It’s the question to begin all other questions that FlashForward has us thinking about: “What did you see?" Surgical intern Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton) answers: “Everyone saw something different. For me, it was something positive. For others, maybe it was something bad." As a FlashForward viewer, what I saw was very good. I saw a drama, new to ABC Thursday, poised to engage its audience on multiple levels from its beginning action-packed criminal investigation through the progression of cleverly crafted character stories to its culmination in raising
thought-provoking existential questions. Returning to the words of Varley, “The test of who we are now is what we choose to do with
what we’ve seen.” Will we allow ourselves to be merely entertained, or
will we embrace the life-changing potential of FlashForward’s subtext?
From the standpoint of pure entertainment, the plot and characters of FlashForward offer more than enough to keep viewers coming back each week.
So far we’ve seen an apparently orchestrated two-minute global blackout
during which people saw a glimpse of their lives five months into the
future. In the wake of worldwide devastation
caused by the blackout, a team of Los Angeles-based FBI agents take on
the task of investigating the blackout—discovering how, why and by
whom it was carried out—in order to prevent similar events and
devastation from recurring. Meanwhile, each team member is dealing with
the fallout of visions seen during the blackout in his or her personal
both significant and insignificant aspects of their blackout glimpses
become part of their current realities, each character is forced to
consider the possibility that
the entire glimpse may inevitably come true. This possibility leaves
the characters shaken, the viewers intrigued and both unsure of what
they should expect. Will Mark (Joseph Fiennes) and Olivia’s (Sonya Walger) family survive? Will Demetri (John Cho) find a way to escape
impending death? Will Aaron (Brian F. O’Byrne) find his daughter alive
after all? And who is the father of Janis’ (Christine Woods) future
unborn child anyway?
We can reasonably expect answers to all of these questions as the show progresses, but the deeper questions of human existence FlashForwardraises are left for us to grapple with in our own heads and hearts as we watch. We are left to decide for ourselves if it is really a gift for finite
human beings to know the details of their future in light of the
emotional turmoil it causes for the show’s characters. As we watch FlashForward’s characters wrestle with the perceived inevitability of their blackout visions, we are asked to consider
whether we subscribe to a fatalistic view, believing that life happens
to us, or whether we shape our lives by the choices we make. Finally, FlashForward
offers us an opportunity to explore the power of hope in the human
spirit, whether shown in its presence or absence. Not to mention that
two episodes in, I believe I am entirely cured of any desire to know my
As crazy as it may sound, it took a television drama to burn the truth
of “each day has enough trouble of its own” into my brain.
FlashForward has been discussed as a potential alternative to fill the void for Lost viewers after that drama’s final season ends this spring. While I am fairly certain that diehard Lost fans will find it difficult to accept any replacement, I saw entertainment potential in FlashForward’s first preview commercials. In the first
two episodes, I saw deeper potential—potential to propel us forward on
a thoughtful journey toward spiritual transformation, if we are
willing. That’s what I saw. What did you see?