Recap – FlashForward 1.18 “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Did you miss last week’s rather excellent episode of FlashForward, “The Garden of Forking Paths?” If so, read a recap here.

This week’s episode begins with Janis, speaking in a voiceover over a scene of FBI agents running the six-mile obstacle course “Yellow Brick Road,” describing how she joined the FBI. She never intended to join the FBI; she was a lawyer who hated her life. She wanted to do something patriotic. A friend, Demetri, got her to apply to eh Bureau, and she loved every second of it. She was not doing something that mattered. It is revealed that Janis is speaking two years before the blackout, to a woman named Leda, a headhunter. Janis tells her that she’s not looking to quit the FBI, which she just joined. Leda tells her that she has an opportunity for Janis, and doesn’t want her to quit. Rather, Leda’s offer would be more like multitasking.

Cut to today, the FBI agents are reviewing the blueprints and other papers Frost was carrying when he was killed. Mark repeats Frost’s final words, “In the end, you will be saved by the lady you see every day.” Vogel expresses his skepticism at the whole mission: their primary suspect in the blackout, Frost, is dead, and Alda, a known terrorist, has escaped. Further, anything Frost said should b dismissed because he was crazy. “He may have been crazy,” Mark counters, getting up in Vogel’s face, “but he was always truthful.” “Dial back the testosterone,” Wedeck warns, trying to cool the agents down.

Olivia is at home, preparing to leave for the hospital. Gabriel is waiting for her in her kitchen, and scares her with ramblings about The Pixies. He tells Olivia that he was there, with her at the Pixies concert she attended during law school, and at Scott’s wedding. Olivia warns him that there is an FBI agent outside the house that she is going to call if he doesn’t leave. Gabriel tells her that Lloyd is her husband(!). Finally, as she threatens again to call the FBI agent in, he begs her to not get coffee from the man who looks like Mr. Clean. With that, he leaves. Meanwhile, Janis is at her obstetrician, who tells Janis that she is worried about Janis’ baby. Janis is anemic, so the doctor would like her to see a specialist. Janis begrudgingly agrees to see the specialist. On her way to the hospital, Olivia calls Mark to tell him about Gabriel. She assures him that she and Charlie (who was already at school) are OK. Olivia pulls up to the hospital but sees a crash scene. A teenager crashed his car through the coffee stand. Amongst the rubble is a bald man who resembles Mr. Clean.

A year before the blackout, Janis enters a pet store. She asks the store manager, Carleen, for Red Dragon Flowerhorns. Carleen begins to pull out fishbowls, rocks and other fish accoutrement. Janis is confused; she wonders why she needs all this fish equipment. “If you’re going to be coming in here every couple weeks, you’re going to need an excuse,” Carleen, the contact for Leda’s “opportunity,” tells Janis. Carleen explains that she is to continue to do her job at the FBI, and report back to Carleen at the pet store periodically. Back in today, Janis informs Mark that analysis of the photos Frost had with him are from the early Twentieth Century. Further, there are two sets of fingerprints on them: Frost’s and Alda’s. Alda was nowhere near Frost when she killed him, so she must have touched the photos at some earlier date. Lastly, there was soil indigenous to the Kunar Province of Afghanistan on the photos, as well. Mark is left questioning what Frost would have been doing in Afghanistan.

