The central theme of this week’s episode seemed to be mating. Mating in all of its awkward, dramatic, and even deadly forms. As the Shannon’s settle into their new lives in Terra Nova, a new danger threatens the settlement.
[Be warned, this recap does contain spoilers]
When a supply party fails to return to Terra Nova, Taylor and Jim lead a team to find them. They suspect Sixer activity, and Taylor takes Jim aside to tell him that he suspects that Mira has an agent somewhere in the compound feeding her information. He wants Jim, as a former cop, to investigate it and see if he can find the mole. That is clearly something for another episode, because when they find their people, they quickly see that Sixers had nothing to do with what happened. They seem to be clawed and pecked to death. This is not an attack pattern that they recognize. There is something new in the area.
Meanwhile, back at Terra Nova, Josh is essentially on KP duty with Skye for the little stunt they pulled last week. After their shift, they take a visit to Terra Nova’s makeshift market where Josh finds a guitar. He begins playing it, so we can check that bit off of the “angsty teen stereotype” checklist. The merchant offers to sell the guitar to Josh for the reduced price of sixty terras (an amount that Skye informs Josh and the audience is pretty steep). Having only just arrived, Josh has no money, so he must walk away.
In Medical, Elizabeth has an encounter with an old friend: Dr. Malcolm Wallace. He is a biologist who is cataloging all of the different forms of life around them. He and Elizabeth have known each other since college, and it’s clear that there was something between them once upon a time. He sees Jim and is equally surprised and dismayed by this. I don’t think it could be telegraphed any more loudly that Malcolm still has the hots for Elizabeth and was hoping to rekindle whatever they once had.
At home Jim and Elizabeth are hoping to have an amorous evening to themselves, but they are interrupted by a loud, obnoxious screeching. Jim goes out to see what it is, and discovers some kind of bird-like creature perched on the fence outside their home. He comes back, but the moment has passed.
Looking at the bodies of their supply party, Malcolm is unable to identify what could have attacked them. He believes that it might be some kind of tree snake until Jim points out part of a talon still embedded in one of the bodies. Jim can see the desire written all over Malcolm when he’s around Elizabeth, and so he asks her about their previous relationship. He does it with enough swagger to break his own back. It turns out that Elizabeth and Malcolm dated in college, but she broke it off. Why this topic never came up in all their years of dating and marriage is a mystery.
Out of curiosity (and apparently his own paranoid suspicions), Jim asks Taylor how people get recruited to Terra Nova. Taylor tells him that, while it mostly comes from the people running things in the future, he sometimes get recommendations from people at Terra Nova. And, in a nice bit of shoehorned exposition, he continues on to tell him that Elizabeth was at the top of a recommendation list submitted by – you guessed it – Malcolm Wallace. Sometimes paranoia can pay off, it seems.
Another potential night of passion for Jim and Elizabeth is thwarted by more screeching. This time, Jim and Josh go out to investigate. Now there are several of these birds hanging out on the fence. Being the impulsive teen that he is, Josh throws rocks at them to shoo them away. This only causes them to launch into an attack.
Bringing news of the attack to Taylor and Malcolm, they determine that these birds – or pterosaurs, more accurately, according to Malcolm – were the ones who attacked their supply party. These pterosaurs are becoming more numerous and attacking more of the settlement. Taylor tries to piece together where they came from and why they’re there. Malcolm informs him that, since they have never encountered these in the nine years of Terra Nova’s existence, that it could mean a species-wide migration. Terra Nova would be overrun.
Taylor’s lieutenant, Washington, makes the connection between these pterosaurs and a large amount of hatched eggs that they found at the site for Terra Nova when they first started building. They didn’t think much of it at the time, but now it’s clear that these pterosaurs were born here and have returned to mate. This is their spawning ground. Not only will Terra Nova be overrun by killer pterosaurs, but they will be killer pterosaurs that are both territorial and in heat.
Hoping to get some kind of solution on how to stop them, Jim and Taylor head out into the flock to bag a couple. They come back with a few, and Elizabeth determines that, if they can extract the pterosaurs’ pheromones and synthesize a more intense version, they can lure them away from Terra Nova. Taylor instructs Elizabeth and Malcolm to get to work and orders everybody in Terra Nova to get indoors as a Hitchcockian-level swarm of pterosaurs begins to descend on Terra Nova.
The Shannons barricade themselves in their home. Josh asks Skye to stay with them, and a soldier who has been having a very awkward flirtation with Maddy, named Reynolds, offers to stay with them and help fend off the pterosaurs.
The pterosaurs attack, and the pressure is on Elizabeth and Malcolm to finish synthesizing the pheromone before they tear Terra Nova apart. As they work together, Jim is clearly feeling a bit threatened by Elizabeth working with somebody who is clearly on the same level as her and clearly into her. In the end, they get the pheromone, and Jim and Taylor take an aerosol tank of it and take off away from Terra Nova with millions of pterosaurs in tow.
In a bit of disappointment, we don’t see what Jim and Taylor go through. We simply see them return a bit worse for wear after the pterosaurs have been successfully lured away. While there has been no consummation of the relationships between the teenage kids yet, they are clearly growing closer. After getting patched up, Jim and Elizabeth are finally able to have their night to themselves.
While it was certainly an interesting episode from a science nerd point of view, with the exploration of migratory patterns, spawning grounds, pheromones, etc., the relationship storylines are not interesting all that much. We get that Josh is an angsty teenager, and Skye is going to be the object of his affections once he gets over pining for the girlfriend he left behind the future. But this is a story that’s been done so many times that it’s lost all the flavor. And the love triangle of Jim, Elizabeth and Malcolm is too much of a non-starter, since it’s clear at this point that Elizabeth is long over Malcolm. Should they try to make anything happen now, it’ll feel too forced. Even the idea of Mira having a mole in Terra Nova is not that intriguing, because she’s clearly done it before. I suppose finding out who it is could be interesting if done right.
The greater mysteries of the area, like the people behind the Sixers and the meaning of Taylor’s son’s scrawls on the rocks, get very little reference here (just a quick mention of the writings between Josh and Skye), and we were left with essentially a “monster of the week” episode. This was definitely not the strongest that I think this show can be. Of course, it’s only the second episode, and there’s plenty of story left to tell. I just hope this show doesn’t end up with too many random and unexpected creatures showing up. That would set a bad precedent when there are plenty of other things that have the potential to be far more interesting.
If you missed last week’s episode read our ‘Terra Nova: Genesis’ recap to catch up.