FlashForward: The Women


Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Season 1 Episode 17

It was a week for Janis and Aaron, mostly Janis, to shine, with a little side dish of Olivia and her new savant friend Gabriel thrown in. The upshot, and here’s a big spoiler — Janis is still a good guy, ladies and gentlemen. She remains the out, proud, kick-ass lesbian federal agent she always was, only now with this complicated backwards-double-agent thing going on. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Oh, and by the way, last night was April 29, 2010, when the blackout was supposed to happen. Guess we missed that meta art versus life moment.

“You made a mistake. You should have been with Lloyd.”
Olivia has given up the carnival beat in order to play a part-time FBI agent this week as she continues to help investigate the case of the dead savant dude who once texted her. Olivia’s being trailed — either in space, time, or both — by another savant, the guy who accosted her about her coffee order in the last episode, whose name we find out is Gabriel MacDowell. He scarily appears at Olivia’s breakfast table one morning and begins telling her a bunch of stuff about her past. (Note: Olivia is in the middle of telling someone on the phone that she’ll be at the hospital in ten minutes. Can anyone from L.A. please attest to the fact that it is against all laws of physics to arrive anywhere in L.A. from anywhere else within ten minutes?) He mentions a wedding, and a Pixies concert where he was standing right behind her and she was wearing a purple beret. We’re heartened to learn that Olivia was once a Pixies fan. Suffice it to say she’s freaked out. He tells her not to get coffee that day from “the guy who looks like Mr. Clean,” and lo and behold, Mr. Clean ends up run over by a car.

Skipping amusement-park rides for the first time in weeks, Olivia then travels to a creepy former psychiatric hospital in Arizona whose name you’ll recall from last week: Raven River. Agent Vreede, in his meatiest role to date (doesn’t this guy seem like he’s always sweating and out of breath?) accompanies her to wander around a completely unrealistically abandoned hospital in which there are scary dolls hanging from the ceiling and random, almost intact paper files lying around the hallways twenty years after the place shut down. Who shows up there, hundreds of miles from Olivia’s breakfast table? Gabriel, who then gives them both a tour of the facility and tells them what horrors he and many other savants went through, being tortured and forced to endure blackout after flash-forwarding blackout by the evil Dr. Frost. Why? Because they could remember the future so well.

He goes on to tell Olivia that she made a horrible choice dissing Harvard, going to Stanford, and marrying Mark. The future of the planet, apparently, rides on Olivia having sex with Lloyd and helping him solve the blackout puzzle.

“In the end you’ll be saved by the lady you see every day.”
Mark figures out that Frost’s final words to him (see the above quote) are chess-related, and refer to the queen chess piece he has in a baggie on his evidence board. He smashes it open, and inside is one of those blackout-blocking rings with an alpha on it, just like Suspect Zero (Simon) had in the stadium footage. They run a fancy scan on it, and Lloyd and Simon both come in to marvel at the device and explain that it’s a QED, “quantum entanglement device.” As Simon puts it, “Frost and his pals ramped up our accelerator to such extreme energies that it sent shockwaves through the consciousness field [Are you getting all this?] and jolted all of humanity’s awareness to a different place in space-time.” Right, and the ring is a magic shield. And somebody had better call China to manufacture a few billion of these by next week.

“You don’t blend in as well as you think.”
We’re going to give Aaron about as short shrift as he gets in this episode, despite the very important trip to Afghanistan that we’ve been waiting weeks for him to take: He lands in Kandahar, a guide named Malik whom Wedeck set him up with leads him south of town, despite all the obvious dangers of carting around some big, obvious American. They get ambushed. Malik gets killed. Aaron magically finds his handsome contact from his flash, a doctor named Khamir. He is saved.

“Man up, sweetheart.”
Janis goes to her gyn who tells her she’s anemic and could lose her baby. She gets an ultrasound and then gets told she needs to reduce stress and stay off her feet.

Then things get a little dicey as we start dealing with the contents of Dyson Frost’s man purse and how it relates to Janis’s secret history in the FBI. We see her in several flashbacks, first at Quantico running the “Yellow Brick Road,” which is some long obstacle course FBI agents run in their Basic Training Lite or whatever it is they do. Then we see her a few weeks after she’s hired in L.A. at what appears to be some sort of lipstick-lesbian whiskey lounge, where she gets hit on and recruited by a woman named Lita who gives her a come-hither stare and sells her on being a double agent. Who is she working for? We still can’t be sure, because her only point of contact in L.A. becomes a woman named Carlene who owns a pet store that specializes in fish. (Any connection to the Barstow pet store lady from episode eight who went into witness protection? Mistaken identity?)

Janis, in her role as double agent for the evil cabal whom even Agent Benford now refers to, in FBI lingo, as “the bad guys,” is told to steal back all copies of some blueprints they got from Frost, which date to 1900 or so, and which show some complex watch-gear thing that some professor compares to the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient calculator and calendar. What date does it always calculate? October 6, 2009.

Long story short, Janis is being forced to play both sides BECAUSE SHE’S SUCH A GREAT AGENT. In old-school FBI terms, she was an easy mark to become a double agent because she’s gay and has some financial trouble. But Agent Vogel from the CIA gets to her early, sees her potential and her incredible loyalty, and tells her that they need her as “a dangle” for these bad guys who are planning something that will “make 9/11 look like a fender bender.” The FBI basically tells her to agree to become a double agent and to follow these bad bitches wherever they may lead. This, of course, leaves Janis in the extremely awkward position of helping the blackout to happen, even though she’s on the side of the good guys — so much so that she pukes and goes running to the fish-store lady to tell her she wants out, but of course she’s “in too deep” and Carlene tells her, “Man up, sweetheart,” which makes us love her, too, even if she’s a villain. Cut to two years later, the present, and she tells Janis to stop fucking up. “Oh, and Janis, one more thing … we need you to kill Benford.”

Anyhow, such contradictions — like playing on the evil team in order to do good — are clearly what make Vogel the asshole that he is. It’s all for the good of the country, people.

FlashForward: The Women