FlashForward Season 1, Episode 8 Instant Replay: "Playing Cards With Coyote" - Featured

It hurts me to say this, but I was incredibly disappointed with this episode.

There were a precious few moments that I genuinely enjoyed (and, more importantly, approved of from an analytical standpoint), but otherwise the whole of "Playing Cards With Coyote" ranged from painfully overworked to horrible cliched.

I'll start with the parts that I did actually like. The short scenes with Simon in the hospital were a good deal of fun - breaking creeper mode to entertain Dylan Simcoe, and then readopting it for a marvelously chilling argument for determinism. Dominic Monaghan is a talented dude and Jack Davenport is an excellent counterpoint to him.

The other part of the episode that worked for me was the development of the Aaron and Tracy plotline. I wasn't sure exactly how the writers were going to connect these two to the larger plot arc effectively - I was honestly starting to worry that the Mark-Aaron friendship would be the tenuous whole of it. But FlashForward has outsmarted and impressed me (again). Tracy's connection to this Jericho group (more on that in a moment) is all sorts of intriguing and crafty, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing how it all pans out. Further kudos to this plotline: Aaron and Tracy had the most genuine and least borderline-pretentious heart-to-heart about the in/fallibility of the future per flashforwards to date.

And speaking of the in/fallibility of the future, it is now time to address the reasons why "Playing Cards With Coyote" is probably my least favorite episode thus far.

The personal journey of Al Gough in last week's "The Gift" was beautiful and well-crafted. In contrast, I found the fallout of his actions poorly executed and ultimately rather disrespectful of one of the most inventive plot twists (and also one of the most personable characters) on the show so far. The opening montage was labored and it was lame. It covered the necessary points - the widespreading possibility that the future is not set in stone and the subsequent hope people have - , but there was absolutely no finesse and opportunities for some bonafide emotional moments were abandoned in favor of the bad kind of melodrama.

The occasional cheese-fluff I can handle. What really DEEPLY bothered me about this episode was the complete lack of originality in the wannabe plot twists. There were two extreme cliches played out in this episode. Both of them had some minor redeeming factors, but mostly they were just painful to watch.

First: tattoo guy. I mean really. Was the existence of an entire cohort of three-star tattooed ex-military guys supposed to be a revelation? That was approx the greatest "Wow, REALLY?" moment of all time. This whole bit was partly redeemed by the introduction of the rings and the not-quite-hinted-at possibility that this could be the elusive Jericho group. From a purely critical-thinking point of view, putting breakthroughs on tattoo guy and the Suspect Zero video in the same quarter of an episode was maybe a bit too clean-cut for a show supposedly interested in creating suspense and conspiracy. But I'm not going to complain, because at least we are finally starting to get somewhere.

Where we are not making progress is on the Simon and Simcoe front. A glance or two at the email Lloyd sent gave us a few names to keep in mind for future episodes, which is good. But any value that might have had as a gesture of good faith for our patience was basically annihilated by that frickin' poker game. SERIOUSLY, FlashForward? A POKER game? That by itself was a tired, bad move. But then they stretched it out over the entire episode. So unnecessary. No amount of suspenseful music or high stakes was going to make this game interesting. I didn't know it was going to be Lloyd who won at the outset; but if anyone didn't see that straight flush coming once all of the table cards were revealed in the last hand, they ought to be embarrassed.

The only minimal credit I can give to this portion of the episode is the subtle but growing possibility that Simon may be cast as the major creeper, but Lloyd seems to be the one with a real taste for gray-area villainy.

So yeah. Pretty disappointed with this episode. The content definitely was not a match for the admittedly awesome title. And, once again, NO DEVELOPMENT ON SIMON TO SPEAK OF. I am seriously getting desperate here. To the point where I'm not even going to bother to hope FlashForward will throw me a bone next week.

I am looking forward to it, though. If only because I really need to have my faith in FlashForward renewed.

(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)




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Nov 13, 2009 8:26PM EST

i actually liked parts that you hated, the cliches and predictability (apart from tattoo man) were entertaining, the poker game was bound to rule in favor of simcoe.
what i dont like is that lloyd simcoe who promised to stay away from olivia STILL decides to talk to her. keep your word man!
second thing i didnt like was tattoo man. mark thinks he is safe because he killed "the" man with the tattoos on his arm. however it was clear from the photos from the phone that the BALD man had the tattoos on his arm, so killing mr gray hair does not as mak believes get rid of him before he gets mark. these are supposed to be FBI agents and yet they are being so stupid?
i liked the fact that among the names in the emails one was to "Jake" who if any of you have read the book is a red head.
who is myhills? this is my big question. - the big determinist vs free will poker game while entertaining did confuse me a bit because in the book it is actually lloyd who believes that there is no free will. he believes in an immutable future (unchanging future).
now that we know the future can be changed there is hope for Dmitri, but this also means that everything is uncertain. the people are no longer prophets of what will, but what could happen.


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Nov 13, 2009 10:58PM EST

I have to admit that last week's episode kind of got my hopes up . . . and this week's made me feel like a bit of an idiot for letting that happen. The tattoo guy "revelation" was insulting and it felt a little like there could have been an interesting episode that could have aired between this one and the last one, instead of the lame "we have free will" character montage that felt a little like a "previously on" summary -- are the writers really *that* lazy?

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Nov 15, 2009 6:51AM EST

Yeah, I did not like how they did this episode. The whole tattoo guy thing was so predictably laughable, for one, the picture he put on the wall of the tattoo was not the tattoo picture from his flashforward, so it was obvious from the start that was not going to be the only one. Also, the three star tattoo was such an obvious group tattoo design of a unit or military outfit that it is not even a little realistic to think that they would not question whether he was the only one with it, they are supposed to be FBI so it is safe to assume they would be smart enough to ask that question, not just say alright we got him now we can move on.
The card playing between simon and simcoe was such a cliche dramatic theme used over and over again, not to mention the fact that simcoe would be smart enough to know simon isnt going to listen to the outcome, so the whole activity was just an unnecessary waste of time that got no one anywhere.
The one thing I was actually happy about was when Penny(Lost) got the lingere from Alpert(Lost) that she actually throws it away. I was watching this episode saying to myself, "just throw it away, then everything changes," so I am glad she did, but the writers have to be careful here, they definitely need to take a page from Lost's playbook and make sure they are aware of what they are causing by these actions. The whole butterfly effect of space time means that because she threw that away, her flashforward can not happen like she saw it, that simple act completely changes everything for her, unless she somehow gets it back, the flashforward she had where she is wearing it can not happen. When they make these moves to change things, the writers have to take into account how everything changes or the whole plot becomes impossible(obviously the plot is impossible, but based on the world they created in this show and the rules they have set up for it, the plot would not be possible in their Flashforward universe)

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