Monday, 5 October 2009

Flash Back To Flash Forward

More Flash Forward spoilers, my friends.

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The second episode went some way to allaying my fears, in that it managed to maintain interest in the investigation of the flashback, and found another couple of ways to play with the idea, without introducing new craziness (though Mr Dolls-And-Chess' pointless cryptic-ness and convenient desire to destroy useless evidence is the kind of non-revealing reveal that is liable to get old fast). It did raise a few questions, though.

  1. Is the chance that the phenomenon was natural really 1 in 3600? I'm not sure it was. At the very least, you could make the same argument had the phenomenon started at half past eleven, which would make it 1 in 1800. Throw in quarter past and quarter to, and you reach 1 in 900. The start of any five minute interval would get you to 1 in 300. I'm not saying I find the overall conclusion invalid, but it's always worth noting that these kinds of arguments are based in which events we do or don't find remarkable after the fact [1], and those are always dangerous;
  2. If you are determined to ensure your flash forward never comes true, would you really burn the friendship band your loving daughter gave you? You couldn't rearrange your evidence wall a little? Maybe throw out the shirt you wearing? Much as I hate to admit it, this is definitely a point in favour of Chemie's "Benford is a tosser" theory;
  3. While on the subject of people acting like tossers, Olivia might try to object over her husband punishing her for an affair she has yet to have, but I noticed a distinct lack on her part to perform the (presumably very complex) process of walking away as promised. If she really loved her husband, she would have called Jack Davenport a fucker and kicked him in the crotch. Or chopped off one of his fingers. He had all his fingers in her flash, time to sort that out. She's a surgeon, surely she knows how to do it so it can't be re-attached;
  4. I know we already pretty much know the truth on this, but is it really particularly likely that people don't already know whether a lack of a flash means the viewer was asleep? Why not just ask the populations of the countries who were fast asleep in bed when the flash happened? The flash was to 6am in the UK, you could check up pretty quickly whether no-one over here was logging onto Mosaic, or if all the flashes were about starring in a West End musical without knowing any of the lines and then turning out to be naked.

[1] Consider Yahtzee. If you ever rolled five 6's in a row you might say "Wow! Look at that! That's amazing! What are the odds?" Well, the odds of that combination are 1 in 7776, but that's not the point. The odds of getting 1,3,6,2,6,2 are 1 in 7776 too, (at least it is if you consider that combination to be different to 1,6,2,2,6,3 etc.), the relevant question is what are the odds of getting that combination or another one equally impressive. This leads immediately into the question of what counts as equally impressive? All five numbers the same? That's you down to 1 in 1296 already. All five numbers the same or all five different? 121 in 1296. I think about these things a lot.

6 comments:

Tomsk said...

I was disappointed by episode 2. It looks like it's turning into a standard police procedural (albeit with a sci-fi twist), and a pretty silly one at that if we're going to have to suffer any more cupcake makers. I don't mind a show along those lines in principle but the marketers have done it no favours by comparing it to the far more ambitious Lost.

I'll eat my words when the smoke monster turns up, of course.

I'm not sure Olivia would be wise to take the extreme action you suggest, although it would certainly be interesting to see how she gets busted out of jail by March. Her storyline looks like it's going to be the classic self-fulfilling prophesy, i.e. Mark's increasingly unreasonable behaviour will be what drives her into the arms of the other man. It'll be interesting to see how they're going to wriggle out of all the circular logic (or if they're even going to bother).

Here's a teaser for you along the same lines as point one. My Bulgarian co-worker told me that their lottery has come up with the same set of 6 numbers two draws in a row. Full details here.

Which begs the question - given no other knowledge about the draw, can we make any judgement about the likelihood that it was fixed?

SpaceSquid said...

I take the point, but I can live with it for now. Certainly they've managed to keep me interested by deepening the mystery without piling on loads of new crazy. Cake woman didn't bother me on her own, though I agree that it would be unfortunate if she represented the start of a trend.

I can't believe that all the visions would come true; it's simply too ludicrous to assume that no-one will be able to deliberately change their circumstances to avoid what's coming (and in more severe ways than burning a bracelet). It seems unbelievable that of the billions of people who saw visions, no-one saw something so heinous that they didn't take major steps, up to and including suicide. As you say, the Benford story has a nice self-fulfilling nature to it, but that surely cannot be true of everyone. On top of all of that you have the question of why no-one apparently had a vision of themselves recognising the moment from their vision. Even Benford didn't seem to have that, and he was looking at his wall of evidence about the flash. Though I guess you could argue that he was deliberately attempting to take in as much as he could, so that his past self would see it in his future flash to that present. Or something.

Chemie said...

Benford has not got himself off the Chemie naughty list. In fact he has done nothing as yet to change my opinion of him.

I think chopping Davenport's fingers off or mutilating him in some way to prevent the future is an excellent idea. Although in her flashforward she could have been dreaming....(Which I suspect is how all investigations will be twisting about)

More to my annoyance has been (as you said) complete inability to assess what blank visions mean. Surely you could just ask the people in the countries who were asleep what they saw? Or the people unconscious in hospitals? Or all the people with terminal cancer or people who are very very old?

Also, this worldwide disaster seems to be cleaned up pretty quick. Sure the military are about, but where are the news vans chalking up the death toll, the fund raisers, the homeless people, the results of very important people dying at inopportune times? Surely many industries have ground to a halt. Were no diplomatic incidents kicked off? They cleared those roads fast. How is the food getting to the shops? Or petrol to the gas stations? Why are they using hospital beds in the halls but there are empty rooms to do teddy surgery? If admissions are only now levelling off, why is a doctor taking the time to sit around at home? Why aren't more people going survivalist crazy? Where is the obligatory end-of-the-world-is-nigh placard carrying man? Why hasn't the stock market crashed in expectation of the insurance payouts - or at least the sniff of a chance that people will get insurance payouts? They had a brilliant background to play all this stuff out on - and they are, just like Lost totally forgetting about it

Tomsk said...

I agree with all that right up to making a similar accusation about Lost. The only real background to the opening of Lost in your sense is how they found food and water, both of which were dealt with in more or less interesting ways. There's no massive world-shattering backdrop to depict the way there is in Flash Forward.

Chemie said...

I was (tenuously) tying it to one of my major problems with Lost concerning the other passengers. All of whom seem quite happy to sit on a beach and let the main characters run off, become armed, keep secrets and stir up trouble. The awesome scenes with Arzt went some way to addressing it, but not far enough. Its a real problem I have with shows that completely forget that their main characters live in a world with other people in it. At least mentioning them adds realism with minimal cost to the plot/drama.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Yey I am now caught up! (Got day off work today).

I would agree that the big disaster got cleaned up very very fast. I would have thought all the hospitals at the very least would have been overloaded as hell with people.

I also agree that clearly all the visions can't come true (although as a show it serves a purpose to maintain the belief that they will as long as possible), as it is just far too easy to do something that would change something simply for the purpose of changing it. I think the burning of the friendship bracelet was a very lame way of doing that (she's just going to make you another one), how about telling the photo guy to delete that first shot and take the picture of the doll from a different angle - bit more likely to work. Or if we want to get extreme, worried about going to be dead guy could take and his side arm and just put two in the head of going to be pregnant lady... Of course that might be considered a tad cruel...

Bit of a mixed bag of opinion so far - Good concept - Didn't go very far with it second episode. Will wait and see.

Anyone betting 137 seconds will be the half life to some form of Unobtainium?