If FlashForward gets just a little cheesier, it'll qualify as full-on camp. It takes itself very seriously without having the engaging story to back up its self-obsession, and the fleeting attempts at characterization via humor come off as lame and lifeless. Short version: Lame, son. This week's "Black Swan" was no different, and a reminder that for a show clearly trying to ape the genre success of Lost, FlashForward isn't very good at cribbing from big brother. Set up a big arc and complement it with smaller, self-contained adventures; repeat until cult status is achieved. FlashForward did reasonably well with the first part but it is eagerly, emphatically sucking at the second part, refusing to make the episodes feel like they matter in the short or long run. You know what happened this week? Same stuff as last week. No progress was made at all in any area.
Blah blah Joseph Fiennes is still all hyped about his bulletin board of clues, and he wants to go to Somalia to investigate a 1991 report of dead crows and a village's loss of consciousness. His boss, Courtney B. Vance, calls shenanigans and says he and John Cho should focus on solving crimes they can prove, so they turn their attention to the blonde female terrorist they apprehended two weeks earlier on the day of the blackout.
"Hey wait," you say. "Daniel, surely you're skipping stuff. Didn't Vance say last week that he was on Fiennes' side for now? Because the stuff in Fiennes' vision was all coming true? Isn't this turnaround kind of sudden and random and just a stupid plot contrivance?" YES TO ALL.
So Fiennes and Cho run around in Indio, Calif. (which is just as ugly as the show makes it look) based on a tip from the blonde, but it's really just an excuse for them to fight. Cho even punches him! But Fiennes is all, dude, just hang in there little kitty, we'll solve your murder before it happens, Minority Report style!
The ep also dealt with Sonya Walger's refusal to believe the visions, which almost led to the death of one of her patients, which would have been tragic but helpful in a big-picture way. The other doctor pieces together from the patient's vision that the patient has Addison's Disease, but Sonya proceeds to operate on the guy, who promptly goes into shock before she accepts his condition and administers the right medicine. So maybe the guy gets to live and see his vision come true, but WHO CARES. The visions haven't been proven right yet, just not-wrong. If the guy had actually died, it would have meant the visions aren't inevitable and can be altered. But because he lives, we still have to wait to see if his vision comes true. Basically, the show accepts the visions as fact by not allowing them to be falsified, which isn't the same as them being true.
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Short version: It's still circular and weak and uninvolving, and frustratingly so because it could have been so much better and smarter, grappling with the ramifications of its central concept instead of turning into a regrettable blend of procedural and hospital drama.
There was also a plot with Fiennes' babysitter, whose vision is of her being drowned (though it, like all visions, is shot with a third-person POV). She even goes to see a ludicrously absent-minded young priest about her fears, expressing a desire to volunteer at the church. But this guy is Reverend Lovejoy. She asks if the visions were caused by God, and I swear to you, his answer was jaw-droppingly close to the cursory speech Lovejoy gave Flanders when a tornado wrecks Flanders' house: "Short answer, yes with an 'if'; long answer, no with a 'but.'" The guy even gives her a "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirt to make up for it! Screw you for being lazy and derivative and just plain tired, FlashForward.
Groaner meta-reference of the night: Sonya referring to Fiennes as "the Shakespeare of cheesy dad humor."
But then Dominic Monaghan shows up when he calls the guy Sonya hooks up with in her vision. He apologizes if the call is an annoyance but says something to the effect of, "It's just one of those little inconveniences you'll just have to put up with now that we're responsible for the biggest disaster in history." Melodramatic exposition FTW! Then the episode ended, only to threaten a return seven days hence. It'll probably happen, too.