Extant: Care and Feeding and A Pack of Cards Review

Extant pulls a page from The X-Files and winds up in Little Shop of Horrors. Here is our review

Throughout this premiere season of Extant, there have been several noticeable X-Files moments, reminding us of some of the best qualities that show had to offer. In the two-hour event this week, which included “Care and Feeding” and “A Pack of Cards,” I felt like I was watching one of the less desirable creature-of-the-week episodes of X-Files. Alien baby on the loose! And it’s a vampiric soul-sucker! Um, okay.

It’s not so much that I mind the change in tone; there are certainly things I like about the evolution of this half-human, half-alien creature. For example, the fact that its mental projection of dead family members now includes a full vocabulary, not just echoed phrases, is a nice touch. But although I was okay with the temporary takeover of the bald scientist last week and the mercenaries gunning each other down via the mind control powers of the Offspring, the full-on, body-snatcher takeover of the sheriff and the mechanic reminded me a little too much of the famous “black oil” X-Files episodes, and not in a good way.

And has Sparks completely gone off the deep end or what? This was the guy who was trying to shield Molly from the extreme measures of Yasumoto just a few episodes ago, and now he’s “accidentally” killing the charming campground manager with her own shotgun and feeding an alien innocent civilians? Then, just to add to the creepy, he invites his wife to join in the delusion – and she BUYS IT? It’s not even full-grown Katie; it’s a younger version of their daughter, making it that much more obvious that she’s a mouthpiece for the Offspring and not really their child. I understand desperation and loss, but this is Little Shop of Horrors territory!

On the other hand, are we to believe that Molly’s involvement could have a pacifying effect on the Offspring and that it could “change the world” the way Yasumoto and his protege, Dr. Mason (played by Owain Yeoman), believe it can? When Molly does finally meet up with Sparks and her child – Sparks’ plastered-on smile aside – the false flashback of her baby and Marcus surviving the crash does not instill me with confidence in the Offspring’s motives. I’m with Kryger – it isn’t worth the sacrifice! Only we no longer have Kryger to be our voice of reason. Perhaps Kern will wake up and smell the coffee.

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A wake-up call is also needed in John and Ethan’s corner as they misguidedly seek refuge in Yasumoto’s penthouse. Not only is the boss keeping them prisoner, Odin and Femi, the anti-tech fanatics, are shepherding Ethan around with impunity – even though they’re almost complete strangers! With John’s worry and attention focused solely on his wife (and rightfully so), he is totally overlooking the danger at his doorstep. Only through Molly’s warning about Yasumoto do they attempt an escape to the lab a few floors down, and even when Ethan is successful at bypassing the heat sensors, the elevator doors give him away.

I do enjoy the intrigue surrounding Odin and Ethan. Trying to figure out what the disgruntled soldier is going to do next is an entertaining exercise, although it does bother me that he has such easy access to Ethan. Even when Julie catches Odin “flipping” Ethan’s power core, a simple apology is enough to exonerate him. But teaching Ethan to question his father/creator by playing with a lighter? When Ethan becomes petulant and moody as a result, I’m wondering why no one asks Odin what they’ve been up to. That being said, it’s true that John has been upset with his son lately, and Ethan appears to accept his apology readily enough. Perhaps in the final two episodes, Ethan – and everyone else – will see Odin for what he really is: an untrustworthy infiltrator.

With two episodes to go, I wonder what possible twists could remain. Are we in for a triumph of humanity against an invader or a meeting of the minds between mother and son? Will the Ethan story merge with the Offspring arc, or will they remain separate explorations of the same theme? I’ve enjoyed the series overall this summer, but after this episode, I find myself anticipating the next installment a little bit less.

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3 out of 5