Recap – FlashForward 1.21 “Countdown”

If you missed last week’s FlashForward, “The Negotiation,” read a recap here.

“Countdown” open, appropriately, with a date and time stamp: April 29th, 3:23am. Charlie calls out for her mother. Olivia rushes to her daughter’s room and asks what is wrong. Charlie had a bad dream, one that leads her to say, “Today’s the day daddy is going to die.”

7:26am. In Janis’ apartment, Simon explains that once the public makes the connection that he is Suspect Zero, he is a dead man. So, what doe sSimon want to fo then, Janis wonders. Simon replies thathe wants revenge against the conspiracy of which he was a part. He figures that if he can get into NLAP and take a look at the accelerator, he can determine the flaw in the mainframe that can prevent a second blackout. Janis is hesitant, so Simon promises that if she can get him into NLAP, he will turn himself in afterwords. Meanwhile, at the FBI, Mark and Demetri are eating breakfast. Mark gives Demetri a CD withfifteen covers of “Islands in the Stream,” and tells Demetri that he should get on the plane with Zoeytoday, and fly to Hawaii. Demetri protests that today is the flash forward day and that he needs to be there, but Mark insists. Is Demetri actually getting cold feet? Demetri says its not cold feet, so Mark, not necessarily believing his partner, tells him that although their relationship is what it is today, marrying Olivia was the best thing that ever happened to him. Cut to Lloyd calling Olivia and saying that he wants them to be together tonight. Olivia tells Lloyd that Charlie is having a hard time withher dream and the prospect that Mark might be killed, so she’s not sure getting together is the best idea.

Back in the FBI offices, Vogel informs Mark that Hellinger, who is being held at the FBI, made a fortune using his flashes to play the stock market. Wedeck enters and tells the men that after eight hours of interrogation, Hellinger finally said one thing: he will onyl talk to Mark Benford. Mark enters the interrogation room and asks Hellinger if he cause the blackout. Hellinger doesn’t want to speak of blackouts but rather Mark. Mark asks a second time and Hellinger finally answers that yes, he was responsible for the blackout, but that is of no matter now. Asking for paper and a pen, Hellinger draws a diagram, and explains that he has seen multiple version of the future, but that all of them, Mark interrogates Hellinger in the very room they are in. Mark loses it and attacks Hellinger. This event subsequently leads to Mark’s murder in his office, every time. Mark balks at this information, but Hellinger insists. Admitting that it seems a bit self-serving, Hellinger states flatly that if Mark keeps Hellinger in custody, Mark is going to die. Mark laughs, and notices the diagram. Something on it intrigues him. He tells Hellingerthat he wants to stop a second blackout, and with the diagram, Hellinger just told Mark his next move.

9:10am. Mark meets with Lloyd, and shows him Hellinger’s diagram — specifically, a symbol on one of the time branches Hellinger drew. Lloyd identifies the symbol as the one representing the Tachyon Constant, a theoretical subatomic particle that travels faster than light. Lloyd notices that next to the symbol, Hellinger has written the word “wipe.” He explains to Mark that he’s not sure what Hellinger was describing because tachyons are so small that they can’t be touched, let alone wiped. At his home, meanwhile, Nicole brings Bryce some cupcakes in celebration of Flash Forward Day. She sees that he drew a picture of her, in the same book he sketched Keiko. Nicole asks Bryce if he’s OK with “us.” He says he is, and is looking forward to their date that night; he has no interest in a theoretical woman (Keiko), when he has Nicole right there. Keiko is shown in an immigration detention center, being told that she needs to post a bond, or be held until her hearing, which could be a year away.

