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TERRA NOVA Still Bugs Debbie

banner_recapTERRA NOVA
Season 1, episode 8: “Vs.”
Watch out for those SPOILERS!

[All photos: FOX]

A trained dragonfly soars up, up and away from Terra Nova and straight to Mira in the Sixer camp. Since we are leading off the ep with this bug’s 60-second CGI flight over the jungle, I’m guessing that THIS MUST BE IMPORTANT.

Back at Terra Nova, there is an interrogation of Bad Guy Bar Owner Boylan by Jim and Taylor, who wants to know if Boylan is the spy. (Hey, 7 eps in and Boylan finally gets a first name: Tom! I guess we’ll keep him.) The  angry questioning gets no response; so just for fun Taylor uses the old torture technique of an unrelentingly loud siren on Boylan. (Thus we discover that beating up on people in Terra Nova to get them to talk is okay, and torture is allowed but only if done by the “good guys”. Boy, I can’t wait until they pull out the iron maidens…)

We find that Zoe has the lead in the Harvest Festival, the annual event celebrating the day that Cmdr. Taylor first came through the portal (with plenty of accompanying weird “Children of the Corn” decorations). Josh and Jim have a little private chat about the detained Boylan. (And since Josh is home painting pretty harvest lanterns instead of being locked up and tortured for 2 days straight like Boylan, I’d say that being a cop’s son gives you a pretty good pass on punishment in TN. That little episode last week where Josh stole all those drugs and gave them to the Sixers resulted in only a slap on the wrist, just as I predicted. This is so NOT fair.)

Taylor even starts using drugs on Boylan to force him to talk, but he still won’t say how he’s communicating with Mira. (Interesting interrogation techniques this new world has. Don’t they have any LAWS against this kind of thing?) Taylor departs, and the drugged-addled Boylan blurts out, “The truth is buried at Pilgrim’s Tree,” then passes out. Malcolm later explains that Pilgrim’s Tree is a large banyan tree that Taylor supposedly lived in when he first arrived in TN, so Jim heads straight out that night and digs up under said tree in exactly the right spot (what are the chances of THAT, huh?) and finds a skeleton of a middle-aged one-armed male, buried 4-6 years ago, who may have been shot. Jim keeps the discovery a secret from Taylor, but tells Liz, of course.

Jim (Jason O’Mara) finds a buried skeleton outside Terra Nova. ©Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brook Rushton/FOX

A Terra Nova patrol is attacked by Sixers and has its supplies stolen. (I can think of NO reason for this unless the spy is actually one of the TN soldiers who wanted an excuse to “deliver” supplies without suspicion. So the spy is goody two-shoes Reynolds perhaps? That would screw up daughter Maddy’s love life nicely, so yeah, I vote for Reynolds! Although I still think that Malcolm is a twit.)

The Terra Nova festival play rehearsal is interrupted by that pesky dragonfly, which is soon swatted by an annoyed soldier. Malcolm examines the bug and finds an implanted chip, now damaged beyond repair. The hijacked TN patrol returns right about then and Taylor decides to let Boylan go.

Liz cannot identify the corpse with one arm because his “molecular signature doesn’t match anyone in the Terra Nova database”. She thinks he must have come through the portal between the 1st and 2nd pilgrimage, though. (She has a bunch of boring scientific reasons for thinking this, but I quit listening when I heard “only one arm” and started making jokes about why “The Fugitive” had found it so hard to find the One-Armed Man. And why don’t these people from 2149 all have identifier chips implanted? What’s good enough for a dog is certainly good enough for the people of the future, right?)

Boylan finally admits to Jim that five years ago when he was still a soldier (Boylan was a soldier??) he’d helped Taylor bury a body under that tree. Lucas, Taylor’s son, was the one who got the mystery man to come to TN, where the guy was somehow killed, and that was also the last night anyone ever saw Lucas. Boylan reveals that he received the bar in exchange for not ratting on Taylor and the secret burial.

Malcolm discovers the 5-year-old corpse in Liz’s lab and gets Taylor involved, who plays dumb about who the guy could be and lectures Liz about keeping secrets. How ironic. :p Of course, his pretense makes Jim very suspicious. Duh.

