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Terra Nova: “Occupation/Resistance”

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Dear Terra Nova,

What the fuck?

Let’s take a look at the episodes you had between the pilot and the finale. First, there was the attack of the cockblockasauruses. Second, there was the too-soon amnesia episode. Then there was the girl who ran away from the Sixers in order to spy. Then there was the “how-do-you-kill-a-man-with-a-dinosaur” episode. The EMP pulse. The scientist impostor episode. Then like six fucking episodes about the Sixer spy. And then, and then, and then, and then… we get this two-hour episode.

The question I have, then, is why should we should give a damn? Is there anything that actually happened in the nine episodes between the pilot and the finale that actually meant anything? I mean, there are a handful of plot things. Lucas finally telling Taylor, in flashback, why Terra Nova is so important didn’t happen in the pilot. Malcolm and his slow but kind of actually affecting friendship with Jim is decent character work, and perhaps the only good character work at any point in those middle nine episodes. Other than that, though, was the world built in any interesting fashion? I’d have to say no to that. Were those episodes necessary to understanding Terra Nova, in depth? Again, no.

So, why did they exist? What bizarre, stupid, and incoherent network/producer compromise had it that the bulk of the episodes between the beginning and the end of the series had to be so inane?

This is not to say that the finale was a great episode, and the premiere was equally great, with simply crap in-between. Certainly not. Rather, the premiere offered a glimpse into a potentially great series that could occur, and the finale behaved like that series had happened. But of course, it hadn’t. The finale was as riddled with horrible plot holes as what had come before. For instance, why didn’t the colony prepare for the face that the invaders might use an explosive? But there were glimpses, certainly.

Back in the Terra Nova Death Poll, for example, I mentioned that it would be awesome if the show actually had Kara walk through the portal and then die. And that happened! I said if it did, I would praise the show to the heavens, and so I will: Terra Nova, you turned that plotline that you spent weeks on into something ironic and hilarious.*


*note: may not actually be real praise. Perhaps more of a backhanded compliment? Or insult.

I am also a sucker for a resistance storyline, and while this was no Lust, Caution or Army Of Shadows, there was enough going on for the episode to actually be interesting. And I’ve been saying since the beginning that I don’t really care about the 2149/Terra Nova connection that the show seems to think I care about. So an ending which has the apparent severance of the portal in every way? That’s a strong narrative move. Would have been better in the pilot, but hey, we’ll take what we can get in advance of the theoretical second season (Todd seems to the think there’s no chance, I think there’s a good chance, and most sites seem to be somewhere in-between).


And then the ending happened.

My signal cut out in the last five minutes, so there was a delay as I found another mechanism to watch them. I saw the statue/prow unveiled, but didn’t see how the characters discussed it, and didn’t see the ending beyond that. I expected… something. Instead, when I finally got to see it, what I got was “Oh, hey, there’s more mythology. I guess that’s interesting, let’s not talk about it.” That was followed by the family gathering and Exposition Maddy and Symbolism Zoe living out their monikers in tandem, which might be a first. It was the worst of Terra Nova on display as the last thing we’ll remember of it for months if not years: a half-assed mythology clue and then an insipid family moment. Again, Terra Nova: What the fuck?


Season grade: A middling, unfulfilled C, interesting far more for its failures than almost anything that appeared on-screen.

Stray observations:

  • Jim Shannon’s awakening and realization that the colony had been taken was shot like it was from a completely different, far more interesting show. You can’t just show us that out of nowhere. You have to earn it, Terra Nova.
  • The Phoenix mercs have the most fascist flags this side of V For Vendetta. Subtle.
  • “You’re a highly suggestive hypochondriac, I suggest you see a doctor about that.” Thirteen episodes in, Elisabeth Shannon actually displays agency. Badass. But ridiculous.
  • “You know I’d beat it out of you, but I’m afraid you might like that. Dear brother.” Skye seems to be back to the moderately interesting character from the pilot. Can’t wait for her return to Inane Love Interest for season two!
  • The “You go that way” scene with Weaver and the dinosaur was one of the funniest things I saw on television all year. I’m not sure if it was intentional – it seemed to be, except for the fact that that’s completely inconsistent with Terra Nova’s tone for the entire rest of the series. Still. Dinosaurs. That’s what this whole thing was supposed to be about, right?
  • Two of my top five in the "Terra Nova Death Ranking" bit the dust. Not bad, if I do say so myself.