Monday, December 24, 2012

Terra Nova: Season 1, Episode 5: The Runaway

Outside the fence the guards see warm-blooded movement which they take to be a Sixer. Patrols are dispatched lead by Lt Washington to run out into the night and try and track it down. After a lot of chasing through the woods they catch the figure – it’s a little girl.

(And yes, I had a Dino Geek grumble at the idea of all dinosaurs being cold blooded)

They take the girl to the hospital where she fights, runs and hides. Elizabeth arrives and shoos everyone out – including Commander Taylor – since the girl is terrified. Elizabeth slowly draws her out. She’s Leah Marcos and her parents are dead. She’s trying to get to see her Nana – who still lives in the future. She recognises Taylor as “the bad man” and he remembers her as a very small child and remembers that she had a brother, Sam. Elizabeth explains to Leah that the portal doesn’t go both ways – once you’re through you can’t go back. Leah’s confused - she can’t stay with “the bad man” and she can’t go back to Mira or she’ll be hurt for running away.

Taylor realises she could be a good source of intelligence, but they need her trust first. He gently suggests that Elizabeth takes her in and she instantly falls for it and Jim’s minor objections are quickly quashed. Elizabeth suggests putting Josh on the sofa.

Josh isn’t best thrilled but Maddy explains that she’s a girl and Zoe’s 6. Josh doesn’t follow this logic but Leah arrives cutting debate. They welcome her but she’s silent and very nervous. She crawls on a bed and huddles under a blanket, not even getting into the bed properly.

Lt. Washington and another soldier go looking for Leah’s lost bag – they find it. But they also find a pack of Sixers who attack them. He goes down quickly but Washington puts up a fight until Mira arrives and knocks her unconscious.

At Terra Nova, Leah and Zoe are left with Josh as a babysitter and Maddy goes to start her apprenticeship with Elizabeth and is a little squeamish at the sight of mangled flesh. Taylor and Jim discuss when it’s appropriate to start asking Leah questions when the Sixers arrive. Mira demands Leah’s return in exchange for Washington and the extra. Taylor denies kidnapping her and tells Mira the girl can decide her own fate. Mira lets Washington and the extra go (showing that Mira trusts Taylor’s word – or that she’s stood in the firing lines of Terra Nova)

Leah is brought out and Mira tells the child to say she wants to come home and tries to bully her into speaking. Leah tells her she ran away and she wants to stay in Terra Nova. As she leaves, Taylor tells Mira that since this is the second time she’s come to the gates and threatened the colony, the third time she does it, he’ll go to war. Personally I’d have opened fire on them as they retreated, but that’s just me.

Realising that the mole must have contacted the Sixers since Leah arrived, Taylor has Jim check who was outside the gates since she arrived. The whole  place is very welcoming to Leah, making her feel much more at home and Taylor discusses Leah showing them where she camped with the constantly moving Sixers.

The mole hunt does pull up one man, Rob, out alone doing his field study – and he arrived on the 6th Pilgrimage. Malcolm rushes to Rob, a scientist’s defence in objection to “guilt by association”. He also points out that Terra Nova has no lawyers for defence. He’s had problems himself with his own father facing similar investigations back in the future.

There’s a break in in one of the houses, Jim and Washington go to investigate and find a secret compartment under the floor, now empty. Before the current residents, this was Mira’s old house. Leah is also missing school – Jim goes to intercept her trying to reach the fence

They realise Leah was a perfect spy – young enough to be sympathetic and old enough to be capable and that Mira played them all. She tried to take an odd looking container that’s sealed shut. Leah claims she doesn’t know what’s in the box, only that she was told to get it – and she obeyed because Mira has her brother and will hurt him if she doesn’t obey. Leah is taken away but Jim is troubled – what if she’s telling the truth and a kid is being hurt? Taylor won’t send anyone to check – not risking more resources on the word of Leah who has already lied and shown herself capable of manipulating them for Mira.

But back at home Elizabeth, Josh and Jim discover a note from Leah, apologising, that she must have written before she tried to leave which Jim takes as proof of her sincerity about her brother, Sam. Time for Jim to ignore all commands and rush off on his own like a loose cannon!

He gets himself caught by the Sixers. Well done that man. He has some light chatter with Mira and she reveals that Taylor annoyed some powerful people back in 2149. Mira adds that Terra Nova is not now or ever about starting afresh – and that she’s going to take Taylor down. She has a daughter, Sienna, in 2149 who she gets to see again only if she does her job. She sends Jim back to Terra Nova – with Sam (what was this, a grand exposition trip?) who she never intended to hurt.

Taylor handwaves Jim’s disobedience. Jim doesn’t tell Taylor what she said. Because… reasons?

Side plots – Maddy is squeamish and feels sick seeing patients with oozy injuries. Elizabeth releases her from her apprenticeship since it’s clear that she’s not cut out to be a doctor.

And Mark Reynolds keeps trying to “court” Maddy and seems to be stuck in the 19th century. I’d love to see the world building justification why this man, a product of the 22nd century west, has such old fashioned ideals.

This is now twice where Jim has decided to completely ignore the chain of command, any kind of authority and go running off without telling people. In 5 episodes. This whole lone ranger bit, assuming he knows best, assuming he can make decisions alone, without consulting anyone and go running off doing his own thing regardless of people telling him not to isn’t heroic – it’s arrogant.

Which leaves me again with a feeling that I like the story – certainly as it’s now getting deeper with more plotting and I love the world (Dino Geek grumbles aside) but I dislike the main character, Jim and one of the more prominent secondary characters – Josh. I hope we can see more Taylor, Washington, Elizabeth and Maddy who are more interesting and reasonable characters.