TV Show Review

TV Review: EXTANT: Season 1, Episode 4: Shelter [CBS]

Pierce Gagnon Extant Shelter

CBS‘ Extant Shelter TV Show ReviewExtant: Season 1, Episode 4: ‘Shelter’ took the mystery gloves off, for a moment, in order for the audience to get a clearer picture of both the characters & the stakes involved. If anything, we learned more about the apparent bad guys than we did about the Woods family.

With ISEA point man, Sparks’ (Michael O’Neill) soft abduction plan for her blown, Molly (Halle Berry) took the family to her estranged father’s island community home. As good a refuge plan as any (#1 rated among zombie apocalypse preppers), except ISEA’s annoyingly inconsistent surveillance measures managed to track her there. Even as Molly’s reunion with estranged father, Quinn (Louis Gossett Jr.), was serving as the episode’s character builder & driver, ISEA operators were already on the island.

Given the particulars of their estrangement, it wasn’t long before the focus shifted from Molly & Quinn, to Quinn’s attempt at being a better grandfather than father. For Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), the attention broadened his horizons, at first; but once Quinn got a sense for some of Ethan’s talents, his influence veered off the straight & narrow by a bit. Ethan’s tendency to run hot & cold meant taking maxims like “nobody’s perfect” as a queue to under perform, in order to fit in. While I suppose a little self-consciousness will be necessary, if Ethan is to pass for Human, it didn’t do Quinn’s vice any good. Gossett Jr. has a long legacy of gruff, to-the-point characters; and seemed perfectly cast as the father anyone might’ve had a hard time living with. There was some dancing around his character’s history with Molly, a bit, but I’m not sure if anything will actually come of it. For ‘Shelter,’ that history served as a motivator behind Quinn’s bonding with Ethan.

Back at ISEA, Team Molly insider, Sam (Camryn Manheim), was getting the cooler treatment, for her aiding & abetting. Not to be all creepy about it, but if the ISEA powers-that-be are serious about being shadow operators, they really should keep an eye on their rest rooms. Not that it mattered, since Sparks seemed to know what the ramifications of her bathroom break request could be. Her getting caught red handed (almost literally) did give the game away, regarding Molly’s plans, so Sam’s fate may be up in the air, some. Sparks remains the soft touch, among the conspirators, so there may be some safe harbor, there. ISEA parent Yasumoto Corporation’s head, Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada), however, took some ownership of being the likely Extant villain candidate, this episode. Nothing like politely compelling a terrified researcher to punch his own expendability card for bad guy boss cred. Of course, that was apparently the way Sanada’s role on Helix started.

By the time Quinn figured out why his Ethan scheme went sideways, back on the island, it didn’t matter. The ISEA team knew their business, and using Ethan as bait, to draw out Molly, went like clockwork. Better than that, actually, since John (Goran Visnjic) having to come clean to the local authorities, concerning Ethan’s nature, took most of the would-be search party out of the picture. That, and John assaulting a police officer.

My sympathies towards John kind of took a blow, with that. However frustrated he has been, over attitudes towards his android son, punching a cop over an insult is the kind of stupid that belies his profession. Never mind how counter productive it was, the fact that he lost his temper, to such a degree, just didn’t speak well of his character.

Conveniently enough, however, it was just the right kind of smart guy stupid act to leave Molly on her own, when she did find Ethan. The team that deactivated Ethan was nowhere to be found, and the trap was sprung via helicopter. The actual capture wasn’t shown, so maybe the team did keep her from just running off with Ethan; but it seemed an unnecessarily bright, loud & dramatic way to spring the trap. The fact that Ethan was left behind meant no mission creep; clearly any usefulness he may present, to Yasumoto Corp, pales before what Molly’s baby means to Yasumoto, himself.

I’ve seen enough of these scenarios to not be surprised by where Molly was taken, for the execution of Yasumoto’s plan; but I was impressed by the plan actually being allowed to proceed. It seems the series will not be dwelling on the mysterical pregnancy for a lengthy period. That’s encouraging. The real intriguing bit came from Sparks seeming to have his own personal slant on the Molly matter. The soft touch may prove to be a weak link in Yasumoto’s operation.

‘Shelter’ did take a break from Extant‘s initial mystery arc, for a tiny bit of character development, but it was a very quick break. From here, the series seems set to move into an entirely new phase, in the framing of its eventual mythology (knock on wood). It gets a lot harder to dwell on individual episode missteps when a series moves at a fast enough pace (consider all the plot/ logic gaps in 24, that can be shrugged off once the ball really got going – a series of fast moving dashes forming a solid line, and all). At this rate, we may actually get some satisfying answers (leading to bigger, better questions) by the time Extant runs its course; however long, or short, that course may be.

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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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