Recap – FlashForward 1.17 “The Garden of Forking Paths”

If you missed last week’s episode of FlashForward, “Let No Man Put Asunder,” catch up with a recap here.

This week’s installment begins, oddly, with the title card flash (Mark running) instead of any actual action. Then the scene opens on Demetri awakening, sweaty, in a chair with a laser sight trained on his chest. He is a prisoner in an elaborate Saw-style deathtrap. Behind Demetri, on the wall, is an elaborate diagram that looks like a number of timelines, many of which end with pictures of Demetri and the caption “Demetri Dies.”

At the FBI, Mark and Wedeck question Charlie about her run-in with Frost. She says she can’t remember anything, so Wedeck asks her to close her eyes. She relays their conversation. After a brief discussion about One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and the heroic qualities of Horton (from Horton Hears a Who), Frost gives her a photo of a painting to give to her father. On the back of the photo are instructions for Mark to go to Union Station at noon if he wants to save Demetri. As Olivia goes to leave the FBI with Charlie, Mark escorts them to the elevator. He tells Olivia that it was nice to see her, to which she can only respond, “Yeah.” Wedeck enters, and tells Charlie that the two of them have something in common: they both hate jelly beans. Of course, Charlie loves jelly beans, so Wedeck takes her to his office to get her some. With his daughter out of ear shot, Mark tells Olivia that he thinks Charlie should see a psychologist. Olivia immediately denies the request; Charlie already thinks Mark is going to die, the last thing she needs is to talk about her flash over and over again. The distance between the couple is widening.

Zoey sees Alda Herzog (Hot Blonde Terrorist) at the jail. It’s March 15, so she wants to know everything Alda knows about Demetri’s impending death. Alda continues to play coy, and when Zoey all but begs for the information, Alda says if Zoey can get her a hearing today, she’ll tell her what she knows about Demetri. Zoey protests that there is no way she can get Alda released today. Alda doesn’t need to get released — she just wants a hearing. Back at the FBI, the team is suiting up to head out to Union Station. Vreede informs the team that the photo is actually of the painting “Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Mark figures there must be some meaning to the painting as Frost places meaning in everything he does. Vreede, reflecting on the story of Oedipus and his attempt to run from his predestined future, wonders if maybe them trying to find Demetri is part of the sequence of events that kills Demetri. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mark says that he promised Demetri he would save him, so he is willing to take the risk. Where he is being held, Demetri tries to move out of his chair slowly, but as he does, the trap cocks the gun and brings a lever closer to the trigger. Frost enters to warn Demetri not to get up, lest he fulfill his future.

It is now six months prior to the blackout. Alda and Hellinger (one of the conspirators) walk along a row of warehouses. Hellinger explains to Alda that they are to meet with Frost, but she should be warned — Frost is a bit of a wild card. The conspirators even had to fake his death so he would no longer be tracked. Alda wonders why they put up with Frost’s antics. Hellinger replies that Frost’s knowledge of quantum physics outpaces everyone, so they need to put up with him. They enter Frost’s warehouse to the sight of thousands of dominoes laid out on the floor. Hellinger asks if everything is on schedule. Frost answers in the affirmative, October 6th will be the day of the blackout. Hellinger then asks if the QED is ready. The prototype is, and the others will be completed soon. Frost gestures to a box, which Hellinger opens. Inside is one of the Alpha rings Simon was known to have worn to protect him from the effects of the blackout. Satisfied, Alda and Hellinger leave, but Alda stops, and asks Frost the purpose of the dominoes. Specifically, what did the one strand of white dominoes in a sea of black dominoes represent. Frost explains that the dominoes are his garden, and that the white dominoes plot our his escape.

Back to today, Frost explains Demetri that the diagram on the wall behind Demetri is what Frost likes to call his “Garden of Forking Paths.” In a location called Raven River, Frost and his associates conducted thousands of flashforwards on unsuspecting patients. Some were ten minutes into the future, some were ten years, but each time, a different future was seen. The “garden” represents those possible futures; where the paths branch off major events that reoccurred in the flashes are located. For he and Demetri, today, March 15, is the most important. Because it is the date of Demetri’s murder, the captive suggests. No, not his murder, but “our” murder. In 78% of the flashes seen, Frost was actually killed by Demetri on March 15. So why not just kill Demetri now, the agent asks. Frost explains that he actually has no desire to kill Demetri, but he has rigged the trap to approximate the future as closely as possible, while still leaving the possibility that the future will be changed, and they both will live. Frost leaves, with Demetri yelling after him to “share what you know!” “All I know, is that in all likelihood, one of us will die today,” Frost replies, and exits.

