Sunday, July 27, 2014

Extant - It's Really Not Ok!



Extant ramps up the dramatic stakes in their last episode, "Wish You Were Here."

We didn't get any deep insights into the overall mythology of Extant in this last episode but the excitement really revved up and it had distinct cloak and dagger feel to it.  I'm starting out with the revelation of the secret Molly has been keeping from her husband John.

It's no secret to us the viewing audience that Mol is pregnant but keeping it from John has been a bit excruciating.  I know it's only the third episode but it seems like it's been forever!  John took Molly's face in his hands and asked her if everything is ok?  As the tears flowed Molly revealed that everything is far from ok and that she is pregnant.

Good thing she finally got around to this because she could use all the allies she can get dealing with a conspiracy that is geting larger by the minute.

This particular visual interlude stands in contrast and is thematically related to the scene aboard the Seraphim space station where Marcus appears and he repeatedly tells Molly, "It's Ok."


Marcus also takes Molly's face in his hands and she seems to have a look that is a bit rapturous if not somewhat distressed.  It's an interesting contrast to two important points in Molly's immediate life.  One where Molly is trusting yet vulnerable towards Marcus and marks the point where her life begins to spin out of control and the other where John holds her and she begins to retake control of her life.

The Marcus scene is so poignant that Extant has put it in their opening credit sequence.


As I said, it's a good thing Molly confided in John because it added urgency to his insight into Molly's predicament.  Had he been kept in the dark amidst an atmosphere of secrecy and distrust he may not have been as willing to race off into the dark to rescue Molly.  Yes, they're married but precious seconds may have bee sacrificed had he hesitated.

For those who were wondering if Ethan was in the car when John made his dramatic arrival, I'm pretty sure that's his little head we see in silhouette in the back seat.  I was worried he was going to be swept up in the scene where Sparks and his stormtroopers raid the Woods household.


Which brings to mind this question, "Who the heck attacks a close friends home with an armed SWAT team?"

Yes I know Sparks is part of the conspiracy but he and Mol have a history together that goes way back.  For something like this to happen, all pretense of what was a close relationship has gone completely out the window.  This armed raid just goes to show how far Sparks is gone and how deeply his is involved in this nefarious conspiracy.  I had thought they were going to scoop up Ethan with some doomed babysitter.  Yes, Ethan is a robot, still I had pictured him kicking and screaming as security carried him away.  Still not a pretty sight.   Fortunately John kept his wits about him.

I can only think that the death of Sparks' daughter, Katie, aboard the Serphim was the tipping point for him.  Friends be damned, he wants to see this thing through now.  Does he think his commitment to the conspiracy will bring Katie back in some way, shape or form?  Or is it her sacrifice that has him so commited?


As for Katie, frequent contributor, Lynne and I had a discussion in my last blogpost as to the way the Seraphim "spirits" communicate with their human counterparts.  They seem to regurgitate whatever the human utters to them.  This made me think that Katie's last words to her "spirit" vistor may have been, "Help me."  Marcus sure didn't get it from Molly.



Anyway, let's get back into some of the thematic and symbolic underpinnings that have become a large part of this show.

When Dr. Sam arrives at the birthday party we see a picture of the Golden Gate bridge in the background.  "Aha!" I thought to myself, we are going to see some "bridge building" later on. 


Sure enough just before Molly reveals her pregnancy to John we see the same picture in the background when John confronts her on the staircase.  It is just a few moments later when the bridge of trust is repaired between Molly and her husband and the secret is out.


The repeated theme of circles and spheres is quite prevalent also.  When Molly searches for Kryger aboard is trailer she finds his "etchings" of the circles on his back wall.  This kind of reminded me of the obsession Roy Neary had in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" when he was building things out of mashed potatoes etc when he couldn't get "Devils Tower" out of his head.  Poor Harman Kryger seems similarly obsessed.

The circles are deeply attached to the spirit/aliens or whatever we are to call them.  They appear on Molly when she is distressed and they seem to act as some sort of distress signal and or defense mechanism whever the fetus is in danger or senses it is in danger.




We see them right after Molly has submitted to the DNA sampling from Dr. Sam and she doubles over in pain as if there is a warning from the fetus.  She also gets a flashback to Marcus aboard the space station as if to point to the inception moment.



The circles reappear when Molly is in extreme distress inside Sparks' car.  I take it to mean not only is the fetus in danger but mom too and the fetus is not just worried about itself.


That "Tether" that Molly conveniently dumped in the ladies room is also of circular form.  Sadly, that creepy assistant to Sparks, Gorden Kern, chases down Molly and returns the tether to her.  Which brings to mind a ..

