Entertainment Magazine

Review #3160: Terra Nova 1.10: “Now You See Me”

Posted on the 30 November 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

It’s starting to feel like I just woke up one morning and suddenly “Terra Nova” was a good show. The shift in quality wasn’t really that abrupt or dramatic, but the show did seem to take a noticeable turn for the better in the last few episodes, with the previous installment being the best one so far. Perhaps the show is just growing on me, and I’m becoming more able to overlook the flaws?

Review #3160: Terra Nova 1.10: “Now You See Me”

My honest opinion is that the writing is actually improving. The whole show is starting to feel more focused and confident, and I don’t seem to notice nearly as much cheesiness as I used to. I suppose it probably helps that this episode and the previous one have focused heavily on the ongoing story arc (which means a heavy focus on Commander Taylor himself, who I enjoy watching more than most of the other characters). I’ve always thought that there was a great story at the heart of “Terra Nova”, but it’s been bogged down by cringe-inducing writing and acting.

This trend of improvement probably started with “Nightfall”, which was easily the most entertaining episode since the pilot, and also marked the introduction of Lucas, Taylor’s embittered son. Then, the show delivered an episode that focused heavily on both Maddy and Josh. And to my surprise, I didn’t outright hate the episode. If that’s not a sign that the writing and/or acting was improving, then I don’t know what is.

There are two main plots in “Now You See Me”, and I liked them both. I was rooting for Reynolds to be the spy, but Skye actually makes sense as the spy, and I never even once considered her as a possibility. I like that Taylor is likely the one who will be most affected by this betrayal, given his father/daughter-like relationship with Skye. Of course, as with Mira, it’s all in the name of family for Skye. Early in the episode, we’re reminded that her parents both died of a disease called Sincyllic Fever, but it’s later revealed that Skye’s mother still lives, though she must still rely on medicine given to her regularly by the Sixers.

The other main plot involves Taylor and Mira. I’ve never really liked Mira that much, and I think that has a lot to do with the actress. Her performance doesn’t have much in the way of range. But I think the character could improve with time. Taylor is generally fun to watch, though, and I enjoyed the episode’s development of the relationship between Taylor and Mira from openly antagonistic to one that adds a bit of mutual respect to the equation.

Even before Taylor said it out loud, I started to get the feeling that he and Mira would make powerful allies. Mira is just a mercenary who wants what’s best for her daughter, so I think it’s inevitable that she’ll end up siding with Taylor to fight against the powers that be, at some point. I’d strongly prefer that no romantic relationship comes about, though. It seemed as though they might be hinting at that possibility here, but I might just be misinterpreting.

This isn’t really a critique–more of an observation really–but it was amusing to see such an unexpected and obvious reference to “Star Trek: TOS” in the dialog. I’m assuming it was put there because showrunner Brannon Braga worked on the franchise for so many years. I suppose the reference was a bit distracting for me, but viewers who aren’t familiar with Dr. McCoy’s iconic phrase (they must exist, right?) probably won’t notice anything unusual about the line.

It sure did take a while, but “Terra Nova” finally seems to be ironing a lot of its kinks. It’s too bad the ratings have been steadily falling ever since the premiere (though “Now You See Me” did mark the first time the numbers have improved since the premiere), because I’m to the point where I’d hate to see it cancelled. Several episodes ago, news of the show’s cancellation would have been met with apathy by me, but that’s no longer the case. The show still has its weak areas, but I can now happily call it a good show. Now I just hope that the show can remain consistently good.

Rating: 8/10


Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Paul Grellong
Directed by Karen Gaviola

I need to care about these characters in order to care about the story. It really feels like it’s just not going to happen. The Terra Nova colony command structure has been so concerned with finding out who the Sixers spy is for so long that I’ve stopped even wondering what effect the spy is having on Terra Nova operations as well as what happens when the spy is eventually found. The writers have to ask themselves what would be going through a character’s mind when they do things on this show and write an episode around that. Give them motivations that are compelling instead of having them describe what’s happening in this episode’s plot. It’s been ten TV hours into the season and I don’t care what happens to these people. A dinosaur could rampage into the colony and eat everyone and I wouldn’t bat an eye. I know that’s not the purpose of an ambitious series like this, but it needs a jolt in some way to get going.

