Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Review: Terra Nova "Occupation/Resistance"

Non Spoiler Review:
What a season this could have been had it matched the calibre of this two-hour finale. While not perfect by any means, it was captivating enough as the future conspirators come through the portal and quickly take control of Terra Nova. That leads the Shannons to help form resistance and try to prevent Lucas and his allies from beginning their strip-mining of the past. There's a lot of hard decisions that affect the future of the series, and even some character bits and deaths. But not to worry, it was still pretty cheesy.

Given it was a two-hour stretch, it managed to keep my attention throughout, when its previous one-hour instalments were an endurance test. If the series is renewed, and that's a big if, I would hope this week marks the beginning of a change in the writing, and not simply a wow episode to end the season.

Spoilers Now!
Back in the shitty future, Lucas is meeting with a nefarious person as mining machines assemble along with troops. The plan is to force their way into the Eleventh Pilgrimage at Hope Plaza. While at the portal, Taylor, Malcolm, and Jim assemble their army to protect the entrance. They won't destroy the portal, as that would mean the pilgrimage could appear somewhere within a three kilometer radius. With the portal intact, the enemy forces will have to come in two by two. Josh wants to join his father in case Kara comes through, but Jim insists he remain at the colony. 

The portal begins to activate and Taylor gets a message from Hope Plaza asking if he's ready to receive the pilgrimage. People begin to step through and Taylor escorts the families away as they arrive. Jim sees Kara and he goes to get her, but a man behind her opens up a suicide vest and blows up the portal, causing mayhem. 

Jim wakes up in the infirmary and realizes he's deaf. He wanders outside to find Terra Nova in ruins, with tanks rolling through and soldiers wandering about. He sees Mira and Lucas looking out from the command center, as well as some odd looking flags hanging down. Liz runs over and gets him before the soldiers rough him up.

She says the kids are safe at home and fixes his hearing. He was out for three days. With the portal gone, the fracture reopened close to the colony and the army came through before resistance could be mounted. Two dozen were killed before Washington surrendered, and no one can find Taylor.

Jim gets home to see the kids, and finds out Kara was killed in the blast, which is a bummer for Josh given he's responsible for getting her on the pilgrimage and all that. All the weapons have been confiscated and the colony is under curfew. Liz thinks Taylor won't try to retake the colony if there are civilians inside. 

Jim goes to the bar to talk to Washington. Boylen's trying to keep his business running with the new management. She explains they are a private military—the Phoenix Group—hired by Lucas' bosses. Once they started shelling the colony there was nothing they could do but surrender. They brought a new portal back with them to make the fracture go both ways, though it got damaged in the fight. But they're fixing it, with Malcolm's help. 

Jim goes to see him his favorite scientist. They killed Malcolm's assistant so he would help fix the portal, but he's working as slow as he can and Lucas hasn't caught on yet. Mira arrives looking for Shannon and finds him, but Malcolm tells them the blast took his hearing and has left him in shock. They also create a ruse that he's on crutches. Lucas wants to know where his father is. Jim acts like he's lost some of his memory. 

Lucas creepily forgives Skye for betraying him to Taylor given they're kind of like brother and sister, but not really. Just don't try it again, he warns. Josh wants a fight, so Jim suggests he get Boylen to give him his job back so he can spy on the soldiers.

Liz extracts some bullets from some of the wounded and finds the serial numbers are hand-etched. They're map coordinates from Taylor for a rendezvous point. Jim has to figure out a way out so Casey creates a diversion and Jim sneaks onto a convoy heading outside.

The convoy goes to a valley rich in meteoric ore, but they can't start mining until they clear out the wildlife. New corporate badguy Weaver shoots a brachiosaurus. They'll detonate pyrosonic bombs to clear out the rest of the wildlife so they can strip half the continent. Jim manages to rendezvous with Reynolds and Taylor. In a very quick subplot they trace the charge with the hope of defusing it, find it in, like, twenty seconds, and attempt to deactivate it. But their tech hasn't seen anything like it. 

Unfortunately Weaver sees movement on their infrared cams and Lucas realizes it's Taylor. They plan to detonate as soon as Lucas is out of the blast zone, but no worries, as Taylor deactivates it before they blow it. Lucas throws a fit and fires a nasty missile down into the valley. Taylor and company flee in their rover. End first adventure on the run.

Taylor sends Jim back to the colony with a comm on a rotating frequency, with plans to maintain an insurgency. Jim gets back in by acting delirious around the perimeter and is escorted back home by soldiers. Easy breezy.

Jim gets to work putting tracking devices on rovers, which allows Taylor to ambush convoys. This vexes Lucas to no end. Washington sluts it up with the soldiers and puts tracking devices on them too, which gets the patrols ambushed.

Josh serves Lucas at the bar, who taunts him for losing a friend (Kara) in the battle. Skye joins Lucas who wants to know what Taylor thought of her betrayal. Skye says he never said a word to her afterwards. He starts to come onto her which leads to Josh punching him out. The soldiers hold him so Lucas can beat him up.

Skye gets Jim, who goes mental in the bar and takes on everyone, and thus blowing his cover. He's eventually overpowered and searched, and his transponder is found. Josh is set free but Lucas wants Jim to tell them where Taylor is, so tortures him. Lucas blames Taylor for his mother's death, see, but Taylor blamed Lucas for having to choose between his wife and son.

Weaver visits the infirmary for a bug bite, so Liz injects him with a parasite to get Jim set free in exchange for the cure. Weaver comes to get Jim and sends Lucas off on the assault against Taylor. Liz gives him the cure, which is actually a sedative, given she lied, and the family heads out to the treeline to get a pick up from Taylor.

Washington tells Jim she'll distract the guards while they make the run for it. The Shannons get out but Lucas catches Washington and shoots her. Taylor watches through the binoculars.

The Shannons move into the less than luxurious accommodations at Taylor's camp. Jim gives him the last message from Washington, which is in reference to a past battle when they blew up a bridge so the enemy couldn't bring troops across. Taylor assumes that's a reference to blowing up the portal. That would mean taking out Hope Plaza, and Jim isn't sure that's a great idea—no more meds, colonists or technology. Then Jim decides he's okay with that. 

Remember Mira, who now has nothing important to do anymore? She wants to get back to 2149 to see her daughter. Weaver assures her that as soon as the terminus is repaired the Sixers are free to go. The terminus gets fixed, and Weaver is anxious to return home for awhile himself, given he just hates hates hates the past. Skye shows up and suggests she'll switch loyalties to Lucas as Taylor is an unforgiving meany. She and Lucas head off in a rover with the convoy to the portal.

Jim is preparing for a mission to go to Hope Plaza with the plot device pyrosonic bomb they conveniently stole. Liz gives him a mysterious syringe. 

Skye tells Lucas she can get in touch with Taylor and lure him into an ambush, but it's all a trap for Taylor's men to get him. They seize the rover which now contains Jim and the bomb, and Reynolds and his men take it to the terminus.  The cargo is pushed through the portal and Jim arrives in the future.

Unfortunately Lucas overpowers Skye and calls the portal to warn them, except there's inference and they can't understand a thing he's saying. Malcolm has shorted out the terminus at their end to delay transport and has to return to Terra Nova to get equipment.

In 2149 Jim listens to the powers-that-be discussing meteoric iron contained in the containers. They also discuss the mysterious thing found in the badlands—but their container got the old switcheroo and actually contains a carnosaur (what they needed the syringe for). It kills everyone but Weaver.

Skye wakes up and lets Taylor know Lucas got away. Taylor intercepts him and lays down a beating, telling him he's glad his mother's dead so she can't see him like this. Lucas just wants a hug and Taylor's forgiveness. But that allows him to stab Taylor. Then he's shot by Skye. She tends to Taylor's wounds but when she turns back Lucas is gone. Gasps. 

Jim gets out and sets the bomb after a gunfight, then makes a run for it, but is cut off by Weaver (and the carnosaur that abruptly eats him). Jim races the dinosaur to the portal as the explosion takes it out, arrives back in the past and is reunited with Liz. Taylor and Skye also return. They get a transmission from Boylen in the colony that all the Phoenix Group rolled out north to the badlands. Mira gets the news that Hope Plaza is gone and they're stuck there forever.

The resistance returns to a heroe's welcome in Terra Nova. Everyone hugs and the clean up begins. Taylor is curious about this whole badlands thing and Jim reports he overheard Weaver talking about something they brought back to Hope Plaza. So they find the container in question and open it up, revealing a fossilized reptilian alien wooden prow of a ship that Malcolm immediately determines is 18th Century (because he's an expert historian scientist). Taylor wonders what else is in the badlands.

The Verdict:
Sure it was melodramatic and full of coincidences and glossed over escapes and plotting, but that's what we've grown to expect. So I have little to complain about, aside from the fact that they should have devoted this much effort on the entire season as they did for this two hour finale.

When Jim woke up in the hospital and I realized they flash-forwarded three days passed the invasion, I wasn't impressed, but the rest of the episode made up for that lack of action by carrying everything forward into the insurgency.

The big drive all season has been leading to the isolation of the colony from the future, so whether this will be permanent or not is still in question. For some reason I thought there were thousands of more people there than Taylor mentioned this week, but I could be wrong. Boylen better protect his microchip repairer thingie, and Maddie better not bust another core for her plex.

Washington's death was a waste of her character's potential. And so has Mira fallen by the wayside as soon as Lucas made his appearance, unless there are plans to make her more pivotal now that her mission is over and she's stuck there with them. Lucas' getaway wasn't a surprise, nor his father/son angst with Taylor. The big mystery now is what's in the badlands, and if there's another portal to the future (and whose future?). Are there some 18th Century sailors wandering there, as well?

Maybe we'll find out, pending a renewal. This certainly wasn't the series I expected from the promos, so I'm not going to lose any sleep if it doesn't come back. But given it replaced V as my sole source of cheese, I'll come back for more to see where it goes, if it returns.

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