Olivia is finishing up a surgery with Bryce. She asks the anesthesiologist about the anesthesia used. When she replies a different one was used than the one Olivia asked about, Bryce wonders why she’s interested in anesthesia that hadn’t be used in decades. She tells Bryce that Lloyd had mentioned that it probably was used in the blackout. Lloyd? Olivia is talking to Lloyd again?, Bryce wonders. Olivia dismisses him and quickly leaves the O.R. for her office. Once there, Vreede enters to ask Olivia about the homeless man Frost killed. It seems the victim had a cell phone from which he texted Olivia. At first she can’t recall, but then remembers the text she received in October about Mark drinking in his flash. She insists she doesn’t know the victim, but agrees to go to the morgue with Vreede to view the body. When she sees the body, Olivia reiterates that she doesn’t know the man; she is not related to him. “You are,” Vreede offers, “but you just don’t know how yet.” Before they leave the medical examiner points out that the victim had an overly large hippocampus, a sign that the man was a savant capable of memorization and processing of highly complicated mathematical and scientific equations.

Mark is in Union Station at noon. He is alone in the station, per Frost’s instructions, but the rest of the FBI are monitoring from outside. Frost is five minutes late, but eventually a young boy with a backpack walks up to Mark. He tells the agent that a man gave him fifty dollars to give Mark the backpack. Mark looks inside and finds a photo of Demetri in the chair, and a phone. The phone rings. It is Frost. Frost explains that he wants to come in and help Mark prevent the second blackout, but if he is going to do so, Mark needs to follow his instructions exactly. With Janis and the rest of the FBI unable to hear Frost, he tells Mark to only say “Figueroa” and “Pico.” Mark does, leading the other agents to think Mark is giving them a hint to Frost and/or Demetri’s location (Figueroa and Pico St., oddly, is the intersection for the Staples Center parking lot in L.A.). Further, Frost tells Mark to look on the back of the photo of Demetri. The number there, 423, is the amount of time Mark has to save Demetri, 4 hours and 23 minutes (those numbers look eerily familiar). He then tells Mark to run into the men’s bathroom. There, he is to ditch the cell phone and his gun, grab an access card, and exit out an access panel in the wall. With Janis and the rest of the FBI in pursuit, Mark makes it to a car with another cell phone inside. The phone rings as soon as Mark gets in. It’s Frost, who gives Mark directions to the rendezvous point.

By faking appendicitis, Zoey is able to secure an emergency hearing for Alda. Zoey and some federal agents walk Alda to the courtroom. As she walks down the hall, Alda spies a window-washer outside. During the hearing, Zoey argues that Alda’s appendicitis requires her immediate release into a hospital to deal with the ailment. The judge lambastes Zoey for wasting the court’s time with fake complaints of medical emergencies, and threatens Zoey with legal sanctions. Zoey’s motion is denied. She apologizes to Alda and pleads with her for information about Demetri’s whereabouts. Alda admits to now knowing much, except for the mention of Demetri’s body being found in “Building 7” in her flash. As Alda is escorted out of the courtroom by federal agents, a large window explodes, sending those in the room ducking for cover; all except Alda. She breaks for the window and jumps out. Hot Blonde Terrorist has escaped.

Mark makes his way into the desert. Per Frost’s instructions, Mark grabs a compass and a bottle of water, and heads out into the hills. He meets Frost, who pulls a gun on him and says, “It’s time for you and me to save the world.” With an hour and a half remaining before the gun fires (did anyone else have flashbacks to that God-awful “V” countdown clock that aired during Lost?), mark asks why, if Frost wants to turn himself in, he hasn’t just gone to the FBI. Frost explains that he can’t trust the FBI, and neither should Mark. Mark explains that they caught the mole, but Frost simply scoffs. He throws a pair of handcuffs at Mark’s feet and tells him to put them on. Mark asks if he can take a drink of water first. Frost doesn’t see why not, so Mark sips his curiously yellow water. He bends to pick up the handcuffs, but looks up and spits the water into Frost’s face. Frost yelps in pain — it isn’t water, but gasoline siphoned from Mark’s gas tank. Mark disarms Frost and demands to know where Demetri is. Frost yells that he told Charlie all of the information Mark needs. “We are running out of time!” Mark pleads with Frost, not wanting to deal with the lunatic’s games any longer. “The whole world is running out of time!” Frost retorts. Mark demands again to know where Demetri is, but he is distracted by a glint on the horizon. Frost sees it too, but it is too late. A shot rings out and slams into Frost’s chest. Alda, the gunman, hops on her motorcycle and speeds away. As Frost begins to fade, Mark demands to know more answers. Where is Demetri? When will be the next blackout? All Frost can answer is, “I did what I did for a reason,” before he expires. Mark looks in Frost’s bag for any clues as to where Demetri might be held. He pulls a number of photos and schematics from the bag, recognizing each one from the office board in his flash. Finding nothing immediately useful, he goes back to the car and its GPS system. Mark calls up the recent destinations, and sees one that reminds him of something: an address on Ingres Street. Ingres was the painter of the Oedipus painting Frost gave Charlie. Mark reenters the address and speeds off.

