Sorry for posting this a little later than normal, I was busy running around in 40 degree (Farenheit, for my international readers) rain reffing soccer this weekend. I had to stop shaking before I could type this up. Anyway, I thought "Black Swan" was a very solid hour of FF, one that I thought really started to propel the story forward. Here's some thoughts:
*I thought the opening was great, directorally (if that's even a word). Loved the juxtaposition of the Bjork song (sorry, I don't know the title), with the slow-motion chaos of the blackout occurring. The scene brought into relief what exactly would happen if the entire world blacked out. People falling over, busses careening off the road, helicopters crashing, etc. It would be utter disaster, and it was shown well. One thing I did notice though: the birds, which were not crows, were still flying. If this has any significance, I have no idea. Just wanted to point it out.
*The picture during this week's title sequence was that of, well, a black swan. More specifically, it was an actual picture on Mark's corkboard, with, presumably, Mark pointing at it. We received, via Alda Herzog (otherwise known as "Hot, Blonde Terrorist"), an explanation of what a "Black Swan" is: "a high impact event beyond human expectation." This sort of fits in with what I mentioned in the preview for this episode. Certainly, the whole world blacking out at the same time is beyond human expectation. But I wonder if there is more significance to the term "Black Swan" than that. Why the picture then on Mark's board? Is it the code name for the operation? Further, as we know, black swans are native to Australia. There were two other references to Australia in the episode, as well: Ned's reference to doing the Australian Crawl, and the boxing kangaroo stuffed animal in Dylan's bedroom. All of these references, plus the kangaroo that hopped past Mark in the pilot episode, and, heck, even the Oceanic billboard in the pilot signal to me that, like a wise man once said, Australia might be the key to the whole thing.
*Speaking of Alda Herzog, what is her deal? She led Mark and Demetri to Customer Choice Restaurant Group, a one-store fast food business, for what reason? Yeah, they found the pot dealer, but nothing of significance. Will there be more there in the future (besides frozen yogurt)? It seemed like a wild goose chase. I think she'll have more to do with the blackout than she's letting on, but what? Does she really know about Demetri's future murder, or was she truthful when she explained that he posted it on the internet (how did she get service?) and that the whole office is talking about it (when has she talked to other people in the ofice?)? She obviously has some significance; I'm eager to find out what it is. Also, it almost seemed like she was prodding Mark to investigate further when she told him that he was "not willing to do what it takes for answers." I guess she could have just been acting snide, but it seemed more to me. One last note on her: the camera very clearly focused on her tapping her fingers during Mark's interrogation of her. Was there significance to this? Was she tapping out a message?
*From a TV production standpoint, I thought the chase scene was well done. Looked like the actors did a lot of their own stunt work, so that's always appreciated. Of most note, however, was Mark's insistence that solving Mosaic is what will lead them to preventing Demetri's murder. This is interesting because it informs the charcter's belief that the future can be changed. Does this mean, though, that the future can be changed permanently, or will it only change until the situation (to borrow a phrase) is course-corrected? Meaning, can Mark and Demetri successfully stop Demetri's murder, or can they just delay it to some further point in the future? The answers to this question will go a long way to defining the show's concept of time, and what the rules for it are. Some characters believe that their future is set (Bryce, Ned, Aaron). Some are hoping it isn't (Olivia, Demetri). Others think they can definitively change it (Mark, Nicole). This is obviously the big question we as an audience are supposed to be asking. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
*I know I go on and on about her, but Sonya Walger is doing some excellent work as Olivia. She can communicate brilliantly with the subtlest of looks. Case in point, check out the look she gave the woman counting out her change at the check-out counter when Olivia wanted to esacpe Lloyd, and the look that flashed across her face when she admitted Bryce was right about Ned's Addison's Disease. Ever so slightly, you saw Olivia register anger at being wrong, but also rueful realization that if Ned's flash was true, hers would be as well (perfectly contrasted to her earlier determined belief that the flashes were not true, precisely because she doesn't want hers to be true). It led to her slightly-too-long look at Lloyd when he was doing magic tricks for Dylan. Could she see, in that moment, how she could fall for Lloyd? Fantastic stuff.
