This was it! The episode that would convince us to stick with Terra Nova in hopes that the show will better, or the episode that would bury the series forever, to be fossilized alongside The Cape and The Event. After silly episodes about lizard-birds and nutty viruses, "The Runaway" returned to one of the most exciting storylines from the two-part pilot: the rogue humans known as Sixers. Sure, they're a total rip-off of Lost's Others and wear war paint on their faces for no reason, but at least they're a palpable threat that does more than just "RAWR!!!" or peck people's faces off.
Things began with a few really bad actors and the ass-kicking Alicia (makeup by Chyna) finding a little Sixer girl named Lea in the jungle. In the great tradition of Terra Nova ripping off everything else, Lea was a carbon copy of hide-and-seek champion Newt from Aliens. James Cameron must be wondering how Terra Nova's writers are going to sample from Titanic, now that they've "borrowed" from Aliens and Avatar. Maybe Josh will stand with Skye, arms outstretched, on the head of Diplodocus? Anyway, the girl was seeking refuge from the Sixers, and everyone at Camp Terra Nova welcomed her with open arms because, well, she's a little girl, and little girls bring out the parental instincts in everyone.
Apparently parental instincts also make people stupid? Here was a little girl from the enemy camp who openly hated Commander Taylor, yet she was basically given the freedom to do whatever she wanted. Even if Lea hadn't been planning some covert ops against Terra Nova, everybody knew she'd be a valuable asset and a fountain of Sixers intelligence. So keep some eyeballs on that girl, yo! Instead, they shacked her up with the Shannons (who already have enough kids; in fact, some governments might say they have one too many), and Jim and Elisabeth immediately put Josh in charge of her and took off. Right then, everyone in the audience collectively placed their palms over their faces. Then Maddie and Elisabeth left Lea unsupervised to take a school test. Being a kid in Terra Nova must be pretty awesome since adults don't really give a crap. Candy for breakfast!
And of course everyone was shocked—SHOCKED I tell you!—when Lea broke into a house to steal a mystery box for Sixer leader Mira. "It was theater, more or less," someone said about the Lea's grift, and thus another classic line of Terra Nova dialogue was born. But it turned out Lea really was sorry about lying, which she indicated by drawing a picture of a prehistoric crying-face emoticon and leaving it for the Shannons to find. So Jim went into the jungle to find her, got captured (like duh, obviously), and finally some good things happened.
We learned lot more about the Sixers thanks to Mira telling Jim a lot about the Sixers, which she did because that's what people do when they capture their enemy's chief of security. The trans-timeline gossip: People back (or forward?) in 2149 are really pissed off at Taylor and want him ousted! Cool, right? Bet you hadn't guessed that one! Mira also hinted at a greater conspiracy concerning Terra Nova and its real purpose, but we didn't really get any clues to what that might be. Also, why is Mira doing all of this Sixers stuff? Because someone has taken her daughter and she won't ever see the kid again unless she gets her job done. Everyone, all together: *groan*. In the end, Mira released Jim and Lea's brother back to Terra Nova, and Lea hugged Jim, and then we all said "awwww!"
"The Runaway" was a great improvement over the Terra Nova's last two episodes, but even that means it was only of "somewhat watchable" quality. The series is still too predictable and too fluffy to be anything more than your grandmother's favorite sci-fi show, and there are no signs that it wants to be anything more than that.
Notes I just etched on some rocks:
– I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Taylor's desk. ME WANT.
– When did Maddy change her mind about Mark? She went from being all over him to ho-hum during that scene in the market where he declared his intentions for her. Also, is this the lamest love story ever, or what?
– What's in the box? WHAT'S IN THE BOXXXXXXXX!?!? Does anyone think it's anything but some sort of portal-reversing device?
– Who do you the so-called traitor is? Is it someone other than the bartender? If it's Malcolm, I'm done with this show for reals this time.
– "Take a look around. People are happy here!" Cut to: People being way too happy here.
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom