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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
FlashForward: The Gift Review
Le Bomb on this week's Flash Forward
By Rob Vaux
November 07, 2009
© 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.