Demetri meets Zoey at the airport; he wants to talk before they leave. Demetri tells his fiance that he loves her, so he should have told her this sooner, but he impregnated Janis as a favor to her. Zoey, understandably, is shocked. Demetri begs her to marry him, but she tells him that she is going to fly to Hawaii with her parents. Demetri should not get on the plane. They will talk after she returns. In Afghanistan, Khamiris evaluating Tracy’s injuries. He tells Aaron that she is in a serious condition, but Aaron insists she’s going to be alright because he saw it in her flash. With that, Tracy begins to cough up blood. Aaron, seeing a captured member of Jericho, grabs the mercenary and demands to know why they destroyed Tracy’s patrol, and subsequently kidnapped her. Eventually, the Jericho man gives up that Tracy’s unit came upon an experiment Jericho was running, a test run for the blackout. Further, Tracy, who was within the perimeter of the experiment, somehow didn’t black out and they wanted to know why. Back at the FBI, Mark tells Vogel that he has a lead. One of the businesses Hellinger used was called Tachyon Enterprises, so he is going to go investigate it. Vogel tells Mark that he isn’t going anywhere, and benches him at the FBI office; another unit will check out the lead. Demetri, having been shunned by Zoey, heads to Janis’. He knocks on the door, but Simon opens it. Simon tries to slam the door, but Demetri pushes it in. The men draw guns at each other and have a standoff. Demetri demands to know what Simon is doing in Janis’ apartment. She tells her friend that Simon is there making a deal.

1:34pm. Janis explains that Simon wants to check out the accelerator, which Simon says he is not going to use. Janis steps between the two drawn guns, telling Demetri that he should just leave and pretend he never stopped by. Sensing the danger abating, Simon begins to lower his gun. Janis whips around and wrestles the gun from Simon and cuffs him. Simon tells her that she is going to regret her actions for the rest of her life. At the FBI, Mark, Vogel and Wedeck listen to the radio feed of the agents investigating Mark’s lead. It is a trap, as the agents are ambushed and killed. Mark begins to lose it, demanding he get Hellinger, but Wedecktells him to calm down. At that moment, Mark hears Charlie calling for him — Olivia has brought their worried daughter to see her father. Mark embraces her and tells her to go into his office. After some small talk with Olivia, Mark finds Charlie in his office staring at the Mosaic board. He tells Charlie that he has something important for her to do. Mark asks his daughter to not be afraid. It’s alright to be afraid at first, but that she should know that her daddy loves her, and that everything will be OK, no matter what.

3:37pm. Demetri laods Simon into his car. Demetri asks Janis how she could trust Simon? She doesn’t know; she just can’t do this anymore. She’s tired of lying to everyone. Janis instructs Demetri to tell the FBI exactly where he found Simon: at her place. Demetri pulls away, and Janis, making the niversal sign for “I’m thinking about what’s important,” places her hand on her pregnant stomach. Demetri stops the car and backs up. He asks Janis if she would have helped Simon if Demetri hadn’t pulled up. When she replies in the affirmative, Demetri tells her to get in — they’re going to bring Simon to NLAP.

Lloyd reviews a number of pages of equations with Dylan next to him. Dylan, looking at one of the pages, asks his father, “Why did the 8 die?” Lloyd tells him that it is not a “dead 8,” but an infinity symbol. As Lloyd tries to explain infinity to him, Dylan begins shuffling the pages, saying that theones with the numbers need to be together; all of the pages (and formulae) need to be in the right place. This seems to be the “Eureka!” moment Lloyd was seeking. Back at the FBI, Mark again questions Hellinger. He demands to know if there is going to be a second blackout. Hellinger responds by telling Mark that he chose the wrong path, and as a result, he’s going to die. Mark continues to demand to know when the next blackout is coming. Hellingergoads Mark, telling him that his Mosaic board is just a scrapbook of Mark’s failures: the 137 seconds, Somalia, the White Queen. Mark should know that he’s failed and give up; because he won’t, Mark is going to die. With Mark fuming, Hellinger goes for the jugular, saying that there is one good thing to come from Mark’s death: Charlie will be better off…and Mark knows it. Mark breaks, head butts Hellinger (in the worst filmed head butt in television history. He didn’t even come close!), and begins to wail on the prisoner. Agents run in to pull Mark out of the room. Wedeck orders Mark from the building. He doesn’t care what day it is, Mark has to leave.

