CBS‘ Extant Nightmares TV Show Review. Extant: Season 1, Episode 6: ‘Nightmares’ followed up on the Species theme with mind hacks, wire taps, and the future of identity theft. With the source of the Molly (Halle Berry) mysterical pregnancy revealed as apparent Star Spores (“nothing but Star Spores”), Team Molly took further action in learning what the were up against, Earth-side, even as Team Yasumoto was trying t learn what they were up against, off-planet (“Good morning, Earth-child, the Star Spores say hello. They twinkle around you, then infest your belows… ” Sorry, I’ll stop now).
That awkward moment that was bound to happen, involving a face-to-face between Molly & compromised Team Molly member, Sam (Camryn Manheim), could have gone worse for Sam, but went great for Molly. She was able to bug Sam, in a particularly creepy fashion, in time to overhear the means of Sparks’ (Michael O’Neill) control over her. I suppose that bugging method was either too out there to show up on ISEA counter surveillance, or they don’t have that sort of thing… which would be odd. Meh, the show went on.
An example of the kind of bug you won’t likely screen for came from Molly’s baby (I call him Star Child… not a song cue), now in Yasumoto Corp. hands. After all the great lengths gone into learning about him, he seems to have cracked us on the genetic level. Between the science team lead going Marked One acolyte, and a bit of wish fulfillment for Sparks, I suspect we will be seeing a lot of interactive dead people, as Extant rolls on.
Molly’s other ‘son,’ Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), came back from his near death experience with a little something extra. Dream function was enabled, even though it hadn’t really been installed, yet (hence episode title), and his processing was notably faster (keep the name Lucy in mind – I’m hoping it “means something”). Why John (Goran Visnjic) never considered using his sentient super computer son, for code breaking, seemed like a clueless smartguy moment. Luckily for Team Molly, Ethan was smart enough to offer his services, anyway. He even got to try out his expanded faculties by performing the Bishop knife trick, from Aliens. OK, not really – which was disappointing; but he did reinforce the importance of the ubiquitous symbol rings. Anybody remember Threshold? Just thought I’d throw that out there.
With both Ethan & Star Child flexing same serious extrasensory muscle, I couldn’t help but wonder if the future of mankind will hinge on some E.T., A.I. interfacing. Who said V’Ger? Nobody’s speculating that far. That, and… and I always keep my fingers crossed, when I deny things….
‘Nightmares’ continued to expand on the role of Julie (Grace Gummer), as a very interested suitor (in both her, and her work) capitalized on their common ground, regarding cyber-prosthetics. Odin’s (Charlie Bewley) poking around Julie & Ethan threatens (to us, anyway) a possible conflict with Charlie (Tyler Hilton), Julie’s subordinate-with-benefits, but that would at least keep the Julie-loves-John plot devices at bay. On a related note: John blowing off Julie – in mid apology, for being over bearing about Ethan – was another clueless smartguy moment, and John has been having too many of those. Hopefully these will add up to something, at some point (I’m still wondering how he got out of jail time for assaulting an officer of the law).
The last stranger to take an interest in Ethan turned out to be a Yasumoto Corp. operative; but I’m hoping Extant doesn’t plan on resorting to this trick repeatedly. Some paranoia helps, but when every feint turns into a blow, it’s called telegraphing.
We were filled in on the specter that had been giving Sparks pause, from the onset. Sparks had always seemed torn between duty & some odd sentiment, that almost seemed like paternal concern. Well, if that was the case, then the episode’s major revelation, regarding the history of the Seraphim project & its direct connection to Sparks, sort of cancels out those two qualities. Sparks’ commitment to whatever Yasumoto Corp. is about had overridden his paternal sense, while possible guilt over that very fact seemed to be evident in his handling of the Molly situation. With the Star Child now in the picture, however, an element of mystical escapism was added to the equation.
ISEA security head, Gordon (Maury Sterling), also got a little more attention, this time around, and also involving escapism. Having so far served as the more cynically hawkish agent of Sparks’ otherwise subtle operations, ‘Nightmares’ revealed a bit of the demons behind his drive. Whether out of frustration, over Sparks’ restraint, or some pre-established angst, Gordon’s escapism has been of the chemically induced variety.
While there is nothing to suggest Gordon becoming a more sympathetic character, somewhere down the line, it might be worth the show’s while to at least make him someone we grow to love hating. There are typically three kinds of great villain: the ones we begrudgingly root for (Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Point Break‘s Bodhi), the ones we respect for their competence (X-Files‘ Cancer Man & Avatar‘s Colonel Quaritch), and the ones who keep us watching in hopes of seeing them get their comeuppance (X-Files‘ Krycek). All too often a story is only as good as its villain, and Extant has yet to produce a clear candidate, from its Shadow Cabinet rogues gallery. If Gordon gets the green to go full despicable, we’re going to need more than just commitment to a dirty job, and a questionable personable habit, to start on.
As it stands, this peek behind Gordon’s curtain served the episode’s plot. Unfortunately for Team Sparks, his activity left him wide open to exploitation by Kryger (Brad Beyer). Unfortunately for Team Molly, that exploitation also left a clear trail back to Kryger. It seems that Team Sparks had been aware of Kryger’s status for quite some time. While I’m not sure if that fact redeems apparent lapses in ISEA security, from episode one, Kryger’s measure, for the latest breech, still suggests that ISEA is really behind the curve.
It also suggests that Gordon, as the weak link that got Kryger in, has been indispensable enough to not got cashiered for it. His cynicism may have been the source of his own redemption, however, at Kryger’s expense; but not before some damage was done. Team Molly got the goods on ISEA’s first contact motivations, behind multiple missions (that included Kryger’s & Molly’s), and that personal connection to Sparks.
Fortunately, Extant may be on the verge of getting beyond a period of mystery & discovery, and headed for something more kinetic. There will be efforts, within the plot, to keep this from happening (“fight the future,” and all that), of course; so the next step, I expect, would involve arcs that build up bigger stakes.
The Star Child has been ruled as unfit for Human contact; thus the motivating word, going forward, may very well be containment.
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