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FlashForward‘s Lack of Logic

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Do you ever sit down and watch a TV show week after week thinking to yourself "no… really… this time it'll be good.  I know it, I just know it – this time they'll figure it out and it will be everything I ever wanted in a TV show."  There are a bunch of shows that I feel that way about, a bunch of shows that I watch week in and week out and stick with due to their potential.  FlashForward is one of those shows.

I think that if they tried, they really could create a mostly believable plot – and really believable if you accepted the pretend science that they've come up with – they just don't seem to want to bother with working things out piece by piece.  They don't seem to want to think logically about what's going on.  This week they gave us a couple of great examples of that.

The first of these was actually at the top of the show.  This week's episode started with a flashback to three years ago.  In the flashback Mark had recently Photo Credit:  ABC/Eric McCandless been shot and was at Olivia's hospital having just finished being treated for the injury.  Olivia came in, talked to him, and he promised to put his family before his job… always.  When the show then cut to the present, Mark was moving out of his home, at least temporarily separating from Olivia.

FlashForward has failed to provide any reasonable explanation for this separation.  Instead, we have two main bits of information, neither of which – even combined – adds up to Mark and Olivia separating.  First, we have the fact that last week Olivia suggested that she and Mark move away so as to keep the family safe and Mark declined, something about saving the entire world being more important.  Okay, fair enough, Mark broke his promise, but he is trying to save the world, doesn't that count for anything?  Is Olivia really going to leave him because he's decided that trying to save humanity as a whole?  I don't see that.

The other bit of information that might argue for their separation not coming out of the blue?  Well, that's the fact that in their future flashes, Olivia and Lloyd were together in bed, Mark had been left by the wayside.  Frankly, I think that's a weaker reason than the first one for them to separate.  Mark and Olivia already know that the flashes aren't written in stone, that their future can be changed.  If you really and truly love someone are you going to break up because someone says "gee, one day you may actually be broken up?"  I can't imagine that.  I'll give you that the flashes are more definite than a random person on the street coming up to you and suggesting you're going to break up, I still don't buy that rational people would end their marriage because of a flash.

The other major bit of the story that didn't make any sense last night was Mark and Demetri traveling at all possible speed to San Francisco to interview a guy who played chess over 20 years ago with one of the bad guys, Dyson Frost.  Mark told Vogel that the guy in S.F. was their best lead in the case.  That is to say that despite the fact that Mark, Demetri, and everyone else on the taskforce has been working on the flash and who caused it for months, their best lead in the whole case is a guy who was an opponent of the bad guy over two decades ago and whom they have no proof ever met the bad guy after that.  What about all those other leads they have gotten during the case?  Why do they have to go to San Francisco to meet this guy instead of calling him on the phone?  What makes them think he'll know anything whatsoever?

The answer to those questions and why Mark and Olivia split is the same – it was required to advance the plot in the way the producers wanted to advance the plot.  See, if Mark picks up a phone to call the chess guy, the mole in his office won't have time to send someone to shoot the chess guy.  If the chess guy lived then the producers wouldn't be able to spend the rest of the episode working out who the mole was which is what they wanted to do in the first place.  Mark and Olivia have to separate because they're separated in the flash, not because of how their characters feel, but because if they don't separate the producers can't have Lloyd end up with Olivia and have the flash come closer to being true.  The moment of the flash is the climax of the season, the story has to eventually arrive at that point – it's inevitable within our world that the gunfight at the FBI office will happen, it's not inevitable within Mark's.   Consequently, Mark and Olivia have to split, even if it doesn't make sense in terms of what's happening to the characters (and it doesn't).

There had to have been ways for the producers to both smoke out the mole and separate Mark and Olivia that would have been within the natural course of events within the tale.  They haven't gone that route though, instead they've chosen the easiest possible way to get to their endgame, whether or not it makes any logical sense.  And, in this case, it doesn't make any sense.

Every week on FlashForward tends to proceed in the same manner.  To use chess terminology (which the producers seem fond of) – the show seems to be pushing pieces around the board in order to arrive at a checkmate (the climax), but the manner in which they move the pieces violate all the rules of chess. 

How are we not expected to be upset by that (even if Seth MacFarlane was on again)?

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • http://www.mathstatsanswers.com Jim Shilleto

    I agree. It is more acceptable when the mechanism behind the system is not dealt with (as in “Groundhog Day”). It is quite unacceptable when the rules of logic are bent as desired for the presumed plot development.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Thanks Jim, I was worried I was the only one who felt this way!

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Considering Jim is just hawking a service with his URL like so many in the recent wave of spammenters, you still may be the only one

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com Josh Lasser

    Even spammenters can have real opinions.

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