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Flash Forward, Episode 104: “Black Swan”

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Our secondary characters get a little more illumination this week as we find out why the babysitter vanished, a little more of what Dr. Bryce saw, and an ominous twist to our young dad’s background.  Plus FBI partner angst, medical drama, and more terrorist connections than you can shake an ebony waterfowl at.

1) Nicole the babysitter’s place in the story is still a little undefined, even with her disappearance somewhat explained.  She’s revealed at the beginning of the episode talking to AAron, our favorite loosely connected buddy of Mark’s – is Nicole his other daughter? He speaks of his missing daughter as having babysit Nicole when they were younger, but the whole connection seems disjointed as if some exposition was cut somewhere along the way.   Regardless of the connection, she is beholden to the Benford family and ashamed of having walked out on them.

Mark’s relationship with her is fatherly, which is nice to see in an age when almost any television father/babysitter relationship is automatically telegraphed to be creepy.  She explains that she saw herself being deliberately drowned in her Flash-Forward, and she felt the emotion that she deserved it.  She’s not able to remember the face of the man who’s drowning her but she did see him.

Mark promises to use his resources to help her, and I would be they will involved a sketch artist.  I thought the man drowning her could be Simon, aka LOST’s Charlie (who we will get to again momentarily) but his vague face through the water doesn’t appear so.  My theory at the moment is that she is being drowned by D. Gibbons.  I’m thinking at some point in the future D. Gibbons comes to kill or kidnap little Charlie for some reason and Nicole thinks he’s harmed the little girl.  Overcome by guilt and grief, she feels she deserves to be drowned.  This would tie into Charlie’s vision that “D. Gibbons is a bad man”.  I can also see, based on later revelations, that on April 29, 2010 Nicole will be in charge of watching/protecting Charlie and young Dylan Simcoe (which would explain how Charlie knows him when she sees him in the hospital).  Dylan also knows Olivia because at some point he and his dad will become close to her and her family.

2) Bryce, Olivia’s intern, takes an unusual interest in a man named Ned who survived a bus crash during the blackout and later develops a medical condition related to the accident.  Because of whatever revelation he saw in his own flash forward, he has begun incorporating those of his patients into their diagnosis and treatments.  Olivia is skeptical and reluctant to believe in them due to her fear of her own vision of being with Simcoe coming true but comes around after Bryce’s insight during surgery allows her to save Ned’s life.

First of all, Bryce’s insistence on calling her “Dr. B.” all the time is very annoying.  Dude, either call her Dr. Benford or Olivia – reducing “Benford” to “B” isn’t really saving you all that many syllables.  Anyway, we catch a glimpse of Bryce’s flash in a rough sketch he’s made of a young woman.  He still is unwilling to share all the details (we have to have something to stretch out the suspense over a season) but the vision of this woman was apparently enough to completely eliminate his suicidal mindset.  We still don’t know why he was suicidal in the first place, although he puts off seeing a hospital-ordered psychiatrist.  I would imagine his tendencies are still there and will manifest themselves again given the right stimulus.  I’m betting the young woman may be Janis Hawk from the FBI, and she is pregnant with his child.  Maybe Bryce is standing across the room, watching her ultrasound and confident in the knowledge she’s his wife (or whatever) and they’re having a baby together.  I’d have to watch the episode again to compare the sketch to Janis to be more certain, but I’m fairly sure the  two characters haven’t met.  Yet.

3) Our mild-mannered Lloyd Simcoe is not who he seems.  He’s consistently been shown to be overly caring, gracious and filled with guilt about not being there for his son over the years.  Despite Olivia’s constant efforts to move his son Dylan to PT and out of her sphere of influence, he and his bad penny dad keep showing back up.  (Ha! Penny! Olivia! I made a funny).   Then Lloyd receives an interesting phone call from “Simon” (finally, our favorite Drive Shaft guitarist shows up) informing him they need to meet, and informing us that Lloyd is at least knowledgeable of, if not partially responsible for, the global blackout.  I’m interested to see how many more of the cast have ties to the conspiracy, even if they don’t realize it.

4) Finally, the “main” plot.  Demetri continues to be haunted by his own impending demise.  He interrogates our resident blond terrorist Alda from the premiere, who teases them with just enough information to seem suspicious and send he and Mark on a wild-terrorist chase through a trailer park.  The man they catch was concealing pot in an old radioactive material storage case, so it’s unclear what Alda’s angle was except to muddy the waters.  Mark (who by the way looks worse and worse each episode as if his nerves are gradually fraying – which will lead to his drinking again) gets to slap some sense into Demetri’s funk about his supposed future murder and soon secures his partner’s cooperation.   Alda takes on the Benjamin Linus role as the smug, frustrating prisoner with all the enigmatic answers, spouting off about “Black Swan” events and how they’re involved in things they don’t understand and can’t control.

5) Meanwhile, Mark still wants to travel to Somalia to investigate the dead crows incident mentioned by the Nazi Rudolph Geyer last week.  His boss and Demetri both think it’s a waste of time, but Mark begins to show some obsessive tendencies by enlisting a hacker to break into CIA satellite photos of the area from 1991 that they are reluctant to share.  This obsessive behavior would not surprise me to eventually cause a strain or even a break from the FBI in the future – which would make his flash forward of being in his office, chased by bad guys, not quite as it seems.

For the second week in a row, the subplots have outweighed the main plot in both time and substance.  I find this a little odd, as the Mosaic investigation seems to ought to be the main focus of the show. I wonder if the producers found it difficult early going to create main plots that didn’t give away too much too early, so we get to spend the first half of the season establishing our sub-characters and their stories.  It’s not unusual in an intricately plotted story like this, but I would expect the main characters of Mark and Demetri to have a little more to do.  No big deal.

The “Black Swan” event is a carry-over concept from LOST that most fans of that show will recognize, if not in name at least in concept.  The “Incident” on the island was termed one such event, something of such momentous importance its ripples were long and widespread.  I think it’s obvious  the Global Blackout is one such event, so I’m not certain why it was important to give it a tag and highlight it as such.

Next week – more angst!  More puzzles!  More strained looks by Mark!  Explosions!  See you then :)


ETA – I forgot to mention an important dichotomy that is really spreading – those who look to the flashes for hope and reasons to go on, and those that look to them as events to avoid at all costs.  When those two desires start colliding, when one person’s actions to prevent their future interfere with another’s possible future that they feel must happen, sparks are going to fly.  If Olivia feels that preventing her future with Lloyd can be accomplished by somehow preventing or obstructing Bryce’s future with the mystery woman, or if Demetri’s attempts to prevent his own murder jeopardize AAron’s chances to get his daughter back alive, sparks are going to fly.

Also, the sequence at the beginning with the bus crash juxtaposed with against the song was very effective.  I wonder if we’ll be seeing more and more clips of how people dealt with their blackouts.

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