S1E9: Well, the question is answered. On this week’s episode of Terra Nova, we finally find out who the traitorous Sixer mole is. And no, it’s none of the people I’ve rattled off as suspects in my past recaps. And yes, the choice is a bit more interesting than anyone I predicted. But somehow, I am left feeling unsatisfied by the reveal. Further, I am feeling even more unsatisfied by everything else that goes on in the episode “Now You See Me.” Mainly because, for all intents and purposes, it seems kind of like a whole lot of filler.
“I figure, there’s a parallel universe out there, somewhere, where we are allies.” – Taylor
“I’ve had that thought.” – Mira
The episode opens with a pairing we haven’t really seen before, and one I was kind of excited to explore (before I realized, come the opening theme, that we wouldn’t be seeing much of at all this week): Taylor and Skye, who apparently take annual walks together at the memorial of the latter’s late parents in commemoration.
Just as soon as we are introduced to this unlikely duo are we whisked away from it—Taylor heads out into the wild on a secretive mission, and entrusts the Number One position with Jim—Washington is doing something else…they explain it in passing…I don’t know. Just roll with it.
Taylor’s quest in the wilderness is to examine his renegade son’s rock drawings in order to see if he has made any progress in the development of a two-way time portal: he has. But that’s not all the bad news Taylor gets. He has a run in with Mira (de facto head of the Sixers), who takes him captive and treks him back toward her hideout. And bad news further still: there are a couple of dinosaurs who aren’t too fond of Taylor and Mira traversing through their territory. Long story short, there’s nothing like a dinosaur attack to bring two sworn enemies together.
“It’s no small thing knowing you’ve done right by your child.” – Taylor
The rule of television is, when two characters (especially two characters with a very extreme relationship) are pitted alone together in one location for the entirety of an episode, their opinions of one another will shift quite notably. As Taylor and Mira begin the episode as enemies, this experience causes them to end up admitting a mutual respect for one another. Plus, they bond over the devotion they have to their children—as well as their shared self-denotation as failed parents. Taylor banished his son into the wild when he found out he was a traitor. Mira left her daughter to grow up without her back in 2100, hoping someday to return to her with the financial means to raise her properly (this ties back into the whole “mine prehistory for resources” thing we learned about last week).
Of course, they both get home safely, and with a newfound reverence for each other’s ideologies. And as big a fan as I am of enemies uniting and character-driven episodes, this subplot seems a bit hokey, obvious and without a good deal of real substance.
“How did it feel, wearing the commander’s cap while I was gone?” – Taylor
“I wouldn’t want to do it every day.” – Jim
In other, more extended unlike-duo news, Jim takes his daughter’s soldier boyfriend Reynolds on as his Number Two this week. At the onset of the episode, Jim and Reynolds investigate a scene they believed to be a base of operations for the Sixer’s traitor (which they concluded by tracking down a communications signal leaving from the building). What’s more, Jim and Reynolds find some broken glass and a single drop of blood left in a beaker of some chemical liquid. Jim brings the liquid to his wife, and then to a reluctant Malcolm, in hopes of identifying the subject, but things go a bit awry.
When Liz retrieves the blood beaker from the lab the next morning, she realizes that it has been compromised. This allows them the suggestion that the Sixer’s culprit is someone who has access to the lab. The little information the team can derive is that the subject is a female. These two clues leave only forty-seven possible suspects as the Sixer’s spy.
“Remember. We’re the only ones with the cure.” – Sixer
But of course, we know who it is. We are told quite early on the episode, as a matter of fact, that it is Skye. So early do we find out, that it doesn’t even seem like she could be the spy. Never has such a long-awaited solution to a TV riddle been offered so anticlimactically (except maybe when we learned the identity of Mysterion). But what’s more perplexing is why Skye, of all people, would be working with the Sixers.
Oh, wait. We find that out, too. See, her mom is dying. And the Sixers have her. Apparently, the Sixers are the only ones “with a cure” to save her mom (I take this to mean that they’ll send her back to the 2100s once the technology is available…they don’t have much else in the vein of medical advancements). Skye brings them medicine and information, and they care (liberally) for her mother.
A few weeks back, I made a point of praising Terra Nova for its ability to make us care about two central characters who commanded a subplot of one episode—Skye and Hunter. Back then, I really felt for both of them. But this week, I don’t really have the same attachment to Skye, even though her plotline is more significant and more logically compelling. Skye seems to lack some of the charm that makes her a likable character in other episodes. Maybe she’s too caught up in furthering the plot. But if the plot doesn’t concern characters we love, then it’s not worth furthering.
We find out who the traitor is. Jim progresses in the investigation. Taylor and Mira form some sort of bond, and we learn more about their backstories. All signs point to this being a great, interesting episode. Yet, there’s something missing. The characters may be doing interesting things, but they themselves are not interesting to me this week. In fact, my favorite part of the episode is Reynolds’ nervous professions to Jim about how much he cares for Maddy. That seemed real (cartoonish, but real), and human. We need more human moments in this series, and from that, stories will develop.