M: Ok, now this is more like it! Last week I felt was the worst episode of FlashForward thus far. For several weeks before I’d been complaining that the show was ending episodes well, and overall was pretty solid, but nothing more than that. Well, this week they made up for last week, and may have started to put it together. A lot of things went into making this what I would consider the best episode since the pilot (E: Absolutely), from the refocusing on the story lines that they had been building over the previous weeks, like the clues on mosaic board in Mark’s office to the potentially doomed relationship between Mark and Olivia, with Lloyd (Mrs Norris) interjecting, with another random, unexplained appearance by the kangaroo from the pilot thrown in (E: “That is the best costume ever!”). Those, and the introduction of a new character, help to put the show back on track, and even on a better track, than it was a few weeks ago.
Speaking of tracks, the episode starts out on a train smoothly cruising down the west coast towards Los Angeles, and have the first real scene with Simon, Dominic Monaghan’s eagerly awaited character. Monaghan has long been a Quibbling Sibling favorite, not only in his role as the troublemaking yet responsible hobbit Meriadoc Brandybuck in The Lord of the Rings, and his role as the lovable recovering herione addict Charlie Pace on Lost, but also for more obscure roles like Geoffrey on the clever BBC show Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. However, we’ve definitely never seen him in a role like this before. Here, in a mere three scenes, the last of which is only about 30 seconds long, he shines as the episode’s titular Super Creep.
We see him in the lounge car of the train trying to seduce a women with a ready combination of charm, celebrity, cheesy lines and scientific genius. It’s the metaphor of Schroedinger’s cat, used to explain quantum theory and ostensibly how he knows what caused the black out, that wins her over in the end. As we hear him deliver it, however, the scene jumps back and forth to Olivia’s hospital, where Janis is being brought in due to the gunshot from last week. As the first segment ends, we see Janis’ surgery begin, and Simon’s courtship conclude (both successfully), and cut to the credits. For the first time that I noticed, those credits contained a fun little Easter Egg, a picture of a skeletal hand inside the letters of FlashForward. (E: Oooh – I’ll have to look for that next time!)
That came to be important, as Demitri and Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Yough –E: which, can that rhyme be accidental?), who has been in episodes before but none as prominently as this one, start investigating the guys that Janis killed in their attempt to kill her. One of them had an ultraviolet stamp of a blue hand on him, and Demitri recalled putting a “Blue Hand” card up on Mark’s board, along with the word Baltimore. That led them to Baltimore Street, where they found a trail of skeletal blue hands that led them to a house with several dead bodies, one with a hand dyed completely blue. (E: Fascinating, no – I was expecting a nightclub instead of, well, a fight club? Or whatever it was that we got.) This subplot brought some good tension, and also some purpose and movement to the episode that was lacking in some of the past efforts, and also brought a clue to the “Rutherford case” that Al was investigating in England in his flash forward in the pilot.
In Monaghan’s middle scene, we find him back in his sleeper car with the woman from the lounge car. They are, shall we say, in bed but not sleeping. (E: Or you could say, we find him ON the woman from the lounge car.) Through her description of her flash forward we find that Times Square is going to have a New Year’s type bash for April 29th, the day the world flashed forward to. She then asks Simon what he saw, and he chilling describes to her, with flashing scenes of it mixed in, of himself struggling with a man, choking him, and crushing his trachea. As he lays on top of her (E: stroking her neck, shudder) with her face looking terrified, he coldly, sociopathically states that he “looked down on his lifeless body… quite … satisfied. Aren’t you glad you asked?” They cut to commercial, and finally ended a mid-episode scene the way they had ended several final scenes, really nailing it. Chills.
In the other sub-plot that they pursued this episode, the catalyst is autistic Dylan Simcoe wandering away from the hospital, partially in response to his no longer so estranged father saying he wants him to come live with him in Palo Alto (which happens to be the home of Stanford, which may prove to be relevant later – we’ll see). It’s Halloween, so Dylan is dressed as Flava’ Flav, and takes a bus to the Benfords’ house. Mark arrives home, after chasing guys with masks like the men he saw in his flash forward, except they turned out to be kids just out tp’ing houses (E: so, so relieved he didn’t shoot them – I really thought he was going to for a minute), and finds that Dylan’s dad is on the way, because the babysitter got the number off his hospital bracelet. Charlie gets back in from trick-or-treating and she and Dylan are immediately comfortable, though she can’t explain how she knows him. We see flashes of his flash forward, in the Benford house, with Charlie telling him “this is your house, too”, which he repeats over and over. Lloyd arrives, begins to recognize the house, and Mark begins to put two and two together, when Olivia arrives, stunned to see both men in her living room.
In a very well acted, tense scene, they communicate mostly without words, a somewhat lost art in TV and film these days, and you can tell what each is thinking. Mark has gone into protective and dominant mode (E: not to mention bitter), only concerned with getting “the threat” out of his house and life. Lloyd has instantly become defensive and starts to dig in his heels a bit, even though to this point he has had no interest in Olivia in any capacity other than his son’s doctor. Olivia is frightened, not wanting to allow Lloyd in, but conceding that it is more than just a coincidence. In the end, Mark tells Lloyd to leave and never come back, Lloyd takes a second, but then takes the high road by thanking them for taking care of Dylan. He and Mark shake hands but the tension remains just as thick.
As he takes Dylan back to the hospital, Mark an Olivia fight, and Mark finally comes clean about drinking in his flash forward. They confirm that neither of them trust the other now, her for things he has done in the past, and him for things she may do in the future. As Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Across the Universe plays, we see each of the characters adjusting to the events of this episode. Dylan thanking Lloyd for coming to get him, Janis dealing with the potential that she may not be able to have a baby she never knew she wanted, Mark and Olivia stewing very separately in their own home, Demitri looking over blue hand documents, Al looking over the Rutherford case files. The music trails off when Lloyd gets in his car to find Simon awaiting him. Simon lets Lloyd know that he is worried that Lloyd hasn’t returned his calls, and that “we’ve all been worried”, opening the door to a larger conspiracy. the episode ends with Lloyd telling Simon he wants to be left alone because their “little experiment killed 20 million people”. The scene cuts, punctuating another good ending.
Then, in the preview, it looks like things may pick up even more next week. A lot of focus looks to be put on the blue hand case, and it appears to be some sort of organization, at least one member of which is Callum Keith Rennie, Battlestar Galactica’s cylon Leoben. This is the first time that an episode has really satisfied me, and that both it and the preview have left me wanting more, and wanting the next episode to come sooner than the week I have to wait, and that’s what I’ve been looking for. (E: Exactly. This is the first time I felt like the series has really lived up to what I thought it could be originally. Hurrah!)