The Wife:

Flash Forward, at its core, is a show about epistemology. When everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, each having their own vision of what they believe to be the future, the show asks its characters and viewers to constantly question the knowledge we’re being given:

  • How do we know these are flashes of the future, and not something else, despite the fact that everyone flashed forward to the same date, April 29, 2010?
  • How do we acquire the knowledge/facts to help us determine what we think we know?
  • What is truth, belief or conjecture?

And from these central questions of epistemics, the show branches out into a Lostian exploration of fate and destiny, asking whether or not they exist, if the future can be changed and how much control we can exert over a predetermined course.

So far, I am into it. It’s slightly more penetrable than Lost, but still contains that show’s crucial elements of action, human drama and mystery to keep up interest in the show. Lost was reinvigorated when it introduced the flash forward structure at the end of season 3, and I like the idea of this show also having a similar endgame. It’s nice to know, as a viewer, that your showrunners have an idea of where they’re going and the experience of finding out if the flash forwards will come to pass is the same for us as it is for the characters on the show.

Because of that, we’re learning things in time with the characters, so all we know at this point regarding what may have caused the blackout is that there is a person of interest called D. Gibbons (who stole the credit card of DiDi Gibbons of DiDelicious Cupcakes) who was working on some major hack in a creepy-ass doll factory, and who made a call 30 seconds into the blackout to the only known person to not fall asleep: a man at a Detroit Tigers game, veiled in black, who walked away nonchalantly as if he knew this would happen. (For my money, I am sure he will be played by Dominic Monaghan, as I know my favorite hobbit has a deal to appear on this show and hasn’t yet done so.)

Lost in time, lost in space . . . and meaning.

Lost in time, lost in space . . . and meaning.

By the end of the second episode, we’ve unveiled almost all of the symbols on the flash of the Mosaic board that Joseph Fiennes’s Mark Benford was putting together in the future: we’ve seen the friendship bracelet his daughter gives him, the name D. Gibbons, the crime scene photo of the burned baby doll, but not yet the blue hand or the man with the star tattoos. John Cho’s Demitri Noh learns that there are other people who saw nothing in the blackout, but not five minutes after meeting one, she dies. He also receives a phone call from someone in Shanghai (I think) (Husband Note: It’s Hong Kong, but I shall correct my wife instead of editing the right answer in because I’m MEAAAAAN!) informing him that she was reading a report of his death in her flash forward, on March 15, 2010. Sonya Walger’s Olivia meets the man with whom she’ll have an affair (Swingtown’s Jack Davenport, using his natural accent), and her daughter Charlie recognizes Davenport’s son from her flash forward.

It’s too early for us to start building Lostian theories about the nature of the “future” or even what we think we know here, but I’m sure we’ll find out next week if Benford burning his daughter’s friendship bracelet has any effect on the future. If this show were to take a banal turn, I’d expect that little Charlie would just keep making them for her daddy, constantly, feeling hurt each time she saw him without it.

Stray thoughts:

  • How good was the opening of the pilot episode? The simplest images stood out: the balloons floating away, the kangaroo on the loose. These were a lovely, almost surrealist expression of the disjointedness of life after a disaster.
  • Speaking of which, has anyone ever seen children playing make-believe versions of disasters on the playground? Watching a bunch of children play “blackout” while “Ring Around the Rosy” sang out was terrifically creepy, as was the repetition of the song in the doll factory. I ask about the validity of this exercise because, while I understand the notion of communal play acting as a method of coping, I don’t remember ever play acting those kind of current events as a child. We play acted the 1994 Lillehammer games, where the worst thing that happened was Nancy Kerrigan’s knee getting bashed in by Tonya Harding.
  • Can Sonya Walger now only play women with children named Charlie?
  • Nice FBI agent cameo, Seth McFarlane! (Husband Note: He’s coming back, which further pisses off everybody who hates his funny shows.)
  • Seeing Joseph Fiennes on TV makes me mourn the unwanted pilot that was Ryan Murphy’s Pretty/Handsome, which was to be an F/X series about a man struggling with a gender identity crisis. The trailer for it was lovely, and I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. But know that when I try to see Fiennes as an FBI agent, I have a really hard time because I think of him surreptitiously fondling silk panties or, of course, unwrapping Gwyneth Paltrow’s bubbies.

