CBS’ Extant You Say You Want an Evolution/ The Other TV Show Review. Extant: Season 2, Episodes 6 & 7: ‘ You Say You Want an Evolution/ The Other,’ may have been an effort, on the network’s part, to cut to the chase. Even if there were still plenty of details to quibble over, I can’t say that I entirely fault that logic.
Let’s get some of those quibbly bits out of the way, first. Apparently, no one thought to give Mad Molly (Halle Berry) a routine blood screening, before placing her in a high security position; just as something as common as genetically bonding with a fetus – applied to one born of extraterrestrial means, in this case – was also overlooked. Never mind the means, by which Magical Molly & JD (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) got her sample, a “kick-ass numbing agent,” like the one she supposedly used to endure it, would make drug/ alcohol abuse obsolete.
Julie (Grace Gummer) resorted to a more human method of reprogramming Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) – namely distraction-by-bribery – but this was just the tip of the iceberg, regarding Julie’s guilt issues. Y’see, Julie maaaay have tipped off Anna Schaefer (Hilarie Burton) about John (Goran Visnjic) going off reservation. If John dying at the hands of a smart car malfunction – like, immediately after that – didn’t validate Julie bringing it back to Anna’s feet, then Julie & Ethan almost being done in by a smart elevator – like, immediately after that – might’ve done the trick. The trick, in this case: figuring the whole don’t-confront-the-conspirator-face-to-face thing (that keeps happening on this show) may also apply to Anna.
With all the smart home harm in evidence (to say nothing of any number of Humanich outcomes), Extant paints a pretty dim future for the e-minded. One where we become so dependent on technology, that JD was able to disappear in ways he never could, by today’s standards, by just keeping it analog. Details like that allow for plotting that does not require too much tightening up – this isn’t Enemy of the State, after all – and lent to the Hybrid solution to the new Humanich problem; but, personally, I would’ve appreciated a little more tightening up. Case in point: after learning that a key asset has been a rogue element, how does a super tech security apparatus miss a signal broadcast based on that asset’s breakthrough discovery?
On a fairly petty side-note, while I appreciated seeing A-TACS/AU camouflage in action, I figured the Humanichs taking it into the field would have been better served by a version that actually matched the terrain (A-TACS/FG, maybe)….
But enough nitpicking over the small stuff (exclusively, anyway). The show’s biggest scenario change, next gen Humanich, Lucy (Kiersey Clemons), has been running away with the spotlight. After explaining some specifics about her Hybrid hunter prowess (for the viewer’s sake), Lucy set herself up as the embodiment of Magic Molly’s fears. Luckily for Molly (and us), however, Lucy has reserved for herself the right to lie. She has bigger fish to fry, and another bonding-over-secrets session with Ethan (partly over the ‘weaponizing’ of his Julie gift) established that Humans just can’t be trusted. As for Ethan’s future army (The Sleeper Must Awaken), Lucy will be holding the keys to the kingdom, for the time being. Just in time, it seems, for the introduction of a Blade Runner element (even with John dodging the prospects of having his eyes thumbed in for it). Her new Lilith role was a clear payoff, to all her Lolita shenanigans; but Charlie (Tyler Hilton) managed to dodge what should have been an obvious bullet – even as he unwittingly slipped further into her clutches.
On the other side, of the shaping battle lines, Mad Mother Molly finally took the hint (from Magic Molly, I guess), and followed the signal to the Hybrid haven. It was as much a haven for Molly & JD, for the moment, after Tobias (David Morrissey) & co. learned of Magic Molly’s existence, and put the pair on the Most Wanted list. More than setting for a reunion with Adhu (Henderson Wade), the Hybrid colony was also the first real effort to humanize the Hybrids, as an extended family unit, instead of an invading army/ infection. They even had a monument to all the host fatalities – so never mind all that. It may have been something of a sudden turn, to attempt, but not necessarily a sharp (or smooth) one. The one element that made them a clear threat had been removed (giving Magic Molly away, ironically enough); but now the group doesn’t seem quite as hive minded as initially presented. I’m hoping that there are limits, to how many of them are ‘appropriately named,’ but for now, Ares (Cleo Anthony) has been set up as the resident Hawk of the colony. Tobias making things personal for JD, on the outside, didn’t help. As much as Ares was against JD being there, he was even less crazy about him leaving to handle this personal business. The splintering of the Hybrid collective seemed inconsistent; but it did serve to set up Magic Mother Molly as Reverend Mother – whether Ares likes it or not. In any case, beyond JD’s very pertinent misgivings, about selective sight, Molly was shown her place in the grand scheme of things (who says Planetariums are out of style?), and now seems fully committed to the Hybrids’ right to coexist. No more Mad Molly: Hybrid Hunter – that’s Lucy’s job.
Further complicating matters, a third player was introduced to the mix. Frustrated by both the Hybrids & Molly falling through the cracks in his technology, Toby resorted to consulting TAALR – a security A.I. apparently too potent to have been worth bothering, until now. While TAALR was able to finger the colony, presenting him as the Great Eye to Molly’s new movement, I couldn’t help but wonder if this new Skynet element will serve as asset, or competition, for Lilith Lucy. Frankly, that’s the kind of question this show really needs to keep generating.
A less pleasant question is whether Lucy has any real long term prospects. She has certainly been set up as a universal threat (even if only a gateway one), for season two; but there’s the question of whether all these power plays will achieve critical mass by season’s end. Sure, you can’t have too much of a good thing without having something good, to begin with; but given the show’s past & present disappointments, I’ve been left feeling a little protective of its good points.
Extant has been fast-tracked to something that promises to be big – and that’s a good thing. My worry, however, is that it risks burning itself out, in the long run, over any short run up-ticks it stands to gain.
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