Seven episodes into Terra Nova, it's pretty clear that not a normal day goes by in the prehistoric camp. Last night had it all: Horny teens engaging in body painting, the internet, 30-foot worms tunneling through some guy's guts, fire arrows (always cool), and an a Capella jam about spiders. "Nightfall" was almost like a greatest hits of the series so far, cramming its trademarks (both good and bad) into one single episode via overlapping stories featuring your favorite characters. It was like Pulp Fiction or that The Simpsons episode that parodied Pulp Fiction, but not like that Community episode that parodied Pulp Fiction.
"Nightfall" wasted no time making life difficult for the citizens of Terra Nova when a space rock hurtled across the sky and broke up into a jazillion pieces. But it wasn't the impact that people had to worry about, it was the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that it emitted, even though I didn't see anyone get a 15-kill killstreak or 18-point Strike Chain. (That's just a little Call of Duty humor for you.) The EMP knocked out all the electronics in Terra Nova, and as you can imagine, it pretty much screwed everyone over because of course there was no properly shielded backup power source for the colony.
We spent the rest of the episode bouncing back and forth between various members of the Shannon clan in different states of duress. It would do me no good to recap this chronologically since it wouldn't properly relay just how dire everyone's straits were, so let's tackle each character's story individually in... Tales from Terra Nova!
Also starring: Skye, Hunter
Dr. Elisabeth is bogged down in the Infirmary because Terra Nova's emergency room is ALWAYS FULL, and now she has to be a 21st century doctor with no laser-scalpels, space clamps, or iGauze to help her out. Not only does she have to deal with those injured by the "sonic wave" caused by the meteor, but she's already got a room full of Terra Nova's normal clumsy citizens. I don't know what's going on with these people, but it seems like there's an unusually high proportion of people in full body-casts to healthy people on this show. Maybe everyone should walk around in bear armor or, you know, just watch where they're going?
Elisabeth's most critical patient isn't a victim of the meteor at all. It's Skye's friend Hunter, who has a 30-foot worm swimming around in his intestines, which may or may not be a result of drinking. I guess Terra Novans have found a way to top the worm-in-the-tequila tradition popularized at higher institutions of partying like San Diego State University! Because she's short on doctors, Liz asks Skye to help reel in the worm, which—and I'm totally serious in saying this this—is a pretty rad way to extract a parasite from someone's poop chute. She just wraps it around a stick and starts winding. A potential Love Square begins to develop when Hunter tells Skye he's crushing on her, but he knows that she's sproinging on Josh, who is wacka-wacka over his old girlfriend, Kara. Meanwhile, no one loves the worm. Spurned by a lack of affection, the worm snaps in half and burrows back into Hunter. At that point, Elisabeth's professional doctor opinion is that they must get the replacement microchip from the replacement microchip maker to save Hunter's life. They get the chip, but I think the parasite is already dead so it doesn't matter anyway? It's not that clear, but I don't expect clarity from this show anymore. In the end, Elisabeth saves the day because she confirms that the parasite is dead.
Maddy kicks off the episode by blatantly lying to her parents! How rude! She has plans to go on a romantic picnic with her soldier suitor Mark, the most handsome soldier in all of Terra Nova. They're about to make out in a sea of plants when the meteor hits. The young lovers are stranded in paradise because the circuits inside Mark's ride are fried and bona fide died, so the try to turn the tide by walking back with matching strides, Mark and his soon-to-be bride who almost cried.
Because this isn't Cinemax, the two are forced to show their love by painting one another's supple young bodies with stinky dino-repellent. They could have put it on themselves, of course, but kids in love will find any excuse to paw at each other. (Side note: How old is Mark? Isn't Maddy like 16? It's reasonable to assume that he has to be at least 18, since he's a soldier and all, and is more likely in his early-20s. What are the statutory rape laws in Terra Nova?)
Mark and Maddy (celebrity couple name Maddark) end up kissing in a tree under the moonlight with mud all over their faces, and I'm not going to lie: These two characters actually have a bit of chemistry! I say go for it, Mark—you have my blessing, and you've won me over with your pecs. Maddy and Mark stay alive and walk back to camp the next day and never have to tell the truth about their secret liaison because not one single person ever decided to check up on Maddy. That's a tight family!
Jim decides to take Zoe into the bowels of Terra Nova to show her the colony's internet. If the gizmo they have down there is the future of online computing, count me in. It's like a giant Beryllium sphere from Galaxy Quest that's part Wikipedia, part Google Maps, part YouTube, and part roller coaster simulator. Just as Zoe is about to experience her first case of simulated motion sickness, the power goes out and they're stuck in the hole.
