Yes, I know, I’m terrible, big slap on the wrist for me. This is four days late, but finally I’ve had the chance to watch this week’s episode of FlashForward! And it was a good one.
Righty-ho, spoilers ahead if you somehow haven’t seen the episode before me…
The episode centred around a former Nazi, imprisoned in Munich, who said that he had some information about the reason why the blackout lasted exactly 137 seconds. He would only provide the information if he was given a full pardon and sent to the United States, which posed an interesting moral quandary. In the end, he didn’t provide any useful information about that, but he did mention that he saw lots of dead crows after the blackout. This allowed the writers to play with the word “murder”, which of course is also the collective noun for crows. I can imagine them being quite smug as that one went in the script.
Aside from that, there was plenty happening in the episode. Aaron Stark, who we saw in the first episode had a vision that he was with his presumed-dead Daughter in the future, tried to get his ex-wife (Cassidy from Lost) to agree to exhume the body and perform a DNA test. We meet Demetri’s fiancée Zoey, who saw their wedding day in her flash, which troubles him as he’s even more certain he’ll die before then, after last week’s phone call. The wife of FBI director Stan Wedeck saw herself looking after a young boy in her vision, and later saw him with his mother.
After my criticisms last week, I found this to be a huge improvement on the second episode. The direction was much more assured and the writing was pacier, after two surprisingly slow opening episodes. There was more of an idea of how the world was being affected by the aftermath of the blackout, as we saw the devastation in the airport and the FBI wake. The emotional scenes worked better, it was very hard to connect with the soapier elements of last week’s episode, we weren’t given enough reason to care about Olivia and Mark’s marriage despite half the episode being about it. Whereas this week’s scene where Aaron was held by his estranged wife after revealing that their daughter was indeed dead was genuinely moving and emotional.
This revelation also opens up a whole new area of mystery – if his daughter is dead, why did he see her in his vision? Does that mean it’s not the future, did everyone see something else? Or were the DNA test results faked as part of a conspiracy? Maybe in the flash he saw the Smoke Monster.. sorry, wrong show. The creeping doubts over whether the visions really are of the future or not add an interesting dimension and allows us all to start developing our theories about what’s going on.
It was also really good to see the show expand it’s boundaries to the rest of the world in this episode. In a sense this is following in the footsteps of Lost and Heroes, but it’s especially important in FlashForward, where the whole series revolves around a global event. And we didn’t just have scenes set in Munich, but also in Somalia, where we saw a tremendous conclusion to the episode. In 1991, in the Ganwar region of Somalia, we see a boy watch crows fall to the ground dead, before running to the nearby town where everyone was on the floor, unconscious. And in the middle of the town, a particularly freaky huge chimney belching gas into the air.
This was the best episode of FlashForward so far, hopefully it’ll continue on this upwards curve in the coming weeks. That’s not to say it was brilliant, and there’s still plenty to frustrate. People still aren’t asking why nobody was acting in their flashes as if they knew they were going to happen (surely most people’s flashes would be of them saying “oh, wow, I remember this happening in my flash!”) except for Mark and his noticeboard. And that’s another thing that’s starting to grate – is the entire series going to be driven by what’s on that noticeboard? That particular plot device is getting tedious already.
There was only one slight issue I had, and perhaps I’m being too pedantic, but when they were looking at crow populations towards the end, following the drop in October, the stats continued on to December – so are we in December 2009 now in the story, and it’s already a couple of months after the blackout? Either we are and it hasn’t been made clear, or more likely, it was a simple continuity error.
But overall, it was a good episode. As ever, I’ll be back for more next week. On Monday, this time.