The Husband:

The mystery is there, but the characters aren’t. The show has picked up some bizarre backlash in only its second week (with major complaints about Courtney B. Vance’s comic relief bathroom blackout story), but I think that’s just a gut reaction to having yet another deep mystery show on primetime, and this time people have their guard up. The themes and general questions being thrown about are, without question, fascinating, but I can understand some people being frustrated by some very one-dimensional character work. Right now, I’m only feeling Sonya Walger as far as emotions are concerned, because it’s tough for the rest of the show to work its procedural angle without losing some major character time, something from which most procedurals that aren’t named Bones tend to suffer. (But hey, at least Demitri Noh is an awesome name.)

But I’m not hating on the series so much as being distracted by my complete lack of connection, and after the first sequence of “holy shit,” things have settled into a procedural groove a tad too quickly.

The showrunners and writers must have a lot of information up their sleeves, because right now they’re racing through this mofo. Give me a reason to care other than the central conceit itself. Because I’m there, but I don’t know if others will stick around.

The Wife:

I get the feeling that Lost is slowing down its pace a little bit to guide us through the time travel, which is fine by me. It’ll help me recover the pieces of my blown mind when they drop game-changing revelations like the fact that Charles Widmore was of the “original” Others back in 1954. I’m hesitant to call them the “original” Others, because I don’t know how many other Others there may have been prior to the group we’ve come to know and love. So maybe I’ll just call them Retro Others.

On the island, the Retro Others capture Farraday, Miles and Charlotte, thinking that they’re American military. Their captor, a cute Army babe that’s a cross between AnnaLynne McCord and Mitzi Gaynor, Ellie, delivers a cryptic, “You just couldn’t stay away, could you?” to Farraday, which made me think that she’d known him before somehow. However, that thought quickly proved to be erroneous when the Retro Others take the group back to their camp and find one ageless Richard Alpert. Alpert and the Retro others think that the group is American military (“I assume you’ve come back for your bomb.”), completely unaware that, in the future, Alpert will know of these people and constantly survey them. Upon hearing that the others have a big giant bomb that could detonate at any second, Farraday decides to go along with the ruse, asking Alpert to let him fix their hydrogen bomb to prevent the whole lot of Retro Others from dying of radiation poisoning. Alpert asks why he should trust him, and Farraday replies that he can be trusted because he loves Charlotte and wouldn’t let any harm come to her.

Dont worry man, everythings gonna be fine! I know cuz Im from the future!

Don't worry man, everything's gonna be fine! I know cuz I'm from the future!

Meanwhile, Locke, Sawyer and Juliet are busy prodding their captors for information. The Army folk speak to each other in Latin, which alerts Juliet to the fact that they, like her, are Others. Previously, I had thought these mystery captors might have been Dharma based on the uniforms, but no, those shadows obscured the fact that they are indeed Retro Others. Once again, I’m forced to wonder why J.J. Abrams and his gang are so thoroughly convinced that Latin is a decent secret language. He pulled this over on Fringe in “The Ghost Network.” I thought it was ineffective then, and I still think it’s ineffective. In fact, I think it’s even more ineffective considering that this Latinate code language tradition started with the Retro Others back in the 50s. You know, a time when Latin was actually still taught in schools. Especially schools in England, where these Retro Others seem to originate. In short, lots of people are familiar with Latin. Especially in the 50s. This is a terrible code language. Esperanto would have made much more sense. Juliet talks to the Retro Others in their terrible code language and asks them to take them all back to their camp, dropping Richard Alpert’s name. They agree, which gets Locke’s wheels turning about finding out from Retro Alpert exactly how he can save the island, a conversation that never quite got finished because of the bright white flashes of sky.

