“Believe” is the first Bryce-centric episode so far this season. Bryce, for those who struggle with character names, is the suicidal doctor from the first episode who has since undergone a renaissance of positivity and regained hope for the future. Early on in “Believe,” the viewer learns that Bryce suffered from terminal cancer and only had a limited amount of time left. After he was told the cancer was terminal, Bryce left the hospital in a daze, backed into a sporty red car, and when the guy got out to confront Bryce, Bryce proceeded to ram his car into the red car again and again before driving off.
Not cool. It’s time to interject some strong personal opinion here. Presumably the writers of Flash Forwardtried to make the incident forgivable by making the victim be something of a tool. The man was rightfully upset, though he acted demeaning to Bryce. So, backing up and crashing the car could be viewed as wish-fulfillment and just desserts for the tool. Thing is, there is no excuse for Bryce’s actions. Sure, the victim was a tool and a smug jerk, but Bryce was completely in the wrong and then drove away in a malicious hit-and-run. The writers then try to smooth things over by having the tool yell out at Bryce, “You’re dead! You hear me, you’re dead!” Really, writers? It’s a blend of forced irony because Bryce IS dying, ha ha funny, and overbearing cliché. Who says that anyway?
This episode shows some of the transformation Bryce underwent because of the Flash Forward, but what that opening did was tell me that Bryce is an extraordinarily unsympathetic character. He’s the sort of guy who would repeatedly crash into another vehicle just because he’s having a bad day (a really bad day, granted, but still), and transformation or no, he’s still that guy. Let’s not forget that. He believes that because he saw himself six months in the future talking to a beautiful young Japanese woman and so surely everything will be great. What happens if the cancer gets worse or if they don’t have a beautiful relationship and he falls into another depressive funk? Maybe he’ll crash into somebody else’s car, somebody who isn’t a tool, and maybe Bryce will hurt that person unintentionally. The man needs help.
The other half of this storyline is that we meet the Japanese woman for the first time. Her name is Keiko and she is an extremely smart and just got a job at the premier robotics company in Japan. At this time Keiko appears to be part of the personal story for Bryce and not part of the larger arc.
“Believe” doesn’t address the larger story arc of the series much. This is a personal story episode. There is “at home” drama with Sponsor and Daughter, personal drama between Benford and Sponsor, and finally, more exploration of the phone call Demetri received about the date of his murder. There wasn’t much movement on it this episode, but it was a start.
The episode’s focus on a generally unlikeable character and lack of motion as far as the larger story arc of the show is concerned make it not particularly successful.