FlashForward: Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

After last week’s disappointment I was really hoping tonight’s new episode of FlashForward would be good. Really, really hoping. And actually, it was. Kinda. OK, it wasn’t great but it was much better than last week’s awful fifth episode. As usual, spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen it yet..

Mark and Olivia

Mark and Olivia, the antagonistic protagonists

This was the Halloween episode, so it looks like we’re going along with the story pretty much in real time. Touches like this add an extra reason to be glad that we’re getting the show a few days after the US. It opened with Simon seducing a girl on a train, introducing himself as a quantum physicist and saying he thinks he knows what caused the global blackout. First of all he uses this for a cheesy chat-up line, and then when she asks what his theory really is, he tells her a garbled version of Schrödinger’s cat. Unless I’m missing something, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with explaining the flashforwards and instead serves as a metaphor for the intercut scenes of Janis fighting for her life on the operating table.

As for Janis? Well, she survives, obviously. We saw her in the future, remember? Unless there’s a major game changer somewhere down the line, our old friend the “shock death” plot device is going to have to sit this one out, and with it any ounce of dramatic tension when any of the main characters are in peril.

Demetri and Al (who we saw in the first episode but has mostly been in the background since) went on the hunt for the people behind the shooting, noticing a blue hand symbol in UV on the perpetrator’s body, like an entry stamp from a club. This tallied up with something on Mark’s board in the future, along with “Baltimore”. Demetri has a hunch that this is actually Baltimore street, and after following some stickers on lampposts pointing the way, they come to the scene of the party, which is now a bloodbath, with several dead bodies including one with a blue hand. They also find a passport for a Scottish man named Ian Rutherford, who Al saw himself investigating in Scotland Yard in his flash.

Strangely, though, the best parts of this episode came from the thing that was the most dull in all of the previous ones – Lloyd and Olivia’s visions. Lloyd’s son Dylan goes trick or treating around the hospital (dressed as Flavor Flav for some reason) and makes his way to Olivia and Mark’s house. It seems this is the reason why the writers decided he should be autistic, he remembered the full address from a letter in his vision, where he was in the kitchen with Charlie (so where does she know D Gibbons from?) and remembered her telling him “it’s your house too”. Eventually Lloyd goes there to pick him up and the penny suddenly drops – he recognises the front room from his vision, and realises that Olivia was the woman he was with. This leads to a tense moment with Mark, and after Lloyd leaves with Dylan, Olivia confronts Mark about his future drink problems. Now both of them have something from the future, something they haven’t even done yet, to be angry about.

While this worked a lot better than previous episodes, I’m afraid to say that both Mark and Olivia still come across as not very likeable. Especially Mark, and the way he seems to think that Olivia wants her vision to happen, when it seems obvious that, despite Olivia’s wishes not to have to deal with his drinking problems again, she really doesn’t want that future to happen.

At one point in the episode it’s mentioned that thousands of people had a vision of themselves in Times Square, a scene just like New Years Eve, even with the famous ball dropping at the end of the countdown. This finally answers the question of why people weren’t having visions of themselves recognising the fact that it was time for the flashes, as we’re now told that many people were. But it still makes it seem a little bit odd that in their visions, Stan’s sitting on the toilet and Olivia’s in bed.

So, while not a lot happened and it wasn’t especially great, this was probably the best episode so far. There was still some bad dialogue and unnecessary scenes, but less than in previous episodes. Again there was a song played over an action scene, time the use of a cover version of Bowie’s Scary Monsters & Super Creeps while Mark chases someone in the same mask he saw the people wear in his vision who turned out to be a Trick or Treater. But this was a lot less incongruous than last week’s appallingly bad use of Like a Rolling Stone. If things continue to improve like this then I still have hope that it’ll eventually become the good show it has the potential to be.

However, it did have easily the weakest “cliffhanger” ending so far, as Lloyd got into his car and Simon popped up behind him and talked about how they were behind the blackout. So, umm, yeah. Basically the same “shock ending” as two weeks ago…

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