Season 1, episode 4: “The Runaway”
Watch out for those SPOILERS!
Terra Nova night sentries pick up some movement outside the compound gates which turns out to be a little lost girl. The kid acts terrified and is taken to the infirmary where Doc Liz questions her (shades of Ripley meeting Newt in ALIENS).
The child is an orphan named Lia Marcos, and she’s run away from the Sixers. She also says she lost her bag in the jungle while she was being chased. (Yeah, her bag is lost, so what? Oh wait, this must be an important plot element or they wouldn’t be mentioning it three times in the first five minutes.)
Cmdr. Taylor brings the girl a tray of food that she devours hungrily. She tells them that she ran away to look for the time portal so that she could go home to her Nana back in 2149. When she tries to leave Doc Liz gives her the bad news that portal doesn’t go both ways. “Once you come through you can’t go back.” (Although I’ve had have serious doubts about being true since the pilot episode.) Lia is greatly disappointed, but isn’t sure she wants to stay in Terra Nova because she has been told that Cmdr. Taylor is “a bad man.”
Taylor would like intel on the Sixers and so plans to use Lia to get it, and thinks she should stay with Liz and Jim until a permanent home in TN can be found for her. They agree to take her in temporarily and trot her back to meet to their kids and introduce her to the concept of hot water.
Wash and another soldier go looking for Lia’s bag in the jungle (why?) but immediately fall for a Sixer trap when they do (oh yeah, THAT was why). Wash fights her attackers but is eventually captured by Mira, the Sixer leader, who wants to know where Lia is. She throws in a few punches for good measure.
Taylor and Jim are discussing when they should debrief Lia, when the Sixers appear outside the gates. (Apparently Sixers go for face paint and leather jewelry. I guess they felt they needed to go native since they were living 85 million years in the past.) Mira announces that she wants Lia back and offers to exchange the soldiers she captured for the girl.
With the prisoners released, Lia is brought out and asked if she wants to go home with the Sixers, but she claims to want to stay in Terra Nova. Taylor warns Mira that if she comes back and threatens them again, “It means war.” (Yes, he actually says that.)
Taylor starts being pleasant and jokes with Lia to get on her good side and to try to convince her that TN is a good place to live. Although he is being genuinely nice towards her, his ultimate goal is to get her to examine their maps so that he can ferret out where the Sixers camps are. He still believes that somebody within Terra Nova tipped off the Sixers about the girl being in the camp and is determined to discover the spy.
Family dinner at the Shannons gives little Lia the idea her first idea that a comfy house, a stocked fridge electricity and hot running water might be a big improvement over life constantly on the run with the Sixers.
Jim and Taylor look at the previous day’s work detail and try to guess who the spy might be, eventually suspecting a scientist named Stanley whom they approach and question. But Malcolm shows up unexpectedly and defends the guy, fearing an unfair inquisition similar to what he father faced in the past (future 2119). (Why must there be just ONE spy? I’m beginning to think there are several spies and Malcolm may be only one of them).
Lia is dropped off to start school, but pulls a runner, and it is soon discovered that her former house in TN has been broken into and something removed from under the floorboards. Lia is stopped from running off by Jim and Wash and taken back to Taylor for questioning. It is supposed that Lia was actually sent in by Mira to pick up this item from the house. Jim and Taylor question her about the strange unopenable box that she took and why Mira might want it. Lia claims to not know what the box is or why Mira wants it, and suddenly announces that Mira is holding her brother Sam hostage back in Sixer camp and will hurt him if she doesn’t return with the box. Taylor puts in Pod Zero (That means jail. Everything in Terra Nova has a cutesy name.)
Back home, the Shannons discuss Lia’s being a spy and how they all feel taken advantage of by her, until Josh finds a note that Lia left that morning before attempting to run away from the compound, apologizing for what she was about to do. Jim decides that she must be telling the truth about her brother being in danger.
43 minutes in and no dino-snacking in this episode yet. Disappointing.
Reynolds stops Maddy in the market to ask if he can “court” her. She thinks courting means “dating”, but it’s easy to see he mean something more serious, leading to marriage. I guess the kids marry young in this new world, and Reynolds doesn’t want to waste any time to increase the population. I foresee an interesting conversation with Jim in a future ep, as Dad’s not even ready to accept Maddy’s dating yet.
Once again Jim throws protocol and direct orders out the window on a hunch (not a very good officer, is he?) and goes OTG to look for Lia’s brother Sam. (I don’t know how exactly he planned to do this, and where exactly he was going to look in all of the thousands of miles of forest primeval surrounding the compound, I mean, there’s no sign reading, “Secret Sixers Camp This Way”, or anything). Of course he is almost immediately caught – this time in a booby trap snare – and is soon hanging upside down by his feet from a tree. (Did this guy skip survival training day at soldier school, or what?) However, right on cue a nasty dinosaur shows up (hooray!) and starts leaping up and snapping at this delicious human prey hanging just inches out of reach. But before dino can get a taste he is propelled away by some Sixers weapons. The rebels punch Jim in the face a few times just for the heck of it (probably for being so stupid as to fall for their booby trap) and take him to their secret camp high up in the forest canopy where Mira is waiting for them. Mira tells Jim that Lia’s brother Sam was never really in danger, she just told Lia that to motivate her to go into Terra Nova for the box. But she claims to have “reasons” for this…
Mira’s explanation is that Taylor has pissed off some very powerful people back in 2149 who want him dead. She claims that the TN experiment is not about starting over, and warns Jim (in the most obscure way possible) that he doesn’t want to be “on the wrong side of history.” She says she has to “take Taylor down”, because her own daughter Sienna is being held hostage back in 2149 until she completes this job. But of course she won’t reveal who “they” are. (Good grief, just TELL Jim, why don’t you? He’s there in your clutches, it’s as good a time as any, why wait?! But noooooo, everything must remain shrouded in unnecessary mystery for at least several more episodes. )
Then she inexplicably releases Jim and allows him to take Lia’s brother and leave. They trot on back to Terra Nova and there’s a joyous reunion between little Sam and his sister Lia. Jim however chooses not to tell Taylor what Mira said about powerful people in the future wanting him dead. Guess he doesn’t trust the guy completely after all. (Could have told you that in the pilot, Jimbo.)
Taylor asks Malcolm to work on figuring out what’s inside the mysterious box they still can’t open, or at least keeping it safe, and Malcolm happily tucks it away in a sideboard (maybe because he already knows what’s inside?). Lia thanks Jim for bring her brother back to her safe and sound, and a new home is found for them both with a convenient widow lady in Terra Nova.
My take: Thank goodness I now have 2 weeks off from this show! “Terra Nova” is turning out to be a “family drama” in the worst possible sense, IMHO. I guess the 8pm timeslot should have clued me into the fact that nothing in least bit objectionable would happen during this hour on Monday nights. Unfortunately, after the 7-course dinner that is “The Walking Dead” on Sunday evenings, “Terra Nova” is a bit like switching to a pablum diet. I’m guessing that kiddies would like the show, after all there are dinosaurs(!) but the storyline and characters are far too bland for me to get much out of the show in terms of drama, and there’s absolutely no suspense whatsoever. Families could certainly all sit down and watch it together without any worries about sex, nudity, bad language or anything else the slightest bit adult happening onscreen, but in all honesty the show bores me to tears.
Like little Lia, I think I’d like to run away right about now. :p