*Bryce finally got some screen time this week. It was nice to see him as more than the guy who almost killed himself. In fact, to me, he's turning into the John Locke of FF. His insistence that Olivia take his advice on Ned's case, was a classic Jack-Locke "Man of Reason, Man of Faith" argument. Bryce even yelled at Olivia, "You're not listening to me!" in a manner that was very reminiscent of Locke's "Don't tell me what I can't do!" Bryce has ultimate faith in the flashes as they "saved" him from suicide. Similarly, Locke has ultimate faith in the Island as it cured him of his paralysis. Whether or not Bryce holds on to the mantle of "Man of Faith" remains to be seen, but as of this episode, he is the front-runner. Two last things about Bryce: 1) The girl he drew in his notebook looks Asian to me. On the FlashForwardCast with Jay and Jack, they theorized that the girl was Nicole. I'm not so sure. 2) Really? Doctors wouldn't know about pigment change so tehy'd have to look it up on, essentially, WebMD? Where's House when you need him? (By the way, I apologize for all of the Lost references. I'm pretty obsessed with the show, as this site can attest to, so it's not strange that I see parallels everywhere. Also, it is clear ABC and the creators of FF are trying to make FF the replacement for Lost once it ends in May. I'll try to keep the comparisons to a minimum, but I have to call it like I see it.)
*Nicole returned in this episode. She had evidently been AWOL after seeing herself being drowned in her flash. Interestingly, she said that in her flash she felt like she deserved to die. What could she possibly do to deserve being drowned? And as her flash wasn't blank, does that mean she survives? It wasn't clear to me how she knew Aaron (did anyone hear anything that I missed?), but it appears that she will take a page out of his 12-step playbook and try to lead a "better" life so she doesn't get what she believes is coming to her. We were shown the face of the person that was drowning her, albeit throught rippling water. To me, when I froze the picture, it looked like Simon. Their connection, I suppose, would be through Mark's investigation into Mosaic: if Mark gets too close, perhaps Simon goes after Nicole. This seems a little too easy, but I have no other theories at the moment. Perhaps more will be revealed if she works at a soup kitchen that Simon attends, or something.
So, that's about it. All in all a pretty good epis.....what? There was something else? Something big? Oh, you mean....
*LLOYD IS IN ON THE BLACKOUT!! Well, I personally think not. Let me explain. We see Lloyd take a call from the infamous Simon (Dominc Monaghan). Lloyd doesn't want to talk. He is obviously perturbed that Dylan was injured in the blackout. Simon is having none of it for, as he explains, he and Lloyd are "responsible for the single greatest disaster in human history." Now, the obvious meaning of this is that they, and whomever else they are in cahoots with, actually and purposefully caused the blackout. The other meaning, and the one I am leaning towards, is that they created the technology that cause the blackout, but for some other purpose. This technology was then exploited by the actual perpetrators of the event. Again, the first explanation is just too easy. Then again, I could just be looking for too many mysteries and conspiracies within the show (entirely possible). Either way, this was a huge development that catapulted the show forward. Great reveal that was expertly executed.
*One of my commentors, Katy Lied, pointed out that it was a bit unrealistic that Demetri would be able to marry Zoe as he would receive a lot of familial pressure to marry another Korean. Well, the writers were listening to Katy, because Zoe flat out said that she knew his parents would have difficulty with the wedding plan changes because they already didn;'t like her because "[She's] not Korean." Good work Katy.
*Hehehe. Olivia called Mark, Shakespeare.
*Any significance to the prominent display of Dylan's Star Wars: The Clone Wars bedspread?
*Mark speaks Sufi? Really?!?
*Who is the Celia that Al was looking up on Mosaic? Wasn't he in London in his Flash? Was the woman he was meeting with named Celia? Did I miss something obvious?
From what I wanted to see in my episode preview, we got: Nicole's return and reason for disappearing; a lot more info on Bryce, but still not what he saw in his flash; NO mention of Suspect Zero; NO Somalia or crows; and Demetri's persistent reluctance to tell Zoe what he didn't see in his flash, as I predicted (patting self on back). All in all, I got most of what I was looking for, and a whole lot more (Lloyd & Simon!).
Prediction: Lloyd and Simon did not perpetrate the blackout, but are responsible for creating the technology that caused it.
I have to say, FF has me hooked. Let's hope it remains strong so that it can take over for our favorite Island adventure next season. The writers have, supposedly, mapped out five seasons worth of story, which is encouraging as these serials need a direction. Here's hoping the execution is solid as well. Drop your thoughts and theories below in the Comments. Thanks always for reading.
I'm off to become the pimpin' Scarface of FlashFoward recaps.