Episode Title: "Now You See Me"
Writer: Paul Grellong
Director: Karen Gaviola
Previously on "Terra Nova":
It's morning in Terra Nova, as Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang) prepares to leave the colony on a secret mission. But before he departs, Taylor checks in with Skye (Allison Miller) and he promises to return in time to mark the third anniversary of the death of her parents from a virulent jungle fever. Skye asks Taylor if he believes a cure to that plague will ever be found but he isn't sure. As Taylor heads to the gate, he puts Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara) in charge of the colony in his absence, but he tells Jim to finally catch the Sixers' spy. After he leaves, Jim begins instituting harsher security measures to make sure the Sixers' can't use their own technology against them.
The gambit seems to pay off when Jim and one of Taylor's soldiers spot the Sixers communicating with the spy using a reflected glare as a code. Jim and his sidekick race to the construction site and they find a drop of blood from the spy floating in a glass of paint thinner. Just out of their sight, Skye holds her bleeding hand which outs her to the audience as the Sixers' spy. In the jungle, Taylor finds more markings left by his estranged son, Lucas. However, the Sixers' leader, Mira ( Christine Adams) gets the drop on Taylor and takes him prisoner.
Back in the camp, Jim bungles the first attempt to get the blood from the paint thinner. And when the extraction of the blood proves to be beyond the skill level of his wife, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn), Jim is forced to ask his former romantic rival, Dr. Malcolm Wallace (Rod Hallett). Malcolm initially refuses to help because it would take him away from his research. Thus Jim starts clumsily thrashing Malcolm's lab until he gets his way. In the jungle, Taylor makes an escape attempt even though his hands are bound. But he does get a sharp object in his hands before Mira recaptures him.
Back in the medical lab, Skye self-treats her hand wound and hides her guilt. Out in the jungle, Mira is distracted by the sounds of a dinosaur, allowing Taylor to break free and disarm her. Taylor binds Mira's hands and takes her prisoner. Desperate to get out of Terra Nova, Skye notices Josh Shannon (Landon Liboiron) heading out with a work crew and she volunteers to join them. But once left alone in the wild, Skye meets up with a waiting Sixer transport that takes her to their camp. There, Skye hands over her latest intelligence in exchange for the chance to see her mother, still alive and still suffering from the jungle fever. Mira's second-in-command notes that only the Sixers have the cure and Skye will have to continue spying for them in exchange for her mother's treatment.
In the jungle, Taylor begins escorting Mira to her transport when he realizes that two slasher tail dinosaurs are tracking them. The pair are chased to a waterfall, where Taylor frees Mira's hands ahead of a desperation jump to escape the attacking dinos. However, Taylor's gun is lost in the fall leaving both leaders largely defenseless against the slasher tails. With few other options, Taylor and Mira agree to team up for their own survival. They begin working on crude weapons to defend themselves for the inevitable second attempt on their lives. Back at Terra Nova, Elisabeth begins running a DNA test on the blood sample recovered by Malcolm.
However, Elisabeth foolishly leaves the blood sample unguarded, allowing the unsupervised Skye to sabotage the test with some acid. In the jungle, Taylor and Mira successfully fight off the slasher tails and gain a grudging respect for each other. Taylor even says that they would have been a hell of a team if things had been different between them. Before parting, Mira warns Taylor that Lucas is close to making the portal to the future run both ways; which means that Terra Nova's resources may soon be exploited by the future world of 2149. Back at the lab, Jim realizes that the blood sample was sabotaged by the spy.
But because Elisabeth was able to determine that the spy was a woman, the list of potential spies is down to the 47 women who were in the medical lab that day, including Skye. Later, Skye is noticeably upset when Taylor compliments her again on what a strong young woman she's become as they visit the graves of her parents. However, Skye denies having any problem when Taylor inquires about her obvious discomfort.
I'm constantly amazed by how juvenile the writing is on "Terra Nova." It's almost as if the show is being targeted exclusively to fourth graders. Take for example, the scene in which Jim tried to get Malcolm to help him with the blood sample. There are any number of ways that could have been done with nuance that informed the running conflict between both characters in an entertaining way.
What we got was Jim dropping beakers and acting like a petulant a**hole until Malcolm caved in. Wow… what drama.
Look, "Terra Nova" doesn't have to Shakespeare, but is it asking too much for the writers to not act like the audience is comprised solely of morons? Taylor's on the nose dialog towards Skye practically painted her as the Sixers' spy even before the big reveal.
And let's take a look at that turn in the story. Among the regular cast of characters, Skye was pretty much the only one who made sense as the spy. If the traitor was someone we had never met or had only seen briefly, then there would be no dramatic impact. Ever since Josh broke off his budding relationship with Skye, she hasn't had much to do since then. In theory, this revelation should have been a huge moment for the series… and yet when we finally see that Skye is the spy the moment fell flat onscreen.
The reason for that is that the "Terra Nova" writers seem to prefer short hand to actual characterization. If they really wanted to go for the jugular, then the surrogate father/daughter relationship between Skye and Taylor should have been played up a lot more before this point. They've only had meaningful screentime together in this episode and at the end of the pilot. Because we simply haven't seen them together very often, Skye's betrayal doesn't have much weight to it. There's also the excuse for Skye based on her secretly surviving mother, who has barely been mentioned before and never seen until now.
The one thing that really worked in this episode was the Taylor and Mira team up. Sure, it's an old cliche to have two enemies team up to save themselves, but Stephen Lang carries those scenes through sheer charisma. Taylor may be overwrought at times, but he is fun to watch.
As for Jim, I'm beginning to wonder if he was just a traffic cop back in the future. In addition to his relatively sloppy detective work, Jim allows the DNA sample of the spy to be left unguarded in the medical lab. After Josh broke into the med lab a few episodes ago, you'd think that there would be some kind of surveillance in place… if not for the whole building then at least for the lab where the sample was held! It's almost as if the characters are intentionally made to act in stupid ways just to keep the plot from collapsing beneath its own banality.
"Terra Nova" is a show that I would love to enjoy, even if it never becomes a great series. But at this rate, it's not likely to get much better before the end of the first season.
Crave Online Rating: 6.5 out of 10.