Friday, May 14, 2010

James Callis on FlashForward, part 8: "I have a huge hippocamputh. FYI."

(I have huge titles. FYI. But who cares, this way people can actually find the post in a Google search.)

Picspam/Lengthy discussion on FlashForward episode 20, The Negotiation. This is probably James' last episode of FF - he's not credited in 21 anymore - and we got quite a bit of him this week!

It really looks like the person who said Gabriel is a bad guy mistook him for someone else (Dyson Frost perhaps?). He's not revealed to be a villain, and I'm so relieved. He is adorable, sweet and childlike, yet very sad. I see a lot of sympathy in James' portrayal: this is someone who was taken away from his mother into an institution, where a doctor used his abilities to his own ends, leaving trauma and an ability to see the future, which is really more a curse than a blessing. Gabriel is someone who never really felt at home in the world and who still needs very specific conditions to feel safe. Yet he's taken into FBI to be briefed in a very important case, and this is a lot of responsibility. No wonder he hangs on to Olivia.

Also, FlashForward has officially been cancelled, so there will be no more Gabriel McDow. I'm bummed, but perhaps it's for the best, story-wise; there's not a whole lot they can do after the day of the flashforwards, which is in the next episode. The show wasn't always great, but it got better, and I think James really elevated it to a new level. (But then I might be biased.)

Olivia (Sonya Walger) and Gabriel are looking at the Mosaic board, but Gabriel isn't happy. "That's not right, that's not right," he keeps saying and tries to change the places of the pictures. Olivia tells him, like you tell a child, that he shouldn't be touching it.

Mark (Joseph Fiennes) introduces himself, but Gabriel knows who he is. "You're Mark Benford, she's Olivia Simcoe." (Olivia rolls her eyes. She's really Olivia Benford.) "Go back to the drawing board, because it's wrong, see?" Gabriel shows Mark how some of the things on the board are in fact wrong. I'm not sure how that works - maybe he's seen an alternate future where the investigation went differently, and thus the board was different.

Mark wants to take a look. Gabriel seems uncomfortable with this: "That's my book. Be careful. It's my book, it's my book." He looks like it causes him anguish, but he's willing to control himself because this is important.

Mark: "How did you draw this?"
Gabriel: "[beat] With a pen. This with a red pen, because I like to use the red pen for the linesh." (he shows the lines) Olivia smiles, already looking like this is her kid doing amusing stuff. She explains that Gabriel has had multiple flashforwards, and he may have been here before. Gabriel says he was here before, "with Frost. He said to my mother he'd take care of me. He never said it was good care. It wasn't." Awww. He says Olivia did take good care, "she got me new shoes, you like them?" Mark says they're cute, but they're not shown to the camera. She apparently also got him a hoodie and new jeans, but Gabriel doesn't mention those. "And I have a huge hippocamputh. FYI." Gabriel says this very proudly, almost arrogantly. It may just be his most hilarious line so far.

Mark says Gabriel needs to be briefed about what he knows. This obviously makes Gabriel very scared indeed. Maybe it's meeting new people, or going back to those memories, or maybe he doesn't want to share all he knows?

Olivia says she has to go now, and Gabriel asks if he'll also go. Olivia says she's going and he's staying. "No, you stay," says Gabriel many times and grabs Olivia's wrist. He acts like she's his Mommy and he can't face this scary situation without her.

Mark makes the mistake of touching his shoulder, and Gabriel does the "You can't touch this!!" thing again. He looks so cute in this picture, like a crying baby. (L) (Also I love how his finger presses into the soft fabric, for some reason.)

Olivia says she should probably stay. And does. I won't go on and on about all the things that don't make sense on the show, but it bugs me that Olivia is supposed to be a very busy doctor and yet she can just stay at the FBI just like that and help Gabriel out. She never seems to be busy. (I love how Gabriel still points at his coat as they discuss this.)

Olivia suggests that she get Gabriel a soda. "Yes, can I have a soda please. With a straw." Aww!

While they're gone, Gabriel is gleefully fixing the board, making the right connections. And looking very cute while doing so.

Also: James' name and face in the same picture! Just had to include that.

Gabriel is being briefed. Everyone tries to be very friendly and calm around him, but he's still stressed and keeps playing with a rubber band. But he does recognize the people in the pictures as others from Raven River. (Apparently they also had flashforwards all the time.)

It turns out that Frost was not working alone; he had an accomplice. Gabriel has a drawing of him in the notebook, "it's a good drawing with the black pen". He calls the man "Big Guy." Asked about his name, Gabriel duhs, "I just told you: Big Guy!" (The same man is just talking to Simon in another scene, but it's kind of pointless to show a screenshot of him because the FBI is about to catch him. Also, I doubt James drew it himself.)

Talking about his friend, paraphrasing what he said in his first scene: "Technically he's dead, but he's still my friend." Note how Olivia looks at Gabriel lovingly. She wants to protect him and make him feel safe.

