CBS’ Extant Zugzwang TV Show Review. Extant: Season 2, Episode 11: ‘ Zugzwang ‘ spared me from having to explain what the title actually means, even as it retroactively applied to the previous episode, as well. There, Toby had officially turned a corner (though not fast enough – he got himself caught), blew his credibility with Sec. Stanton (Kate Burton), then made a run for it. His latter failures amounted to an opening for both Sec. Stanton, and Molly (Halle Berry) – even if neither fully appreciated it at the moment. For Molly, unfortunately, that was not be the last potential waste of a sacrifice.
The Secretary, for her part, took the opportunity to go heavy-handed, with the GSC staff; but still deferred to TAALR. That should’ve told you something. What it told me was that Sec. Stanton was being played like a Sims character; but was too busy being on the right side of the issue to notice, or care.
On the wrong side of the issue, Mother Molly & Julie (Grace Gummer) made a Yada Yada Sisterhood official, over Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), before parting ways on divergent missions. While Molly & JD (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) pursued a clever Calderon lead, Julie & Charlie (Tyler Hilton) took to dealing with the Humanichs problem.
Since it seemed settled, that Molly & Julie had officially buried the hatchet, I assume we were meant to care what happened to Team Chulie – thus upping the ante to their mission stakes. Since I find it hard to believe that neither of them considered a key HAL scene, from 2001, a learning experience, the repeat of its scenario had to have been a shell-game.
Luckily for them, Lucy (Kiersey Clemons) likes to play games.
Since Lucy also likes to play to her own Human shortcomings – like hopeless crushes – Charlie managed to play the Greek bearing gifts. Nothing like nerve twisting success to inspire stupid genius moments; Team Chulie taking that cue when Julie & Charlie missed the implications of their unnoticeable tap being noticed, then forgot about the one detail that got them that far, in the first place. That wound up with Lucy turning the tables in ways she found proportionate – which was particularly bad for Julie.
Luckily for them, Lucy likes to play games.
Team MollyD had better luck tracking down Calderon – despite the fact that Molly was still convinced her vision was to turn out literal. I’m not sure how that was to manifest itself – given that Calderon wasn’t likely to be holed up at a carnival, and her vision said nothing of Toby’s passing. Still, she was being a pill about it; so I guess I should commend JD for making the best of his fatalist commitment to her. Maneater Molly blackouts meant that Mad Molly has likely been left… unfulfilled for a while.
Besides turning out to be Keith David, after all, Calderon was also everything I expected. Almost, anyway. Some element of doubt had to be brought to this new solution; so while Molly & JD made shadow (meat) puppet theater, Calderon made a move on Ethan. Not a very subtle one, and a shaming stand-off ensued; but an app of kindness (instead of act… phrasing), on Ethan’s part, put that distraction to rest, and lit a fire under Calderon’s resolve to help.
Taking his cue from the title, Calderon took a very drastic measure, getting Molly what she needed. All the more reason Molly’s attempt, to spare JD the fate she feared for him, amounted to a serious WTF moment. That was almost a complete waste of a thread, and a throwback to Molly being schizoid, over saving everyone vs saving the few she cares about. That was supposed to be settled, at this late juncture; so yeah, almost a complete waste of a season.
Speaking of waste: suppose you wake up to find yourself confronted with a dwindling air supply. Would you exert yourself, reacting with screaming panic, thus hastening oxygen depletion? I suppose there’s something to be said for the consistency of Extant’s stupid genius moments (like a tech nerd attempting to manhandle a militarized killer android), and panic is as panic does….
The show sort of gave away something of a Skynet/ Sentinels gambit the minute TAALR was introduced, declaring himself superior to what his creators (John & Calderon) had envisioned. I suppose all that’s really left up in the air is whether we ever get to the wrath of Lucy. I still say her becoming TAALR’s hand puppet was a waste of her character’s potential; but her Charlie crush did suggest her capable of making an individual mark on the season (if not series). TAALR may be the bigger villain; but Lucy is still a better one, and I want her back.
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