Friday, October 09, 2009

FlashForward, "137 Sekunden": Nazis. I hate these guys.

Spoilers for last night's "FlashForward" coming up just as soon as I spill out some bong water...

"137 Sekunden" was an improvement over last week's episode and the second half of the pilot, but I still worry that there are some fundamental problems that "FlashForward" simply can't overcome.

I'm glad that we got more of a sense - with the FBI funeral and the largely empty flight (with the nervous airline exec) - of how much the blackout itself messed up the world. But the show has neither the screen-time nor the budget to adequately depict the chaos created by the blackout, which still feels like the show views it as a minor nuisance compared to everyone's reactions to their flash-forwards. And that just makes that obsession seem silly. Perhaps if there was more of a contrast - if we saw people diving so deeply into their visions to escape the terrible reality created by the blackout - it might work better. I got the sense that's what David Goyer and Marc Guggenheim were going for with Courtney Vance's eulogy, but it's one of those things that the show's format just doesn't seem equipped to handle, which makes the whole global blackout something where the creators bit off more than they're going to be able to chew.

Beyond that, I'm starting to bang my head against the wall with the circular logic so many characters, particularly our man Mark, are employing. He arranges for the Nazi to be freed because the Nazi said (and the bong-smoker confirmed) that he was freed in his vision, and his picture is on the wall in Mark's vision because Mark puts it on the wall here. And the Nazi assumes he's helpful because in the future he wasn't in prison, but in the future he wasn't in prison only because he claimed to be helpful, not that he was actually helpful. I get that this is the nature of paradox, but it made Mark seem like a sucker well before he found out for sure that he had been played.

Also, in these situations where characters in the present use flash-forward knowledge to make decisions, shouldn't anyone be questioning why no one in their flash-forward behaves as if they're already familiar with what's happening? Shouldn't the Customs guy have recognized the Nazi? Shouldn't Mark know that the men with guns are coming for him? And, since they don't, doesn't this suggest that the future isn't going to play out the way the flash-forwards say? And, therefore, isn't it even dumber to make decisions based solely on the theory that this is how the future is supposed to play out?

That I'm spending this much time dwelling on the quantum mechanics is suggestive of the larger problem with "FlashForward." I don't want to keep bringing up "Lost" every week - though it's hard not to when they keep bringing in "Lost" faces, this week with Kim Dickens (aka Sawyer's baby mama) as Aaron's ex-wife - but that show just did an entire season about time-travel, about whether the future can be changed, temporal loops, and a lot of the other things "FlashForward" is dealing with. And it was much more engaging because the characters were richer, and because the show only occasionally stopped for people to discuss the way it all works, whereas here it seems that's all that anyone does. Everyone on "FlashForward" is spending their time talking about what happened in the past, or what's going to happen in the future, while making precious little happen in the present.

In fairness, "Lost" already had four seasons to build up its characters before getting into the time-travel shenanigans, but even at a comparable point in its first season, most of the regular cast was better sketched-in than anyone on "FlashForward" is so far. This script made an effort to give Demetri a personality and make us care about his impending demise, and to give us more backstory on Aaron, but it still feels like broad generalities, as opposed to anything specific to these men. One's the harried engaged guy (who now knows he's gonna die before his wedding if he doesn't change the future), the other is the alcoholic struggling to stay sober, and I've seen all these beats before.

Unless some of these characters start feeling like actual people soon, as opposed to two-dimensional archetypes running along a Mobius strip, I'm not going to care about whether their futures come true or not, and I'm not going to be watching this show anymore.

What did everybody else think?

71 comments:

Henry said...

Haha, nice, Alan. I did think of Indy for a little bit when they brought up the Nazi angle in this episode.

The series is just way too talky at this point, is full of contrivances (though that seems unavoidable), doesn't have capable leads, and seems to be stalling coming out of the gate. Something needs to jump start it to get it going.

I must admit to also being a little confused about the whole "Wow, crows have died before" angle. And then, I was still infuriated, saying to the television, "Okay. What else is there?!"

Danny Forcella said...

I think that comparing Flash's inadequacies to Lost this early on in its run isn't fair. Flash feels like it is going somewhere with its ideology through three episodes, where as Lost was just that early on...Lost. Although it has turned into a historically great series during its run, how Lost got there wasn't necessarily perfection. I think that the story and thought provoking nature of Flash is worth giving it a chance to bring depth to its characters.

evie said...

I'm loving this show and I couldn't get through two straight episodes of Lost. I don't think there is probably much overlap in viewership, despite seeming parallels.

The point of the FlashForwards is that it doesn't matter what people do -- destiny is already done. Mark could have said No to release... the Nazi would still be released by April 29. Noh could turn the agent hopeful in about the bong... and the agent would still be the agent on April 29. By definition, whatever actions people take today will lead to the ends on April 29.

Like I said, I love the show.

mp said...

@evie, the whole point of my frustration is that we (and the characters) don't know whether or not they can change the future. However, they are acting as if they know they can't. Wouldn't there be a single independent thinker out there who thinks they can make their own future?

Why wouldn't Harold say "hey, let's elope tomorrow" or "why don't I bust this future TSA agent" if he thinks the future as laid out is going to result in him dying?

It creates a simplistic set of characters who act like nothing but sheep. Why should I care about them?

CJ said...

I agree that Mark looked too ridiculous taking his "leap of faith" on the Nazi based on what was presented.

If we are assuming that the future cannot be changed, why did Demetri's fiance see Demetri in her flash forward, if Demetri saw nothing (and is dead)? Why are the remains of Aaron's daughter in fact, his daughter, if he saw her alive in his flash? I realize these are the questions we are supposed to be asking ourselves, but don't these examples suggest that the flashes do not necessarily depict what really happens?

Michael said...

