Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Terra Nova "What Remains"

Non Spoiler Review:
This week on Terra Nova, a scientific outpost falls victim to a mysterious disease which causes those inflicted to act irrationally. When the Enterprise crew arrives, they, too fall victim—oh wait, this isn't Star Trek. I could be forgiven for the mistake, given this episode takes most of its plot points from Star Trek's 'Naked Time' (and more recently, ST: The Next Generation's 'Naked Now').

It might have made a difference had this disease been a bit more threatening, but there was never really any sense of urgency given the memory loss was played more for character interactions than threatening Terra Nova as a whole. Again, the storyline charts a straight line from beginning to end with no twists whatsoever. Jim continues to be a dick. We do get more of Lt. Washington and Mark Reynolds, and Josh's plot to get his girlfriend back from the future begins to progress.

Terra Nova's larger mysteries (involving the true nature of Terra Nova and the rift) are getting teaser play, while the plot of the week just isn't strong enough to provide a good draw. I'm still hoping it improves.

Spoilers Now!
At a science outpost it appears all is not well, as the customary pre-credits red shirt is busy chasing a large bug outside the safety of his lab, and promptly gets eaten by a dinosaur.

Back at Terra Nova, Elizabeth and Taylor are going to investigate the lack of communication. This pisses off Jim, of course, because the last thing he wants to do is be alone with his kids while also having to entertain Reynolds for dinner, who is courting his daughter. Elizabeth also seems to have misplaced her wedding ring and asks him to look for it.

At the outpost, Taylor and Elizabeth find things in a fine mess, as well as cryptic notes. There are survivors, two of them strapped to beds, and a woman who can't seem to remember much and talking nonsense about a snowstorm several years before in Detroit. They find the late scientist's final log, and he speaks of having to tell someone about the pathogens but can't remember who. They find his remains outside so Taylor puts the place under quarantine for the time being.

Jim gets Elizabeth's wedding ring from the infirmary, and meets Zoe coming in as she's caught a cold. He makes a big deal about never catching a cold, which means he will do so this time. When Elizabeth advises Jim of the situation she notices him sneezing on the vid (oh noes!).

Josh has managed to get his guitar, so is hanging out with the other rabble-rouser rover-stealing teens and drinking and watching shooting stars. Josh thinks they should tell someone about the calculations at the falls (you think?), but he ends up making out with Skye instead. But...he's still thinking of Kara, so kiboshes that. Skye says she might know a guy who could help him to get Kara there. Skye introduces Josh to bartender Tom. Apparently a message can only be sent when the portal is open, and Tom is the man to get messages through. Tom wants to know if he can trust Josh. 

Maddie appears to have bored the hell out of Reynolds, so he leaves for the evening, leaving Jim to commiserate with his daughter on his own past bad dates with her mother. He's worried about his wife, though, so wants to go visit the outpost himself, but Lt. Washington won't disobey Taylor's quarantine. So Jim goes to Malcolm to get a rover, and he decides to come with him, given it's his science team. 

They arrive at the outpost at night, but find it empty, and Lt. Washington's voice trying to raise Taylor on the comm. Jim tells her he's there, just as Elizabeth comes out and shoots them both with a sonic cannon. She only recognizes Malcolm, not Jim.

After calming her down, Malcolm says she seems to have reverted back to her time in university when they had started dating. He's examined her notes, though, so knows of the pathogen. The first stages are memory loss, with the final stage being full on catatonia. But he believes he can cure it with Elizabeth's help.

Malcolm tries to bring Elizabeth up to speed on where they are, but keeps her marriage to Jim a secret. Unfortunately, the ovarsaurus are chewing on the power cables, so knock out the power to the complex.  Jim goes outside to chase them away. He finds that Taylor has cut the cables himself, and has reverted back to a time before Terra Nova—Somalia 2138. He wants to know where his wife and son are. He knocks him out and leaves, taking his motor bike towards the colony.

Elizabeth finds that someone in the lab was experimenting with gene therapy. Malcolm starts suffering from the virus too and flirts with her, but Jim tells him to keep his hands to himself, then explains the situation with Taylor. He's trying to make his way back to Terra Nova, and if he does, he'll infect everyone.

With the comm system out, they have to warn them, so Jim volunteers to go. Elizabeth notices he isn't showing any symptoms despite being exposed at the same time as Malcolm (hmm).

With her parents missing, Reynolds comes back to check on Maddie. So she goes to ask Lt. Washington what's going on. They happen in on Taylor having taken her hostage, so both of them are caught.

Malcolm and Jim are attacked by the ovarsaur, and Malcolm is increasingly confused about where he is, forcing Jim to knock him out. That leaves Elizabeth to find the cure on her own, so she and Jim look through the records and discover one of the scientists had an Alzheimer's-type disease that he might have been trying to cure through gene therapy.

She finds some notes she made, naming her children (and Jim) and figures out they're married. He produces the wedding ring but she doesn't remember (even the plot devices aren't working on this show). She's wondering why Jim is still fine, and realizes he has been chewing on a plant that Malcolm gave him for his cold and has blocked the pathogen. Elizabeth analyzes the plant but can't find anything to explain the cure. Then she realizes his cold is blocking the virus from infecting him. He thinks this is an opportune time to give her a cold and kisses her.

Washington tries to convince Taylor the war is over and manages to explain what Terra Nova is. His wife is dead, however. He's about to kill himself so she shoots him with a sonic gun. Taylor wakes up in the infirmary and Elizabeth is already back there. He has his memory back, though. She's created a vaccine out of an inactive virus so he won't suffer a cold. Zoe's even feeling better too!

Mira meets up with Tom in the jungle. He's given her medicine and power cells. He tells her that the next time she's able to establish contact with 2149, he needs to get a message through for a kid who wants to buy passage for his girlfriend. He gave him a job in his bar, and he's Jim Shannon's son. Mira plans to take advantage of that opportunity.

The Verdict:
Jim's machismo is not making him even a little bit lovable. The writers are really trying to make the Shannons a fun couple, but it's just not working for me. His continued insecurities with Malcolm only makes him come across as a bully. And one that has no problem disobeying orders either.

Since when does someone catch a cold that fast? It appeared less than a day went by since his exposure to Zoe before he was getting the sniffles. 

Josh's subplot with bartender Tom does answer my question (kind of) from last week, with the news communication to the future is possible when the rift opens again. Does that also allow for someone to travel back? Has anyone tried? He's working with Mira, so he could very well be the insider everyone's looking for. Unfortunately, that final scene was more interesting than the entire episode.

There's little else to say about this one! Boo.

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