TV Show Review

TV Review: EXTANT: Season 1, Episode 3: Wish You were Here [CBS]

Extant Wish You were Here

CBSExtant Wish You were Here TV Show Review. Extant: Season 1, Episode 3: ‘Wish you were Here’ took the series away from the initial mystery phase, for the moment, and set up for a cut to the chase. For Molly (Halle Berry), it was a case of careful what you wish for (or think you know), and the writing being on the wall (uterine & RV). For John (Goran Visnjic), it was all about the burden of being the only one with a clear vision of their android son’s future, and the implications for mankind; that, and the secretive kick his wife has been on. As for android Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), the episode was strictly for the birds.

Ethan clearly has a thing for birds. While I’m still not sure if he was lying about a bird found dead at his feet, he definitely put a lot of ingenuity into catching one, this time around – blatantly disobeying his father in the process. The point (besides being the consequence of the loop-hole, about secrets, he picked up from mom) seemed to be that Ethan may have some impulse issues. By the time John discovered what he was up to, it was clear he had not put much thought beyond capturing it. Ethan would be the one dog you do not want chasing your car; he just might catch it – and then everyone has a bad day.

I’m starting to feel for John. There is a certain naivety to his outlook that just leaves him perpetually defensive. Seemingly set upon, from all sides, over his work, and his seeming blind-spot – somewhere between overestimation & disregard – for the thoughts & feelings of his fellow man. This constant state of defensiveness only added to his frustrations over Molly’s secretiveness; but the real thorn in side remained apprehensions over Ethan.

If the post-racial world we’re supposed to be living in, right now, is any indication, no amount of social evolution is ever going to be enough for Human Beings to get over their hardwired fear & loathing of ‘the other.’ Frankly, if someone like Molly still has to say we shouldn’t fear ‘different,’ then she’s already wasting her breath, and viewers shouldn’t hold theirs for a good outcome.

If the subject of Ethan’s interaction with Humans – particularly kids – is to be an ongoing point of contention, then special attention may need to be paid to the interaction between Ethan & other machines. Last episode brought Ethan face to face with a more primitive interactive Robot, during a field trip to the natural history museum, ironically enough. The difference was stark, but not altogether one-sided. The Robot clearly knew much more than Ethan did, but Ethan clearly had a superior grasp for processing information. Ethan had an intellect (he knew how to deflect getting into trouble, by ratting out his mom to his dad – he’s wicked smaht). With that encounter in mind, the name to remember from ‘Wish You were Here’ may be Lucy. Between an intellect that rivals Ethan’s, and the protective nature of Julie (Grace Gummer), which seems to be bordering on competitiveness (with inattentive crush, John), I can see android Lucy playing a major role to come.

Molly has not been a particularly good snoop. I’ve made some allowance for her disorientation, but now she just seemed careless. Between her directly confronting Sparks (Michael O’Neill), and blindly confiding in Sam (Camryn Manheim), all the while keeping the truth from John, Molly clearly has demonstrated a unique take on trust issues. Last episode’s bumbling around ISEA, looking for answers, was less than subtle, as was her poking around Kryger’s analog RV. Leaving the curtains to Kryger’s mad scribblings wall open might not seem that big a deal; but what’s the average paranoid to do, after coming home to find a door, left closed, wide open? That’s the kind of detail that can drive your paranoid friend to do drastic things; so be considerate (“The More You Know”).

Luckily for Extant, we seem to be dealing with a subtler (if not smarter) brand of conspirators. Perhaps noting Molly’s willingness to trust old friends, like Sam & himself, Sparks resorted to the old wisdom that a believable lie is more acceptable than a fantastical truth. Molly already suspected company shenanigans (’cause being knocked up by a space ghost would’ve been a big number on the cuckoo clock), so that’s the story he offered her. Hook , line, and sinker, it went. The up side was that it made it easier for Molly to let John in on her situation; but it still took a confrontation, borne of a tattle-tale android, to get her there. Score one for ISEA.

Of course, the best laid plans can be easily undone by an operative who can’t/ won’t stick to the script; and unforced errors by the bad guys do often make up for protagonist shortcomings. On the other hand, sticking too close to the script tips off someone well versed in the story. Someone like, say, Sam. Whatever the case, if I’m to root for Molly, she’s going to have to do more than always rely on the carelessness of antagonists (Sparks sort of let her go, near the end). She’ll also have to learn how to manage the strange, and unpleasant surprises. Everyone – including fictional characters – should know that you only get so many public meltdowns before you lose credibility. That, and people who conveniently share your supposed delusion, may be part of your delusion – if not the cause. Why she never bothered to share her ‘special guest’ with anyone else at her party is anyone’s guess.

I previously made an issue of the state of Extant‘s surveillance state, mostly around ISEA not being able to track Molly after she ditched her personal monitoring device. Turns out, they were able to use a drone to track her visit to Sam’s side-gig (Veterinarian); so couldn’t they have done the same, regarding her meetings with Kryger? So, they know about Kryger? Something that could also turn up after the fact, I suppose.

‘Wish You were Here’ made some small contributions to a mythology that may not even exist yet; and by that, I mean I don’t have a clear enough idea of where Extant is going to know for sure if bits like Lucy, Julie, and the space ghost B team will add up to anything major. I can see where they might, however, and a show raising my expectations early is a good thing. As long as it doesn’t disappoint, that is. Then I start the burning cleanse….

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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