I think it is way too early to question the paradoxical behavior in the flash forwards and assume that what you see is what you get (i.e. Mark setting himself up to be shot by the masked men).

To provide an example from Lost: after the season 3 finale ("We have to gooooooo baaaack"), everyone just assumed that the "him" that Kate had to get home to was Sawyer, when in fact it turned out to be Aaron.

Who is to say that Mark isn't in the Mosaic office on 4/29 as part of a sting operation to capture the masked men?

I also thought that the interaction between Bong Smoker and Herr Geyer in the flash forward had a deeper meaning. When Bong Smoker says "Coming back from Germany?", Herr Geyer gives him a noticeable look as if that phrase revealed a deeper meaning.

As you said, Alan, it's really unfair to compare Lost's time travel and character development in Season 5 to Flash Forward in Season 1; Episode 3.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Does the fiancee actually see Demetri? I thought she was far enough away that she saw someone she assumed was Demetri, but couldn't tell.

Also, was she just walking alone along that beach for 2 minutes and 17 seconds? Seems a pretty long walk for the bride to make.

Chaddogg said...

Alan, I tweeted this to you, but was the final shot of the child herding goats in 1991 Somalia, complete with a huge scar directly across his face.....well, is that sound.....could it be?

Omar be comin'?

Because if the baddest stick-up man in the history of television is doing a guest arc on FlashForward....well, I'm totally in.

Lizbeth said...

I just keep thinking this show wants to be on the level of "Lost" but is really on the level of "Heroes."

But hey, my 10-year-old seems to like it.

I, however, am losing patience and "faith" that this is going to be elevated to great TV. So far, the casting is uninspired, the dialogue is lackluster, and the emerging plot full of holes.

Sorry, I was actually laughing about the crows. If the crows dying was a worldwide event how come only one Nazi noticed it?

And I'd love to meet the guy whose job it is to keep mortality rates of crows up to date online (despite an almost worldwide panic). I know you can google almost anything... but come on, a little reality would be nice.

meopta said...

@ evie - I agree, I couldn't tolerate Lost and I'm really enjoying FF. I don't think it's the same audience at all.

@ Alan & CJ - the in Flash Forward they showed the fiance walking toward her groom, but not his face. Either she marries someone else, or she thinks she's marrying Noh and she's marrying a doppelganger because Noh has been murdered. There's no reason we know of for Noh's murder to end up in another country's intelligence reports - unless his murder is part of something larger.

The real test is being set up as the missing daughter. On the one hand, the remains in the grave are hers. On the other hand, they only sent pieces of her home. The rest of her could be alive as her father saw her - alive and wounded. As in, disabled.

I like the turns the show takes - the foreshadowing of the one agent leaving and starting a family - her frustration with the case and dislike of the methods being used is a great reason for her changes - and the crows actually turning out to be useful when they think the information means nothing. I don't know where they're going but I feel like the writers do know. I'll take that over most shows on the air.

Greg said...

I'm pretty much ready to write this off as a good idea with terrible execution. They only way they could have used the flash forward concept while avoiding these maddening paradoxes would have been for everyone to have seen the future as it would have been without the blackouts, with it being clear that this isn't the future anymore. But that would have deprived the writers of only device they seem to be using to move the story forward, which is having characters use clues gleaned from their flash forwards.

And I almost shut the TV off when they had the Nazi do the gematria (right before the quickest international pardon ever).

Gary said...

What I don't get is why everyone at that specific time on April 29 is going about their normal lives and showing no indication that it is the exact time they've all been looking forward to. Wouldn't many of them be noticeably aware that it is the moment they've all been waiting for? For instance, why would the FBI chief (?) go to the john?

Anonymous said...

Gary: That's one of the many things that has been bothering me.

One way the show is like Lost: Agent Fiennes finds out that his daughter knows who D. Gibbons is but apparently doesn't follow through on asking her about it. I know they said something in the previous episode about a parenting strategy, but that seems like a really poor excuse. (But he does call over his AA sponsor to talk about it?)

Alan Sepinwall said...

That's my exact point, Gary. Why don't the Customs guy and the Nazi acknowledge how happy they are that each was responsible for the other being there? Why does no one react as if they've witnessed these events before?

That makes me think the future isn't going to play out exactly as everyone has seen, which in turn makes characters blindly obeying the flash-forwards seem even dumber.

Greg said...

Alan: I agree - so then they apparently saw a future where they didn't have a vision where they flashed to that specific time. But in that future the blackouts had clearly happened as they are being investigated - so how does that make any sense?

Best case scenario: there's a clever explanation.

Worst case scenario, and the one I'm inclined to go with as of now: there is none.

Synner_man said...

"For instance, why would the FBI chief (?) go to the john?"

When you've gotta go, you gotta go.

Gary said...

Alan, I think my point was slightly different than yours. Yours was that they should all appear familiar with the situation/environment they are in. Mine was that they should all be visibly aware that they in the exact moment they've all been waiting for. For your problem to be fixed, the future would have to play out differently than they've seen. For mine to be fixed, the FF would have to be at a different time than they expect. Though I don't see mine as a possibility because there were many time-markers in their FFs.

Anonymous said...

The nazi said the future has already happened. I took that to mean that either we aren't going to be following a linear path through normal time from here on out, or we're going into some sort of alternate reality. Otherwise, yeah, you would think the entire planet would be marking the historic event that everyone flashed forward to, not going about their daily lives.

My biggest issue is what Lizbeth wrote - did NO ONE else notice scores and scores of crows dying all over the place coinciding with a rather unusual event of everyone blacking out? How does this go unnoticed and unreported?

CB said...

