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FlashForward: Black Swan

Olivia and Bryce encounter a very upbeat patient who relates to them his flashforward. When a problem is found, he is scheduled for surgery, but Bryce realizes that an important piece of health information was contained in the patient's flashforward. Olivia, trying the inevitability of her own flashforward, resists acting on Bryce's revelation, and endangers the patient. Meanwhile, Demetri and Mark wind up at odds, with Demetri wanting to act directly somehow to prevent his own believed doom, while Mark realizes that Demetri's fears are driving his actions more than rational consideration. Nicole returns to work as the Benford's babysitter, but with a shocking revelation about her flashforward. And we discover some truly remarkable information regarding Mr. Simcoe.


Episode Info


Episode number: 1x4
Airdate: Thursday October 15th, 2009


Alternate Airdates:

UK (Channel 5) Oct 19, 2009
NL (Veronica) Jul 08, 2010

  • Currently 8.5/10
8.5/10 (38 Votes cast)
Guest Stars
Rachel Roberts (1)Rachel Roberts (1)
As Alda Hertzog
Recurring
Lee Thompson YoungLee Thompson Young
As Agent Al Gough
Recurring
Barry Shabaka HenleyBarry Shabaka Henley
As Agent Vreede
Recurring
Rizwan ManjiRizwan Manji
As Maneesh Sandhar
Recurring
Arjay SmithArjay Smith
As Louis
Sean OSean O'Bryan
As Father Seabury

Co-Guest Stars
Ryan WynottRyan Wynott
As Dylan Simcoe
Recurring
Cynthia Addai RobinsonCynthia Addai Robinson
As Debbie
Recurring
Lennon WynnLennon Wynn
As Charlie Benford
Recurring
Justin DrayJustin Dray
As Meade
Adam TsekhmanAdam Tsekhman
As Vladimir Petrov
Kathy VaraKathy Vara
As T.V. Reporter

Uncredited
Gabrielle UnionGabrielle Union
As Zoey Andata
Recurring
Main Cast
Joseph FiennesJoseph Fiennes
As Mark Benford
John ChoJohn Cho
As Demetri Noh
Jack DavenportJack Davenport
As Lloyd Simcoe
Zachary KnightonZachary Knighton
As Bryce Varley
Peyton ListPeyton List
As Nicole Kirby
Brian F. OBrian F. O'Byrne
As Aaron Stark
Courtney B. VanceCourtney B. Vance
As Stan Wedeck
Sonya WalgerSonya Walger
As Olivia Benford
Dominic MonaghanDominic Monaghan
As Simon Campos

Recap

14 Days Ago..

Read the full recap
Music
ArtistSong TitlePlayed When
BjörkIt's Oh So Quiet 
George ClintonAtomic Dog 
IKOLook What You've Done to Me 


Episode Quotes
Olivia: Well, Mr. Ned...
Ned: You can call me Edward.
Olivia: Edward.
Ned: You know, call me Ned. My friends call me Ned.
Olivia: Ned Ned?
Ned: Yes yes.

Zoey: Speaking of work, can I ask you something work related? Are you guys Gitmoing a suspect downtown?
Demetri: No.
Zoey: Some blonde? Arrested the day of the Blackout. Bin Laden in Prada?
Demetri: (smiling) I can't confirm or deny this, so... (leaving it hanging)
Zoey: I think you just did, sweetie.
Demetri: Woooow...!
Zoey: Look, professionally, if the Bureau is violating someone's due process, that's uncool. But personally, if that woman has anything to do with the Blackout, I really hope you're getting all Dick Cheney on her ass to find out what she knows.

Olivia: Wow, you really are the Shakespeare of cheesy "Dad" humor....

Mark: Where Demetri?
Agent Al Gough: He brought that hot blonde terrorist over from Holding. He's questioning her now.
Mark: Why?
Agent Al Gough: I don't know. Because she's hot?

Alda Hertzog: I'm truly flattered that you still feel the need to talk to me after all that's happened, but I've done nothing wrong. It's my associates who you want.
Demetri: Honey, your associates died on the day of the Blackout. They were super dead. So you wanna give me somebody else?
Alda Hertzog: Customer Choice Restaurant Group.