Speaking of Afghanistan, Aaron sits in an Afghan bar, sipping a drink when he is approached by a man. The man explains he is Wedeck’s contact, and that they must leave immediately as Aaron, despite his local dress, doesn’t blend into his surroundings as well as he thinks he does. Back in L.A., Janis takes Frost’s blueprints to a professor of antiquities, Prof. Corrie. Corrie likens the object detailed in the blueprints to the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient Greek calculator of sorts, used to determine eclipses. Though likely a similar-type calculator, Corrie cant figure out what the object in the blueprints is designed to calculate. He will keep a copy of the blueprints to make a more detailed determination. Janis leaves the professor’s office and goes to the pet store. She gives Carleen a copy of the blueprints, but Carleen wants to know how many other copies there are. Janis explains that she gave a copy to the professor, and there is a copy attached to Mark’s Mosaic board. Carleen orders Janis to retrieve both sets immediately. So, Janis returns to Corrie’s office in the dead of night. She breaks into his office, grabs the blueprints and installs a device into the wall socket. As she leaves the building, she presses a button an a remote that fires the device and knocks out all of the power in the building. Janis then goes to Mark’s office. She removes the blueprints form Mark’s board, but when she turns around, Mark is standing there. He wants to know what she is doing. Janis explains that she screwed up: the professor called her saying that he misplaced the original blueprints she gave to him, and needed another copy. She knows she shouldn’t have given Corrie the originals, but she just messed up. Mark wonders how she got into his office, to which she replies that she used his passcode. When did he give her his passcode? She answers that when he was in D.C., he called her to ask her to get the Gaier file from his office, and he gave her the passcode then. Mark seems to be warily satisfied, and warns her that this was a rookie mistake. As she is dismissed, she hands over the copy she took from the board.

Olivia, at home with Charlie, pulls out her old photo albums. She searches through them, stopping on a picture from Scott’s wedding. Sure enough, the waiter in the picture is Gabriel. She hurriedly flips to a picture from the Pixies concert. Gabriel is there, too! The next morning, Olivia takes the pictures to Vreede. He explains that he’s been looking into Raven River, as the name turned up in Mark’s side of the case as well. He’s found a couple Raven Rivers” one in Illinois, Wisconsin, and an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Arizona. The hospital is notable because it was the first to treat autistic patients. If they treated autism, what about savants, Olivia wonders. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Aaron shows the contact a photo of Tracy. The contact asks how Aaron knows she is alive. Aaron just knows; “I saw it,” he explains. In Aaron’s flash, he also saw a man named Khamir Dejan, a doctor who will lead Aaron to Tracy. The contact asks how they will find Khamir. Aaron shows the contact a symbol from his flash. The contact recognizes it as the symbol for Eyes on the Mountain, a medical non-governmental organization working in he country. They are located in the mountains, so that is where they will head.

Janis sees the neonatal specialist, and has an ultrasound done. The baby’s heartbeat and blood-flow are good, but the doctor is concerned with the baby’s abdominal girth. Janis needs to get more sleep, and must reduce her stress, lest she lose the pregnancy. Janis returns to the FBI office, only to find Professor Corrie in Mark’s office. It seems the professor has some interesting information. The electricity in the building failed, and all of the computer hard drives were wiped out overnight. Moreover, the blueprints were stolen from his office. Fortunately, he had taken pictures of the blueprints on his camera phone. From the calculations and renderings he conducted, he determined that the planned device is designed to calculate dates. So far, the only date he can determine is October 6, 2009, the date of the blackout.

Janis thinks back to that day. She received the call form Mark that he and Demetri were pursuing a blonde terrorist. Wedeck ordered Janis to run the photos of who would turn out to be Alda Herzog through forensics. On her way to the department, the blackout hit, flashing Janis to her doctor’s appointment. She is told in her flash that there is a problem with a bleed, but that the baby should be alright. When Janis wakes from the blackout, she is dazed. She stares out the window at the carnage wreaked below her. She vomits in the bathroom, and collapses, crying over what occurred. Janis rushes to the pet store, and tells Carleen that she wants to get out of the conspiracy. She did not sign up for killing millions of people, including her friends and coworkers. Carleen matter-of-factly tells Janis that she can’t get out, she’s in too deep. Besides, Carleen can’t make that decision anyway, Janis would have to talk to the “man in charge,” and she will never get that opportunity. Obviously losing this battle, Janis storms out.

