And the answers begin...
Last night's second episode of FlashForward, titled "White to Play," started peeling back the veil on some of the mysteries the new ABC series introduced in last week's premiere.
The opening of this week's show had to be one of the more disturbing images we've seen. Dozens of small bodies laying on the ground at a school playground, dead to the world. (It was almost as weird as the dolls hanging by their necks that we saw later in the episode, but we'll get to the creepy doll factory in a bit.)
There's a possible clue in the opening scene, when one of the overhead shots of the playground shows the following markings on the asphalt where the children lay: 22 23 Mag. Park. Perhaps that's merely the name of the school or some other innocuous playground label. (A quick internet search found this playground equipment manufacturer.) But we've been told by writers to overlook nothing, and including those numbers and words in an overhead shot could have been deliberate.
The schoolyard set up the theme of last night's episode, which focused on three threads that revolved around "children."
And best of all, every one of the three separate threads ended up overlapping at the end.
1) What did Charlie see?
Mark and Olivia's daughter, Charlie, saw something so devastating during her flash forward that she described it as merely, "no more good days." Apparently, this is important, since it was the title of the pilot.
But despite this week's focus on Charlie, we still don't really know the answer, although we got a few hints.
- She doesn't recognize Lloyd Simcoe, the man who was in her mother Olivia's vision of the future. That means Charlie didn't see him in her flash forward. If she was at home, she wasn't in the same area of the house that her mother and Lloyd were in.
- She knows Dylan, Lloyd's son, so well that the sight of him in a hospital seriously freaked her out. This seems to indicate she encountered the boy in her flash forward in a way that is meaningful and emotional.
- And of course, at the end, we got a little more insight into Charlie's vision when she stated, merely, "D. Gibbons is a bad man." Since D. Gibbons became more and more important to the story as the episode continued, this bit of information at the end was really rewarding, bringing the mystery of Charlie's flash forward right in line with the questions being explored in Mark's investigation.
But the enigma created by all this is, how did Dylan know Olivia? When he saw her in the hospital on the day of the flash forwards, he recognized her face and called her by name. If he and Charlie were together in their flash forward, and Charlie didn't see Lloyd, then how could Dylan have seen Olivia? Do children's flash forwards hold some extra bit of knowledge, a seed of information, that adults don't? Is this what gives Dylan a knowledge of Olivia and Charlie a knowledge of D. Gibbons? Or does this additional knowledge have more to do with one of them having some extra-sensory ability?
2) The mystery of the Simcoes.
Lloyd Simcoe was introduced in the first episode as the man in Olivia's flash forward, although Olivia -- at the time -- had never met him. Yet she has stated that in the future, she has feelings for him. So somehow, these two people are going to grow very close in six months.
In this episode, Olivia finally meets Lloyd, and what is most surprising about the "reunion" is that it's only a reunion for Olivia -- Lloyd doesn't remember her. Olivia accounts for this by remembering that he never really looked at her during the flash forward -- he was always facing away.
That might sound a little convenient, but from what we've been shown, Lloyd was clearly distracted by something he encountered via his cell phone. In the flash forward, he was obviously disturbed by it. So it really is entirely possible that his glimpse at April 29th was all about that news he received on his telephone, and his emotional reaction to that news, meaning he could have no idea he was even with a woman, let alone Olivia.
We found out a little more about Lloyd. He's in over his head with this whole parenting thing, and now that his wife is dead, he's just naturally started to lean on Olivia, even though they were barely together in the episode. (For additional speculating, the most famous "Simcoe" was Mosaic Collective website.
- The guy who was walking around a Tigers game during the blackout has been labeled "Agent Zero."
- Agent Zero is, apparently, male. Or at least the writers really wanted to convince us that the person in the trenchcoat was a man.
- The blackouts happened at exactly 11 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The chances of something like this happening at exactly the top of the hour are 1 in 3600, so the current FBI theory is that the blackouts were planned.
It wasn't all seriousness at the FBI as the episode got some much-needed comic relief when Wedeck told Mark about his flash forward experience. While I'm sure we'll see some pretty scary flash forwards in the coming episodes, it can't get much worse than Wedeck's experience. I mean, what's worse than sitting on the toilet when the blackouts happened, flashing forward to yourself sitting on the toilet, then waking up to find yourself having to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a guy who drowned in his own urine?
The humor continued as Dee Dee Gibbons, the cupcake lady, came walking into the FBI offices. Sure, she's a "D. Gibbons," just like the card on Mark's bulletin board says, but it was pretty obvious she isn't important. She ended up being even more innocent and clueless than all the wide-eyed kids and dolls running around this episode.
But after some investigating of her flash forward, things got dead serious again as Mark and Demetri traveled to Pidgeon, Utah, to investigate someone who used her credit card, a case of stolen identity, creating a new, mysterious "D. Gibbons." They found him in an abandoned doll factory and discovered:
- He's a computer hacker, and from what he was hacking, it looked like he was investigating the blackouts.
- He plays chess. We were bombarded with images of chess games and pieces in his lair – thus the name of the episode, "White to Play."
- The main things that survived his well-planned explosion were his cell phone and a white queen from a chess board.
- The guy walking around the baseball stadium isn't the only one who was awake during the blackout. D. Gibbons made a cell phone call 30 seconds into the blackout time period, so he was walking around too.
