Entertainment Magazine

Review #3184: Terra Nova 1.11: “Within”

Posted on the 14 December 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Gregg Wright

I think that one of the bigger reasons (though certainly not the only reason) I’ve been more satisfied with “Terra Nova” lately is that it’s had a much heavier emphasis on the over-arching story. Those earlier stand-alone episodes were usually pretty bland, and I was always much more interested in the small hints at the backstory of 2149, Taylor, and of Terra Nova itself. “Terra Nova” had a lot of built-in potential, but it was fairly content to stick with generic episodic plots, which weren’t helped much by the generally cheesy or lackluster writing.

Review #3184: Terra Nova 1.11: “Within”

“Vs.” went a long ways toward improving the show and taking it in a direction more suited to my interests, and the overall improvement of the show around that time caused me to become more enthusiastic than usual about the show. Having had time to reflect on the situation, I find that I may have gone a bit too far in the positive direction. I do think that there’s been a significant improvement in the show, as of late, but my expectations for the show had gotten so low that I ended up appreciating the improvements at the expense of ignoring many of the remaining flaws.

Plus, there’s the simple fact that I’d been overly forgiving of “Terra Nova” from the very start, given that many good shows have rocky beginnings, and also because I’ve always had a soft spot for this kind of show. “Terra Nova” is still not nearly as good as it should be, but it at least seems closer to achieving its potential now that it’s started working out some of its issues. So I won’t be dramatically altering the way I review the show, but it’s possible that I’ll be a tad less forgiving with it, now that it’s proven that it’s capable of being better than it has been for most of its run.

This episode accomplishes a fair amount in its preparations for the big two-part finale (well, I hope it’s big anyway). Skye is finally outed as the spy, Lucas finishes configuring his thingamajig, and it’s revealed that the evildoers from 2149 plan to invade Terra Nova in the 11th Pilgrimage. It’s all the kind of stuff I’d want to see in the lead-up to the finale, but there are ways in which the execution of these ideas could have been improved.

I was expecting plenty of fallout from the discovery of Skye’s betrayal, but the repercussions weren’t nearly as severe as I was expecting. On the one hand, I rather like that everyone was so understanding about Skye’s situation and wasn’t quick to judge. But dramatically speaking, I might have liked for there to be a bit more emotional fallout, like a stronger sense of betrayal coming from everyone she deceived (Taylor especially), since this storyline has been going on so long.

I liked that Taylor gave Curran a second chance after he rescued Skye’s mother from the Sixers camp. If Taylor is bucking the rules, he might as well be doing it in the name of compassion. It makes a little more sense now why the writers had to write that banishment story in the first place, though I’m not sure if this alone is ample justification for how it was handled. It does help, though, that the writers took an episode that left a bad taste in my mouth and made something good come out of it.

And now… Lucas. How can I best put this? I like the actor playing Lucas (Ashley Zukerman) quite a bit. When I separate the performance from the show, it’s rather good. But the characterization of Lucas, either due to the writing or the acting, seems a bit off the mark. Zukerman is brilliant at playing this somewhat psychopathic genius who takes an overt pleasure in his activities, but this melodramatic (mustache-twirling) representation of Lucas seems like the wrong approach, given what we know about Lucas.

The way Lucas is being presented to us makes it seem like there’s always been something deeply wrong with him, when I thought that his only real motivation was a hatred for his father. Lucas spends a lot of time just acting deranged, evil and eagerly relishing his evil plans. It seems like Zukerman is giving the role his best, and possibly even trying to add some complexity to the character that isn’t really there in the writing, but Lucas still needs some fleshing out in order to become a truly compelling villain.

Despite these issues, “Within” functions reasonably well as the lead-in to the finale. Most of my problems with “Terra Nova” continue to stem from the show as a whole, and have less to do with the quality of individual episodes. “Terra Nova” never really became what I was hoping it would be. But for what it’s trying to be, I’m enjoying “Terra Nova” well enough. For now, “Terra Nova” is just barely managing to be a good show, but definitely not a great one, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Rating: 7/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog