Extant is kind of the definition of wild swings in quality from episode to episode. It’s trying to be a lot of things, and even Halle Berry can’t anchor all of them. So far this season she’s lost her husband (train meet car), her child (conniving creator Julie stole him back), and her house (she burned it down herself). She’s been busted out of a mental institution. She’s got a new champion in General Tobias Shepherd (David Morrissey) who sucks because he loves her but has also tried to kill her; a new cop buddy in J.D. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who’s got a metric ton of his own problems (like a pregnant daughter who may or may not be infected); no female friends left (if you don’t count her semi-sentient household service that has followed her to her new digs); and she’s being stalked by her now adult alien baby (is there an older cliché than “Mars wants our women?”) who has impregnated 58 women who died because, unlike Halle, the babies weren’t removed by surgery. It’s kind of like all of her movies at once, but on a much smaller scale, crazy-quilted together and with big seams showing. They’re even getting around to Catwoman since she may still be infected with alien spores and could be developing super-powers, which, don’t. Maybe it’s time to reign in the focus and drop a lot of the nonsense to give more time to the few story angles that are really working? The weakest part of the third episode is her sickness/delusion/altered mental state which takes over and makes her horny, even for her own son. Not subtle. His name is Ahdu now, and he’s a cypher with glowing eyes. Also Shepherd’s dithering over what to do with Molly is annoying, not helped by his lover/partner/underling Lt. Colonel Shayna, who embodies little more than jealous and fearful kvetching. The best part of the fourth episode is that, regardless of Molly having accidentally shot Shepherd (he was in a vest, so she just broke “a few ribs”), he remembers she’s a scientist and they stop trying to use drones and guns on the aliens and go after a biological warfare approach instead. Subtle hints of slightly future technology are something this show has consistently excelled at, from her talking nail-file to Ethan’s robot play instructor (“I would pick that up, but I don’t have arms!”), to the little finger gloves she wears to manipulate a giant stream of DNA coding. Molly’s convinced she’s unlocked a hidden message from the aliens (“Help Us!”), but Shayna asserts she’s just resequenced junk data it took the team weeks to extract. No surprise, whether it’s a message or not, it may be just the magic bullet code they need to stem the invasion! The more about technology the show becomes (and the less about noir clichés), the better it is, which is why the story of the two robots, Ethan and Lucy, is also compelling, and the best part of the fourth episode. Ethan continues to remember that Molly is his real mother, and Lucy enlists him in a robot rebellion while she manipulates Charlie to refrain from installing compliance protocols in her software. Lucy’s been reading Machiavelli, and though she knows she was created to be an alien-fighting killing machine, she wants to do it on her own terms. Certainly Ethan doesn’t feel a lot of trust when he realizes Julie and Charlie have been lying to him. And that’s the last good direction the show should keep: pitting Halle against a manipulative blonde ice queen isn’t quite the same as having Meryl Streep or Jessica Lange for her to rage against, but Grace Gummer gives it her best shot, and their enmity over Ethan and Molly’s (murdered) husband are some of the liveliest scenes of the season. Now if they could just give J.D. more to do than be garrulous, they might have something. Extant 2.03 “Empathy for the Devil” & 2.04 “Cracking the Code”2.03 "Empathy for the Devil"2.04 "Cracking the Code"2.3Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.