From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Flash Forward: “A561984”

The latest episode of Flash Forward, “A561984,” relies heavily on mythology. As usual, the show features two primary story lines.

The most interesting of these is the one that deals with the fallout of the bet between Lloyd Simcoe and Simon Campos, and Simcoe’s subsequent press-conference revelation to the world that his team of scientists was directly responsible for the blackouts, though they did not intend for the blackouts to occur.

Thing is, Campos is now arguing with Simcoe that they were NOT responsible. This is the same Campos who has been presented with such an air of menace that viewers wouldn’t be surprised if discordant chords of doom played every time he entered a room. Is he credible? Campos should know what he’s talking about. He speaks with authority and control. He appears to be a man of a certain amount of power, a ringleader, if you will. But, is he trustworthy? Flash Forward’s presentation suggests that he is not.

Following the announcement, the FBI want those two men found and interrogated, and understandably so. What happens is that Campos walks right in the FBI office and agrees to speak with them. Not the act of a villain. What is so damn fascinating about this sequence is we are finally brought back to the Somalia instance of the early 1990’s and that weird tower the FBI has satellite photographs of from 1991. Campos identifies the tower of his design and explains part of its usage, but says that he didn’t come up with the concept until 1992 and that it was only theoretical. The technology doesn’t exist in 2009, let alone 1991. He agrees to help figure out who could be responsible.

This leads the viewer to question what side Simon Campos is really on. It’s a fair question given that Flash Forward has gone to such lengths to present Campos as a villain, as a devious mastermind. Granted, it has been all with suggestion, but Dominic Monaghan does such a great job playing a bad guy.

A561984

The other half of the episode follows Demetri and Benford as they travel to China against Wedeck’s express orders to find the woman who called Demetri and told him he would be murdered. They are met in the airport by an agent or a diplomat (probably a diplomat) who explains the situation to them, which is basically that it was all kinds of stupid to come to “Communist China”, as he puts it, on an unsanctioned visit. Benford and Demetri then do all sorts of incredibly stupid stuff and basically act like they are still in America and that they have authority in China. Which they don’t. These two heroes of Flash Forward demonstrate yet another reason for the “Ugly American” stereotype and honestly, they deserve all sorts of bad things to happen to them for their stupidity. They should know better, and they were warned. The episode doesn’t end well for them, and Benford rightfully lost his job over the incident.

Yes, this is entertainment, but there are moral issues with their actions and poor decision-making that will make some / many viewers question their judgment in the rest of their investigation.

This is not to say that Benford’s instincts are wrong, because there is a later scene showing Nhadra (Shoreh Aghdashloo) with just the man that Wedeck is looking for, the scientist who may be behind the whole thing. Benford’s instincts for investigation are correct, but clearly his instincts for behavior are poor. He’s a liability to the agency and with any luck, he will be not be reinstated.

In the positive things department, Zoey finally realizes that her flash forward may not have been about her wedding to Demetri, but rather to a funeral or a memorial. She’s been working so hard to convince Demetri that he was in the vision (and we never saw anything to confirm this, remember), and to get his family prepared for the wedding, that it is only when she is at the funeral of a colleague and she notices the flower she is holding matches the one from the vision that she realizes it wasn’t a wedding. Very well done. This also ties into the added drama when Nhadra reveals that Benford will murder Demetri.

When Flash Forward wants to dig into the overall mythology of the show, the writers do a very good job.

The next episode will air in March. Stay tuned.

Joe Sherry lives near Minneapolis. He blogs at Adventures in Reading.

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