Monday, October 19, 2009

FlashForward 1.04: "Black Swan"

“Wow you really are the Shakespeare of cheesy Dad humor.”


The most recent episode of FlashForward felt even more unfocused than the previous few weeks, but there were several scenes that still made it worth watching. This episode seemed to center around pairs of characters in conflict about how to deal with the FlashForwards, plus it began the more detailed story of Nicole, the Benfords’ babysitter.

The absolute best thing about this episode by far was the opening scene. It was artistic and beautiful. We see a colorful park on a sunny day as a song that seems to have some French café music influence plays in the background. As expected, given this is FlashForward after all, the people happily walking along begin to pass out en masse. A commuter bus drives into frame, and just as it hits nearby water, the music gets louder and more intense. The music continues to fit perfectly with the visuals as we see a man in the bus, plugged into his iPod, of course, wake up as the bus is starting to sink. There’s one other passenger on the bus who has come to, and the man gets both of them out of the bus and to safety.

Two weeks later, this man is in Olivia’s hospital to get checked out. He’s been in some pain ever since the blackout (presumably from the bus accident), but he hasn’t really felt the need to seek medical attention. Olivia and Bryce are interviewing him and giving him an examination. After the routine medical questions, Bryce asks the man, whose name happens to be “Ned Ned,” (maybe a Pushing Daisies shout out? With names such as “Charles Charles,” I always thought Ned’s full name had to be something like “Ned Edwards.”) what he saw in his flash forward. Ned describes being in a bar he had always been too scared to go to and feeling more confident than ever. Also, he’s Black.

Olivia isn’t so much taken aback by Ned’s description of his vision as she is by the fact that Bryce even asked Ned about his vision at all. And the first conflict of the episode has been set up. Olivia does not want to acknowledge the flash forward in any way, because I think she feels that if she does, she’s dooming her marriage. Bryce however, like Ned, feels the flash forward saved him, and so he feels that the knowledge of the flash forwards could save others as well.

Olivia’s paranoia about dooming her marriage via acknowledging the flash forwards causes her to compromise patient care. First, she desperately wants to get Dylan and Lloyd Simcoe out of her sight as quickly as possible. I guess she’s afraid if she spends too much time around Lloyd, she’ll be tempted to make her future happen. She does give Lloyd some more good parenting advice when she suggests Lloyd go check out Dylan’s room to find a way to connect with Dylan, but she follows that up with shipping Dylan off to PT as soon as she can, even though PT isn’t equipped to deal with Dylan’s IV antibiotic needs. PT, rightfully, ships him right back. Olivia also compromises Ned’s care. Bryce puts together Ned’s attitude and his vision to figure out that Ned has Addison’s disease. Ned needs surgery for internal bleeding, but that can be dangerous without certain sort-of-risky extra medication. Olivia refuses to listen to Bryce, and Ned almost dies in surgery before Olivia finally comes to her senses and administers the necessary medicine. It might have been more interesting if the writers had actually let Ned die here, although perhaps that would have answered the “can we change the future” question a little too quickly.

The second major conflict regarding the visions was between Demetri and Mark. While having a nice meal at a café with his fiancé, Demetri totally gets, as they would say on HIMYM, “lawyered” by her. Zoe gets Demetri to pretty much admit that they’re still “GITMO-ing” the female, blonde suspected terrorist from the pilot. This leads Demetri to interrogate the terrorist, hoping he can get information to lead to her being formally charged and, presumably, get Zoe off his back. The terrorist has picked up on the fact that Demetri didn’t see anything in his flash forward, and she uses Demetri’s fear of his impending death to send Demetri and Mark on a bit of a wild goose chase.

Demetri and Mark find themselves in a seedy area visiting a rundown restaurant run by the “Customer Choice Restaurant Group,” the clue given to them by the terrorist. Demetri is convinced they’ll find something connected to dirty bombs there, but it doesn’t look promising. After a long chase through a trailer park, they find not the yellow cake uranium Demetri was hoping for, but “yellowcake” brand pot. Demetri and Mark end up coming to blows, and I can’t decide whether or not it was an effective, emotional scene or if it crossed the line to over-the-top. Demetri wanted to pursue the dirty bomb case they were investigating in the pilot because he thought it might reveal something about his murder. Mark, however had wanted to pursue the Somalia lead so he wouldn’t feel like brokering a deal with a Nazi was in vain. Demetri ends up explaining to Mark why he had been so gung-ho about this lead. He’s freaked out because of the news that he’s going to be murdered. Remind me why that’s an act break? It’s not like we haven’t already heard this information twice before.

The new plot introduced in this episode is the story of Nicole, the Benfords’ babysitter who has been AWOL since the pilot. She is finally back, and Mark and Olivia have inexplicably given Nicole her job back. We also see a scene of Nicole at a local Episcopal church, presumably her family church, since the priest accidentally called her by her sister’s name until corrected. Nicole tells the priest that she wants to do some volunteer work. She wants to do penance, because in her flash forward, she felt like she was being punished. The scene was all sorts of awkward, with the priest trying to get Nicole out of his office as quickly as possible. Later, Mark prompts Nicole to tell him what exactly she saw. She was being drowned. The scene looked reminiscent of a baptism, but it was way too violent, and Nicole felt herself slipping away at the end. She says she felt like she deserved it, but she doesn’t know what she will do to feel that way.

The final scene of the episode was my second favorite thing about it after the opening scene. Lloyd gets a phone call from somebody named Simon. And the moment I have been waiting for since before the series premiere happened- we got an appearance by none other than Domenic Monaghan, of Lord of the Rings and Lost fame! Dom has something shocking to reveal, of course. Simon and Lloyd appear to have been behind the black out. Or at least the greatest “disaster in human history.”

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