Terra Nova Episodes 3 and 4: “What Remains” and “The Runaway”

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A busy few weeks have happened, so here’s me catching up on Terra Nova.

Episode 3, the one about the virus that erased people’s memories? Actually wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated. Now, I’m not sure how accurate the science of this virus is (my guess, not very!), but here’s how it went: a scientist with not-Alzheimer’s (because why use a perfectly real disease that’s universally recognized as tragic and whose symptoms are very well known when you can make up one just like and give it a fake name?) is tampering with gene therapy to cure his condition at an outpost. It doesn’t work–the virus he creates regresses a person to a previous time in their life and then starts bringing them further and further back from there until they’re hysterical and then catatonic. Or something. I just realized they kept saying it affected short term memory first, but then how was everyone not acting like they were in Memento?

Doctor Wife gets whammied, as does her old college boyfriend Malcolm (let’s just call him Old Flame, shall we?), and General Toughguy. Cop Dad (who, FYI, has a cold, and in case you forget that when he shows no symptoms at all, he’ll remind you with horribly fake sneezes when the plot demands it) goes to find them when they don’t return from inspecting this outpost. Long story short, his cold is somehow incubating him from getting this virus, and they can then manufacture a cure for not-Alzheimer’s.

Gee, if only the common cold could cure regular Alzheimer’s, maybe science isn’t trying hard enough! Ugh.

"See, we're totally married!" "I want a restraining order."

So, I asked Brandon (my boyfriend, and a science guy) if this was likely to really work. In theory, he said, yes, because if you’ve got a cold then your body is primed to fight off sickness with T-cells and white blood cells riding high. I’m pretty sure the disease itself was still a load of bullshit, and how does one reverse brain damage like that anyways? But, I give them points for it kinda sorta being true, and also for NOT letting Doctor Wife magically get her memories back when Cop Dad returned her wedding ring to her. Smaller bonus points for Toughguy going Apocalypse Now on Terra Nova itself, thinking he was back in the ‘Nam (or future equivalent).

There was a side story about Rebellious Teen kissing Troublemaker Orphan then telling he really wanted to get his future girlfriend to Terra Nova. Since conflict doesn’t exist on this show, she was totally okay with all of this and hooked him up with a sketchy dude who claims to know how to get people here. No one seems interested in asking HOW. But we the audience know (a) because it’s obvious and (b) because the denoument of the episode shows Sketchy Joe (that’s his name now) taking to the Sixers about getting a girl from the future here. Because, duh, they obviously have some kind of gate of their own. This isn’t confirmed yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. So this storyline, which was given all of, hm, two minutes of screentime (Teen Wangst does not count towards that total), was the most interesting and lasting plot in the entire episode.

Episode 4, “The Runaway,” wasn’t great. Now, I’ve read a few reviews that are saying this episode was good because we found out more about the Sixers. We did, but we really didn’t. I personally learned their leader’s name is Mira, not Mila, and that they live in trees. Oh, and they send moppets to do their dirty work.

"Don't like pronouns."

So the Moppet is a runaway, supposedly, who wants to go back to Earth. She in truth is here to find something in Mira’s old house, some weird glass-ish looking box thing that has no discernible opening mechanism. Puzzle box time! But she’s doing this because Mira has said her Moppet Brother will be harmed if she doesn’t. Cop Dad hunts down the unfindable Sixers somehow, gets caught in a trap, and wakes up in a big treehouse. Mira says some cryptic stuff but never actually tells him anything. All we do is get more confirmation that Sixers don’t like the General, and that Terra Nova’s purpose is something other than what everyone’s been told. WELL, DUH. Thanks for restating what we already learned in the pilot, jackass. Cop Dad asks what this is and because the plot requires he remain in the dark until sweeps, Mira only says “You’ll see.” Then lets him and Moppet Brother go free. The Moppets are adopted by some other nameless woman which means we’ll never see them again.

Obviously, I find it an irritating problem that we learned nothing new at all. Mira and the Sixers had weird war paint on for some reason, and the Moppet’s poor excuse for “character development” was speaking with poor grammar and constantly telling us things she didn’t like. “Don’t like combs,” “don’t like chases,” “don’t like bad men,”– yeah, I “don’t like” your shitty excuses for lines! Girls her age can in fact speak in full sentences, writers! This is not making a character three-dimensional and interesting!

In the end, Cop Dad doesn’t tell Toughguy that Mira mentioned Terra Nova being a fortress lies. But why? Why doesn’t he tell him? What reason has Cop Dad got to not trust Toughguy, the man who let him live and gave him a job and has been nothing but great to him, other than a vague, unhelpful statement made by a woman who threatens kids into doing her bidding? None! He has no reason to hide anything from this man, other than that being what happens at this point in a completely predictable narrative.

Oh, and there’s a throwaway waste of time plot about Hermione not liking blood and her military boyfriend being more outdated than any reference I can possibly make by using terms like ‘courting’ and ‘call upon’. It’s called dating, Chivalrous Dumbass, and you were already in the middle of doing that, so why are you asking now? Was that intended to be him saying let’s make it Facebook official? Chivalrous Dumbass is too long. We’ll just call him White Knight, ’cause that’s the role he’s been given.

As Brandon put it, one thing that’s wrong with Terra Nova’s storytelling is that it’s the opposite of what LOST did right (mostly). LOST would tell you just enough of the story, show you just enough of the story, and not show you what you didn’t need to see. Terra Nova does exactly the opposite of all those things.

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