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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road injects a much needed dose of background information and subsequently delivers a slew of satisfying ‘oh, I see’ moments, that although overdue, are excellently explained and most importantly, quite believable.
Ever since Janice is revealed as the second FBI mole, I have been having trouble accepting her as a villain. One of my favorite characters, her behavior has always seemed to contradict the idea that she is a traitor. Her clearly genuine desire to fulfill her flashforward, does not implicate her as a character motivated by murderous ideology. This latest episode addresses these conflicts, comprehensively explaining how and why she is working for the mysterious organization that appear to be behind the infamous blackout.
I have often complained about previous episodes containing a distracted and confused narrative structure that jumps too frequently between the various characters and their contrasting stories. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road discards this method for a more focused look at a specific character; very similar to the format that Lost is produced in. Janice and her background provide the dominant story and through a series of Flashbacks, we are given a detailed insight into how she arrived in the schizophrenic position she currently finds herself in.
Pretty much every unanswered question I had surrounding her early days as an FBI agent and the foundation of her relationships to other prominent characters, are dealt with and by the end, I felt thoroughly satisfied with the explanation. It’s not an incredibly original series of events, but it makes sense and works well in the context of the show, linking up with another previously disjointed character, Marshall Vogel, whose presence, up until now, had seemed a little unnecessary.
Unfortunately, there are still some mildly disorientating cuts to seemingly irrelevant subplots, such as Aaron Stark’s search for his daughter. Aaron is now in Afghanistan and I did have a slight giggle at the ‘meanwhile in Helman’s Province’ type moments, which felt forced and were about as smooth as my Grandma’s thighs (something I‘m aware I really shouldn‘t be familiar with).
There are some hints at a link with this subplot and the main story and I’m sure the mercenary group Jericho will link up somewhere along the line, but as it stands, the connections are tenuous at best and I am simply not invested at all in his revenge/rescue mission. They need to move this along or leave it alone, as it currently only detracts from the Mosaic investigation, which is presently where all the mystery and intrigue resides.
The other major development revolves around the previously mentioned Savant, played quite brilliantly by James Callis (Gaius Baltar). He divulges a great deal of information to Olivia, explaining that her life is not the one his flashforwards as a child prophesied. The existence of early experiments conducted by Dyson Frost, gives us a little more understanding surrounding the progression of the science behind the blackouts. However, it is still rather thin and exists as a rather far-fetched scenario of a man working independently from the scientific community, on theories decades ahead of their time.
Olivia’s encounter with the Savant was intended to provoke an unnerving revelation, where she realizes he has been watching over her for much of their lives. However, they made use of one of the most clichéd devices of the ‘background figure in a photo’. Made famous in the film ‘Sixth Sense’, it is a cheap and vastly overused method of highlighting the significance of one person to another, whilst providing the audience with an ‘ ohhhh, weird’ moment. But we’ve seen it before and besides, if there is a strange man behind me in a photograph, then I’m pretty quick to notice. If the same guy is smiling in a bunch of them, then I am screaming like a school girl and charging up my rape alarm.
Not as adrenaline fueled as Garden of Forking Paths, but definitely significant. The developments are both fundamental to the story and tighten the often delicate bonds between sub-plots. Janice has solidified her place as one of the most interesting characters and we finally understand what’s going on in that pretty head of hers.
Aaron Stark’s story line is the only low-point of the episode and needs to be either resolved, or discarded quickly. But it’s the only flaw in an otherwise excellent episode. The narrative structure is better crafted and allows for more comprehensive character development and I hope the writers consider continuing this format, as it anchors the multitude of plot directions and makes it all easier to follow.
Only four episodes left in the season, so things are probably going to start to escalate next week as the show builds up for what promises to be quite the finale. The easy option would be to have another blackout, but I’m hoping they don’t take this road and instead develop the idea of an impending Armageddon. One thing’s for sure, it will almost certainly end in a teasing cliffhanger, as the writers battle to fight off the cancellation contagion that it appears either V or Flashforward are destined to be inflicted with. Flashforward would be my pick but it’s in the hands of the Network Gods now.
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