Extant 1×04 ‘Shelter’: Villain competency is key…

Extant

Having been saved from Director Sparks by her husband, Molly and her family run to her father’s place. But the ISEA is hot on their trail, and the agency is determined to capture and study her.

This was not nearly as strong an episode as last week’s “Wish You Were Here”. Yes, the plot progressed and we got infinitesimally closer to discovering what this show is hiding behind the curtain, so to speak, but it was clumsily handled at times and the way the “villains” are managing the situation at nearly every step is irksome. Take Yasumoto, who is dying and apparently looking for an alien cure or method for extending his life. But, he’s pretty willing to put that life in his lackeys’ hands, waiting patiently for the ISEA to send commando teams (which apparently it has access to?) after Molly. In this episode, he’s more interested in visiting another research project that apparently seeks to replicate a substance from a meteor that has healing properties. He’s disappointed when one of the researchers dies from exposure to the substance, but he spends the rest speaking to Sparks over the phone in thriller villain clichés (“Then it’s time we take her out of the equation…”). After 8 years of 24, the thriller aspects of Extant can only be described as tedious and boring, frankly.

Extant

Source: CBS

Meanwhile, Sparks has detained Dr. Barton. They mistrust her enough to detain her and threaten her medical career, and to kick down her bathroom stall door and catch her disposing of Molly’s blood sample, but not enough to search her bag before they let her take it with her to the bathroom.

(Sigh)

I’m all for suspension of disbelief. This is a sci-fi story after all. But when you’re asking me to believe or allow for the portrayal of aliens and androids and evil space agencies, you’d better nail the details, and be able to justify small things like why the bad guys don’t check detainees for contraband or why they only assigned one doctor to run tests on their special astronaut project. Bad guys are only threatening if they’re completely competent, precise and proactive. The agency and Yasumoto have been very reactive throughout the first third of this season, almost bungling their way into capturing Molly. It’s hard to take them seriously, even if they apparently hold most of the cards.

Molly’s father is a strange addition to the plot. I cannot fathom why, in attempting to hide from a powerful corporation, Molly and John would decide to seek help from a family member, the first place the agency might look even without their magical aerial drones that can instantly track anyone whenever the writers need it. I wonder if he’s going to be a recurring character for the rest of the season, or if he’s only part of a small arc. I also can’t decide which one I’d prefer. Right now, he’s just a complicating factor with an alcoholism character trait.

Despite all this complaining, I have to give kudos to little Pierce Gagnon (Ethan), who is delivering a very believable and noteworthy performance. His look of fear as the infiltration team shocked him into shutdown was fairly chilling. He’s definitely a consistent bright spot in this uneven show.

I’ll leave you with an image of a typo I found in a translation subtitle. Gotta be careful about that, CBS titles editor!

Extant

Source: CBS

 

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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