'FlashForward' Episode 1.08: 'Playing Cards With Coyotes'

Episode Title: "Playing Cards with Coyote"

Written By: Marc Guggenheim & Barbara Nance

Synopsis: A break in the Mosaic case could offer Agent Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) the chance to catch a mysterious gunman and change the course of his own flash-forward. The enigmatic Simon (Dominic Monaghan), meanwhile, pays Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport) a visit, leading the two to a high-stakes game of cards. Elsewhere, Aaron Stark's (Brian F. O'Byrne) reunion with his long-missing daughter Tracy (Genevieve Cortese) offers a new conspiratorial angle.

Change You Can't Believe In: The suicide of Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) in last week's episode seems to have changed the landscape for the characters of "FlashForward." All of the sudden, everyone thinks that the future can be changed. While that's certainly true — Gough did have a flash-forward and his suicide effectively put the kibosh on that — it's dangerous to believe that everything about the future is suddenly cast in doubt. Which leads us to Exhibit B...

The Three Star Guy(s): Mark kills a masked gunman with three stars tattooed on his forearm, the very same tattoos seen on one of his would-be assassins in the future. With this guy dead, Mark is utterly convinced that he's changed the future — but as the episode's ending indicates, there are several men with the same exact tattoo. I don't need to point out that Mark's sudden belief that he changed the future is misplaced, but more than that, it's simply out of character. Mark has proven himself a sharp guy thus far — does he really believe that such a tattoo isn't the mark of a group of mercenaries, ala Coral Snake in season two of "24"? Maybe it's just me, but this felt like a sudden change in mentality for Mark.

The Purpose Of My Visit: Thankfully, this episode brought the conflict between Simon and Simcoe — two of the guys allegedly responsible for the blackout — back into the forefront. Unthankfully, we had to get their interaction by way of a ludicrous card game. How long were they playing for, anyway? Hours? Days? At least a day or two passed in this episode, but their game didn't stop until towards the end. That narrative inconsistency is bothersome to me, and I doubt I'm the only one who feels the same way.

We Shall Be As Gods: Still, credit where credit's due: the dynamic between Simon and Simcoe is glorious. These actors feed off each other quite well, but more importantly, the tension between Simon and Simcoe is so thick that you'd need an adamantium-laced knife to cut it. Simon may have lost the card game, but don't expect him to acquiesce to Simcoe's urges — my hunch is that the world won't find out about their culpability in the blackout for a good chunk of episodes, if ever.

The Walls Come Tumbling Down: The other major development in this episode is the introduction of Jericho, the outside contractors that ambushed Tracy Stark and left her for dead. Somehow, some way, these guys will tie into the blackout and the flash-forwards — my guess is that they're related to the three-star guys — but as I mentioned in this week's "V" recap, series regulars are rarely cast without a specific purpose. In the case of "FlashForward," Tracy's tie to Jericho is Aaron's reason for being on the show.

Best Quote: "Twenty million deaths on our shoulders — isn't that what you said? If that doesn't qualify us for godhood, then what does?" – Simon

Verdict: Tonight's "FlashForward" was an unbalanced affair with certain interesting components — the introduction of Jericho that may or may not involve the three-star guys, the pure evil that is Simon — but also some unbelievable leaps in logic, like Benford's sudden willingness to accept the future's malleability.

The Future: Dr. Bryce Varley (Zachary Knighton) pursues the woman of his dreams, while Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) chases down the killer of his nightmares.

What did you think of tonight's episode? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!