FlashForward: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The previous episode of FlashForward was one of the best of the series so far, and while this one wasn’t quite as good, it’s showing a level of consistancy that was missing earlier in the season.

Two years before the blackout, we see Janis and Demetri training for the FBI on an assault course known as the Yellow Brick Road. She meets a woman at a party who describes herself as a headhunter, who wants to recruit her to do something while she remains in the FBI. She sends her to a tropical fish shop, where a woman called Carline gives her instructions, telling her at first to simply continue being good at her job and earning the FBI’s trust. Later, she is told to pass on information about what is happening in the Bureau, and on the day of the global blackout, asks Carline if she can stop. Carline refuses. But there is some good news for those people who refused to believe that Janis could be a mole. Vogel profiled her as the type of agent who would be compromised, and asked her to be a triple agent.

Back to present day and Janis’ doctor sends her for an ultrascan because she’s worried about the baby. Her fears were proved correct, with Janis being told to take in lots of protein and, especially, cut down on stress levels. Meanwhile, Mark is looking at one of the pictures Dyson Frost had, a blueprint for a very old mechanical device. Janis takes the blueprint to a professor who would be able to interpret it’s meaning. She also shows a copy to Carline in the pet store, who orders her to take it back from the professor and get rid of the copy on Mark’s noticeboard. While she manages to steal it from the professor’s office, and wipe his hard drive, she is caught by Mark when breaking into his office at night. She bluffs her way through it, explaining that she needed replace the one that the professor had lost. The professor has managed to work it out anyway, and the next day tells them that it is a machine which calculates dates, starting with 6 October 2009, the day of the global blackout.

Gabriel, the savant, appears out of the blue in Olivia’s front room, scaring her. He tells her that she’s supposed to be with Lloyd and that he tried to stop her being with “the other guy” throughout her life, but “only tried.” He mentions Raven River again and tells her to make sure she doesn’t buy coffee today and leaves. Later, she arrives at the scene of a road accident at a coffee stall and slowly realises that his predictions are true. Back home, she flips through old photo albums and discovers that Gabriel is right there in the background of many of her photos. She mentions it to Shelly, who is surprised when she mentions Raven River, as it’s something Dyson Frost said to Mark before he was shot. He says he’s already been looking into it and there was a Raven River Hospital in Arizona which specialised in autism and shut down many years ago. They decide to go there.

When they get there, they find the hospital to be old, deserted and rather creepy. Suddenly Gabriel pops up and shows them the room where the experiments took place. Dyson Frost made several savants have many flashforwards, giving them visions of different points in time. He used savants for their ability to remember every tiny detail, so after each flashforward they would be made to write down every detail of what they saw, building up an intricate picture of the future. Gabriel again tells Olivia that she’s supposed to be with Lloyd and that she is very important.

In Afghanistan, Aaron meets in a cafe with the contact Stan gave him. Some young men nearby are seen to be using a mobile phone, either they are arranging his kidnap or a suicide bomb. They quickly get on the road, looking for the doctor Aaron saw he would meet in his flashforward just before he was reunited with his daughter. Suddenly they come across a road block, with an armed group the contact does not recognise,despite claiming to know all the local factions. They open fire and the contact is killed, while Aaron gets out of the way in time. Another group appears and fights the first group. As Aaron is brought to the leader of this second group, they recognise each other – it’s the doctor he had been looking for.

Back in Los Angeles, Mark ponders Frost’s last words: “You’ll be saved by the lady you see every day.” After Janis thinks it’s her and he thinks it’s Olivia, he remembers that “lady” is chess slang for the queen piece. He takes the white queen he has pinned on his noticeboard, the one he found in Frost’s old warehouse right at the start of the investigation, and smashes it open. Inside is a ring, the same type that Suspect Zero had worn.

Lloyd and Simon have a look at the ring at FBI headquarters and discover that it is a QED, quantum entanglement device, the thing that Lloyd and Mark were talking about in the phone call in their visions. They realised that the ring would prevent whoever wears it from blacking out, as seen with Suspect Zero, who we know of course is Simon. Mark says that it must be the reason the masked men break into his office in his vision – perhaps they’re not there to attack him but to get the ring.

Janis goes back to the fish store where Carline tells her to get the ring. Janis protests, saying that it’ll be under an immense about of security, but she is reminded that she failed to get the blueprints and it wouldn’t be a good idea to mess up again. She’s then given one more job to do – she’s told to kill Mark Benford.

This was a really solid, enjoyable episode. Lots happened, but it all seems to fit together a lot better now, with more assured writing and direction, and what seems like a more comfortable cast. It was good to get some backstory on Janis and realise that she is apparently one of the good guys after all. There are still a lot of plot threads in play, with many stories on hold for several episodes in a row before we go back to them, but there is a sense that this is a show where everything really has been mapped out from the start, and will all come together in the end.


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