Mark: I can't believe I didn't want come here today. I mean, the intel. They're adding frozen yogurt.

Bryce: It's incredible, isn't it?
Lloyd: Temporal anomaly in global consciousness. Yeah, I think that qualifies.

Alda Hertzog: You're wasting your energy on what caused the Blackout, who's responsible... and you're ignoring the most profound question of all: Why? (Benford nods, acknowledging the value of her point) 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 normal realm of human expectation. It comes from the 17th century when scientists assumed that all swans were white. They were wrong.
Mark: Fascinating. (facetiously -- not particularly impressed so far)
(Alda rattles off a quote in Arabic)

Mark: (mentally translating, slowly) "There's a room, ahhh, with a small boy in it with a candle". What is this, a bedtime story?
Alda: It's a Sufi parable. The man in the room, referring to the candle asks, "Tell me where this light comes from?" And the boy blows out the candle and replies, "You tell me where this light went, I'll tell you where it comes from."
Mark: Cute.
Alda: Your partner is right about one thing. I commune with some very dangerous people. I am friends with those willing to don suicide vests in the name of ideology. I know when a man is willing to sacrifice anything for his cause, and you're not that kind of man, Agent Benford. Even if you were to start asking the right questions, you're not willing to do what it takes to get the answers. You're that little boy, Agent Benford. Alone in the dark.

Ned: Six months from now I see myself and I'm like this invincible, fearless black guy... like Shaft or Bryant Gumbel.



Cultural References
Zoey: ... Are you guys Gitmoing a suspect downtown?

Gitmo is the colloquial nickname for the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which is technically US Territory but, being a military base, not overtly within the jurisdiction of U.S. Courts. As a result of the abuses of the formal legal processes in the USA by some terrorist detainees, it was judged legal and reasonable to detain some captured individuals outside of U.S. Court jurisdiction on the bounds that they were not (and, as military captives should not have been) Constitutionally protected (the military has its own judicial process outside of the standard civil court system). The usage of the name, in this case, is to connect the idea of holding a captive incommunicado with the outside world for various reasons, generally associated with suspected/alleged terrorist acts or connections, which is a debatably questionable action traditionally but is at least partly allowed with strong constraints by the Patriot Act. There is considerable debate over the morality, legality, and Constitutionality of this activity.

Zoey: Some blonde? Since the day of the Blackout. Bin Laden in Prada?
-and-
Zoey: ... I really hope you're getting all Dick Cheney on her ass.

Osama Bin Laden is or was the leader of Al-Queda, the organization which has been acknowledged as responsible for the 911 attacks on the former World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the attempted attack on the White House. In this context it suggests a generic terrorist leader.

Prada is an Italian luxury fashion label applied to wearable goods (clothes, shoes, accessories) for both men and women, which uses its brand name notoriety to artificially inflate the price of its products and has thus been connected as a symbol of style and high social status. Here, it is being used to imply that the blonde in question, though an alleged terrorist, is very fashionable and stylish.

Dick Cheney is a career politician, who served in high-ranking positions under Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and finally as Vice President to George W. Bush, notably in the aftermath of 911. He has often been accused of being the driving force behind many of the sociopolitical concerns with both the subsequent anti-terrorist measures as well as the force behind the Iraq War. His reputation is (regardless of its validity) as a tough, ruthlessly uncompassionate, and unappeasing individual in the pursuit of America's perceived enemies. Some would say he is excessively overzealous in such pursuit.

Olivia: Wow, you really are the Shakespeare of cheesy 'Dad' humor....

An in-joke reference to 'Dad' Joseph Fiennes' role years before as the titular lead of 1998's Academy Award winning and critically acclaimed Shakespeare In Love.



Analysis
Title: Black Swan

Alda: 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 normal realm of human expectation. It comes from the 17th century when scientists assumed that all swans were white. They were wrong.

