Let's talk about that first. I wrote in my review of the premiere episode about the "mysterious hooded figure who did not black out (he's caught on a video taken at a stadium - I suspect he's the character played by Dominic Monaghan, by the way, but that's just a guess)". I was glad to see tonight that I was right - he is Simon, played by Dominic Monaghan, indeed.
I also enjoyed Simon's story, and the good twist at the end of the two hours. His story is that he is being run by the nasty character played by Ricky Jay, who arranged for Simon to be at the stadium with a magic (ok, quantum entanglement) ring that kept Simon and Ricky (who also had a ring on his finger) from blacking out and flashforwarding. When I say Ricky is nasty, I'm being kind. He kills Simon's father and teacher (two different people), has Simon's sister kidnapped, tortures Simcoe (Ricky's guys did the kidnapping of Simcoe we saw in December), and faux-tortures Simon, who nonetheless loses a finger in the pretense. Ricky reps a group who want to use the blackout for their own benefit - whatever that is (we don't yet know) - and are not all troubled by killing millions of people. And the twist? Ricky tries to squeeze Simon into further service, and Simon kills him. Just like that. Didn't see it coming. A fine twist. And I liked when Simon tells Ricky that he doesn't want to deal any more with just "the middle man".
As for the rest of tonight - I thought that FlashForward had some fine ingredients going in. Characters struggling to prevent the future they saw, others struggling to make sure it happens, and, with one exception, not being able to do anything to stop it - in fact, for the characters trying to stop it, the more they try, the more they seem to be making it happen. Mark is the best example of this, trying to keep what he saw in his future from happening, but investigating this case in a way, seemingly beyond his control, which usually makes the very pieces of this future fall into place. The only character who seems to break out of this is Al Gough, who stops the future he doesn't want - he apparently kills an innocent woman - by taking his own life.
I continue to find these ingredients highly compelling - in particular, why Al was apparently able to stop his future. Tonight's two hours made the significant move, late in the story, of establishing that Simcoe in his flashforward in Olivia's house was talking on the phone to Mark in his office, thus tying Mark's, Simcoe's, and Olivia's flashforwards provocatively together. It was also good to see Sleeper Cell's Michael Ealy continue in his CIA-agent role on the show. But 1.12 otherwise did little to advance the central stories, and instead introduced a new character, a window cleaner who survives the blackout and finds the Almighty. I think an intelligent discussion of faith and how it could play in the flashforwards could have added a significant element to the story. But the born-again window cleaner's voice-over narration just didn't do that for me.
FlashForward has had two show-runners replaced since the Fall. The show is still based on a tip-top novel by Rob Sawyer, and has taken that story in powerful directions. But we need to see more of Simon - or stories that have the punch of his - and less of the window cleaner's.
6-min podcast review of FlashForward
See also FlashForward Debuts and Oceanic Airlines as a Portal Between FlashForward and Lost ... 1.2: Proofs and Defiance of Inevitability ... 1.3: Conficting Visions and Futures ... 1.4: FlashForward Meets Shaft and House ... Drunk FlashForwarding in 1.5 ... Across the Universe in FlashForward 1.6 ... FlashForward 1.7: The Future Can Be ... FlashForward 1.8: The Nightie as a Grain of Sand ... FlashForward 1.9: Shelter from the Storm ... Olivia Benford at Harvard in Flashforward 1.10
Listen to 40-minute interview with Robert J. Sawyer
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