The concept of the show is intriguing, and I'm a die-hard Lostie, but this show is getting on my nerves. Joseph Fiennes has a Shatner-esque delivery in his lines - "I... am SO... disappointed - in my... FLASH... FORWARDS!" I was intrigued by the cliffhanger ending of the first two weeks (Suspect 0 walking around, John Cho hearing a prophecy of his death) but now I feel like the plot hasn't moved forward enough for my liking. Plus, the characters are boring, and the actors aren't too inspiring (though I like Sonya Walger). What's with the bearded former alcoholic telephone company worker, is he from South Boston or does he just talk like that naturally?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of potential so I'll keep watching, but I'm scared it's going to go the way of Heroes (good idea in theory but all the characters are idiots and the show becomes unwatchable). It's been too sappy and repetitive, but the cliffhangers are always good enough to get me interested in the next episode.

AA guy's daughter better be relevant to the overall story, or his subplot is just a huge, uninteresting waste of time.

Mark S. said...

They touched on this in the book the show is based off of. If you know that on April 29th for two minutes, your 6 month previous self would be able to view what you are doing, then why don't you make sure during that time you are looking at information that would help you make money if you knew it 6 months in advance. Was anyone looking at a list of sports scores (Super Bowl) that could be bet on, or winning lottery numbers or the top gainers and losers in the stock market over the 6 month period.

Gary said...

@ Mark S, didn't read the book, but I think in that 6 months everyone would figure this scheme out, so they'd probably end up abolishing all gambling and lotteries.

Terri said...

Someone mentioned this last week, but it's really annoying when they keep re-showing scenes, like we're not smart enough to keep up. Last night, the Chief's wife saw the child from her flash forward and they flashed the scene we just saw ten minutes earlier.

Also, would an FBI agent really go to Germany and antagonize an official there by making a condescending comment about Germany's role during WWII?

Mark S. said...

@Gary - If my flash forward was of me reading a list of winning lottery numbers and the lottery suspends operation, then how did I get the winning lottery numbers that I saw in my flash forward. And if no-one is looking at such a list, then that means people are not acting on the knowledge that the flash-forward is coming up.

It's a basic time-travel paradox, that it looks like the writers are going to ignore.

Gary said...

A nice plot twist that would take care of some of these inconsistencies would be a new flash forward to the same time, but with completely different visions.

Anonymous said...

As to this being addressed somewhat int the book...isn't the book's FF actually 20 years, not 6 months? I think that might make it a *little* more excusable, since then the people in the 'present' would not be as pre-occupied with the future, since its so damn far away.

Like, in the show, when Fiennes puts on the bracelet from his daughter, he can reasonably think that's the same one he'll be wearing in a few months. But over 20 years you probably don't make the connections between your current actions and the FF as easily.

It's a serious problem in the show.

-DamnYankees

Farragut Jones said...

I'm about ready to give up on the show, mainly for the logic issues you mentioned, Alan.

Maybe I'm reading the conveniently-updated (and misspelled) Audubon crow graph wrong, but it looks like it's already mid-December within the show. The pacing is odd for it to be one-third of the way to the flash-forward point already.

Also, what is it with production people and basic research? The CDC wouldn't have asked for DHS funding after the 1991 Somalia incident, because DHS wasn't created until 2002, and there was a huge, high-profile debate about doing that in the wake of 9/11. I mean, it was in all the news. But maybe this show takes place in William Bell's alternate universe. . . .

belinda said...

Yes, what frustrates me most about the plot is why isn't anyone even attempting to change what they think is the future (whether it is good or bad in the long run)? Perhaps that is the case with the people not in this team, and you know what? - I much rather watch those people decide things opposite of their flashbacks and choosing to change it.

I'm also fascinated by the fact that it seems like the only people who gave a crap about blackout are the people on that team. I'd imagine if such a thing did happen right now, there'd be way more underground stuff happening online (and not just on the mosaic), with loads and loads of people all over the world with their conspiracy theories and whatnots. I'd also rather watch those people.

And out of the episode, I find myself caring about the NAZI the most! He was a guy who used his flashback and the lameness of others fully to his advantage. Again, I can only imagine many people like him who are planning to use their flashback for some kind of gain. Maybe even as simple as people seeing certain sports scores or lottery ticket numbers on a newspaper or something. And again I think I'd rather watch these people instead.

Instead, all we see is this lone team (how about the rest of the world? I'd imagine everyone would want a piece of this weird mystery) trying to piece things together, or countries being at war because every country thinks the other country facilitated this blackout (and/or saw something in their flashback about something).

I just feel like if the show isn't going to be character based (which seems to be the case, given how thinly written everyone is), then the show is simply not utilizing the enormous potential the premise has as a look into the human condition when something strange happens to everyone on the planet, and making it into a straight mystery type show. I'll still be watching it somehow, because I do like some of the actors and directors and whatnots, but I think I'm losing interest, fast.

Gary said...

@Mark S, I don't think there's a paradox here. We can assume that on the May 29th that everyone flash forwards to, lotteries are gone and have been gone since right after the flash forward 6 months earlier. So it's impossible for anyone to have a flash forward where they see lottery numbers.

Anonymous said...

Someone explain this to me - why is John Cho still working for the FBI? If you were him, wouldn't your first move be to quit your job and move to Norway or something? Do anything humanly possible to avoid the future you've seen? And the most the show has ever stepped in this direction is Fiennes burning a bracelet which can easily be remade? Why doesn't Fiennes just do everything a little differently? Put the bulletin board in another room. Put the pins in a different place. MAKE IT DIFFERENT YOU IDIOT.

-DamnYankees

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying the premise but will have to connect with at least one character soon. I remember watching LOST at what was it, ep. 3 0r 4, "Walkabout" where we find out Locke was in a wheel chair and have that great scene in the end showing him standing up for the first time in 4 years to that beautiful musical score. I WAS HOOKED. I like Dimitri ok, but until i fall in love with someone like I have Locke or Sawyer I probably wont go into season 2 . But Im hoping I'll find someone to connect with.

