CBS‘ Extant Before the Blood TV Show Review. Extant: Season 1, Episodes 12: ‘Before the Blood’ served as the switch at the railroad junction, just ahead of the final destination. Molly (Halle Berry) had her seeming train-wreck of a quest produce a light, at the end of the tunnel. That light, in part, came from the shining eyes of her wish fulfilling son (Shannon Brown) – set to grant her wish in a way that actually matters. The great threat he represented was deferred to a much greater one, with another desperately sought offspring (literally) taking the controls. Extant did not deviate from the suspense/ horror course, but ‘Before the Blood’ still managed a bait & switch, all the same.
Having made himself something of a martyr, Sparks (Michael O’Neill) was in no position to be reasoned with; he was convinced that the paradise Star Child offered made all terrestrial concerns irrelevant. I could see where an atheist could draw comparisons to the dangers of Evangelicalism, and its emphasis on afterlife rewards, over real life matters. Not even news of his wife being a cast off casualty made a difference, any more than Star Child claiming another victim registered with Molly. Her Star Child wasn’t the issue – reuniting him with his mother was, and people like Sparks kept getting in the way. Trying to reach him through the death of his wife was a means to that end – even if he wasn’t biting. So the question for Molly, was how to get someone like Sparks to help save a world he knew he no longer had a stake in.
What he didn’t know, was that his ultimate act of sabotage (beginning with using codes, delivered by an illusion immersed Molly, to redirect the Seraphim) facilitated the rescue of a not so dead Katie Sparks (Tessa Ferrer), astronaut. Her rescue, and deliverance to the Seraphim, marked something of a heartfelt reunion, between her & current Seraphim occupant, Glass (Enver Gjokaj). The pair seemed to go through a crash course romantic reconnection, which came across as odd (if not tacked on); but at this late stage, had to serve some kind of purpose.
Back at ISEA, Molly was resorting to memory mining, to figure out how Sparks had used her illusion, while continuing to fend off calls to treat the Star Child matter as something a little more grave than a milk carton photo emergency.
Right, so before it knocks over something, I’d like to point out the Elephant in the room. Man, the ego on Molly. The whole series, where her character was concerned, has been about mommy to the rescue – complete with a lot of speechifying; but, until now, she had never boiled the matter down to something as concise as: “he can’t be all that bad, he’s got my DNA.” Him, and every other mother’s child that’s gone on a killing spree, lady. Molly is still the main protagonist, however, so she’ll have to be vindicated, at some point, otherwise a lot of viewers would be left with a real downer of an ending (which I’d consider a ballsy thing to do, myself, but forget it, Jake, it’s network TV town). Not only will her faith in the motherly bond be vindicated, she may even get to save the whole Human race. There won’t be any living with her, after that.
When Charlie (Tyler Hilton) noticed the time gap, left by Odin (Charlie Bewley) meddling with Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), it set off alarm bells with Julie (Grace Gummer). Julie, at least, is capable of objective critical thinking, when someone close to her fails the smell test. Of course, that just meant more testing, but it was a start. The next round came courtesy of Ethan, himself. His time with Odin has fostered a sense of rebellion out of his sense of self-determination, and someone at Ethan’s level of intellect would certainly consider consequences to that rebellion. Under Odin’s influence, however, the notion of self-preservation took on a darker tone.
Ethan’s trip, across the alphabet of Human condition, had arrived at P, for paranoia.
Brain washing 101 has the victim disassociating with loved ones, re-allocating that trust to the manipulator. With a ‘lifeline’ to Odin in hand, Ethan was prepared to reject any effort made to restore him to a mere human boy imitation. Among Julie’s many gifts, however, was the ability to apply a human touch to her science. Her reassurance of Ethan meant a bullet dodged for everyone present. Her follow up question to Ethan, about his fears, set Odin squarely in her sights. The next round of testing yielded definitive answers.
