Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
“The Gift” marked, I hope, a real transition point for our team of protagonists. Because we got to see Al as not only sympathetic, but close to well-rounded; his sacrifice, I feel resonated for the viewers. More on this later. Meanwhile, this episode provided another glimpse into why the death of our alleged lead protagonist, Mark, would *not*.
The big problem with Mark is this: until he wore that Police shirt under his jacket, I had no idea the guy *liked* anything. We’re told he loves his wife, but the chemistry between them hasn’t ever been there, even in the “good times.” Until this week, he didn’t crack one joke (compared to Demetri, who’s been at least able to pull off the facade of joviality at times). Like I said last week, he’s a melodramatic character in an action-oriented series. (Another symptom of forcing melodrama where it doesn’t belong: The “pensive” little music videos that seem to close every episode. This week it might have stirred genuine emotion, had we not had to deal with one for most of the season.) I also don’t think Mark is as engaging to the “casual” fan as the showrunners may want to believe. If Brannon Braga and Co. aren’t careful, they might have another Claire Bennet on their hands. Now, to the week’s big topics:
As intense as the final sequence with Al was, I’m disappointed that Dem didn’t get to ask: Hey, what if Celia gets killed by somebody else? Wouldn’t that still make her flash forward come true? Nontheless, I’m sorry to see him go.
Mahsino: While I did scream “f-ck this noise” at the screen, I love how Al was/is technically the one that proves that the flash forwards aren’t set in stone and that he was able to actually make a change. That being said, why couldn’t Mark be the one to take one for the team? I think he knew the risk that Celia might die, but at least he wouldn’t have to live with the guilt. (And I can’t be the only one that wished they would’ve closed the show with Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia“, seeing as they have a propensity for inappropriately-placed music).
Andrea: ::side-eyes Mahsino:: What struck me is that this is a Black man who committed suicide–a statistic that is rarely discussed within and outside Black communities, though, thankfully, that silence is starting to crack. At the same time, what deeply disturbs me is Al sacrificed his life for a narrative, whether to prove or disprove it. Again, the death of a character of color furthers a plot.
Diana: I was mad. I was already vested in Al and really wasn’t ready to see him go. The writers did have to address whether the flash forwards were set in stone to allow the story to go forward, but I didn’t want to see a POC be a casualty. We’ll see if this becomes a pattern. I’m willing to continue watching for now.
jen*: Yes, you can change things. But you don’t have to *die* to do it. Al struck me as smarter than that. Maybe it was too difficult to live with the guilt, but I’m sure gonna miss him. I suppose I knew something was gonna happen when I saw his name listed as a ‘guest star’ in the opening credits, but wow. All that to convince people not to roll over and take it? I’m ticked that it had to be him – there are SO many superfluous characters that could’ve gone instead.
Earlier in the episode, though, we got to see Al engage in some welcome jocularity with Mark and Dem. Though the three of them are the worst undercover ops I’ve ever seen; why would you discuss clues in front of a potential witness (even if she was sympathetic and “goth-hot”).
Mahsino: I feel like they’re so used to aimlessly chasing and shooting at people that they forgot how to do real sleuthing.
Diana: I thought it was funny that Demetri called Mark on his Police t-shirt. You’re right, they’re not prime-time sleuths. They’re better when they are questioning odd balls, following weird clues, posturing in gun battles, and visiting dark warehouses with doll heads.
jen*: What did they do before the FF? Mark’s wife can still do surgery – why can’t they do their FBI thing? I actually wish they’d let Mr. Blue Hands get to whatever he was going to get to, cuz they didn’t have much to go on in the beginning. And of course, he’s not gonna talk. Eh.
Speaking of the undercover raid, I’m disappointed that in this case, the writers gave in to some pre-conceived notions, namely, that the Ghosts would listen to generic “Goth” music and do naughty things to each other. It might’ve been more clever to show the Blue Hand Group go out in a more “civilized” fashion. Oh well, at least the Kangaroo isn’t mixed up with this crowd, right?
Mahsino: So, how long ago were the blackouts supposed to have happened again? I ask, because that’s a pretty quick turnaround time to develop a bonafide cult- that has a fully stocked bar no less.
