Recap – FlashForward 1.13 “Blowback”

If you missed last week’s two-hour Spring Premiere, “Revelation Zero,” be sure to check out a recap here.

“Blowback” begins fifteen years ago in a Massachusetts prison. A beardless Aaron is visited by a younger Tracy. She tells him that she knows he will be paroled this time. Aaron promises to “make it up” to her, and he will do whatever he can to be there for his daughter. All Tracy asks for is that he smile at the hearing. “From ear to ear,” he assures her. As he leaves, a guard steps in his way, and begins to say some pretty gross things to Aaron about Tracy (namely how he can’t wait to have his way with the 15-yr old). Aaron finally hears enough and clocks the guy in the face. The rest of the corrections officers descend on Aaron and give him quite the beat-down. Back in the present, Aaron finds Tracy in a bar; he had told her that she couldn’t drink in the house. He understands that she’s scared of Jericho, but if he could find her in a bar, it will be no problem for Jericho to find her. They need to devise a plan to take the group on. Cut to the opening title, with the image of the words “Happy Birthday” as the title card flash.

At their home, Zoey and Demetri discuss Demetri’s impending murder at the hands of Mark. He insists that Mark would never harm him; Mark is the guy that went halfway around the world to help Demetri. Zoey tells Demetri that she figured out what her flash is: not their wedding, but Demetri’s memorial service. Demetri reassures her by telling her that he filed the paperwork to have Mark’s gun destroyed. She shouldn’t worry — they are going to get married. Zoey is not satisfied, though. She goes to Mark’s house and demands to speak to him. She quizzes him on a number of scenarios in which he might kill Demetri, but Mark scoffs, and tells her that he does not take kindly to her wild accusations.

Two years ago, Aaron comes home with a book on sobriety and some takeout. He flips on a football game and sits down to enjoy the game when there is a knock on the door. He opens the door to see two marines. Having been in the military, Aaron knows what is happening. “When and how?” is all he wants to know. The Marines tell him that Tracy was killed in Afghanistan by a rocket propelled grenade. Aaron slams the door closed, and collapses in a heap of tears. Back in the present and in the bar, Aaron asks Tracy about James Erskine. He is the head of operations for Jericho, which is based locally in Santa Monica. He then asks about her superior, Musgrove. It seems Musgrove was killed in a helicopter accident two days after Tracy “died.” Father and daughter both know it was no coincidence.

In the FBI’s L.A. headquarters, Mark interrogates Lloyd again. He wants to know the significance of the things Lloyd told him in their flash: D. Gibbons, QED, and most importantly, the second blackout. He shows Lloyd a drawing of D. Gibbons, but Lloyd denies knowing Gibbons. “I have no time to play ‘Pissy Brit’ with you,” Mark tells Lloyd, and orders him to follow. Elsewhere at the FBI, Zoey arrives to bring Demetri some lunch. Wedeck eyes the food, musing that the portions look big enough for him to have some, but Zoey has a different present for him: a Freedom of Information Act request. She wants access to all of the FBI’s Mosaic files. Wedeck tells her there is no way he’s giving her the files without a judge’s order. She tells him that a judge’s order will become a public record, and that she’s sure having the matter public will not help the investigation. Wedeck relents, and puts Demetri in charge of providing his fiance with the files. Meanwhile, Mike, a member of Tracy’s unit in Afghanistan who found Aaron to tell him that he thinks Tracy is alive, visits Aaron at his work. He tells Aaron that he received a phone call on his birthday, but the caller didn’t make any sound. It must be Tracy! He asks Aaron if he knows where she is, and Aaron tells him that she is living with Aaron at his apartment.

Mark lets Lloyd into he and Olivia’s house; he needs to hear everything that happens in Lloyd’s flash. Having moved up to Mark and Olivia’s bedroom, Lloyd wants to know if Mark is sure he wants to hear, being they are where they are. Mark insists, so Lloyd begins. He received a text message from Simon that contained a formula. The same formula is written on the bedroom mirror in lipstick. He adds that while he knew there was a woman in the room, he had no idea it was Olivia. Mark asks him about “the QED.” Mark notes that QED usually stands for quod erat demonstrandum, meaning “that which was to be demonstrated.” But Lloyd says it could also mean “Quantum Electrodynamics,” however the inclusion of the “the” further changes the meaning to, most likely, a mathematical formula.

Janis has her own formula. Having figured out during which days she must conceive to be pregnant when she is during her flash, she is visiting the Cubit Fertility Clinic. The doctor tells her that her gunshot injury still isn’t fully healed, so she’d prefer Janis wait to get pregnant. Janis insists she get pregnant now. The only thing she can think about is her baby. She doesn’t want to wait until a later date for another child. She wants this child. This is her baby.