Back in the present, Mark finds Janis in the office. He asks her what is up with her lately; she hasn’t been herself lately. Janis confesses that she is pregnant. Mark offers his congratulations. “Your flash forward is coming true,” he says with a hint of dread about the meaning of flashes coming true to his own life. She continues, telling Mark that there was a question about the health of the baby, and that’s why she has lost her edge. Everything is fine, though, so she wants Mark to know that he can count on her. He assures Janis that he has never doubted her. They move on, trying to review everything they know about Frost. Mark repeats Frost’s final words. Janis says the meaning is obvious: clearly, Janis is going to save Mark’s ass. Mark laughs, but wonders if maybe it is Olivia that will save him. They also remember that Frost was an expert chess player. Chess. Something dawns on Mark. He moves to the Mosaic board, and takes down the Queen chess piece. Noting that the Queen is also called “the Lady,” he contemplates the figure. Grabbing a paperweight, Mark smashes the Queen. Amongst the resulting pieces, Mark finds an Alpha Ring, like the one given to Simon, Suspect Zero, the day of the blackout.

In Afghanistan, the contact drives Aaron toward the mountains under the cover of night. When they round a corner, they are met by an armed group. Aaron wonders if they are Taliban, but the contact doesn’t know. Before they figure it out, the group fires on the truck, killing the contact. Aaron jumps out and seeks protection behind the truck. As the armed men advance on Aaron’s position, an opposing group of armed men jump out and kill the men who fired on Aaron. Aaron is led from his position of safety by this new group. Once out in the open he sees a familiar face. It is Khamir. Aaron asks how Khamir found him. “You don’t blend as well as you think,” Khamir replies with a smile.

Olivia and Vreede arrive at the abandoned and boarded up Raven River hospital. Once inside, they split up. Olivia finds some files, but is startled when she sees Gabriel, who tells her that she’s not going to find for that which she is searching. Hearing the commotion, Vreede runs to Olivia. Olivia asks Gabriel how he knew about the accident at the coffee stand. Gabriel begins rambling about how he saw the accident before. He’s also seen Olivia and Lloyd, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Gabriel then walks away into another room. “This is where they did it,” he tells Olivia and Vreede. He explains that this room was where experiments were conducted on he and other patients. He remembers being strapped down, seizing, with electrodes attached to his head (this is the flash from the title card for the episode), and eventually falling unconscious. Gabriel points to a corner, “That’s is where he watches.” Vreede tells him that Frost was the doctor who conducted the experiments. Gabriel says Frost told them that they were special because they could remember the future. He continues, saying that Frost told his cohorts that the patients were to be killed after all of their flashes could be extracted. Vreede tells Gabriel that Frost can’t hurt him anymore because Frost is dead. Gabriel smiles at the news. Olivia asks Gabriel why he’s been following her all these years. He tells her that she’s going the “wrong way.” That every time he saw a flash during the experiments, he saw Olivia, and that she was always married to Lloyd. Harvard was a fork in the road, and she took the wrong path by not going to Harvard and marrying Mark. Gabriel ends his ramblings by telling Olivia that she is necessary — the puzzle can’t be solved without her.

At L.A. FBI headquarters, Lloyd and Simon have been brought in to speak to Mark, Janis, Wedeck and Vogel. Mark shows them the ring, and explains how it matches the one Suspect Zero was wearing. Simon betrays nothing as he rises with the “revelation” that the ring is a QED: Quantum Entanglement Device. Lloyd notes that this is what he and Mark are talking about in their flashes. He continues, surmising that the ring allows the wearer’s mind to remain anchored in this consciousness and time when the blackout happens. Mark deduces that maybe the men he saw in his flash aren’t coming for him, but rather, the ring. A look of concern quickly passes across Janis’ face, and it is noticed by Vogel.