On orders from Alpert, Ellie takes Farrady out to the bomb so that he can dismantle that big giant Jughead. After reading Doc Jensen’s column about Lost and its meaningful names yesterday, I can honestly say that I was not expecting the titular Jughead to be a bomb. Jensen wrote some pretty crazy ass shit about the importance of Archie comic’s Jughead in time travel theory, as Jughead himself once had a spin-off comic where he was a sort of time cop, so I thought perhaps the titular Jughead would be somehow involved with time travel . . . and while the bomb is sort of indicative of time travel, this is definitely not what I would have expected. Farraday inspects the bomb and finds a leak in the casing. He asks Ellie for some lead or concrete to seal the leak, and she immediately becomes suspicious of his intentions, inquiring as to how Farraday knows for certain that if the bomb is sealed and buried it won’t go off. Left with no choice, Farraday drops the bomb (figuratively) on Ellie that, 50 years in the future, the island is still there. And he and his friends know because they are, in fact, from the future.

Locke, meanwhile, gets his audience with Alpert, who, just as Alpert predicted when they last spoke at the biplane, does not remember Locke. (How could he? He technically hasn’t met him yet.) Alpert really doesn’t like the fact that Locke proclaims himself to be the appointed leader of the Others, explaining that there is a very specific way in which the Others choose their leadership. Suddenly, all of our suspicions from “Cabin Fever” about Alpert’s visits to little Locke and the test he administers make complete sense. Locke gives Alpert the compass he had given to Locke in their last meeting. Alpert doesn’t really know why he’s getting this object and is still dubious about Locke’s claims to leadership. Locke tells him, after finding out the year, that he will be born in two years and that Alpert should come visit him. This totally explains everything about why Alpert showed up after Locke’s birth and why, several years later, he was so thoroughly upset that John Locke did not choose the compass, the item that belonged to him already, effectively meaning that Alpert took all this time and effort to believe the man he met in 1954 and was, essentially, proven wrong when young Locke didn’t pass the test.

I thought the compass metaphorically belonged to Locke already, but no, Alpert very literally meant that the compass had indeed previously been in John Locke’s possession. Alpert needed to give Locke this item when they met at the biplane in order to continue the appropriate course of destiny. The compass was always Locke’s, he just didn’t know it yet. But just as Locke and Alpert make some progress in their conversation, the bright white sky flashes and, suddenly, Camp Retro Otherton and all of its Retro Others are gone. Poor Locke. Finding out how to save the island is not going to be easy.

Off the island, the narrative was dedicated entirely to Desmond. Penny has borne him a son, who I figured would be called Charlie, but was still incredibly moved to hear Desmond say so. The whole family sails around on their totally sweetles sailboat and avoids Grandpa Widmore, and they’ve been just peachy until Farraday surfaces in Desmond’s memory and instructs him to go to Oxford and find Mother Farraday. Penny isn’t too keen on the Hume family sailing back to Jolly Old England, but Des promises her that they’ll be in and out of port within a day and Granddaddy Widmore won’t even know they’re there.

I love Des so, so much and I’m glad this episode was balanced between crazy Retro Otherton stuff with Farraday and his constant, Desmond. Yet another reason in the long list of reasons to love Desmond David Hume: the story he tells little Charlie about England and Scotland, how Scotland’s the best part of Great Britain and how London, that shining city on the Thames, is where his mummy and daddy met and fell in love. I’m jealous that little Charlie gets to sail everywhere and see the world, but it made me a little sad that Charlie lives a very rootless existence. Nevertheless, that was a very sweet bedtime story and I teared up a little bit. I heart Desmond.

So Desmond leaves the safety of his boat and sets off to Oxford in search of Farraday’s mum. The folks at the Oxford library have no record of a Daniel Farraday, however, and, unfortunately, cannot get any closer to finding him without knowing the year in which Desmond last visited. Certain that he did meet Farraday, Des wanders around the hallowed halls until he finds what he remembers to be Farraday’s lab. The door has been sealed for “fumigation,” but Des breaks in and finds the remnants of Farraday’s things, dismantled and covered in white sheets. Even Eloise’s maze is no longer in use. After a few minutes of uninterrupted searching, a janitor interrupts and tells Des that Farraday’s lab had to be shut down and his records expunged from Oxford’s files when something terrible happened to some poor girl named Theresa Spencer. Desmond heads to Theresa Spencer’s house and is told that she isn’t home by her sister Abigail. Desmond mentions that he was sent there on behalf of Daniel Farraday, and Abigail lets him in where he sees Theresa, presumably unconscious and in a hospital bed, a place she’s been unmoved for several years in the care of one Charles Widmore, who assumed financial responsibility for Farraday’s research after Theresa’s accident.