- And most interesting of all, these two "walkies" were talking to each other while everyone else was passed out. The call D. Gibbons made was apparently to Agent Zero, or at least someone in that baseball stadium.
- The alarm that D. Gibbons chose to tell him if someone had broken into his cushy doll factory? Children singing "Ring Around the Rosie." (Yeah, as if the doll body parts weren't creepy enough.) As most people know, Ring Around the Rosie is purported to have been a song invented during a plague. Are the blackouts like a plague?
- Before he escaped out an air vent, he said, "He who foresees calamities suffers them twice." It's a quote from Beilby Porteus. Maybe he was just stating the obvious, that everyone's having to deal with their future both now and when they get to it. But maybe he's also giving us a clue.
Let the guessing begin. I think the fact that white plays first in chess might have some bearing on the episode's title. Perhaps D. Gibbons is giving the investigators their first bit of "play" in this chess game. The white queen also says to me that the person in charge of the game isn't necessarily male. Maybe that person in the baseball stadium is in fact a woman?
I can't help thinking there was also some foreshadowing in all those eerie dolls that were shown as the authorities were closing in on D. Gibbons. Even Mark has a doll photograph included on his bulletin board. Maybe it just means he's not nice to kids, as Charlie could have been indicating later, or maybe the thousands of doll body parts we saw were supposed to represent human body parts. If this is a plague that results in that much death, that would certainly be an "end to good days."
A few other interesting tidbits of information we saw:
- People are missing. Lots of them. While it could just be that they accidently fell down a hole when they blacked out, I think these missing people were pointed out because it means something. Maybe whoever is behind the blackouts also kidnapped people? Or maybe some people literally did fall down a hole, but it was a hole related to a rip in the fabric of time or something? Or maybe they were eliminated somehow from this timeline?
- Demitri isn't the only one who didn't have a flash forward. A sheriff in Utah didn't have one either. Only problem? After she tells that to Demetri, she gets killed. It's sure looking more and more like Demetri is going to die. Sure, his fiancé was at a wedding in her flash forward, but was he there?
- But wait, there's more. (Told you there were plenty of answers this episode!) Demetri gets a response from his decision to post his flash forward (or lack of one) on the Mosaic Collective. A woman (who appears to be in Hong Kong, of all places!) contacts him to tell him he will be murdered on March 15, 2010. Ouch.
- Janis was crying when she was getting her ultrasound, during which she found out her baby will be female. Since she was getting all chummy with Demitri in this episode, is it possible Demitri is the father? And she's crying because he died before the baby was born? Maybe that's a stretch, but there must be some meaning to those tears. (One note: I'm still bothered by the fact that Janis is getting an ultrasound at 10 p.m. Hard to find an ultrasound technician doing appointments at night. Hope they explain that one.)
- Mark decided to destroy the friendship bracelet by burning it. Last episode, the fact that he saw the friendship bracelet in his flash forward, then later got it from his daughter, made the future seem more set in stone. This week, Demitri said to Mark, "You putting on that bracelet – it's like saying you want the future to happen." I guess Mark decided he didn't want the future to happen, not even a bracelet from his kid. But I'd be willing to bet good money that Charlie makes him another one before April 29th.
- Charlie really loves her freaky-looking red squirrel. And we know there's a connection having to do with Red Panda. Was that a red kangaroo we saw? Is there a reason we're seeing red animals?
It's fun to speculate, but one thing's for sure – FlashForward is already getting interesting, and there's still a lot of ground to cover. The babysitter's missing and we haven't seen her flash forward. Mark's sponsor, Aaron, has yet to look for his daughter. We haven't even found out what Bryce saw that made him decide to cancel his suicide. And we still haven't met Dominic Monaghan's character, who I'm dying to see.
Plus, that bulletin board we saw had words like "blue hand" and "Red Panda" that haven't even been touched upon yet. Mark wrote "Who else knows?" during his flash forward, which still needs explained. We also had a bird flying into a window in the future, which might mean there's something weird that goes down on April 29th. And then there are those three nautical stars, both on Mark's bulletin board and tattooed on an arm of one of his attackers. Nautical stars are supposed to signify being guided home. Hmmm...
But the most mind-boggling things of all is that Mark's bulletin board wouldn't exist if he hadn't experienced a flash forward. The cupcake lady would never have visited if not for her flash forward. Olivia would never have met Lloyd if the blackouts didn't send Dylan into the hospital. Bryce wouldn't even be alive if not for his flash forward.
It appears that the events of the flash forwards would not exist if not for the flash forwards themselves.
It's enough to hurt your brain if you think about it too much. But that's the way time travel works. And if you're as much of a time travel nerd as I am, it hurts so good.
Next episode, titled "137 Sekunden" (German for "seconds"), we're going to get some information on why the flash forwards lasted exactly 137 seconds, something Guggenheim said is significant.
And just a reminder: We'll be talking periodically to members of the FlashForward writing staff about the series. If you have a question you'd like to suggest we ask, post it below or go over to this Guggenheim interview from yesterday and post it there. The writers want to know what you're thinking. And so do we.
So what did you think? Any theories after seeing "White to Play?" Anything you want to ask the writers? Post away...