CBS‘ Extant Extinct TV Show Review. Extant: Season 1, Episode 2: ‘Extinct’ seemed to settle the matter of which thread the series will be pulling, for the time being, regarding the various elements introduced in the pilot episode. It also provided a “More You Know” moment for the show’s resident android, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). The insights he gathered, on the subject that provided the episode’s namesake, may inform both future episodes, and the possible role he may play; but first things first.
The pilot completed the series set up with the revelation that space station Seraphim’s previous subject, Harmon Kryger (Brad Beyer), presumed dead, was very much alive. As a healthy dose of paranoia was credited with his state of being alive & free to lurk (as the shadowy figure, from last episode), he was more than happy to share it with program successor Molly (Halle Berry). As it turned out, they had similar experiences on the Seraphim. Not exact, however, as I suspect male physiology might have spared Kryger Molly’s take away from the experience. Molly came back from her 13 month solo mission pregnant.
With Molly having a very convenient ally, in the form of company (ISEA: International Space Exploration Agency) medical head Sam Barton (Camryn Manheim), she had been able to sit on this sinister miracle. After confirming her condition, however, and comparing notes with Kryger, she opted to confront her direct superior, Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neill), over what she had determined to be a company experiment. Sparks honestly didn’t know what she was talking about, but the confrontation gave the game away, regarding what he, and ISEA parent company head, Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) were already figuring out: that the Seraphim project was the key to a first contact event.
In an effort to keep Molly “close,” Yasumoto had arranged for personal funding of further research around Ethan, by her husband, John (Goran Visnjic). This was done after Yasumoto’s own board of directors had denied company funding (robot-apocalypse: if your android doesn’t have a fail-safe, well, you’re just part of the problem), and director Femi Dodd (Annie Wersching) put John on notice that she was following through on her objections.
This brewing turf war (camouflaging Extant‘s Asimov themed element, while serving as a facet of Yasumoto’s larger plans, concerning Molly) left a fairly wide opening, regarding Ethan’s place in the mix – and that’s a good thing. It would be comforting to think that all these machinations may lead to a convergence of Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. On the other hand, that level of expectation could most certainly doom the series to disappoint; so let’s just say it’s comforting to think that there may be more to the show’s internal politics than just sowing drama.
If soap suds are in fact what you’re in the market for, then there’s always the prospective father of Molly’s miracle: deceased former husband, Marcus (Sergio Harford) – or rather, the visage of Marcus. As with Kryger’s experience, Extant‘s mysterious other element seems to represent an intelligence that imitates both the contacted’s speech, and the appearance of their most cherished departed. With a terrestrial mock-Marcus sighting, during a term related episode, it is only a mater of time before Molly has to share the state of affairs with her family. Given the emphasis John had been placing on their having a child, the gravity of having Ethan fill that role, and the friction that has been building around Molly’s secretive nervousness, there is much melodrama that can be milked from the overall plot. Juicy, juicy melodrama. Have fun with that.
Personally, I’m looking forward to Ethan putting two & two together, regarding Molly’s situation, and how it fits into his new found understanding on the concept of survival of the fittest – given his own fitness, and that of the powers behind his would-be sibling. With the future of self-aware androids, and Human-extraterrestrial relations hinging on a single nuclear ‘family,’ I can see where someone like Yasumoto might harbor some… long term concerns.
To ground floor, ground zero characters like Molly & Kryger, however, concerns come much more immediate. After gaining access to footage of Kryger’s Seraphim encounter (made clear only to viewers, by way of flashback), Molly opted to slip her conveniently accessible remote tracker, and make a break for it. Kryger’s timely arrival (in what looked like a vintage Prius) made things easier.
I’ll take this opportunity to harp on another of my long-standing pet-peeves, regarding futurist stories. Sure, learning toys are always super cool, but how is it that future smart buildings, star ships, and superior alien races never seem to have anything like the level of security surveillance we have at present? The Seraphim seemed reasonably well covered; but your run-of-the-mill secure facility, by today’s standards (particularly in a city like London), would not only provide real-time tracking of Molly’s exit from the building (no cameras for the fire exit stairways?), the traffic outside would be covered, as well. Throw in digital zoom, and facial recognition, and boom: Kryger’s cover gets blown.
‘Extinct’ did do a better job of selling some of Extant‘s core premise than the pilot, although I suppose tossing in allusions to Homo Sapien’s genocidal ascension, after coming in late to Neanderthal’s party, would prick up an ear, or two. John’s character has maintained a certain bi-polar fixation, split between his protectiveness of both his work, and his family, that has left him a tad on the clueless side, concerning the nuances of Molly & Ethan’s developments. Understandable, to a degree, but when Molly & Ethan start bonding over keeping secrets from the father figure: not especially encouraging. Molly has yet to strike a chord that says ‘astronaut material;’ but 13 months without Human contact, with being a possible baby-mama for an interstellar dead-ringer as the door prize, makes for a credible degradation of candidacy argument. Ethan was still the creepy kid in-the-know, but no mood-swings, this episode, and we may have been given a glimpse of what this creepy kid will be in-the-know about. Yasumoto & Sparks may have gone to great lengths to keep Molly contained & controlled, but new awareness of her pregnancy may force them to move up their time table. About as potent a prospect as cryptic time tables go, I guess. “Fight the Future,” anyone?
All in all, an improvement on the pilot. Always a good thing.
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