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FlashForward: Future Shock

“It’s a math problem, right? How would it possibly tie all of those things together?”

The math problem of the week is how to get one train headed towards Chicago to crash with another train headed towards Detroit before the 10 year-old gets sick of doing word problems for homework. The easiest way to cause all the necessary FlashCrashes to happen at precisely the right time? Change the variables, change the constants, change the relationships of distance, rate, and time. Re-write the problem.

Olivia and Lloyd were suitably awkward, even after he convinced her to re-enact their flashes (with clothes on). At some point during a commercial break, though, Olivia bowed down to the great god of fate and decided that she and Lloyd were having a special moment. Or maybe I should say: the writers changed all the problems of their relationship. As much as I like both actors, and even the chemistry they have together, theirs was not an organic kiss.

Really, it was orchestrated by Gaius Baltar, who kept urging them to get their equation on. And I just realized that Gaius Baltar is the most brilliant part of this series: he is not a real person. He is a show-writer inserted into the narrative to get it back on track, a wildcard whose magical and impenetrable directives can force people into unnatural situations. My goodness, who knew that all along there was an actual agent of destiny interacting with our characters and standing in for the creators?

Gaius played with the strings (see, even an implicit puppet-master thing there) on Mark’s board to spell out the time of the next flashforward. Only a FF writer would do such a thing and substitute irrelevant mysteries for honest interactions and communications between characters. Or, if you’re not buying my meta-fantasy: wow, what an absurd plot device ex insane person. (Ditto the person who accessed the large hydron accelerator from off-site to cause an other blackout.)

Back to the issues at hand: Bryce said that everything was meant to be. He’s meant to be with Keiko. In fact, he loves her. But the truth is, he doesn’t know her. The only thing that was meant to be is him meeting Keiko, and any sense of fate or destiny is just the fate or destiny geared towards their meeting: anything else is unknown. The feeling of satisfaction, of a long-awaited resolution that surely permeated his flash? It is caused by the flash itself. But that might be over-thinking things: it’s not a realization the characters have, which means it’s not a realization we’re supposed to have.

The candy striper wasn’t being killed in her flash. She was being saved. That’s nice for her. Other flashes were slightly different: Mark didn’t drink from his FlashFlask, although he might have still had a good buzz on; Olivia and Lloyd were clothed and hadn’t just had sex; Weddick was packin’ heat in the john; Janis is giving birth to a boy (and has been kidnapped). What about Zoe’s flash? I have no idea. Demetri and Simon got to be flash-less together, but any possible awesomeness of two cool actors hanging out in a room was ruined by the fact that, ultimately, they were only in that room so we could know for sure the flash was about to happen again, and Simon was given some incredibly hackneyed dialogue.

The mystery of the flashes is still not clear to me. Why did the bad guys want to blow up Mosaic? Why would the bad guys send their own people into a building minutes before it was set to explode? What’s the point of the flashes? How do they have so much power?

As far as episodes go, this was not-great. As far as season finales go, it was okay: it got us past the flashes and set up both cliffhangers and future mysteries. As far as series finales go? Weird and useless. We don’t even know if Mark is dead. (That is not the show’s fault: they filmed this well in advance of knowing they were canceled.) I did enjoy the improbable shoot-out.

The big reveal? The next blackout happens 14 minutes after the time of the original flashforward. That flash was confusingly orchestrated, as it didn’t follow any particular person. The last scene, of Charlie as older, seems to indicate that they flashed at least five years into the future. The shot of Olivia and Lloyd holding their kids was really sweet. And then the FBI blew up. And then the show was over. Oh.


• The security guard wanting a bribe was awesome. She’s not buying the sappy sob-story.

• How on earth did Demetri, Janis, and Simon drive all the way to Palo Alto so quickly?

• Weddick: “I’ve been so preoccupied with the flashforward lately that I haven’t had time to see what’s going on with you.”
Mark: “Yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your priorities lately.”
This was funny. But it wasn’t in character for Mark to realize that his problems are not the world’s problems.

• Olivia: “How does this work? Just take our positions at 10 o’clock, wait for your breakthrough?”
Lloyd: “Yeah, I think I’ll keep my shirt on this time.”

• That Other Agent: “He’s in the building, with the bombs. Where I left my car keys.”

• Demetri: “That’s cute? Is it physics humor?”

• Demetri and Simon drinking beers was weird. But kinda cool, too. Especially because it was followed by this alliterative rant:

• Simon: “I won’t let them do this to me, Demetri! I won’t let them turn me into a monster! To use my machine, my mind! Millions of people, Demetri! Millions of people don’t deserve to die!” Aaaargh, I say! Aaargh!

• Dogs don’t have flashes? That poor puppy must have been so confused. At least he had a jacket to keep him warm. Maybe he and the kangaroo can be friends.

Thoughts on the Season

We all wanted FlashForward to be the next Lost. It wasn’t. I still think that it started off strong and interesting: the early combination of mysteries, character development, and lite philosophy was effective, and I was excited about watching and reviewing it each week. (And excited about Billie’s reviews when we were switching up.) But new showrunners did not mean good things: post-hiatus, FlashForward lost its mojo. The characters became caricatures. The mysteries were revealed awkwardly, and too many arcs (both character arcs and plot arcs) were cut short, changed, or given silly answers. The dialogue became 100% exposition. Mark turned into a John Wayne parody. Question of fate, free will, and foreknowledge became in-your-face answers, usually accompanied by gunfire and explosions. The masked enemy seemed alternately all-knowing and stupid, and the overall goal of the bad guys is so ambiguous I don’t even know what to say about it. I really do think crazy Gaius Baltar mimics the state of mind the writers must have been in: frantically trying to make things happen they way they wanted them to, with no particular reasoning behind that, and with no natural way to make it happen.

One out of four kangaroos.

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


  1. I haven't been watching since the hiatus, but I watched this one -- mostly so that I could read Josie's review and it would make sense. Josie, you deserve a stick-to-ive-ness award.

    I was sort of hoping the finale would be terrific. It wasn't. The only way the first season could end was another FF, so no surprise there. I was disappointed that they didn't even consider the possibility that this could be it; they left everything up in the air, and that was the wrong thing to do. I'm going to remember FF as the series of coulda been. It had everything going for it: Lost fans desperate for a new show to love, some cool cast members, a truly great initial premise -- and they blew it.

  2. At least they hinted at Mark's fate with the flashforward to teenaged Charlie. But i would have preferred to see more of those new visions.

  3. Hi Patryk,

    Do you think the "he" that future-Charlie referred to was Mark, and that he was lost or presumed dead in the future? (And does that mean that we would have not had to deal with Mark in season two?)

  4. Yeah Mark was jumping out of the window when the blackout hit and we saw a helicopter hanging around. So i guess the 'copter was piloted by someone with a QED ring that was ment to kidnap him just like Janis was. Seriously why else would somoene fly knowing a blackout will hit any second now.

    Yes season two without him would be great ;)

  5. Goodbye Flashforward, we hardly knew ye...

    Just a very poor series, which was a real shame as it looked so promising.

    The finale was ok, however as usual there was so much WTF-ery going on. Much of which you have highlighted.

    Anyway, in my mind Mark Benford died a horrible death, and everyone else lived happily ever after.

    Cheers Josie, the show hasnt made much sense but you put in a damn good effort to fix that!

  6. This sereies was GREAt. I don't know why people hate it soo much. Maybe its cos am a sci-fi freak. I will never forgive ABC for what they did.


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