Episode Reviews (7)
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Season 1, Episode 9
Over the coming weeks and the course of the series, though doomed to see a Franciscan poverty almost always had hope that one day "Terra Nova" show that really was worth the sacrifice that was almost see the waste of a good premise episode after episode. And behold, arrived in the ninth episode of the season, the series finally reveals some of the potential that has fallen asleep.
"Vs" was a fabulous episode? No, far from it. But it was an improvement over the other? Without a doubt. You can not enter into the history of television, but may well go down in history of the series, possibly either by marking a turn (which I doubt, but there is no harm in having hope) or at the very least, because it is the first sample that this series can be more than what is shown during the initial episodes that mark this first (and possibly last) season.
As the episode title indicates, "Vs" confronts the two most dominant forces in the series: the protagonist of the story, Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara), versus the character who has more power in history, Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang). The strengthening of the relationship between them during the first eight episodes of the series was one of the highlights in the characterization of both characters and this is truly put to the test the first time.
Taylor has always been a somewhat ambiguous character of this series. Although until now has proved largely as a "hero," one of the "good guys" always had a percentage of mystery to surround it left a feeling that there could be a villain out there (or at least a anti-hero) concealed. And this episode proves that there really was any truth in this sentiment.
With facet of Police Jim to come to the fore again, and after Boylan (Damien Garvey) to reveal inadvertently that Taylor is hiding something from his past and the answer is buried next to the "Pilgrim's Tree", one of iconic places of Newfoundland, there is the starting point for some important revelations to the core of the story that the series has been proposed in this first season, and ranging from how Taylor became and remains an undisputed leader until such time as they took the break point in his relationship with his son (who now reveals himself as his great opponent).
But should we believe everything that Taylor told us? I do not know. What was clear to me is that there was there was an attempt (successful) to convince Jim to join / remain in the fight for the cause of Taylor. Initially, I thought Taylor's plan, after being threatened by the investigation of Jim, had the intention of trying to silence, but since he decided to release without major commitments in the end, it all seemed an effective form of political propaganda, an effective way to keep Jim at his side. At least for now.
But was it really what happened or am I reading between the lines more than what's there? I do not know. But what I know is that even when the story finally manages to arouse some interest in it means you are doing exactly that which is its function. And this episode, amaze the most skeptical of skeptics, could do this. Finally I can say that 40 minutes of "Terra Nova" was not a total waste of time spent watching television.
That said, it should be noted that, as this episode demonstrates, the series does not need to prove appealing dinosaurs, just able to create scenarios and work minimally interesting characters by giving them more depth. That's it.moreless
Every Creation Story Needs a Devil! *spoilers everywhere*
And now we have one or the whole conspiracy.
It's appeared that Terra Nova wasn't about fresh start. But was all about source appendage. Haven't they flown to the Mars in2149 yet?
This episode was about the conspiracy and Terra Nova creation myths. Because there were Harvest festival - Taylor's first pilgrimage celebration. Oh, Thanksgiving came to Terra Nova. And where are native terranovians?
Jim investigates an old murder of which Taylor might be guilty. And he is. But it appears that it was just a self-defense. And this is connected with Taylors's son exile.
One question. What was the ambush all about? Just to remember that there is a spy out there. Taylor:"How I could forget. Why didn't anyone remind me about this son of the bitch?" No purpose about his action anymore.
It is appeared that Sixers are able to train dragonflies. But there were no dinosaurs in the episode. Bad move for the series that was all about that!
In general episode was interesting.
Good writing, StarkRG
Well, I was not totally with StarkRG. However, he/she made his/her points and the review was really funny and intelligent. Highly recommended you guys watched the show and then back to his/her comment. The fun you got from that review would be much bigger than the show itself.
By the way, Terra Nova was getting much better, at least we got the dinosaurs' sight in the near few episodes. (Ok, no dinos in this epsiode but at least a firefly!)
Vs. was a great episode of Terra Nova and I really enjoyed watching this episode because Taylor interrogates Boylan and Jim learns more about the true history of what happened before in Taylor's past along with the fight for Terra Nova. I was entertained by the character building and plot development. It was about time for more answers and there were quite a few. I look forward to watching more episodes!!!!!!!
Wow, I think this one was written by a 5th grader and directed by his younger brother. Flat characters, plotholes you could fly an A380 through. While it's possible that the poor writing was done on purpose I think it could have been done better.
