FlashForward Episode 01-17: The Garden of Forking Paths

It’s March 15!  Demetri’s death date.

Demetri ‘s hooked up to some sort of electrical device with Mark’s gun pointing straight at his heart.  It appears to be one of those one-false-move kind of deals.   The surrounding wall is full of connecting dots (literally) of dates and events all leading up to the date in question.

At the FBI, Charlie’s undergoing questioning by Janis and both of her parents about the man she met at the carnival.  He was tall, but beyond that, she doesn’t remember. Stan thinks she’s doing well, and encourages her to close her eyes to try to remember more.  She remembers that he knew her name, but she didn’t know who he was.  Charlie told him that she’s not supposed to talk to strangers, but he works with her Daddy.  Therefore, not a stranger.  They talk about Dr. Seuss books.  Frost likes One Fish, Two Fish,  Red Fish, Blue Fish, but Charlie prefers “Horton.”  Then Frost gives Charlie a picture to give to Mark and leaves.  The photograph is a Renaissance-era painting with a note on the back that basically tells Mark that if he wants Dem back, he’ll be at Union Station at noon on the 15th.  Charlie and Live start to head out, but Stan stops them.  He’s got this jar of jellybeans, and he needs help finishing them.  It gives Liv and Mark a chance to talk.  Mark thinks Charlie needs therapy, but Liv thinks that all she needs is stability and to know that scary men aren’t delivering messages to her dad.

Zoey goes to visit Alda in jail.  She tells her that it’s March 15, and Dem is missing.  Zoey wants to know everything.  Right then.  They made a deal, and it’s time for Alda to pay up on it.  Alda wants a hearing first.  Zoey applied for a hearing a month ago, but it hasn’t come through.  There’s no way they can get a hearing for that day.  Alda tells her that  Zoey’d better get one if she wants to know what Alda knows about Demetri.

The team’s preparing for Mark to meet Frost.  Vreede’s pulled the information on the painting.  It’s “Oedipus and the Sphinx,” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (actually painted in 1808, it’s French Neoclassicism).  Mark wonders aloud if Frost is trying to tell them something with the painting.  It’s Frost…so I’m guessing that’s a big fat yes.  Mark thinks so too, and if you remember the story of Oedipus, he tried so hard to escape his fate that he ended up bringing it to light anyway.  Self-fulfilling prophecy and all that.  Janis surmises that by trying not to get shot on March 15, Dem just walked into Frost’s trap.  Vreede wants to know how, with that in mind, they’re going to avoid sealing his fate.  Mark doesn’t, but he promised Demetri he wasn’t going to die that day.  He intends to keep his promise.

Six months before the blackout, Alda and the  blonde guy from the basement adventure with Lloyd and Simon (Hellinger) meet with Frost.  Frost has set up a Domino obstacle course which the two are meant to avoid as soon as they walk in the door.  Hellinger introduces Alda and Frost.  Hellinger wants to know if they’re on schedule.  Frost assures him that October 6 is still in play. As soon as Lloyd and Simon find their dark matter, it’s lights out for the world.  Hellinger wants to know if the QED is ready.  The first one is, but the rest will take a little time.  He opens a box and pulls out the first of the rings.  There are microcircuits in there that appear to be the reason that Simon, wearing the ring, was able to stay awake during the blackout.  Frost kicks them out, but Alda wants to know what the deal is with the dominos.  They’re Frost’s garden, he tells them; the white ones chart the path of his escape.  It doesn’t make sense to Alda, but Frost assures her that if she lived in his head, it would.  Then, he knocks them down.

