Friday, November 20, 2009

FlashForward: Season 1 Episode 9 - Believe

Now that's more like it!  Welcome back Flashers!  I made it no secret that I thought last week's episode was mostly a dud.  There were some pretty interesting things revealed, but coming off of the high the week before, it just didn't add up.  This week?  They changed things up on us.  We got a flashback to before the blackout plus a character-centric storyline.   It was a much-needed slower pace but more interesting at the same time.  I get a little tired when they jump from one storyline to the next in one episode without giving us a chance to digest what is happening!  Sometimes less is more.  And they managed to sneak a nice twist into the end of the episode that has nothing really to do with the MOSAIC Investigation.  It won't go down as the best episode of FlashForward, but it was a solid outing in my book! (or I guess blog!)

So what went down this week?  We get a long-delayed back-story on the reasoning behind Bryce's suicide attempt and his transformation POST-flash.  We meet his Japanese "flame-to-be" Keiko and follow both of their paths towards finding each other (one day).   Mark finds out about the anonymous text to Olivia and starts snooping around for answers.   There are some additional findings on the Flash-Free Rings and also on Demetri's anonymous caller.  Aaron also runs into some issues with the recently returned Tracy.   Let's see what we can break down here:

The Mini-Stories

Aaron and Tracy
We didn't get much with these two in the episode.  But the couple scenes spoke volumes for Aaron's behavior in the rest of the episode.  Aaron discovered an empty bottle of vodka next to Tracy's bed where she was probably passed out drunk.   Later on Tracy cooked some dinner for her father and she sat down to unwind with a bottle of wine.

  • We find out that Aaron used to be a military man himself. 
  • We found out last week that Aaron doesn't like to have alcohol in his home (as he is an alcoholic).  It was further enforced this week when he told Tracy that she could not drink in the house.  He can't handle it.  Tracy goes off talking about all she has been through, takes her bottle to somewhere else in the house and drinks it.  As we find out later though, this might be more of a concern for his daughter than himself.  
  • When Aaron and Mark were on the phone, they discuss Tracy's fear of Jericho.  Mark is looking into it but needs higher security clearance to get any more information.  He mentioned that they have some operation based out of Santa Monica and something about a Think Tank.  Also mentioned in the same breath as Jericho is Blackwater.   Not sure if this was a hint at anything to come, but I figured I'd throw it out there. 
Aftermath of "The Text" unveiling
So Mark gets of the phone with Aaron because someone is calling Olivia's phone.   When he gets Olivia's phone, he misses whoever is calling but then stumbles upon the text that said "Mark was drinking in his flash forward"
  • Okay, first of all...WHAT?   Anyone that knows anything about text messages know that a text message might pop up like that on phones when it first arrives, but then you have to ACCESS the texting section of the phone to look at it again.  Wasn't this incident weeks ago with the anonymous text?   I think it was rather convenient that it would just pop up on Mark's phone!   Lazy writing maybe, but it got the ball rolling for this storyline. 
  • Olivia told Mark since he already told her about the drinking that she didn't bother to bring it up.  She also said that she didn't know who sent it. 
  • Well, that didn't stop Mark from trying to find out.  As we know, there are 2 people we know that he told.  Aaron and Stan.  He first attempts to ask Aaron after an AA meeting.  Keep in mind everything Aaron is dealing with at home and he has to get whiny Mark coming up to him about his problems yet again.  Reenactment:  Mark "Well, I only told 2 tell me"   Aaron: "I deal with so much of your crap and your whining and this is trust I get in return?  I'm going to throw some chairs now!"   And he does.  Mark:  "Stay away from my wife!!"  Aaron: "Oh yeah?  Get a new sponsor! And now I'm gonna smack your face 3 times! HA!"  
  • So, Mark doesn't get anywhere with Aaron so he moves on to Stan, his boss.  Reenactment 2 (don't try this at home):  Mark "well, uh, you did seem pretty p.o.'d when I told you I WAS LOOOADED OKAY???"   Stan:  "ohhhh no you didn't!  You think I'm going to stoop as far as telling your wife on you when you whine your confession to me!?  Get out of my face!" 
  • I know I had a comment or 2 last week suspecting that Stan might be the mole in the office AND the 7th ring bearer.  I'm not sure I'm seeing it.  But WHAT IF Stan was the one that ratted out Mark?  Could he be involved in things more than we think?   It's not like he flat out denied sending the text.  Then again, neither did Aaron.   What WAS Stan doing in that bathroom?  Perhaps he is the one that lets the gunmen in?    Eh, I'm not seeing it.  I like Stan as a good guy, and I like to think he's going to bust in and save Mark on April 29th.   Or even, LIVING Demetri will come in and save him.   
  • So then who texted Olivia if it wasn't one of those 2?  Ahhh could it be an ominous 3rd party?   Granted, they were in a bar when Mark blurted out "CAUSE I WAS LOOOOADED OKAY???" so other people could have been listening in.   But what if someone out there KNOWS what people saw somehow?   Sounds a little far fetched too.   If I have to choose between Aaron and Stan, I would say Stan did it.  But if there's a 3rd party option, I would entertain that as well. 
  • Later on Mark apologizes to Aaron.  It's the same old speech.  Mark says "I'm under a lot of stress" Aaron says "Dammit Mark you're not the only one!"   It is clarified that Tracy joined the military because she wanted to be like her father.  She got all messed up and returned an alcoholic just like her father.   Aaron blames himself for it all.   He tells Mark he can't be his sponsor anymore, but he wants a friend.  Mark accepts.  awwwww     But if Mark doesn't have a sponsor, how will he not get LOOOOOOADED in April?  Ahhh, cause and effect...
MOSAIC Investigations and Beyond

