Overall Rating: 8.0
I think FlashForward is going to become known for its' "WHAT??" endings. At the end of every episode so far, there's always some kind of event designed to shock the audience! We'll get to that shortly. For now, I'll simply state that I think the show's writers and directors and demonstrating a remarkable skill for dramatic devices and this episode is loaded with little moments that draw you in beautifully.
Cut for Spoilers
For ease of navigation, we'll break this plot into its four semi-connected subplots and discuss each one on its own. The main story here centers on a patient who arrives on Olivia Benford's rotation with an unusual serene quality and increasing abdominal pain since the blackout (caused by trauma he suffered during a bus accident that nearly drowned him). The man, Edward "Ned" Ned (yes, really...LOL) reports that in his FlashForward, he witnessed himself "rocking leather pants" (again...yes, really :D ) in a club. He was serene, confident, and happy - oh and he was suddenly black instead of white. House...er...I mean Dr. Varley...wants to pursue the intel from Ned's vision, but Olivia angrily rejects it as superstitious nonsense and orders him to focus on the medicine. When he tracks down a condition that explains all of his future symptoms as well as his current ones (minus the bleeding trauma) - Addison's Disease - she again angrily rejects his input and proceeds with a surgery that very nearly kills her patient until she finally relents and administers the needed dose of Hydrocortisol. While Bryce is embracing the FlashForwards because his future was bright, Olivia tried to fight the future by ignoring it, including making several attempts to escape from Lloyd Simcoe and his son, all aborted by hospital procedure and Lloyd's increasingly unsettling persistence. Lloyd takes some advice Olivia offers to get rid of him and spends a day in his son's room re-learning about who he is, greatly easing his transition back into active parenting. However, at the last moment, we see Lloyd taking a call from a mysterious man named Simon, who makes the startling claim that he and Lloyd were "responsible for the greatest disaster in human history."
Her husband has a better approach to dealing with the future. Mark wants to throw all of his investigative efforts into tracking down the Somalia lead, but Stan tells him to back off and stop pressuring their higher-ups to spend time chasing urban legends about dead crows. Meanwhile, agent Noh interviews Alda Hertzog - the woman they were pursuing at the time of the blackout who they suspected in a terrorist dirty bomb threat. She rattles his cage insisting that his time is running out and throws out a bogus lead which agent Noh pursues obsessively, culminating in a wild chase through a barrio in Indio, CA when a suspect flees the restaurant they were investigating. After Noh gets brutal with the suspect, they learn that he was nothing but a small time Marijuana dealer and Noh confesses his knowledge about his own murder. Mark pleads with him to view his FLashForward as a warning and to focus on the Mosaic investigation for his own sake as well as everyone else's. Later, Mark interrogates Ms. Hertzog, and she crows arrogantly about her connections with very dangerous terrorists, saying Mark doesn't have the stomach to be in charge of the blackout investigation. Mark decides to break Federal law and hack into CIA satellite records looking for information on Somalia.
Finally, Nicole returns to her job babysitting Charlie - she is obviously spooked about what she saw in her FlashForward. After Aaron Stark encourages her to trust in a higher power (part of the AA mantra) and have faith that whatever she saw, she saw for a reason, she even seeks volunteer work with the minister of her local Episcapal church (the minister strikes me as rather insensitive and thoughtless, FWIW). She wants to atone for a crime she has not yet committed. Later, when Mark confronts her about what she saw, she tells him she saw herself being murdered - and what's worse...she felt as though she deserved her fate - like she'd done something horrible and was being punished justly. Mark again makes an impassioned plea for her not to react to her vision as though it were ironclad fate...to believe that they could prevent it from happening.
The whole "Ned" case was written very well, if you ask me. I loved the deliciously ironic choice of music to launch the show and Ned himself had a very quirky way about him that amused me greatly. Olivia's tap-dancing in a nausea-inducingly tense situation with Lloyd and with her own mental state regarding her FlashForward. That tension is VERY palpable and well-focused. I thought there was a lot of well-done nuance in Nicole's story as well. The only thing that bothered me was the dismissive tone I picked up from the minister...I'm not sure why they chose to write him so coldly. Very few members of the cloth that I've ever met would react to Nicole's story the way he did, no matter how busy they were.
Excellent performances by Sonya Walger and John Cho take center stage in this episode. I continue to be very impressed with Walger's portrayal of her inner conflict as it evolves. It's not going to get any easier for her going forward, so I am greatly looking forward to seeing her take on a larger role in the story. Cho has shown a wide range of abilities, from straight man to wild-eyed maniac obsessively chasing away his own death - all with skill. I didn't see anything to raise major concern in the rest of the cast this time around - perhaps owing to the lack of O'Byrne.
It's subtle if you're not looking for it actively, but I believe the writers of the show are laying the foundation to deliver a message that is very much NOT deterministic. The hero of the cast - Mark - is at the very center of the investigation that is founded on the belief that knowledge of a possible future can help prevent further disasters. He personifies multiple times in this episode the need to view these FlashForwards not as set in stone but as a patchwork of warnings that can help us do good for the future world IF and ONLY IF we take direct action...take our lives into our own hands and take responsibility for the consequences or our actions. Olivia tries to bury her head in the sand and almost kills someone rather than accept a potentially divine gift of knowledge and make use of it to affect positive changes in the here and now. Mark has the right idea. I hope that's the message we're supposed to receive.
OLIVIA: Mr. ... Ned?
NED: Oh actually, call me Ned. My friends call me that.
OLIVIA: Ned Ned??
NED: Yes yes. (LOL!)
OLIVIA: O....K....the chart says the E.R. docs gave you Morphine for the pain?
NED: They should change the name of it to More-Fine, because that's all I'm feelin' now! (LOL)
OLIVIA: It's been two weeks since the blackout and this is the first time you've been to the hospital?
NED: Didn't need it until now.
OLIVIA: OK, Ned, we're going to set you up with a CT scan.
BRYCE: By the way...what did you see...in your FlashForward?
NED: You really want to know? (Bryce nods) OK...I was rocking leather pants! (flash of him slapping his own butt in leather pants) I never wear leather. It's one of my top fears right after clowns and dogs. But...I was in leather and it looked amazing! I was at this club I've always wanted to go but never did. I don't know, I guess I've been too nervous...afraid I wouldn't fit in because I was...too nervous. But it wasn't like that. I was happy! I was in my element! Oh...and I was black. (LOL...just tossed that little detail in there...)
DEMITRI: March 15th.
DEMITRI: March 15th. Three gunshots to the chest. I'm not just going to die, Mark. I'm going to be murdered.
MARK: How did you find out?
DEMITRI: Anonymous caller. She said she read it in an intelligence report. That's all she gave me to go on.
MARK: What made you think you'd find anything out here?
DEMITRI: Alda Hertzog said I was running out of time.
MARK: That's it?? Demitri...she's a pro! She pulled one over on you!
DEMITRI: How? How am I supposed to go on with this?
MARK: Somehow, you get past the fear and you fight. We can beat this, you and me!
MARK: Because we've seen it. We can use what we saw...to stop what we saw. In my vision, two armed gunmen were coming to kill me. Now we're partners, so chances are, if they're coming for me, they're coming for you too. That's why I want to put everything we have on Mosaic. For your sake, for my sake...for everyone else. (YES! Our hero speaks the correct words. :) )