TV Show Review

TV Review: EXTANT: Season 1, Episode 5: What on Earth is Wrong? [CBS]

Grace Gummer Goran Visnjic Pierce Gagnon Extant What on Earth is Wrong?

CBS‘ Extant What on Earth is Wrong TV Show Review. Extant: Season 1, Episode 5: ‘What on Earth is Wrong?’ made for what seemed like another major course direction for the series. From that first encounter on the Seraphim, between Molly (Halle Berry) & the visage of Marcus (Sergio Harford), her mysterical pregnancy & shady company doings, the future according to John (Goran Visnjic) by way of Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), and the nagging background subject of extinction, the series has drawn parallels to a number of paradigm sources. 2001, X-Files, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers… I can go on, but that might take a while, and would also draw unfair comparisons. If this episode was any real indication, however, it looks like Extant may have added Species to the list. Beyond that, there may have also been a slight nod to Prometheus, and a not entirely subtle one to Inception; but let’s not dwell on these too long.

‘What on Earth is Wrong?’ was the question regarding the three principal threads of the episode. The question of Molly’s state of mind, in the wake of all evidence of her pregnancy being erased; the trouble with re-activating Ethan, after his run-in with Molly’s abductors; and the question of what the Yasumoto Corp. may be up against, regarding the implications of the embryo they had taken out of her.

Some questions were answered, as well. Foremost amongst them: a better look at the ‘father’ of Molly’s baby. It seems I was wrong about Kryger getting off easy, during his Seraphim encounter. Considering that Seraphim’s test worms were killed by an attempted interfacing, by the Visitors, Kryger’s panicked response may have saved his life. Of course, this suggests either a belligerence, indifference, or ignorance, on the Visitor’s behalf, regarding terran physiology.

We were allowed to see the fruit of the Visitor’s labor. A seemingly healthy, Human (looking) boy was now in the hands of Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada), and already projecting a rift between subordinates concerned with discovery, and those concerned with security. I’m already wondering if Sparks (Michael O’Neill) will be playing Michael Madsen to Sam’s (Camryn Manheim) Marg Helgenberger, with Yasumoto drawing the Ben Kingsley straw.

As for the fate of original Team Molly member, Sam, last seen at the discretion of Sparks, that was left sort of open. Sparks’ soft touch methods brought leverage to his dealings with Sam, by way of a relative she had been keeping under wraps. So by the time Molly got around to her, hoping to convince John that there really was a mystical pregnancy, Sam pulled a no comprende. Frankly, I had hoped ISEA would’ve just found a way to genuinely wipe Sam’s memory. I’d hate to think that she was always such a good liar, and given Molly’s parting threat, any future redemption attempt would be awkward, at the very least.

The episode also shed more light on the possible future role of Julie (Grace Gummer). Julie had very clear, very personal reasons for her passions over synthetic humanoid development. Sure enough, she had (inadvertently or not) assumed a motherhood role to Ethan, as both his co-creator/ developer, and someone with a personal interest in his well being. Once this finally became clear to John, during their combined effort to restore Ethan, he had to dress her down, some; but there is a certain arrogance, to John’s take on Ethan, that made the “know your place” exchange more demeaning than clarifying. The kind of demeaning that makes for disgruntled employees. Leaving such an employee alone with the disputed ‘product’ thus seeming like another clueless smartguy moment. In any case, Julie has clearly invested too much, emotionally, to not take matters into her own hands. That just leaves the question of how direct her actions will be, and whether it will involve a competition for Ethan, or against him.

There was also another moment to ponder whether Ethan should be groomed to eventual hero, or pre-emptively destroyed as a future executioner of mankind; but his story was basically a means of furthering the John-Julie dynamic.

I suppose viewers should assume that regenerative medicine had progressed to the point where no scarring would be left by a laser based embryo extraction process, otherwise some pretty clear evidence of Molly’s experience would have been left. Of course, we would not have then been made privy to the kind of resources at the conspirator’s disposal, or the lengths to which they were willing to go in covering their tracks. Some wireless wizardry, and a planted doctor (I dubbed Doc Block) was enough to sow some doubt in John’s mind – even before the Sam confrontation. As it was, Molly was clever in playing to ISEA’s breakdown plan, and Sparks’ “keep your enemies closer” strategy. She managed to get back into ISEA in time to benefit from a major breakthrough; but Sparks’ surveillance was still lacking. The dog bite angle was a nice touch, in Molly getting around the clean up campaign, even though I’m not sure how many people hold on to bloody rags the way her dad did.

From there, it was not too difficult for Molly & John to pick up the conspiracy trail; but I was encouraged to see Doc Block recognize John’s stall tactic for what it was – even if I was left a little unsure as to how Molly got out of the room (I only noticed the one entrance). With proof in hand, it looks like the new Team Molly will be taking the initiative, while Team Yasumoto tries to figure out what to do next… after figuring out what it is, exactly, that they had in hand.

Extant seems intent on getting somewhere. Its reluctance to string any one plot point along for too long seems proof of this. It may still be too early to figure exactly where it is the show seems so intent on getting to, but I do appreciate that perceived sense of drive & purpose it is currently generating. A quick pace is good for covering a lot of ground; and with all the ground Extant may be laying, a quick pace would be both useful & necessary.

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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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