course-correction is gonna have to happen, otherwise won't the whole show become pointless?

-seeing Dom/Chahlee/Simon/Merry is too awesome for words. His character is so intriguing! ME WANT MORE!

-regarding the Orlando Bloom clone on the bus: is he important? He seemed to totally take charge of the scene, and acted as if he knew more than he let on. Will he become important to the story, or is he just another interesting character who will get thrown away, like Alan Ruck or Gina Torres were?

-Everytime the blue hands were mentioned, being a hard-core Whedon fanatic, all I could think of was Summer Glau whispering "Two by two...hands of blue...Two by two...hands of blue..."

-I just realized how gorgeous Peyton List's eyes are. WOW. :)

Fred said...

@obscure: you've hit on a major flaw in the narrative--if the future can be changed easily, then what is the point of the flash forwards? And do we really want like a "time correction"? That smacks too much of LOST, while FLASHFORWARD should follow its own mythology and logic. For instance, if this were FRINGE, then suicide wouldn't be a problem--either zap in someone from a parallel earth, or re-animate the dead from a piece of thier flesh, or have their memories embedded in someone else, who then does what they were supposed to do in the future anyway.

One way out of this is that if people start to alter the future, then the world might spiral to hell in a bad way. Catastrophes start to multiply, a la 2012, which given FF mayb be on when 2012 comes round, may be a possible solution. Then our intrepid FBI heroes will have to try to rectify a wildly catastrophic earth. Just mild speculation on a possible solution to the dilemma of altered futures.

The Blue Hands left me a little cool. I wasn't really impressed by this uber=Nietzschian club, and while it might have elements of rave parties and such, it smacked of conceit on those attending. The impression I mostly got from it was that it seemed more Abu Graib than cult bar, especially that weird room with people wearing the hoods. Is this supposed to symbolize Fin de siecle America? Perhaps, the members of the Blue Hand club needed only read Alain de Botton's How Proust cCan Change your Life" and only the first chapter at that, where Proust answers the question of impending extinction with, how wonderful life would seem.

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.

M9 EGO said...

I can sum up this program in two words...Tooooooooooooooooooooo Sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. 8 Episodes now to cover probably 3 episodes of material !....bored.