4. Black Swan
My frustration with this show continued unabated for most of this episode, until the final third where it suddenly set off in totally different, and more promising, direction.
They’ve reworked the blackout events a few times now, and start with another where a bus goes into a lake. Only two people on the bus survive, who come around before they’ve drowned. And one of them, Ned, is admitted to hospital claiming that in his future he’s now black, “like Oprah”. Ned presumes, I guess, that medical staff don’t see many African Americans, and needs a hint on that.
This turns out to be an interesting subplot, even if the guy playing Ned appears to be channelling Owen Wilson. Between them Olivia and Bryce end up saving Ned by accepting his vision of the future is true, although not until Olivia is willing to accept that later in the story.
Back at the hospital Olivia keeps bumping into Lloyd Simcoe, even if her best efforts are to avoid him. She even tries to have his son moved to another ward, but he bounces right back.
The tension between I-have-no-future-Demitri and mine’s-a-large-one-Mark is again centre stage, and actually this tension is mirrored by the same rejection and acceptance shtick that Olivia and Bryce are having at the hospital later on. Yes, we get this, but it’s being laid on rather thickly, don’t you think?
After planting the seed of the Somalia event at the end of episode three, Mark gets told early on that he’s not being allowed to pursue that clue, presumably because the budget doesn’t allow. Instead they go for a burger, and catch a drug dealer.
This was an exceptionally stupid scene, because Demitri and Mark turn up at a fast food outlet following a clue, and the manager announces to everyone that they’re FBI! At which point one middle-eastern looking employee makes a ridiculous amount of noise, to catch their attention presumably, and then runs off making more noise.
If he’d just walked away they’d have sat there for the next ten minutes wondering why service was so bad.
They eventually catch up with him in a trailer park where retired jazz trumpeters live, amazingly. He’s a drug seller, so it’s a dead end clue-wise.
This is all a sideline to Mark and Demitri clearing the air about their wildly different prospects, and Demitri admitting he knows when and how he’ll die.
Back at the hospital, Bryce has worked out that given Ned’s skin pigment prediction he’s got Addison’s disease, which will also make him very likely to die on the operating table. Olivia doesn’t accept this, and so to prove his point Bryce stands outside the OR waiting for Ned to kick the bucket and prove his point for him.
Actually, as we’ve not seen a single incident where anything that’s happened has directly contradicted a flash forward, maybe he’s supremely confident she can’t kill him. Whichever way it’s supposed to be, she realises he’s dying and takes the appropriate action to save him just in time.
What I didn’t mention is that Nicole turns up again, after disappearing for three stories. She’s seen someone trying to kill her, and maybe succeeding. I can’t say she contributes much here, other than to conveniently look after Mark and Olivia’s children while he’s out running down clues and she’s saving the world one Owen Wilson clone at a time.
The story ends with a nice twist, and the long overdue appearance of Dominic Monaghan as Simon, who it appears – along with Lloyd Simcoe – is actually responsible for the blackout.
This was better than the previous two outings, but FlashForward needs to stop pushing the fight or embrace the future line and start developing some plots that don’t rely on if you can change the future or not.
We know the future isn’t the same one they all see, because they’re not waiting for it. So the only debate is if, while the details are different, is the fate of the characters equally on rails?
If they don’t develop more interesting questions about the implications of all this by the time we get the answer, we probably won’t care.
Maybe next week the budget will stretch to Somalia.
Check out our review of episode 3 here.