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Sobell: B | Grade It Now!
Hong Kong Phooey
"Hey, Mark." Mark growls, "This woman is a material witness to a murder." Nhadra coolly reminds him that there's been no murder yet, and he's the one who's going to determine whether there will be. Marshall negotiates a mutual gun-lowering on everyone's behalf, and that's how Mark and Demetri end up on the pavement and handcuffed. As Nhadra walks off, Mark tells her, "This isn't over." "It never is," she says dismissively as she walks off.

Back at Our Lady of the Mood Lighting Memorial, the heavy hand of irony has set up a tableau: Lloyd being stared at with pure loathing while someone sings about having a wonderful Christmastime. Olivia comes along right then with the transfer papers, and Lloyd thanks her sincerely, adding, "especially after all the inconvenience I've caused you and your family." Olivia insists that Lloyd didn't do anything wrong, and as they walk over to check Dylan out of the hospital, Olivia asks, "You really think there won't be another blackout?" "Not unless we recreate the exact conditions of our experiment, no," Lloyd replies. Olivia then compliments him: "That was an incredibly brave thing you did, coming forward to take responsibility like that." Lloyd wryly replies that there's a fine line between brave and stupid. "Oh, I didn't say it wasn't stupid," Olivia adds. Okay -- this scene is intriguing, because this is the first time we've seen Olivia treat Lloyd with anything other than awkward, barely-there civility, and the fact that it's happening when Lloyd's extremely vulnerable suggests something about what Olivia's wired for in a romantic relationship. And this scene also keeps tugging at my brain because this entire episode seems to be putting Lloyd in the pure and shining light of moral certitude while Olivia's husband is off threatening innocent people with rendition and taking hostages. It's like the writers are teeing up for a plot that will have viewers rooting for Olivia to leave her jerk husband for noble Lloyd. I feel so manipulated.

ANYWAY. Lloyd says he took responsibility for what he hopes are the right reasons (I see what you did there, writers!) and now that his entire life story is public knowledge, Olivia makes small talk, asking Lloyd about his time in Harvard back in the '90s. "It was the best time of my life. I was doing my doctorate, I had this beautiful apartment above a cigar shop," he says, smiling. Olivia knows the shop: "I was supposed to go to Harvard in '98, and I was going to live in the building next door." She didn't because Mark got his job with the FBI and he was headed to Los Angeles, so out west she came. Lloyd stammers, "My-my wife moved into that building. That's how I met her." Olivia's amused by that: "So if I had gone, we probably would have met." There's an awkward moment, and Lloyd rushes to fill it with "So have you heard of the Many Worlds interpretation? ... It was coined by a physicist called Hugh Everett in the '50s. Basically, the idea is that anything that could have happened in our past actually did happen in some other universe. So all those alternate decisions and choices you made are still playing themselves out in those other worlds. If you buy the theory, I suppose in some other universe, you did go to Harvard, and we did meet." Another pause, slightly less awkward, and it gives us viewers at home time to absorb the idea that these flashforwards may be ways for people to cross worlds, as it were, and hop back on paths they were already on in some alternate universe. Again, I feel like I'm being manipulated into rooting for Lloyd and Olivia to get together, all "Hey, it's cool! Over on Earth-616, Olivia was initially married to Mark, but now she can follow the life path of Olivia over on Earth-98 and hook up with Lloyd."

Back in the gracious Hong Kong airport, Marshall Vogel is congratulating himself on avoiding an international incident. Demetri asks, "Why are you keeping us from her?" and Marshall says, "You don't need to know what she knows. So let me get you on your flight, okay?" The penny drops for Mark and he realizes Nhadra's an asset in some intelligence game: "You're not Legats. If you were, [the] Bureau never would have let us get off the plane. And after what went down in that alley, this whole thing stinks like a Company job." Marshall says, "We prefer the term 'Central Intelligence Agency.' I hate to break it to you, but Mosaic is bigger than you, bigger than the FBI, bigger than any one country's intelligence organization. You're just a tiny speck, Mark -- a fleck of dandruff on the nape of this thing's neck. But if it would make you feel better to take a swing at me, then go right ahead. It's not like you've got anything to lose." Mark doesn't exactly look like a man on the verge of physical violence. He looks like a man on the verge of saying, "I am going to tell my brother Voldemort what you said to me, and then you'll be sorry." Mark's phone rings; Marshall tells him, "That call, I would take."

Ah, but Mark's going to regret not letting this one go to voicemail, as it's Wedeck letting him know that the American ambassador in China has foregone the usual routine of sending family newsletters and fruitcakes this Christmas and given the FBI the gift of the surveillance footage in the dim sum restaurant. Mark's little hostage-taking episode was not on Wedeck's wish list. "I'm calling to congratulate you. You've succeeded in changing the future," he says acidly. When Mark hangs up, we find out how: Mark is no longer authorized to carry his gun or his badge. As you can imagine, this will make being an FBI agent challenging, if not downright improbable. Mark gets in Marshall's face all "Looks like we finally have something in common: Neither of us are FBI." And neither of you are as awesome as Wedeck. There -- that's two things you boys can bond over.

Nhadra's looking over her collage -- I believe there's a "Wanted" poster of someone in the corner, but I can't discern if it's D. Gibbons or not -- and says, "They've been following you ever since you destroyed that doll factory. You are fortunate they did not see you tonight. Coming here was a mistake. I can't protect you." The camera swings back to a set of chairs and a coffee table and none other than D. Gibbons says, "Then I'll just have to find someone who can." Aieee! It's Nhadra's third visitor as prophesied by the movie playing in the beginning of the episode! Can't ... breathe ... too ... many ... references ... adding ... subtext ...

"So this is Christmas/and what have you done/another year over/and a new one just begun ..." As the musical cue kicks in none too subtly, Mark and Demetri while away an awkward pre-flight waiting period by watching A Christmas Carol. "Why show me this if I am past all hope?" Scrooge asks on screen. "Assure me that I may yet change these shadows that you've shown me, by altered life. I will live in the past, the present and the future, and not shut out the lessons that they teach." Gosh, guys, do you feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? Or does a troupe of roving thespians need to act it out for you while boarding group A is getting checked into the flight?

"So this is Christmas" continues, and Demetri apologizes: "It's my murder, my problem. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here with your badge in my pocket." Mark promises that he's not going to shoot Demetri, nor let the investigation kill Demetri. Merry Christmas, Dem! That vow is just your size.

Back at the hospital, Nicole's waylaid the brooding Bryce and she hands over a present. Bryce opens it -- the gift is wrapped in such a way where the lid lifts right off, and I am here to tell you that it's a remarkably easy way to present a gift, but terribly boring for the recipient, as there's no satisfying r-r-r-r-r-rip of the paper. ANYWAY. Nicole's gotten Bryce a Japanese manekimeko -- a lucky cat statue. She explains, "Depending upon which paw is raised, it promises different things for your future." The raised right paw indicates luck in love. Bryce hugs Nicole in thanks, and she assures him, "Don't worry -- you'll find her." When they separa

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