Extant: Empathy for the Devil Review

Motivations become clearer as the alien threat and the robots poised to combat it begin to maneuver into place.

This review contains spoilers for the most recent episode.

It’s nice to be in possession of more of the facts this early on. Extant has been very generous with the action and has introduced many more interesting characters this season, and putting aside the over-the-top decisions some of them make, the picture is coming together for Molly and, though her eyes, for the audience as well. Between the robots with personal problems, the upheaval in Richter’s life, and the alien recruitment efforts, things are really heating up.

I’m happy to say I was right about there being an aliens versus robot battle in the show’s future! Anna finally came clean about why she was rushing the Humanichs project to produce a viable super soldier: she wants to put Lucy in the field against the alien menace. I still couldn’t believe she saw no reason for an ethical program, though; that “terrorist in a school” scenario she put before Lucy was brutal!

Maybe it’s better that Lucy can make the tough calls quickly; I don’t know. Am I supposed to be worried that she chose a sexy white dress instead of more professional attire? I’m not sure why, but the way she disregarded Julie’s advice, even in this mundane scenario, was chilling. I am loving how subtle Lucy’s slightly awkward development is, from her besting Ethan at 3D chess to her apparent infatuation with Charlie. Something tells me Ethan may have to come to the rescue again like he did last season.

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Ethan’s memory glitches, incidentally, are the only part of the episode isolated from the alien threat, but his storyline has its own appeal. I’m enjoying Pierce Gagnon’s spot on delivery, especially with the dead stare that accompanies his confusion about the identity of his mother. Clearly, Julie did some damage while making her modifications, and Ethan almost reminds me of a buggy computer freezing and then restarting itself. His android character has definitely been a highlight of this series from the very beginning.

But let’s talk about Molly and the big decisions she has to make moving forward. The interrogation she and J.D. had to endure makes sense considering the amazing coincidence of her being in the bar just before the drone strike. She has a clean slate with the Restwell facility at least, and she’ll now be intimately involved with the mission. But what’s to be made of her expert marksmanship, and why does she still consider the alien parasite her son just because it was extracted before it could kill her? Ahdu, as the Offspring is now called, apparently still feels a connection to his mother and wants her to choose a side. Color me intrigued!

Poor Richter. The logic of those around him encouraging his departure from the mission is a refreshing turn from the usual “this is my case” stubbornness usually seen in such instances. But he’s trapped! Not only does he have no license and every incentive to try to get it back, but his daughter’s surprise appearance can mean only one thing: she’s one of the unlucky impregnated victims of the invasion. Brilliant! I love this character, and they way the writers forced him to stick around was very well done.

In fact, all of the writing of this episode was well-paced with believable dialogue, and despite the unrealistic situations (any aftermath from that drone strike?), Extant is nothing if not a fun summer romp. It’s crazy premise has fully sunken in now, and suspension of disbelief is in full effect. As a result, I find myself anticipating more and more each week the impending battle between aliens and robots.

I can’t believe I just typed that.

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4 out of 5