EPISODE REVIEW: Terra Nova: “Within” (Episode 10)

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I’m kinda’ stoned. Dentist’s appointment. I didn’t sleep well last night, and I got up crazy early so I could have a cavity filled - my first one ever - and it was all fairly grueling, and the upshot (or downshot, as the case may be) is that even after sleeping for three hours once I got back, I’m still kinda’ dopey and buzzed. So if my review is less coherent than usual - not that it’s ever all that coherent - I beg your forbearance.

PLAY BY PLAY

Maddie’s I-Pad burns out, and she needs a replacement part. She attempts to trade a spare wheel to the legless guy in the flea market, who allegedly has one. Turns out he sold his last one to Boylin. She offers to do his bookkeeping in exchange for the computer part, but he starts to freak out that she’d be looking at his books, and assumes her dad put her up to it. He gives her the part free, telling her to put in a good word for him with her dad.

Josh once again lies to his dad, this time for Sky, the smoking’ hot chick who’s madly in love with him, and who he continually ignores for some 22nd century skank. Once again he gets caught almost immediately. He’s really bad at it. Once again, rather than punish him in any meaningful fashion because of his REPEATED security breaches, he’s just grounded & daddy takes away his geeee-tar. Hard time indeed.

As usual, Maddie and Josh serve no purpose other than to pad out the plot a bit.

Jim figures out Skye’s the mole, and tells Taylor. They set a trap for her that’s got no real purpose other than to pad out the plot, which it does.

Skye meets Lucas Taylor, who says he’ll kill her mama if she (Skye, not the mama) doesn’t smuggle a flash drive into the Eye in the colony to do some doubletalk. She does, without incident. Her mom - who somehow lived with the sixers for three years without realizing what was going on - tells Skye not to save her life anymore, but to go home and let her die in peace like a good daughter. Later on, when attempting to slink back into the colony, she stumbles more-or-less literally into Jim and Taylor, and after some inefficient posturing, Skye manages to convince them she’s telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Lucas is visiting The World’s Cheapest Stargate

Which he turns on and it erupts just like a Stargate from that Stargatey show where people traveled through a Stargate. What was it called? “Wormhole Extreme” or something? No matter. It’ll come to me. Anyway, there’s some posturing and talk talk talk talk blah blah blah blah “I beat you old man,” yawn, and then Little Lord Overselling His Craziness travels through the Stargate (Excuse me: time portal) to go Back to the Future, which is filmed exactly like a scene from Stargate. Yeah, it’s just that derivative, excepting that ‘Gate was generally swashbuckling fun, while this is just as ponderous as a 1st season episode of “SeaQuest DSV.”

Back at the camp, the one ballsy thing of the whole episode - Skye letting her mama die - is undone by the murderer dude from a few episodes back rescuing her, so everyone’ll be happy and healthy and whatnot forever. It’s pretty dull. Once again: despite being a traitor, nobody makes a move to arrest her or interrogate her or just beat her up, all of which seem pretty likely things to do under the circumstances.

Taylor gives a big speech about how they’re going to fight back. It’s not a very good speech.

The End

OBSERVATIONS

I *can not* stress enough how derivative the Stargate scenes were, nor can I properly stress how cheezy they were. Figure $4million/episode, 44 minutes of run time, that means this show runs about $91,000 a minute! Five, maybe six minutes of screen time equals about $545,000 dollars. For that kind of money, they couldn’t get anything better? Honest and for true? Wow. I also like how they filmed the whole tracking shot past an active gate, where we see someone walking in one side and - oooh! Magical! - they’re not on the other side when the camera pans past. As though that were a new thing. As though we hadn’t seen it 340 times in the last 15 years. Gotta’ hand it to that Branon Braga: he always picks obscure things to rip off.

As per usual, the kids serve no function save padding out the plot. I really think it’s a fundamental design flaw of the series: basing it around a family that, logically, shouldn’t be involved in the action whatsoever. There’s also no particular chemistry between any of them, which is really weird since the guy who plays Jim is better every week, and Maddie is pretty likeable, but somehow, when taken as a whole, they’re just schlubbs.

Lucas really over-sells his crazy. It’s not very convincing. As predicted, he hates his daddy because somehow his dad was responsible for the death of his mom. (Lucas’ mom, not Taylor’s mother, though he might have killed her, too. They haven’t really said.)

I like Skye, and my biggest beef of the show was how criminally they under-used the actress. I think she did really well tonight, being a Skye-centric episode and all, but the fact is her parts weren’t written very well. And how many time are we going to hear about how dangerous the jungle is, but nobody seems to think twice about slipping out the gate and running around without incident? What are the gates even for? It’s not like there’s any dinosaurs in this show.

No, seriously: despite all the hoo-hah about dinosaurs, we see *maybe* one dino scene an episode.

I *DID* like the murderer guy’s redemption: “I banished him because he murdered a man. Tonight he sved a woman’s life. I’m not going to pin a medal on him, but I think he’s earned a second chance.” I also liked how before the stargate was built, people just popped up randomly when they came back from the future.

Uhm…yeah, not too much else to say about this one. No trenchant insights. Pretty much everything was right on the surface, without subtext.

The season finale was supposed to be a two-parter, but Fox has decided to run it as a 2-hour special instead, so next week’ll be the end of Terra Nova for at least nine months, assuming it comes back. Average ratings have been about 7,750,000/episode, with the high being 9.25 million and the low being 6.5 million. Those aren’t *stunning* ratings, given the expense, and there’s not a lot of buzz, but it’s a noteworthy show, and the ‘Danes seem to like it. My bet is that it’ll come back for another 13 ep season, and that’ll be the end of it.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE

Meh. Nothing to dislike, but still: meh.

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