The Black Swan is a 2007 book by an epistemologist, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in which he describes a concept he calls the ludic fallacy. 'Ludic' is derived from the Latin ludus, or play. It refers to the human misuse of games to model real-life scenarios and situations. The fallacy refers essentially to the human tendency to mistake the map (model) for the real things the map/game/model are used to represent. Hence one predicts things from a model which improperly represents the real object. Current notions of global warming, based on defective models, are encountering unpredicted and unexpected global cooling based on essentially defective components of the global climate models. Some groups keep insisting that there is nothing wrong with them, that we must act quickly to prevent the catastrophe their models predict, ignoring the fact that the failure of their predictions have clearly shown that the models are seriously flawed.

Quote:
The Swartzberg Test:
The validity of a science is its ability to predict.

The connection to swans, black or otherwise, is a referent to the experience of European scientists in the 16th century, whose experience was limited to white swans alone, and thus their belief that all swans were white -- a "black swan" referred to something impossible. By the 1700s, though, black swans encountered in Western Australia changed the term to refer to a perceived impossibility which may in fact come to pass. John Stuart Mill first used the term "Black Swan" to discuss falsification.

As a human, one result of your experiences is that you create a mental model of how things work. There is often resistance, however, to the acknowledgement of not only flaws in the model but the occurrence of highly improbable events usually not covered by such models, and those disruptions often expose a human unwillingness to alter one's plans to match the reality when it is clearly at odds with the model, in effect denying reality based on expectations from the model:

At the first Voyager flyby of Saturn, which exposed some very unexpected behaviors in Saturn's rings (that is, breaking the model):
Quote:
A journalist: "Have you got any more on the radial spokes? I'd have thought that violated the laws of physics."
David Morrison: "I'm sure the rings are doing everything right. We just don't understand it yet."

Morrison is expressing the correct grasp of the situation, the journalist was not. Morrison understood that the models were quite evidently wrong -- that the reality appearing before them was correct "by definition", while the journalist continued to believe in the older models despite the clear evidence that they had failed.



Other Episode Crew

CreatorBrannon Braga  |  David S. Goyer
Executive ProducerBrannon Braga  |  David S. Goyer  |  Jessika Borsiczsky  |  Ralph M. Vicinanza  |  Vince Gerardis  |  Marc Guggenheim
Co-Executive ProducerLisa Zwerling
ProducerMark Ovitz
Co-ProducerCleve Landsberg  |  Samantha Thomas  |  Cathy M. Frank  |  Seth Hoffman  |  Jeff Betancourt
Consulting ProducerDawn Prestwich  |  Nicole Yorkin
Production DesignerStephen Storer
EditorAvi Youabian
CastingWendy O'Brien
Unit Production ManagerCleve Landsberg
First Assistant DirectorMichael Zimbrich
Second Assistant DirectorAnthony J. Nahar
MusicRamin Djawadi
Music EditorDavid Klotz
Music SupervisorAlexandra Patsavas
Costume DesignerMari-an Ceo
Key GripChuck Crivier
Camera OperatorBob Gorelick  |  Randy Nolen
Set DecoratorJennifer M. Gentile
Location ManagerMichelle Latham
Transportation CoordinatorJ. Smith
Property MasterChristopher Amy
Construction CoordinatorJeff Goyer
Production Sound MixerGeoffrey Patterson (2)
Script SupervisorRebecca Poulos
Production CoordinatorJamie Stern
Assistant EditorMatt McCarthy
Post Production SupervisorSandra Nebel
Supervising Sound EditorThomas A. Harris
Re-Recording MixerTom Dahl  |  Mark D. Fleming
Director of PhotographyJeff Jur
Stunt CoordinatorDanny Weselis
Art DirectorMark Zuelzke
Based On The Works OfRobert J. Sawyer
Executive Story EditorQuinton Peeples  |  Barbara Nance  |  Scott M. Gimple
ConsultantRobert J. Sawyer
Costume SupervisorRobyn Williams
Visual Effects SupervisorKevin Blank
Production AccountantJanet Latham
Chief Lighting TechnicianBrett Laumann
Department Head HairDennis Parker (2)
Special Effects SupervisorParry Willard
Department Head Make-upAngela Nogaro
Production AssociateIsabella Hyams
Production StaffKelly Roe  |  Zuzanna Cernik  |  Maureen Dunn  |  Katie Greisiger  |  Lindsey Allen  |  Nikki Meehan
 
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