Demetri brings the files to Zoey, but makes his reluctance known. Zoey ignores his attitude and tells him that she thinks she’s found something in Alda Herzog’s (Hot Blonde Terrorist from the Pilot) file that she can use to find out Demetri’s killer. When Demetri tells her to just drop it, she responds that she is going to do whatever she can to prevent his murder. Back at Aaron’s, Tracy is home alone making dinner. She moves to add pasta to some boiling water, but a man in a non-contamination suit and mask plunges a needle into her neck. When she passes out, the man and his partner erect a large shipping box, pack Tracy inside, tape it up, change into shipping company uniforms, and drag the box out of the apartment.

It is two years ago. Remembering the sounds of the 21-gun salute, Aaron drowns his sorrow in shots of scotch, before collapsing on the U.S. flag given to him at Tracy’s funeral. Back in the present, Aaron returns home to a smoke detector sounding and the stove on fire. He looks for Tracy but can’t find her. He then hears Mike’s voice in his head, “It must have been Tracy.” Back at Mark’s house, Lloyd continues his recollection of his flash. He went downstairs and saw Charlie and Dylan. He then gabbed a beer and sat down on the couch. Mark wants to know why Lloyd was so adamant about D. Gibbons, but Lloyd doesn’t know. Mark tells him that Lloyd said “D. Gibbons is a liar,” during his flash. Why is Gibbons a a liar? Lloyd continues to say that he doesn’t know Gibbons. Mark presses harder — “Why did you say Gibbons is a liar?!?” “Because he is a liar!” Lloyd finally cracks; he does know Gibbons.

Aaron pulls up to Mike’s apartment, where he sees Mike packing up his car. Aaron asks where he’s going. Mike says his dad found him a job, so he’s moving closer to it. Aaron says he’d like to buy Mike a burger before he leaves in thanks for all Mike’s been able to share about Tracy. Mike agrees and jumps in the car. During the drive, Aaron tells Mike about how he was in prison. Two and a half years for a bar fight gone bad. He informs Mike that prison makes a person a “capable man.” “Capable of what?” Mike asks. Capable of anything, Aaron says. Perhaps worse, prison makes one an animal, so that once a prisoner is let out, he needs to keep that animal in check. Aaron abruptly stops the car, turns to Mike and tells him he is about to let the animal out. Mike feigns confusion while he subtly takes out a knife. He lunges for Aaron, but Aaron counters. They exchange punches, and the fight moves outside of the car. Mike throws dirt in Aaron’s face, but Aaron gains the upper hand, forces Mike’s arm into a submission hold, and presses the young man up against a fence. Aaron demands to know where Tracy is, but Mike won’t tell him. “You’re going to get us both killed!” Mike exclaims under the strain of Aaron’s hold, but Aaron isn’t listening. Not getting what he wants, Aaron bend Mike’s arm back until a crack is heard and the screen goes black.

After work, Demetri is over at Janis’ where they share some beers. Demetri complains that work is just too crazy, especially with Zoey getting involved in the investigation. Yeah, it’s really terrible that Zoey actually loves him, Janis jokes. Demetri, having noticed that Janis wasn’t at work that day, asks where she was. She tells him about her trip to the fertility clinic. The doctor didn’t want to accept her, but she’s persistent, and was able to convince them to take her on as a patient. Janis needs to conceive next week so that her flash will come true. Demetri wonders if she’s scared (she takes it as if he’s asking about being scared to become a mother, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was asking if she was scared her flash will actually come true, knowing what that means for him). She is a bit scared, but she is more excited than anything. When she was shot, the only thing that kept her struggling for life was the thought of her baby girl: dressing her, braiding her hair. Demetri wonders how she could be so attached to someone who doesn’t exist yet. “Yes, she does,” Janis insists. She ends the conversation by telling Demetri that they have something in common: they both have to fight for the futures they want.

Lloyd finally gives up that D. Gibbons is actually Dyson Frost, a fellow physicist who took credit for a lot of Lloyd’s work. The last he had heard of Frost was when he read Frost’s obituary, although it appears the rumors of Frost’s death have been exaggerated. Mark asks if he remembers telling Charlie in his flash that “D. Gibbons is a bad man.” Lloyd asks if Mark has spoken to Charlie, and when Mark answers in the negative, he insists that he does as the girl might hold some clue. Mark ignores the suggestion and asks Lloyd why he was kidnapped. What did the men want to know? What did they threaten Lloyd with so that he’d give up his knowledge of the amplification properties of his NLAP experiment? Lloyd tells him that they didn’t threaten him. They threatened Dylan, Mark concludes. Then, as sincere as he has ever been to Lloyd, mark tells him that he needs to be honest with Mark about what he knows so Mark will be able to protect Dylan. He concludes by asking Lloyd for his help in finding Frost. Lloyd agrees, and a partnership is formed.

