Entertainment Magazine

Review #3102: Terra Nova 1.5: “Bylaw”

Posted on the 02 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

The central plot of this episode had some potential. It’s a little hard to believe that this is the very first murder in Terra Nova, especially considering the hostile intent of the Sixers (though, Taylor may not be counting them in his statement). But I can understand why it seemed like a worthy idea to the writers. It allows Jim Shannon a chance to showcase the skills he picked up as a cop, and creates a physical threat to Taylor’s dream of making Terra Nova into a better world than the one they left behind. And the idea of using a dinosaur to commit it is interesting.

Review #3102: Terra Nova 1.5: “Bylaw”

The episode does work on a fundamental level, and it isn’t quite as outwardly cheesy as many episodes have been. So if you like the show so far, you’ll continue to like it. And if you’re like me, and have had a relatively lukewarm response to the show so far, then this episode isn’t likely to change anything. The investigation unfolds believably enough, and there are a couple of decent twists. Thankfully, the scenes with Josh, Skye, and Maddy are fairly minimal.

What bothered me the most about the episode, though, was the absolutely insane idea of “justice” that Taylor seems to have. And what’s worse is that Jim Shannon goes right along with it. Only Elisabeth seems to have a problem with this “frontier justice”. Apparently, we’re supposed to root for Taylor and Jim at the end when they banish their suspect (after ruthlessly beating him, of course), without any evidence or a trial, to the dinosaur-infested wilderness surrounding Terra Nova. And this is right after Taylor passed the same sentence on an innocent man.

I can understand Jim’s reasoning for why he doesn’t have a problem with this form of “justice”, considering his own unfair imprisonment and the fact that the justice system in 2149 is completely broken. And this all would have been fine if the episode had treated this as some kind of character flaw, but it doesn’t. We’re supposed to be fully behind Jim and Taylor in this. If there was a line that Jim was waiting for Taylor to cross before opposing him, then this should have been it. This should have been the point where Jim starts to question Taylor’s approach to leading (ruling) Terra Nova.

I suppose me getting up on a soapbox and preaching about my opinions on crime and punishment isn’t exactly what you want to hear in this review. But it was such an irritating aspect of the episode, I couldn’t help but mention it. I find it hard to believe that most viewers wouldn’t have a problem with it. The idea that a monarchy (in which one man decides the fate of the accused) is supposed to be a worthy replacement for a fair trial (in which the accused is entitled to legal representation and is “innocent until proven guilty”) is something I find absolutely, laughably insane.

This won’t come as much of a surprise, but I found this to be yet another painfully average episode of this underachieving show. The episode did manage to bounce around some interesting elements, but the final product could hardly be called anything more than an average procedural episode; the kind that we’ve seen a hundred times before in other shows. And what’s more, the episode took my opinion of both Commander Taylor and Jim Shannon down several notches, thanks to some truly infuriating moralizing and decision-making.

Rating: 6/10

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