Here’s the thing:
Think about every other scene in FlashForward. We are provided with real human emotions, real human actions and, besides the one event that the show is based around, a pretty linear progression of events. It feels real. We aren’t shown a character like Jason in Lost in a surreal, metaphysical world. People see their futures, and then life moves on as we know it. It is easy to provide an explanation for the kangaroo by saying it escaped from the zoo, but there is one thing that is for sure: seeing a kangaroo in the middle of a crowded city in an area that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a zoo only a minute after everyone wakes up from their blackout is pretty surreal. We can create a logical explanation and glean meaning from anything if we put our minds to it, because that is in our nature. We naturally want things to have explanations and want things to make sense.
I would defend any other moment in the two episodes of FlashForward we watched in class, but the kangaroo was too much of a blatant shout-out to Lost. There were many people that wanted to explain Lost by saying it was all a dream, and that the final episode would have them all waking up in the airplane and going their separate ways. We need an explanation for surreality and thus subconsciously search for it until there is no rational explanation left. So great; there was a kangaroo and we assume he escaped from the zoo, but it is still Dali-esque enough to see a kangaroo hopping around the streets of LA that we hearken back to our knowledge of other shows of its genre.
This surrealism, and not our subconscious explanation, is what bothers me the most. It gives us unfair expectations about how the show is going to progress. We assume that there is going to be an element of surrealism, which it does not have, from my experience with the show. The show mostly encourages us to ask questions about the one event and whether the future is going to change or not. Motivation of characters, present events and what happens outside of the future and the 2.17 minutes everyone passed out all seem to get us into a real world that we can relate to. Thus, the kangaroo to me had no purpose except to attract a different kind of audience that would not be interested in what comes in the future. Someone who likes Lost may not like FlashForward because of the differences between the two shows. FlashForward doesn’t have the mystical element, and a kangaroo going from the zoo to the middle of the city in 2.17 minutes creates mystical questions that a) will not be answered and b) are out of the element of the show, which is what I think makes it so powerful.
Here are two interesting web forums about the kangaroo, and a quote from one of the posters at the end that seems to say what I am trying to say in a different way. Seems to me it’s not only us having this argument and trying to explain this damn kangaroo with a tendency to try to confirm a certain realism.
“The kangaroo also reminded me of the polar bear. My theory on why it was on the streets is this: It was being transported to a zoo in a vehicle that crashed during the flashforward and escaped. This makes me think what all the other living creatures on earth experienced during the flashforward. Were they unaffected?
The Kangaroo is briefly shown in the preview that aired after the pilot, so I hope that it just shows up in the streets throughout the series with no explanation of its importance until the series finale.
Maybe the kangaroo caused the flashforward?” – Member [2 Minutes 17 Seconds] of www.flashforwardforum.com
This shows that we not only want explanations, but that we want every moment to be pertinent to the show. Decisions made in shows and movies are all conscious decisions by the authors of the show. They can be conscious decisions for plot purposes, for aesthetic purposes, or for transmedia reasons such as drawing different audiences that might not be interested otherwise. I personally think that the kangaroo was the latter, and that we weren’t necessarily supposed to assume that it escaped from the zoo, though that is just our natural tendency.