Crackpot Theory!

So, here is what I am thinking, not only does the tether keep track of Molly's whereabouts and her physical condition but I think there is something much much more nefarious (that word again) in it's nature.

I'm saying the tether is responsible for Molly's infertility and has a hand in her hallucinations.   Molly and the viewing audience have been told she lost the baby in the car accident that killed Marcus.  But since the appearance of Marcus aboard the Seraphim and her return to astronaut duty is so closely related, I'm thinking it is not a coincidence.  The tether may also be a tracker that links the spirit/aliens to their hosts/counterparts and brings them together.


This doesn't explain the appearance of Tim as an hallucination and I'm not even sure Molly has reattached her tether but it is feasible she did.  Tim also gets the bridge picture in the background.  Of all the hallucinations, his is the most grounded and real.  By reattaching her tether does this mean Tim is more grounded by virtue of appearing on Earth versus the Seraphim station?  Does Molly's earthbound status make everything more real?  We want answers Tim!

Further Symbolism and Thematic Imagery.


I guess I should have seen Tim as a fake once the red balloons went up at the end of Mol's celebratory video.  Red Balloons are always a signal of danger.  Darn, Tim seemed such a nice guy!


Remember the flashback to when Molly announced her continued infertility to John and he suggested that Ethan join the family as their son?  (It's also the point where she tells John she's volunteered to go aboard the Seraphim and John responds with "We'll cross that bridge when the time comes.")  Look over Molly's right shoulder and we see a toaster.  A coincidence that we see this flashback introduction to Ethan as a family member and the aforementioned applaince?

Nope.


It isn't too much later we see the wonderful parents on the first day of school flashback and they refer to Ethan as a toaster.  This may warm the hearts of Battlestar Galactica fans with the "toaster" reference but it's a bit cruel from the parents.


We see the toaster again right when Ethan summons John upstairs to help with his bowtie.

That's just mean!


Well, the kid is a little spooky.  When Dad goes to his Geppetto lab and discovers the trapped bird, Ethan appears at the door in silhouette.  Juuusst a little scary and this on the heels of John telling the parents that Ethan had passed all the empathy tests.  Gulp, I guess a little more testing is in order.  (Harmon Kryger also appeared in silhouette when we first saw him.)



When I saw that bird in the backyard and then Ethan takes a chomp of his breakfast I thought, that bird is "toast."

Hey, it least it led to the "Mommy has a secret" revelation and the bridge building of trust moment.  (Keep on eye on Ethan though.)





 The thematic and  symbolic "skeletal trees" make an appearance again and this time Molly is running from them.  They stand in contrast to the nice healthy trees as another spaceship is launched.



 Molly actually stops to watch this as if the the space station or space is a form of refuge.


Ethan did say they would be safe from extinction up there.   A little foreshadowing perhaps?



 But, hey, they changed Ethan's drawing!  WTF!  A continuity mistake or did Ethan take the time to finish his work of art?  I'm watching you Extant!

Odds and Ends.


Jealous Julie gets a few moments in this episode.  She's playing games with Lucy a more advanced form of Humanic than Ethan.  Starting a new family Julie?  Lucy was also the name given to the remains of the Hominid discovery located in the Ethiopian Afar Depression back in 1974.  This also may suggest they plan on replacing Ethan.  Or at least Julie does.



Julie did get to reconnect with her "Rabbit" during the party as she reads the "Velveteen Rabbit."  This explains her nickname for him and their deep connection.  Still, I don't trust her and she may conspire to use Ethan as a robotic weapon and then replace him with Lucy once he is destoyed as punishment for his deed.  See the evolutionary progression?  (Eh, they'll try and fail.)



Anything else?  We did see Ethan in mirror form with all that suggests.  Replicants, duality etc.  If you look to the left in the reflection we see a wall hanging in hexagonal form.  This says beehive to me and Orphan Black was rich in hive imagery (right Lynne?) Hive imagery and symbolism is suggestive of mass fertility and replication.  As in "making a lot more of the same."  Bee, robots, clones you get what I'm saying right?

"Wish you were here" the episode title, is also the title to a famous Pink Floyd song wherein they lament their missing band mate, Syd Barrett.  Syd was losing his mind and couldn't stay with the band much like Molly feels like she is losing hers.  I'm sure this also relates to Molly wishing some of her hallucinations were real, like Tim, just to prove she isn't losing her marbles.  Poor Syd.  Poor Molly.

