Oh, FlashForward. If you were a person, you would be the really eager dyslexic kid who wants to make daddy proud but just can't make the homework make sense. And just like that situation, there's a way to fix the problem and make everything work, but if you don't fix it, you're gonna get canceled/kicked out of TV school.
Basically, the idea behind the show is still interesting, but the lackluster execution is really starting to take its toll on me. It's in the dialogue that feels cut and pasted from Bruckheimer movies. It's in the lack of an effective way to communicate the passage (or not) of time. It's in the sledgehammer-to-the-gonads callbacks and reveals that remind the viewer that ZOMG something from a vision is totally coming true. I didn't go into this show expecting it to be The Wire, but right now I'd settle for Quantum Leap.
The third episode, "137 Sekunden," opened with expository title cards a la Battlestar Galactica. It's a good idea, since it quickly recaps the basic plot and then jumps back into the story. After replaying the scene of Demetri's phone call with the all-knowing Shohreh Aghdashloo, the action jumped to a prison in Munich, where former Nazi Rudolph Geyer is talking with his guard about how he'll be free soon. Apparently Geyer was free in his vision, so you know it's just a matter of time before Mark and the rest come to investigate.
(N.B.: I'm forcing myself to use the character names in hopes it makes the story stick in my head, because in all honesty this show is just 60 minutes of Joseph Fiennes talking to his wife Penny and doing FBI stuff with Harold. The characters feel like placeholders, you know?)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
Mark's office is fielding worldwide clues, which leads them to Geyer, who says he knows why the blackout lasted 137 seconds (which is sekunden in German, but I knew you knew that, because you're smart). Mark's all "Chief we gotta go!" and his boss is like "I don't like this but whatevs." So Mark and Janis go to Germany to interview Geyer, who of course wants immediate release and to have all charges dropped, plus a return to America. That's right; Geyer is the German version of Roman Polanski!
Meanwhile, Demetri is chasing down leads from Geyer's vision to check their authenticity, which includes finding the customs guy Geyer saw. He does, and so Geyer's flashforward is verified, but Demetri also finds a bong in the guy's apartment. (Meta-jokes!) The guy asks for slack, since a drug bust would keep him from being a customs officer. He even specifically tells Demetri that Demetri has the power to make the guy's future happen. This could be an interesting development, since Demetri could arrest the guy to see if he eats the charge or gets out of it, which would help determine whether the visions were inevitable. But NOTHING HAPPENS. What the hell?! Is there not going to be a follow on this? How does a series open a door, look through it, then close it and shuffle away?
Blerg. Mark gets Geyer freed, but the guy was blowing some serious smoke about understanding the blackout; he'd just heard himself say Mark's name in his vision and reverse-engineered a legal prison break. But Mark winds up okay with it because Geyer told Mark he had a gut feeling that the dead crows he saw in the prison after his vision are important, and sure enough Mark finds that a bunch of crows dropped dead in Somalia in 1991, which coincided with a village reporting a mass loss of consciousness. Fire up the wagon and let's go to Africa!
Random thoughts: Demetri's fiancée is played by Gabrielle Union, which lets showrunners pack twice the minorities into half the plot. Smooth! Plus, she was flying to L.A. from Seattle now that the airports are finally open again, but why not just take I-5? It was also clear from her dialogue that the blackout happened less than a week ago, but FlashForward is terrible at showing that compressed sense of time passing or the effects of the blackout's destruction. Aside from a few cool shots of still-smoldering buildings, things seem pretty hunky-dory everywhere, including Los Angeles. And no way would that be the case. There should be wrecks everywhere, a sense of endless rebuilding. But the show's too antiseptic, and until it starts to feel gritty, it'll never feel real.