FlashForward: The Garden of Forking Paths

Also time to catch up with the last few episodes of Flashforward. This was probably of the best of the series so far, with a really enjoyable mix of drama, action and some big plot twists.

As has been the case with many recent episodes, we start with a flashback. This time, it’s six months before the global blackout, and Alda (the blonde terror suspect from the first episode, who Zoey has now asked to represent) is walking with a man, who is talking to her about how much of a genius Dyson Frost, but that he’s difficult to manage and they might need to ask her to “take care of him.” They enter a warehouse with lines of dominoes on the floor. The man introduces Alda to Dyson, saying that he helped with “the Raven River experiments.” Dyson says that he didn’t help, he invented them, mentioning that he is one of the few people involved to still be alive. He says that everything is on schedule for 6th October, as long as Lloyd and Simon find the dark matter they were looking for in their experiment. They ask if “the QED” is ready, something Lloyd was trying to work out the formula to in his vision, and shows them one of the rings which makes the wearer immune from the blackout, something which is achieved with circuitry inside the ring. When Alda is about to take the ring, Dyson plays a recording of their conversation outside, showing that he is aware of the threat she poses.

Back to the present day, and Demetri is still missing. To make matters worse, it is the 15th of March, the day that it had been foretold that he would die, and also the day Dyson Frost said he would die. His fiance Zoey meets with Alda, who had offered information on Demetri in return for her help. Alda is uncooperative, even in the knowledge that is the day that he is supposed to die, saying she will only help if she gets a court hearing, not even caring if she wins it. When she gets that hearing, she only says that she knows that in her flashforward, she found out that Demitri’s body had been found in “building seven” and that’s all she knows. Unfortunately, Zoey hadn’t worked out the obvious clue that Alda didn’t care whether or not her hearing was successful, with the real reason for her wanting to go to the court becoming clear when a nearby window explodes open, allowing her escape.

Shelly, one of the FBI agents we don’t much of (which as a shame, as he seems quite a character) asks Olivia to identify the homeless murder victim from the previous week. Although Olivia doubts she’ll recognise him, the man had a mobile phone used to send her a text message. It was the text that said that Mark drinking in his flashforward, which I seem to recall viewers were made to think was sent my Stan at the time. Olivia goes to the morgue and does not recognise the victim. The pathologist shows her the man’s brain, which shows that he was a savant. Shelly mentions that the victim had an address book belong to a doctor who specialises in autism. When they go to meet the doctor, he brushes them off, saying that any of his many patients could have stolen the book from his desk. Shelly and Olivia go for a coffee at a stand outside, where an autistic savant named Gabriel orders for her, saying that she always wants the same thing every time they line up there. It’s evident that he’s experienced this moment many times before, in several flashforwards. He starts to say something about the Raven River experiments but when Shelly asks him to come to the FBI, he panics and runs away, saying that “the dominoes are falling.”

So, where is Demetri? He’s been tied to a chair in a warehouse by Dyson Frost, with Mark’s gun, the gun that is said to kill him, hooked up to an elaborate machine and pointed to his chest. Behind him is a large wall, with what appear to be many timelines mapped out in coloured chalk, with photos and items pinned to it like Mark’s wall. Dyson tells him he has been having flashforwards since the 1980s and has seen this day many, many times. It always plays out slightly differently, but always ends up with at least one, and sometimes both of them dying. He reveals the true nature of the visions, conclusively tying up the reason why they some seem to be coming true, while others have been changed already. What people have seen was a possible future. At every decision we make, our timeline forks in different directions. People saw something from one of those paths, whether those events actually play out is down to the decisions they make.

Back at the FBI, Mark and Olivia talk to their daughter Charlie about the time Dyson Frost talked to her at the fairground in the previous episode. She can’t remember much until Stan steps in and tells her to close her eyes. She remembers him talking to her about Dr. Seuss, saying his favourite book was One Fish, Two Fish. He then gave her a print of a painting, telling her to give it to her father. She does, and on the back is written instructions to go to the train station at noon if they want Demetri back.

Mark waits at the stations as instructed, with dozens of agents undercover all around. After waiting for a while, a young boy comes up to him, saying someone gave him money to hand him a backpack. Inside is a mobile phone, with Dyson’s voice on the other end. He tells Mark not to speak and to follow his instructions carefully. He says that he wants to be able to tell Mark all about why the blackout happened and when the next one will be, but because his life would be in danger and there are moles in the FBI, he must lose his backup and meet with him privately. He gives him full instructions on what to do, saying that Demitri has 4 hours and 23 minutes left to live (a nod to Lost?).

Mark escapes through a ventilation shaft and escapes in a rental car Frost has left for him. He eventually finds himself in a deserted area, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Dyson is there but has a gun and tells Mark to put on some handcuffs, still not taking any chances. Mark pretends to sip some water, but it is actually siphoned petrol, which he spits into Frost’s face. He is restrained and refuses to say anything except that Mark is “gonna be saved by the lady you see every day.” Just before he’s about to say something of apparently vital importance, he spots a motorbike, realising Mark was followed. Suddenly he’s shot by a sniper. It’s Alda, carrying out the job she was broken out of jail for, who rides away on the bike. Mark tries to get whatever information he can out of Frost, but he only says “I did what I did for a reason.” Mark rummages through Frost’s briefcase and finds some more of the pictures he saw on his noticeboard in his vision. He goes back to the rental car and looks at the satnav history, with the painting he was given being a clue to which of the locations he should go to.

Mark arrives at the location but doesn’t know which of the many warehouses to look in. He calls the office where Zoey tells him about Building 7. He finds it and goes inside, finding Demetri sitting in the chair still. He looks at the gun and cannot do anything to stop it going off, until he realises why Frost mentioned the Dr Seuss story, cutting the red and then the blue wire. This allows him to move the gun, which fires just above Demetri’s head, into a his photo on the wall. He gets out of the chair, which sets off some sprinklers, causing all of the detailed chalk timelines on the wall to wash away forever.

As Zoey runs into Demetri’s arms, Janis, Stan and Mark look at the now mostly empty wall. Mark tells them that he didn’t get to see much of it, but he remembers one thing. At the very top, the very last thing, which all paths seemed to lead to were the words “December 12, 2016 – The End”.

As I mentioned, this was a very good episode of FlashForward, one of the best we’ve had so far. My only worry is that it’s now blown the story wide open and extended it until 2016. I really can’t see the writers having that long to tell their story, and it’s still not very clear if there’ll be a second season, so I’d prefer to see a situation where things could be easily wrapped up rather than left hanging. That said, it was a really well paced episode, with a nicely balanced mix of action and mystery. Let’s hope the standard keeps up until the end of the season.

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