Al's death makes the news, as he's apparently the very first person in the whole wide world to think, Hey, if I off myself, I can throw one or more flashforwards into doubt. Some folks -- Mark among them -- are giddy with the idea that the future is, once again, a blank slate upon which to write their most hopeful projections. So he whisks Olivia off for a celebratory "Hurrah! We won't sink into alcoholism and adultery!" weekend, but it's cut short by a call from Demetri: the star-tattooed guy who is supposed to come after Mark on April 29 has surfaced, so maybe Mark wants to pursue this lead before it pursues him? Mark does. He leaves Olivia with a lovely parting gift -- the lingerie that she'll be wearing in her flashforward. Mark and Olivia later debate whether the visions are "that much more set in stone than [they] thought" or if they can change things. Olivia argues, "We can change things, Mark … we just have to decide how far we're willing to go to make it happen." In her case, she's willing to throw out the lingerie.
Mark, Janis and Lloyd chat with a witness, Ingrid Alvarez, who watched the star-armed guy and a pal kill a guy in the alley. She can't give too many details, and Mark gets the bright idea to use her as bait to grab the star-armed guy. Demetri's for it: "We catch these guys tonight, we can finally put a face on our enemy." So they set their trap in Ingrid's cockatiel emporium (I swear, I am not making this up), but unfortunately, their quarry ends up dead. Even more unfortunately, none of the FBI geniuses think that maybe, more than one person can have this type of tattoo. (We see this in the cliffhanger, where Ricky Jay is blithely dispatching another star-armed guy.)
Meanwhile, Lloyd is suffering pangs of conscience, as he believes his experiment caused the flashforward. Dr. Hobbit's not having that, and he proposes they settle their do-I-tell-or-not dispute via a game of poker. By the way, don't ever play poker with Dr. Hobbit, because he's a total trash-talking douche. It is eminently satisfying when Lloyd wins. (Even if he has to use his new sleight-of-hand skills to do it.)
Tracy, Aaron's daughter, is home, but she's suffering from recurring nightmares, and she's asking Aaron to keep her existence on the down-low. She finally explains what's got her so spooked: her Humvee was attacked by a Blackwater-esque private military contracting organization called Jericho, and the attack happened about a week after Tracy watched Jericho massacre an Afghani village. The Humvee attack left Tracy short one leg, yet she somehow managed to survive this alone in the desert and has been living "on the run," as she's concluded that she is safe from neither Jericho nor the military that insists on employing these thugs accountability-free.
And in plots that were entirely superfluous: Nicole is part of an exciting new cult devoted to the idea that Al Gough sacrificed himself so that free will could return to the land. Too bad that every other plot showed people hurtling toward their flashforwards.
I need to begin this recap with an apology. In prior weeks, I have been spelling Bad Ass Boss Courtney B. Vance's character name as "Weddick." It was what I saw on IMDB, and it was what appeared in closed-captioning. This week, a nameplate on the desk showed the spelling as "Wedeck." I apologize for misspelling it lo these many episodes; it will be correctly spelled from here out. Or until the fiends at ABC alter the spelling again.
Pearl Jam's "Unthought Known" begins playing as the scene pans down to a leafy suburban street. We see Celia of the last episode getting her letter from Al Gough. The camera swoops across the Pacific bluffs and we see Aaron watching his daughter sleep on a pull-out couch in the living room. He looks a lot less happy than you'd expect from a father whose kid came back from the dead. Eddie Vedder continues to have deep thoughts as Demetri studies Mark's board. Zip! Celia's now holding a press conference where she holds up the letter and tells her story. Cut to the news boxes outside the FBI building in Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Post runs with the story "THE FUTURE CAN BE CHANGED." In some quaint seaside town off highway one, in some quaint and overpriced hotel right on the Pacific, Mark and Olivia enjoy some marital calisthenics. How fortunate that Eddie Vedder's bellowing gets them in the mood! Nicole continues to do her volunteer work, and as she does, she notices a flyer for a group called "Sanctuary." They have a logo that, to be frank, looks like a stylized diagram showing people where the little man in the boat can be found (if you know what I mean), but that doesn't appear to deter Nicole. Bryce continues to obsessively draw his dream girl. Lloyd continues to do card tricks, much to Dylan's delight. The music crescendos as Janis walks back into work -- there's a big welcome-back banner, and flowers, and Wedeck gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek, which is really sweet.
And then it's quiet again. Lloyd is in Dylan's hospital room -- that child must have gold-plated insurance coverage -- and he's reading about Celia as some blow-dried coif given the power of speech bloviates on the television about what this all means. Answer: a whole lot of nothing; you can make a hairstyle talk, but there's no magic black enough to make it sentient. Lloyd is also looking at an email he's about to send out with the subject line "WE NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY." As he looks at the screen, the hairstyle asks, "Is there going to be another world blackout? But the big question -- possibly the central question of human existence -- do we have free will?" Lloyd sends his email.