The one Ring that will FOOL them all! 

As requested by Stan in last week's episode, further information was unveiled about the ring on Suspect Zero's hand.  Of course we have more knowledge that there were 7 rings, but the FBI does not know this!
  • Mark asked the question on everyone's mind, why weren't they able to render the face?  The NSA Agent Leevy (sp?) gave some mumbo jumbo excuse about the face being washed out or something.  And that the ring was a reflective surface with hard edges and they were able to render a 3D image of  it.   There was some weird symbol on the ring, one that I think was on the rings we saw last week too.   Unfortunately, with less and less people providing screenshots, I can't put it here! 
  • Stan apparently didn't find this information on the ring very helpful, and this Miss Leevy was apparently withholding information because of the current company in the room not making her comfortable. 
  • Long story short - Demetri Noh was Red Flagged by the NSA after they intercepted a phone call from overseas.  The very phone call that Demetri received informing him that he's going to die on March 15th.  After some bullying, Demetri convinced the NSA Agent to make a call to retrieve the phone record. 
How to catch an anonymous Caller
You just have to filter everything but the background noise!
  • I think we had a back and forth discussion the blog back in episode 3 about what city the woman was calling from.  Well debate is settled.  Agent Vreede recognized the cheesy electronic music as the Symphony of Lights - the world's largest music show, located in HONG KONG! 
  • Once again Stan is against sending Mark and Demetri on one of these crazy leads.  (also making him a bit suspicious, but we'll let it go for now)  Stan said he'd put one of his top agents on it though. 
  • Mark, growing a set (if Alda could see him now), told Demetri that they're going to Hong Kong anyway!  YEAH MARK!!     Okay, so my wife brings up a good point.  They're going to fly to the large city of Hong Kong and just FIND this woman with no other leads?!?    "Excuse me miss?  Say the word 'Murdered'....THAT's HER!!"   Sure, I'm sure they'll get more information before the next episode, but it seemed like you'd want a better lead than just HONG KONG and the symphony of lights, but what do I know?   

The Tale of Bryce and Keiko
(Part 1) 

4 Weeks Before the Blackout

Well, it becomes immediately clear why Bryce wanted to kill himself.  We find out he has stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma, a kidney cancer.

  • From discussions with his doctor, we find out that he has been battling this for awhile and that there is not much more that he can do.  He asks how long he has, but we never hear the answer. 
  • But from his walk to his car, with all loss of hope, we can tell it's not good news.   He gets in his car, and not even paying attention backs right into a very fancy car (sorry, not a car expert but it was expensive, I know that!)    The drive flips out, Bryce doesn't even say a word.  He just pulls his car up and backs back into the other car 2 or 3 more times, gets out of his car and then walks away.   The man calls the police and yells "You're DEAD!"   Yep, that's the idea buddy. 
2 Week Before the Blackout

We see the woman that Bryce has yet to meet or even see in his flash.

  • We find out her name is Keiko later on and that she is interviewing for a job in Tokyo (where she lives) with the Nakahara company.  
  • Apparently she built some robotic hand and graduated with top honors as a medical engineer major at the University of Tokyo.  
  • But she has role models like Jimi Hendrix, plays guitar and likes salsa dancing too.   The suits weren't too impressed with those facts.   
  • She does get the job and there is a surprise party at her house where we see her mother trying to "arrange a match" with a successful business man Ito.  
  • And we also find out that the mother is the one really pushing for this big engineering job.  
We rejoin Bryce in Los Angeles, trying to return to his normal life.  He freezes in surgery and Olivia questions his commitment.

