Extant 1×09 ‘Care and Feeding’ and 1×10 ‘A Pack of Cards’: Things get weird and the endgame is afoot

Extant

Another 2-hour Extant event, another big jump forward in the plot progression. Molly reluctantly agrees to help Yosumoto capture the offspring, and when John and Ethan seek out Yosumoto’s help finding Molly, they become his hostages.

Extant has always had a sliver of sci-fi horror to it,  since Molly’s encounter with the alien in the premiere that set everything in motion. The obvious menace posed by the offspring has manifested itself in mind control and hallucinations. These two episodes turned that aspect up considerably though, portraying the offspring’s “feedings” and the lengths it will go to stay alive. It was a fairly striking difference from earlier episodes.

As I’ve expressed before, I find it difficult to take Extant‘s plot seriously. Even when it introduces an interesting concept, the execution can be silly. This week’s moment where I threw my hands up and laughed was the sheriff, controlled by the offspring, shooting his giant robot receptionist for no good reason, followed by his fellow cop. A presumably super-intelligent alien being apparently could not be bothered to be less conspicuous in stopping a minor (at best) threat to its plans.

This is not the only area where characters acted without much logic or clarity. The duo of episodes as a whole was simply confusing. John goes to Yosumoto because he doesn’t know who he can trust, including the government. As far as I can tell, this is the first acknowledgement this season that there even is a government in this universe. Molly is a missing person. If my wife went missing in this situation, I would go to a few people I really trusted for help, but my boss wouldn’t be one of them, wealthy or not. But it’s Extant logic. John delivers himself into the hands of the mastermind behind the whole conspiracy and the person plotting to kill his robot son because the plot demands it, not because it makes sense as written.

I will say that the cinematic direction of these episodes was quite good, relative to other installments. The transitions between Molly’s reality and her hallucinations/memories were visually smooth and interesting. It was a welcome bit of artful television cinematography compared to the rather conventional style of the rest of the season

I’m sad to see Harmon Kryger die. Brad Beyer has been a welcome familiar face for me – I first saw him playing Stanley in the excellent Jericho. I assume there may be some more of him in the next few episodes, given the offspring’s ability to bring people back from the dead in other’s minds. We can only hope, since he’s been the character speaking reason to Molly about the offspring. If not, Brad Beyer, I salute you. Thanks for making Extant a little more bearable.

Extant

Source: CBS

My final major thought this week is about the show’s themes. Several scenes, including the one between Molly and Dr. Mason this week, have tried to tie the offspring into human evolution. It could be the next big step in our history, they posit. Right now though, it’s just a B science fiction flick stretched out into 13 episodes. All it can do is show people their dead loved ones to achieve its own ends. How that is supposed to herald a new age for man is unclear at the most generous!. The characters talk about it like they could do anything important with the alien’s powers. Does the offspring carry knowledge of advanced technology? New medical wonders and faster-than-light travel and unlimited energy solutions? If all it can do is trick people into doing things at the expense of other people’s free will, then I got nothin’. My point is that the ideas underpinning this show are cloudy, undefined and poorly developed, and we’re nearly done the first seaosn.

One can only hope that the final episodes clear up these issues. I know I say that a lot, but Extant hasn’t yet delivered on that hope. Until next week, dear reader.

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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  • http://bitchstolemyremote.com/ bstolemyremote

    One of the strangest elements of this show is its propensity for randomly introducing new characters who do little to nothing for the show. We’re now on an extended sabbatical with Sparks and his wife, even though we know virtually nothing about them (nor do we care). Focus Extant, focus!

    • http://gottawatchit.com/tv/television/author/watchitjp J.P. Laub

      I concur. Also Dr. Mason, introduced 2 episodes back and then a) hit with a pipe by Sparks and then b) shot by Sparks soon after. It’s a strange, unfocused show.