4:17pm. Bryce and Nicole grab some supplies and load up the car for a picnic. Nicole asks if Bryce really wants to do that, and he responds that he’s eager to see how people react to not having to live in fear of their futures. Nicole says that she’s not actually worried about drowning, but rather the feeling of guilt, her feeling that she deserved to drown, that she felt during her flash. Clearly the guilt is already eating away at her, because Nicole tells Bryce that Keiko is in L.A. and being held by Immigration. Brcye gets a bit too indignant, and resolves (in his mind) to find her. Keiko, meanwhile, has a visitor. Her mother has flown in from Japan to post her bond, but she must leave immediately. Keiko protests, saying she hasn’t met the man from her flash yet, but her mother insists, lest Keiko be thrown in jail for an undetermined amount of time. In Afghanistan, Khamir tries desperately to revive Tracy.

6:38pm. Mark, dazed and confused from this encounter with Hellinger and subsequent dismissal from the office, wanders aimlessly through a group of revelers. One of the partiers, thinking he remembers Mark from his flash, tells Mark that he looks like he could use a drink, so he gives Mark his flask. Mark contemplates the alcohol contained within the flask, and how he has arrived at this point in his life. He raises the flask to is lips, and takes a drink.

6:46pm. With Simon sleeping in the back, Janis asks Demetri why he turned around. Demetri’s not sure, but he knows that when Janis revealed she was working for the CIA, he felt like he lost his best friend. He admits to Janis that he told Zoeyabout the baby. At that moment, Janis grabs her stomach — something is wrong with the baby. Another medical emergency continues in Afghanistan. Despite his best efforts, Khamir says Tracy is dead. Aaron pushes him out of the way and performs CPR on his daughter, but she is gone. “Let her go,” Khamir tells the distraught Aaron.

Lloyd calls Olivia. He is at Olivia’s house, but she is not. Olivia is driving with Charlie, and tells Lloyd that she just needs to get away from everything and have some space. Lloyd argues that certain conditions must be met, and that Olivia must be back at 10:00. Olivia interrupts him, saying that she has heard enough about fate and destiny; she needs to think about Charlie’s safety. Mark, meanwhile, is at a bar drinking. Another patron remarks that he likes Mark’s string bracelet. Further, he thinks Mark was in his flash. Mark says that the guy wasn’t in his flash. The guy remarks that he remembers Mark’s cheap suit and droopy eyes. Mark asks if that insult is the best the guy can do. The patron responds that Mark is one of “those guy,” the kind that fights fate, and it’s clear, Mark has already lost. This send Mark over the edge again, as he punches the guy, and a barroom brawl ensues.

Mark is thrown in jail, Bryce enters the Immigration holding facility, Olivia and Charlie walk on the beach, Lloyd and Dylan wait at Olivia’s house, Janis and Demetri drive to NLAP and Aaron sits with Tracy’s body, all while partiers revel in the arrival of the time and place they hoped or feared to be at 10:00pm, April 29th.

Commentary

With the series having been cancelled, it’s hard to watch the remaining episodes with any kind of anticipation, or really, investment. That said, I didn’t think this was a particularly strong episode. As is clear from what I wrote above, the episode jumped around way too much. I know the creators are trying to move toward their endgame for the season, so they wanted to show all of the characters head toward the time of the flashes. But all it did, for me, was bring into stark relief how unnecessary a number of the characters and plots are. Yes, the first confirmed connection between Jericho and the blackout was made in Aaron’s story, but the whole Tracy story was constructed just to get Aaron to that one sentence the Jericho mercenary. Clearly, this could have been accomplished in some other way. The Bryce/Nicole/Keiko plot doesn’t even have the benefit of that one reveal. This story is just dead weight, sucking up precious minutes each week. I hope that if the show had survived another year, that these stories would have been shown the exit, but we’ll never know. It’s a shame too, because FlashForward for all of its flaws, actually could have been a great show. I have some thoughts on how, but I’ll save those for next week, after the series finale.

So, what did you think of “Countdown”? Did you find the bouncing around as frustrating as I did? What do you think about the Aaron and Bryce stories? Were they worth it at all, or should they have been dropped in the beginning? Are you going to miss FlashForward after next week, or are you ready to move on? Please leave your questions and comments below, and be sure to check out TVOvermind for all of your TV news needs. I’ll be back next week to recap the series finale. Until then, I’m off to buy cupcakes for Flash Forward Day.

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2 Comments

  1. Amy May 21, 2010
  2. Casseroles July 21, 2011

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