FlashForward episode 17 review

Billy wonders how deep a hole FlashForward is trying to dig itself...

17. The Garden Of Forking Paths

Yes, another forking episode of this forking show. And for those who are sadistic enough to follow it, I’ll warn you from the outset that there are spoilers from here on in!

The Garden Of Forking Paths begins where the previous story ended, with Dyson Frost meeting Charlie, or rather her trying to recollect this to the FBI.

How bad this part is sets the entire tone of the story, which, if you hadn’t guessed, resolves the whole Demetri-must-die and how issue. The way the adults talk to Charlie in this opening scene had me wanting her to become possessed, as in The Exorcist, and then puke on them all. It’s nauseating, and they talk to her like she is three, not six.

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But then the bit where we see her meet Dyson Frost is equally creepy, because he seems to believe the way you talk to children is to imitate the odd voice of Johnny Depp in Willy Wonka!

His ‘gift’, beyond being creepy, is to tell her he loves Dr. Seuss, specifically One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and gives her a picture of a neo-classical painting with instructions where Mark should go to get Demetri back.

Meanwhile, Zoey’s decided that Alda Hertzog is her best hope to stop Demetri being killed, and obviously she wants something in return, as all incarcerated people always do. This is a repeat of what happened in episode 3, as I recall.

Demetri isn’t doing so well, as he’s sat in a chair with a gun mounted into a contraption pointing at him. Would that be Mark’s gun? The writers seem to have long ago given up with the prediction element to the show.

Dyson Frost has set this up to happen exactly as predicted. When he tries to move, the mechanism goes to fire the gun, except it moves so slowly and the aim is so high it would be easy to defeat for almost anyone. He only needs to move about eight inches to the right or left to take a flesh wound, but he’s not feeling that brave, it appears.

We’re then given a flashback of Alda meeting Frost for the first time, and him explaining his Garden of Forking Paths, which represents the various chronological events and how they intersect, with his ‘escape’ marked out in white dominos on the floor. Very visual, even if it didn’t make much sense to stand all those dominos up to make a point to a person he’d never met 60 seconds earlier.

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Obviously, the dominos weren’t a sufficient explanation, so they then move forward to the present for Frost to give Demetri the total exposition, which, as he’s trapped on the chair, means he’s got to sit through.

The one piece of interesting information we get is that Dyson is also supposed to die that day, and it’s his belief that once you’ve glimpsed the future it then tries to make you conform. Dyson is big on conforming. He’s fallen out with his ‘associates’ and wants to give himself up, but goes about this in an entirely unbelievable way.

Alda gets her day in court, has little information, and escapes like anyone could have guessed she would. At any point does anyone in the production staff read these scripts and say ‘err…that’s very predictable’? I guess not.

But for sheer silliness, the winner this week goes to the scene where Olivia is taken to see the body of the homeless man whom Frost shot with Mark’s gun. The examiner doing the autopsy has his brain out, yet we see the body and there is no indication that he’s had the top of his head removed, so how he get it out, osmosis?

Dyson lures Mark to a desert meeting, so that Mark can use spat water to disarm him (no, really). But then he shouldn’t have bothered, because Alda has followed him there and she shoots Dyson with her big gun that she always has handy when she’s just escaped from jail. He had two names, but Dyson doesn’t live long enough to get a third. He does, however, survive long enough to give a cryptic message, “I did what I did for a reason.” Good, that’s something to put on his headstone, then.

Demetri would be toast, but Mark is an intensively trained FBI agent, and has been on the course marked ‘Using a Sat Nav’, which knowledge he applies to Dyson’s car.

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Mark arrives at the location where Demetri is being held, but, presumably because he uses AT&T, he’s got no signal with which to call backup! He runs around, and then magically, he’s got a signal! (It’s definitely AT&T!). Mark has three minutes to save Demteri, but which building to go in? The one piece of information Alda gave up wasn’t total junk after all, phew!

He finds Demetri, so they can have a really dumb scene where Mark tries to move the gun. There are a staggering number of ways to stop the gun firing, and Mark tries none of them. How about pushing the safety on? Or putting an object inside the finger guard, or hammer action, or up the barrel? Or breaking the knife blade, or jamming the track it’s on? But the best part for me was that, as he bent the gun up, the red dot moved so that it was pointing at Demetri’s forehead. Yet, he never ducked once, even though he was free to move from the neck up!

It’s my regrettable task to inform you, Demetri lives. But Dyson’s The Garden Of Forking Paths is erased when Demetri stands up, removing all the clues. Shame Mark didn’t use his phone to take a picture, isn’t it?

This was a really bad episode, but it wasn’t over yet. James Callis turns up as a savant called Gabriel to spook Olivia while she’s buying coffee, doing an impression of MC Hammer. He repeatedly says, “You can’t touch this.” Disappointingly, she lives.

What utter rubbish from begging to end. Can this please end, soon, please!

On the map Dyson created the ‘End’ is in 2016, but I’m confident FlashForward will hit the buffers long before then.

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Read our review of episode 16 here.