Extant 1×05 ‘What On Earth Is Wrong?’: Your guess is as good as mine, episode title… | Gotta Watch It!

Extant 1×05 ‘What On Earth Is Wrong?’: Your guess is as good as mine, episode title…

Extant

In the wake of her abduction by the ISEA and the surgical extraction of the fetus, Molly struggles to prove she was not hallucinating her pregnancy. John and his team also try to revive Ethan, and his assistant confronts him about his decision to “adopt” the humanic child.

I hate to do nothing but complain about this series week after week. It’s trying so hard to present a tense narrative and build a plausible future (with a few notable exceptions). It’s just not working in certain big ways, and that’s dragging down the rest of the show. Not an episode goes by that I don’t throw up my hands and resign myself to whatever silliness is happening that week. Halle Berry and the cast aren’t the problem, though I can’t say we’re seeing Emmy- or TCA Award-winning performances here. It’s Mickey Fischer and the writers cramming in tired tropes and bizarre character reasoning, sloppy universe-building and nonsensical plot elements. I’m still reeling at the idea of a private space agency having a need for or access to a fully equipped commando squad. There is some mystery yet to be solved about how all of the pieces fit together, and it remains to be seen how Ethan and the alien fetus will affect humanity and its survival, but I grow less confident with every installment that it will be anything groundbreaking or even mildly entertaining.
Here’s an example of what I mean. In this episode, Molly and John make frequent use of the “auto-drive” feature in their car. The only problem with that is they haven’t used it in the previous 4 episodes! You can’t introduce self-driving cars as an established technology in your universe when you’ve already shown your characters driving themselves everywhere. What explanation could there possibly be for this, besides the writers thinking it would be kind of neat to portray as they started to write the 5th episode? I call BS, Extant. Likewise, the world portrayed in the show is full of pretty impressive near-future technology, but I’m pretty sure there will never be an “algorithm” (read: video filter) that can display never-before-detected energy waves in an image recorded by a normal visible-light camera. I’ll accept any amount of “zoom in and enhance” image modification in television, but this was laughably absurd. A moment that was supposed to reveal a new piece of the puzzle just made my head ache.
Extant

Source: CBS

By the way, Joshua Malina, for shame! You were on The West Wing, sir. Have you no sense of decency? How far you’ve fallen. (But I kid Mr. Molina, a fine actor, to be sure.)
Now, the idea of an artificial intelligence lapsing into a “coma,” while requiring a bit more leeway in the disbelief department than normal, is a concept with a lot of potential. It’s something I haven’t seen in a lot of sci-fi exploring the theme. But it’s the “B” storyline in this episode, taking a backseat to a baby theft (the sign of a high-quality TV drama) and a “make Molly think she’s crazy” cover-up. This was a missed opportunity to distinguish Ethan from other fictional androids, and it would have been a better use of one of the show’s highlights, namely Pierce Gagnon, than having him laying on a table for all but a minute of screen time. The purpose of the episode was to progress the plot from Molly waking up sans-fetus to taking control of her situation and finding evidence that she isn’t, in fact, crazy. That’s fine! But don’t waste a chance to explore the science fiction ideas that are at the heart of the show.
I can only hope this show becomes less frustrating as it continues. We’re not even halfway through the first season. What do you think? Am I being too hard on Extant? Let me know.
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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