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"The Garden of Forking Paths"
1x17 The Garden of the Forking Paths.jpg

Episode Season {{#pad:1|2|0|left}}, Number 17
Air Date April 22, 2010
Title Image Mark Benford running
Written by David S. Goyer
Lisa Zwerling
Directed by Nick Gomez
Guest Stars Michael Massee as Dyson Frost
Barry Shabaka Henley as Shelly Vreede
Rachel Roberts as Alda Hertzog
Neil Jackson as Lucas Hellinger
Geoffrey Owens as Dr. Julian Ebbing
Norma Maldonado as Judge Sandoz
Rizwan Manji as Maneesh Sandhar
with James Callis as Gabriel McDow
and Gabrielle Union as Zoey Andata
Co-starring Lennon Wynn as Charlie Benford
Lawrence A. Mandley as Kent Nelson
Jonathan Levit as Martin Dewey
Malachi Smith as Boy
Episode Images

"The Garden of Forking Paths" is the seventeenth episode of season one of FlashForward. It first aired in the United States on April 22, 2010 on ABC.


Previously on FlashForward[]

Before the Blackout[]

Lucas Hellinger tells Alda about Dyson Frost

Six months before the Global Blackout, Alda Hertzog is walking with a man, who tells her about Dyson Frost. He explains that Frost is difficult to work with, but is needed since he is one of a few who understand the physics involved with flashforwards. Before stepping into Dyson's hideout, the man says, "Just know that if he gets too unmanageable, we may ask you to take care of him." Alda answers that Hellinger need only tell her what to do. They enter a building with an array of dominoes on the floor. All of the dominoes are black except one long white string. Frost greets the pair by telling them to be careful of the dominoes. Hellinger introduces Alda to Frost. Hellinger explains that Frost helped them engineer the Raven River experiments. Dyson corrects him, saying he invented it, and noting that he is one of the few participants still alive. They discuss being on schedule for October 6. Frost says that he has set up monitoring stations to track the waveform's propagation and, if Campos and Simcoe find their dark matter, the project is on its way. When asked whether the QED is ready, Frost shows Hellinger and Hertzog the first ring. Hellinger is amazed that Frost was able to fit so much circuitry into so small a space. When he hands the ring to Alda, Frost takes it back; he then runs a video recording of Hellinger telling Alda that she may need to take care of him and tells them to leave. Alda asks about the dominoes and Frost explains that the white dominoes represent his path of escape; he then kicks over the first domino, setting off a chain reaction.

Alda's Escape[]

Alda dives through a destroyed window

Zoey Andata meets with Alda Hertzog to try to get more information from her about Demetri's fate. She reminds Alda that today is the forecast date of Demetri's death, but Alda is uncooperative and sarcastic, as usual. Alda says she wants a hearing and she will talk then. Zoey responds that she has already filed for a hearing, and is waiting for a court date. Alda says that is not good enough and that Zoey should make it happen today. Zoey arranges a hearing for Alda on the same day based on a fictitious claim that Alda needs medical care. Before walking into the court room, Alda makes eye contact with a window cleaner. During Alda's hearing, Zoey tries to make a case that Alda has appendicitis and that she needs a CAT scan, but is unsuccessful because Alda has already had medical attention twice recently and nothing was discovered. Judge Sandoz chastises Zoey for bringing a frivolous matter into her courtroom. Alda, from her perspective, fulfills her part of the bargain with Zoey by telling her that in her flashforward she overheard that Demetri's body was found in "Building 7", but that is all she knows. While Alda, Zoey and escorts are waiting outside the court room to be transported, the window where Alda Hertzog's accomplice was waiting explodes and Alda jumps through it, escaping.

Saving Demetri[]

Three rounds in "Demetri's Chest"

Demetri Noh sits in a chair with an elaborate gun setup pointed at him. The gun's red crosshair is pointing at his chest. Behind him is Dyson Frost's wall, similar to Mark Benford's wall, but more complex, with smaller pictures and more writing, in many colors.