Blackout Day

Bryce's Day
  • Bryce begins therapy.  He claims that he is not a very good doctor.  He didn't know what he wanted to do and just did it.  And now he has cancer. 
  • He does not want to tell anyone about the cancer.  His father died of lung cancer and it was a 3 year chore on the rest of his family. He doesn't want to put anyone through that.   And he doesn't want pity from his co-workers.  The therapist urges that Bryce needs support.
  • We see Bryce load the gun, head to the pier and attempt to pull the trigger and the ZAP - FLASHFORWARD!!  We see that he is in some Japanese restaurant and asks for tea.  Keiko comes in with a wheel on her shirt.  "You're really here!  Please sit"  He grabs her hand, there's the tattoo on her arm that means BELIEVE.    They are clearly meeting for the first time but recognize each other from their Flash. they would not have met if the flash never happened, but now they're inspired to find each other because of the flash! 
We see Keiko wake up having the same exact flash.  The sink overflowed in the bathroom.  She is very happy about what she saw.

Present Day 

In Japan

  • Keiko is miserable at her job.  She has visions from her flash of running with sparks flying all around.   She is mimicking guitar movements while watching and listening to Bob Dylan playing "Shelter From The Storm"
  • She is called into a conference with Mr. Nakahara himself and all he wants is for her to serve tea.  Ouch.   
  • Keiko stops into a tattoo parlor on her way home.  And remembers having one in her flash.  She asks to get one.  The tattoo guy scoffs at first but she is persistent. 
  • Keiko returns home and fights with her mother about quitting and not wanting to be in an arranged marriage.  She says there is someone else out there for her.  She wants someone with imagination.  The Mother is not happy!  She gets so upset with Keiko that she kicks her out of the house. 

Bryce continues his obsession with finding Keiko

  • We see all of the paintings in his home and now recognize everything is from his flashforward.  We also see him learning Japanese (much quicker than Jin learned English I must say!  But maybe not as quickly as Hiro learned English on Heroes.  That was record timing!) 
  • Bryce throws up.   He is sickly at work as well.  He finally has to come clean to Olivia about the cancer.  Olivia puts all of the pieces together and realizes this is why he wanted to kill himself.   Bryce says that he's in a better place now ("I have something to live for"), and it's just the couple days after the chemo but then he'll be fine.  We also find out that Bryce has had the cancer for a year and had his kidney removed before he started working at the hospital.  
  • Bryce and Nicole catch up later.  We get a sense that she kinda has a thing for Bryce and his impressed he's going to great lengths to find this woman.  
  • He later talks with a Japanese patient who is apparently aware of Bryce's flash.  Bryce shows her his drawing of the girl.  The woman recognizes the wheel on the shirt from a sushi place just outside of Tokyo.  Bryce thinks this might be the place where he meets her. 
  • Olivia makes some calls and finds a specialist trying some advanced experimental treatments in Houston.  She got Bryce an appointment.   Bryce says that he can't sacrifice meeting this girl by getting sick.   Olivia said that this might be what keeps him alive for his Flash and to take a couple days off and to go to Houston.  
  • Bryce goes to Tokyo instead to the restaurant with the wheel.   The cook recognizes the picture as Keiko's.
  • Bryce gets directions to where he thinks Keiko's home is.  It is indeed her home, but her mother had already kicked her out.  She realizes that this must be the "OTHER MAN" out there for her and tells Bryce nothing.  She says that she does not even know the girl in the picture. 
  • He calls Nicole and is clearly upset.  Nicole tries to reassure him that the trip wasn't a waste.  He did get a name, but maybe he needs to be more patient.   I mean, for real!  If he wants his flash to come true, then why is he seeking her out so soon?   But everything happens for a reason right?  Anyway, Bryce thinks he may have misinterpreted his flash.  Maybe it was only a fantasy.  

Bryce returns home.  We see him get off the plane.  But the camera doesn't follow him, it stays on the gate.  Who do we see get off of the very same plane?  But Keiko herself who has gone through a make-over (looking less like the business woman we saw all episode, and more like the woman from the flashes and Bryce's drawings).  She has the tattoo and we see more of her flash.  She is running through the sparks and runs into a restaurant that says "Best of Los Angeles".   Ahhhh, it is a Japanese restaurant but it's in L.A.!!  Nice!

So what now?  Does Bryce keep pursuing her? Does Keiko find Bryce before April 29th?   It sure seems like a first meeting in their flash right?   Why will Mark and Demetri be able to find this woman in Hong Kong immediately after flying there (just guessing) while it will take Keiko and Bryce 5 months to find each other?  These are the things that keep me up at night folks!

So there it is, a straight-forward episode with a nice story about Bryce and his future flame.  Still some advancement of plot in the FBI Investigations and personal lives of Mark and Aaron.   I liked it.  Others may think it was a bit unnecessary, but it's episodes like this that may allow them to stretch things out over a few seasons.

