Extant – 2 x 01 Review: Three Stars + One Wish

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I’ll just cut to the chase: I liked Extant’s Season 2 premiere. I thought it had some issues, but started strong (full disclosure: opening with a steamy scene sells…at least with me). One of the questions I had after watching teaser trailers for this season was: Where’s husband John Woods (Goran Visnjic)? Turns out John was a mess of a cheating husband who ended up being turned into a literal mess…by a speeding train in a locked car. A bit outlandish, but it worked for me. The mutant offspring kid? Still out there, even though he was found “dead” in a pool of blood. Ethan? Brought back to life and reality by John and Julie. And the government is corrupt (not shocked by this, are you?).

So let’s get to the good stuff. In my day job, when reviewing kids’ writing, we do this thing called “Three Stars and a Wish.” I’m going to use that technique in this review. Let’s start with my three stars for “Change Scenario,” episode 1 of Season 2:

photo courtesy cbs.com

photo courtesy cbs.com

Star 1: David Morrissey. OMG, DAVID MORRISSEY. He’s playing the highly decorated, powerful General Tobias Shepherd. I really, really want to like General Shepherd, but I can tell: he’s not to be trusted. He gets that…that LOOK. You know? That “I’m up to no good” glint-y eye. I’m sure it’s a common look one sees every day in the upper echelons of the Pentagon. (I do like it when actors are so good at their craft you can totally tell a lot about what’s in their character’s brain just by what’s happening on their face…terrible poker players, but awesome thespians.)

Star 2: Jeffrey Dean Morgan. We meet his character doing what lots and lots of bad boys do in their spare time – getting down on it with a beautiful lady. Then (because he’s a detective and thus a societal savior) his romantic interlude is interrupted with a job he simply can’t resist: someone has killed a beautiful girl – her stomach is all ripped to pieces. So he tells his beautiful lady of the moment: I have to go, but let’s finish this Friday. And she, hating herself for it but knowing he’s worth it, basically says: “Okay. I hate you for it, but okay.” Totally felt her on that. Listen to me: if Jeffrey Dean Morgan wanted to meet me for drinks, I’d totally go…but only if he promised to show up in character as J.D. Richter. He’s already making me look forward to every Wednesday night.

Star 3: I think the acting is superb. There’s some incredibly gifted talent in this show: Halle Berry (I don’t care how you feel about her personally – she’s a brilliant, skillful actor; go ask the Academy why if you don’t believe me), and ditto for the two luscious gentlemen I just fangirled all over in Stars 1 and 2. Grace Gummer (Julie Gelineau) has been given more of a juicy part – one of those “really terrible person” roles, but still playing a person who’s convinced she’s doing the right thing and doing the right thing for love (those are the most complicated kinds of humans). Totally impressed by the acting in this episode. Pierce Gagnon (Ethan Woods): still super cute and believable as a loveable, very human A.I. “child” (tell me your heart wasn’t breaking when the evil government guys kidnapped him…or when Molly was longing for him in the virtual reality memory scene). And The Offspring (Shannon Brown): still pretty cute, still pretty evil (tell me you weren’t nervous when he was alone in the room with that baby – would YOU let him babysit your kid? Not me).

A Wish: I think the biggest thing I was hoping for as this season started was that the writers would get away from Sci-Fi themes that have been done before. There were a lot of themes I thought were borrowed from Sci-Fi films throughout last season, but last season is over and done so I’m not going to rehash them; if you’re really curious, go spelunking online for yourself – you’ll find them. For this season, I’ll just give an immediate example I noted from this episode: death by ripped open guts. Fingers crossed we aren’t talking about alien babies exiting their host mothers via stomach area, because that would be an awful lot like what happened to Sigourney Weaver, wouldn’t it? But I think it may be, because as Molly is taken away by the police to be returned to the asylum, she sort of hints at it to J.D. by telling him to check the woman’s blood samples for signs of pregnancy.

But there are lots of things I like about Extant, Season 2 already (aside from now being able to daydream about meeting J.D. Richter for drinks, of course): I think they do a good job portraying futuristic technologies. I don’t think it’s anything too outlandish (which makes me kind of sad, because I do love some good outlandish technology), but it’s believable.

I also think the government cover up conspiracy is completely believable (of course it is! go read a newspaper). And I already anticipate Something Big happening between Molly and General Shepherd (did you see the way he looks at her? I think Tobias may have a soft spot of some kind for Molly…but maybe it was just me, because I have a soft spot for David M). John and Julie’s betrayal was sort of a weird plot twist, but it did add to the government conspiracy subplot (governments don’t ever have people assassinated to justify their means, right?) and it did create an opening for a romantic interest between Molly and J.D. And I’m really looking forward to love scenes between J.D. and Molly.

photo courtesy cbs.com

photo courtesy cbs.com

Some questions I had at the end of this episode:

  • The grown up alien guy, the one who follows the girl out of the night club: is that Molly’s human-alien hybrid kid all grown up, going around impregnating women now? Or are there other human-alien hybrid men walking around the planet knocking up women? (This would explain SO much about several ex-boyfriends of mine.)
  • WHY is Julie so attached to Ethan? There were hints of it last season, and this episode proved that Julie spent last season secretly jealous of what Molly had: handsome husband, cute robot kid. But why? Julie’s a robotic engineer. Just…make your own A.I. kid, girlfriend. So I’m curious to see if the writers answer that.
  • What’s the government’s motivation about the alien cover up? Money? Science? Control? (Yes, yes, and yes.) But, you know governments: they tend to like to create things that snowball out of control and then cover it all up with murder, espionage, and forcing people to lie to Congress under oath. I’m trying to figure out why the government wants to keep Molly quiet after she did exactly what they wanted and testified exactly how they told her to (you got that that’s why she was placed in an asylum and is being kept there against her will because the government is nervous, yes?). What are they up to? Tobias claimed it was to keep the general public calm…but that’s never really the reason. Governments usually don’t really give a shit about the general public; they’re more about their own self-preservation.

 

All in all, great show. Loved the spicy love scenes, digging Morgan’s and Morrissey’s characters already. I think the acting is great, and that the writers and show runners have brought in some interesting plots to the overall story arc. My hope for the rest of the season: more outside the box Sci-Fi. Because you know: change scenario and all that.

Extant airs every Wednesday on CBS 10/9 Central.

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Amy Samson