EPISODE REVIEW: Terra Nova: “Vs”(Episode 8)

Republibot 3.0
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The Republiboy has announced that tonight is the last chance he’s giving the show. If this episode stinks, he’s done. Ratings were down about 750,000 viewers last week, but 400,000 over the week before that. Ratings are holding average around 8 million overall, which is probably a little disappointing for FOX, but probably good enough to get another half season like this.

We shall see.

PLAY BY PLAY

85,000,007 years ago Taylor and the first pilgrimage come through to the past from 2142 AD. They commence to settling the past and getting it ready for the second group. Taylor lives in a tree. He’s completely alone for six weeks, evidently due to getting sent back slightly before the rest of his group arrived.

85,000,006 years ago the second pilgrimage comes through, including Taylor’s son Lucas. Lucas is a brilliant scientist working on establishing a connection that will allow them to travel back-à to the future!

85,000,005 years and six months ago, General One Arm (Sorry, I forgot the name) comes through from 2144 or so to relieve Taylor of command and call him “Son” inexplicably (Since Taylor is about 54, and General One-Arm appears to be no more than sixty). He explains that Terra Nova is not now, nor has it ever been about re-starting the human race. Instead it’s a pipeline to get valuable resources like Bronto-Burgers and really large insects into the future, where you - the consumer! - can take ’em home and enjoy ’em. (Presumably the collapse of the ecology killed off most of the insects, so they need new ones from the past). He attempts to relieve Taylor of command. A scuffle ensues, and Taylor kills the general and banishes his son. Taylor calls Boylan to help him bury the body in a big banyan tree. This is Boylan’s last night as a guard. He agrees to keep the secret in exchange for getting to run a bar.

85,000,005 years ago, the third pilgrimage comes through

85,000,003 years ago, the sixth pilgrimage comes through. They work for the same people that sent General One Arm back.

85,000,000 years ago: the Shannon family arrive in Terra Nova

84,999,999 years six months ago: tonight’s episode: Boylan is being interrogated, drugged, sleep-deprived. While this is going on, accidentally he lets something slip about a body burried by the big banyan tree, so Jim digs it up, and takes it to his wife. She’s unable to identify it, but it’s missing an arm, and its molecular signature suggests it came through between the 2nd and 3rd pilgrimages, about 5 years ago. They keep this a secret, of course. When evidence comes through to clear Boylan, Taylor reluctantly lets him go, and Jim manages to get a bit more info out of the guy. Malcolm, meanwhile, manages to find the body and tells Taylor about it. Jim lies to cover up what’s going on, but it’s obvious Taylor doesn’t buy it.

MEANWHILE, in this week’s subplot, it’s discovered that the Sixers are trading information with their mole in the colony using - no, I’m not even joking - trained dragon flies to carry computer chips carrier-pigeon style. This ends up incriminating Jim for reasons so convolutedly silly I’m not even gonna’ bother. Suffice to say this leads to Jim’s arrest and a forced confrontation between him and Taylor, during which Taylor reveals everything, then just lets Jim go. “It’s ok, Jim, nothing personal, just a plot contrivance since there’s really no conflict to hang the third act on.”

Since it’s thanksgiving….oh, no, wait, “Life Day”….oh, no, wait, “The Harvest Festival” (Really? That’s the best you could come up with? Not “Colony day?” or “Founder’s day” or “New Years Day” or “Regenesis” or something like that?) they set off fireworks. Lucas, Taylor’s banished son, watches this in the distance.

130 years from now, there’s an environmental collapse that appears to spell doom for the human race

131 years from now, general one arm (Who’s name I will still not remember when I travel back in time to write the preceding bits of this review) selects Taylor to be commander of the First Pilgrimage.

132 or 133 years from now, General One-Arm, not realizing he’s already been dead for 85,000,133 years, travels into the past to take command from Taylor.

135 years from now, realizing General One Arm is either dead, or simply unable to type email owing to his disability, the mysterious people calling the shots (Capitalists and Republicans, mostly, I guess) send back The Sixers

139 years from now, the Shanon family travel into the past.

The End…no, wait, The Beginning, no, wait…The Middle!

OBSERVATIONS

Once again we’ve got someone going OTG at night, despite the fact that we’re told it’s suicide. Once again they return without incident. Once again I wonder why there’s a night scene in EVERY episode of this show. Seriously: to Union Rules in Australia make it cheaper to film at night or something? Do they just not have overtime? I mean, do you know how much it *costs* to do night location shooting in the US? Is that why this show is being filmed down under? Crazy. As soon as Jim was outside at night, one of the kids said “Well, time for some dinosaurs,” since they generally only show up at night. In fact, this time they didn’t. This was the first episode to have no dinosaurs in it at all, actually. Sorta’ refreshing since, to be honest, I think that’s the weakest part of a show that’s already only got the tensile strength of wet tissue paper in sneeze season. Not one of my best turns of phrase, but you get my point, right?

The kids and I were joking about how no one ever goes OTG during the day ‘cuz that’s too safe. Then there was a scene involving the sixers raiding a convoy that existed for no reason other than to get raided by sixers and move the plot along. “Carry these empty boxes representing needful things to the vitally important outpost we’ve never mentioned before and never will again, and be sure to take no adequate protections along the way, lestwise it cost us a dramatic scene from whence to go to commercial!” Word!

