Extant: Extinct Review

After only a few episodes, Extant is firing on all cylinders and has us wondering just exactly what is going to happen next.

The foreboding ramps up a notch in this week’s episode of Extant, and the mystery surrounding Molly’s pregnancy begins to feel dangerous. Isn’t it curious then that Director of the ISEA, Alan Sparks, and corporate mogul, Hideki Yasumoto, seem oddly well-intentioned and amiable? Certainly, the ISEA knowingly put their astronauts in harms way, but to what end? I’m not used to my villains appearing to be out of their depth while openly acknowledging their own shortcomings.

Speaking of shortcomings, there’s one thing you can certainly say about Extant’s protagonist, Molly: she’s far from perfect. As she stumbles this week into a perceived conspiracy, it’s easy to forget Molly’s deception of those around her began BEFORE fellow astronaut, Harmon Kryger, shared his experience with her.  It’s somewhat convenient that she discovers the corroborating evidence of mysterious occurrences on the Seraphim from the earlier mission just in time to justify a secret she’s already keeping.

I applaud her coming clean to Sparks, though, and in such an early episode, too. I honestly couldn’t take much more of the blithe attitude Molly and Sam have had towards ignoring quarantine protocol. It’s like they’re not even considering alien involvement! If it were just hallucinations, sure maybe it’s mental, but a pregnancy? C’mon! But anyway, now that the director knows, perhaps they won’t have to go sneaking off to vet clinics for a sonogram. Now all we need is for Molly to tell her husband, the poor guy! You KNEW as soon as he gave her that schedule for the day that she wasn’t going to make it for the soufflé.

Ethan knows part of the secret, of course, but does he understand it? Is his interest in extinction purely an extension of his conversation with the robot docent? Or does he really believe Molly showed weakness when he found her unconscious? He definitely takes his mother at her word about the value of keeping secrets, but perhaps the more interesting fact is that Molly may in turn be providing justification for whatever secrets Yasumoto and Sparks are keeping from her and presumably everyone else.

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Yasumoto himself hints at much this week. Admirably, he seems genuinely interested in John’s work even though presumably he’s only funding Humanichs to get closer to Molly. Some shockers: he’s expected to live only 102 more days and apparently is rendezvousing with a board member, Femi Dodd. He also alludes to a sacrifice that Sparks’ daughter Katie made in connection with a mysterious “they,” who apparently are “already here,” whatever that means. I’m anxious to learn more about Yasumoto.

A character that is really taking on depth quickly is Ethan. Details of his upbringing and possible upgrades are hinted at as well as some tension between his mother and Julie, who perhaps feels she loves him like a son (or maybe John as a lover?) more that Molly. His fearlessness at the museum when the elephant charges is admired by other children, but his lack of knowledge about words like “sharp,” “extinct,” and “homo sapiens” seems at odds with his level of sophistication, as does his protective response towards the possibility of human extinction. Does he know more than he’s letting on? Or are his comments merely coincidental?

Questions like these are a good sign of a smoothly and swiftly developing series – after only two episodes! Although a few narrative hiccups still exist, the overall effect is compelling and engaging. It’s easy to see that viewers on Twitter are hooked on the creepy scenes like Harmon and his mom on the space station as well as the underlying conspiracy that’s hinted at. More of the same will keep avid sci-fi fans as well as average CBS viewers interested and tuning in each week.

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4 out of 5