As a critic who is tasked with reviewing this show every week, I find myself trying time and again to find the good in ‘Terra Nova,’ but this week’s episode had very little for me to like. Rehashing a sci-fi concept that was tired and overused when it was done in ‘Star Trek,’ this was one dull and infuriatingly predictable episode.
[Be warned, this recap does contain spoilers]
When Terra Nova loses contact with a research outpost, Taylor, Elizabeth and some random soldier (guess who gets picked off first here) go to investigate. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder why Taylor is always assigning himself for these potentially dangerous missions, especially after giving Malcolm a lecture about how, as Chief Science Officer, he is too important to go wandering off site. Lieutenant Washington, his second in command, must really be bad at her job.
In a few scenes between Jim and Elizabeth, we have future plot devices telegraphed to us with eye-rolling bluntness: Jim has a cold, and Elizabeth has misplaced her wedding ring. The two of them make such a big deal out of these two little things that it becomes way too obvious that they’ll be crucial elements to the story later on.
Taylor and his team get to the outpost to find that the research team have devolved either into confused people who have no idea where they are or fully catatonic. Elizabeth looks at some old logs to find out what happened, and quickly learns that they were the victims of some strange virus. Figuring that they have been exposed, Taylor quickly quarantines the outpost – which, in Terra Nova terms, means that he orders Washington not to send anybody else out to help them.
Of course, once Jim learns that they’ve been quarantined, he does the only rational thing he can do: he goes out after them. Malcolm tags along because he has his own personal rover and because he can help Elizabeth find a cure. Giving Jim a special root to help with his sneezing, the two take off to the outpost.
Meanwhile, Josh and Skye are growing closer. Josh, however, is still pining over Kara, the girlfriend he left in the future. Skye offers to help Josh find a way to get Kara to Terra Nova by introducing him to a shady bartender (it seems no society is without one). Josh offers to help him in illicit activities to help earn getting a message to the future. Once again taking a page from the ‘Generic Angsty Teenager Handbook,’ Josh has now completed the task of making an appallingly bad decision because of a girl. If you can imagine what this illicit activity might lead to, you’d probably be right.
Back in the outpost, Elizabeth is starting to succumb to the virus. She has forgotten her time in Terra Nova and is disoriented and confused. She also believes she is still in a time period where she and Malcolm were dating, so the writers were able to shoehorn in some romantic tension in their non-entity of a love triangle. Taylor has gone off, believing that he is in the middle of a covert op in a war that’s been over for ten years, and the other soldier is…well, he’s just unconscious.
Since Elizabeth still retains her medical knowledge, she gets to work with Malcolm to find a cure for this virus before she enters the catatonic stage. Jim, for some reason, is showing resistance to the virus. While Malcolm is beginning to have momentary slips in his memory, Jim seems unaffected. Can you guess what might be causing his resistance?
There are a number of scenes between Jim and Elizabeth where he tries to jog her memory to no avail. The two of them begin to explore the personal logs of the scientists at the outpost to find out who was involved in this virus. They soon find that one of the scientists has been doing unsanctioned genetic manipulation to combat his own disease: an amped-up version of Alzheimer’s…because it’s the future, and all diseases are more intense. He made a mistake with it, and now it’s become a virus causing cascading memory loss.
At this point, Elizabeth has pointed out at least twice that Jim seems resistant, but can’t figure out why. Watching this, I couldn’t help but start screaming “IT’S BECAUSE HE HAS A COLD!” Of course, that ended up being the case. And as soon as she figures that out, Jim finally reveals to her that he is her husband by pulling out…the wedding ring she’d misplaced earlier. And to transfer his cold to her to counteract the virus, he kisses her. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he actually saved her life with a kiss.
There was the whole subplot with Taylor attempting to infiltrate Terra Nova, believing that it is an enemy stronghold, but it was only slightly interesting. Being told that his wife is dead, Taylor attempts to kill himself, but Washington stops him by shooting him with her sonic gun. Where was that initiative when Taylor brazenly decided to go off site in the beginning of this episode?
There was also a new type of dinosaur in this, but they were so much bad CG window dressing that they’re not worth more than just a passing mention of their existence.
In the end, they all live happily ever after. But in another infuriating scene, we see a situation where Maddy is spending time with her new beau, Mark (after an awkward flirtation that stopped being cute last week), and Josh and Skye are hanging out together. Both couples are in the house with Jim and Elizabeth. How do Jim and Elizabeth choose to handle the double dose of imminent teenage nookie in their midst? They hide in their bedroom and play with Zoe. Good parenting there, Shannons.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, that shady bartender from earlier? Yes, he’s working for the Sixers, and Mira plans to use his new in with Josh to her full advantage. No points if you guessed that earlier.
Starting off with a mildly intriguing premise, ‘Terra Nova’ is swiftly going downhill with appallingly generic sci-fi storylines, CG dinosaurs that I swear are getting worse every week, and a cast of characters who are the victims of some seriously lazy storytelling. This week’s episode was so boiler plate sci-fi that I found myself caring even less about the more intriguing parts of this show that haven’t been explored in any real fashion since the pilot. ‘Terra Nova’ really needs to step up its game if it wants to retain any sort of viewership here.
If you missed last week’s episode be sure to read ‘Terra Nova: Instinct’ recap to catch up.