Wednesday, July 23, 2014

REVIEW: 'Extant' - Molly Celebrates a Birthday, John Learns the Truth & Ethan Goes to School in 'Wish You Were Here'

CBS' Extant - Episode 1.03 "Wish You Were Here"

Molly has to decide if she is going to reveal her pregnancy to John after he confronts her about her distant behavior. Meanwhile, John and Molly face parents who are suspicious of Ethan when he goes to school for the first time.

I really appreciate the amount of urgency Extant is exhibiting in its treatment of characters wanting answers to Molly's mysterious pregnancy. It's still very much a mystery but the show has drawn a line on who wants answers for scientific and supernatural purposes (Sparks, Yasumoto) and who wants answers because of human emotions (Molly, John). It's all been building up to a climatic and exciting end this week. Molly gets another vision. This time of Marcus' brother, Tim. It's so real to her and to the audience as well. Once the truth is revealed, she just has to go with Sparks in order to get answers. Of course, he wants to probe her for answers because he knows much more than he lets on. But she still has reason to trust him. In the end, however, his nefarious ways are exposed and the Woods family is now on the run. That's just an exciting way to end the third episode.

Of course, not everything about "Wish You Were Here" works. For instance, why was so much time spent on Ethan going to school if it was just going to render that unimportant with the episode ending twist? I'm still not sure about Ethan as a whole largely because it's just something else the characters are dealing with. It's not that connected to the pregnancy. Sure, the promos and "Previously on..." want to make a big deal out of his drawing with the people being in the spaceship to avoid extinction. But that doesn't hold any secret meaning. Ethan largely is just being written as a robochild with sociopathic tendencies. That ultimately feels slightly different than the tone of the rest of the show. And yet, it's being done to establish family and how the Woods family is different.

But the show has now clearly established important and sympathetic lead characters who we care about as terrible people are hunting them down. Molly finally just tells John the truth. Sure, she doesn't know the whole truth. She has to repeat the lie that Sparks told her previously. But he's on her side and is supportive of her. Additionally, I didn't spend this hour being suspicious of Sam and worrying she too has ulterior motives. Right now, she seems as in the dark as Molly. Plus, she knows way too much and is a liability to the ISEA. She doesn't get away like the Woods and now I'm actually intrigued to learn what's going to happen to that character.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Wish You Were Here" was written by Mickey Fisher and directed by Holly Dale.
  • Ethan going to school has a nice little racial undertone going through it. That intrigues me - especially John's line about "having to work extra hard to get the same things in life."
  • But what is it with Ethan and birds?
  • At least now Julie's general pining has some kind of meaning. She has been a much more present mother to Ethan since before he had his body. She has a longer connection to him than Molly.
  • Those circles have meaning. What? I'm not sure yet. They were on Harmon's walls and are appearing more frequently on Molly.
  • As a whole "Wish You Were Here" was less cryptically mysterious. That is a change in mood that needed to happen and is very appreciated.