Extant More In Heaven and Earth review

CBS goes cinematic in double Extant episodes. Here is Michael Ahr's More In Heaven and Earth and Incursion review.

Many took CBS’s decision to burn off two episodes of Extant at once as a sign of impending cancellation (and that still might be true), but “More In Heaven and Earth” and “Incursion” felt less like two distinct episodes and more like a full-length movie. This might be due to careful editing once the producers knew the network would be doubling up, but regardless, the action pushed smoothly through the one-hour mark into the second episode, and plenty of answers were unveiled as well as new mysteries presented along the way.

I had some initial concern about Molly’s unrelenting desire to make Sparks pay and actually get to her child despite the danger of such covert action. I know her mantra was “No risk, no reward,” but why was she going to these great lengths in such a life-threatening situation? Obviously, John and even Kryger have the same justifiable worry, but then it occurred to me that the baby might be pulling the strings. We’ve seen before how it can manipulate Earthlings’ minds, and in this episode, the abilities of the newly dubbed “Offspring” went to a whole new level!

Ethan’s abilities have been amped up as well; could this possibly be related to the Offspring somehow? Apparently, the ability to instantly learn Japanese and ride a bike weren’t part of his programming, yet somehow this android child managed it. Is the alien entity locking John out of Ethan’s programming or are the storylines completely unrelated? I admittedly was against John’s decision to hobble Ethan to make him more human, but let’s not forget the creepy bird fascination from earlier in the season. And now that Ethan is sympathizing with service bots and asking about his function, we may be headed for a robot uprising with no recourse.

Another uprising of sorts comes in the unexpected form of Deputy Director Gordon Kern switching sides in the most unlikely manner. Just when I thought his drug-addled capture of Harmon Kryger was a bad sign, it became apparent that he was supposed to have disposed of the former astronaut altogether. When they started teaming with Molly, the jarring change of alliance was skillfully acknowledged by Kryger’s “I only trust myself” speech: a credit to the writers. And it’s not as if Molly could have bypassed any of the ISEA security without his help anyway.

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Plus Kern’s defection makes a certain amount of sense. Sparks is utterly misguided in his quest to somehow reconnect with his lost daughter, Katie, and even if he’s more interested in helping Yasumoto, that’s just trading one selfish motive for another. Although the Offspring isn’t exactly benevolent, its discovery and containment (and even exploitation, if it comes to that) should be shared with those who have more than personal or corporate interests at heart, and nothing could justify the using of astronauts as guinea pigs.

Perhaps Derek Pearce would have felt differently, although I’ll admit, I could probably be bought with a multi-million dollar penthouse as well. But what is this Claypool Industries that purchased his home for him? Is it a shell corporation for Yasumoto’s interest? The yellow goo that sustains him seems to have come from asteroid mining, the main business of Claypool, and the substance originates from the same area of space as the entity. This part of the episode was a bit labyrinthine, but I was on board once my head stopped spinning.

And besides, Yasumoto might have an immortality alternative in mind in the form of Ethan. With the android’s superpowers coming to light, Yasumoto has designs on transplanting his consciousness into the neural net of a Humanich, a possibly unforeseen payoff to his investment in John’s company. Never mind the fact that John’s appalled, it might be the path to a cure and a limitless lifespan!

Yasumoto would likely be shocked to learn that another person at the dinner table would also be appalled at this use of technology: his not-so-secret lover, Femi Dodd! Apparently, this Yasumoto Corp board member sidelines as a member (along with Julie’s new beau, Odin) of an anti-tech militia bent on striking down the abomination of human-like androids such as Ethan. I knew that Odin wasn’t to be trusted! Somehow I think he and Julie babysitting Ethan will not end well.

But will Molly’s encounter with her child end any better? Did the Offspring use the birds (Ethan’s not the only one with an ornithological interest) to warn Molly of the impending raid by forming those circles? What did the goo covering Kern’s explosive do? Why did the Offspring fog up its containment cube? I want it to be on Molly’s side somehow, but when guards can be forced to gun each other down through mind control, I’m not inspired with a lot of trust.

I’m confident thatExtant will continue to deliver exciting action despite some minor implausibilities. For example, I’m not sure I buy Sam’s complete 180 in helping Molly while still managing to keep Sparks happy, but the over-arching mysteries are compelling enough to allow me to overlook these minor flaws. I look forward to another 2-hour episode next week, leading into a hopefully revealing finale.

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4 out of 5