Friday, December 21, 2012

Terra Nova, Season 1, Episode 4: What Remains

 We open with a man in Outpost 5, who seems to have learning difficulties playing with a giant insect. It escapes and he follows it outside. While there he becomes distracted by the flowers and finds himself face to face with a Carnotaurus. Which eats him.

Back at Terra Nova, Taylor and Elizabeth are going to check on the outpost that has gone silent. They don’t anticipate anything dangerous, they think it’s just a tech issue, though Malcolm wants to come as well. Lt Washington is in command while Taylor is gone. Why is Taylor going and not an underling?

Elizabeth, Taylor and the extra, Brady arrive to find that “Ovisaurs” have chewed the wires. Ovisaurs? Really? It’s not like you couldn’t have used an actual small dinosaur for the role – Oviraptor, compsognathus, troodon, coelurus. My dino-geek soul is saddened.

Anyway, the wires have been chewed through and the gate is open and shouldn’t be.  Time to investigate, carefully. They find the place is empty and Elizabeth finds notes saying “This is not a dream” and “do not leave the building!” They investigate further and find a room with 2 people strapped to beds and another woman pressed against the window.

The woman talks about running through snow up to her knees and asks if they’re with the Red Cross. As she settles down Taylor is confused since there’s no snow in Terra Nova, but Elizabeth says the woman believes she’s in 2137 Detroit when the city burned, there were food riots and the coldest October on record. She guesses the two strapped down patients are suffering from the same dissociative disorder, but more advanced. They find a computer with a log from the guy we saw at the beginning being eaten by the Carnotaurus. It records the illness taking over the staff – it starts with short term memory loss, followed by confusion followed by believing you are in one of your memories. Since he’s not around – the only one of the 4 staff members unaccounted for – Taylor orders Brady to search for him.

The log reveals a pathogen and Elizabeth thinks it’s likely they’ve been exposed. She has his notes on his progress curing it – but it devolves into a nursery rhyme. Time for Elizabeth to finish it because they can’t go home with the pathogen until it’s cured.

They find the missing guy’s boots – with his feet still in them. And call back to Terra Nova telling Jim they’re under quarantine. And the memory loss is starting, Elizabeth forgets who Zoe is (uh, forgetting your daughter is not “short term memory loss”).

The next day when Taylor at Outpost 3 doesn’t call in (which, Lt Washington explains, could be communication problems which they have a lot in that area) Jim wants to send a team to check up on them, showing his failure to grasp the term “quarantine”.  He insists on going to check on them, Washington tells him no. So he goes to Malcolm and asks to borrow his rover. Malcolm is furious that, as head of science, he hasn’t been informed about the quarantine (which he has a point) and insists on going with Jim (what part of the word “quarantine” do these people NOT understand?!). Jim refuses to take him and Malcolm asks what exactly Jim is going to do in a medical emergency? Shoot them back to health (second great point from Malcolm. Something should really eat Jim)?  

Jim concedes and also gets a temporary cold cure from Malcolm – a foul tasting root that Malcolm enjoys inflicting on him.

So off they go wearing face masks (not hazmat suits, just face masks. Elizabeth, in the same episode, said the pathogen could be from an insect bite or any number of sources). They arrive to find the Ovisaurs (Dino Geek grumble) chewing on the wires. They go in in time to tell Lt Washington that they’ve blatantly ignored her orders and trell her he’s looking for the group then dismiss her.

Which is when Elizabeth arrives with a sonic weapon of some sort and shoots them both. They both take off their masks (no, really. Please join me in a synchronised headdesking), Elizabeth doesn’t recognise Jim but she does recognise Malcolm and hugs him. She’s lost her memory of the last 20 years and thinks she’s back at uni and dating Malcolm.

Malcolm reviews her notes and explains the situation to Jim who asks if he can cure it. Possibly, assuming he doesn’t succumb to it first since you took off what limited protection you bothered to wear. And, of course, for efficiency’s sake it’s best to tell Elizabeth the bare minimum so she can help him work on a cure rather than tell her all about her husband and kids – Jim agrees but is not pleased.

Having convinced her to help the work, the power starts going out because of Ovisaurs nibbling the cables. Jim goes outside and quickly realises that Something is Out There. He enters and outbuilding and finds Brady unconscious on the floor next to some cut wires.  And he finds Taylor – who knocks him down and points a gun at him. The lifelong soldier Taylor doesn’t remember where he is  - and thinks he’s in Somalia in 2138 and he’s looking for a woman called Iani, his wife and his son. Then he punches Jim out. As an extra problem he’s now heading back to Terra Nova to find his wife and son, possibly spreading the pathogen there as well (do they even know the vector yet?)

Elizabeth, meanwhile, makes the breakthrough that someone has been illicitly experimenting with genetic manipulations and Malcolm responds to this by calling Elizabeth beautiful and suggesting they get lost. Jim intervenes and pulls him away and Elizabeth said he’s infected. Uh-huh, infected, honest.

