FlashForward: The Gift Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: FlashForward
  • Episode: The Gift
  • Starring: Joseph Fiennes, John Cho, Jack Davenport, Dominic Monaghan, Peyton List, Zachary Knighton, Sonya Walger and Courtney B. Vance
  • Written By: Lisa Zwerling and Ian B. Goldberg
  • Directed By: Nick Gomez
  • Network: ABC
  • Series:

FlashForward: The Gift Review

Le Bomb on this week's Flash Forward

By Rob Vaux     November 07, 2009


FlashForward Review
© ABC/Bob Trate

 

We've all been waiting for this moment, and FlashForward has drawn it out ever since it first premiered. The paradox. The conundrum. The irrefutable proof that someone's vision can't possibly come true because events have moved in a fundamentally different direction. Like, say, someone jumping off of a rooftop when he's supposed to be alive in six months.
 
The power of this week's episode lies less in the event itself--which would be strong enough on its own, seeing as how it concerns a likeable character, strong motives and a sense of impending tragedy inextricably bound up in the struggle for hope--but what that does to the entire premise of the show. FlashForward essentially hinges on one big question: do the visions foretell the future or not? Until now, they seemed inescapable (for good or ill) and we were all just along for the ride. But with the fundamental paradox now in place--with a dead character whom the visions proclaimed to be alive--the entire equation gets a massive kick in the shorts.
 
Director Nick Gomez saves the big bomb for his finale, which brilliantly caps an already stellar episode. The previous 53 minutes concern those guys with the blue hands, who turn out to be a cult of people with no visions (i.e., who are going to die within six months). They gather in abandoned warehouse and surrender themselves to Discordia, partying the night away in jury-rigged electric chairs or with nooses around their necks. A game of Russian roulette buys you admission, which Agents Benford (Joseph Fiennes), Noh (John Cho), and Gough (Lee Thompson Young) have to brave in order to find the movement's leader. Considering that a member of the Blue Hand was among the Asian men who tried to kill them all, they kind of consider it a priority.
 
As with of the best elements of FlashForward, the cult constitutes a plausible and fascinating speculation on how people might react to a phenomenon like the blackouts. More importantly, it posits how dangerous some of them might become. (A man convinced that he's going to die has nothing to lose and therefore no limits.) That provides the show with a concrete antagonist without disrupting its overall tone. Gomez never loses sight of the human factor driving the Blue Hand forward; they come from normal walks of life, good people confronted with their own mortality in a way they simply can't handle. Indeed, far from being frightening figures, they seem almost pathetic (as Noh brusquely notes), waiting to die instead of embracing what life they have left. It makes them far more interesting than the run-of-the-mill evil conspirators they initially appeared to be.
 
The ramifications of the Blue Hand occupy the bulk of the episode, save for a little garden tending with the Benford love triangle and some dull flirtations between Dr. Varley (Zachary Knighton) and Nicole (Peyton List). Aaron (Brian F. O'Byrne) receives a bit not-uninteresting news about his daughter, hampered by a unconvincing flashback of her death, but revealing his inherent decency in unexpected ways. And then the big showstopper arrives, seemingly out of nowhere, to elevate "The Gift" from the merely solid into the realm of great. The fact that the deceased has very good reasons for doing what he does--indeed, that he may have both saved lives and freed his friends from the shackles of predestination--carries exquisite poignancy. It also shakes this series up the way it periodically needs to if it wishes to endure. Such moments are what Flash Forward was made for; "The Gift" fully realizes that potential, giving the series' grand puzzle box another exemplary turn.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 7 of 7
1 
Deadfox 11/7/2009 2:04:54 AM

Does this show get better after the first 4 episodes?  It's just started here in Australia and the last two episodes have had me almost screaming at the tv for something, anything to happen.  If it doesn't improve in the next episode, I'm out.

okonomiyaki4000 11/7/2009 3:48:37 AM

Deadfox, it's pretty bad until this latest one. I was almost ready to drop this show. Despite a great cast and excellent premise, the first six episodes are basically terrible. After 7, though, the show has a real chance at getting good. Anyway, you can get torrents of every episode. We don't have the show at all in Japan but I've seen every episode. Do people actually watch stuff on TV still? With commercials and everything? So weird. 

ponyboy76 11/7/2009 6:30:57 AM

That episode was just really good. Its like its stole the usual, "WTF! moment from Fringe this week and had 2. I wasn't sure what he was going to do, but when he gave Demetri the letter it made sense.  And  despite his methods, its seems at the edn he was right about being able to change the future.

okonomiyaki4000 11/7/2009 5:37:41 PM

 Thinking about it a bit more, I have to say that the episode still wasn't exactly great. Much much better than any of the previous ones but not at all great. 

I'm glad they're showing how seeing the future has changed people's lives and society in general but I don't exactly buy the whole 'death cult' thing. "Oh well, I'm gonna be dead in 6 months so I guess I'll just electrocute myself for fun." doesn't really make a lot of sense to me. 

And Gough's actions based on his FF, while giving the show a much needed kick, don't really make much sense when you remember that he learned of the future like two months ago. Why is he only suddenly willing to take such drastic actions to change things? I guess the weakest point about this episode is that they failed to build up to it in previous episodes. Maybe it's that's not a fair criticism. But come on, there has been so much filler in previous eps, they could have been building up to this instead. 

dawntreader 11/7/2009 9:18:54 PM

This episode ROCKED.

"Why is he only NOW suddenly willing to take such drastic actions to change things?"

you missed a word.

I think that the blue hand thing was a little weird, but it was also necessary for Agent Gough's jump to be believable. I dont think they built up to his jumping because he was struggling with how to deal with it and it wasnt until dealing with the hand cult that he figured out what to do. I also think he was debating the action because he really didnt want to die, but after reaching out to a few people in the episode and being turned down, i think he realized that everyone was stuck in predestination.

when that lady from london said no to dinner he must have realised that she knew that he would be there in six month and so what would it matter if she had dinner with him now or later, if she had any interest in him at all.

he concluded a few things from that incident and the blue hands.

1. everyone was going to let the future happen because they couldnt think outside of the visions enough to come up with a solution that would ultimately break them.

2. that everyone expected the visions to be an unchangeable reality, that no matter what they did they were going to end up the way thier vision was.

3. that because he was in someones vision in the future everyone expected him to be alive and therefore you didnt have to worry about him.

4. he had a very good reason to not want his vision to come true and so tried to come up with a way to stop it, and after having played russian roulette, what wasnt necessarily a good thing to do because that gun could have gone off, and realising that leaving things up to chance didnt work to change things, he decided that he needed a way that he knew he wouldnt survive to meet his destiny.

doing anything other than jumping off that building had a chance that something could go wrong and he wouldnt die and then might live to meet his destiny. or he might have hurt or killed someone else with any other method. jumping infront of a bus or something like that could have other consequences, so jumping off the building was his best solution.

okonomiyaki4000 11/8/2009 12:54:46 AM

 Yeah, I get all that but I still would have liked to see him deal with this stuff up till now. Foreshadowing, you know? Well, maybe the writers are starting to get it so I'll try not to blame them too much for not getting it sooner. 

You know what I was expecting though? That he would land on that lady and live but she'd be in the hospital on life support for a few months and nothing would change. Had that happened, I might have just given up on this show. 

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