This was actually my least favorite FlashForward episode so far. And it was still really good. I think my complaint is mostly the lack of crazy excitement...because FlashForward is finally getting down to business.
"Black Swan" opened with a slightly different perspective on the chaos of the day when everyone blacked out, tracking the progress of a tour bus as it drove through a cheerily colored park of passed out people and into a lake, set to Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet." On its own, the sequence was brilliant. Considered with the magnificent catastrophe of FlashForward's pilot in mind, it brings my appreciation of this show's production quality to a whole new level.
Anyway, the punchline of this sequence was the introduction of a character called Ned. Ned. Edward Ned. But call him Ned. Ned served as a foil to bring the starkly different reactions Dr. Benford and Bryce had to their FlashForwards and the ways that each point of view has affected their daily life and work. That character/story development was necessary, but a little dull. Much more of interest, Ned (Keir O'Donnell) also acted as a way to balance the mood of the show, providing a reminder that FlashForward isn't just a hardxcore mindbending drama - it's also a great place for a cheap joke. "Black like Oprah" and leather pants. Comedy gold for the easily amused.
The other Benford half spent the episode struggling with his partner's fear of death and their blonde prisoner's being a dick. The latter, if it's supposed to be an intriguing angle, is about the furthest thing from - although I could see it improving with time. The former, though, oh man. I thought that John Cho and Joseph Fiennes doing obstacle course criminal chasing was awesome...until they started shouting at each other. That was ridiculous in how fantastic it was. They are so good.
Also reintroduced in this episode, Nicole the babysitter. Of all the characters and storylines introduced in the first episode, she was definitely the thing I was most skeptical about. But now that we've established that she's part of the crazy web of connections in more ways than just being the babysitter and that she's got some actual emotional depth to her, I'm definitely curious to see where it all goes.
A lot of "Black Swan" involved tying up some loose ends. We got a little more of Bryce and his new look at life. The still-nameless blonde convict Mark and Demetri picked up during the pilot was brought back into the picture and revealed to be at least a little bit involved in what's going on. As I said, Nicole was brought back onto the scene. And, last but certainly not least, Lloyd Simcoe got some attention.
Lloyd's relationship with his autistic son and the development thereof had me awww-ing the entire episode. That part was quite well-done. But then Lloyd got a call at the close of the episode and Simon (aka Dominic Monaghan) was on the other end saying "We're responsible for the greatest disaster in human history." And just like that, "Black Swan" went from pretty good to OMGTHISISSOCOOL. There are some semi-answers coming? ("Semi-answers," which here means "more questions and more convolutedness.") I am SO EXCITED for next week.
The British are coming.
(This review is also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com)