Phew!  That's about enough.  I think we'll get a lot more of the conspiracy in next Wednesday's episode as the Woods' will be on the run from Sparks and his ilk.  Yasumoto will make is return and he reeks of conspiracy!

Sorry for the late posting.  I watched it live and then a rewatch Thursday night with notes and screen grabs.  Family night Friday and back to work Saturday.  Ugh.  I could try a quickie recap Thursday but but I hate to skimp on "quality."  We'll see.

See you aboard the Seraphim where it is safe!  (I think.)

5 comments:

  1. I love your attention to detail...none of which I notice until they are pointed out to me. I tend to think about the whole picture and I can't get away from the 2001 references. BEN is so HAL. The Seraphim (highest order of angels sitting above the right hand of God) has all the homeyness of Dave's ship (Discovery?) And why are the visits solo? Man versus his inventions/tools until they get smarter than their "masters" leading to man's eventual extinction.* Lots of good stuff in this show. I really do need to stop listening to The Blue Danube Waltz instead of Pink Floyd. Oh....the title reminds me of the postcards people used to send from their trips; they always said "Wish you were here" but no one ever meant it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good to hear from you Linda and thanks for the kind words. I love to nitpick the details.

    Ben is very HAL. He also reminds me of the disembodied voice of "Gerty" the the computer on "Moon." Ever see that one? It came out in 2009 and I recommend it. I need to work in a "Ben" joke. Ben was the sequel to the movie "Willard." Ben did not turn out to be a nice guy.

    Why indeed one astronaut at a time? I would imagine it would allow them to subject the astronauts to their evil experiments. You'd think the astronaut union would have something to say about that. (I'm semi-serious.)

    I like your take on "Wish You Were Here" and postcards. What's the point of getting away if you are going to drag everyone along with you? Plus if people were truly "there" with you, you'd lose all bragging rights on your vacation.

    I don't think they are done with this theme for Molly however. Wishing her hallucinations were actually there would at least give her peace of mind. As it is, she was desperate enough to get in the car with Sparks despite all her misgivings about him. To expand upon this a little further, the title may refer to Molly wishing her sanity was "here" or it may give light to her state of mind as she exited Sparks' car in the middle of nowhere.

    I bet she wished her husband was there at that moment and fortunately for her, he was!

    Thanks Linda!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You beat me in the BEN reference. But there are a lot of rats in this show. Thanks Dave (not that Dave, Dave.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Dave,
    Great post! Yes, I like your theory that Katie taught the Marcus spirit “Help me”. I hope we get to find out more about her soon. The Tim visit has me completely confused, he clearly doesn’t play by the same rules communication-wise. Nice pick up on the bridge photo, I noticed it once, but not all the times it popped up. Ha! The foreboding balloons are back, all 3 episodes now. The circles on Harmon’s wall, similar yet different than what shows up on Molly’s skin. The ones on the wall look more like echoes or ripples than a single discrete symbol. They remind me of solar flares too. Yay Molly for being a smart character and snapping a pic of it! Spot on with the Close Encounters similarity. The medical tether, tracking device or soul magnet? (I always hear that phrase as sung by Darrel on the Fringe Podcast.) I like the theory that it could have been used to intentionally keep her infertile. The “toaster with hair” slam, cruel yet I love the BSG reference. Also fun, Ethan learning the dance of his ancestors. Molly gazing up at the rocket. I get the impression that this was a moment of nostalgia for her, perhaps she and Marcus would watch launches together and dream of their future. Nice on the hexagon spotting, its always about bees. So what do you make of Ethan’s bird fascination? Is he feeling caged? Does he resent them for being free? Does he view them as the way dinosaurs escaped extinction? By evolving into something else….?
    Dodging tornadoes in Boston, Lynne

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Lynne,

    The Tim thing was so real. I totally bought in that he was there. Perhaps he is totally unrelated to the simpleton alien/spirit beings. Instead he is an Earth bound construct of the Tether machine or link. The alien/spirits need the tether link to communicate with their humans but the tether can create hallucinatory humans to make sure you can be labeled a lunatic. And apparently they can raid your subconscious?

    Yeesh!

    I was just thinking the circles on the wall was a bit "True Detective" inspired too. Yes?

    Nice thought about Marcus and Molly watching the launches together and Mol feeling the pangs of nostalgia. (I get that when the Sox take the field and then I realize they aren't the same team as last year. After yesterday even more so!) Marcus and Molly did enter the program together.

    There was a Bird/Ethan reference in the latest episode but I will have to rewatch to pinpoint it.

    Keep your head down but your chin up!

    ReplyDelete