Demetri shows up and Gabriel panics.

Protecting himself with the hoodie! (L)

"He's supposed to be dead! You're supposed to be dead!" he shouts. (Demetri was supposed to die on March 15th, but Mark saved him.) This, of course, freaks Demetri out too.

Later on, Olivia reads as Gabriel jams to the music in his walkman. Again, just like a mother and her son in a waiting room. (Why didn't we get to know what he's listening to? I've totally decided it's MC Hammer. Can't touch this!)

Lloyd (Jack Davenport) walks in. "Lloyd! Lloyd! Llo-ho-hoyd!" Gabriel laughs. Olivia looks about to sing "Lloyd and Olivia, sitting in a tree." (Mark is watching nearby and notices this.)

I think I forgot to talk about this a few episodes ago, but Gabriel mentioned he saw futures where they were all friends, because he was their janitor. "I tried to smoke that day but I threw up." Bwah! I found that bit especially funny, but looking back, I never mentioned it in the post. So basically, Gabriel acts like they're old friends, and judging by how fast Lloyd and Olivia start liking him and trusting him, maybe that's the Way Things Are Meant to Be. I'm not sure if the show is telling us there is no free will and we just end up in the right future anyway, or what. But Gabriel seems to be right about a lot of stuff.

Lloyd seems happy to see Gabriel - or possibly just Olivia - and smiles benevolently. "I have a huge hippomaputh, FYI," Gabriel tells him, but not in the same arrogant tone he had with Mark; this time, he sounds a lot warmer. He really likes Lloyd. "Olivia, Olivia, Olivia said so." Lloyd smiles: "Well, she would know."

Lloyd asks about the briefing. "Stressful," Olivia says. "Very stresshful", Gabriel chimes in. Lloyd says he knows, he's been through it too. Gabriel sounds really cute, like a child repeating what Mommy says, but Lloyd takes him totally seriously here and doesn't go all "aww, cute kid." I love their interaction here; Lloyd's own son is autistic, of course, so it might affect his behavior. Olivia asks how it's going without Simon. Lloyd is having trouble with an equation.

Gabriel immediately seems to know what he's talking about: "Yeah the equaaaation, yeah the equaaaation. The equaaation..." Heee! I love the way he says it. He stands up and babbles about how he does the art, "you do the math." But Lloyd needs to do the numbers in the right order, and Simon's needed, "you're both part of the equation, yeah." While talking, his eyes keep averting Lloyd. He only looks at him for a moment. I think James' body language as Gabriel has been very consistent from the start, the eyes being a good example. I'm sure that's not easy to do.

I realize I've forgotten to talk about his accent in the last few episodes. The truth? I don't hear it as an accent anymore. It's just how Gabriel talks. It sounds totally natural to me. It's amusing to read the tweets about how James' accent is the best one on the show, the worst one on the show, totally British and totally American. I wonder how people would react if they didn't know James is British.

(I apologize about the underlines in the next few notes. I have no idea why Blogger does this sometimes.)

He wanted a straw so that he can blow bubbles into his soda!! It's unbearably cute! (L) All kids love blowing bubbles into their soda, I think. Olivia, unlike my mother, doesn't tell him to knock it off.

Olivia needs to go for a moment, and this, again, causes Gabriel anguish. But he sits still as Mark comes in and looks at the board with him. "What do you see?" he asks Gabriel. "Loose ends," says Gabriel. "I know the feeling," says Mark.

OK, so I don't much like Mark. He's been pretty bland and annoying and macho the whole season. BUT in this scene, I felt he was awesome. He asks Gabriel about "Olivia Simcoe" and whether, if she ends up with Lloyd... she will be happy and safe. "Yes," says Gabriel. His face reveals that he has some sympathy for Mark, even if he was pretty blunt about things before.

Mark promises that they're going to Gabriel's "new home, you'll like it there."

"I'm bulletproof now!" He's hitting his belly, which is hard now because of the vest. But he is hitting his belly.. so do I find this sexy or not? Hmm yes or no.. no. It's just cute and childlike.

Gabriel is very excited to be bulletproof, and by now, Mark's quite relaxed around him too. Everyone's very friendly with him, which is nice to watch. (It could be done patronizingly, but I think it's not; they're not talking down to him, just being a bit friendlier, adjusting to his moods.)

Also note: he's letting Vreede touch him! A propos Vreede: I feel bad that I've never credited the actor. Let's see. He is played by Barry Shabaka Henley, and the character's full name is Agent Shelly Vreede. Shelly is a male name too?

