Diamond In The Rough?: The Racialicious Roundtable For FlashForward 1.14

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García


Even excluding the episode’s surprisingly good ending, “Better Angels” shouldn’t have worked: an ad-hoc team journeys into Hollywood Somalia looking for a plot device? Forget Red Panda; this had Red Flag written all over it.

Case in point: Abdi, the unfriendly neighborhood warlord of the (fake) Somalian village where Dyson Frost/D. Gibbons and company beta-tested the GBO. All the signals were there for the character to become a caricature: blind religious faith; a flashforward that fed further delusions of grandeur; and seemingly the itchiest trigger-finger this side of Yosemite Sam.

Fortunately, writers Scott M. Gimple and Ian Goldberg took care to give Abdi not only a backstory, but a sense of hurt to balance out his more venomous traits, and even more fortunately, Owiso Odera was able to fashion a performance that actually generated some emotion. I actually felt sad when Vogel gunned him down. Let’s see what the Roundtable thought:

Andrea: *Sigh* I thought Odera did a good job in a bad role, namely playing a “Somali warlord.” Of course, “Somalia” is stereotyped as only a war-torn place full of superstitious people with delusions of grandeur. Whether it’s ruling with the gun or the olive branch, they will be great with the CIA’s help. Of course, the CIA will shoot that notion down–in Abdi’s case, literally.
Diana: Meh. I didn’t really like the whole black on black violence vibe.
jen*: Um … yeah. I was definitely sad to see him die. I wasn’t super-thrilled with Janis’ convenient savior moments, but the story moved along well enough that I didn’t have to dwell on it. Come to think of it, I was actually a little pissed that Abdi was killed like that.
Mahsino: They really took that to an unfortunate place. I dunno, I feel they could’ve gone someplace really great with that and just phoned it in once they realized how much work it would be to create a whole subplot around helping Abdi achieve his destiny.

vogel1Speaking of Vogel, I guess it’s official – he’s a villain. But possibly not an outright bastard, since he didn’t seem especially pleased when telling Simon about his FF.
Andrea: Honestly, he just needs to go back to cutting hair.
Diana: No, he just needs to take his shirt off and not say a word. Yummy!
jen*: I’m not seeing anything to round out his character. He could do more than this, and I suppose it’s a guest spot so I shouldn’t expect more, but…come on. Vogel = bad guy. I get it.
Mahsino: jen*, maybe it would help if we could see him outside of his job. He’s the least developed character in this show and it feels like they’re just relying on tired villain stereotypes – right down to the goatee.

Sorry, Andrea, but we’ve gotta ask. Demetri/Janis? Yeah, this is gonna go well.
Andrea: Okay, I’m going to try to be levelheaded about this … I dig that Demetri’s is getting into eff-it-all mode because he knows he’s going to die and is probably feeling the need to leave a piece of himself for posterity. I get that. But being Janis’ baby daddy is just all sorts of facepalm, especially since he’s not involving the woman he’s planning to marry in the decision. That’s not “taking one for the team”; that’s cheating, pure and simple. (And that line about “making her gayer”? Just. No.) I do wonder if Demetri’s feeling his thang because he’s still mad at Zoey for disrespecting him at his workplace and wants to passive-aggressively get back at her. And I hope Janis isn’t feeling her thang to the point she accepts his offer. What I’m hoping–reeeeaaaaally hoping–is Demetri survives this and talks to Zoey about siring Janis’ baby. Good lawd, I hope.
Diana: WTF?!!!! Eff being levelheaded. That was wrong. Oh Hell Naw! If he wants to procreate, he needs to do the deed with Zoey. It’s not as if he and Janis were about to die right then and there and were never going back home. They weren’t the last two people on earth with the future of humanity resting with Janis’s womb. Nien, Nien, Nien! New prediction–Zoey is going to use Mark’s gun to kill Demetri for this nonsense.
Arturo: Naaah, it’s gonna be Vogel.
cho1Andrea: See, Diana? My being levelheaded was my way of “taking one for the team,” with far less harmful results. Demetri needs to take lessons from me. Preferably naked.
Diana: Andrea–ditto on the naked part. Ooh La La!
jen*: I could get down with nekkid Dem, most definitely. As long as he’s not nekkid with Janis. I was frankly skeeved out by his offer, although if it is passive-aggressive as Andrea said, at least I can understand it a lil bit better. But what? really? Janis?? It’s cheating, plain and simple, and Not Cool. I think maybe we were supposed to take this as some kind of Special Moment, but I didn’t get that at all. And cosign on the “make you gayer’ line, Andrea, SMH.
Mahsino: Honestly, I’m pretty cool with the idea of Dem being Janis’ baby-daddy, considering who the alternatives could have been. There was a moment there, I thought they were going to go completely out there and have her kid sired by Abdi, so I’m kind of cool with this.

Speaking of Dem, the final scene was the first one all season to make me say “oh sh-t!” the way Heroes used to. No, but seriously, what the hell?
Andrea: I’m still “oh sh-tting” and can’t even comprehend that scene. I’m just hoping that Demetri and Janis didn’t have sex before he went into that room. If the first shot of Janis in next week’s show is of her with some glow, I am going to chuck being levelheaded.
Diana: I was still on the floor trying to recover from the Janis/Demetri hook-up? But I do remember thinking that the white suit D. Gibbons was wearing was more 1983 than 1991.
Arturo: Any guy with the name “Dyson” is probably the type to want to keep the Don Johnson school of fashion sense going.
Diana: Arturo, I was thinking Miami Vice when I said that. LOL
jen*: This is the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for – something to really turn everything upside down and not be all about the Benfords. I am all in for Demitri’s story even if he does cheat [although I’ll be pissed, cuz wth?]. But how is D. Gibbons having flash-forwards far enough in advance to record this stuff? I dunno if FF will be able to keep the show awesome long enough to explain all these twists.
Mahsino: I distinctly remember yelling “ohshit” at the ending. That plot twist was enough for me to actually make a note to watch it on Thursday instead of online.

Open Mic!
Andrea: Demetri and Janis, keep it in your pants, kthanks! Beyond that, is it me or does it seem that the flashforwards just seem to be “inevitable” only for the main characters and “game-changing” with minor characters, mostly because they’re dying? FF’s creatives really can’t seem to figure out a position regarding the fate/choice debate and I’m tiring of it.
Diana: Also, there are just too many characters and no storyline is moving along in a way that makes sense. Oh, and why did Abid El-Khalif have a Muslim name but was putting biblical references on the structure in the desert? — In particular the mark of the beast? This show is turning into a hodge podge of hot steaming crap.
Arturo: I believe that was explained as being from the Quran, but you’re right – seeing the numbers up there did worry me for a second (which is no accident, I’m sure.) Here’s what struck me the most about the whole trip to Africa: really, they didn’t think to bring two POC as their back-up/Redshirts?
Andrea: Enough PoCs get killed off on TV shows in the “minor character” roles.
jen*: Even though I mostly ffwd through Benford drama, I would love it if they would *actually* move to Colorado. It could work. They could change their flashforward, and the writers could throw us a bone and change Demitri’s flashforward as well. Also – I’m getting lost on the time – when is it, right now? How far away is D-Day? Demitri’s supposed to die in the beginning of March so, I’m just trying to get my bearings…
Mahsino: I just want Bryce to die already so the candy striper doesn’t have anyone to talk to and we can forget about her.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

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