ABC's sci-fi series FlashForward returns next Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT with the first of 12 new episodes, and the creators promise a different show: faster, more answers, more action and more character. (Spoilers ahead!)
That's what executive producer Jessika Borsiczky told us on the show's set Thursday on the Disney lot in Burbank, Calif., where the cast are currently shooting episodes 19 and 20 on their way to the first-season finale, which will reveal the reality of April 29, the day the citizens of the world saw in visions of the future.
When will that finale air? "I don't want to say exactly when it will happen, because I hope it will be a fun surprise when the audience catches up to it," Borsiczky said. "The timing's not exactly concurrent with reality, but I feel like we're making it, especially now when we're coming back in a week, it, we're making it very clear where we are in time as we go, and how far away we are from that April 29th date."
But Borsiczky promised answers to many questions, starting with whether FBI Agent Demetri Noh (John Cho) will die as predicted. "The first date we have to deal with when we get back, though, is the March 15th date, when Demetri's found out he's going to be murdered," she said.
So what other questions does the show promise to answer?
♦Does the future come true? "The really exciting thing is that by the end of the season we will find out whether everyone's future has happened. Have they been able to avert it, did they try and avert it and by the act of averting it make it happen?" Borsiczky said.
♦Who's behind it? "It's going to be all laid out. And I have to say, we're in the middle of working on that episode, and it's so much fun just to get to finally tie up those things from the pilot. The things we had talked about when we were making the pilot, that we couldn't wait to get to—we're finally here."
♦What caused the blackout? "There are some bigger questions to the show that will be ongoing. But we're going to get a lot more information about the cause of the blackout," she added.
♦Who is Suspect Zero? "We're going to find out who the man or woman [who was] awake in the stands was on the day of the blackout."
♦Does Olivia (Sonya Walger) wind up with Lloyd (Jack Davenport) or Mark (Joseph Fiennes)? "We're going to see the relationship between Mark and Olivia, and Olivia and Lloyd, take its course, and whether they arrive at their ... destiny."
♦Does Bryce (Zachary Knighton) find Keiko? "We're going to find out about Bryce and Keiko, whether he'll be able to ever find his Japanese love."
Borsiczky also said the answers won't all be saved up for the final episode. "There are pieces that fall into place along the way, so I'd say from this point onwards, every single episode answers a mystery and also tells you about somebody's flash-forward coming true or not, so now—I wouldn't wait until the end. I would really tune in for every single one."
She promised that the show will move a lot faster now. "I think making any show in its first year—but I think definitely one that's this complex and has this many characters—you have to do a little bit of trial and error, and there's a learning curve," she said. "Because ... you realize that ... some things hit the mark, some things don't quite go over the way you'd wanted. So just for ourselves, we've been evaluating that all along. We realized we needed to answer more questions more regularly. We wanted to simplify how many mysteries were out there. And we really, the biggest thing is we want to delve into the characters more. We want to understand what they're going through, faced with their destiny."
Not everything will be answered, she added: "We know that now in the life of our show, they may, there may be evidence that another flash-forward will happen. There will be many exciting things happening at the end of season one. ... We're definitely planting a few seeds that make you want to tune in for episode one of season two. There are a few exciting ways we're doing it."
Meanwhile, creators previewed the first 20 minutes of the show's two-hour return episode, "Revelation Zero," parts 1 and 2, at the Paley Center for Media's PaleyFest 2010 on Thursday night.
It opens on Oct. 6, 2009, the day of the blackouts. The story of a window washer totally encapsulates what FlashForward is all about. The poor guy blacks out on the side of a skyscraper and falls, presumably to his death, but the fateful incident that saves him demonstrates there's no telling what's in store for anyone.
The opening is visually stunning, with cityscapes full of smoky buildings, crashing cars and even a helicopter crash. It paints an entire world where one single person is the most important story. We find out the window washer himself is narrating, speaking to a seminar, and he continues to narrate the rest of the episode.
The narration speculates on the significance of moments, how every life is touched by a minor detail and no one is alone. We are all stitched together in a tapestry, and we all choose to face the future with hope for good or resign ourselves to chaos. That is the sort of profound perspective the show promised in its pilot. If this is the first time you're watching FlashForward, it's a powerful intro that catches you up and keeps you hooked.
Back to our main characters: The first scenes consist of the four-minute preview included on the FlashForward DVD. Mark gets suspended, photographs the Mosaic board, sees Olivia hugging Lloyd and Simon (Dominic Monaghan) checking files in the FBI computers.
CIA agent Vogel (Michael Ealy) is now assigned to the Mosaic task force. Lloyd is handcuffed in a basement, but at least the kidnapper is nice enough to give him some vitamin water. We get to see Nicole's mom. This mother is so out there, I wouldn't be surprised if she ends up being the one drowning her daughter on April 29. It's more backstory than we've ever gotten on Nicole, and we also get a glimpse of the lovely Peyton List in her scant PJs, for those interested in that sort of thing.
After that, Mark goes the extra mile of putting up his own pirated copy of the Mosaic board at home. At this point, Olivia makes the smartest suggestion anyone in FlashForward has ever made. She suggests moving away. Mark sees his shrink, too, and her treatment of flash-forward patients should be interesting.
Finally, the footage ended with a cliffhanger worthy of a season finale, and it's only 20 minutes into the two-hour pilot. After mundane banter between Simon and Janis (Christine Woods), those masked guys from Mark's flash-forward appear behind Janis. The music soars, fade to black and we have to wait until next Thursday for more.
FlashForward airs Thursdays at 8 p.m.