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FlashForward Recap: Animal!

Last night's second episode following FlashForward's winter hiatus keeps to the whole odd-even episode pattern — in which major plot developments and compelling drama tend to be concentrated in odd-numbered episodes while character development and smaller developments tend to fall in the even-numbered episodes. We learn that Aaron is not just a sensitive, recovering alcoholic but also a badass ex-con, and that Zoey is a serious ball-buster who will stop at nothing to get a fucking ring on her finger.

"I don't have the time to play pissy Brit with you." (… At least, we think that's what he said. Sometimes Fiennes doesn't pull off that American thing so well.)
Mark Benford, newly returned to active duty, gets Lloyd into the office to question him about the phone call they shared in their flash. Lloyd denies knowing who D. Gibbons is. Mark utters the above phrase before taking Lloyd back to his house in the Valley to discuss what exactly he saw and did while in Mark's bedroom in that future moment. Lloyd explains that he got a text message from Simon containing a formula, which must be what he referred to in the phone call as "the QED." He already has a formula written out on Olivia's full-length mirror in lipstick, and he calls Mark, who's drunk in the office. They discuss something about there being another blackout, and drunky Mark tells him to go to hell.

Then it turns out Lloyd does recognize D. Gibbons as a scientist he used to know named Dyson Frost — a man who once plagiarized some of Lloyd's research, and who Lloyd thought was dead. Despite ostensibly being a physicist like Lloyd, Frost wrote some kind of paper about a "mirror test" to study the recognition of consciousness in animals such as elephants and crows. You hear that, folks? Crows!

"I'm gonna marry you."
Zoey starts to get that crazy, bridezilla glint in her eye about Demetri possibly standing her up at the alter because he's going to be killed. She says she will do "anything, ANYTHING" to keep him safe and make sure they damn well live happily ever after, including filing a Freedom of Information Act request with Demetri's boss, Chief Wedeck at the FBI, to look for any evidence in their Mosaic files that might help keep Demetri alive. She finds a little nugget in the deposition of that chilly blonde Alda Hertzog from early in the season, the one who's in prison now on suspicion of being a terrorist. Zoey makes a beeline for her, but Alda balks at hiring Zoey as her lawyer or telling her anything she might know since she's the girlfriend of a federal agent. Zoey promises to exonerate her. "Let me ask you something. Were you in prison in your flash?" There's a glint in Alda's cold, heartless eye. Score one for Zoey. Later, down at the evidence lockers with Demetri, they discover that the gun that Mark's supposed to use to kill him has suddenly gone missing.

"I want this specific child."
Janis gets a few scenes in this episode, too, meeting first with her gyno to talk about getting pregnant. The gyno seems reluctant, after Janis's whole bullet in the uterus incident. But Janis insists that she's going to make her flash come true, sitting down with Demetri to commiserate. "We both have to fight for the futures we want." Aw. Maybe she should hire Zoey.

"The guys you really got to be afraid of are the ones with nothing left to lose."
Aaron (played ably every week by Brian F. O'Byrne) takes center stage for the first time, and we see him in multiple flashes back and forth, first fifteen years ago when he was in prison for beating a guy a little too hard in a bar fight. We see a young Tracy visiting him, and he's clean shaven. Then one of the guards makes some inappropriate comments about his nymphet daughter and Aaron lays a serious beat-down on him, prison rules be damned.

We then see Aaron in the present, finding Tracy in a bar, slowly, contemplatively drinking her whiskey, neat, in the dramatic-television manner of someone whose drinking we're meant to judge. Then Aaron gets a visit at his job from Tracy's old army buddy Mike, the short, blue-eyed one we first met in the fall. He seems a little creepy, implying that Tracy must still be alive, and after Aaron tells him, we cut to Tracy boiling some water in the kitchen at her dad's house when two men in plastic jumpsuits jump her, inject her in the neck, and stuff her in a cardboard box. Aaron comes home to find the burning pot, puts two and two together, and decides to take Jericho-operative Mike out "for some lunch."

After a little monologue about the animal that he tried to leave behind him in the clink, he lays a beating on Mike, breaks one of his arms, duct-tapes his mouth, and throws him in the back of his truck. He heads off to the home of (new character alert!) James Erskind (played by seminal villain James Remar, better known as Richard from Sex and the City), the head of military contractor Jericho, who's responsible for Tracy's original "death" and her current disappearance. Aaron shows up at Erskind's thoroughly modern house during his daughter's birthday party, shuts off the power, and gets James outside pretending he's there to restore the power. Erskind denies he knows who Tracy is, but of course utilities guy Aaron also manages to tap Erskind's phone line and overhears him discussing Tracy as "the package" that just arrived in Kandahar, and putting a hit out on Aaron.

Aaron responds by stripping bloodied Mike of his clothes (prison-kinky!), putting a birthday hat on him, and dangling him from his ankles off one of Erskind's balconies for his whole family to see. He heads to an airport and tells Mark in a voice mail that he'll be "heading off the grid" for a while.

"We'll be off the reservation. If things go sideways, there's no cavalry."
Also heading off the grid are CIA agent Vogel and Janis and Demetri (who he suggests are more replaceable than Mark, since he admits that a lot national security now depends on the contents of Mark's flash). The three are heading to Somalia to investigate the one remaining black tower in the desert that may hold a key to the blackouts. They'll be pretending to be aid workers from Red Panda, the organization Mark approached last week and who blew him off. Simon, still bloodied from last week's shenanigans, barges in on Vogel's presentation to insist that he go along to Somalia as well, since those towers were based on designs he drew up as a little mad-scientist, 13-year-old genius. Vogel agrees, setting the stage for odd-numbered episode thirteen, which we have a feeling won't be unlucky, but will bring us a fortune of fun plot points to chew on. Because what's more fun than parallel trips to Afghanistan and Somalia?

Photo: Adam Larkey/ABC