FlashForward: “Gimme Some Truth”


“Gimme Some Truth”
ABC, Thursday, 8
Teleplay by Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin
Story by Barbara Nance
Directed by Bobby Roth

I don’t know if it was supposed to be ironic, or just lazy, that this episode of FlashForward is a flashback. All I know is that, for me, it didn’t work. It was boring. Where the heck is the science fiction in this science fiction show?

The Flashforward investigative team is called to Capitol Hill to answer some questions from unusually savvy Senators. They ask all the questions we’ve been asking since Week One, questions the producers should have asked themselves well before Week One. Such as, why is this investigation being handled like a criminal case, by a law enforcement agency with limited scientific expertise? Why is the lead investigator appointed to his position merely because he says he saw himself leading the investigation in April (with no corroborating witnesses, mind you)? Since Mark has not revealed to very many people that he was drunk during his flashforward, he can’t tell Senator Clemente (Barbara Williams) why his memories of the future are so hazy.

Frankly, if he was that drunk, he should not be heading this investigation. He eventually tells Wedeck, after Wedeck has played his one and only trump card, that he was drunk at the time of his vision. Staggered, Wedeck has a brief existential struggle with himself—and then carries on per usual. Why on earth is he keeping Mark on the case, if he is now revealed as the quintessential untrustworthy witness? But this is hardly Wedeck’s first strategic gaffe—I was stunned that he traded such powerful ammunition as the President’s mistress/love child for such relatively small potatoes as continued funding. It hardly inspires any confidence in either the government or the FBI in this case, to know that its involvement in this flawed investigation is based on chicanery, bribery, corruption, and misplaced trust.

Not that these are the only trust issues. Olivia Benford persists in telling Mark that her vision will never, ever come true, ’cause she’s just not the kind of girl to be cheating on her husband. Yet she immediately believes the anonymous message that tells her (in that same future she is denying) Mark will have fallen off the wagon and is drinking again. If she really doesn’t believe the future will happen as shown, why is she worried? And if she’s worried, doesn’t that make her something of a hypocrite? I can’t like a character who won’t own her own responses. Like Mark, her persistent denial of the future she saw undermines her credibility as a character, and hampers her ability to deal with it. This is especially disastrous in the Mark Benford character, whose credibility is absolutely shredded in this episode.

Is anyone actually trying to solve this mystery? The FBI team found pylons in Somalia, but nobody thinks to check the Mosaic website to see if anyone saw them in their flashforward, and what they were doing. Fully half of the episode is wasted on a romance subplot which is about as unromantic as a detergent commercial; spicing it up by making it a lesbian romance does not make it any less dull. Especially when Janis, the lesbian in question, is offended by her lover looking up her contribution on the Mosaic site. Why on earth would Janis have any expectation of privacy, after posting anything anywhere on the web about her flashforward? If she’s really that naïve, they need to take away her gun and badge. In short, this episode relied heavily on “relationship” issues, and came up short on all points. No real character development, and no forward progress on solving the central question (no surprise, since no one seems to actually be investigating it). Remind me again why I am watching this?

It’s certainly not for the acting. Courtney B. Vance is overplaying every scene; he practically fainted dead away during the committee hearings. Fiennes—well, I don’t know if he’s incapable of bringing life to the role, or is struggling with a seriously underwritten part. Either way, he’s boring. Enough with the glare, already. Barbara Williams sneered her way through a few cheesy scenes, leaving Peter Coyote, the only grownup in the room, to carry every scene he was in. The best part of the whole evening turned out to be John Cho’s turn at the karaoke machine. Otherwise, there is too much talking and too little science fiction in this show. Car chases and explosions are a dime a dozen on cop dramas; how about another replay of the Flashforward, like last week’s? If we can’t go forward, maybe we should go backward. Again.

FlashForward garnered 9.7 million viewers, placing third in its timeslot behind Survivor and a baseball playoff game. That translates to a 9 share, with a 3.0 in the 19-49 demo. These are almost the same as last week’s final numbers; the show’s audience is flat for now. Pretty much like the plots.