Extant: Before the Blood Review

An episode filled with misdirections has our anticipation heightened for next week's season finale.

There was almost too much to absorb in this week’s Extant episode titled, “Before the Blood,” but every detail brought us closer to figuring out the motivation of the alien life form that has been haunting this series from the beginning.

Although I will admit to being a bit confused about the nuances of the impending invasion, it’s the kind of mystery that sci-fi fans love, even if they require a rewatch. Penultimate episodes leading to the finale are often among the best in any series, and Extant is no exception.

A few of my misgivings from earlier episodes were handily taken care of this week as well. For example, Sparks allowed himself to be captured and taken to ISEA in the last episode, and I couldn’t figure out why. This week it is revealed that he forced the communications satellites into a system check mode, preventing ground control from speaking to their astronaut on the Seraphim, Sean Glass. Nevertheless, the reappearance of his daughter, Katie, after being adrift in space in a medically-induced coma was a great wake-up call for Sparks, and it lulled me into accepting that the rescued adult version of Katie was real.

How foolish of me!

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Throughout this episode I found myself questioning what was real, and I daresay it almost took it too far. Having Ethan encounter his father talking to no one and showing Molly breaking out of multiple false visions threatened to shatter my trust in anything I was seeing, but in the end I think it was a successful misdirection. The key to anchoring the audience in the midst of a chaotic conspiracy lies in Molly’s child, the hybrid that is now a fully-developed young boy. It appears that Molly was right to keep faith in the Offspring, since it may be that “the blood” of the episode title – the HUMAN blood – is the only thing redeeming him. The big question, though, is why he can’t combat his alien brethren and why he thinks Molly can.

Two things in Molly’s favor are her investigative ability and her newfound grip on reality. Using the memory enhancer to figure out that she had sent the Seraphim into a decaying orbit satisfied my curiosity, especially since she never mentioned that part of her vision to Kern last week. Will they correct the navigation error in time? It’s a beautiful bit of suspense! And now that Molly refuses to be put in the dream state (hopefully the Offspring will honor her request to stop doing that), perhaps we’ll be able to trust her actions and surroundings more.

Unfortunately, we were all duped along with Sean Glass about Katie being alive again. I was surprised to find that I cared more about the relationship and romantic subtext between these two minor characters in a single episode than I was about the protagonists all season long! Alas, it was all a sham! The aliens have really come a long way since the early parroting days of Marcus, which actually makes it that much more eerie when Katie shuts Sean in the capsule, cocks her head to one side, and deadpans, “It’s okay.” 

But although I’m sad about Sean’s predicament, I am SO glad that Julie has figured out Odin’s duplicity! Ethan was almost fearful enough to use the secret military phone that Odin gave him (and if you didn’t know right away that it was the bomb’s trigger, you need to watch more action movies), and the video that Julie found of Odin’s speech that he oh-so-thoughtfully prepared ahead of time was a great way to solve the mystery of what his plans were. Of course, Ethan still has other issues to deal with, like his unresponsive father and his “brother” appearing outside the house.

All told, this episode rolled out a dizzying array of feints and misdirections but solved enough mysteries to heighten my anticipation for the finale next week. It might be that the Extant producers plan on leaving us with a cliffhanger of some sort, but I hope they wrap up the main storyline enough to satisfy its modest audience in case there is no renewal.

Want more Extant discussion? Join me and Dave over at http://extantpodcast.com each week for predictions, nitpicks, and plenty of fan interaction! 

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4 out of 5