2. White To Play
I’ve just watched the second episode of FlashForward, and my concerns about the overall tenet of this piece are being forced to the surface. The big ‘unknown’ that almost all the characters are striving to grasp is did the flash reveal a possible or certain future for each person?
It’s a simple enough notion and depending how they each perceive their vision, it translates into wanting or not these events to transpire. But as I pointed out in my first review, in none of the flash visions was anyone waiting for the known event to happen at the time they know it will. So surely if the events that lead up to that future are different, then the future must be? Unless it’s all fate, in which case, it’s pointless worrying or doing anything about it, because it’s going to happen.
What we get in White To Play is divided between the detective stuff of hunting the person who wasn’t unconscious during the blackout, and people making their choice to go with the future they’ve seen or to reject it completely.
They open with a rather chilling scene of children lying motionless in the school grounds, except it’s not a repeat flash. They’re playing a game of ‘blackout’. Except one child won’t play, Mark’s daughter Charlie. Her vision has upset her so much she won’t tell anyone it, although she later recognises Lloyd’s son who her mother is treating in hospital, so he’s part of it. This quite powerful scene is ruined by some very poor CGI helicopters, which made an appearance last week and are now back.
Mark is going to his AA meeting with sponsor Aaron so they can argue about his reaction to other alcoholics, and ponder their navels.
In the first story I did wonder why the FBI, where Mark and Demitri work, was the centre of the universe for flash investigation. Which is pretty much the same question that gets asked by a strident lady that turns up from Homeland Security. These are valid questions, and the lack of a national strategy to solve the mystery seems highly implausible. But having asked about it, that’s the last time it gets consideration, even if the answer provided at the time wasn’t really definitive.
Olivia bumps into Lloyd, the man she’ll be with in six months, which confuses her. Though luckily she’s concluded that Lloyd didn’t see her, so she’s the only one of them that knows. I didn’t accept this for a moment, as it seems wildly optimistic.
Having set a serious tone the show then went into comedy mode. First they have a wacky cupcake woman appear and give them a clue to part of Mark’s vision about the name ‘D Gibbons’, which is, incidentally, her name also. Then Mark interrogates his boss, Stamford, about exactly what he saw in the ‘meeting’ he was in, and how it doesn’t fit with his flash. This is a very funny scene, because Stamford wasn’t in a meeting but on the toilet, he admits. But worse than that, when he comes to, he finds another FBI staffer drowning in the urinal he’d been using, and is forced to give him mouth-to-mouth to revive him.
From this hilarity, with a few diversions back to the hospital, the majority of the story is about Mark and Demitri going to Pigeon, Utah in search of the other D Gibbons.
When they arrive by helicopter they’re greeted by a local sheriff. She tells them that she had no flash, like Demitri, the significance of which is underlined when they get into a firefight with D Gibbons and she’s killed within minutes.
You don’t get to see what D Gibbons looks like but he somewhat cryptically shouts, “He who foresees calamity suffers them twice over,” at them before blowing up his lair. Troubled by these events, Mark decides to burn the friendship bracelet that Charlie gave him, which seems pointless because, as was already pointed out by Demitri, she’s always giving him those sorts of things.
Short of an ending as such they then bring Charlie back to give a hint of what she saw, where she makes the obtuse statement that “D Gibbons is a bad man.” No shit, Charlie.
In retrospect it wasn’t much of anything, really, other than establishing characters and a minor detective story. It also suffered, to my mind, with some quite inconsistent acting in places. I’m starting to find Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger quite unconvincing as Mark and Olivia, but it’s hard to define what it is they’re doing that’s tonally wrong. Equally young Lennon Wynn isn’t really selling Charlie either, although this might well be down to the direction she’s been given, which seems to be sweet one moment and terrified the next. Maybe they should have cast Mackenzie Brooke Smith, who was amazing as Savannah Weaver in the now defunct Sarah Connor Chronicles.
What concerns me more generally is that the pace of the second show indicates that the bigger narrative here isn’t going to go anywhere fast and we’re all in for the long haul. If that’s the case, I find it somewhat off-putting that it’s obvious so early, and if it isn’t, then FlashForward needs to get down to some substantial storytelling soon.
In the third episode, I’m told they go to Germany, which my guess is, will look very much like an old studio backlot, possibly overflown by CGI choppers.
Check out our review of episode 1 here.