Terra Nova started out strong with Genesis. Sure, the double-episode pilot had some clichés, but it was pretty great overall, with awesome CGI, some interesting dystopian backstory, lots of action, and intriguing mystery. Unfortunately, Genesis was followed up by Instinct — a not-so-good third episode.
With that in mind, this week’s fourth episode, titled What Remains, simply had to deliver. By now, we have dealt with enough genre conventions and clichés, and it’s time for Terra Nova to develop its own identity. Unfortunately, the episode did not live up to my expectations.
In a story that was predictable from start to finish, the medical team of Terra Nova checks up on a research outpost they lost contact with. They encounter a quarantined room filled with crazy people. Their first response? “Let’s get this door open!” Obviously, they all got infected by the mysterious disease that makes people loose part of their recent memory. Meanwhile, Jim is at Terra Nova in the process of catching a cold as he learns about his wife being stranded in quarantine. Of course, he rushes off to the rescue and has to help is wife, who has by now forgotten him, come up with a cure.
Six minutes into What Remains, I knew what the cure would be, and I expect many of you will expect the same just from reading my introduction to the episode. Everything that happens in this episode happens in the most convenient ways, at the most convenient times. From the team opening the door and catching the illness, to the dinosaur sneaking into the outpost, to the cure presenting itself in the most unsubtle way possible — “Why do you still remember everything?” “Oh, I don’t kn… *sneeze*” Naturally, Elizabeth would lose all memory of her husband, while her ex just happens to be around. We all know how much I love force-fed character development.
Effects and dialogue
Don’t get me wrong, though, What Remains wasn’t all bad. For starters, I loved the CGI on this one. We finally get to see some really menacing dinosaurs. I seriously can’t get enough of that. Terra Nova also seems to be developing part of its own identity in the hilarious dialogue that is quickly becoming a continuing thing. Some examples:
“Any luck finding him?” “Found his boots.” “He’s out there barefoot?” “Nah, his feet were still in ‘em.”
“Lieutenant!” “Sir?” “You shot me!” “Eh, I did, sir.” “Good job.”
Get good already!
There are definitely some interesting things being established in this episode of Terra Nova. Relationships are fleshed out —and Taylor is still an epic badass— while mysteries get some much needed depth, though not enough of it. The references to the “past” — like a psychological war in Somalia that will happen sometime in our future — were definitely intriguing. I do wish, however, that things would happen a bit faster. Right now, Terra Nova shows a lot of promise, but hasn’t done much to deliver on that promise. It’s time it distinguishes itself from other genre shows. One would expect that there’s enough directing and writing talent on board to make it happen. This show needs to be more like Lost meets Jurassic Park and less like… Oh, I don’t know, a bad imitation of Stargate SG1?