Andrea: This whole sequence caused me to roll my eye with the oh-so-supposed-to-shock Goth-y BDSM-y silliness until I saw the folks cloaked Abu Ghraib-style. Then that whole scene went from silly to just side-eyeingly stupid because, as Fiqah would say, that image was shown all willy-nilly. But, as Mollena said about the Ciara/Justin Timberlake video, BDSM, especially race play, can be a visually easy cheat for shock value.
Diana: And the whole scene still didn’t explain the room full of bodies laid out and why they’re left for anyone to find. Really, there’s no need to have a rave (or open bar) to off yourself. jen*: Al gave me the impression that it was more likely that the Blue Hand people were a mix of abyss-seers and FF-havers. But I am surprised that it supposedly caters to just the Goth-iest folks.
Where does Demetri go from here?
Mahsino: Well, if his wife-elect has anything to say about it, he’s going to get his ass back to bed and stick with her plan. His death will not ruin her big day, dammit!
Andrea: If I was Demetri, I’d ask Zoey the most obvious: “I’m really glad you ‘knew’ it was me, but did you actually see me in your flashforward?” Her stubborn magical thinking doesn’t negate the possibility that he could still die. Already she’s a bridezilla. SMH
Diana: I am glad he finally told her, though. If I were them, I would go ahead and run down to the courthouse to get married and live for the moment, just in case.
jen*: Second that, Diana. What’s so hard about being honest? But also, isn’t Zoey a lawyer? She’s gotta be smart enough to realize that not *actually* seeing Demetri is a red flag.
Mahsino: So, back to Al, how did someone who looked like that get to be so lonely? He was nice, attractive, and had a good gov’t job with benefits? Side-eye on that one.
Andrea: Quite easily, Mahsino. I had a step-cousin, a Black man who had a good career in the military, was beloved by family and friends, and was good-looking, too. He committed suicide and, if I recall correctly, he left no explanation. It happens.
Diana: And he could cook too. Sad. As for the expanding cast, I was glad to see the MI-6 agent. I always liked her on ER.
Arturo: I totally fell for her during her guest-spot on Doctor Who last year. Her character was actually cool enough to make you believe she could be the Doctor’s wife.
Mahsino: I understand how it happens in real life, but in the land of Flash Forward, and TV in general,I question how it’s justifiable that the nice guy kills himself, but the douche-bag alcoholic who’s meh-looking at best gets a loving and devoted wife and family.
Andrea: But that’s just it, Mahsino: suicide is one of life’s verities, both in real life and on TV. It’s not about who “justified” in killing themselves and who’s not. Again, it happens.
Diana: Andrea and Mahsino, I’m deliberately trying not to get too heavy. I like my fantasy and sci-fi somewhat pop light. I get where you’re both coming from. We can’t see the inner workings of people who, from the outside, seem to have it all together, but still choose suicide as the path of least resistance. If they are going to go there, I would like to see a discussion on how selfish a choice suicide can be. Yes, Al seemingly did this for selfless reasons, to save another life and save himself from the guilt, but where is his family in all this and how do they cope with being left behind? Was there an alternative that was less extreme? He could have stopped driving for the six months or stayed in his apartment. His suicide might just be laziness on the part of the writers.
Andrea: I understand where you’re coming from, Diana, but the writers killed off a sci-fi character in a real, heavy, and all too-human way instead of, say, a pop-light incineration in a teleporter. Al’s suicide–as well as the suicide cult–bring up the magnitude of the human cost–selfish, selfless, and/or otherwise–of what Olivia’s future lover and the Hobbit did. Now, I’m going to cut the creative a little–like a hair’s breath of slack–because they may chronicle the toll Al’s death has on his family and friends. However, if the FF creatives want to keep it light, then they’d better ask Jeff Goldblum where he keeps his machine.
Arturo: My guess is, we’ll see the most – if any – toll of this on Demetri, since Al did this, in part, to show him he could change the game.
jen*: Hum. I’m sad about Al, because I would rather have seen more about him than this old guy with the long-lost daughter. But I was kinda weirded out that the doctor-boy seemed to think that kanji was the name of that specific character that the babysitter showed him. (Yeah, I don’t know anybody’s names.) Interesting that he’s looking for his Japanese dream-girl.
Mahsino: That reminds me- the vaguely, possibly, maybe “traditional” Japanese music they felt obligated to play when they mentioned Japan. Eye roll.