At the Los Angeles Field Office, Mark, Olivia Benford, and a some agents talk to Charlie Benford about her meeting with Dyson Frost, trying to determine if anything he told her could help them rescue Demetri. She can only remember that he was tall until Wedeck asked her to close her eyes and think about what happened. She then remembers that she was sitting alone on a bench at the carnival with cotton candy when Dyson sat down and introduced himself. He made what seemed like innocent small talk, and mentioned the Dr. Seuss's book One Fish, Two Fish before giving her a picture (the 1808 "Oedipus and the Sphinx" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres) with the instructions to give it to Mark Benford. He left.

The back of the picture reads:



Mark and a number of agents dress for combat then depart for Union Station, with Stanford Wedeck thinking that Dyson will be there, but Mark suspects otherwise.

Demetri is still sitting on the chair. The the gun is rigged to a timer, giving him slightly over 6 hours to live. He makes an attempt to get up but even the tiniest motion sets off sensors and the gun gets ready to fire ahead of schedule. Dyson arrives and explains to Demetri that his wall, which he refers to as a "Garden of Forking Paths", shows possible futures based on critical actions he has taken over the years. He started having flashforwards in the '80s, creating hundreds and thousands of flashforwards. The time displacement into the future could be minutes or years, and every time he saw a different future. Dyson reveals that in most of his many flashes, Demetri will end up killing him. Frost is afraid this will come true unless drastic action is taken to prevent it. He says he will not kill Demetri himself, because he wants to play out the future as it was seen as close as possible, but with Demetri as insurance, even if they will both live. He leaves Demetri on his own, saying he has no idea what will really happen.

Mark and the others wait for Frost to make contact at Union Station. Eventually they get a lead. Mark is given a children's backpack from a child paid to give it to him. Inside is a cell phone with Dyson on the other end. Dyson tells him that the only way to keep Demetri alive is to do as he says and not speak, unless told to do so. Frost says wants to help, and will say "when and why" the next blackout will occur, but that his former partners would do anything to get him found and detained. FBI agents outside try to tap into the call and listen, but the place is too busy for that to happen, so they don't overhear any of the conversation. Frost has Mark say a phony address as a diversion for the surveillance agents, allowing them to meet privately. Frost instructs Mark to lose the backup by making a dramatic escape that Frost has already planned. Before he makes the escape, Demetri has 4 hours, 23 minutes left to live. Mark successfully eludes the FBI in a rental car and follows Dyson's directions.

Mark Benford follows directions from Dyson Frost to a mystery location and eventually meets him in a deserted area off the side of a dirt road through Antelope Valley. Dyson is not taking any chances and is still ordering Mark how to act. He is armed and orders Mark to restrain himself with a pair of handcuffs. Mark pretends to take a sip from his water bottle and spits into Dyson's face. Unbeknownst to Frost, Mark has filled the bottle with gasoline which burns Dyson Frost's eyes. Mark overpowers Frost but Frost still does not answer any of the questions Mark is asking.

Zoey brings the information from Alda back to the FBI and Janis Hawk begins searching for buildings numbered seven around Los Angeles and at key points relevant to Zoey (her house, the FBI and the church where she internded to marry Demetri).

Dyson Frost is still being restrained by Mark Benford and is still uncooperative, but does say, "In the end, you're gonna be saved by the lady you see every day." He is about to tell Mark a critical piece of information but spots a motorcycle, indicating Mark was followed. Before he can speak, he is shot with a sniper rifle by Alda. She mutters "Not today, Mark" when Mark drops for cover and Alda quickly leaves on the motorcycle. Mark scrambles to extract information out of Dyson about Demetri and the blackout. Dyson dies seconds later, only saying, "I did what I did for a reason." Mark rummages through Dyson's briefcase, seeing images that he had tacked up upon his future Mosaic wall in his flashforward and pieces together where Demetri is being held with the help of the nude painting and Dyson's rental car's GPS history.

Mark arrives at Demetri's location. After getting back in touch with the FBI office and hearing Alda's information from Janis Hawk and Zoey, Mark makes his way to building 7. He discovers Demetri still sitting in his chair, and tries to reposition the gun so that when it goes off, it misses. He cannot put something in front of the path and Dyson has thought of most ways to disable it. Demetri is certain he will die, but Mark remembers Dyson saying he gave Charlie "all the answers." Mark remembers further back to Frost mentioning "One Fish, Two Fish" to Charlie. Mark proceeds to remove a red wire, then a blue wire, like in the story, and then repositions the gun higher and higher, with only seconds remaining. When the gun goes off, it misses Demetri, so he lives. Demetri carefully gets out of the chair, causing a sprinkler system behind him to go off, washing off everything written on Dyson Frost's wall.