Jim finds the most useless access hatch in the world because it's too small to fit anyone but small children, jockeys, and gnomes. What's the point of having an access hatch to and from what is arguably the most important part of the colony, if only tiny people can use it? I don't know. What's the point of this show, Tim? Self-touché. Anyway, Zoe to the rescue! She can squeeze through the hatch to reach the manual override that is outside of the chamber, strategically placed in case someone wants to lock bad guys inside a room with the colony's most important piece of technology. *Smashes head into wall* Jim has to convince Zoe to be brave and crawl through the tunnel to save their lives because we've never seen this in a movie before ever. There's only one problem: SPIDERS!
I'm not talking about venomous spiders, or spiders that can wrap you up in a web and slowly suck out your insides. I'm talking about the most dangerous spiders of all: imaginary ones. Zoe is scared of some non-existent spiders, but we'll give her a pass because she's five years old. Jim rolls his eyes because he's sick of this father sh*t and sings the spider song, a diddy he makes up on the spot to calm Zoe's nerves. She gets out, and opens the door so Jim can do grown-up stuff. The end.
Bonus: Here is Jim Shannon's "Spider Song." Will someone please remix this jam with auto-tune? Download it by right-clicking and "save link as"-ing this link, remix it, and email it to email@example.com!
With special guest appearance from Jim Shannon
Taylor's got problems. With the power out, Terra Nova is a sitting duck for The Sixers, man-eating dinosaurs, prehistoric pigeons, and memory-erasing viruses. Everyone can die, and he needs replacement microchips FAST. Unfortunately, Terra Nova spent most of its budget on his awesome dinosaur-skull desk and Boylan's bar and didn't have any cash left over for an IT department or someone who could fix the electronics that the colony lives and dies by. Oops!
But there is one man who can whip up a replacement microchip, and it's the same guy who can whip up a Turoco Root Margarita: Boylan the bartender! I love how Taylor goes to the bar to rough up Boylan and there are people there just having a good time, not at all concerned about the meteor that just exploded and sent half of Terra Nova to the ER or the dinosaurs that can just waltz into camp. Gotta love alcoholics! Anyway, Taylor twists Boylan's arm quite literally and figuratively and Boylan starts working on replacement chips instead of selfishly asking for something like he was originally doing. I don't use this word that often, but Boylan is a total douche.
Meanwhile, the Sixers are dragging a huge dinosaur towards Terra Nova to use as a distraction so they can grab that box Mira wants so badly. Taylor has the foresight (finally, someone has foresight in this show) to dig a flammable moat around Terra Nova and launch a fire arrow into it like that guy from the Olympics when the dinosaur approaches. It should be pointed out that this was a pretty cool dinosaur. It's nice to see the monster from Cloverfield get more work. I don't want to point out holes in Mira's plan, but what if Taylor didn't stop the dinosaur? What if the dinosaur ran in and starting eating people, including the Sixers that sneak in to grab the box? What if the dinosaur eats the box? This is why I should be leader of the Sixers. I would have just had whoever the mole is grab the box and bring it to me. But then again, I'm not on a TV show.
Taylor and Jim realize the giant dinosaur is just a diversion, although we should be honest here and call it a legitimate threat on its own. Diversion implies something that is used just to distract, like a guy waving his arms and saying "over here! over here!," and in my book a gigantic dinosaur that will eat everyone is a greater threat than someone stealing a box I can't even open in the first place. But I digress. Taylor runs into the lab just in time to see Sixers run away from the box, there's a long fight scene that was choreographed by an 80-year old man in a Rascal scooter, and Taylor feeds a bunch of Sixers some Knuckle Sandwiches and a side of BBQ-flavored Potato Kicks. But one bad guy gets away with the box and hands it over to Mira, who hands it over to a mystery man who just pops out of the jungle. It's Taylor's son, Lucas! Which I guess makes Taylor Darth Vader? So now we finally meet the REAL villain in the series, who needed the box for his "work." But we STILL don't know what the box does. So really, we don't have any reason to care that he has it even though the music says we should. End scene!
Early in the episode, Josh can't find his shoes! Maddy finds them for him and gives them to him. (This was my favorite of all the stories.)
Truthfully, "Nightfall" was actually a pretty decent episode of Terra Nova once I got past some of the strange logic. There's no doubt that the show has been taking steps toward becoming a legitimate program, but it still trips and fall on its face way too often.
Which of the Tales From Terra Nova did you like most?