The Garden of Forking Paths

I asked last week will this episode help us to better understand the rules of the game. Oh yes – we now know as much as anyone in the FlashForward universe about the rules. There are characters that have seen the bigger picture and not shared it with us, but in terms of the physics around the whole blackout and how it plays out, we now know it all.

As expected the entire episode took place on 15th March 2010, the day Demetri was meant to die. We saw Agent Noh sitting on a rigged chair from which he could not move unless he wished a bullet or three to fire from the gun pointing towards him. If he didn’t move within 6 or so hours however, the gun would fire anyway: game over. Concurrently we had Mark and Noh’s fiancée trying their utmost to find him somehow and save his life – Mark via following Dyson Frost’s convoluted path and Zoey by persuading the imprisoned Alda Hertzog to talk. Bad move. As with any self-fulfilling prophecy (as Mark put it) her actions focused us towards Demetri’s death as she got Hertzog a hearing, Hertzog escaped and Frost was killed by Hertzog as he was close to surrendering to Mark, detailing where Demetri was and how to save him (or at least shedding light on his Dr. Seuss storytelling).

This episode didn’t improve upon the standard of television FlashForward delivers. The last few weeks have been a step-up from the first half of the season but aside from some cliff-hangers its still very much the journeyman sci-fi show. ABC clearly wants it to be big, and I fancy they’ll give it a second season. It deserves one, as the story is intriguing with heaps of potential, but it would be good to have an injection of new talent, proven with other shows, to give it a bit more of a consistent bite.

The highlight of this episode was the Basil Exposition moment from Frost where he explained exactly how it all works. Any given FlashForward is one potential outcome of which there could be many – many worlds theory applied to TV, I guess. Each decision point leads to one of those outcomes. This is the case for each person, and each decision. Infinite outcomes. Frost discusses the probability of a given outcome too, and although he doesn’t go into any detail regarding the significance, or lack thereof of any given outcome, he explains that in 78 % of futures he is killed by Demetri and in nearly each one he dies. FlashForward follows the reality of modern physics’ beliefs regarding alternate universes and their creation. We have also been told what allowed people such as Frost, or the hobbit, to avoid blacking out on October 6th – their rings, or quantum entanglement devices (QEDs) – hence why Simcoe believes one can help stop the next blackout.

We saw a big Lost / Dharma type chalk drawing detailing the garden of forking paths as seen by Frost in his many jumps – every big decision (arbitrarily defined by the physicist) written and each possible outcome observed coming out from it. Mark remembers a few after it’s washed away thanks to the booby trap activated when Demetri’s safety is ensured; specifically the uppermost event which every path led to. December 12th 2016 – The End. Presumably the end of the world? Not overly clear at this point – for sure its set to become a big focus along with the next blackout for the Mosaic investigation team now. Seeing as in nearly every outcome Frost died it begs the question as to how many outcomes he’s seen of whatever happens in 2016 – if he has seen so few as so many possible futures will have been eliminated by his death in 2010, how much can we read into every path leading there when he is the only source? Maybe it’s a red herring. Maybe the writers aren’t sure yet. They don’t have to be. The carrot is dangling close enough to watch another episode. Of course, we also have more to learn regarding Gaius Baltar’s new role as Frost’s savant physicist...

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