Friday, November 6, 2009

Does "The Gift" Come With a Return Receipt?

I seem to be tweeting a lot these days. But there are some things that just can't by tweeted, because, really, opinions from time to time are better said in more than a succinctly edited, cut down 140 characters. Ah, yes, the joys of slow-blogging.

Flashforward aired an episode last night that, I think, was supposed to be landmark, world-shattering, expect-the-unexpected.

In short, I think the "The Gift" was supposed to be to Flashforward what "Walkabout" was to Lost. Remember "Walkabout"? We're in Locke's backstory for the first time, there's some sad stuff, meanwhile (um, kinda) on the Island things are happening... BAM, LOCKE WAS A PARAPLEGIC BEFORE COMING TO THE ISLAND. And then you HAD to rewatch to see how the wool had been pulled over your eyes and it CHANGED EVERYTHING because nothing was impossible anymore.

But "The Gift" wasn't "Walkabout". It so very wasn't.

The concept behind the "big event" at the end of "The Gift" makes sense. And should have occurred to someone in some form or another earlier than episode 7 of the series. In fact... it should have occurred in episode 3 (see previous post: Episode 3, AKA The Corrections Department). If you count Lost's two-hour pilot as one episode (even though it was split into two weeks, it was shot as a two-hour!) then "Walkabout" is episode 3. Huh, I can't believe I didn't mention that in my other post!

The concept: defy fate by changing it.

As executed... you knew what was coming before it happened. Well before. And yet... the characters still spent a lot of time talking about it and contemplating and trying to talk Agent Gough off the ledge when, really, all that we needed were some concise (tweetable?) lines in a letter to tell us why he jumped and the SHOCK of the splat that made us go back and see exactly what led up to it. Instead... Flashforward told us how and why what was happening was happening instead of making us DISCOVER it. It's not necessarily "bad" writing... but it isn't "genius" writing like "Walkabout" was.

Even so... Agent Gough falling to his death (and thereby telling all of the other characters that the future is not set in stone) even though he had a flash forward isn't the way I wished this had happened.

Again. To change fate, defy it.

At the end of episode two, Agent Noh (John Cho) got a phone call saying that he was going to be murdered on March 15th. And he continued to spend the next several episodes weighed down by his fate. Yes, he briefly tried to find his would-be murderer, but that hasn't been made much of. Agent Noh was the one who needed fate to be changed the most, and so he should have done it himself. I'm always for adding darkness to a character... why, in episode 3, just to prove fate wrong, didn't he kill someone who had a flash forward? There. Bam. The future isn't set in stone. And that's not the only thing that could've happened to make this point...

... anyway, my problem with "The Gift" is that the event was telegraphed instead of a shock, and that this INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT EVENT happened far too late in the game.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very happy that the writers saw fit to do this in one way or another. But also don't get me wrong... I'm pretty damn bored with this show and the adrenaline that we can only HOPE has been injected into the storyline by this future-altering event had better show up next week.


Spot said...

Maybe it says something about my diminished expectations for the show, but I think in episode in which...

1) There's a legitimately emotional moment, which I think the suicide was, no matter how maddening it may be that it happened that way and
2) That someone actually tried to defy their flash forward, no matter how maddening it may be that it happened that way

is a step in the right direction. I agree that it didn't instantly make the series awesome, not by a long shot. But it was becoming hard to connect with these characters, and it was becoming very, very, very hard to believe that nobody, in the entirety of the world, ever, would try to defy "fate."

Michael said...

Watching the episode, I was reminded of Minority Report (the book, not the movie)--that the only way you can possibly change the future is to be the one with knowledge of what's to come.

I'm going to be very pissed off if they pull the butterfly effect card to claim that everybody's Flash Forwards are now useless because of one silly suicide.

Zedman2 said...

Can you explain the title card at the beginning of each episode that states "On October 6, the planet blacked out for two minutes and seventeen seconds the whole saw the Future"> Why are they using that date though the show actually premiered on September 24? Even LOST, when it refers back to the plane crash on the Island, uses its correct premiere date as its reference point. Are they using a different calendar than the rest of us? Will that explain the FlashFoward? ;)

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was quite disappointed that Agent Noh did not arrest Jerome Murphy (the customs agent applicant) for possession of Marijuana in 132 Sekunden. That would have been his first attempt to change the future and it would have had a much more positive effect (would have changed the Nazi's future as well).