Back in his chair, Dem tries moving.  Sure enough, the Rubicon device kicks in and threatens him with a shot straight to the heart.  He backs off, and so does the mousetrap.  He starts looking around for another way, but then Frost comes in and reminds him not to do it.  He points to the mural on the wall.  He calls it “The Garden of Fourteen Paths.”  All of the line are futures that branch off of each critical decision Frost makes.  It started in the 1980s at a place called Raven River. They engineered hundreds of flash forwards and saw hundreds of different futures.  According to Frost, March 15 is the most important fork of all.  It’s “our murder” day.  In 78% of the futures Frost sees, he doesn’t live past the 15th either.  In most of them, Demetri ends up killing him.  The point is, once the future is seen, it wants to come true.  If they want to escape it, they have to do something drastic.  Demetri wants to know why there’s a death trap.  Couldn’t Frost just kill him and get it over with?  Frost is allowing for the future as close as it was predicted (Mark’s gun) while still allowing for the possibility that both of them might actually live.  Demetri is Frost’s insurance policy.  Dem thinks Frost is insane; Frost points out that most Oracles are. 

At the train station, Janis and another agent have Mark under surveillance as he waits for Frost.  No sign yet, but Janis assures Stan that they’re being discrete.  A white male in an Army jacket approaches Mark, but passes him without incident.

At the hospital, Bryce and Liv finish a surgery.  She asks about the anesthesia used and about an old version.  The anesthesiologist tells her that the one she was asking about is pretty much limited to the third world now.  As Bryce and Liv scrub out, she tells him that Lloyd thinks the old med has something to do with the blackout.  Bryce is just surprised she’s talking to Lloyd again.

Zoey and Alda get a same-day hearing because Zoey claimed Alda had appendicitis.  Zoey reminds her that she could get disbarred for this, so Alda better appreciate it.  Stay quiet and follow Zoey’s lead. Alda promises she’ll be good.

Liv’s in her office when Vreede comes in.  He wants to talk about the homeless guy killed in the shelter with Mark’s gun.  Vreede found a cell phone amongst his possession.  There was a text sent to Liv’s number in October with “sensitive” contents.  Liv remembers the message: it was the one she received about Mark drinking in his FF.  Vreede asks her to step down to the morgue and take a look at the body. She goes to change.

An African-American child approaches Mark at the station.  A weird guy gave him $50 to give Mark the Superman backpack that he now hands over.  Mark opens the backpack and finds a Polaroid of Dem and a ringing cell phone.  Frost is on the other end.  He tells Mark not to speak, that he’s got Demetri, and that he wants to come in.  The only problem is, he’s parted ways with his associates, and they’ll do anything to prevent Frost from speaking to the FBI.  Frost gives Mark a series of directions which the rest of the team can’t hear.  He also tells Mark to set his watch.  From that moment, Dem has four hours and 23 minutes left to live.

Mark takes off to fulfill Frost’s instructions for the face to face meeting.  Janis takes off in hot pursuit, but Mark escapes and starts driving north.  Stan demands to know what’s going on, and all Janis can say is, “He’s running.”

At Alda’s hearing, Zoey asks for a cat scan on Alda’s appendix.  Her motion is denied, and the judge threatens sanctions if Zoey brings another frivolous motion into the courtroom.  Alda tells Zoey that in her FF, she heard that Dem’s body was found in “Building 7.”  Zoey wants to know what that means.  Alda doesn’t know, but Zoey’ll figure it out . Right now, she’s got somewhere else she needs to be. With that, the window washer blows out the window and Alda escapes.

Mark’s in his Zoom car, speeding north.  There’s just over two hours left.  He gets out and starts walking towards the mountains.  He has to go for a mile, and he’ll find the next marker.

Liv and Vreede look at the body.  There’s no distinguishing factors on him – even his fingerprints have been removed.  Still, his hippocampus is huge.  The coroner and Liv surmise that he could have been some sort of savant.  She hasn’t seen him, either.  Vreede asks her to take a look at the contents of the man’s personal effects.  Maybe there’s something in the address book.  Liv says she wants to help, but she’s not connected to the man.  Vreede assures her that she is.

