I remember seeing FlashForward trailers on Five back in the Autumn of 2009 and being more excited for a new TV show than I could remember – the premise was extremely high concept (the pitch must have been a breeze); the world’s population has blacked out and seen a 2 minute & 17 second slice of their futures. Now what? The execution was rather less exciting. Early episodes lacked direction, characters were poorly written (Shakespeare for example) and ideas were regularly mangled by misuse, or a lack of understanding as to how to exploit the great set-ups. In short, the show was an awful execution of a fabulous idea and would barely have registered when the obligatory cancellation came round in 2010. Only it hasn’t been (yet). And I don’t want it to be – after numerous behind-the-scenes changes and a long winter break FlashForward has come back with some high quality storytelling and with this episode and the previous one some fantastic occurrences and smile-inducing cliff-hangers.
This week we focussed on an inter-agency intra-FBI mole hunt, something which has become necessary due to what happened during the first interaction with Dyson Frost (D. Gibbons), the night Janis was shot and today’s Queens’ Sacrifice play. Each has resulted in a loss for the Mosaic team, an apparent up-yours to the FBI. There were only two ways this information could have been known – via mole and informant, or by way of one of Dyson Frost’s many FlashForwards. The latter has not even been considered, a strange decision given what we know of Frost – it seems the Mosaic taskforce either consider him incapable for whatever reason of hampering each and every lead they get (as not each is direct intel. relating to Frost) or the writers are holding it back for a later episode.
The other key plot device used during this hourlong is the very old FlashForward knowledge Frost has. Dyson Frost, the man who seemingly stole the 13 year old Simon Campos’ plans for some form of FlashForward device – the towers – has since Flashed forwards hundreds of times and knows his future. He knows it so well he could leave messages in 1991 for the Mosaic investigators in 2010. This is interesting in itself given we know the future can be changed – or at least think we do, having seen Al Gough commit suicide and more recently, Abdi’s killing. Yet Frost has been able to accurately predict the future such that he knew Demetri would watch the Somalian video longer than anyone else and that Benford would take action based on what it taught them (and the Chess games they researched as a result). I wonder just how changeable the future truly is...
FlashForward is picking up pace and will run every (or nearly every) week until its finale May 27th in the US. Since its hiatus it’s become more coherent with tighter plotting, better characterisation and a focus on the bigger picture. Whilst this naturally makes sense given the blackout date is closing in (and we know another will occur – season finale anyone?) I’d wager a lot of what is happening now was not planned until the series was pulled together between November and March. The search for the mole and eventual ‘catch ‘em if you can’ sequence at the end really kept the interest of the viewer. Dyson Frost is coming strongly into play, and we know his fate is linked to that of Agent Noh’s. We have a mole. We have two moles (however briefly). We have focus and we have a clear path between now, Noh’s murder, the day of the FlashForward (and Mark’s fate) and finally the second blackout. There’s also the chance Simcoe (and Campos?) will save the day with their Quantum entanglement device. It’s taken a while, but FlashForward is finally delivering on its trailed promise. I want to watch right up until the end and don’t expect it to unravel given the high quality of recent episodes. Let’s just not mention the Keiko / Bryce / Nicole sub-plot, ok?