Debbie

Anonymous said...

And as for all the talk that its not fair to judge FF to Lost because its only in the third episode...

Walkabout was Lost's third episode, people. One of the best TV episodes of the decade. It was Lost's THIRD episode. You tell me - does FlashForward have a "don't tell me what I can't do" moment?

Ok, maybe its not fair to compare, but I would like to expect greatness out of everything I watch, at least from the outset.

Mark S. said...

@Gary - So on May 29th, I sit down with the list of lottery numbers and read it during the flash forward time. My 6 month previous self tries to use that information to make money (along with others who had the same idea), so the lottery shuts down. Then on May 29th, I don't have a list of lottery numbers to sit down and read. But if I don't have a list of numbers to read during my flash forward, how did I read the numbers in the first place.

Gary said...

@Mark S, it's impossible for you to ever sit down to read lottery numbers on May 29, 2010, because 6 months earlier (immediately after everyone had their flash forward), they got rid of lotteries in anticipation that everyone would try to capitalize. For what you're saying to occur, there has to be an initial timeline where on May 29 2010 there has not been a flash forward 6 months earlier. I don't think that's the case.

Marc Guggenheim said...

Alan wrote: "That's my exact point, Gary. Why don't the Customs guy and the Nazi acknowledge how happy they are that each was responsible for the other being there? Why does no one react as if they've witnessed these events before? "

All fair questions. Equally fair, I think, to ask is why do you assume they SHOULD be asking those questions of each other in their Flashforwards? Might there be an explanation? Why assume sloppy writing? Short answer is: There's absolutely an explanation for that question and it will be fully revealed and explained over the course of the first season. However, we conscously chose not to weigh the early episodes down with discussions of quantum physics, mobius loops and paradoxes.

Thanks for watching.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marc. And I'm not assuming sloppy writing. It just gets to my larger point that you and David and company are trying to deal with a lot in these early episodes, and it becomes hard to do everything well.

As someone who thinks the show could probably stand to be less talky as it is, I can understand why you wouldn't want to get bogged down in quantum physics debate so soon. But when you hang the major story of an episode (Mark getting hustled by the Nazi) on a scenario that raises so many questions on that subject, I hope you can understand why we're busy debating them.

That Mark isn't asking these questions can very well make tell us important things about his character - he's been written so far as obsessed with piecing together that puzzle board - but for no one, even in passing, to raise these counter-arguments, it leaves us to fill in the blanks.

I'm glad to hear there's going to be a clear explanation for this seeming inconsistency. I just think the show and its characters might seem smarter and more fun if there had been a way to at least hint that an explanation is coming, you know?

Marc Guggenheim said...

Fair points all, Alan.

To my mind, they just serve to illustrate how this show has, as you put it, "bitten off" a lot. A lot of stories. A lot of characters. Plus, a lot of track to lay in the early episodes. More than we can chew? I don't believe so, but certainly more than we can adequately address in just three episodes.

Moreover, it's impossible to try to produce television that's complex and thought-provoking while also satisfying everyone. We're not producing this show for the "lowest common denominator." We're producing it for sophisticated people who like quality television -- i.e., you and your readers.


The downside of that aspiration, however, is that we're never going to make everyone happy every episode. Some people already think post-Blackout was too excessively damaged; some think not enough. Some think we're too focused on character; others think there's too much action.

We've designed Flashforward to be a rich, layered show with a lot going on. And with so much going on, I don't expect all of it to be to everyone's taste at the outset. However, I have faith in our audience -- i.e., you and your readers -- and faith that they will come to see the show's range as its primary strength.

I hope you'll stick with it. We've got some fun stuff up our sleeves...

Anonymous said...

Evie said "The point of the FlashForwards is that it doesn't matter what people do -- destiny is already done. Mark could have said No to release... the Nazi would still be released by April 29. Noh could turn the agent hopeful in about the bong... and the agent would still be the agent on April 29. By definition, whatever actions people take today will lead to the ends on April 29."
That is the premise of an interesting movie about predestination and free will(and S5 of Lost), but its not this show.

So far, FF is a procedural about why it happened and prevent it from happening again.

Belinda said "Yes, what frustrates me most about the plot is why isn't anyone even attempting to change what they think is the future (whether it is good or bad in the long run)? Perhaps that is the case with the people not in this team, and you know what? - I much rather watch those people decide things opposite of their flashbacks and choosing to change it.

I'm also fascinated by the fact that it seems like the only people who gave a crap about blackout are the people on that team. I'd imagine if such a thing did happen right now, there'd be way more underground stuff happening online (and not just on the mosaic), with loads and loads of people all over the world with their conspiracy theories and whatnots. I'd also rather watch those people."

I expect the comments section of the Mosaic blog would be a hundred times more interesting than this show.

I would expect there would be movements either to try to circumvent the future (if the FF or perception of it was negative) or to promote it (if FF was positive). Religions could rise on fall on there visions. I expect suicidal doc may have had one of these visions and will start such a movement.


Lastly, did Nazi dude out FBI as chick as a lesbian? She shut up quickly after his thumb rung musing. Maybe that is why she was so shocked by FF baby.

Puff

Maria said...

I for one will keep watching. I think the show has a lot of potential, despite having a broad scope. The concept of time travel whether in books, films or TV usually makes people question -- "Well if this happened, how could this happen, etc." I'm happy to sit back, and watch it all unfold. I'm sure some of my questions will be answered and some won't.

I do think the writers are doing a damn fine job with the weekly cliff hangers. They have certainly grabbed hold of my interest and made me want to tune in the next week.

meopta said...

@ Marc Guggenheim - I like what you're doing, I've only got four shows on my TV. Welcome on it.