Demetri is reunited with Zoey. Janis is looking at what remains of Dyson Frost's wall, while Mark explains what it means and tells Wedeck he remembers one thing in particular: Written at the top was "December 12, 2016 – The End", with all paths leading to it.

Meeting Gabriel[]

Gabriel accosts Olivia

Shelly Vreede meets with Olivia Benford to ask her to identify the homeless murder victim. Olivia is sure she will not be able to identify him. However, Vreede tells her that the same person had a cell phone that was used to send her the text message regarding Mark drinking in his flashforward. Olivia is now at at the morgue to identify the homeless murder victim, but can not. Martin Dewey shows her the victim's brain, which has abnormal brain physiology, suggesting he may be an autistic savant. Vreede mentions that the victim had an address book. An examination of the address book reveals that it is the property of Dr. Julian Ebbing, who specializes in savants; Vreede and Olivia meet with Ebbing, but all he suggests is that one of his patients stole the book. Vreede and Olivia stop outside the hospital where Ebbing works for coffee after Olivia receives word that Mark saved Demetri. As she approaches a coffee stand and starts to order, an apparent autistic savant named Gabriel orders for her, saying exactly what she wanted and that he's been in line with her, exactly the same line, many times before. He starts rambling about the Raven River experiments but Olivia is confused and has no idea what he is talking about. Vreede tries to get Gabriel to come back with him to the FBI for questioning. Gabriel flees, telling Olivia that the dominoes are falling.


Production Notes[]

Bloopers and Continuity Errors[]

Cultural References[]

  • The Garden of Forking Paths: This episode shares its title with this short story by Jorge Luis Borges, which deals with the idea of multiple possible timelines, much like Frost envisions. The short story contains the exchange:
"In a riddle whose answer is chess, what is the only prohibited word?"
I thought a moment and replied, "The word chess."
  • Superman: The young boy at the train station gives Mark a Superman backpack per Dyson Frost's request.
  • Dr. Seuss: Charlie retells of her encounter with Dyson Frost, in which, they discuss Dr. Seuss books like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Horton Hears a Who!.
  • Rain Man: When told that the homeless man who was killed by Frost was possibly a savant, Vreede remarks, "Like Rain Man, or something." Rain Man tells the story of Charlie Babbitt, who discovers that his estranged father has died and bequeathed all of his multimillion-dollar estate to his other son, Raymond, a man with autism of whose existence Charlie was unaware.
  • Oedipus: Vreede explains that the image given to Charlie by Frost is Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' painting Oedipus explains the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family.
  • Lost: The picture the boy gives to Mark (from Dyson Frost) has the number "423" on it, meaning Demitri has 4 hours, 23 minutes to live. This is possibly a reference to "the numbers" in Lost: 4 8 15 16 23 42.

Literary Techniques[]

  • Irony: Mark was able to angle the gun above Demetri's head before it went off, avoiding his death, but the three bullets meant for Demetri's chest shot through the chest area of Demetri's photo that Frost had pinned to his Garden of Forking Paths.

Unanswered Questions[]

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
  3. Avoid questions that are unlikely to be answered.
Theories for these unanswered questions should go on this article's theory page.


  • How will Demetri's rescue alter everyone's future?
  • What does "The End" mean?
  • What do the diving suit photos and the schematics mean?
    • Is there any direct connection between those two clues?
  • Is Demetri really safe?
  • How did Alda know where Mark and Frost were meeting?
  • Who recovered Mark's gun from building 7 after the rescue? Is it accounted for?


  • Who told did Alda about building 7 in her flashforward?

External links[]

FlashForward Season One
"No More Good Days" • "White to Play" • "137 Sekunden" • "Black Swan" • "Gimme Some Truth" • "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps" • "The Gift" • "Playing Cards with Coyote" • "Believe" • "A561984" • "Revelation Zero, Part 1" • "Revelation Zero, Part 2" • "Blowback" • "Better Angels" • "Queen Sacrifice" • "Let No Man Put Asunder" • "The Garden of Forking Paths" • "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" • "Course Correction" • "The Negotiation" • "Countdown" • "Future Shock"