With four minutes remaining, Mark arrives at the address on Ingres St. When he finally gets cell phone service, he calls FBI headquarters, he informs Janis and Wedeck where he is, but that there are a number of warehouses and he doesn’t know which contains Demetri. They relay to him (thanks to Zoey who is at the FBI), that he should find Building 7. With Janis’ help on the satellite image, Mark finds his partner. Demetri quickly tells him about the trap’s mechanisms. Mark pus his finger between the trigger and the firing mechanism, and grips the gun with the other hand to try to move it’s aim. Both men note their situation. Mark says, “My hand. My gun. Just like Nhadra said.” With the clock winding down, Mark desperately tries to figure out a solution. Demetri tells him, that no matter how the situation turns out, “No regrets, Mark.” Mark remembers what Frost said, that he gave Charlie all the information he needs to free Demetri. Noticing the red and blue wires, Mark thinks of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Mark decides to remove the red wire, and then the blue wire. Having done so, he can now move the gun without setting it off automatically. With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Mark slowly raises the gun. The laser sight moves up Demetri’s chest to his forehead. 3…2…1…BANG, BANG, BANG!! The mechanism pushed Mark’s fingers into the trigger, firing the gun. Fortunately, the three shots narrowly passed over Demetri’s head, hitting a picture of Demetri on Frost’s diagram. The men joke to release the tension, but figure Demetri might still be in danger if he gets out of the chair. Mark tells him to stay low as he quickly pulls Demetri from the chair. When he does, water sprinklers open on the diagram, washing it all away.

Olivia and Vreede make their way to a neurologist’s office (it’s Elvin from The Cosby Show!). They found the doctor’s address book amongst the victim’s belongings. The doctor explains that it had been stolen from him. Vreede asks if the doctor knows of any patient that may have been the culprit. Unfortunately, he honestly can’t think of anyone. Outside the neurologist’s office, Vreede and Olivia stand in line from a coffee cart. When Olivia goes to order, a slightly disheveled man spits out Olivia’s order before she does. His name is Gabriel, and he tells her that what he just ordered her is what she orders all the time. Olivia replies that she’s never been to that coffee cart before. Gabriel says that she’s been in that line before, and that he’s been behind her…in that line…on that day…many times before. He continues, saying he was part of the Raven River experiments, and that it was his friend that texted her. Gabriel leaves, shouting to Olivia, “Dominoes are falling, Olivia,” leaving her in stunned silence.

The FBI is in Frost’s warehouse collecting evidence. With Demetri embracing Zoey, Janis makes her way to the wall. She asks what was on it. Mark explains Frost’s “garden of forking paths,” concluding that all of the paths led to one point at the top of the wall: the date December 12, 2016, simply marked “The End.”


Well, OK! Now that was a great episode of FlashForward! The plot moved quickly, there was some great action, a jail escape, the death of a major player (Frost), some snappy dialogue, and very little Bryce or Nicole (I kid, I kid). This is the type of episode that should have been the hallmark of the series in the fall. While it was light on character development — which has been one of the major improvements of the series’ spring return — the speed at which the episode moved was an effective substitute. Further, there were really only two plots during the episode: Mark/Demetri/Frost and Olivia/Vreede. Yes, there was the Zoey/Alda “C” Story, but this was really a subset of the Mark/Demtri story. having a tighter focus allowed the episode to freely move between the two stories without losing momentum in either. When there are three, four or five plots that need to be serviced in an hour, there can literally be 30 to 35 minutes in between a given character’s scenes. It becomes impossible to remember what the heck was going on, and really breaks the episode into much smaller, non-integrated parts. This was the first time in a long time that I couldn’t believe an hour of FF had flown by. I, honestly, can’t speak any higher for the tone and flow of this episode.

As far as what specifically happened in the episode, as almost all FF viewers believed, Demetri survived. There was just no way they were going to kill John Cho off. Although the outcome was predictable, I enjoyed the manner in which the outcome was arrived. Yes, the Saw deathtrap was a bit silly, but I liked the way Mark was forced into the exact situation (his hand on his gun, pointing at Demetri) he and Demetri most feared. I also loved the fact that the sprinklers washed away Frost’s “garden” when Demetri came off the chair. Nice idea and great execution. Lastly, I really enjoyed the introduction of some not-too-distant doomsday. The creators of the series said that they had six or seven seasons planned in advance, and this was evidence to support that claim. Unfortunately, most of the rumors swirling around the show speak to the series’ imminent demise, but if they have another few episodes this season that are like this week’s, they just might earn themselves a reprieve and a renewal for Season Two.

So, what did you think about “The Garden of Forking Paths”? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Did you miss Nicole, Lloyd or Simon? Are you glad Demetri is safe? What do you think will happen on December 12, 2016? Drop your questions, comments and theories below. Be sure to check out for promos and photos for next week’s episode of FlashForward, and all of your television needs. I will see you next week for another recap. Until then, I’m off to make sure my work isn’t sloppy.



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