Wanting to get Malcolm away from his wife (and away from working on a cure, because, y’know that’s secondary to making sure no man muscles in on his woman!) Jim insists that Malcolm help him move Blake. They note that Jim hasn’t shown any symptoms at all yet (my money’s on him having a cold or the root Malcolm gave him to cure the cold). And then Malcolm completely forgets Terra Nova or who Jim is. Just in time for an Ovisaur (Dino Greek groan. The name doesn’t even make sense! It means “egg lizard!”) to drop in rather freaking Malcolm out. They drop the unconscious Blake and flee to safety.  Relaising he’s left Blake to be eaten, Jim smashes more wires (nickel in the wires is like catnip to these dinosaurs) in the room. The dinosaur smells the nickel (metal smells now?) and runs into the room which they lock behind it.  

Malcolm panics and Jim knocks him out. Elizabeth is confused and convinced she can’t continue without Malcolm and Jim sets about convincing her she can handle it on her own. Reassured they begin hacking to see who it was who was messing with DNA to help find a way to reverse it. After hacking they find that Dr. Jocelyn has the gene for Gorman’s disease – and extreme from of Alzheimers – and was probably looking for a cure that messed up probably and probably used a virus to engineer a delivery system (this man sounds like he was very very bad at this. Also boo to future technology that couldn’t cure this disease).

Elizabeth is worried about the symptoms becoming more extreme as she’s had the virus for over 39 hours and is distracted when she finds a list of her children’s names in her handwriting – clearly things she considered important and didn’t want to forget. She realises Jim is her husband and they are her children and finally twigs that Jim is still showing no symptoms.

She tests the root and, after examining it, can’t find anything in it that would cure the pathogen. By process of elimination they realise it must be the cold itself, the cold virus is blocking the cell receptors for the pathogen virus – they need Elizabeth to be infected, so he kisses her (you catch colds awfully quickly in Terra Nova)

Taylor sets off on a motorcycle to Terra Nova and runs into Brachiosaurs, which he rather doesn’t expect in Somalia and just seems to convince him that he’s under some kind of psy-op effect. He arrives at Terra Nova and begins to infiltrate it, taking out guards in his way.

At Terra Nova Maddy’s wannabe-boyfriend, Mark Reynolds comes round. Jim catches Zoe’s cold and comforts Maddy about her super-awkward first date. When Jim and Malcom go off, Mark drops in to comfort Maddy (by listening to her vent) and then accidentally letting it slip that he may know something about where her parents are. Maddy decides to go see Lt Washington and demand to know about them. She arrives at the command centre and finds it’s been held by Taylor who holds Mark at knife point.

Taylor recognises Lt. Washington and she tries to convince him he’s sick and the war is over. She tells him that Terra Nova is home and he lead them there 7 years ago. But if it’s home he wants to know where his wife is – and Washington has to tell him she’s dead. He trusts Washington and she tells him all she has to do is help him remember and he’ll be back to normal. He believes that his wife, Iani, is dead – but asks why he’d want to remember that and starts to cut his own throat, Washington shoots him with her sonic weapon, knocking him unconscious.

Back to Terra Nova, it’s sunny and Commander Taylor wakes up strapped to a bed with Elizabeth standing over him – he has his memories back. Elizabeth has created a vaccine out of an inactive cold virus so he shouldn’t even suffer from a cold. He realises Washington shot him and tells her “good job”.

Yes, all is well. Maddy’s even relaxed around Mark now

Josh is playing his new guitar and having a shooting stars drinking game with his friends, (these are the ones whom, you’ll recall, have the collective intelligence of a concussed penguin). More flirting with Skye follows. Nothing eats him. They start to kiss but Josh can’t because he’s still pining over Kara. Angstosaurus and Teenagemoposaurus do not arrive and eat him, alas.

Skye offers him a possible chance to get his girlfriend to Terra Nova and introduces him to a barman. The barman warns them it’s expensive to get people through the portal – and casts doubt on the idea that messages – and people – can come back and forth only when the portal is open (as Taylor says).  Yes, it looks like Josh is involving himself in dangerous, potentially subversive groups which may or may not be connected to the Sixers. Just when you thought this character couldn’t get more annoying.

In closing we see Josh’s illict bar-man going to see Mira, the head of the Sixers with supplies – he takes them medicine, power cells, but no ammo trading them for hooch ingredients. And he asks them to send a message through to help get Josh’s girlfriend through – and he could be useful as the new Sheriff’s son. Who he has also recruited to work in his bar.

Lt Washington is left in charge and Jim tries to undermine her within a day, trying to force her hand and ignoring her orders. And they go off, save they day, being the great big white male heroes because they disregarded the orders of the WOC set above them. I can’t say I’m remotely impressed.

Will something please eat Josh. I’m not picky, he can be stepped on by a Brachiosaur, I’m good with that as well.

Despite my dino greek grumbling (but, really, it’s set in the mid to late cretaceous, would it kill them to use actual dinosaurs from around that period?) and snark worthiness, I am liking this show. It’s fun and interesting with some really good characters (well, Taylor) but we could use a little more common sense spread around, there’s a lot of spunkiness going on. It’s a fun show with enough hooks to keep it interesting. But Josh needs eating.