From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Flash Forward: “The Gift” & “Playing Cards With Coyote”

“The Gift” delves into the FBI investigation of the Blue Hand people. While there is likely quite a bit more to the Blue Hands than this episode reveals, the Blue Hands do tie into the blackout. They are part of an organization comprised of those (like Demetri) who did not have a flash forward. The purpose of the organization is still fairly cryptic, but with each episode Flash Forward opens the story wider and continues to answer little questions. The thing with the crow deaths hasn’t been touched much, but that’s a big one to remember.

demetri“The Gift” is a fairly Demetri-centric episode. The relationship ramifications of Demetri’s self-centeredness in regards to his work (and thus not on his fiancé, played by Gabrielle Union) is examined here. He remains aloof early, but we see him finally reveal the truth to Zoey. Much like the Benford / Olivia scene from the previous episode, the character moments between Zoey and Demetri shine. The first is uncomfortable, the second sorrowful, the third quiet but hopeful. After awkward handling of relationships early on, the writers are doing a much better job with the characters now and Flash Forward is all the stronger for it.

After some strong work from Lee Thompson Young , there is a negative to the episode in that a character with some serious potential has been removed from the show, but a very strong positive in that Al Gough’s suicide at the end of the episode will lead to the very important question of whether or not the visions of the future can be changed. He commits suicide because he doesn’t want to be responsible for a woman’s death six months in the future, and if his motives can be trusted, because it would prove that the future is not fixed.

The question remains, as always: Is it true? Is everything now up in the air? Has it always been up in the air? Or, will “fate” somehow course correct?

It also raises another question: how many other suicides have there been in response to the flash forwards? Now, I’m not asking about those who offed themselves because they did not see a vision, but about those who did not like what they saw. Surely Gough wasn’t the first one with a vision to suicide.

Beyond touching on the Blue Hand Group being a weird post-blackout organization, which–one has to assume–has ties to the originators of the blackout (because, why not?), “The Gift” does not do much with the overarching conspiracy of the blackout and flash forward. Despite that, “The Gift” still stands as a quality episode with solid performances. If this truly is the end for Al Gough, the character will be missed. Lee Thompson Young was quietly becoming a standout secondary character. It’s a sign I read SF when I question if a character who committed suicide in a show that doesn’t have a supernatural element is really dead. But there you are.

Flash Forward: “Playing Cards with Coyote”

We shall ignore for a moment that when he committed suicide Al Gough did not know the last name or address of Celia, the woman whose future death he believed he would be responsible for. We shall ignore this because the beginning of “Playing Cards with Coyote” shows Celia receiving that same letter Al gave to Demetri. We shall ignore this because we then see that Celia and the letter ended up in the newspaper and then on the news and the story of a man who, with his suicide, showed the world that the futures contained within the flash forwards can be changed.

Ultimately this is what “Playing Cards with Coyote” is about, people responding to that new understanding. It’s about trying to secure or avoid the future and the equal desperation of each. Benford’s sponsor Aaron Stark has been desperate all season so far that his flash forward be true, that his two years dead daughter will be alive. She is. She is back home, hiding out, and her story hints at what I think is going to be part of the larger conspiracy of the show. Benford and Olivia are both desperate that their visions NOT become reality, though to be fair, Benford seems to alternate between despair and relief in his personal life depending on what is going on in his professional life. That can’t be a healthy way to live. That, more than the future actions of Benford and Olivia, is probably what will drive Olivia into the arms of Lloyd Simcoe.

One thing we learned is that there is a whole organization of men with the three-star tattoo that Mark Benford saw in his vision. Part of the implication here is that the Jericho military contractors that Tracy Stark is on the run from is very likely the same organization that was up to no good in the FBI headquarters in Benford’s flash forward. It’s a nice way to tie things together. We don’t know for sure that the Three-star men are Jericho, but it is a reasonable supposition right now.

threestar
The other major thing learned in this episode is that there is serious dissention in the ranks of the organization that had a hand in causing the blackouts. This episode suggests that they were simply scientists and Lloyd Simcoe didn’t expect twenty million people to die as a result of the blackouts. The thing is, Simon Campos (Dominic Monaghan) has more than a little bit of menace in his demeanor. He gives off the Evil Mastermind vibe. Simon revels in the death, in the accomplishment, and in the conspiracy that caused the blackout. What was the true purpose of it all? What’s the endgame?

To raise the specter of something we haven’t seen much of since the first two or three episodes, when will the story get back to discovering more about the men who were awake during the blackout? Why was the guy in Detroit in the ballpark watching everybody drop? Also, did they finish the game?

Flash Forward continues to build interesting questions and, after a rocky start, is beginning to hit a stride in delivering solid drama each week. “Playing Cards With Coyote” is no exception.

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

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