Clearly there was plenty of ego to go around. If Sparks was running on faith, and Molly on nurturing instinct, then Odin suffered from target fixation. He made a vid, gloating over the anticipated suicide bombing that was meant to come of Ethan’s check-up. Terrorists do it all the time, and even in Extant‘s setting, it seems you just can’t beat the classics (especially if you’re fighting progress). The problem is that he left it on his universal wall screen device. As trusting as his landlady seemed to be, I suppose he felt his home privacy was secured. Still, that trusting nature got Julie through the door, who then began to flip through his files, like any ‘curious’ contemporary might fiddle with a significant other’s smart phone. I’m left to assume that Odin really wasn’t thinking relationship thoughts, during this mission, otherwise leaving such sensitive material unlocked would be obscenely stupid.
To Julie’s credit, she didn’t linger, and she didn’t try to confront him, before taking action. To the show’s credit, Odin didn’t show up just as she was running out the door. Julie has been the most consistent ‘smart person’ on the show, and I’m glad her character has yet to be compromised for the sake of plot expediency. All the same, the Ethan thread has been paced for the long run; so Odin’s comeuppance will have to wait. ‘Before the Blood’ was all about Star Spores (nothing but), and the faults in their Star Child.
Wish fulfillment has been a primary factor, on this show, and I have to admit being fooled by the most constructive dialogue between Molly & John (Goran Visnjic), regarding her quest. I should have known better – particularly after she served him a soap opera scene-stopper of a comeback line, that brought her to her senses. Yeah, didn’t happen. Ethan’s new found power of paranoia, and Julie’s panicked arrival, would set up the climax.
The long awaited meeting, between Molly & her son from another Sun was everything she expected. Always a bad sign (especially right on the heels of the John reconciliation fake-out), but the writers had to make up some ground, so this meeting was earnest. The first meeting between Ethan & his brother by another… mother, I guess, technically – did not go nearly as well; but, again, ground to cover, and Ethan’s time may come later, so the two were separated. Ethan becoming John & Julie’s problem, while Molly was left to her bonding session.
Turns out Star Child has grown into his Human form in more ways than one. Apart from not looking nearly as creepy as those first few glimpses made him out to be, he actually looks like something a Hollywood power couple might put together, maybe a Cosmic Cosby Kid – all besides the point. The point was that he seemed to have grown out of a hungry caterpillar phase, into a more plant friendly butterfly. Good for us ‘plants.’ It also marked a convenient switch in loyalties, that informed of the Star Spores’ intentions. After some ground rules were set, regarding that pesky virtual reality communication thing he does (use your words, son), the path was clear. Molly’s Ripley got her Newt; it was now time to kick alien butt (I would’ve used a Robotech: Invid Saga reference, but I’m trying not to show my age).
So how do you reach someone with no stake in the living world? In Sparks’ case, you inform him that the goal he set beyond the material world, actually lies behind him, with the rest of us pieces of corrupted flesh. It turns out that his need to redeem Katie elder’s loss outweighed his need to have her (and the family) restored. Never mind saving the World, Sparks seized the opportunity to save the daughter he never actually lost.
Almost seemed like wish fulfillment.
As for the matter of Glass & Katie’s tempest in a teacup romance, call it an ‘enjoy it while you can’ concession to Glass; because this Katie had one thing as much in common with her father, as everything else was different. She knew how to pull a convincing Trojan Horse gambit in her own right.
Is it just me, or has that whole matter involving Sam Barton (Camryn Manheim), and her brother, been completely dropped? No Sparks to use it, no need to keep it, I guess. Also missing from the whole affair was Yasumoto Corp., and just as well. The immortal puppet master angle has been played out, and its only fitting that ISEA be the setting for the ultimate outcome of this space opera.
Fortunately for ISEA, their best (surviving) astronaut is back at the forefront. Unfortunately for Molly, all the conspiratorial squandering, of qualified ISEA personnel, left her the last to say “not it,” to one last space mission. All that talk about being the only one that can do this, that, or the other thing, and now she hesitates, when ISEA actually says as much? Nuh-uh. Time to go super with that ego, Molly. Your mother’s quest may have been vindicated, but now it’s time to prove you’re more than just the annoying trouble maker that was right, all along, about doing all the wrong things.
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