Thursday, November 5, 2009

FlashForward 1.7: The Future Can Be ...

The sweeping winds of November brought as an episode of FlashForward - 1.7 - that may be better than even the pilot.

It starts with a scene which in part is actually close to the end of the episode - that is, the end of the piece of the present we are seeing unfold each week. We also saw a significant part of the past, and of course some flashforward time in the future. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

That opening brings a woman with two children on a beautiful morning. She finds an invitation on her windshield, which tells her she is not alone. We soon learn that she is being invited to join a group of people who have had no flashforward vision - a death club, The Blue Hand, of people with no visions who see themselves as doomed and want to put a modicum of control back in their lives by determining the time of their deaths. At the same time, we hear a voice reading a letter which says you can indeed have control over your life. It is this voice and letter that actually come from the end of this episode....

The voice is Agent Gough's, and the incredible story tonight was his. It turns out that his meeting in London with Fiona Banks (Alex Kingston from ER) was not the most significant part of his vision. It has seemed to us that it was, because Gough and Banks were the first to mutually confirm their joint vision, apparently proving that the future visions are views of the real future. But Gough saw and heard something else, in addition, in that vision - a conversation in which he is devastated to learn that he is responsible for someone's death.

That would be Celia, the woman with the children in the opening scene. And Gough struggles with this for the whole rest of this episode - he can't live with himself, knowing that he did something to kill this woman. In the end, he comes upon a solution. He says he knows how to change the rules of the game. He jumps off a high roof.

He's left a letter for Demetri - who, with Benford and Stan, in a superb scene, try in vain to talk Gough down. The letter is the one we heard at the beginning. Gough wrote it the night before. And it is now Demetri's voice we hear reading it.

So the future can be changed. There is hope for Demetri - we earlier had been treated to a good scene with him and Zoey, in which he tells her the truth, and they confront their conflicting visions. Zoey's vision of their marriage was not enough to give him real hope. But Gough's death is. So Demetri now has hope. And Benford does, too. He hugs Olivia as never before since the flashforward (and, indeed, he says the least on the roof - not that he wants Gough to jump, but he finds the possibility that the future can be changed irresistible).

But this still leaves open a crucial question: what is Banks now seeing in her recollection as the vision she and Gough originally shared? Will she continue to recall that vision now wrong, realizing it is wrong, or will she now recall seeing something different, a flashforward with no Gough?

And as the episode shows us that the future can be changed, it also showed us that it seems to have some inevitability, too. Aaron wants his vision to be true, because it shows his daughter alive. He at first gets confirmation of that tonight, from a soldier who gives Aaron his daughter's pocket knife - Aaron has seen himself giving that knife to his daughter, alive, in the future. But the soldier later tells him that his daughter died. It seems the future with her alive did not come to be, either. And then, in a great last scene, Aaron's daughter is sitting on his couch, in our present, very much alive.

Flashforward has a lot of explaining to do. Which is precisely why, with episodes like this, it is such emotionally and intellectually commanding television.

9-min podcast review of FlashForward

See also FlashForward Debuts and Oceanic Airlines as a Portal Between FlashForward and Lost and 1.2: Proofs and Defiance of Inevitability and 1.3: Conficting Visions and Futures and 1.4: FlashForward Meets Shaft and House ... Drunk FlashForwarding in 1.5 ... Across the Universe in FlashForward 1.6

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