“What did you see?”
On September 24, 2009, this was the tagline heard around the world. This was to be the heir apparent to the juggernaut known as Lost. It had the mysticism and the character-driven plot that Lost had, and it was destined to be the next best thing. If the first episode was any indication, then it would be just that.
It began in Los Angeles on the morning of October 6, a day like any other day. People went through their normal everyday lives with nary a worry or care in the world. Suddenly, the entire world suddenly went blank. People across the globe blacked out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, giving the world a glimpse of the future on April 29, 2010. In those 2 minutes and 17 seconds, people either saw happy images, sad images, or nothing. FBI Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) saw himself working on the investigation. His wife, Dr. Olivia Benford (Sonya Walger) saw herself looking longingly at another man, Dr. Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport). Benford’s fellow agents all saw different things as well; Assistant Director Stan Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance) saw himself sitting on the toilet reading a paper, Special Agent Janis Hawk (Christine Woods) saw herself getting an ultrasound, Special Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) saw himself in a meeting where he found out he accidentally killed a woman, whereas Special Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) saw nothing – which is meant to show that he dies. There are other characters who experienced other things, but the list would be too long to go through them all.
With the blackout having occurred, the Los Angeles branch of the FBI took the lead on the operation, dubbing it “Mosaic.” A website was created for everyone to share what they saw and to piece together what the blackout meant, and – more importantly – see if there was going to be another blackout. Along the way, more characters were introduced, none more interesting than Dr. Simon Campos (Dominic Monaghan), a quantum physicist who knew more than he was letting on.
What occurred next was nothing short of mind-bogglingly silly. Special Agent Gough got it wrapped in his mind that he could prevent the future by killing himself, which he did by taking a dive off the roof of the building (turns out it didn’t help, as the woman he inadvertently killed ended up dying anyway). Others, such as Zoey Andata (Gabrielle Union) focused solely on trying to save the life of the man she loved (Demetri). There were romantic subplots between Dr. Campos and Dr. Benford, between Dr. Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton) and a babysitter turned hospital aide Nicole Kirby (Peyton List), between Dr. Varley and a Japanese woman named Keiko Arahida (Yuko Takeuchi), Janis’ pregnancy, Demetri’s marriage or death, the ongoing investigation…the list goes on and on. On top of that, there was a mysterious organization that was behind the blackout and wanted to do it again. It all got very confusing from there.
This next paragraph will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the series finale yet, you’re pretty much done. Otherwise, read on.
The show didn’t so much as gallop to the finish line as it skittered, but at least it ended with a bang. Literally. After spending the bulk of the show trying to avoid their future, they ended up running smack dab into it. Granted, there were some modifications (Wedeck was indeed sitting on the toilet, but it was to hide from a bad guy whom he shot in the chest), but it basically mapped out as it was supposed to. What also happened was that there was another blackout, this time at 10:14 PM. This wasn’t figured out until there was about 20 minutes left, but hey – what more do you want? The show ended with another global blackout, this one jumping from 2011 to 2015 and all points in between. It also ended with the destruction of that FBI building and a whole lot of ambiguity.
This was a show that had such promise. I missed out on the Lost phenomenon (a mistake I am going to rectify tout suite), and I was determined to get in on the ground floor with this and V. V stayed – which we were rewarded with thanks to a spectacular season finale, but FlashForward kept losing ratings week after week. A winter hiatus that went longer than expected would serve to be the infamous death knell.
What’s sad is that the last 15 minutes were so jam packed with excitement that it left me wondering what the show would’ve been like if every episode was that frenetic. We’ll never know, and we’ll never see what the second blackout would lead to. So, we’re left with a displeasing case of “what if” and “why,” but we’ll never know the answer.
Good bye, FlashForward; we barely knew ye.