We get lots of gratuitous CGI Dragonfly stuff tonight. “Dragonfly-Fu” as Joe Bob Briggs would probably have said, had he not pulled that racist “Mexican” crap 20-something years back and killed his schtick. Actually, y’know, it wasn’t all that much of a schtick to begin with. It probably would have played out by now anyway. But if it hadn’t, he probably would have said “[Something]-Fu” in comedic fashion, just like he used to, back in the days before people said “Back in the days” about him. I’m rambling a bit. I’ve had a LOT of caffeine, sorry.

Uhm…where was I?

Oh, right: My daughter: “They should have darkened Taylor’s hair a bit in the flashbacks. It was like five years ago.”

Skye - the highest-paid, easiest-working woman in show bidness, has a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a crowd scene in the end.

Lemme get this straight: they want the commander to be played in the thanksgiving play by a little girl? Ok, yeah, she’s adorable and she’s on the cast so you’ve got to use her, but come on, there’s 10,000 people living here. Aren’t there any little boys available? And the freakin’ fake beard and bowl-wig make her look like she’s recovering from Reconstructive Surgery. What: “We don’t want to fall back into stereotypes where only boys can play boy roles?” What the heck is that all about? Thank God they had a little girl (Also in an inexplicably bad wig) playing Wash.

Did you ever read “The Princess Bride?” The book, I mean, not watch that crappy movie. There’s a running gag where they pin things down vaguely in time with lines like “This was before life moved up onto the land from the oceans, but after soup” or “This was before America, but after discovery of fire.” I kept thinking “This is after the dawn of life, but before the invention of the wig.” Seriously: I’ve got a (luxuriously) full head of hair, so I neither need nor own a wig, and I’m not convinced I’ve ever even been close to one, but I’m pretty sure if you dropped me in a jungle like Bear Grylls* I could probably catch animals, kill them, eat them, then catch others, and TRAIN THEM to make better wigs than the kids were wearing in this episode. They’re that bad. I mean, they’re really that bad because we have to factor my paralyzing agoraphobia into any estimate of how long it’d take me to train, say, a Marmot and some kind of Cephalopod to make ‘em. We’re talking a looooong time, but it’d be worth it ‘cuz we’d still end up with wigs better than these. Not that I need ‘em or anything. Just sayin’.

(I do know how to sew, though)

There really was no reason for Taylor to frame Shannon, no point to the conflict. Really, a good deal of tonight’s episode is sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s poorly written and blandly directed (Particularly the action scenes which seem way too Power Rangers for me) and indifferently acted, and yet I’m gonna’ say this was the second-best episode of the series, only slightly below the Murder Mystery one a couple weeks back. (This one also was a murder mystery, of course. Well, technically a “Self Defense Mystery,” but that’s not as catchy) I would say this is about on the level with a mediocre Stargate Atlantis episode, which is now the standard I use for such things.

I would think the fireworks would make a bigger ‘fwoom.’ Atmospheric pressure 85 million years about was about 2x what it is now, with a LOT more O2 in the air. It should also be quite a bit warmer, regardless of where they are on earth. There was really no ice anywhere, even at the poles, owing to the denser atmosphere and ocean currents. On average the earth was a LOT warmer than it is now.

I really got no idea who the mole is. I was sure it was Wash tonight, but whoever it ends up being, I’m sure there’ll be no logical way for it to make sense. Everyone has alibis that cover them entirely. Thus, when it’s revealed it’ll be like when Max Lord went evil in DC comics, despite the fact that it made no logical sense whatsoever.

I was a bit disappointed that the evil scheme was simply to stripmine the past. I was hoping for something more nefarious like “We’re changing time to our advantage” or “We’re gonna’ make it so that thus and such *won’t* get destroyed and thereby….” or whatever. Just “We want Brontoburgers and various exotic fruits for our slushies” is a little mundane. But let’s think this out: is it really such a bad thing? They’ve established that they’re in a parallel timeline, so whatever happens here won’t affect *our* time, or the world the Shannons come from. So since it’s not our world, they don’t care about changing the timeline. The entire series is built around the “Screw the alternate world” premise. So what’s a bit more screwification? I mean, if paving the past means people don’t starve and/or get emphysema** in 2149, then how is that a bad thing? Quit hogging all the breathable air, past-people! Pump a little hope our way, why don’t’cha’, zeppelin-lungs! So basically we’ve got people doing a stupid thing - the whole concept of the show - but other people who want to do a marginally more aggressive stupid thing are somehow evil?

The Environmental Collapse strikes me as a bit coincidental, since dialog implies they came up with the “Back to the Past” thing at the same moment. Were people in the future lied to? Was a crisis precipitated specifically to justify making use of the past?

I’ve said it before, if anyone is dumb enough to ever give him another show I’m sure I’ll be saying it again: It’s like Spielberg never really thinks these things through.

Republiboy decided to give the show another couple weeks based on this ep.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

It’s enjoyable enough, but the whole Enviro-preachy “protect nature despite the fact that it really would help a lot of people if we *didn’t* protect nature this time out” aspect is annoying.

*- Let me get this straight: I have to try fifteen times to spell “Vacuum,” but I get “Grylls” right on the first try? Stupid language.

**- oh, come on, I got that one right the first time, too?

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