This review contains spoilers for the most recent episode.
Extant has been accused in the past of having an identity crisis: is it a show about an alien invasion or an examination of artificial intelligence? In season one, this was especially true with eternal life and dead loved ones thrown into the mix. This season, however, has been consistent with its theme of what it means to be human, and the writers are clearly setting up for a battle between the hybrids and the Humanichs. “The New Frontier” is another solid episode which not only ties up some loose ends but also moves the story along towards the impending alien-robot confrontation.
Well, perhaps “tying up loose ends” is overstating it, but I imagine many audience members were wondering if Molly would ever learn what happened to John or where Ethan was if he still even existed. J.D. provided the voice of reason this week when he unequivocally told Molly that no one’s as unlucky as she’s been, alluding to the suspicious circumstances of her family falling apart and her resulting institutionalization. I must admit I was surprised that the Home Security Secretary, played with understandable aplomb by Scandal’s Kate Burton, agreed to allow Molly to regain custody of Ethan. He really must have charmed her with his human-ness!
And who wouldn’t be charmed? Ethan is certainly dealing with the manipulation of those around him with surprising skill. He’s angry at Julie for erasing his memories, but he seems to understand it as well and tells Molly he doesn’t want be changed yet again. Even Lucy, who encourages Ethan to fight for his rights, can be admired for at least empowering the young robot (even though she technically is younger).
Lucy is surprising in that way. She’s definitely pouring on the persuasion with Charlie by displaying her determination to avoid having the authority limiter installed. As scary as her autonomy is, no one can argue with the results: the first confirmed hybrid kill! I love how Lucy’s character has lulled the audience into acceptance of her subtly rebellious ways. As prepared as I am to be shocked by her inevitable Skynet tendencies, I’m doubtful I’ll truly be able to avoid gasping in surprise when the time comes.
Speaking of Skynet and other Terminator references, it was nice to see Richard T. Jones from The Sarah Connor Chronicles as J.D.’s soldier buddy turned tech expert. The enduring mystery of who killed John is one of the more understated puzzles this show has to solve, but it’s obviously important. Although Julie is implicated by her phone call, I think that would be too simple, and I believe Tobias when he says he had nothing to do with it. So who?
I’m just glad J.D. was around to see Molly play her first alien-influenced mind control trick. She’s been more honest with him than she has been with anybody, and he has felt that same yellow-eyed gaze from Ahdu in an earlier episode. I’ve enjoyed how J.D. has been believably pulled into Molly’s crazy world, and the chemistry between Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Halle Berry continues to be the biggest strength of season two.
With a two-hour episode coming up next week, I’m anxious to see what’s in store for Molly, J.D., Ethan, and Lucy. In the meantime, why not join me and Dave over at extantpodcast.com each week for more detailed analysis of the show and plenty of fan interaction? You’ll be glad you did.