Tonight, Terra Nova does Disaster Movie. When a meteor turn into an EMP, Terra Nova goes dark. All equipment shuts down, microchips fuse, and the main characters are separated. Let’s take a look at each mini-adventure in a hopefully-not-to-be-used-again sectioned format.
Jim and Zoey
Jim takes Zoey to an underground room featuring the most ridiculous computer ever created. It’s kind of a Wikipedia, YouTube, and Google Earth supermix but looks like a giant brain in bubbling blue barber water. It’s such a weird design that I thought it was the compound’s power tube. To get it to work, you sit in a chair and tell it what you want to know and 100 screens pop up in front of you. Why can’t they WiFi this throughout the base or, if they have, why are we just finding out about its existence now?
It can replicate the feeling of a roller coaster while projecting a roller coaster in front of you. It also seemingly has crystal clear images of any place in the world at any time from street level. Fun Fact: Zoey was born in a dilapidated, isolated farmhouse near Chicago that looks like it came out of the Great Depression. Funner Fact: those still exist in 2141. Funnest fact: it was shown in sepia tone.
After the lights go down, the door can’t open from the inside but there’s an emergency lever on the outside. Why the people who constructed it decided on that feature is beyond me. Since clearly they remembered not to turn off the oxygen, ventilation, lighting, heat, cooling, or whatever else is in the giant computer room. The computer’s energy can, should, and probably does exist independently of the energy in the room itself.
Father and daughter cannot contact anyone because the EMP took out Jim’s comm, but the memory ball keeps bubbling. It took awhile, but thankfully, Jim explains that its continued functionality comes from shielding and an internal power supply. Moments like this one make you disappointed that we never had an episode early on where Taylor or some other guide takes the Shannons on a tour of the facility. Guess it was kinder of them to let us know from the start that the series would be about the “Easily Dispatchable Threat of the Week” rather than Terra Nova itself.
To escape, Zoey (who ups the precociousness so much tonight that she develops a Cindy Brady lisp) has to climb through a tiny access tube Die Hard-style while Jim endlessly sings a song about spiders to ease her fears of arachnids. It’s supposed to be endearing. It’s not.
From the best of my recollection, throughout the entire episode, nobody asks where Jim is, not even his bestie Taylor.
Maddie goes on a date with the guy who has been courting her for the past several episodes. Remembering the names of all the indistinguishable dark haired, 20-something white guy/soldiers seems like a pointless endeavor, but for what it’s worth, he’s called Mark Reynolds. (In the same way that I wondered if Dr. Malcolm was named after Dr. Ian Malcolm, I have to wonder if Mark Reynolds adopted his name from Mal Reynolds. Probably not.)
Will they get isolated together? Yes. (The Jungle…at night). Will they do something silly, gross, or outrageous? Yes. (They smear stink leaves, leaves that smell like poop, on each other.) Will they kiss after trying-too-hard-to-be-cutesy dialogue? Yes. (We get it of the ‘I don’t want to die without having my first kiss’ variety.)
Josh goes to work at Boylan’s surprisingly empty bar. He doesn’t do much of anything tonight, which is good. However, you’d expect that making a deal with the devil last week would affect how he acts around his mom, dad, and even Skye. Nope.
Elizabeth (and Skye)
Hunter, a friend whom Skye deems her surrogate brother (guess who doesn’t like that title?) and whom we haven’t seen since the pilot, falls ill after drinking unfermented Taroca root. He goes to the hospital where Elizabeth discovers that he has a parasite growing inside him. Without technology, they must treat him the old fashioned way, by cutting him open and spinning the parasite around a giant thread spool.
There is a point right after Elizabeth begins raveling the parasite onto the spindle where Hunter says he feels pain. Elizabeth tells him to shut up and he’s lying because she gave him an anesthetic. You’d expect this to pay off. It doesn’t.
Taylor, Wash, and Malcolm
This is where the “science” really begins to get really terrible, possibly leading to the stupidest scene in the series.
Taylor doesn’t know how they’ll get power, so Malcolm calls him over and takes him to a chip replicator that can replicate any chip they need. Unfortunately, the chip replicator chip is also fused so it cannot make any more chips. Nevertheless, if they find someone to fix the chip replicator chip than he can create dozens of chips every hour. Who can offer the solution? Why, it’s Boylan the bartender of course.
The chip replicator is a yellow thing about the size of a sewing machine that for some reason is in the medical facility, unshielded, and seemingly just thrown any old place. Taylor should know about the chip replicator by now. I thought Malcolm was a dinosaur specialist/medical doctor, now he’s the computer guy too? Boylan’s a bartender who can fix chips? How many skills does every individual person have? In a society seemingly dependent on chips, you’d think someone on Taylor’s or even Malcolm’s team would know a thing about fixing them. Do chips provide power like batteries, or is power irrelevant without functioning chips? If so, is everything on Terra Nova chip-based? And they only have one of these devices?
To make matters worse, in a later scene, Boylan describes how repairing a fused chip is like repairing a watch. Is this true?
The Sixers Attack The Compound!
With Terra Nova dark, the Sixers decide to attack the compound by using a dinosaur and, apparently, only two to four guys. This should have been the main plot but instead it starts 15 minutes into the episode, meaning that unless this was a two parter (it’s not), the attack won’t be anything remarkable (it wasn’t).
The Sixers send the dinosaur to cause a diversion on one side of the camp. Apparently, only Jim (who just spent all day underneath the land) and Taylor bother to try to stop it, and they do so by shooting flame arrows at it. How does Jim even know how to fire an arrow, let alone with any accuracy? I can imagine a soldier learning the skills of an archer, but Jim?
Twist! The Surprise Conclusion
The only reason for the attack was to obtain the magic box. However, the box is not for Mira and the Sixers, but for Taylor’s son Lucas who is doing experiments while remaining hidden in the Jungle, scheming to oust his father. Not only did he create the box, he can apparently inspire fear and/or admiration from Mira. Oh show, you don’t present the Other Others so soon into your series’ run. Though, to be entirely fair, I guess, all things considered, it is the most surprising/interesting development in the show since “there’s a portal that can take people back in time?!”
Also, the box showed electronic images (three things that are supposed to be beautiful, I guess) when Lucas opened it, so was it also shielded from a potential EMP blast?
• In an episode like this, you’d imagine the questions of “what will we do when the power runs out?” or “maybe we shouldn’t rely too much on technology” to come up. They don’t. I don’t even think we learn where the power comes from, just that chips are important.
• During the fight between Jim/Taylor and the Sixers, one of the enemies fulfills the role of Guy Killed By An Airplane Propeller In Raiders. Upon realizing his unstoppability, Taylor actually says “Let’s dance.”
• The scene ends with Boylan rushing in and shooting the bad guy with a revolver that, for some reason, only had one bullet in it.
• When the replicator works, Elizabeth commands the first chip to be a biobed for her patient. Why does she/he get precedence over everyone else? At this point, I want the show to feature cave markings that declare the Shannons to be The Family Of Destiny. It’s the only way to explain why they get all this preferential treatment.