Where to start... the climax is completely unbelievable, but maybe that's the point. Maybe he's just a terrible lier and we're not supposed to believe his story, in which case why does Jim?
This tuning fork is subsonic and vibrates at 32.8Hz. In order to vibrate less than 33 times a second that tuning fork would have to be much bigger. Why did they need to use a dragonfly to determine the source of the sound? Wouldn't a directional microphone hooked up to an oscilloscopebe a significantly better way? Not to mention that if I wanted to produce a sound at a specific frequency I'd use a computer instead of producing number of tuning forks until I found the frequency.Despite the obvious scientific flaws (does this show not have a science consultant?) it's possible that what I see as bad writing is just incredibly bad directing. The writer Jose Molina is noamateur, in fact he wrote two of my favourite Firefly episodes. However director Bryan Spicer is no greenhorn either, though in his case none of his previous credits jump out at me as particularly noteworthy.I'll continue to watch for the time being, but if the next two or so episodes aren't significantly better than this one I don't think I'll be coming back for more.moreless
It's November sweeps, which for a show like Terra Novameans using the traditional mechanism of doing its big reveals this month.
So that's what we should be thanking for the explanation of the mythology that was developed and explained oh-so-awkwardly on tonight's episode. With only a few episodes to go in the season, I think it's fair to say that we should expect a continuation of the higher-paced serialization going on in tonight's episode.
But while the pace was an improvement, and I'm glad the writers got some of these reveals out of the way fairly quickly, I'd still be hard-pressed to call the episode good. The first reason is that the reveals weren't actually any good from a qualitative fashion. They came mostly from an extended monologue by Commander Taylor, which, well, Stephen Lang gives it his all, but the MST3K guys would be singing "Ex-po-si-tion!" at him. The sad thing is that Lang's largely interminable monologue is the better half of the reveal, with the other portion taken up by a flashback so awkwardly staged as to make the children's play from the other part of the episode look competent.
The bigger problem is that the sequence of events that led to this point are as dumb as ever. At the macro level, Terra Nova just hasn't created enough goodwill to pull off interesting twists. The reveal isn't about significant character development except a bit for Taylor; it's just a thing that happened. The plot cart has been placed before the character horse, to butcher a relevant phrase. At the micro level, the sequence of events is ridiculous in Terra Nova's normal special way, which is so common as to resist mockery... oh, who am I kidding, it doesn't resist mockery at all!
First, we discover that the Sixers are sending messages via bug, which we discover because we meet the bug, and then it's promptly whacked by a Terra Nova guard, then examined to reveal a microchip. Because nobody else in the past several... weeks? Months? Years? saw a giant fucking dragonfly and took a swipe at it. Meanwhile, Jim Shannon goes off to a tree and discovers a dead body thanks to Boylan apparently cracking under pressure. Jim does this in the middle of the night, which the pilot established was the most dangerous time to be outside the gate... but I think someone's done it without being threatened in every single episode since. Then Elisabeth Shannon learns the most important thing there is to know about the skeleton because "Time displacement leaves a molecular signature" which is awfully damn convenient! But the idiotic icing on the cake of dumb comes when the big breakthrough in the investigation occurs through the children's play about the founding of Terra Nova because of course it does! From the mouths of babes and all that. Nothing else could have happened once it was established that Zoe was doing a play.
Although I must say, despite the plot holes and the competence issues, the episode did do a few important things right. First of all, it was actually tense, because there was enough ambiguity to create some stakes. Just who is Commander Taylor, and how much of a good guy is he? Examining that and examining it well, is probably the surest route for Terra Nova to get good. This episode laid the groundwork for that to happen.
Second, while I'm not a fan of the idea that we had to get this point via Lost-like mythology, the actual reveal was... pretty much the best possible one for the creation of human drama. There's nothing shocking or magical going on here. People in the future want to exploit the resources of the past. The big news is that they believe it's possible. So this sets up a conflict between, essentially, ruthless conservationists and ruthless capitalists. This is something I can get behind, even if I still don't have a reason to give a damn about Taylor's son.
But enough about that. Let's get to the fun bit. It's time for the...
Terra Nova Kill Ranking!
Isaw a quote from one of Terra Nova's producers saying "By the end of a the season a beloved character will die." Leaving aside the hubris of calling any of these characters "beloved," this has served as motivation for me to launch the Terra Nova Kill Ranking I've been considering for a while.