About forty-five minutes later, Mark’s coming up on his marker.  Now, I’m sure that the business suit and bad shoes are a little responsible for a slow time, but that’s just about a forty-five minute mile.  I could run three in that time, and I’m slower than a turtle and don’t have someone I love like a brother’s life dependent on my success.  Then again, we learned in the first episode that Mark’s pretty slow (remember, Bryce made it from the Santa Monica pier faster than Mark made two miles on foot).  I guess the moral of the story is, Mark’s not the person you want on any sort of relay team.

Instead of a marker, Frost himself appears.  He’s carrying a gun, which he points at Mark’s heart.  Frost stalls for time.  Mark tells Frost about the mole, but Mark’s not safe at all.  Frost gives him a set of handcuffs and tells Mark to put them on.  Mark takes a sip of water first, spits it in Frost’s face, and wrestles him to the ground.  Turns out Mark did make one pit stop before walking all that way: he went back and siphoned some gas from the tank.  No more games, where is Dem?  Frost just whines that it’s not the way things were supposed to turn out.

Zoey’s at the FBI giving Stan and Janis what she knows.  Building 7, and Alda’s gone.  Janis runs Building 7s, and Stan plans to sweep every building until they find him.

Frost claims that Charlie has all the answers.  Mark starts walking a now-handcuffed Frost across the desert, but then they both see a motorbike.  Mark promises that no one followed him, but then a shot rings out.  It’s Alda.  She waits long enough to see the bullet hit Frost, and says “Not today, Mark,” before taking off again.  As Frost dies, Mark begs for information.  He doesn’t get it.   Then, he opens Frost’s satchel and finds several of the items from his wall ‘o fun.  He takes them and runs for the car.

Much more quickly, he reaches the car.  Dem’s not in there, but Frost’s GPS unit is. He finds an entry for 423 Ingres.  Between the time and the painter, it has to be the place.  Mark has 42 minutes left.  He guns it out of the canyon.

Back at the hospital, Vreede and Liv interview the neurosurgeon whose address book was found amongst the victim’s possessions.  It’s Geoffrey Evans, Elvin from The Cosby Show.  Doctor Ebbing also looks at the morgue photo but claims to not recognize the victim.  He wonders what a trauma surgeon is doing in neurosurgery.  Liv tells him she’s branching out.

With four minutes to spare, Mark reaches the warehouses at 423 Ingres.  He busts through the gate, grabs a gun, and runs into the building.  He gets a signal and calls Stan.  They send him to building seven, but none of the buildings have numbers.  Janis realizes they’re numbered on the roof and sends Mark to building seven.  He finds Dem and tries to move the gun.  They both realize that it’s just like Nahdra said.

Then Mark sees the wires.  They’re red and blue.  He starts repeating “One Fish Two Fish,” and wonders if that means he should pull the wires in that order.  Dem reminds him that whichever way it goes, there are no regrets.  With thirty seconds to spare, Mark tries pulling the wires.    He starts to disengage and it goes off just above Dem’s head.  All three bullets lodge into the wall behind him.  Mark notices the garden of forking paths, but when he helps Dem out of his chair, the sprinklers go off and the entire thing melts away.

Liv and Vreede are at a coffee cart. She’s about to order when a man named Gabriel blurts out her order.  He claims to have stood behind her in the line many times, and she always orders the same way.  It’s her first time visiting the cart, but Gabriel insists that he’s stood behind her in THIS line on THIS day many, many times.  Vreede and Liv start to walk away, but Gabriel mentions the Raven River experiments and the text message.  His friend died.  Vreede wants him to come with them, but Gabriel walks away screaming that “The dominos are falling, Olivia!”

Dem and Zoey have a nice reunion at the warehouse.  Janis asks about the board, and Mark tells her that it was the break they could have used.  He remembers a few of the dates, but one in particular stood out: December 12, 2016.  After that date, all it said was “The End.”

As Stan himself asked, “The end of what?”