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Review #3136: Terra Nova 1.8: “Proof”

Posted on the 16 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

This is the second episode in a row that was better than I expected it to be. The improvement seen in the last two episodes isn’t major, but it is significant. The previous episode still suffered from the show’s typical weaknesses in the writing and acting departments, but the sheer spectacle and overall entertainment value was enough to make it one of the show’s best episodes. Strangely, “Proof” is equally good, but doesn’t rely on action and spectacle to the extent that “Nightfall” did.

Review #3136: Terra Nova 1.8: “Proof”

It may very well be that the writing, acting, and overall storytelling is a bit better than the norm. There’s still quite a bit of room for improvement, but “Proof” is quite possibly the most interesting episode I’ve seen of the show, so far. It all starts with Josh and Maddy, who have been the show’s weakest links since the start. They are still my least favorite characters on the show, but at least they’re being given more interesting roles in the story, and are no longer solely defined by their romantic relationships.

Josh’s descent into crime is turning out to be a rather good direction for the character, even if it is motivated by another romantic relationship. I was skeptical of this direction at first, simply because I couldn’t imagine how anything involving Josh could be made interesting, but this is definitely a major improvement on Josh’s storyline. Boylan’s continued involvement is probably part of what makes it work. He’s pretty believable as slimy criminal who really can get you whatever you want, if you’re willing to pay the price.

Further developing Josh’s moral ambiguity would be a very good move for the show. I like that his recent actions have started to put him at odds with Skye. I prefer her as something of a conscience and supportive friend who isn’t afraid to tell Josh what she thinks. Josh’s decision to fess up to his crime does fit with the character, but I hope that this doesn’t mean the end for this aspect of the character. Making Josh a somewhat conflicted criminal is the only thing that makes the character interesting. Otherwise, he’s a complete bore.

Maddy also gets a surprisingly good plot of her own. Naomi Scott’s acting still rubs me the wrong way, for some reason, but the writing for her was an improvement on the norm, and at least Scott seems to be trying her best with the role. I also think emphasizing Maddy as the budding scientist accomplishes the same thing for her that the moral ambiguity did with Josh. And the whole Ken Horton imposter scenario was well-crafted. It’s just disappointing that it turned out to be an episodic story with no connection to any larger story arcs.

As usual, Malcolm is underused, but the few scenes he did get were very enjoyable. I loved that he started out being so suspicious of Maddy for her unauthorized usage of the DNA sequencer, and then suddenly became a willing accomplice once he realized whose DNA she was sequencing. I’m still a bit confused about why the DNA matched, considering that this Ken Horton was an imposter. But I’m guessing I probably just missed something in the episode that explained it.

Taylor gets a few interesting scenes this week as well, which provide a bit more insight into the situation with his son. And Josh’s criminal activities allow Jim and Taylor to discover that Mira really does seem to have a way to contact 2149, which is supposed to be impossible (at least when the portal isn’t open, which it supposedly isn’t at the moment). Taylor believes that Lucas was probably the one to make this possible, and tries to impart to Jim the nature of their relationship. It looks as though Lucas, like his father, has also been here for a very long time.

I also liked that the episode followed-up on Curran. I expected that story point to be completely forgotten, as is the nature of so many shows. But this new angle of Taylor recruiting Curran as his own spy in the Sixer camp, in direct retaliation for the Sixer spy known to exist in Terra Nova, is a nice addition to the story. Having Taylor save Curran’s life, even if it is just because he wants something in return, very slightly redeems the stupidity of that banishment scene at the end of “Bylaw”.

Could it be that “Terra Nova” is finally improving? It’s a little early to say, but I do hope that the last two episodes are indicative of a trend. As always, I really want to like this show. I’ve been trying to find that balance between being overly critical and being overly forgiving, as I have a tendency to be with this kind of show. I feel that I have been about as fair with “Terra Nova” as a person should be, but it’s hard to deny that it has a lot of weaknesses. Now, at least, I have a reason to hope that it might be working out the kinks. I’m becoming cautiously optimistic about “Terra Nova” again.

Rating: 7/10

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