So then there's a scene where the FBI car is attacked and Gabriel suddenly jumps out and has a villain at gunpoint like he's done this all his life. My heart beat faster there. I was like, "What if he really is a villain and this is the scene that reveals it?" ... but then I noticed he has no stubble.. and it's MARK in Gabriel's clothing. Whew! That, I must admit, was really well done. They fooled me. Mark also fools Big Guy for a moment, long enough to catch him. Big Guy says, "Gabriel McDow! Welcome back into the fold." Does this mean he worked with the bad guys? Or just that they used him? I suppose either way they would have used him, since he doesn't seem capable of choosing sides. We're not given more information on this, as the FBI simply catch Big Guy and his posse.

Gabriel at his "new home" - a motel - watching cartoons. How adorable is this?! He's so into the show and especially "Doctor Evil-Kisser" - hee! that does sound fun - and he has snacks and soda. (There's chips and cola, at least. Yes, I'm turned on by that.)

Demetri (John Cho) shows up and laughs at the show, indulging Gabriel for a moment before asking a big question. Unlike before, Gabriel isn't at all shocked to see him.

"Dr Evil-Kisser!"(L) Very childlike here.

He eats a chip! James eats a chip! There's crunching, so I think he really ate it too, and... Awww! This show is totally channeling my James/food fetishes. We're like one donut away from my dreams.

Yeah, the scene... :P Well, Demetri wants to ask Gabriel if he's in any of the futures Gabriel saw. "No, you die," says Gabriel without sugarcoating it at all. Demetri asks what will happen if he doesn't die. "Yeah, that's not possible," says Gabriel in a rather mellow voice. He does look a bit sad for Demetri though, like he looked sad for Mark earlier. He's not rude, just socially awkward. He says all paths lead to the same place, mentioning Lloyd and Olivia again. Everything is going the way it's supposed to go, "even you." Demetri takes this calmly: "Makes sense." I think he really expected to die on March 15th and has gone through the shock already. This scene was very well played by both James and John Cho.

The cartoon anvils: "I aim to find that diabolical machine before it's too late!" Yeah, we get it, it's a reference to what's going on in the show.

So this is where we leave Gabriel, watching his cartoons. I feel oddly sad that we only got to see him in four episodes. This role was such a triumph. I've enjoyed every aspect of it: the funny, the tragic, the interaction with other characters. I'm still psyched that James got to play against Sonya Walger, who is adorable, and whose character in this show has been very on and off for me. Even in this episode, she's given some pretty stiff lines, but I love what she does with her expressions and gestures. She's totally maternal with Gabriel, and really makes that believable.

I just... sniff. I'm really, really attached to Gabriel, you guys. I'd say that he's my new favorite, right after Gaius Baltar. James made him so likeable. I couldn't be happier with how this role played out, and how he chose to play it. Bravo!

I'd give a standing ovation, but it's not really possible in blog form. So James, just accept my humble EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE FANGUSH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Nicole Anell said...

Gabriel love! Thanks for the picspam and recap. He was one of the best things about this show. :) I always loved the funny little things that James probably ad-libbed more than the big jokey moments. Like hitting himself on "I'm bulletproof now!" and the way he giggles. XD

I think people react so differently to the accent because he's not just doing an American voice, but ALSO a character with a speech impediment. So he doesn't really sound like anyone else. :) In the later episodes, I noticed that way more than the accent - I didn't think of him being British at all.

Deniselle said...

Yes, I think James may have been just himself in some moments there - that "happy little boy smile" is so James. I've seen it on him in interviews too.

Yeah, I thought of that too with the accent. It's somewhat lispy and his speech rhythm is not a regular American OR a regular British - it's just Gabriel.

Elina said...

I've got absolutely no idea what's going on in the show... impossible to follow from just a recap. :D

James looks so cute there. But I'm kind of annoyed by the cliché of autistic people playing the role of someone with special knowledge and being weird, the nutty professor type kind of. In reality, there's nothing glorious abt being autistic, they don't always have special skills or anything. The whole show is so cliché, how did it ever come to be on tv?

But anyway, great exposure for James and his acting skills so it's all good. :D

Deniselle said...

"I've got absolutely no idea what's going on in the show... impossible to follow from just a recap. :D"

That's probably a good thing, considering the finale airs next week. :D It'd take too much time and effort to explain everything - suffice it to say James was awesome in it, and Olivia was cute too. ;)

"In reality, there's nothing glorious abt being autistic, they don't always have special skills or anything."

Well, there are real life savants out there who do have special skills. In general, I agree with your point though: Stephen King et al have churned a lot of crap about SPECIAL autistic people - especially children - who can foresee things. In this case, though, James' character has his own special talent already. It's not supernatural; he can see the future because his brain was tampered with, and that's a bit different from the usual cliché. He's more of a victim than a mysterious sage. (We could have a conversation about "disabled person as a victim", and it might come back to cliché, of course.)

"The whole show is so cliché, how did it ever come to be on tv?"

(stares) Girl, have you ever SEEN US TV?

I thought it had lots of potential and could have been awesome, but just somehow.. wasn't. I wonder about the book it's based on.