|Mitchell, played by Aiden Turner|
|The First Slayer|
A glimpse of the future, devoid of context or explanation, can drive a character mad as they struggle to piece the puzzle together. It also fills the viewer/reader with an immediate need for answers, something which makes it the ideal plot device to churn out time and time again in serialised storytelling, as it guarantees people will tune in next week or buy the next issue/instalment.
Some more cryptic themes that baffled and beguiled me in TV, film and literature:
"Every prophet in his house." Carnivale
(I gave up after the first season so never discovered the meaning of this.)
"Save the cheerleader, save the world." Heroes
(Not as cryptic as the others, referred to Claire's role in a future disaster.)
"From beneath you it devours." Buffy
(A reference to the hellmouth, but also to the potential for evil just under the surface of every human being.)
"He will knock four times." Doctor Who
(A foreshadowing of the Time Lord's death and regeneration in a new body.)
Seth and Apryl's dreams in Apartment 16 by Adam Nevill.
The words of warning uttered by various trusted but mysterious figures, and almost never heeded by the protagonist, in a million suspense novels (Dick Halloran in The Shining, Silas in The Graveyard Book).
Just about everything in any given David Lynch film. I'm thinking specifically of the blue box and key, and the implications of "silencio" in Mulholland Drive.