Two years before the blackout, Janis enters a restaurant. She makes her way to the back and sees Vogel sitting alone at a table. Vogel introduces himself and congratulates her on graduating from FBI training at Quantico earlier in the day. He is meeting with her regarding a special assignment. He’s not with the FBI, but rather the CIA. The Bureau and Agency have never really seen eye to eye, so an attempt is being made to rectify that problem. The CIA has looked into the files of the twenty recent FBI graduates most-likely to flip to the other side for the right price. As Janis is financially strapped, gay and facing other difficulties, she is the most likely target. Janis immediately assures him that she loves her country and would never betray the Bureau or her fellow agents. Vogel knows, the Agency did their due diligence. The CIA believes something big is about to go down, so they need a “dangle,” an agent that can be held out to the bad guys for recruitment. They need someone on the inside, and Vogel would like to know if Janis would be that double agent (really, a triple agent, as no one on the FBI would know she’s a double agent). He warns her that the assignment won’t be easy. She’ll be in constant danger, will have to lie to her friends and colleagues, and will likely be asked to do something completely against her nature. “Are you capable of that?” Vogel asks.

In the present, Janis enters the pet store. She tells Carleen about the ring. Carleen informs her that she’ll have to get it. Janis is incredulous; the ring is being held in a top security, underground vault in FBI headquarters. Carleen remind Janis that she has failed twice (not following Mark to find Frost, and not securing the blueprints), and she doesn’t want to fail again. Janis will secure the ring. Janis turns to leave, but Carleen stops her at the door. “Oh, and we’ll need you to kill Mark Benford.”

Commentary

Coming off perhaps the best episode after the pilot last week, FlashForward was still firing on all cylinders. This week’s episode was fast-paced, had a couple great reveals, and gave us the long-anticipated (at least by me!) backstory of Janis. Yes, like the Bryce/Nicole story, I could do without Aaron’s plot, as it distracts from the more compelling mystery surrounding the blackout. At least some crumbs of a connection between the two plots were laid down by introducing the fact that Frost’s photos had traces of Afghan soil on them. Regardless, the rest of the episode was so strong that the brief detours to see what Aaron was doing were inoffensive.

As was suspected when we first learned that Janis was a double agent, she is really a triple agent (I told you pregnant women can’t be bad guys!). Although it could have been really hokey, this reveal was handled quite well. Not only did this story deepen our understanding of Janis and her motivations, it shone a big light onto the previously obscured man that is Vogel. Knowing that he is working with Janis to bring down the blackout conspirators, Vogel’s future where he is telling someone that Mark is dead becomes all that more compelling. Is he saying that knowing it will be leaked to Carleen and the conspirators through Janis, and in the process, hiding the fact that Mark isn’t dead? I’ve enjoyed the mystery surrounding Vogel, and this reveal only makes that mystery grow in a very positive way.

I also enjoyed the bit of comedy that was shining through here. Vreede was the proprietor of most of it. Namely, his comment about the condition/scariness of the abandoned hospital, and his playful flashing of the flashlight at Olivia were a couple well-needed lighthearted moments. The series has been so intense since its return that it can very much afford a comedic moment here and there (like Wedeck with Charlie and the jelly beans last week) to give the audience a chance to catch its breath. All in all, I thought this was a pretty good episode, and definitely one in the direction the series should be moving (especially if we never see Bryce, Nicole or Keiko, and maybe even Aaron and Tracy, ever again). My only regret is that this episode fell on April 29th, the day of the blackout; however, due to the show’s spring premiere getting pushed back two weeks, the flashes did not occur in this episode. Oh well. I look forward to when they do happen in a couple weeks.

What did you all think of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”? Did you enjoy the episode as much as I did? What did you think about the reveal of “Janis as triple agent?” Are you worried about her baby? Are you enjoying Gabriel, or just finding him annoying? How do you think Olivia is central to solving he puzzle? Drop your questions, comments and theories below. Be sure to check out TVOvermind for any news about FlashForward and all of your TV needs. I will be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to get full on popcorn.

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3 Comments

  1. Tom April 30, 2010
  2. mikenjd April 30, 2010
  3. leeaundra April 30, 2010

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