Taylor (Stephen Lang, second from L) plays dumb and asks Elisabeth (Shelley Conn, R) about her tests on the one-armed skeleton. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Brook Rushton/FOX

Malcolm explains to Taylor that the bug they captured is a subsonic dragonfly, which hones in on one particular frequency, a frequency that must be being broadcast by the spy. He’s surgically repaired the dragonfly’s wing and they release it during the festival so it can lead them to the traitor. Just as Jim is using the tiniest sliver of a clue to theorize that the corpse must have been General Richard Philbrick, Taylor’s 2149 Commanding Officer, who was probably sent back through the portal to relieve Taylor of his command, the dragonfly lands at his own house. Jim gets arrested.

Once alone with Jim, Taylor accuses him of being the spy (which makes NO sense whatsoever because Jim and family arrived in TN long after a spy was first suspected), then suddenly shifts gears and reveals what really happened five years ago. He’d discovered to his dismay that the REAL plan for Terra Nova was not to establish a new colony for the future of mankind, but to strip the new (old) world of its valuable resources and send them forward to 2149, thus lining line the pockets of the greedy leaders of the future. Taylor had thought that his son Lucas was coming in on the 2nd pilgrimage to work with him to establish a new colony, but Lucas was actually working for the bad guys against him. His son was sent to TN to create calculations that would result in making the one-way time travel portal go both ways and thus allow for the transfer of pillaged resources. Once Taylor found out the truth he destroyed all of Lucas’ work.  Lucas then went OTG (with Taylor in hot pursuit) to betray his dad to the one-armed General Philbrick.

Once Philbrick arrived through the portal and was confronted by Taylor, he confirmed that Hope Plaza back home was not in charge of Terra Nova and it was indeed all a scam, and pulled a gun. Taylor then had to kill his mentor in self-defense. There were a few punches for his traitorous son as well, but instead of killing Lucas, Taylor banished him from TN. So the writings on the rocks by the falls were indeed taunts for Taylor made by his son.

Taylor apologizes to Jim for the misunderstanding about the arrest (why go to all of this trouble of an arrest to get Jim alone to tell him this? Taylor does WORK with the guy after all, he couldn’t have just stopped by for coffee to get this secret off of his chest?), then opens the Harvest Festival by introducing the first new citizen of Terra Nova, a widdle baby. Awwww. Cue the maudlin speechifying, “We’re all in this together…you are my friends, my family, my loved ones, and today I give thanks for each and every one of you.” He even kisses the baby! That Taylor, what a softie. I’d sure think that if it wasn’t for all that earlier torturing, that is.

Jim (Jason O’Mara, R) and Elisabeth (Shelley Conn, L) share a romantic moment at the Terra Nova Harvest Festival. ©2011 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jasin Boland/FOX

Cue the celebratory fireworks. Cut to the outcast son Lucas watching the fireworks display from afar in the wild and looking dismal. Looks like he’s still pretty mad at daddy.

My take? No dinosaurs this week. Boo! Dragonflies, even subsonic ones, DO NOT COUNT. So no deaths-by-dino, and no deaths at all unless you count poor two-line General Philbrick’s demise, but that death supposedly happened 5 years ago, so it doesn’t count, either. The plot was way too convoluted, guys. I couldn’t figure out why Taylor didn’t just tell Jim is big secret from the beginning? Why go to the trouble of fixing it to make Jim look like the spy and do a fake arrest? Some of the intricate plotting for this ep was just plain overkill. Happily, the preview for NEXT week showed plenty o’ dinos, so I’m sticking around for one more ep at least.

I’d like to add that I give a lot of credit to the actors for playing all of these sappy scripts straight. These professionals are certainly giving it their all, I do not blame them for the lines they are given to say, or for the pedestrian plotting. This show is very old-fashioned, dare I say stale, at its heart, despite the technobabble, and I really don’t know whether or not the public would put up with a second season of this. For all of the money obviously lavished on this show I expected better. I hate to say it, but perhaps they should have cut the CGI budget and spent it on the writers.

[Official Show Site on FOX]

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