'Terra Nova' Season 1, Episode 2 Recap - 'Instinct'
The pilot episode of "Terra Nova" last week set us up for some intriguing plotlines: we have a commander in chief with some mysterious motives, a band of rebels with an agenda, meaningful-looking markings on rocks, and a family dynamic in need of a little repair.
This week's episode, "Instinct," touched on precisely none of them. Instead, we got "The Birds."
Three of Taylor's soldiers were found dead, mauled by some kind of creature or another. Later, Jim and Elizabeth are experience coitus dinos interruptus as a little mini pterodactyl keeps making noise outside their new home. Turns out the two are linked: yes, that goofy-looking little birdie is this week's big bad guy.
The Slashers were considerably more intimidating. And much less of a cockblock.
Nonetheless, everyone is terrified of these birds (sorry, reptiles) because they're awfully aggressive and tend to travel in packs. When one of the science officers in Terra Nova gets on the case, he reveals that the birds are returning to their spawning ground, which the humans built Terra Nova on top of.
That science officer is Malcolm, an old flame of Elizabeth's who, it turns out, was partly responsible for her recruitment. He's kind of a dick. But he does help come up with a plan to synthesize a pheremone to lead the birds away to a new spawning ground and leave Terra Nova alone.
So after a hilarious night that was supposed to be horrifying, the swarm moves on. Yay.
I actually enjoyed the first episode of "Terra Nova," though I know a lot of people didn't. I don't mind the cheesy effects much: it's expensive to put this much CGI in a show. But there seemed to be some interesting stuff going on, so I looked past it. However, for them to throw all of that away for an episode in which we're supposed to be afraid of a foot-long pterodactyl is a terrible move.
Not only were we treated to some horrible dialogue ("Those birds are exactly like the ones that attacked me and my dad last night!"), but these tiny things somehow posed more of a threat than any of the big dinos from last week. I mean, Maddie's little soldier boyfriend got knocked unconscious by one. Knocked unconscious. And this guy's on the security detail. Good lord.
There was potential here, considering that this entire settlement was built because future Earth is used up and natural resources are gone. So, now, here they are in the past and they've built a big fort right on top of a breeding ground for an entire species, and their solution is to displace them. There wasn't even a single mention of how they're kinda being assholes to the native species right now.
So, the second episode of this series was practically one big throwaway. Nothing was advanced except for the introduction of Malcolm and one quick mention that there might be a traitor in Terra Nova providing info to the Sixers (who didn't make a single appearance).
In fact, I left this episode with more questions than answers, and not in that fun "Lost" kind of way. There's a lot about this show that doesn't make much sense, even when you're talking about crazy futuristic time travel.
Like, for example, if the portal is a one-way trip then how do they communicate with the future and provide those lists of recruits? Why is Josh unsure as to whether the price the guy in the market gives him for the guitar a fair one? They seem to have a different currency in Terra Nova, but why would they? And how come they have the technology to build a gateway to the past and synthesize pheremones in a matter of hours, but they don't have any kind of weapon or forcefield that would protect them against these little birds?
Basically, the lesson here is this: if your show is very expensive already, don't waste money animating a swarm of stupid mini dinosaur birds when you could be doing much, much better things with your (probably limited, at this rate) time on the air.
I want to like this show. They're making kinda hard for me, and next week's preview seems equally silly (a virus that wipes out people's memories!). But I'm confident (kinda) that "Terra Nova" will recover before long and deliver the goods. It'd better, anyway.