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FlashForward: Revelation Zero, Part 1

“How did you find us?”
“You called me.”

Lots of answers. Lots of questions. A little bit of ret-conning. A few missteps. And the best use of a take-out menu I’ve ever seen. FlashForward’s return lived up to my expectations by doing something I didn’t expect: focusing on the two most interesting (and thus far, sidelined) characters: Lloyd Simcoe and Simon Campos. Simon Campos, you’ll be interested to learn, is played by some actor named Dominic Monaghan. Seems like he might be one to watch.

Even though “Revelation Zero” is technically one two-hour episode, I’m breaking the review into two parts, because we covered a lot of ground, and—Lost-style—the first two-thirds was very Lloyd-centric with a dash of Mark; the rest, Simon-centric. Maybe you see it differently? As Mark-centric for the first part? That’s because you’re not blocking out the boring bits. It’s all about perception and choosing your own fate.

When last we saw Lloyd, he’d been abducted by PseudoParamedics (darn, I’ve used that one before)…When last we saw Lloyd, he’d been abducted by ErsatzEMTs in front of his son. This episode picked up right where the other one left off, with Lloyd chained to a pipe in a burned-out husk of a FastFood Tofurkey joint. Ricky Jay (evil villain) threatens torture, and quickly brings in an Isaac for Lloyd’s Abraham. But Lloyd, whatever his DeadbeatDad faults before the blackout, isn’t willing to sacrifice more lives to save Dominic Monaghan’s little finger, and he plays it as cool as he can while under some extraordinary pressure. It’s just the threats against his son that break him.

The focus on Lloyd also gave us some important glimpses into Simon’s character. He’s been a fairly cheesy evil genius so far, and a lot of the dangled niblets have pointed us in the direction of ConfusionLand. But Lloyd clued us into an important fact about Simon: Lloyd couldn’t imagine Simon killing someone. This felt a bit like ret-conning, as Lloyd and Simon didn’t seem that close or that trusting when we saw them duking it out over five-card stud in “Playing Cards with Coyote.” But I’m okay with the shift: in this episode, I felt like Lloyd and Simon knew each other, and knew each other well. They didn’t need to talk extensively, because they had their own shorthand and their own way of working together. Their scenes in the TofurkyTortureChamber felt honest, and made me like Simon’s character instead of just the actor who plays him. He’s not as much of a condescending jerk with his friends.

Sadly, Mark still isn’t very impressive to me. It’s too bad that his flash is so important to the plot, as his death would not be a great tragedy to anyone but his daughter. (I think I’m becoming an Olivia/Lloyd shipper.) His therapist gave him some sort of drug to help him recall the rest of his flash, and what he recalled helped him save Lloyd and Simon. It also set up a few more “Oh! I remember that from the board!” moments for future episodes. More on that in a sec.

Mark’s short conversation with Olivia wasn’t quite as great as the Lloyd/Simon (or Demetri/Janis) exchanges, but it did set up some character changes for Olivia: she feels like she’s been cold and distant at work, and grumpy at home—she also feels like that’s not really who she is, and that she wants to get back to her true self. We saw a bit of that when she was nice to Nicole, and to Lloyd’s son.

Mark saved the day with his Buick (for a Doc Jensen-level analysis of the significance of the Buick, see Part II). More importantly, he saved it with the take-out menu that Lloyd tried to use as an SOS, with little success. I’m completely enamored by the significance of that take-out menu. To review: Lloyd tries to stick it out the window of the basement, but it blows away. Ricky Jay finds it, and brings it back to him. He sticks it in his pocket. Mark recalls the menu from his recalled memories of the board, and hunts down the location of the basement where Lloyd is held captive. When Lloyd is rescued, he gives the menu to Mark to stick on his board.

Lloyd says, “How did you find us?” And Mark says, “You called me.” Mark is talking about the cell phone call from his flash, but his words mean something else to us: the menu from the flash called out to Mark for aid. The future called out to the past. It’s gorgeously poetic, no matter how many self-consistency issues it brings up. I’ll leave the physics stuff to our highly-paid science consultant, WhyMe.

The Lloyd/Mark exchange is particularly interesting in light of the twinning that’s going on with their characters. A luv-connection with Olivia. Kids of similar age. The thing with the laptop: Olivia hugging Mark as she watched herself hugging Lloyd on-screen. The awful preacher character talked to Nicole about how free will and fate are intertwined, and the characters of Mark (who feels fated to drink) and Lloyd (who is certain of the possibilities of free will, using the scientific evidence of Al Gogh to prove his thesis) are just as intertwined. They’re not FlipSides of the same coin—it’s messier than that. And I like that it’s messier than that.


• I’m not going to talk about the preacher, because I don’t really care. Everything he said was extremely trite. Some of it was so trite as to be unintelligible.

• I am going to talk briefly about Nicole’s mother, mostly because I think Lindsay Crouse is awesome. She played Maggie Walsh in Buffy Season Four, and an equally screwed-up psychologist in David Mamet’s House of Games. Plus, those were great fluffy angel wings. Where does a person get something like that?

• The Significant Object in the credits was the burning Bible. Interesting: the Bible also tells us how the world will end—what the future will be like, in other words. But flashes are more personal, and therefore freak people out more.

• Gotta say it again: John Cho? So very cool. I wish he’d successfully hit the CIA agent.

• Did Bryce call a patient “Mr. Minkowski”? Maybe Fisher Stevens’s consciousness flashed to FlashForward.

• The new possibilities of the board—and the phone call…What do you think? It feels to me like the producers realized they had a convenient loophole, since what we’ve seen of Mark’s flash was so short, and they made use of it as best they could. You can only pull that rabbit out of the hat once, though.

• There were cuts between Olivia singing to Lloyd’s son, and Mark confessing to Aaron. The cuts seem to be a tacit acknowledgement of the extremely boring quality of Mark’s issues, but they also show how Olivia and Mark can be pulled apart: it’s not just his drinking, it might be her attachment to the boy, too.

• There were quite a few moments when the writers seemed to be acknowledging fan questions. It was nice the first few times.

• The music for this episode was darn good.


• Simon: “I know America was founded by Puritans, but is there really not a single beer in this entire place?”

• Simon: “I’d say working for the FBI is going to be much more interesting than academia.”

• Janis: “That’s a big word for such a little man.” Ha! Janis is so cool. I wish she would stop getting injured.

• Ricky Jay: “You may call me Flosso. And I’m the villain.”

• Lloyd: “Clearly you weren’t paying any attention to the FBI agent who killed himself.”

• Mark’s daughter: “You always start with the corners and work in…Start with the corners, Daddy.” I hate precocious advice from adorable children.

Three and a half out of four Tofurkey Soy Cheese Steaks. Cuz I’m deducting points for that preacher.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the title.

    Now, I need to earn it. The menu strengthens Josie's Half-Fate theory. It now gives mark the power to determine the fate of himself, witch means that there is free will. From this point on, the future and therefore messages from it are irrelevant for this "free will". We know that a simple act - burning the menu - will change marks entire future, (mark not saving the doc's -> not getting reinstated -> having a different flash-forward) and prevent the existence of the investigation in the first place. Even if there would be a next go-around (time cycle), there is no way to revert back to mark's flash-forward since the trigger - the investigation - won't exist.

    I think that creating a story that has a predetermined fate is much more beautiful and complicated then a story that has "free will". Of-course in real life that will be very bad, but in story land it's a good platform for saying something. But, in this case I think that that ship has sailed.

    I really enjoyed this episode, except for the predetermined priest - it was like I could guess the future.


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