At Our Lady of the Mood Lighting Memorial Hospital, Drs. Olivia and Bryce treat a cheery fellow named Ned Ned who complains of vague pains -- yet cheerily recounts how in his flashforward, he is evidently going one better than C. Thomas Howell, all Soul Man-style. ("I'm going to be some invincible black guy, like Shaft, or Bryant Gumbel.") When not nearly killing Ned Ned -- who has Addison's disease, and therefore was not equipped to handle the trauma of surgery -- Olivia counsels Lloyd on how to adjust to his fortnight of primary-parenting duties.
We also get Lloyd's version of his flashforward, in which he claims not to have seen the face of the woman in his flashforward, "but I knew we were together." Also, we in the audience now know that Lloyd's in cahoots with a sinister hobbit, and they're "responsible for the greatest single disaster in human history." O, how amusing that the architect of the flashforward will end up canoodling with the lady whose husband is looking for him! Or is the word I'm looking for… ironic?
Mark wants to fly to Somalia on the taxpayer dime, but Demetri manages to grab the FBI's travel budget for the week and goes to Indio, California, on a follow-up errand for his dirty-bomb investigation. Once at a greasy spoon, Demetri quickly ascertains that it's owned by Customer Choice Restaurant Group ("We're not quite a group yet," the manager says sheepishly) and then they're off and running after a fry guy who also doubles as a terrorist. The entire chase plays like something out of a videogame -- pitbulls! Children's pools! Boozy blondes opening doors right in agents' faces -- but the fry guy is, of course, nabbed with a backpack full of marijuana. ("I am going to be Scarface of pot!" the guy says.) Demetri does not take any of this well. He finally tells Mark -- via a punch to the jaw -- that he's going to be murdered soon. Mark vows to help Demetri solve his murder before it happens.
When Mark's not dealing with Demetri, he's tangling with the blonde terrorist lady from the pilot, who provides this week's theme with the following monologue: "Do you know what a black swan is? It's a metaphor used to describe a high-impact event, something so rare, it's beyond the realm of human expectation. It comes from the 17th century when scientists assumed that all swans were white. They were wrong." Then she alludes to a Sufi parable, snarks on Mark, and generally makes us feel bad for investigators who have to spend their professional lives wading through such tendentious bullshit in search of actual, usable explanations.
Finally, babysitter Nicole re-emerges as a character. She's found religion post-flashforward, but unfortunately, the church she wanders into is sort of a Buddy Christ operation. Also, the priest she consults with may or may not be the guy who tries to drown her in her flashforward. (He sure looks like it right now.)
The episode begins in a lovely downtown Los Angeles park. As Bjork's cover of "It's Oh So Quiet" begins, we see everyone slump into their flashforward, which makes this, what, the second episode where we get the recreation of the cataclysmic event? From the depths of the couch, Mr. Sobell grumpily asks if this will happen every week. I hope so -- I look forward to the episode where the apocalyptic death cult has a flashforward, then comes to just in time to realize their Dear Leader is wrong about everyone being bodily beamed into Heaven-traveling spaceships on Christmas Eve.
Anyway, the point to witnessing this facet of the blackout is so we can watch a city bus roll into the water with its unconscious cargo, then watch the bus fill with water as its passengers sit unawares. The juxtaposition of the song lyrics ("you cross your heart and hope to die/until it's over") with the bus sinking into the lake and the bodies floating around is pretty striking. One passenger comes to while his head is still just above water; he takes out his Bjork-blasting earbuds and calmly looks around. Another passenger comes up; she's sputtering in a foreign language, and the man swims over to reassure her, "You're going to be fine, okay? What we're going to do is on one, two, three, you're going to take a big breath with me, okay? One, two, three." The two suck in a great lungful of air, then duck under again. The man kicks out a bus window -- it takes long enough to make me really nervous as a viewer, so well done there with the pacing, director -- then escorts the woman out to safety. He then swims toward the light and the surface.
Zip! The man's finishing his story in the hospital, saying brightly that he wishes he could have saved more people. All he could do was a bit of freestyle (AKA "Australian crawl") back to the shore, then walked home. That was two weeks ago, but he's in the hospital today, telling his story to Bryce and Olivia, because "I didn't need a doctor until now." Further discussion reveals that this amiable chap is named Edward Ned -- please call him Ned Ned -- and he doesn't know how he stayed so calm. Also, he's flying on morphine at the moment.
Bryce asks why Ned Ned didn't come in sooner, and he's like, "It didn't hurt so badly before. I thought I had just bruised my spleen." Bryce then asks about Ned Ned's flashforward. "Not where I was going with this," Olivia says tartly, as she's hung up on the abdominal pain and low white cell count, but Ned Ned spins a compelling tale and we must divert our attention from lessening leukocytes to take heed: