A few weeks ago I wandered into the living room while Stu was watching Flash Forward, and I was compelled to sit down and watch the rest of the episode (and then later search Hulu so I could catch up on the series). For those who haven't seen this show yet, the premise is that there was a worldwide event in which everyone in the world simultaneously blacked out and saw what they would be doing during a specific 2-minutes-and-17-seconds period six months in the future. They aren't sure if the future is set in stone.. Individuals who don't have visions during the blackout believe that they have less than 6 months left to live.
Anyway, this particular episode I walked in on, they introduce this autistic boy, maybe 10 years old. I was stunned by how well the character was portrayed. The young actor had been directed to be more like Ryan than like Rain Man - echolalia, lack of eye contact, and social awkwardness, but no rocking and flapping kinds of crap. It was perfectly clear to me that the character was autistic; Stu said he hadn't realized it until the character's father announced it in a previous episode. I was totally transfixed by the portrayal of this minor character, Dylan. Dylan is in a hospital following an accident that killed his mother. His father, Lloyd, has not been in his life much, but is now at his bedside, telling the child that his mother is dead.
Near the end of the episode, there was a moment that made me cry with joy. Dylan put his hands on Lloyd's cheeks, looked him directly in the eyes, and said... something, I wish I could remember what, but it doesn't even matter. Just the eye contact made Stu and me gasp. I was filled with this overwhelming sense of hope for this child, this fictional child I barely knew anything about on a show I had never seen before, because I understood that moment. I recognized the progress that was represented in that tiny moment, the struggling that could make that beautiful moment possible.
I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes, and how this character develops.