Note: This is an abridged, holiday-vacation recap, as I'm swimming down the West Coast on an aquatic turkey hunt.
Knowing that it has pretty much zero chance of returning for Season 2 (spoiler alert: This show is not coming back for Season 2), Terra Nova has been a busy bee, moving its storylines along to give all 600 of its viewers a little closure before it goes the way of Firefly. The irony, of course, is that if the show had just started off at this pace to begin with, it probably would have gotten renewed for a second season. Major attack by the Ironysaurus! But as my late great grandfather always said when he showed up three hours late, "Better late than never."
Terra Nova has been daring me to start caring about it for the last handful of episodes, and I'm oh-so-close to being somewhat in the vicinity of getting near the area code of accepting the challenge. Tonight's episode, "Vs.," was the toughest to resist, as it finally addressed those pesky dangling threads that first piqued my interest in the pilot: the real purpose of Terra Nova, those etchings on the rocks, and the chances of the show starting a traveling dragonfly circus. But what really made this episode the best was Zoe wearing a fake beard.
Things started off at the pace of a stampede of angry nykosaurs! A dragonfly that was closer to the size of a dragon than a fly flew through Terra Nova and ended up at Camp Sixer on Mira's arm, because there were no falcons back then. Put that in the back of your brain, because it will come in handy later. We jumped over to Broylan in Neon Jail, where was drugged up and singing like a canary. He mumbled something about a secret of Taylor's that was buried by a tree, and Jim headed over there, dug a perfectly rectangular hole, and—being the lucky chap he is—found said secret on his first try. It was a body, and it was dead! Jim took the body to Elisabeth, who poked around and estimated that it came through on a pilgrimage between the ones the Seconders and Thirders came in on, which didn't make a lick of sense because people can't come through unless they're on a sanctioned pilgrimage. She also made the medical discovery that it only had one arm, because all dead bodies on hokey shows need some physical deformity, like one arm or the very popular six fingers. Ladies and germs, we had ourselves a mystery!
Jim headed over to Broylan to get the truth, which Broylan spilled like the Exxon Valdez: Taylor killed that man. Eventually Taylor got wind of Jim's discovery of the body thanks to the middling Malcolm, and Jim and Elisabeth told a terrible lie that hasn't been topped in 8.5 million years. You heard about the body from an anonymous note, Jim? Come on, dude. Taylor played like he wasn't suspicious, but we could tell he was because he smiled. No one here can lie! I'd clean house playing poker in Terra Nova!
Did I mention that all this was happening during the colony's preparation for Taylorsgiving, a holiday which celebrates the Commander's arrival in Terra Nova? To celebrate, the kids put on a play with Zoe playing Taylor, but it may as well have been a play incriminating Taylor for a past murder, because the story of Taylor's arrival included a man with one arm. Clues on a platter, folks. Jim put one and zero together and figured out that Taylor killed his commanding officer, who was sent back in time to take Taylor's position.
Jim was eventually framed as the spy who's been talking to Mira via some dragonfly-as-carrier-pigeon method, and Jim confronted Taylor about the one-armed man. Then Taylor took a huge exposition dump and described things so vividly we could see them in shaky flashbacks. See, it was the Sixers fault. They wanted to come back and rape and pillage prehistoric earth for resources to send back to 2149, and his son Lucas took their side. When the one-armed man came back in time, it was to replace Taylor as Commander of Terra Nova, and Taylor wouldn't have it. A scuffle ensued, the man was killed, and Taylor banished his son. An "I'm sorry" look washed over Jim's face, and he vowed to help Taylor fight to transform Terra Nova into the second chance humankind needs.
The episode finally answered a ton of questions I once cared about, but the answers barely elicited a resigned "oh." And can we really trust Taylor, anyway? Are we supposed to believe that the mean old army is actually the team looking out for the planet and the treehuggers in the forest are the ones trying to ruin it? We all saw Avatar, and we know Stephen Lang is great at playing planet-rapers—so either this show has things backward or Taylor is lying.
This was the most interesting episode of Terra Nova since the second hour of the pilot, but it was still pretty mediocre. That's all I got for this week; I'll be back at full strength for the next episode, which sees Taylor and Mira working together in the wilderness and Zoe making a huge decision about her pet Ankylosaur. Good stuff.
Happy Taylorsgiving, you guys.
– How awesome is it that Terra Nova shoehorned in a Thanksgiving episode by creating a new holiday? What happened to Thanksgiving? Did all the turkeys and tofurkey go extinct because of horrible environmental conditions in 2149, therefore canceling Thanksgiving forever?
– If the Sixer mole is Malcolm, it will be the most obvious thing ever to happen ever.
– After a week off, Mark returned! Yay! And he totally made out with Maddy.
– Where was Skye this episode? Is she too cool for Taylorsgiving?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom