This review contains spoilers.
1.12 Before The Blood
Unlike the Seraphim, Extant this week starts to get back on course, which is to say, back off the rails. In a good way. Or, in a “we only have one more week and we’re probably getting cancelled anyway so let’s ramp this thing up to 11, y’all!” way.
Halle Berry turns in what might be her most prettily distressed performance yet for this penultimate episode of the season (and possibly series). And for good reason – Molly learns she’s the reason the Seraphim has lost contact, as she punched in the codes signalling an asteroid attack while under the influence of The Offspring. And, she’s now the only one who can go up there and fix it, spurring John to inconveniently emote all over her. And, she keeps having reality-distorting flashbacks and memories and visions. And, her glowy-eyed Offspring shows up to let her know it’s all about to hit the fan, and she has to stop it.
Also, her robot son broke what has to be a super-expensive floor-to-ceiling window.
Not a great day. But she hasn’t even seen the return of the squicky circles, this time on John’s neck! Though John was mostly useless this episode, he did provide a nice moment in the reveal that who he thought was Molly wasn’t actually there. Now, several things confused me this week, but I really didn’t bother with trying to sort through them as I would have at the beginning of the season. One was this moment – Ethan rounds the corner and comes upon John talking to no one, thinking it’s Molly. I’m supposed to think the “nothing” was the Offspring, right? But then he shows up all cute and curly-haired at the door downstairs? Eh, it doesn’t matter.
Meanwhile, the Seraphim has gone all Major Tom as Sean and the no-longer-presumed-dead Katie get reaquainted and some sparks fly (no pun intended, but still pretty accurate). It was nice to get some space drama going again, though unfortunately, the reunion is short-lived. Having enjoyed just a few hours among the living, our Katie rejoins the dead–but for real dead this time. Sadly, back on Earth, Sparks has just been told his daughter is for real alive, so this is going to be confusing… especially since there’s now a Marcus-like presence on board with her face. And it even says “it’s okay” in that delightfully dreamy, disconnected way.
Oh, but Sean’s not okay. And neither is Ethan, if Odin gets his way. We’ve been incredulous all along at Ethan’s blind trust of this random guy Julie likes, as well as Julie’s blind trust in leaving Ethan alone with this guy she likes. And, we’ve known Odin had some pretty devious plans in the making. Little could we have imagined, though, how wackily it would all come together! Julie’s investigative prowess, a.k.a., being the nice girlfriend the nice landlady let in, uncovers the booby trap Odin’s been setting for, what, at least a couple of days now? I’m not sure how devastatingly condemning the footage of Ethan playing with the lighter on his hand would actually be, but Odin at least thinks it will be enough to pin the blame on… when he blows up Yasumoto (where’s that guy, anyway?) Tower. We know this because he also leaves footage of himself decrying the yet-to-happen explosion and blaming it on the kid.
Yeah, it’s all madness, but I have to say I at least found this particular madness quite enjoyable. Of course Extant has disappointed me – though I didn’t even have clear-cut expectations to begin with – but not because it didn’t end up being the epic television event it was hyped to be. I didn’t really care about that, honestly; I just wanted some delivery on the promises of the first episode.
Then, when that didn’t exactly happen, I was pleased with some of the fun X-Files-y conspiracy plots with all the double-crossing and whatnot. All along the way, too, have been little inklings that we were going to end up with a poignant tale of humanity and the triumph of the human spirit, whatever form it may take (we even got a little reminder of that this episode, when Julie reminds Ethan that if he can love, he can be loved). Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve really gotten – occasional nods at the concept, but never a real embrace.
I’ve even really liked the “scarier” moments, mostly in the form of Ethan – his ominous shadow in the workshop doorway, his creepy-kid facial expressions, his possibly murdering a bird (no, I will not let that go). But the show has never delivered on that, either, just occasionally throwing it in for some punctuation. I was ready for some Space Omen; what I got was mostly The Emo Jetsons.
There were so many genuinely good things about this show – even entire good episodes – and I stand by the hopes I had in the beginning. It’s just never figured out what it wanted to be, or what stories it wanted to pursue, or how to develop (much less resolve) said stories, or even who its characters really were. At least this week it got back to the pleasing aesthetics of the beginning of the season. It’s been pretty visually boring the past few weeks.
It feels like I’m writing about the last episode instead of the second-to-last, but really, does it matter what happens in the last episode? I guess I should think it does, but if I were still invested in it at this point, I’d have lost all hope. The liberation of no longer holding any expectations, though, allowed me to thoroughly enjoy – like actually gasp and laugh at certain points – the farcicality of this week’s episode. That disentanglement also means I can revel in what is sure to be a disjointed, bonkers, chaotically gorgeous, and gorgeously chaotic sendoff. I think I’ll actually be a bit disappointed if it ends up making sense and tying up loose ends… but I’m not too worried about that.
One more week, guys! We can do this. Don’t push the big green button on your emergency space flip phone just yet.
Read Holly’s review of the previous episode, A New World, here.
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