Extant 1×02 ‘Extinct’: Intrigue…in space!

Extant

The space agency intrigue continues, John continues to pursue the most unexciting and confusing version of an android ever, and Ethan goes to a natural history museum, in an all-new episode of Extant.

Two episodes in, and I have begun to consider Extant more a comedy than a drama. How else to explain the amount I chuckle at many of its scenes? Look, I want to like it, and it has potential as we discover more of what’s going on and the alien entity’s purpose, but it’s just silly sometimes, both in its portrayal of the future and sci-fi concepts and in the actions the characters take.

Let’s start with the first part of that. I know I discussed this last week, but I need to reiterate this because it’s at the heart of the series. The notion that someone would buy a robot and then spend 20 years or even 20 minutes teaching it to have an adult mind, paying for it to go to school, making sure it didn’t misbehave, etc., is absurd! People expect the things they buy to work out of the box and continue working without hassle. Can you imagine having to discipline your robot? The idea of an android is that it’s a robot in human form that retains the advantages of a robot – strength, or computational ability, or an ability to sacrifice itself so another human isn’t put in danger. Ethan seemingly has none of these traits. In a world that is presumably over-populated, there is no need or market or reason for a robot in a human child’s form. As noted in the pilot, yes, infertile couples will have a new option open to them, but the adoption agencies of the future won’t be thanking John Woods for his research. If this was a side project for John, that would be one thing. But he seeks funding for it, and becomes angry with people that question the ethics behind creating Ethan in the first place. It is a truly bizarre element to this show.

As to the second part – the actions of the characters – Molly spends one part of the episode telling her friend that the space agency leadership can’t be trusted, believing Harmon Kryger to be telling the truth. Two scenes later, she’s telling the director of the agency about the pregnancy she begged her friend to keep quiet. Is there any reason behind that, even if the two are old friends and not simply employee and boss? It’s a complete about-face, when she has every reason to believe she’ll be quarantined and taken away from her family. And to that point, why isn’t she quarantined? The director and Yasumoto seem pretty spooked at the notion of the aliens. Maybe next episode?

These are the kinds of problems that keep me from really endorsing this show. Either the characters are acting irrationally, or the show assumes I know something about them or the Extant universe/mythology that it has not established onscreen. Either way, it needs to fix that.

Extant

Source: CBS

On a positive note, it was good to see Harmon Kryger reacting differently to the space alien ghost monster than Molly did, essentially running away and then flushing her out the airlock. Just when I thought all the characters on this show were devoid of rational thought, he did basically what I would have done. Good on ya’, Harmon. I’m glad you’re not dead. (Of course, you might be. No one but Molly has seen you alive.) Harmon’s contention that the Seraphim missions were solo so that the agency could experiment on the astronauts does explain a lot of the weirdness behind that setup as well. I’m glad to see the writers at least trying to answer my questions about that peculiarity.

Extant continues to be entertaining but not of high quality, sadly. Maybe that’s just the curse of network sci-fi drama. I hope it improves as it goes along. Otherwise, this will be a long season.

J.P. Laub

is a pop culture connoisseur, politics wonk, sometimes gamer and consummate nerd. To give you some idea, he is an avid reader of Wikipedia entries about fictional and theoretical faster-than-light drives. Seriously, he once saw a random Dune reference on a website and spent 45 minutes reading about the Holtzmann effect and related entries.

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