God’s Little Finger (FlashForward 1.11, 1.12)

21 Mar

Yes it’s true that, at least while ABC’s cult hit finishes up its final 8 hours, FlashFoward will remain LOST’s less cool, less popular little sister who didn’t get asked to prom because no one on FlashForward has a contract with L’Oreal yet.

Still, last week’s double episode (“Revelation Zero,” parts 1 and 2) brought the second half of the season to a competitive place: I don’t think it’s any question that Dominic Monaghan makes a much better Simon Campos than Charlie Pace, and that FlashForward’s quantum physicist beats Daniel Faraday (bless his twitchy little heart) hands down.

[Spoilers below]

The second half of season one begins with a nauseatingly inspirational story: a window washer who nearly died in the blackout has become a super-religious inspirational speaker intent on telling the world that the blackout, with its multi-million life cost and consequent tragedy, is a dramatic piece of God’s plan.  Of course, his words drip fervor better than I can paraphrase:

“God is breaking into human history in a way that’s never happened before—and you!” he shouts in his vision, preaching to a packed crowd.  “You are right at the center of everything!”

Critiquing the idea of a master plan of God for insufferable conceit isn’t anything new.  Carl Sagan in Contact wrote a priest who laughed at Creationists and other sundry fundamentalists for seeing Earth as “God’s little green footstool.”  Is there a master plan?  Or is human insistence on one just a psychological defense mechanism that kicks in when we start to look into the abyss?

Revelation Zero’s cup filleth over with such God complexes.

1. Our window washer, whose “center of everything” speech might have made Galileo cringe;

2. Mark Benford, accused by his FBI-mandated psychiatrist (he kind of held a foreign government official at gunpoint, recall) of the same—“I’ve read your file—you have a God complex.  Something you saw made you think that you’re at the center of the universe”;

3. Benford’s babysitter Nicole, who insists that her vision of drowning must be a punishment from God… for something not yet done;

4. And best of all, Simon Campos, who has both more and less power than we viewers probably thought before.

First of all, Simon’s a scientist, that archetype of dangerous knowledge-seeking. It’s no coincidence that Nicole’s slightly unstable mother quotes Genesis before setting fire to the family Bible: “And if you eat from the tree of knowledge, you shall surely die.”  Fear of the experimenter goes back to Adam, Eve, and Prometheus themselves.  From the serpent’s mouth, “in the day ye eat thereof” (he hisses), “then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”

Our window washer probably doesn’t want to open his eyes: the master plan might not be God’s after all, but a mere mortal’s design—or worse, no plan at all, and just a mere mortal accident.  Simon and Lloyd’s “kidnappers” do say that they didn’t cause the blackout with their plasma wakefield experiment, but rather “amplified” it.

In any case, we the viewers have a lot of evidence suggesting that this isn’t God “breaking into human history,” but human history plain and simple—emphasis on the human.

Power’s a major theme in episodes 11 and 12: from Janis tracking Simon with an ankle bracelet, to Simon tirelessly hatching escape plans—his beatific grin after faking anaphylactic shock and a penicillin allergy was priceless.  Not to mention the bizarre Ring of Power (natural, since Monaghan’s used to being a hobbit, after all) Simon’s “Uncle Teddy” (also known as Mr. Flosso) gave him to keep him awake during the blackout—oh, right, because Simon Campos is Suspect Zero.

As Simon’s shadowy puppetmasters lurk in dark rooms moving chess pieces around, we learn that he’s been part of a very long-term plan since age thirteen, Uncle Teddy supporting the family and moving them to Toronto to make sure brilliant little Simon Campos got the education he needed.  His father died in a “hunting accident” just days before the blackout so Simon would have the funeral as an alibi; his sister Annabelle was kidnapped as “insurance” for his cooperation; his favorite professor was murdered and stuffed in a car trunk as a “last warning” for the physicist to cooperate; and Simon himself was kidnapped with Lloyd Simcoe, losing a pinky to Uncle Teddy’s cigar snips to keep the FBI getting too suspicious.

But before we start feeling too bad for Simon Campos the pawn, all fans of the Ben Linus-like character can breathe a sigh of relief that Simon is just as much a sociopath as we ever hoped:

Since Simon was awake during the universal blackout, his “vision” of strangling a man (and liking it) wasn’t actually an event from the future after all—but from the past.  On the day of the blackout, in a tunnel leading out of the baseball stadium, he quite happily chokes the man who’d killed his father.  And in the present, in the backyard of his mother’s house during a family dinner (with FBI’s Janis Hawk inside no less), he suffocates Uncle Teddy as well, knocking him down and pressing on his chest until those emphysema-afflicted lungs starve he heart and brain of oxygen entirely—and as Simon tells his victim cheerfully, the bruises on the old man’s chest will be his alibi, the signs of failed and desperate CPR.

(Speaking of his family—I’m told that you can tell a lot about a guy by how he treats his mother, and Simon’s relationship is interesting to say the least.  She worships him, and he returns the kindness by mocking her with his impressive vocabulary.  “Don’t be so magniloquent,” he says to ‘comfort’ her as they embrace during Annabelle’s disappearance.  Magniloquent, naturally enough, means ‘using high-flown or bombastic language.’  Of course.  Two more English lessons from Simon Campos: winge, and cogitate.)

So maybe Simon Campos is exactly what Wedeck calls him—“that squirrely SOB.”  But at the same time, he might be the only character on FlashForward with the right to a God complex (there’s more knowledge of the blackouts in that little finger he lost than on all of Mark Benford’s corkboard).  And Simon Campos, done being manipulated (or, more magniloquently, “I’m done being your bitch”), is shaping up to be an angry God:

“I never get pushed around,” he says, standing over Uncle Teddy’s corpse, “And I always get even.”

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One Response to “God’s Little Finger (FlashForward 1.11, 1.12)”

  1. VanDalin March 26, 2010 at 1:54 am #

    Good review of the two episodes, but…

    What of simon’s reappearing finger in the future.

    Mr Flosso dead in the current and appears again in Simon’s Baseball stadium meet.

    And finally Simon’s comment in the future ‘now I have my killer story’, in the future at that point the flashforward hadn’t happened.

    They way I see this going is that Season 2 will start over like a ground hog day and there are fragments from the first 6 months, which help Benford even further.

    This could also explain how the guy who was in London and finally jumped managed to have a flashforward, how could he, he is dead :-)

    You’ve got to love Quantum Mechanics!!!!!

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