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Extant S01E02: "Extinct"


There are few things I love more than a good airlocking. In fact, if I made a list of my favorite things, it would probably look something like this: ice cream, whiskey, airlocking. So I was fully prepared to wipe Extant's slate clean this week after Harmon shot whatever alien life form took the shape of his dead mother out the Seraphim's airlock in "Extinct." But then I watched the rest of the episode, and after complaining about the slowness of Extant's pilot, it seemed to me that the series' second outing was intent on making up for lost time by introducing several new developments all at once. In addition to Harmon's flashbacks, the hour also tried to squeeze in a discussion of extinction and survival of the fittest, more baby drama, possible marriage troubles, some pining over co-workers, secret lovers, dead daughters, and a dude who might have to be reborn in a new body every few months. I mean, WHAT? There was so much happening in "Extinct" that I had to take a nap between watching the episode and writing this review.

Let's start with what the episode did right: Harmon's experience during his own solo mission helped shed some light on the massive conspiracy at the center of the series. He saw his mother who died more than 30 years prior and was terrified to the point that he chose to airlock whatever she was. To his credit, homegirl was following him around with a creepy ass (technical term) smile on her face. I always run from people who smile at me, because it means they're happy and/or want to interact and I straight-up don't do human (or alien) contact. Harmon might just be the smartest person on Extant, guys. And considering that Molly's first inclination upon seeing "Marcus" in space was to shuck off her pants, put on some Marvin Gaye, and go to sexy town, I honestly don't feel bad for what's happening to her right now. I don't know what sort of tests are done before people are sent in to space on a 13-month solo mission, but maybe the ISEA should add this question to the psych evaluation:

What would you do if an alien being took the form of a dead loved one while you were on board?

A. Run and hide

B. Blow 'em out the airlock

C. Get bizzzzzy

D. Stop taking all those drugs


Okay, fine, we don't know what happened to Molly or how the baby growing inside her uterus came to be, but like I said last week, until we find out what really happened, I'm just going to assume she and "Marcus" followed standard human reproduction practices. Although, with that said, both Harmon and Molly showed the same brain abnormalities upon their return to Earth, and they both believe they had a psychotic break in space. But Harmon took it one step further and threw out the idea that they were part of an experiment being performed by their superiors at the ISEA. And by golly, he was on to something, because Sparks and Mr. Yasumoto were looking for some whosits or whatsits up there in space, and it appears that they not only found them, but they're now here on Earth in the form of a 14-week-old fetus in Molly's uterus.

The fact that Sparks and Yasumoto are hip to what's happening and also behind it takes Extant's story from creepy and effective to disappointing and predictable. The aliens-taking-the-form-of-deceased-loved-ones situation was a mystery worth exploring when it represented the potential dangers of the unknown, when it took on the air of "We are not alone!" But the fact that Sparks and Yasumoto are looking for these alien lifeforms because of an unexplained connection to Sparks' deceased daughter is an example of Extant confusing convoluted with compelling. It adds fuel to the conspiracy fire, but knowing who or what Molly and Harmon were dealing with—even if the audience is still in the dark—takes the thriller factor down to zero. 

On the RoboKid front this week was a heavy-handed discussion of human extinction, survival of the fittest, and the inevitable rise of the machines. Show, we get it. Please stop beating us over the head. It's not as if Extant is treading new territory here, and this storyline would be far better if it was shown and not told through winking nods and exposition delivered via robots that look like Rosie from The Jetsons. I'm interested in exploring Ethan's continued development and the discussion of the future of humanity, but so far the series isn't delivering on its promising start. Episode 2 felt like the equivalent of the fat kid at the sci-fi buffet, loading up its plate with all the common tropes and metaphors of the genre without realizing it's about to tip past the point of no return. Extant has several interconnecting stories with the potential to be very interesting, but it needs to find a balance before it can get there.



NOTES

– Molly's refusal to tell John about the pregnancy and roping Ethan into her lies, Julie's obvious and pitiful crush on John, and Dodd sleeping with Yasumoto all made this episode feel like it was stuffed to the gills. Chill out, dude. Did we really need the Julie stuff? Did we really need Dodd in her nightie? 

– Harmon told Molly to STFU and talk to no one and she blabbed to BFF Sam about EVERYTHING and then she confronted Sparks. Molly is not very smart.

– In the future, eggs stand on end! WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?

– Molly's ultrasound took place in a veterinary office where the dogs all hated her alien fetus. LOLOLOLOL.


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