@ Terri - re the FBI & Germany - yes, they would. I've been amazed at what Americans consider it appropriate to say to Germans in a business setting, and that's as far as I'll go on that.

@ everyone - Can I make a suggestion? Would it be possible to consider the show as itself and not as Lost's ugly stepchild sister? I think there is more content about Lost in the discussion than the topic really deserves. And can we consider the book as sort of a spoiler? Like talking about coming attractions is?

Anonymous said...

Don't be so hung up on the side characters. The only character that matters is the flashforward itself.

Dan said...

Good to see Marc Guggenheim's posts that there are explanations for the seeming inconsistencies/paradoxes.

One that that occurred to me after thinking about the seeming paradoxes: the characters each got a vision of that moment in the future, but what if it wasn't the same future (i.e. the same moment in a different universe or parallel timeline)?

Jonah said...

My theory: in the future they see, the blackout happened, but the flashforward did not.

I don't get why everyone is complaining about the paradoxes and logical flaws in the premise. Until we know more, we can't tell if this is intentional or if the writers are just idiots who didn't think it through.

Justin said...

"I don't get why everyone is complaining about the paradoxes and logical flaws in the premise. Until we know more, we can't tell if this is intentional or if the writers are just idiots who didn't think it through."

I think it's matter of the show not building any goodwill in that regard. It wouldn't have been a bad idea to acknowledge the paradoxical stuff, even if they don't answer it.

It doesn't seem reasonable that none of the agents would really note the fact that if Fiennes is building that board based on having seen the board, then why were they all doing random stuff when they'd known for six months the time was coming.

It seems like Cho's character would be interested in the answers to that.

Now, I don't have any trouble believing that the writers have it worked out, but if you want the audience to follow them down that rabbit hole you're going to need to earn it.

I don't demand answers, but it'd be nice to see some in show evidence that the questions have been thought through.

Anonymous said...

I think the Lost comparisons are fair because I think that ABC is trying to grab Lost's audience for the next few years. There was an Oceanic billboard for pete's sake.

A major attraction of Lost is that the first few episodes didn't feel the need to slap us in the face with the details and instead it focused on the character interactions, developement, etc. We've now seen Sonya Walger's flashforward about 8 times in 3 episodes, and we get it. In fact, if Mark's obsession is that the board must match with the flashforward, as soon as Demetri found out that his fiance had a different flashforward than he had, wouldn't he want to know everything he could about that, and then wouldn't he let Mark know about it as soon as possible, as so far, it's the only time we've been shown that two people's flashforwards did NOT match. I agree with a previous post in that the only interesting character seems to be the flashforward itself.

As an aside, a problem I have with the crows storyline is that it was implied that a side story to the fact that there was a massive death of crows was that there was also a simultaneous loss of consciousness of a small population. Wouldn't the simultaneous loss of consciousness be a major story, even as early as 1991?

crone51 said...

I read the book years ago and I must say that there is really nothing in it that could be considered a spoiler for the show. They are very different beasties.

It's a fun show so far- not perfect but a good cast and lots to discuss afterwards. Not the best SF I have seen on TV but certainly watchable so far. I'll be along for the ride.

7s Tim said...

I think they should stay with John Cho and AA guy as much of the time as possible. I'm kinda more interested in the impact the blackout and flash forwards have had on ordinary people, and they both seem to have stories that can show how an individual deals with it. The investigation aspect is boring until the final cliffhanger each episode, since all they are doing is chasing their own tails. When this changes, which I hope it will, then things could get cool.

Also, I hope a main character dies who had a flash forward as the mid-season finale. If we end our calendar year with the future not secure (at least as far as has been revealed, even if not all the motivations with those moments are known) then, oddly, I will have more confidence in the larger arc of the show.


Mr. Guggenheim: My girlfriend began the recording of the show this afternoon before I was prepared, causing me to leave the most recent issue of Amazing Spider-Man half read. I'll get to it soon. But thanks for the "spidey-sense" joke in the episode, it made the interruption easier to take.

pgillan said...

Someone else here speculated that the flashforwards took place in an alternate universe where there was no blackouts- which seems reasonable- but the converse of that is that the flashforwards cannot take place in a universe where the flashforwards did occur. There is absolutely no way I'll believe that anyone in the world will be taking a leisurely poop on the evening of April 29th*. The problem is that none of the characters seem to be making any effort to change the future. I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt, and this show will definitely get a season out of me, but it needs to straighten up and fly right.

Also, regarding the AA guy's daughter, my theory is that the DNA sample they're comparing against is wrong; i.e. the body matches what's on file, but the file is wrong.

* Don't give me "when you gotta go you gotta go"- he had a newspaper.

Anonymous said...

My comments have run too long to be accepted in a single block. Here's Part I, I guess

Before even getting to the logical paradoxes associated with time travel-- or more accurately in this case, precognition-- I have problems with the "logic" of certain "present day" events.

THE MOSAIC WEBSITE
It was launched in how many hours? Going from Concept ("We could put up a website!") to live, interactive, worldwide wiki, complete with NSA keyword algorithms, pattern searches, and a user-friendly VisionMatching™ app justlikethat? Really? What servers does it operate on, that it wouldn't suffer any denial of service crashes from overload given the millions of hits per hour Agent Exposition informs us it gets? What staff of code monkeys designed it, coded it, tested it, implemented it? A thing of the scale such an actual website would have to be would go live, without any glitches, within a day or two of an event like a Worldwide Blackout Of Consciousness? Because that's how websites work.

THE QUICKEST INTERNATIONAL PARDON EVER
Already alluded to above by Greg, we're to believe that in the wake of an event like a Worldwide Blackout Of Consciousness, when every government on the face of the earth (likely) would be dealing with, you know, the AFTEREFFECTS of a WBOC, the US State Department, on the basis of, what?, one FBI agent's investigation and the "evidence" of a corroborating pair of FlashForward™ visions, one of which originates from a convicted Nazi war criminal with a vested interest in talking his way out of prison, btw, would persuade the German government to grant a full pardon and release to said convicted Nazi war criminal? In a matter of hours? Because that's the smooth way government bureaucracies operate at the international level even when they aren't in crisis management mode following world-encompassing catastrophe.

THE FASTEST WARRANT FOR EXHUMATION OF HUMAN REMAINS EVER
coupled with
THE FASTEST DNA TESTING OF HUMAN REMAINS EVER
Aaron visits his ex-wife at the bar to ask her to sign the paperwork, she refuses, and THE FOLLOWING MORNING he returns to the bar to share with her the results of the testing. Because within 24 hours, Agent Noh, in possession of neither cause nor evidence, managed to obtain a warrant (no bureaucratic tangles there, either), have the remains exhumed and tested, and have the results returned. Because that's how fast laboratories conduct their tests. On inquiries of a personal nature. For friends of FBI agents. Even when they aren't in crisis management mode following world-encompassing catastrophe.

THE DAUGHTER'S VISION
Yeah, why doesn't Mark ask his daughter even a single follow-up question about her D. Gibbons statement or her vision? Some investigator-with-an-addictive-personality-newly-obsessed-over-an-unidentified-suspect he is.

Part II coming right up.

Michael

Anonymous said...

My comments have run too long to be accepted in a single block. Here's Part II of Problems I have with the "logic" of the show.

CROWS
Really? They're giving us dead crows? Delivered in a pun about "a murder," yet. Along with a glimpse of some mysterious power field/generator tower secretly operating in Somalia and suggestions of a mechanism for blacking out whole masses of humans' consciousness (ultimately unto the whole, entire world population) (at once, yet), they're giving us crows as the only species of collateral damaged by such... accomplishments. Really?

AND ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE CROWS
Also as already pointed out, the only human being in the world to remark on the crows is the convicted Nazi war criminal? And he parlays his observation into a full pardon and release? Even while he admits he doesn't know why Dead Crows is significant, just that he saw in his vision that it was the tip about the crows that won his release? Really?

THE AUDUBON SOCIETY GLOBAL BIRD POPULATION WEBSITE
...hahahaha... no, I can't even begin... HA!! But much thanks to Lizbeth and Farragut Jones for their remarks on this plot device.

Additional thanks to Farragut Jones for the observation about the CDC's anachronistic request for DHS funds.

See, I guess what bugs me so far is that the logic problems associated with this program aren't limited to the paradoxes. The feeling I get watching FlashForward is that the paradoxes associated with having visions of the future and the circular logic of doing things because you had a vision telling you what things you'd done aren't the only things they've failed to think through clearly.

One other thing, last week Alan wrote those great remarks about what this show needs to convey about what would be going on in the world if an event like the blackout happened, one of his points being that even if it can't show us The World At Panic because of the costs of production on that, it needs to reassure us that that stuff is what's going on out there in the world of the show. My opinion is that this show is failing in that regard.

There are remarks animator Chuck Jones made that I wish I could remember correctly. He once explained that the Warner Brothers cartoons were able to depart reality successfully because of the ways they respected reality. Bugs Bunny had weight, he said; when he took a step, the bottom of his foot flattened out when it hit the ground. The animators took care to make sure it happened that way because that's the way that happens; that's the way gravity works. If the animators got the gravity wrong, if Bugs didn't have an appropriate weight, it would violate the reality of the cartoon and that would take the audience out of the moment.

I don't think these guys are getting the gravity right, and it constantly takes me out of the moment.

Michael

Theodore said...

I'd like someone to check in with the East Coast, where it was 1:00 in the morning- what did people who were sleeping see? Time Zones & Sleeping patterns really should be mentioned: Most of the Central & Eastern time zones will see blackness of themselves sleeping by midnight on a Thursday. Western Europe will see themselves sleeping or just waking at 6 in the morning. Much of populated Asia slept through the blackout. Where is Noh supposed to get married in the sunlight? Hawaii?

Even if Lotteries are suspended, there are 1000 other bits of info you could give yourself to make money. Vegas would have to shut down immediately.

Apparently, at no time will Mark tell his boss about the gunmen- that would make going to the bathroom at the office at 10pm an even worse choice.

A guarantee of being alive in six months seems like free reign for a lot of reckless behavior. I think there's a Dabney Coleman movie about that. Or something. It was a '3 Days from Retirement' movie.

For me to keep watching, I need any bit of information that is inherently important, rather than important because it will be important. Why keep a picture of a doll? Will the singed plastic hold some deeper meaning? Nope; it's Important Because It Will Be Important (IBIWBI) Who's the FBI grunt who will type out '137 Seconds' in German to post on the Big Board? IBIWBI.

The only explanation for Alan's major issue (and it's a big one) would be that the world must not have realized that this would be their blackout time. But Mark is investigating blackouts that definitely occurred, so they must have had flashes of some other time- which must have also included singed dolls and old Nazis.

In a Major League Ballpark, no way is the only shot of a guy walking through a portal a low-res B&W from across the stadium. At the very least, look at shots thirty seconds later from inside. Only one guy won't be slowly staggering to his feet.

Mr. Guggenheim, you've got a very fine concept for a show. There are definitely some high points, such as John Cho and your use of cliffhanger endings. However, to be blunt, when this show is canceled, please consider doing an interview explaining what your detailed vision was. There's part of me that's still curious what happened to The Nin9.

Anonymous said...

For all we know, the memories of the WBOC will fade over time or there'll be another event that affects memory. I enjoyed Marc's work on B&S and ES as well as his comics work, and he's the reason I came to the show in the first place, and want to see what he does once he's established control.

I was curious why the father didn't have the DNA compared to his or his wife's in case the army's control sample was mislabeled.

Anonymous said...

I'm just about done with this show.

[Even if we ignore the inconvenient details about how the story is being plotted (global website built in an hour; how world governments are responding to the blackout; daughter's comment about D Gibbons not followed up or questioned), we still get back to the characters, and the incredibly thin ways their emotional arcs are being developed.]

For example.. FBI leader's wife (Gina Torres?) gets introduced, she tells us about a new boy in her life. So, we know she's going to find this boy. And then, bam, she does, at a funeral -- and now I'm supposed to feel an emotional beat for this new character, because she saw the boy from her vision? [This seems to be the show's primary way of generating emotional feeling, and it's kind of boring.]

Another example. After main FBI agent releases Nazi, we see him back at work, developing the Nazi's clue... We see almost ZERO emotional reaction to the fact that he let a killer go to learn about crows. And maybe the crows are important, fine. But a real human being would agonize over this for longer than main FBI agent does. And, to draw a comparison to Lost, I'm betting on Lost we'd at least have seen a little of that...of someone dealing with the consequences of their decision, of internalizing that.

Almost none of which I've seen on FF.

Maybe it's because it bit off more than it could chew.

Which is too bad, because I liked the premise.

Nags said...

Alan,
I haven't watched FlashForward but I wanted to say that perhaps the underlying problem is that the series cannot create the kind of suspension of disbelief that Lost apparently was able of doing.
I personally could never get into Lost in the first season because it was hard for me to precisely suspend my disbelief that anyone could get stranded on any island. By the time they built an explanation into the story line, I had moved on but obviously that were successful in doing that for a good number of people.
From what you say, this could be the fatal flaw of FlashForward.

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm fascinated by the fact the showrunner popped in to comment (and I'm interested in the show) however I'm unable to read the review at present as I have not seen a sinle ep due to a severe case of Reunion Syndrome (never get involved in a show with a mysterious ongoing plotline till you're fairly sure the network won't snatch it out from under you, unresolvable).

It's on the DVR hoping to aviod the fate of The Nine and Daybreak and others. I wish you the best (as I continue to dodge episode endings tacked onto the beginning of my Grey's eps).

It seemed to me a good premise, but I didn't read Alan's original review (and not a total robot - Alan and I disagree about this season of House, whereas last season I was quite bored with it. And I'm not a Hugh drooler either (though it was close for a few minutes a few years ago))

Goldie said...

Lost spent a handful of seasons building the characters, meaning that before each major development they'd cut to the backstory of the character, which explained why will they react this way.

They made it a concept of the show and, soon enough, you knew each and every one of them, you would connect with them, you'd have a favorite and a hated one, but in any case you had a feeling for each and every one.

Here we have zero backstory. My favorite character so far would be the little girl, IF they explained how come she's a bit smarter than the average kid her age, why she prefers not to play with kids her age at school or how can she be so cool after having seen something so weird such as her flash.

Maybe the creators should spend a bit of time introducing us to their protagonists, rather than sending in the crows.

Now, I do like this show very much (its main idea and what it promises, not the execution so far), but I'm afraid I won't watch for much longer if I don't care about the agent who's gonna die, because I will not know enough about him to connect.

Also, every time the creators are putting a lot of thought into thinking and executing great cliffhangers, they should remember that the payoff should be around the corner - yeah, that's about the little girl's flash ;-)

Otto Man said...

the CDC's anachronistic request for DHS funds.

Amen to that. I'm enjoying the show, but damn, that was a giant record scratch.

Otto Man said...

A guarantee of being alive in six months seems like free reign for a lot of reckless behavior. I think there's a Dabney Coleman movie about that. Or something. It was a '3 Days from Retirement' movie.

It was called "Short Time." Coleman's character wasn't immune to harm; he learned he'd be dead in a few days and his insurance policy only came through if he was killed in the line of duty. So he throws caution to the wind.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100604/

gina said...

My thoughts precisely, Michael, though yours are much more well organized than mine!

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

But Mark doesn't end up getting hustled by the Nazi because the Nazi gives him the information that leads to the seemingly crucial "crow lead". The Nazi may have thought he was hustling Mark but was ultimately unsure because his information about the crows could have been relevant or not. This also begs a more important question, "why hadn't they realized millions of crows died at the time of the flash before this?"


Also, it seems like more people should be giving themselves more information about the future in their flashes. We see mark by the board with all the clues, which seems to be very smart planning if he knows he is going to flash at that time. But for all the other people, on April 29th are they really just going about their lives as normal?!? This seems like an insane thought!

Pale Writer said...

While it is entirely likely that DHS is meant to be the Department of Homeland Security (and therefore anachronistic), DHS could also be the "Demographic and Health Surveys" project run by USAID, the organization that sends out all non-military foreign aid. It is a HUGE stretch, but at least it is a stretch that leads to non-incompetence.

Also, god do I want that to be Omar.

OldDarth said...

I can accept a show with logic issues if the characters are engaging, Chuck anyone?

But a show with logic issues and no characters to hang my hat on is making this a tough sled. Unless some new characters show up to shake things up this one may slide off my viewing schedule.

It sure was nice to Gina Torres from Firefly fame!

darrix said...