Review #3160: Terra Nova 1.10: “Now You See Me”

I watched the reveal of Skye as the Sixers spy twice, just to see how it was done and filmed. There’s a big music cue that leads up to the reveal that should work, yet both times, I shrugged at the revelation. It just doesn’t track. Nothing Skye has done to this point in the series even indicated that she’d be the spy for the Sixers. I guess that was intended to goose the surprise of the reveal, but character development is a clear weakness for the series so it rings very hollow. Adding insult to injury is her motivation for spying on Terra Nova: Her now-apparently-alive mother is recovering in the care of the Sixers and she’s spying for them in exchange for keeping her alive.

It’s got cliche written all over it, which makes me sad. I want this series to take risks and play outside the box. It just hasn’t done it with any fair amount of success. I actually got tired of the mole hunting plot by the end of the episode. Jim gets closer to finding out about Skye (which is probably going to be the cliffhanger for this short series), yet seems to act like a complete dick in doing so. If “Terra Nova” had any balls, it would have Skye go to Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (or Malcolm, since they’re the only real doctors in the colony) and force her to treat her mother. That would add risk to the plot instead of having it be so by-the-numbers.

It feels like a broken record by this point in the season, but it remains such a glaring mistake to have the show centered around a bland family like the Shannons. Jim somehow inherits control of the colony while Taylor is off finding out more about his missing son, and it doesn’t seem like he does much beyond changing security personnel around the camp. Sure, he hunts for the mole, but he seemingly has time to punish his youngest daughter for sneaking a baby dinosaur out into the wild. It’s textbook for this show: Once they try to get somewhere, they sabotage themselves by having to service to the bland and increasingly annoying Shannon children.

Maddie and Josh are barely in this episode. It’s a problem that when that giant mama dinosaur showed up in front of the Shannons at the end, I desperately wanted the dinosaur to stomp on them. I mean, think about it: Does the show really need the Shannons at this point? Taylor could have a number of other people searching for the spy. Do we really need to sit through a scene where Reynolds has to “declare his intentions” for Jim’s daughter and Jim basically laughs in his face? This show got a bunch of money from the network and this is the best they could come up with for a television series?

Once again, Commander Taylor was one of the few good parts of the episode. He’s smart and resourceful when he’s captured by Mira and soon gets the upper hand on her. What I wonder is whether the writers made Mira’s motivation for running the Sixers too simplistic. It’s a surprise to hear she’s an ex-con, but unlike last episode’s flashback that happened with Commander Taylor, Mira is saddled with explaining that the anti-Terra Nova conglomerate from the future is funding this little mutiny and that she doesn’t have to answer any of Commander Taylor’s questions. Primary rule of show business: Show, don’t tell. We as an audience are so far removed from the events of the future that it’s difficult to invest in anything the show has to offer in terms of backstory. We’ve not seen this mysterious conglomerate up to this point so the threat of them possibly coming on the next Pilgrimage has no teeth.

I would settle for a change in format at this point. An entire flashback episode dedicated to showing Taylor alone in the wilderness on the Maiden Pilgrimage. How the Sixers rebelled against Terra Nova. An episode set entirely in the future 2149 world. I never thought it would happen in its tenth hour, but the series is in a rut. It needs to leave the prehistoric world behind for other, arguably more interesting stories. As there is little time left in the season to do that, I don’t think it’s going to happen. If 13 episodes is all we’re getting of this show, I don’t think I’d miss it if it was going off the air permanently. There’s nothing here to cling onto so there’s no real reason for me to care about these people. It’s just been the way the show has been operating up to this point and I don’t see any impetus for change.

Grade: 4/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog