Isn’t it refreshing to see a pilot episode not titled “Pilot”? I was pleasantly surprised when FlashForward‘s first episode had a more creative and enigmatic title than “Pilot,” unlike other shows in its vein, like Fringe and Lost. Of course, the title is the least interesting part of the episode.
I’d actually had the privelege of seeing the episode a few weeks ago, so tonight’s airing was more of a rerun, but was no less exciting — it’s one of the fastest-paced hours of television I’ve seen. And that’s a good thing.
The episode starts off with Mark Benford awakening in an overturned car. There’s the sound of shattering glass in the background, and he’s got a nasty cut on his head. It’s a surprisingly quiet environment for the scene of a car crash. He shimmies out of his seat in the car, sliding out the shattered rear windshield of the car. There’s a body lying on the curb as he comes out, cementing the fact that we won’t be dealing with a happy scene.
As he gets to his feet and walks around, there’s Oceanic 815-reminiscent chaos surrounding him. People are screaming and running around, cradling dead loved ones and clutching at wounds. “Demetri!” cries out Benford, though he can’t find who he’s calling for — just a man covered in flames flailing about.
As the flaming man falls, we’re treated to a pretty cool title sequence before being whisked away to four hours before, at the beginning of what looks to be “another beautiful day,” according to the radio announcer. The sun rises over suburbia, and Mark Benford opens up his gun safe. Inside, in addition to his sidearm, is a note that says “You’re a crappy husband. I hate you.” Glancing over at his wife, Benford chuckles before grabbing his holster and badge.
He then goes over to sit down beside his wife, who is still asleep, on the bed. “I hate you too,” he whispers, and they both chuckle. She reminds him about the garage door, but he’s playfully “already forgotten,” and instead goes to make breakfast for their daughter, Charlie, who is watching cartoons happily.
Benford leaves his house through the broken garage door, greeting the neighborhood cleaning crew as he goes. As he’s walking out, Nicole, the Benford’s babysitter, shows up in a Volkswagon. Benford asks her if she’ll be able to stay an extra hour so that Olivia can work the late shift. She doesn’t mind — she’s got “studying” to do anyway.
A little while later, Olivia has woken up, and calls Bryce Varley, her co-worker. She leaves him a voicemail expressing her concern and annoyance at his failure to show up at rounds the previous day. And she has appropriate reason to worry, as a forlorn Bryce is actually out on a pier overlooking the Pacific. He looks over the ocean for a moment, watching some surfers. After placing his wallet and cell phone on the railing, he reaches into his satchel and pulls out a gun.
Meanwhile, Benford is attending an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting. A man, Aaron Stark, is speaking to the circle. His daughter Tracy, who fought in Afghanistan, was killed in the war, and her remains, only identifiable through DNA, were brought back to the U.S., which prompted him to become an alcoholic. After the meeting, Benford chastises Stark for his lack of social skills; Stark has been procrastinating on calling Amanda, a girl recommended to him by Benford, who he has refused to call. Stark argues that he’s Benford’s sponsor, and should be riding him, not the other way around. Stark cracks, agreeing to call Amanda, even though “nurses freak him out.”
Nicole is with a guy in the Benford’s living room, and they’re not doing any studying at all while Charlie is upstairs taking a nap. She thinks she hears Charlie upstairs, and tells the boy that he’ll have to leave as soon as they’re finished.
Meanwhile, Benford and his FBI partner Demetri are surveying a mysterious woman, who is meeting with suspected terrorists. While snapping pictures, Demetri complains to Mark about the song his fiance has chosen for their wedding, “Islands in the Stream,” which he believes is very corny. Benford realizes that he can’t remember what he and Olivia danced to at their wedding.
Aaron looks at a picture of his daughter before climbing up to repair a power line, while Olivia discusses her daughter with a fellow surgeon before an operation.
Benford and Demetri, meanwhile, shadow their suspects by car, conferring with Stan Wedeck and Janis Hawk back at headquarters. As Benford and Demetri tail the suspects, they’re suddenly discovered. The suspects speed off with the FBI in pursuit, narrowly dodging cars. Well, some cars. Others aren’t so lucky.
As everything builds to a head — Olivia goes into surgery, Aaron climbs the power pole, Bryce brings the gun to his head, Nicole and her boyfriend romance, and Mark and Demetri continue their pursuit — Mark is suddenly thrown into a different time.
What follows is one of the trippiest sequences ever. Mark finds himself standing in an office, surveying a bulletin board covered with photographs and notecards. Among the words he sees: Mosaic. He’s drinking from a flask, and he quickly scribbles on a calendar notecard, “Who else knows?,” noticing a friendship bracelet on his wrist. Red lasers shine in the distance, and Benford prepares himself, cocking his weapon and hiding as two masked men weilding guns enter his office. One of the men has three stars tattooed on his arm. As Benford watches the two from his hiding place, he is suddenly thrust back into the present, in the overturned car where we found him in the pilot.
He stumbles out, and searches for Demetri among the chaos. He’s approached by a worried Asian man, who is pointing frantically to a gas tanker, which soon explodes. Benford, in the aftermath of the explosion, jumps atop a car and discovers that the disaster is all around him — the entire freeway has fallen victim to this crash. Even buildings burn with black smoke as a result of crashed aircraft.
Benford soon finds Demetri, who is disoriented but okay. They rescue a woman from a burning car, and Benford tells Demetri to call the office and see what happened.
Bryce, meanwhile, wakes up with a bump on his head. Everyone around him on the pier has passed out as well, and he heroically goes to rescue some beached surfers, all thoughts of suicide gone.
Nicole goes to check on Charlie, who tells Nicole that she had a bad dream, and also drops the title of the episode when she reveals she dreamt that there were “no more good days.”
Mark finds himself unable to call Olivia, and assists Demetri in the arrest of the mysterious blonde terrorist. Demetri questions the woman, but she denies any responsibility for the blackout. A crowd of people, witnessing the event, begins to surround Mark and Demetri, asking what happened. Benford doesn’t know, but a man tells him that he heard on his radio that the event happened in San Diego as well. Demetri convinces Benford to go after Olivia on foot, and he does so in a painful-to-watch slow-motion running scene.
As he walks through the streets among looters and a strange kangaroo, he stops to watch a news report in the window of a nearby “Voltage City,” which confirms that the flashforward happened everywhere, which is repeated to us by a viewer. Jeez, we got it already.
While watching, Benford gets a call from Olivia, confirming that she’s okay, and that Nicole said Charlie was okay. Original author of Flashforward Robert J. Sawyer can be seen walking behind her, trying to make a call as well. Olivia is overwhelmed with patients, so she can’t talk very long, and hangs up on Mark.
The patient she hung up on Mark for is a young, eight-year-old boy, who had been hit by a car during the flash. She reassures the still-conscious boy as he’s wheeled away, and he tells her “I know, Olivia.” She looks in shock at the boy as he is wheeled away. She takes him into trauma and is able to narrowly save his life with Bryce’s help, though she reminds him he’s not off the hook for his absence the previous day.
At FBI headquarters, Benford talks with Wedeck about the blackout. Wedeck tells him that the FBI is still gathering intel. As the two walk, they are joined by an FBI agent played by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. He tells them that NASA has not found anything regarding the cause, and Wedeck sarcastically wonders if the Pope has chimed into the discussion.
Wedeck calls the FBI into a board meeting in order to “wrap their heads around” the blackout. As death toll statistics are discussed, it’s mentioned that even the vice president was killed when Air Force Two went down. However, Mark is more concerned with what the flashes were, as opposed to their impact. He tells of his vision, and everyone else agrees that they had similar visions. They come to the conclusion that their consciousness moved forward in time. Benford shares the date in which his flashforward took place, April 29, 2010, and everyone agrees that this was the same date theirs took place in as well.
Demetri soon returns with the blonde suspect. She insists that she’s not responsible for the blackout, and Demetri reminds her that she was still planning on killing thousands of people. As Demetri and Mark catch up, an agent runs up, saying that he has a way to confirm that the flashforwards correlate: to call the Scotland Yard agent Fiona Banks whom he saw in his flash. They do so, and the details match up perfectly, leaving no doubt that the flashforwards are actually a glimpse into the future.
A television reporter tells the world that human brains being scanned during the blackout showed active engagement throughout the two minutes, seventeen seconds, which were consistent with a waking experience. The reporters tell that all the visions are seeming to corroborate, like a “grand Mosaic” is being filled in. Mark takes notice to this, because Mosaic was the name of the project he was working on in the future.
He tells Wedeck about this, and Wedeck asks them what they saw. Demetri saw nothing, he says; he simply blacked out. Demetri is more concerned with the blonde suspect than the events of the flashforward. Janis was going for a prenatal sonogram. Wedeck was in a “meeting,” (he was using the bathroom) and “just happened to glance down” at the newspaper’s sports page, giving him both the date.
Demetri suggests compiling all the stories together, and Janis thinks to create a website to do so. Mark thinks this is what he was doing in his flashforward, and Wedeck agrees to set up an inter-agency task force, which Mark, Demetri, and Janis will run. Demetri is skeptical, but Wedeck tells them to do it anyway.
That night, Demetri and Mark work on setting up the bulletin board Mark was looking at in his vision. Mark has Demetri write down names and items he remembers on yellow notecards, including “D. Gibbons,” “Baby doll photograph,” “Blue Hand,” and “Frienship bracelet.”Mark remembers the men coming to kill him, and sketches the three stars in one of the men’s tattoo, placing them up on the board. He wants Janis to compile a list of all the D. Gibbons in the world. Demetri, meanwhile, is worried that his lack of a vision means that he’ll be dead.
Mark returns home, and speaks briefly to Nicole, who wants some reassurance. She thinks God caused the blackout, as punishment.
Olivia, back at the hosptial, is tending to the young boy, whose mother died in the blackout and whose father is Stanford professor Lloyd Simcoe, who they have been unable to locate. Bryce reveals to Olivia about his suicide attempt, but assures her that those thoughts are gone from his mind now, because his vision convinced him that he’d be still alive, and happy. Olivia reveals her vision wasn’t so good — it depicted the end of her marriage.
Mark talks to Aaron about the flashforward, and reveals that he was drinking again. He knows Olivia would have left him if he’d relapsed, and he worries about this. Aaron tells him not to relapse. Aaron reveals that his vision showed him finding Tracy in some sort of desert tent. He has mixed feelings about the whole experience, but wants his vision to come true, even though Mark doesn’t want his own to.
Mark repairs the garage door as Olivia comes home, because it was a “slow day.” The two go up to visit Charlie before going to bed themselves. As they lie in bed, Mark shares his flashforward with Olivia, though he leaves out the part about himself drinking. Olivia is very reluctant to reveal her vision, but Mark insists multiple times, until she tells him that she saw herself with another man, who she didn’t even know. She then leaves the bedroom.
Mark goes outside to sit on the swingset, and Charlie follows him out, telling him she had a bad dream. As the two sit together, she gives him a friendship bracelet, which he later will be wearing in his dream. She puts the bracelet on his wrist, and he stares up into the night sky, afraid of the inevitability that looms before him.
Meanwhile, Demetri is back at the office, talking to his fiance. He agrees to dance to “Islands in the Stream.” Their conversation is interupted by Janis, who wants to show Demetri something. He gets up to go and look, and she shows him security camera footage from around the world at the time of the blackout. They all show the same thing, except for one tape of a baseball game. Janis zooms in to reveal everyone passing out, except for one man, who stands and exits the stadium, looking around as he does so.
“Who is he?” Janis asks. “And why is he still awake?”