So here's how it works – each character will be rated from 0-5 on two scales. First, likelihood of death. Second, whether their death would be awesome, and by awesome, I mean serve the narrative structure in a good way. So, from lowest combined to highest combined score:
Jim Shannon (1,1) – As the main character, Jim's extremely unlikely to die, unless Terra Nova has George R.R. Martin levels of guts, which seems slightly unlikely. And while every member of the Shannon family has had problems, Jason O'Mara's occasional moments of relaxation have made him occasionally downright watchable.
Maddy Shannon (0,2) – The show is far too family-oriented to take out an underaged kid, so Maddy and Zoe are out. Exposition Maddy is often a drag, and her relationship with Hunky Soldier Guy seems like the worst possible thing to do with her character, but she's salvageable.
Zoe Shannon (0,3) – Symbolism Zoe brings virtually nothing to the table, so she wouldn't be missed. But it's not gonna happen.
Commander Taylor (3,0) – The only character worth calling a character on the show really doesn't deserve to be killed off, but part of the whole "having a personality" thing involves having a history, and Taylor's history is just dangerous enough that it could happen.
Skye (4,0) – Allison Miller's been ill-used after a strong start, completely subsumed as a potential love interest. This, combined with the impending arrival of Personality-Free Girlfriend makes her far too expendable, and that's just no good.
Mira (4,1) – Can a villain be "beloved"? Well, she has fantastic hair, and that's good enough for me to not want her dead. But as a villain, there's a good chance of it happening.
Elisabeth Shannon (1,5) – You know, Josh gets all the ire, and he deserves a lot of it, it's true, but Elisabeth Shannon may be even worse. The writers are trying to do something with Josh, Elisabeth is just DOCTORMOTHER, with her stereotypical mothering instincts standing in the way of character development. But I can't believe this show would do it, though I'll grant a tiny, tiny, tiny possibility that it could happen.
Josh Shannon (2,5) – Everybody hates Josh. And for pretty good reason. His role in the pilot was to be the most annoying character he could be, and whatever improvements showed up afterwards were quickly destroyed by his obsession with bringing Personality-Free Girlfriend to Terra Nova. He's also an adult, I think, so there's a small possibility it could happen.
Lt. Washington (5,2) – Poor Wash. She's got a bad name for science fiction survival. She's completely, utterly expendable. She's done what she's needed to on the show, but pretty much the only thing stopping me from giving her a 6 in likeliness is that I can't imagine even this show's writers thinking she's "beloved".
Andrew Malcolm (5,2) – Malcolm's antagonism towards Jim and creepy relationship with Elisabeth puts him in an "Easily killable on network TV" zone. I kinda like him, or at least the actor, but if someone's gotta go, I wouldn't complain too loudly. Could also see him being given a redemption arc.
Kara The Personality-Free Girlfriend (3,5) – How hilarious would it be if this girl shows up and then immediately keels over from some random immune system disorder? I would praise the show to the heavens for that. I doubt it would be so simple, and it would probably be really annoying to see her death treated as some big deep event we should care about so Josh can hook up with Skye, but hey, a man can dream of the death of fictional characters.
Boylan (4,4) – No idea if anyone could call Boylan "beloved," but he's certainly expendable and deserving.
Hunky-Lunky Soldier Love Interest Guy (4,5) – Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Hunky Soldier Guy may be the dullest character on a show that's turning "dull characterization" into an art form. I can see his attachment to a teen romance making producers think he's "beloved," but I can't imagine anyone actually thinking this is a character with anything special going for him. His death would also free Maddy from the terrible stories she's usually been saddled with. This, friends, is a winning combination.moreless
Good but still not great
This was perhaps one of the better episodes of the show so far. It had well composed elements throughout and this was one of the better scripts written so far. While somecharactersare developing (at a extremely slow pace), the overall story isn't moving forward. What gets me the most is that they are not taking advantage of setting in which the story takes place. This is what makes this show so fundamentally unique; the fact that the show is set 75 million years in the past. Let's see more interaction between thecharactersand the surroundings. Let's see some of the wildlife! This entire episode all we say was an oversized dragonfly. There was nothing unique about this episode and yet the premise of the show itself is unique. I hope that future episodes will capitalize on this element of the story to make things more exciting and visceral. Watch Jurassic Park and you know instantly what I mean.moreless