FlashForward episode 18 review

Billy finds that the latest FlashFoward shows signs of improvement. But he's got some words to say about the season as a whole, too...

18. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Before I get onto the Elton John salute, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I’d like to talk briefly about my review of The Garden Of Forking Paths, which elicited some strong responses in the comments.

I’ll first concede that I’d missed that the liquid in the bottle Mark was carrying was gasoline, and not water, although it didn’t seem to have much effect on Dyson (or Mark for putting it in his mouth…). Sorry.

Yet, with all the vitriol that came my way, a good number of the points I made were never addressed. Nobody appeared smart enough to come up with the logic of how to get an undamaged brain out of a head without any visible surgery, for example.

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But I’m skating around the bigger issue here. I write reviews of these shows. If you like them, that’s fine. If you don’t, then I’d respectfully suggest you don’t read them.

Personally, I think I’ve suffered plenty with this one, and especially in the early days I was more tolerant of it than I normally would be. If you like FlashForward then that’s great, but don’t think you’re going to browbeat me into being a fan of its nonsensical plot twists or rubbish and unbelievable characters.

This, as they say, brings me neatly to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which is actually a reference to a particular yellow brick road that is the assault course at FBI training in Quantico, Virginia. The story takes us back to Janis and Demetri, both completing that fitness challenge two years before the blackout.

This is a precursor to the majority of this story being allocated to explaining how Janis became a mole in the FBI, when she was approached by the mysterious forces of badness and their pet shop franchise.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Janis parts of this FlashForward were watchable, and reasonably entertaining. She’s always been one of the stronger and more interesting characters, even if she does have her blonde moments. We see how she’s lured into working for the other side, although to accept that, you have to believe she’s mind blowingly naive.

The flipside is later revealed when you realise that Vogel contacted her beforehand, turning her into double agent (or is that technically a triple agent?). The only problem with this is that, if Vogel is already flipped, she’s been doing all this stuff assuming she was working for the CIA, when she wasn’t ever! The Janis elements here were generally good, especially the final order that she gets to take out Mark.

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So, what other narrative snacks are available for our eating pleasure? There’s one with Olivia and Agent Vreede hunting clues while being followed by savant Gabriel McDow (James Callis), who is decidedly less MC Hammer than he was last week. This is fine, for the most part, and reveals an interesting line in experimentation that Dyson Frost was running in a mental hospital using savants to collect data.

It would have been more watchable if it wasn’t for the faces that Sonya Walger (Olivia) insists on making to relay ‘confused’, which to me look like someone who’s got a bad case of heartburn building up. Actually, her face just freezes, in such an extreme manner that it makes Clint Eastwood’s minimalist acting style seem more like that of Jack Nicholson’s.

But the silliness quotient is maintained for the week by the Aaron sequences, set in Afghanistan, supposedly. The sight of him sat in a Kabul Starbucks with one of his amazing costume collections on, trying to ‘blend in’ was unintentionally hilarious. To their credit, the Afghan man he meets jokes about his attempt at being inconspicuous twice, before he’s killed. In retrospect, perhaps if he’d worn his official Obi-Wan costume copy it could have been even funnier, and he could have tried the ‘I’m not the Westerner you’re looking for’ line (with the accent of Alec Guinness). Sadly, they didn’t go for that option.

Given the number of Predator drones that are currently hunting at night over that geographic location, the idea of driving around the desert with your headlights on full did seem more than mildly absurd, as did the six million candles of lighting the roadblock they ran into had at its disposal.

Overall, this was actually a much more competent stab at a TV series episode than the one that preceded it, and it developed the Janis character in some interesting ways. Although we never actually saw her fish, did we?

Next up is Course Correction, which, to my mind, is a little late for a show that only has four more stories to run.

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Read our review of episode 17 here.