Speaking of having no free will, Janis attempts to resign but Wedeck is not having it. She asks if she can explain herself, and without looking away from his computer screen, Wedeck says, "You were attacked. You were shot. You returned to duty to find out a coworker jumped off a building. Am I in the right ballpark here?" Janis says calmly, "My life's not making a lot of sense right now, and I think I need a little time off to figure it out ... I know we've been shorthanded since the blackout, but ever since Gough --" she breaks off. Wedeck says, "This isn't about Al." Oh, but it is. Janis says, "When I think about what he did and why he did it, it just really made me think about my own future. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Do I lean into what I saw? Do I fight it? What if my getting shot was ... I don't know, some sort of a sign that this baby's not meant to be?" Wedeck puts it into perspective: "You're going to let a bullet decide whether or not you're going to bring a baby into this world? If Al's death proved anything, it's that our choices still matter, now more than ever."
Lloyd is charming Dylan with a card trick when Simon comes in and snidely remarks, "I've been wondering how a Nobel finalist and a recipient of the MacArthur prize spends his idle moments." Lloyd wants Simon away from his kid and gone now, now, now. Simon's hurt that Lloyd never calls him. They storm out of the room to argue about Lloyd's email. Simon still doubts their experiment was the sole cause of the blackout, and Lloyd argues that they need to share what they know with the world.
Mark and Olivia are hangin' in the hotel room, polishing off the room service, and Mark hands over a surprise gift to celebrate "second chances and the fact that we can change the things we saw." Alas, Mark cannot change the fact that his job is a demanding mistress: he gets a phone call and Demetri tells him to open his laptop. Barstow PD sent a video that matches something from the flashforward board (it's been plugged into NCIC, a computerized index of law enforcement information). When Mark looks at the homicide, he sees that one of the murderers has the distinctive three-star tattoo on his forearm. Apparently getting flashes of your sozzled near-death experience to come is something of a moodkiller, so it looks like Mark and Olivia's special couple time is over.
So now Mark and Demetri are doing laps in the FBI building's Logan's Run-style atrium as they disgorge expository dialogue: the murder victim's name was Neil Parofsky, he was an aeronautical engineer, nobody's thought to check whether he was on Mosaic and if so, what he said. (Argh! ARGH! Were I law enforcement, Mosaic would be the first stop: did the victim have a flashforward? What was in it? Are there clues as to why their future might have threatened someone else's?) Demetri says that Parofsky worked in El Segundo, but when he was found in Barstow, his watch and wallet were missing. I can't vouch for the watch, but I'm betting Parofsky left his wallet in El Segundo. (Ba-da-bum! Try the veal!) We find out that the person who shot the cell phone video, Ingrid Alvarez, saw Parofsky hand something over before he was killed.
Then Mark and Demetri walk into an office where Janis is holding a very nice bouquet of long-stemmed lillies. Mark says, "First day back? I should have gotten you flowers," but Janis says the flowers are for Olivia, what with the good lady doctor having reassembled Janis's innards for her. Janis then hands over hard-copy stills off the cell phone, fresh from the video forensic unit's enhancement skills. Blurry shot, blurry shot, blurry shot, then dun-dun-DUN! A picture of a beefy male forearm, and said arm is decorated with three blue stars, just like the forearm of the would-be killer in Mark's flashback. You know, the flashback we're going to see for the umpteenth time because the people who put together this show suspect we don't actually pay attention to it from week to week. Mark recovers from his flashback-flashforward and announces they're off to talk to Ingrid Alvarez. This way, Mark can get the man who wants to kill him a few months from now. He fixes Janis and Demetri with a smoldering look and says, "Al sacrificed himself to prove we could change the future. So let's change it."
As Mark's saying this, Olivia's in her office, opening the pretty gift box Mark had given her. It's lingerie -- nice stuff, too -- but Olivia has her own flashback-flashforward because Mark's just given her the set she's going to be wearing when she's canoodling with Lloyd in late April. It looks like the universe is still trying to line up those predetermined outcomes, eh? Bryce interrupts Olivia's troubled reverie and she puts on her white coat to get to work.
At Aaron's house, the couch-sleeping Tracy has just woken up from a flashback-nightmare to her stint in Afghanistan. Aaron rushes out to comfort his distraught daughter, but she pushes him away and hops over to get her prosthetic. She tells Aaron she doesn't want to talk about it, but Aaron's like, "If you'd like to compare traumas, let's talk about grieving a dead child." He adds, "I had your grave exhumed two months ago because I was convinced you were alive." So ... we're up to early December now? Eight weeks have passed since the flashforward? Shouldn't Janis be knocked up by now if she's going to be seventeen weeks pregnant in another four months?
Ahem -- back to the scene. Aaron lays down an ultima