Friday, December 28, 2012

Terra Nova: Season 1, Episode 8: Proof

Let us begin with a nice “rawr lookit our CGI!”

They should begin more episodes like that.

It leads to Jim – aww, damn, can we go back to the CGI? No? Damn it – anyway, Jim and Taylor playing with bows proving that they are, indeed, accurate enough to hit the sea. I feel a more challenging target may be in order.  Apparently it’s a lazy way to fish. Jim is nearly killed by a giant prehistoric monster fish but, alas, Taylor saves him.

Back at Terra Nova, Maddy is all gleeful because her scientific hero, Ken Horton, is returning from an expedition. The doctor himself (oooh English accent, 60% chance of being evil!) brushes past and dismisses Malcolm before going to a full range of check ups with Elizabeth. Maddy gushes all over her hero, gets his autograph and is taken on as his assistant. Yet he’s not everything what she expects – there are things he doesn’t seem to remember. She also reveals she wrote a fan letter to him which he replied to – he wants to see the reply so he can keep a copy for his archive.

When she goes home she talks to Elizabeth about her misgivings and notices that the signatures between the letter she received and the autograph don’t match – but Elizabeth points out Horton had a stroke that could have changed him and warns her that heroes often disappoint – before going to stop Zoe overflowing the bathroom.

The longer Maddy spends with him – including looking at the blighted apple crop – the more Maddy becomes suspicious of his lapses in memory. She becomes ever more suspicious as Horton doesn’t hand in his report of his trip to an irate Malcolm. Horton goes on to lose her letter which she is convinced is part of his secret – and she sneaks into his house to take it back, but only finds fragments of it, burned in his bin. When she hides under his table to avoid him, Horton enters, leaning heavily on his stick, which he casts aside and walks without a limp as soon as he thinks he’s alone.

She is convinced Horton is an imposter and steals his coffee cup to compare his DNA against the DNA on the envelope of the letter the real Horton sent her. She compares it in the science lab but Malcolm catches her and points out what a serious violation of privacy it is. Learning that she suspects Horton, Malcolm agrees to help – though it seems more to do with professional jealousy or dislike of the man than

However, the DNA is a match – it seems Horton is legit. This doesn’t stop Maddy and she wonders if Horton had a research assistant who mailed Horton’s post and then stole his identity. She researches the research assistant, Andrew Fickett, in the super-future-wiki and finds that he is the same age, height and build. Checking out crimes for the area she also finds an unidentified male murder victim who had his eyes and hands mutilated so he couldn’t be identified. She believes Fickett murdered Horton (told you, evil) – which is when he pops up behind her. He tries to menace her but she easily escapes

But when she goes to pick up Zoe from school, the teacher tells her that Horton has already picked her up. Maddy finds them at the apple fields and sends Zoe back to her dad, staying with Horton. He ties her up and tells her that Horton was far from a great man (and doesn’t believe her when she promises not to tell anyone, of course). He has a clever way of killing her – forcing her hand into a cage with a poisonous spider… until Jim arrives and rescues her, summoned by the secret panic words Jim taught his daughters.

That night Elizabeth admits that she didn’t listen to Maddy but insists that Maddy force them to listen rather than deal with something like this on her own. And Jim praises her for trusting her gut even when all the evidence was against her. WHY!? Why is this even remotely laudable?! Someone who sticks to their guns when everything proves them wrong isn’t praiseworthy – they’re foolish and stubborn and 99% of the time completely and utterly wrong! Ugh, I hate hate hate hate hate hate the media’s worship of “gut” or “instinct”.

Sadly, we have to check in on Josh who is being called upon to pay his debt to the Sixers. Apparently there is an illness in the Sixer camp and they need medicine – medicine that is too tightly controlled for Boylan to get his hands on. But Elizabeth, Josh’s mother, has a key card to access it. Time for Josh to be shocked that the evil rebel org might actually ask him to do something questionable!

Can something please eat him? I don’t mind if it’s one of the fictional dinosaurs, I’m easy – attack little Angstosaur! Even Skye thinks he’s being ridiculous, risking his life to deal with people who he doesn’t even know whether they can come through with their promises.

Rather than interpret that as “stay away from the Sixers”, he decides that he needs a guarantee and goes to see the Sixers at their camp. Mira is less than amused because she wants him to do as he’s told no questions asked as she said originally. Mira uses a device that lets her speak to Kara – or appears to anyway.