And what exactly happened to Theresa? We don’t know for sure, but I am relatively certain that it’s the same thing happening to Charlotte Staples Lewis, who, after the island’s latest white sky flash, collapsed with the bloodiest nose we’ve seen her display in some time. I believe that Theresa may have suffered from the same sort of time travel sickness as Charlotte now does, but, rather that outright killing her as the sickness did to Fisher Stevens, it somehow made her mind slip away into the chasm of time. She is still alive, physically, but because her mind, like the minds of Farraday’s lab rats, is traveling through time, she is lost to the world. Not entirely brain dead, I don’t think, but definitely in a kind of coma.

Upon hearing the name of his hated father-in-law, Desmond realizes that he must break his promise to Penny and drop in on dear old dad if he’s to find Mama Farraday. Desmond tells Widmore that he will stay out of his life forever if he can answer some questions about Farraday, specifically, where his mother is located. Widmore will only divulge this information if he is assured of Penny’s safety, and Desmond lets Widmore know that his daughter is, indeed, safe. Widmore tells Des that Farraday’s mum is in L.A. and that she’s a very private person so she may not take kindly to seeing Des. Widmore warns Des to deliver his message to Mama Farraday and then to get out of the fray in order to protect Penny.

Desmond returns to his wife and child and tells them that it’s all over, that Mama Farraday died some years ago, but Penny knows he’s lying. Heeding Widmore’s warning and fearing that if he continues down this path, he will lose Penny again, perhaps permanently, Des tells her that he’s done trying to help Farraday. Penny knows that Des can’t and shouldn’t give up this quest, and she announces that she and little Charlie will be sailing to Los Angeles with Des to deliver Farraday’s message.

As for the identity of Farrday’s mother, I am now certain that it is Mrs. Hawking. Many people thought this long before I did, especially when they saw her in all her mystical robes trying to scientifically calculate the whereabouts of the island, but I’m sure of it now. We know Farraday’s mom is in L.A. and we know Hawking is there working for Ben. It seems like a good fit, especially because in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” we know that Hawking also has a stake in the mystical role of one Desmond David Hume.

However, I think there’s another twist to this. I think that Retro Other Ellie, for whom we are not given a last name and should note that, aside from Retro Other Charles Widmore, she is the only Retro Other not wearing a jacket that identifies her by her last name, will grow up to be Mrs. Hawking. I think this for a couple of reasons, the first of which being that Lost has a way of paying homage to names. (See little Charlie, for instance.) It would make sense that, after meeting a man named Daniel who claims to be a time traveler, Ellie might name her own son after a man with such an astonishing destiny. Furthermore, we know that Farraday’s lab rat in “The Constant” is named Eloise, which sounds similar to Ellie. Hell, Ellie might even be a nickname for Eloise, meaning that Farraday named his experimental rat after his own mum. People tend to name things that they’re going to be close to names they like, or names they find significant. It makes sense to me that he might name his rat after or in homage to his mother, in the same way that Frasier Crane’s mother named him and his brother Niles after a pair of rats she fondly observed in her behavioral psychology practice. (I didn’t think I could find a way to reference Frasier on Lost, but I did it. It cannot be undone.)

My pick for the eventual Mama Farraday.

Ellie No-Last-Name: My pick for the eventual Mama Farraday.

All in all, this was a really tight episode. And the best part about it, actually, was that it wasn’t cluttered with any of the Oceanic 6. It had balanced stories that furthered the plot with nothing extraneous and still managed to provide us with a fair number of unanswered questions about which to theorize. This one was solid, and I am satisfied to know that Widmore was a Retro Other, which, I think, gives him a good motivation for wanting to get back to the island and explains some of his interest in it. I’m sure we will hear a lot more about Charles Widmore as the season progresses, because even that revelatory fact leaves a lot to fill in between that I cannot hazard to guess at.