I don't know if anybody has picked up on the connection between the 137 seconds time loss and the Cosmic Number in Quantum Mechanics
- 137. This dimensionless number obsessed scientists in the last century, especially Wolfgang Paul, who devised the Pauli Exclusion Principle. He became friemds with the Nazi sympathiser - Carl Jung and his theories on Synchronicity.
The Nazis were heavily involved in Quantum Mechanics, Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Planck (all Nazis), and the last weapon of World War II - Die Glocke (The Bell) involved Quantum theory. It was discovered in 1945, in Czech, by a British team under Ian Fleming (James Bond books) called T-Force. Ian Fleming could not comment on his war work in the Secret Service, but did write a short story called - Quantum of Solace.
Flemimg was also involved with the Occult in the war along with Aleister Crowley (The Great Beast, 666) and Dennis Wheatley as past of Churchill's Occult Bureau.
The Bell was tested only once in 1945 in Breslau, Poland, all the scientists were 'knocked' during the experiment for 137 seconds and were affected at a Quantum level, beyond range of medical help.
By the way, you will find a connection with the end of the World Mayan date - 21 Dec 2012 and the number 137. Another numerical coincidence is that if you add the number 137, together for 18 times using numerology rules, you get - 666.
All this is covered in a new film, under production in Prague in 2010 and due to be released in 2011 called - deVine interVention.
If you want to find out more about the Nazi involvement in the world, you only have to go to the front of Baker St station to find two emblems of the latin FASCES (bundles of Rods with an axe in the middle) etched in stone near the bus-stops.

- 137 -

Hyd said...

My theory: in the future they see, the blackout happened, but the flashforward did not.

Nice theory, but there's a problem with a few characters. For example, the Nazi, in the timeline where the blackout occurred but not the flash forward, what would he have done? He would have blacked out, woken up, saw the dead crows and continue on with his life. He wouldn't have known an FBI agent by name, he wouldn't have been able to wrangle himself a pardon. An thus he wouldn't be arriving in the US at that time.

This is causal loop everyone keeps talking about: The events of the flash forwards depend on the flash forwards occuring.

Mr. said...

The thing that worries me is that it's only the third episode and they're already dragging Nazis in. I think they could wait until season three before bringing in the favorite easy villain of the last 70 years.

andrew said...

The absurdities pile up. Why on Earth did Courtney B. Vance, reading aloud the German missive, read the last word as "Sekunden" and then pause to explain that it meant "seconds"? Either (a) the letter in Vance's hand was written in German, and he read it aloud in English, but for no reason he said the final word in German; or (b) the letter in Vance's hand was a translation into English, but for no reason the translator kept the final word in German.

I mean, help me out, but I don't get how all that scene makes any sense.

lloydmilligan said...

Concerning the lack of recognition in the flash forwards - I thought the exact same thing the first episode, and it must mean that the flashes are simply possibilities. This is not that hard to swallow, but what is hard to swallow is that none of the characters have reached this conclusion. I spoke with some people who have read the book and it seems that this conclusion will be reached at some point but it is silly that it would not be reached immediately. BTW, this does not make the flash forwards worthless as there is still a ton of info that one can garner - ie the alcoholic guys daughter is alive.

Brad Dourif said...

Two things: 1) Mark/Joseph Fiennes is an self-satisfied ass (look at how he kisses Walger in the last episode - come on?), whose annoyingly low-pitched voice sounds like a bulldozer even compared to Wentworth Millers; 2) who is counting crows (no pun) in Somalia? And a search engine where one just types in "crow population / last year / worldwide", and diagrams and stuff just gets thrown at you? Seriously? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for science fiction 'n stuff, but small details like these...? Well, it doesn't add to the illusion, just makes it feel sloppy.

schmoker said...

Again, it's the car wreck I cannot turn away from.

The crows . . . ok, too stupid for words, but here are a few: forget everyone else in the world not noticing crows dying, how is it that no one else at that prison noticed all those crows? Give me a fu-----

Of course, as many have mentioned, no one in the future exhibits any awareness that the blackouts and visions ever happened, yet in the future the FBI is investigating the blackouts and visions, so, of course, they must be aware of them, only they are not aware of them, only . . .

Now THAT is stupid.

Why can't lead FBI-dork-who-is-too-bland-and-stupid-for-me-to-remember-his-name just put the damn post-its on his board in a different order? Is that so freaking hard?

Penny cannot leave that douche fast enough. If the blackouts had never happened, Penny cannot leave that douche fast enough. Shag Lord Norington, become a lesbian, join a cult, but leave that douche.

Doesn't take a budget for an actor to say, "The market opened down 5000 points today, not one commercial airline had a passenger on it and it looks like every airline in the world is going to fail, and people all over the globe are refusing the leave their homes." But they won't even pay that much lip service to the effects of the blackout, because, of course, people would be much more interested in their "visions."

Yeah, good luck with that direction.

Finally, comparing this show to Lost? Where in the hell does that come from? Forget about quality for a minute. Just consider form and style. This show bears ZERO resemblance to Lost in any shape or form. Lost spent an entire season as a character heavy relationship drama. For its first two seasons, half of each episode was generally a character developing flashback that had almost nothing to do the with central mystery.

Hell, there wasn't even a central mystery for the longest time. It was episode 17 ---SEVENTEEN!!!!!---when John Locke said, "We're not alone on this island and everybody knows it," thus giving voice to it for the very first time. Even then, Season Two still stuck with the flashback heavy-character development structure of the first season.

FF hasn't even developed a single character yet, save for the He's a Raging Drunk and a Total Douche Bag stereotype they have hung on their lead.

Lost also focused each episode on a very small subset of characters, or sometimes only a single character, each week. This show tries to hit every base each week, and they end up covering none of them.

Yeah, I know, why in the good god almighty am I watching it? I don't know. I'm just fascinated by its absolute awfulness, and by the generally positive reaction it is receiving. Plus, it's not like there is much else on, so better to watch and kvetch, I guess.

Anonymous said...

"... btw, would persuade the German government to grant a full pardon and release to said convicted Nazi war criminal?"

No, of course not. Germany is pretty much against everything that smells like national socialism, sometimes even at the expense of our democracy. But, well, it's just a TV show, so ignore that point in favour of the plot. As a German I'm more upset because of this picture of Germany as the dark, old fashioned Nazi country that was shown in this episode.