Josh goes ahead, stealing his mother’s card and breaking into the hospital. He gets the medicine but not without causing damage

On their fishing trip, Taylor and Jim run across a camp – not a Sixer camp, it has Terra Nova equipment. Taylor decides it must be Curran, the soldier he banished. He tells Jim to go back to Terra Nova while he goes to look for Curran – for reasons he refuses to share. Taylor starts tracking the obviously harried and maybe wounded Curran, alone.

This leaves Jim free to return to Terra Nova and investigate the break in – the drugs have a high street value, or did in 2149. But Jim is confident that whoever did it – using a sonic pistol in close quarters – is bound to be hurting. We cut to Josh with a lot of bruises on his torso.

Josh continues to feel guilty especially as he learns that by taking Terra Nova’s entire supply, he has put someone’s life at risk and they won’t get more until they can send a requisition with the 11th Pilgrimage (Terra Nova apparently not having the same communication abilities as Mira). On the plus side, Kara is confirmed to be on the next Pilgrimage – or so Boylan says. Josh steals back one vial and tells Boylan how suspicious his father is – Boylan decides to set up one of his debtors to take the fall.

Nice idea, but his debtor isn’t very convincing and Jim doesn’t believe his confession. He quickly fingers Boylan as the criminal

And Josh confesses to breaking into the clinic and stealing the medicine to Elizabeth and Jim. And why he stole and who set him up with the Sixers to get Kara over. Jim goes to confront Boylan and also calls him a liar since the Sixers don’t have the technology to get people over. Boylan denies it – he’s many things but not a liar (how can you be a mole without being a liar?!) and Mira can get in touch with 2149.

Taylor finds Curran with a nasty, infected leg wound. Which he proceeds to taunt him about.  He has been bitten by an Ancestral Komodo – which hunts by biting and then running away, allowing it’s highly infectious bite to weaken its prey before killing it. Taylor stands guard over him and provides some rough doctoring.

When the Komodo arrives Taylor fights it – with a knife and a wooden torch. Why not a gun? Because he’s Taylor (and these dinosaurs are weirdly bullet proof). The Komodo, a coward, flees. Taylor now tells Curran what he has to do to be redeemed – he has to go to the Sixers, ask to be taken in and try to find out who the mole in Terra Nova is.

Back at the camp, Jim tells Taylor everything and he thinks it’s impossible to contact 2149 without the portal being open. Taylor realises it must be Lucas, his son – he’s a genius. Jim suggests he’s being held against his will by the Sixers. But Taylor doesn’t believe there’s any chance of him ever coming back home.

Needs more “rawwr lookit our CGI”. It was interesting to see Maddy developed and be part of the cast more than she has been – and to move away from Jim. But it’s deflected by my frustration with Josh who really needs to be eaten by something. I still like the show but it’s feeling less shiny – I think it’s because the main characters annoy me too much and I’m reaching a point, at episode 8, where I want a few more answers to all the questions. There’s also a strong element of personal taste here – I just don’t like any story where the majority of the characters problems are caused by their own damn foolishness – and that pretty much sums up all there is to know about Josh.

And I want more shiny dinosaurs.

I’m also kind of curious why a 10 year old colony, almost completely cut off from the outside world, subsistence living chose to adopt a military dictatorship with a capitalist economy rather than any kind of democracy (and with such a low population, direct democracy is easily possible without a representative system) and a collectivist economy. After all Taylor keeps spouting off “for the good of the colony” but their economic system is one that dismisses the idea. Apart from anything else, deciding that this brand new utopia just desperately needs individual wealth is the source of not only the town’s first murder but also Boylan’s corrupt hold on people.

And this one town that trades with nowhere has a currency? What’s underpinning it? Taylor’s Big Damn Hero-ness? Who sets prices? Who sets wages? Is their taxation or does the town just make more coins and hand them out to the “civil servants” which is just about everyone anyway since, barring the few entrepreneurs (like Boylan and the guy who makes guitars) everyone seems to work for the greater Terra Nova… government. By which I mean Taylor. He even assigns people what jobs they’ll work when they arrive on the pilgrimage!

Of course, I’m reading far far too much into this, I know I am. But it annoys me – the system is just ludicrous.