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FlashForward: CountDown

“I gave you a choice, and you chose the wrong path.”

The Bad Guy said that every option, every possible future leads to one point: what Mark saw in his flashforward. This episode took that idea and ran with it: even disparate strands suddenly got wound up in the big rubber-band ball of plot. Tracy, Jericho, Aaron—turns out, that actually matters. The entire arc of the show ran with the idea, too: characters suddenly found themselves, through occasionally unbelievable machinations of fate (read: writers) exactly where they were supposed to be, and then exactly where they weren’t supposed to be. Is this a good thing?

It depends on how you look at it. Let’s pretend for a minute that FlashForward didn’t run through show-runners like a chain-smoker runs through cigarettes. From the bird’s eye view of almost-the-finale, we can see that the first half of the season was about characters, and the second half is about how those characters react to rapid-fire plotting. That makes some narrative sense, even if many of the second-half episodes were not so great. But that’s the path the writers have chosen.

Some of that plotting just zoomed along. Janis is suddenly very noticeably pregnant. Tracy is relevant—as though we couldn’t just enjoy the Aaron/Tracy story by itself, but had to be forced to see its relevance to the not-character-centric second half of the season. The candy striper got guilt pangs, because Keiko/Bryce has taken over the ‘not related to the flashes but still emotionally interesting’ plot function. And Mark…oh, Mark.

It’s tough when the character is an idiot and the actor isn’t very good. It’s hard to care, but it also makes the crazy stuff he does seem more quotidian. He’s told he’ll lose control in that office, and that loss of control will lead to his death? Cue loss of control. We got numerous flashbacks to Mark’s defeats, because the writer’s don’t trust us to see what he’s feeling, and I don’t think they trust the actor to show what he’s feeling. Cue convenient alcoholic with a flask to give away; cue Mark deciding to drink. Then cue the massive bar brawl. (???)

For now, it looks like our heroes are all in the wrong places. Tracy seems dead. Olivia is on the lam. Mark is in jail. Janis is not at the doctor’s office, and Dimitri is not dead. Bryce is at ICE (awkward rhyme) and the candy stripper is nowhere near a body of water.

This was billed as the episode in which our heroes get to the moment of the flashes—but it wasn’t. (I think that “the day of the flashforward” was just a tricky and slightly evil way of attempting to get us excited about this penultimate episode.) There’s still a chance that everyone could get where they belong. Here are my guesses for the sudden events that need to happen to get everyone where they belong:

• Mark shows his FBI badge (still on his belt) and gets out of the holding cell.
• Charlie wakes up and asks Olivia if they can see Lloyd and Dylan; Olivia turns the car around.
• Lloyd convinces Olivia to re-enact the flashforward so that he can figure out the formula.
• Janis, Demetri, and Simon get into a car crash. Demetri dies, and Janis gets rushed to the hospital, where they check on the baby and she finds out it is a girl. Simon…well, because he didn’t get a flash, I’m not sure where he’s supposed to be.
• Bryce goes to a sushi bar to drink away his sorrows and runs into the just-released Keiko.
• The candy striper develops a sudden interest in BDSM, picks the nearest creepy looking dom, and engages in some edge play.
• Tracy has a gasping-to-life moment, and it turns out the pen is a QED that prevents the wearer from flashing.

Some of those are fate; some are characters choosing their fates. Because it's not a high-brow intellectual genre show without some ambiguity. I didn't add a guess for Zoe, because I just realized that the flashes took place at 10pm PST, which is 1am Hawaii time. [Edited to add: No, it's not. It's 8pm. I am sometimes very stupid.] It was sunny during her flash: she must have been dreaming. [I still think that.]

The promos for next week included a hilarious scene of Mark running in slo-mo. I have no idea how they will even begin to wrap things up, and I’m starting to wish that there had been enough notice that the show was canceled for them to do so.


• Weddick: “Think about it. Hellinger organizes a world-wide blackout. Do you really think he’d be sloppy enough to leave you a clue?”

• Tech Guy: “I’m just getting a blinky cursor.”

• Dylan: “Why did the eight die?” Ugh, precocious children with their cute wacky questions.

Two out of four Islands in the Stream

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


  1. Hey Josie, I don't watch the show anymore, but have been following your reviews to see how it is all going.

    Just wanted to note that I'm pretty sure Hawaii time is actually earlier than Pacific time. So when it is 10:00 p.m. PDT in L.A., it is 8:00 p.m. in Hawaii (not 1:00 a.m.). And at the end of April, it is possible that it might have still been sunny at that time of day.

    Of course, I always thought she was dreaming, so I'm not going to fight you too hard on your conclusion. :)

  2. [Where do my comments go? I write for the gosh-darn blog, and I still can't get them to work!]

    Jess, I feel like an idiot. I'm so used to the rest of the US being later than me, that I forgot Hawaii was over there on the left of California.

    But I think it would still be dark at 8pm on Hawaii in April. (I refused to let go of my thesis.)

  3. Sigh, so they won't have time to even show the 2nd blackout. They will just lose conciousness in the last minute. Cue fade to black(out).

  4. Nice review, Josie. You pretty much nailed all the things which frustrated me. The main problem with FF is that I don't like the main character. Twenty one episodes in, and I still don't care for him. It's not as though I don't like Joseph Fiennes. I do. But his character is absolute crap, and the plotting of the show's so transparent you can see things coming a mile off. How stupid is Mark to listen to a man tell him his fate, and then seemingly to go out of his way to make sure it happens? And what was all that nonsense to Charlie about being strong? How would Mark know what being strong is? His strength (assuming he has any) deserted him twice this episode. That whole conversation felt like an "insert generic daddy/daughter dialogue here" moment.

    I'm totally frustrated with this show. Thank goodness there's only one episode left to endure. I'll miss your reviews, though. They're the only thing that's made FF bearable.


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