So! Welcome to a brand-new series that is in no way like Lost despite the catastrophic opening scene, the home network and the threat of a hobbit on the cast. Because this is a pilot, we get a lot of introductions, so let's meet our cast of characters:
Mark Benford is our protagonist. We know he's an agent with the FBI, he had a drinking problem, and he currently has a wife, kid and spotless McMansion in what looks like Castaic (making for a commute to L.A. that might actually drive one back to the bottle). His flashforward shows him investigating the flashforward (using a wall montage hauntingly like the one on Prison Break -- and the second he gets a full-body tattoo, I am out of here), hitting a sleek silver flask and eluding people with high-powered rifles. Office work will apparently be much more exciting by April 29, 2010.
Olivia Benford is married to Mark. She appears to have it all: high-powered doctorin' gig, adorable kid at home, nary a childcare problem (that she knows about…) and soon -- if her flash forward is to be believed -- an adulterous affair. Forget opting out -- in this day and age, you can have it all!
Aaron Stark is Mark's AA sponsor, and a recently-bereaved father. (His daughter's remains, when shipped back from Afghanistan, weighed all of 37 pounds; she was identified via DNA samples.) He was shimmying up a power pole when his flashforward hit. He is the only one who even suggests that you can actively work to prevent your future. Even more disturbingly, his flash-forward suggests his daughter's alive.
Bryce Varley is a colleague of Olivia's, and he was just about to commit suicide when he passes out. But now that he's seen a glimpse of his future, he's totally zen: "These visions were a gift."
Demetri Noh is Mark's little FBI buddy. Prior to the flash forward, his biggest problem was trying to talk his fiancée out of using "Islands in the Stream" for their first dance. Afterward, it was realizing that since he didn't flash to anything, he's probably going to die some time in the next six months.
And here is what they do:
First, everyone wakes up to total apocalyptic chaos, because while all these people blacked out, things like cars and helicopters did not. Mark runs through the streets so we can drink in the horror, because the one thing Americans love to watch every September is footage of smoking skyscrapers and dust-filled city streets filled with panicky citizens. (Well played, ABC.) Then Mark heads back to FBI headquarters to meet up with Boss Agent Courtney B. Vance (the "B" stands for "Boy, he's in everything") and Agent Quagmire, so named because Seth McFarlane is playing him, and it is disconcerting as hell to watch him on screen because you keep waiting for him to bust out the baby Stewie voice.
Anyway, Mark gets things moving during an FBI meeting by admitting that he had the flashforward to 10 p.m., April 29, and soon, the folks in the room are admitting they also flashed ahead to the exact same moment in the future. Agent Al Gault says he had a vision involving Dr. Elizabeth Corday (here, having renounced medicine for life in Scotland Yard as "Inspector Banks"), so they call her and she confirms having the same flashforward, so they establish that people can flash on each other, and that all the flashforwards are definitely linked to the same time. Agent Courtney B. Vance then creates a special task force consisting of Mark, Demetri and a woman agent named Janis (who flashes forward to getting a sonogram at 10 p.m. at night -- so, apparently 24-hour, universal health care will pass in the next six months).
After a long day, Mark and Olivia have a really awkward discussion about her flashforward and how it involves her mouthing sweet nothings at another man. She's distraught over this, and Mark reminds her that just because they saw something doesn't mean they don't have to mindlessly tread along toward their futures.
The third-to-last scene introduces Lloyd Simcoe -- the shirtless man in Olivia's flashforward. Here, he is not shirtless; he is staggering under the realization that he's about to meet-cute with Dr. O over his crippled son's hospital bed. The second-to-last scene has Mark's daughter giving him the friendship bracelet he'll be wearing in his flash forward. (Score one for predestination.) And the last scene has Janis and Demetri discovering security camera footage of one person who was awake during the flash-forward. And honestly, it's the most creepy and unsettling image of the entire night.
The episode opens on a truly striking composition: glass that appears to have fallen up, a few oranges rolling out of an opaque blue haze and along the asphalt ceiling. Then we hear a few faint screams, see a man lying on his side with a baffled expression, and we realize we're sharing his disoriented perspective.
The guy crawls out of his overturned car, discovering the hard way that hot mufflers do not make the best leverage points for pulling oneself out, and once he's out in the open, he sees what can only be described as complete pandemonium: thousands of cars that have plowed into one another, a truck crushing some poor guy in a convertible, lots of bleeding and stunned people, someone running by whilst on fire. Or, as those of us who used to take the 405 in Los Angeles like to call it, "The morning commute."
We then hurtle back in time four hours to seven a.m. Dawn's rosy fingers are just creeping over the mountains outside of what looks like Castaic (i.e. a far-flung burb on the very edge of what might technically be called the greater Los Angeles area) but is probably meant to be a much closer Valley-based shire. We see a neighborhood of Aughties-style McMansions, then zoom in to where the guy in question from the last scene is opening up his gun safe to find a note reading, "You're a crappy husband. I hate you." I'm not sure I'd leave that kind of note near a firearm, but I have an overdeveloped sense of self-preservation. Anyway, we learn that our man (AKA Joseph Fiennes, who has mercifully matured out of the stunned Bambi-in-tights look he was sporting through Shakespeare in Love) is an FBI agent and this insult to his spousal appropriateness is an inside joke. Also, we learn that the garage door is acting up.
He then heads downstairs to make breakfast for his small, blonde daughter, then to do combat with the garage door. The babysitter, Nicole, pulls in and we establish that Joseph Fiennes is married to Olivia (who works at the hospital) and is father to Charlie. Then we quick-cut to a nightie-clad Olivia calling someone named Bryce to ask why he wasn't at rounds the prior day. "You better have a damn good reason why," she adds.
We cut to Bryce, whose damn good reason is, "I'm on a pier overlooking the Pacific and about to harsh a lot of surfers' mellows by committing suicide before breakfast." Before he even tries (he's planning to shoot himself), we get another stunning visual composition: the pier stretching to the horizon, as white-capped waves roll into shore and cirrus clouds soften the blue sky.