Friday, 18 July 2014

EXTANT, 1.2 – 'Extinct' - survival of the fittest

Friday, 18 July 2014

I enjoyed Extant's pilot (more than most people), but the second episode was distinctly average. I was hoping Extant could become a fun summer show to review weekly, but now I'm not so sure. Halle Berry's performance felt much flatter as Molly, and the direction they're taking her android son Ethan (Piece Gagnon) appears to be the most obvious one. He's learned about extinction at the Natural History Museum, and Darwin's adage "survival of the fittest" suggests he's going to start seeing humans as inferior beings soon. Uh-oh.

If this isn't a clever bluff, I'm worried Extant's going to lead us down a well-trodden path I'd rather not be following. The central mystery of Molly's pregnancy also felt less compelling this week, as we discovered her friend Harmon Kryger (Brad Beyer) also saw a weird vision during his own solo mission—of his late mother, who appeared to try and impregnate him. So, aliens are trying to keep their species alive by finding suitable human hosts in space? Again, if that's roughly where Extant is headed, I'm going to be very disappointed.

The only curveball of the episode was the reveal that Mr Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) only has a life expectancy of a few months, which could feed into Molly or Seth's storyline in similar ways. If he's after immortality, can the aliens or John's (Goran Visnijic) automatons be of help? Could his consciousness be transplanted into a Humanich or the embryo inside Molly's womb? Perhaps not, given the time constraints on his life, but this is the one area of Extant that's at least making me theorise. It also became very obvious that Sanada is playing roughly the same 'inscrutable Japanese man' he played on Helix, which is a shame if he's worried about typecasting.

Overall, I'm going to keep watching, as the world-building continues to be very nicely executed (futuristic without going nuts), and the pacing is good, but the story needs to take a very unexpected turn that leaves audiences scrambling to stay ahead of the plot. As it stands, there's already a funny feeling Extant is a hodgepodge of better things (A.I, Solaris) trying to take form as something unique, and not quite managing that trick. Still, it's very early days, so maybe this was a post-pilot blip.

written by Leslie Bohem | directed by Matt Earl Beesley | 16 July 2014 | CBS