You know you’re in trouble when your dinosaur show seems to benefit greatly from…less dinosaurs. True, there still isn’t much else left to like on ‘Terra Nova.’ The characters are becoming more and more cliched with every passing week. The mysteries surrounding their situation don’t hold the intrigue they once did thanks to a number of clumsily placed “teasers.” The action is becoming sparser and less involved. In fact, when it comes down to it, what is there to like about ‘Terra Nova’ at this point? Well, this week does manage to take us out of the doldrums of overused and uninteresting one-offs that we’ve been in since the series premiere…but only slightly. And there is only one dinosaur scene in the entire episode. Again, I can’t stress enough what a black mark it is on a show featuring dinosaurs when that becomes a plus.
[Be warned, the following recap does contain spoilers]
Our episode opens with some night lookouts at Terra Nova spotting a human heat signature out in the woods. They – very appropriately – assume that it’s a Sixer, and head out to take this person prisoner. To their amazement, they find that it’s a little girl. It could have been more intriguing had the producers not gone out of their way to make her almost exactly like Newt from ‘Aliens.’ She has crazy blonde hair, is wearing clothes that are far too big for her, is bordering on malnutrition, and has the feral behavior of somebody who has had to survive on her own for quite some time. Heck, she even has the same inexplicable drift into a pseudo-British accent that Newt possessed. I was honestly expecting her to use this line when taking about the dinosaurs: “They mostly come at night…mostly.”
It turns out that this faux Newt is actually named Lea Marcos. Taylor remembers her and her brother Sam from when they were little babies, but doesn’t seem all that shocked by her being out in the wild. She was clearly raised by Sixers, and Taylor wants to use her to get information as to where they live and who their inside man is. Elizabeth, whose heart is bigger than her head, offers to take Lea in. She seems to have conveniently forgotten that the Shannons already have five people crammed into a four-person bungalow.
Of course, Maddy and Zoe welcome Lea with open arms. And of course, Josh can do nothing but whine and moan about how unfair it is that he has to get kicked out of his room to make space for this random kid. She mentions that she left a bag out in the woods, so Taylor sends Washington and another soldier out to find it. There might be some intel in the bag. At this point, I’m just wondering how effective a strategist Taylor really is if he’s pinning all his hopes on getting some serious info on his enemies from a little kid.
Washington and the other soldier are quickly taken prisoner by the Sixers, and Mira takes them to the gates of Terra Nova to offer up a prisoner exchange. Her attitude seems to be that Lea is very important to the Sixers, and Taylor uses this to his advantage. Rather than set up a straight exchange. He offers to let Lea choose for herself in exchange for his people. Mira agrees to this, giving up all her cards. That would be her first suspicious activity here. Taylor brings out Lea, and she opts to stay at Terra Nova. Mira does a sudden 180 on her attitude toward her, and stalks off saying “I never liked you anyway.” That would be her second suspicious activity.
The next day, Lea sneaks into a house, steals some strange box buried underneath it, and makes for the gate. Washington and Jim catch up to her before she can make her escape. Washington tells Jim that the house she broke into used to be Mira’s. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way to open the box, and Lea doesn’t know how to open it. She then confesses that Mira put her up to this because she was threatening her brother. Taylor doesn’t believe her and refuses to help.
Jim, on the other hand, does believe her when Josh discovers a good-bye note from her in her room saying that she had no choice. Jim takes it upon himself to go out and find Lea’s brother on his own. He is quickly snared by a Sixer trap and narrowly avoids getting his head chomped off by a random slasher. He is taken by Mira, and she tells him that she never had any intention of actually hurting Lea’s brother. She also cryptically talks about how there was a group in 2149 who wanted Taylor removed, and that the Sixers work for them. Even more cryptically, she tells Jim that survival was not the true purpose of Terra Nova. So, we have more mysteries to solve, but these have really lost all impact on me at this point.
Mira gives Jim Lea’s brother, and he takes him back to Terra Nova where the two of them can live happily and comfortably. Mira doesn’t get her box and has lost any leverage she might have had over Taylor, so one does wonder what her real purpose is. Taylor also doesn’t get any new info on Mira’s person inside, but I have narrowed my own suspects down to one. In the interest of either being wrong or creating a retroactive spoiler, I’ll keep it to myself for now.
We also have a subplot this week of Maddy taking an apprenticeship in the infirmary with Elizabeth. In another showcase of Maddy’s awkwardness, she quickly succumbs to her own squeamishness around blood and guts. To be fair, she is subjected to some very gruesome sights. Her first patient is a man whose arm has been flayed open by some machinery, and no gory detail is left to the imagination. She then sees a humongous pustule on another patient’s shoulder and has to hold back barfing all over her mom. Needless to say, she doesn’t stay in the apprenticeship for very long. To make things even more awkward, Maddy’s beau, Reynolds, makes a point of announcing his courtship of her in a very old fashioned way. She accepts, but it’s a really painful scene to watch.
This episode may have dealt more with the bigger issues of the show – and for that, I am grateful – but this really feels like too little too late. We’ve barely had any initial questions answered, and they’re already giving us some new ones. It was extra infuriating this week, because Mira had the answers on the tip of her tongue, but refused to divulge them. I’m not saying we need all the answers right away, but with so little else in this show’s favor, they’re going to need to give us some sort of payoff to avoid hemorrhaging viewers.