Extant 1×03 ‘Wish You Were Here’: It’s not my work, it’s my family

Extant

Molly reveals her pregnancy to John, and Ethan attends his first day of school, much to the chagrin of the other parents. Meanwhile, the space agency leadership plots to bring Molly in for study as a willing subject.

This was a solid episode of Extant, certainly the most coherent and competently scripted of the three aired so far. The reason for that, for me, is the lack of silly stuff. Sure, you had John dealing with parents fearful of Ethan and calling him a “toaster with hair,” which may or may not be a nod to Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica series, but all of that was in much smaller doses than the previous two outings. Whether the cast and writers are just more comfortable with the story now, or whether it’s a fluke, remains to be seen.

Now, Ethan doesn’t seem to be stronger than a child his size and he doesn’t seem to come with any machine gun attachments or death lasers or anything. so my question for the parents fearful of Ethan is: why? I cannot fathom what Ethan could do to them to cause actual physical harm, any more than a real human child could do. The bias against or hatred of androids is a common trope in science fiction, often a metaphor used to explore racial tensions and discrimination. It’s the fear of the “other,” and John says as much to Ethan when the boy asks about it. Obviously, this is something that I know could happen in real life. I guess I just wish that the show would explore something more nuanced than the normal anti-android scenarios Asimov explored in 1940.

That said, Ethan’s capture of a bird does continue his creepy and vaguely threatening streak. Worse, he said he wanted to play with the bird, but he didn’t worry about it having food or air, trapped under that box he left in the garage. His ability to hurt someone at school under supervision is one thing, but one wonders what he would do if he had the power to decide someone’s fate like he nearly did with the bird. Speaking of Asimov, I think John had better teach him the Three Laws soon.

I immediately predicted that Marcus’ brother Tim was a hallucination.  He only appeared with Molly alone at first and, when at the party, didn’t interact with anyone onscreen. When they took the group picture, I knew it would be used to prove he was all in Molly’s head. I’m not complaining about the predictability there, merely pointing out that it was not the bombshell for me it was meant to be. However, given Sparks’ plans to bring Molly in for study and the fact that her discovery caused her to submit to that examination, it makes me wonder if the space agency isn’t controlling the hallucinations somehow. It was too convenient to be coincidence. That also calls into question whether the Harmon she’s been seeing is also a hallucination – she’s always been alone with him too. Her trip back to visit him, where she saw a strange marks (scorch marks?) on the wall of Harmon’s trailer, only complicates that. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Extant

Source: CBS

I’d also like to say that I dig the futuristic design portrayed in the show, particularly the mobile and home technology. I want the notifications system and giant computer displays the Woods have in their house. I want to play around with the characters’ sleek glass phones. Kudos to whoever does that design work on the show. It does more than ground us in the notion that this is set in the future. It’s implemented so well that a gadget nerd like myself can covet their technology, precisely because it’s not so far from our own. Good on ya’, Extant‘s designers and graphics artists.

Finally, I got a good chuckle out of one of John’s lab assistants teaching Ethan how to do The Robot, calling it the “dance of his ancestors.” A nicely done gag, I have to say.

This episode gave me some faith in the show going forward. What did you guys think?

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.

Twitter 

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.