Back at the FBI, Mark tells Wedeck and Vogel about Lloyd’s revelations about Gibbons/Frost. He tells them that Frost conducted research into the “Mirror Test.” The Mirror Test is a test that measures self-awareness. Only some animals recognize that the image in a mirror is actually the observer. Adult humans, of course, pass the test, but so do crows. Wedeck quickly sees where this is going. “Crows? Somalia??” Mark suggests they go investigate under the cover of a mission by Red Panda. Wedeck wants to know how he can sell “birdwatching in Somalia to D.C.” Vogel pipes up with the old saying, “It’s easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

After his fight, Aaron is in his truck, parked outside a large house where a child’s birthday party is being held. He leaves a message for Mark that he needs more information on James Erskine, the owner of the home. Erskine is preparing the cake when the power goes out. Aaron shows up at the door as a representative of the power company, and asks if he can come in to look at the power lines. Meanwhile, Zoey meets with Alda Herzog (Hot Blonde Terrorist). Alda goes at Zoey by offering to send her condolences in the future when Demetri is murdered, but Zoey brushes it off, saying that Alda is going to help her change the future. Zoey knows Alda is hiding some more information, so she makes Alda an offer: the information about Demetri’s murder in exchange for Zoey’s representation. Alda scoffs, saying the fiance of a federal agent would never represent a terrorist. Zoey asks if Alda was in jail in her flash; Alda’s silence answers for her.

Erskine wants to know when the power will be restored, but Aaron drops the ruse. He wants to know where Tracy is, but Erskine insists he doesn’t know. Aaron doesn’t believe him, and declares that they are now at war. Erskine suggests that Aaron doesn’t want to be at war with him, but Aaron informs him that he should not be underestimated, as he is a man with nothing left to lose. Back in his truck, Aaron uses a radio to listen into the phone call Erskine is making. Erskine tells someone that “the father” came to his home, so now that the “package” has arrived in Kandahar, it is time to eliminate Aaron. After the call, Aaron goes to the bed of his truck and pulls back a blanket to reveal a bound and gagged Mike.

Vogel informs Mark that he will not be flying to Somalia — Mark is too important to the investigation that they can’t run the risk of losing him during the mission. Vogel had told Mark that he wasn’t important at all. “I lied,” responds Vogel, noting that he is prone to do that as a CIA agent. Vogel meets with Demetri and Janis who will be going with him to Somalia. He reviews the 1991 satellite images of the five towers that once stood. Only one tower remains, so their mission is to access that tower. To remain undetected, they will not be going via Red Panda, they will be going as Red Panda, despite the numerous international laws they will be violating. “Great, when do we leave?” asks a voice from the doorway. It’s Simon. Over Vogel’s protest, Simon explains that as the towers were built based on the designs stolen form him when he was 13, he is the only one who will understand what they see, so he has to go along. Vogel reluctantly agrees, and gives Simon his briefing book and a host of inoculations to receive prior to their departure. After the meeting, Zoey meets up with Demetri to go home. She tells him that she will be representing Alda. Demetri flips out that she would represent a terrorist (a suspected terrorist, she corrects), but she assuages his concerns by noting that she would do anything to save his life. Demetri relents, and asks her to come with him to take care of something.

Aaron leaves Mark a message, telling him that things have “escalated.” He will be going off the grid for a while because it is time for him to finally make his move. In fact, Aaron has made the first move: When Erskine and his wife and daughter enter their kitchen, they find a shirtless Mike hanging upside down form their ceiling. He’s wearing a birthday hat and has “Happy Birthday” scrawled across his chest — the same image we saw in the title card flash.

Demetri has taken Zoey to the FBI evidence room. He asks the attending officer for Mark’s gun. The officer, while leaving to gather the gun, offers Demetri a blowtorch. He passes on the torch, but does tell Zoey that he plans on watching the gun that will supposedly slay him, melt in front of his eyes. The officer returns, but looks worried. He has the evidence box, but the gun…is missing.

Commentary

After the promising second hour of last week’s spring premiere, I was really hoping the show had taken a new, more character-centric path. It looks like they attempted to do that in this episode with Aaron, but there was so much else going on (and so much bouncing around between all of the plots), that any investment in Aaron’s character was impossible to maintain. I think this is FlashForward‘s main problem: they want to get so much information out there as possible, and make the audience care about all of the characters at the same time, that any individual episode feels mightily jumbled. Thinking about “Blowback,” Olivia, Nicole, Bryce, Dylan and Simon (for the most part) didn’t appear at all, yet the show just kept bouncing all over the place. Forget about how hard it is to recap such an episode, it makes watching the show very difficult.

According to the preview for next week’s episode, the FBI will be heading to Somalia. This is all we should see. Don’t show us Aaron and Tracy. Don’t show us Nicole and Bryce. Don’t even show us Mark and Olivia. Just let us concentrate on the importance of Somalia. Let us sit down with three or four characters only. Let us really get to know them and their relationships. If we can invest in them (like we did last week with Simon), we will care about all of the mythological information surrounding these people.

I could go on about my increasing hatred of Zoey or Wedeck’s ridiculously intense line readings, but I want to know what you thought about the episode. Am I totally off the mark here? Were you invested in Aaron’s grief, or did it seem to evolve too quickly for you too? Does your brain hurt from the sometimes schizophrenic storytelling? How would you improve the show? What would you like to see going forward? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. We will bring you any developing FlashForward news as soon as we hear it, here at TVOverMind. Thanks, as always, for reading, and I’ll see you here next week. I’m off to take my turn in the bouncy house.

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