14. Better Angels
Episodes 12 and 13 weren’t bad. In fact, they had some really cool moments. But, as if to remind me how stupid this show can be, the opening scene has Simon, Demetri, Vogel and Janis flying into Somalia in a CGI helicopter. While they’re travelling, another agent is teaching them a few phrases in a foreign language, which could be Somali or Arabic. He teaches them to ask, “What did you see?” Pure genius. They can ask the question but they can’t understand the reply! Doh.
But, actually, this is probably the most sensible part of Better Angels, which, after two decent stabs at making this show more coherent, the writers have regressed to their previous mindset.
The team travel to Somalia under the guise of aid operation Red Panda, but they leave Mark (whose idea it all was) back at base, so he can brood.
Just after they arrive, we learn two important things. First: Janis is unbelievably myopic, as she needs high powered binoculars to see a giant tower that’s less than 100ft away, and, secondly, that the really useful agent who can speak Somali whom you’ve never met before, is actually a meat wall.
They run into Abdi, the local warlord, and he shoots people first and chews gum after. He’s amazingly helpful, and tells them all about the first experiment that happened when his was a boy, where all the people and birds passed out. But, and this could be very important so I’m making a note, camels are immune to the FlashForward effect. Useful info like that comes at a price, however, and they are down the second member of team meat wall. When they try to escape, Abdi kills a couple of his own men, just to show it’s nothing personal.
After that he provides them with more exposition about his flash, and after finding out that they’re CIA (which they’re all not), he makes his demands of ‘planes, tanks, boats’, and another meat wall team member buys the farm to pay for that screen time.
What we didn’t realise, though, about Abdi that Janis so deeply understands, is that he’s a deeply sensitive person, who quotes Lincoln and still has mummy issues, so she’s able to reach out and, using the Internet connection that all Somali warlords have, shows him that his future is to stop the war, not win one with ‘planes, tanks, boats’.
Soon they’re at the remaining tower, finding working videotapes and tape players (after 15 years) that show Abdi that his mother wasn’t killed by the experiment, as he assumed, and that the blackout wasn’t the work of god. They also find out what happened to all the people in the village, before Vogel kills Abdi with the gun he’d hidden somewhere clever.
As you might be guessing by now, nothing in this entire story fitted together or suspended any kind of disbelief. This includes he way that the agents soon forgot the three meat wall team members, or that Simon appears to have come along purely to be beaten around the head, or the final member of the meat wall team who just disappeared when they went to the tower.
But just when I thought this episode had pretty much unloaded itself on me, it delivered a scene of such mind numbing irrationality that nothing could prepare me for. Janis is lamenting the baby she can’t make because she’s in Somalia, and Demetri offers to father it. The line that entirely blew me away was Janis’, “But I’m gay,” and Demetri’s reply, “I will make you gayer!” I didn’t make that up. It was really in there.
I know this is supposedly said in jest, but it soon turns out he’s entirely serious! Zoey doesn’t factor into this impromptu sperm donation plan much, well, at all. We don’t find out if Janis takes one for the team, but I’m sure it’s not the end of this storyline.
What I haven’t talked about here is the diabolical Mark/Olivia interludes where they attempt to save their marriage, but by talking about doing that, but actually do nothing whatsoever about that. We’ve had so much of this I’m beyond caring. Olivia is the worst character and would turn me to the bottle if I were married to her.
The only value of this is that we get to find out what Benford’s daughter overheard in the flash that scared her, which was that Mark was dead. And, at the end we find out that the man who said that outside her house was Vogel.
There’s also a supposedly touching romance that blossoms between Dr. Bryce and Nicole, the Japanese speaking babysitter and medical orderly, but I’ve tried my best to erase that. I honestly wish that the rest of it could be forgotten too.
I’m not sure I can handle many more episodes as irrational as this one. I just hope D Gibbons, or Dyson Frost, or whoever he calls himself, isn’t the bad man writing this series.
Read our review of episode 13 here.