Episode Review: FlashForward: "The Garden of Forking Paths" (Season 1, Episode 17)

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Tonight, Demetri is supposed to die. So…. does he?

Recap

We open on Demetri, who is sitting in a lovely boobytrap. Behind him is a blackboard with the answers to life, the universe and everything written on it.

Back at FBI Headquarters, they are trying to get more information out of Charlie about Dyson Frost (who met her last week at the carnival). She had delivered a print of an Oedipal painting to Mark with a message from Frost regarding Demetri.

Zoe is trying her best to get more information about Demetri from terrorist chick (Alda). Alda wants a hearing, now. This being federal court, and she being a material witness to terrorism, the odds of that are vanishingly small.

Mark and team realize that meeting Frost on his terms is probably a trap, but decide to go in well armed.

Six Months Ago, Alda is introduced to Frost. He has invented a Quantum Entanglement Device that will fit in a ring. He has also set up a garden of dominoes that represent his escape path.

Frost comes to visit Demetri and explain that in most futures that he's seen, Frost dies… he has Demetri held as insurance, as he wants to come out of the cold (he claims).

Olivia asks Bryce about Halothane. Agent Vreede comes to the hospital. The dead homeless guy from last week had in his possession the phone that sent Olivia the text that told her of Mark's drinking.

Frost leads Mark on a merry chase to a meeting point, since he knows there's probably another mole (there is….), he has Mark ditch his handlers.

Zoe gets Alda a hearing under the guise of appendicitis. Alda uses the occasion to stage a dramatic escape after telling Zoe that they find Dem's body in "Building 7".

Mark arrives at the rendezvous point in the middle of the desert. Frost approaches him, gun in hand. Mark is resourceful and has managed to hide a weapon in plain sight. He gains the advantage over Frost, but in doing so leaves him open to a sniper- Alda.

Olivia and Vreede learn that the homeless man was probably a savant- a man with a videographic memory (well, photographic memory is just soooo last century). He's somehow connected to Frost and Olivia, but they can't determine how.

Mark desperately queries the satnav in Frost's vehicle for possible locations for Demetri. He has a flash of intuition and finds Demetri- but is having extreme difficulty deactivating the rig that is holding Mark's gun aimed at Demetri's heart.

A ridiculously long commercial break follows.

Using Dr. Suess, Mark disables the trap, Demetri lives, but the chalkboard, the map, the "Garden of Forking Paths" is washed away…

Olivia and Vreede are met in line by an obvious savant who has information about the FlashForwards and the Raven River Experiments, but he runs off.

Observations

This show has never been shy about answers, but they always give out answers that don't really matter. Tonight, we finally got some interesting answers about the very nature of the flashforwards. Dyson Frost's short speech to Demetri lays out the nature of time: Once a future is glimpsed, it gains weight… however with as many possible futures that Frost has seen, some gain more weight than others. This is interesting in it's implications: The future is not deterministic, but it is weighted, especially if someone witnesses it. Frost has seen a lot, maybe thousands of possible futures. He has seen his death, and a small possible chance of escape.
Or Theory of the Evening : Frost used the savants as proxies, he would send them into the future to soak up as much information as possible and then come back and report. He did this repeatedly in order to build his map of the future… a map that ends in 2016. This way he could determine what the relative possibilities of the future were by statistically spreading the observations across many observers. Now THAT's a clever time travel idea that I've not seen before.

This episode moved well, the characters all worked, the pacing was breathless, the script was tight. The supreme irony of this show is that there is no way to avoid the pacing issues of previous episodes in order to get to a really good, exciting episode like this. You'd think they'd have seen that coming…

What did you guys think of this one?

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