On FlashForward, Mr. Clean Was Run Over By A Car

Demetri took a week off to celebrate being alive as Janis and her double-agent intrigue commandeered the plot. Also, "Don't buy coffee from the man who looks like Mr. Clean!" = the funniest dire warning in recent TV history.

The quality of this week's FlashForward - "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - is best personified by Gabriel McDow (a.k.a Jamie Callis a.k.a Baltar for Battlestar Galactica). On one hand, Gabriel - like the episode - was terrifically foreboding. Throughout the episode, Gabriel stalks Olivia, muttering strange warnings mixed with intimate details of her life. For example, he reveals that he tracked her to a Pixies concert when she was in medical school ("They closed with 'Wave of Mutilation!' "). Olivia is initially dubious of Gabriel but begins to pay attention after he warns her not to "buy coffee from the man who looks like Mr. Clean." And sure enough, on Olivia's way to work, Mr. Clean is mowed down by an SUV.


I know this was supposed to be a horrible revelation, but the idea of a corporate mascot like Mr. Clean getting hit by a car was morbidly giggle-worthy. It was like seeing the Jolly Green Giant get a face full of defoliant or something.

She looks through her photo albums, and - sure enough - Gabriel is there, photobombing the heck out of her memories! Olivia is sufficiently weirded out and goes with Vreede to the Raven River facility in Arizona. Gabriel suddenly appears and reveals himself to be a participant in Dyson Frost's experiments. Apparently the dead man formerly known as D. Gibbons was forcing savants with photographic memory to memorize details from their flashforwards, effectively turning them into human tape recorders. It's a creepy notion, using humans to harvest memories. Gabriel also reveals that he witnessed a future in which Olivia attended Harvard (and married Lloyd) instead of UCLA (and married Grumpy McFrownalot).

The other tidbits from this episode were also enjoyable ominous. We learn that the blueprints in Dyson's bag resemble the famed Antikythera Mechanism. (Dyson's mechanism points to October 6, 2009, duh-duh-duh!). Double agent Janis tries to steal copies of Frost's notes from the Mosaic board to bring to her handler, Carlene (a sassy, crimson-mopped fish store owner), but Janis is caught by Mark Benford. She yammers some excuse to Mark about losing the original plans, which she stole and passed on to Carlene. Mark buys it, the gullible goofus that he is.


We learn through extensive flashbacks that Janis has been working for the shadowy cabal for the last several years now. Of course, she's only doing it at Agent Vogel's behest. So essentially, Janis is a triple agent, reporting to Vogel at the end of the day. At the episode's cliffhanger, we'll see how far Janis' allegiances will go - Carlene commands her to "kill Benford." Is this how Vogel knew Mark Benford was dead in Charlie's flashforward?

Like Gabriel's warnings, the episode was enjoyably ominous. And like Gabriel's disjointed musings, the episode lacked overall coherence. The episode slalomed from Janis' flashbacks to Aaron in Afghanistan (he goes, his guide Malik dies, and he meets up with Khamir, the Afghan doctor from his flashforward) to Mark Benford's bolt-from-the-blue detective work (The QED is the magic ring, and it was hidden in a chess piece!) to Olivia's Gabriel foibles. These were all reasonably interesting events, but "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" lacked the singular focus of last episode's Demetri drama. The show needs more streamlined episodes and less of these everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approaches to storytelling.


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