Full Circle

The new show FlashForward has definite potential. With last week's pilot, I wasn't getting into it right away. It was hard to get used to a new diverse cast of characters and keep track of all their stories. I've already invested years in the cast of Lost, and with that epic coming to a close next year, I wasn't sure I was ready to start another scorecard.

And then “it” happened.

About fifteen minutes into the show, every man woman and child on Earth blacks out for exactly 137 seconds a number that, like Lost's numbers, may have some significance. Is it bad luck and good luck with “13” and “7” in there? Something more complex? As someone in the second episode of the series pointed out, the blackout occurred exactly at the top of an hour. Numbers are going to be very important on this show. But what was really interesting is that, for those 137 seconds, many people had visions of 6 months from now. A man on the verge of suicide sees something positive that gives him a reason to live. A father sees himself by the side of a daughter he thought killed in combat. A single woman sees herself pregnant and getting an ultrasound. An FBI agent sees himself with a big board of clues and photographs trying to solve the incident, all while falling off the wagon and being hunted by a shadowy armed figure.

Of course, once everyone wakes up from these visions, the world is pretty ****ed up. Because people were driving, flying, operating, and doing other crucial things that consciousness is required for. Patients in surgery die. Planes and helicopters crash into buildings. Traffic literally piles up. When everyone who survived wakes up 137 minutes later, it's sheer chaos. And from that point on, my interest was piqued.

Aside from one awesome and creepy twist in the last moments of the first episode, I really like the overall premise. It's the age old question of fate and destiny. Does knowledge of the future give us the power to change it? Or would such visions guarantee that we'd make the decisions that caused the events to happen? The agent never would have started his board of clues or had some of the names he has on there if he didn't see it in his vision. And what of those who saw nothing? Will they be dead? Comatose? Simply sleeping? It seems the blackouts were just as unsettling for those who didn't get visions.

In life, our only true window to the future is past experience. We learn from our mistakes, and we know a certain set of actions will lead to a certain result. We shy away from doing anything that caused us pain or embarrassment in the past. On Thursday at work, we were all startled by an antiquated PA system telling us to proceed to the exits because there was a fire somewhere in the building. In the end, it was either a drill or a test or a glitch caused by some rewiring and lighting work that's been going on, but as we all stood shivering outside, two things occurred to me. The first, was how close people stand next to a building during a drill. This was my first one at this company, but I've observed the same phenomenon anywhere I've worked. If the building were to explode, we'd be screwed. Even a stray spark could cause trouble, as could smoke inhalation. The other thing that I thought about was the time I emptied out two buildings at my old job, because they'd switched from regular microwaves to microwave/convection ovens. I put a slice of pizza in, not realizing it was on an oven setting, went back to my cubicle, and forgot all about it. It wasn't until the alarms went off and someone fished out the plate that had become a single entity with the former slice that I realized it. “My pizza!” I shouted, surging forward. The only one who heard me amid the crowd was my good friend Rey, who held me back and told me more than once, “That's not your pizza,” until it sunk in. He'd later take photos to document the event and send them along with the whole tale to all of our old college friends, but at least I could walk through the halls of our office safely.

I kept that quiet for years, surprising a few people at my going-away happy hour when I shared the story. At this point, I don't know who does or doesn't know. As I stood outside during this latest drill, I asked a friend who also had worked for that other company if he remembered. He either did not, or it was the first he was hearing of it. Since his wife used to work in HR over there, he also let me know that they used to get charged every time there was a false alarm. I guess it's good that none of us work there anymore, although technically it wasn't a false alarm, but an alarm working properly and doing what it's supposed to do when there's real smoke. I never used the kitchen there again, and for that matter I won't use any of the ovens at my current job. I like it there, and I think I have a decent reputation, although anyone who overheard my anecdote might now think otherwise.

I know the potential future if I repeat past actions. I know not to trust stop signs at intersections. I know to look for pedestrians around corners. I know not to use microwaves in offices if I don't know what I'm doing. I know not to hold my hand to close to the edge of a metal ruler when I'm using a knife. I know not to over fill a styrofoam cup with boiling water. I know not to climb out on a second story window ledge. I know that I can't breakdance. I don't need a FlashForward to warn me what will happen if I do any of these or other countless actions that have brought shame and misfortune. Forgetting the past makes us come full circle. The only real downside is that life can get boring when we exercise too much caution and don't take any real risks. And that's the dilemma the characters on the show face. They don't know if their actions will cause the future any more than they know that the future will happen if they do nothing. Inaction is a choice too. And that's what makes the show(and life) so damn intriguing.

I won't be starting any fires, but I will be watching a lot of television.


Blogger b13 said...


10/02/2009 12:35 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

The show does a great job with that creepiness factor you mentioned. I was like happily enjoying the story of the mystery of it until that one moment and (seriously) the hairs on my neck stood up and my skin crawled. Got the same effect in the beginning of the second episode and the end. Just these moments, amid the humanity (like the Boss's vision) that seems to underscore Charlie's prophetic utterance.

10/02/2009 5:16 PM  
Blogger Lorna said...

Your are a deep fella. I like Flashforward for the very challenges you mentioned. And I catch mysekf thinking about it over my morning coffee. Yikes!

10/02/2009 11:14 PM  

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