So, next week is Thanksgiving, no new episode thank God!  Not sure how I would have pulled that one off!   But we'll be back in 2 weeks with a new one.  I hear there will probably be a 3 week break over the Christmas/New Years holidays too which means we may only get a couple more before another break.  Hey, it works for me.  I need as many breaks as I can get before January/February!  (Did anyone hear LOST and Idol are both going to be on Tuesdays now?  Ugh, how will I manage this blogging nightmare!?)   Anyway, the next episode looks to be pretty intense based on the previews.  Alas, I won't spoil for those who like to not see any hints of the next episode.

I'll be sure to get some pictures up on last week's and this week's blog if pictures show up anywhere out there.  I Hope everyone in the US has a great Holiday weekend next week and I'll see you back here in 2 weeks!

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Deebo said...

Mike as usual great review. I thought this was the most boring episode so far and was not one of my favorites. The text message thing really bothered me; I think these writers are too good for something like that to happen. I was disappointed there was no Dominic or Lloyd this week  if they are planning to go public they must not have been the direct cause of the blackout right? Maybe their research was stolen?

I must admit Mike I was shocked to see that you are an Idol fan but Lost coming back period is amazing news…I don’t know if you watch Fringe but it was fantastic last night!

JS said...

Deebo, I agree with your feeling about this episode. This was the same kind of episode Lost used to frustrate its fans with before it committed to a set end date. While getting some extra back-story was nice, it came at the expense of having an episode where the main arc of the plot advanced at a snail's pace. These type of episodes are almost always looked at by fans as "fillers" and disliked, even if it later turns out that they were crucial to the story line.

Am I right that Flash Forward has committed to bringing it's current storyline largely to a conclusion by the end of the season (presumably with some open ends to provide the seeds for future seasons)? If so, I'm really surprised to see this type of episode.

I'm on board with FlashForward, and am intrigued by the world it has created. However, much like Lost (but to a much lesser scale), the show will have a challenge wrapping up the mysteries it has laid out to the satisfaction of its fans.

Mike V. said...

I'm not surprised to see the dislike for this episode. But actually EW's Doc Jensen interviewed David Goyer (exec producer/creator) who said they've wanted to tell this story all season. And I think they did an excellent job with it. Yes, we will get to April 29th, 2010 by the end of this season, so we will get SOME resolution. As for who is THE MAIN FORCE behind the blackouts? That might be an overarching storyline that won't be resolved until the END END of the show. I may have that wrong though.

Agreed Deebo with the text message...that's just lazy on their part. Of course it could've been one thing in the script, and then the Prop Guys or CGI Guys took an easy way out lol Previews for next week look like they're really going to amp things up with Simon/Lloyd and Demetri/mark in Hong Kong.

I don't really see this as filler. Bryce was a major character introduced in the Pilot episode, and we needed his backstory. I'm glad they didn't just rush it into another episode like they have done with other characters. The only way for this show to sustain over multiple seasons will be for character-centric outings.

I think the bigger problem is that Network TV still largely subscribes to having a 22-24 episode season to last from September to May. So that is where stuff tends to get dilluted and cause FILLER. We'll see. I usually would agree with a filler ep being useless. But this one I think was handled very nicely. And they're much easier to BLOG about, hence me getting it finished early! :-) lol

Well, let's not get too far with labeling me an Idol "FAN". I will admit, that I used to be a hardcore fan of the show and that's where my blogging originated (my recaps of Idol pre-date LOST, but the websites were created at the same time). NOW though? The show is way past its prime, but I do like to still poke fun at the show and flaws of contestants. This year will be at a whole new level of ridiculousness with Ellen joining the juding panel. It's a slowly deteriorating Behemoth and I want to document it! lol

That being said....LOST has always been my Top Priority and I let the Idol blog readers know that all of the time!

I do watch Fringe, but with the FF blog, I usually reserve the weekend to catch up on it. I've heard the critics raving about this week's episode for weeks so I can't wait to watch!

Ugh...there is too much good TV these days!!

Anonymous said...

Mike I am confused by a time issue. The flashforward happened during the day, but both of the Binford's flashes seem to be in the night time. Have I missed something?

Mike V. said...

Naa you're good. The blackout on October 6 was during the day but they flashed to April 29th at 10pm pacific time. Easy to get confused!

Jason Q. Freed said...

Did anyone happen to catch how FAKE the set was when Bryce traveled to Tokyo? After he gets shut out by Keiko's mom, he leaves and starts walking down the street. The cars and buildings along the right-hand side of the street were very poor computer-generated graphics. It's a decent show overall, but the acting is terrible and there are some real flaws throughout ...

Mike V. said...

good article from producers:

Mike V. said...

Jason, forgot to reply to your comment last week! I agree, the acting has not been TOP NOTCH but I do love the premise of the show. I'm hoping the cast gels over time and the writers start giving them some better dialogue to work with!

There's only so many things you can do with stuff like "It's like a book club, with bullets!" LOL