FlashForward episode 20 review

FlashForward is spoiled in so many ways that Billy doesn't feel he can do it much more harm…

20. The Negotiation

When a show ends before the creative team behind it is ready, then this can leave things in a highly unsatisfactory state, where plotlines aren’t neatly concluded.

Based on what was in The Negotiation, those behind FlashForward had somehow convinced themselves that they had another season or five in the bag, and that there was no reason to move things along at pace. That wasn’t smart.

Logically, it may be that they only found out they’d failed to get more episodes after the finale was shot, in which case this TV show will end with a cliffhanger to nowhere. Whatever the truth, much of The Negotiation centres on Janis and her relationship with the other characters in her immediate vicinity. That includes Carline, the nasty lady who sells tropical fish, Mark, the father of her child (Demetri) and her handler Vogel.

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In terms of the negotiation, there are a number to choose from here. The organisation behind the flashforward wants one with Simon, and so unleashes their top lingerie expert Lita, to soften him up. It doesn’t work, so it’s not really a negotiation, as such.

We also have Janis trying to find a way to move forward without actually having to kill Mark, an option neither Vogel nor Carline has an issue with her doing! But then this isn’t a discussion either, as it’s their way or the highway. In the end, this entire plotline became moot when Mark works out (as he should have done at least three episodes back), that Janis is playing for another intelligence team.

When this plotline broke, I really didn’t follow any of what then happened afterwards. He confronts her and she tells him that she’s working for the CIA, but he doesn’t check any of what she’s claiming. Even though he’s aware of the pet shop, we don’t see Carline being collected, and Janis is left to wander alone at night where anyone passing could shoot her!

It’s all rather sloppy and made me feel like discovering double agents was a weekly event at the FBI.

But the prize for nonsense this week goes, as usual, to the Aaron plot, where he tracks down the location in Afghanistan where they’re holding his daughter. They scout the location and confirm she’s there, conveniently arriving just in time for them to try and kill her. Luckily for her, Aaron brought along what looks like a trusty M16A4, with a sniper scope and noise suppressor options! I mention this only because when he goes to shoot the bad guys, nobody told the sound engineers, as the gunshot sounds entirely normal. He also shoots them in the wrong physical locations, considering he’s not packing a 50 calibre sniper rifle and they’re wearing body armour. No, not as silly as the bridge scene the other week, but daft enough.

Again the real entertainment this week comes from Gabriel (James Callis), who is building a whole new career here on playing the mentally abnormal. All the scenes he’s in are great, and he even makes Joseph Fiennes shine briefly as Mark Benford is forced to deal with someone slightly less annoying than Olivia.

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The FBI getting one step ahead of their enemies, for the first time, and capturing “Big Guy”, as Gabriel calls him, is also quite entertaining, even if they sullied it with a stupid computer that displays “DELETING FILES” over a picture of Simon Campos when it’s, yes, you guessed it, deleting files! Obviously, files deleted in this way can’t just be fished out of the trash can, one assumes?

In the end, it’s all degrees of unhappiness, with the possible exception of Aaron, who has his daughter back and she’s just about alive. Demetri isn’t happy that Gabriel keeps mentioning he’s supposed to be dead or that Janis won’t accept his parental overtures. Mark’s not thrilled with Olivia or Janis, Stanford Wedeck is unhappy with everyone he speaks to, and there’s probably an entire pet shop of animals about to expire once the air conditioning goes on the blink.

So, what am I tempted to believe we’ll get in the final two episodes? Well, I’m still convinced that Demetri will die by Mark’s gun, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s Zoey that uses it when she finds out how her partner made her ‘gayer’.

I’m also drawn to conclude that Janis has been working for the bad guys all along, because Vogel has been turned. Which explains how, in Charlie’s flash, she hears him relaying that Mark is dead.

I’d also like to think that Mark realises he’s better off without Olivia, and tells her that, as she’s the major income provider, he’d like alimony from her.

I doubt many of the characters that were so important early on will have any part to play in the conclusion, which is turning towards a Simon Campos verses the universe showdown. Perhaps it will be one of those Dallas moments, where all we’ve seen was a super long flashforward that those wearing the Alpha rings experienced, and it all never happened.

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In terms of twists, I’d expect one from the Aaron thread (otherwise it was a huge plot for no purpose), and I’m still expecting Stanford Wedeck to contribute something unexpected. To be honest, I don’t really care about Bryce, Nicole and Keiko, and I can’t see their story being pivotal.

Two more episodes to go, for my sins.

Read our review of episode 19 here.