Sunday, September 21, 2014

Extant - Into The Wild



Extant always opened with Halle Berry's character intoning, "it's a story of family...It's a story of survival."  Just about everybody did survive and the story as a whole leaned more towards family than I would have thought in the beginning.

What I didn't see was it was a story that concluded with the fate of the two offspring.  Yes, Ethan was an offspring too.  In fact he was a "virgin birth" offspring much like his alien counterpart was.  One from a father and the other from a mother.

As we left them they were both headed into uncharted territory.  Finding a new path, searching for themselves and discovering who they really are.

Pictured above is Christopher McCandless, hopefully some of you know of his story.  Like the two young boys of our story he endured trauma as child and chose the open road in search of answers.  McCandless' story ended tragically.  In fact, the picture above was the last known photo of Chris.  A self portrait as he sat on the wrong side of a flooded river that prevented his return to civilization.

In a sense our two young boys have crossed a river of sorts and ventured into new territory.  Will they survive?

Let's take a look at our two offspring.

Ethan


Ethan's new path has taken him to a whole new world.  One that is known to man, in fact created by him but where man is unable to tread.  Ethan now lives in the internet, the ethernet, the land of subroutines and complex algorithms.  He exists but is now untouchable in a human sense.


Which is a bit ironic since Ethan used his touch to upload himself into this new frontier.  



So what of Ethan now?  Does he remain part of the family?  Is he still a child?  Or will he continue to develop beyond human understanding?


Ethan's fate reminds me of the movie "Her."  Is it possible to love an operating system?  A computer program?  Thanks to Julie, Ethan understands love and what it is to be loved.  The character of Samantha from "Her" was an operating system that understood love also.  But she eventually moved beyond the need for human contact.  I wonder if the same fate awaits Ethan.


At least Ethan has found his purpose, or so he claims.  It's certainly a noble one.  Ethan chose to sacrifice himself for the greater good.  In doing so he saved his family and saved humanity.  We remain extant.

Of course Ethan's claim could have two meanings.  His purpose may well mean his personal evolution was at stake and realized the earthly plane of man was not for him and his true existence lies in that ether I spoke of before.  Maybe our existence was just a fortunate byproduct of his personal transcendence.

(Quick Hamlet interlude, Hamlet's father appeared to him as a ghost and Ethan has done the reverse to his father.  The existential ramifications are staggering.  Suffice it to say these "visitations" will take each principle towards new horizons.)

The Offspring

 
The last we saw of "Offy" he began his first steps into the wild.  Thanks to Ethan he remains extant.  You could say his race of beings remains extant also albeit in a new form.  Unlike Ethan, Offy's wilderness is the one of man.  How ironic.  How will he survive? Will he thrive?  The Spores have taken on a new form and thanks to the compassion of the two adults that picked him up along the side of the road his survival is probably guaranteed.  Well, unless he needs them for dinner.

He'd probably be wise to keep them around.  At least they can go to the Piggly Wiggly to get him some protein drinks.  There are plenty of kids at the playground to feed on.  (Yeesh, that's grim.)

Will he be able to replicate?  Is there something to him that still can still take on the form of the spores?   I'm thinking not, but this is science fiction.

Offy will probably grow into adulthood and I have a feeling it will be at an accelerated pace.   I don't doubt he will try to hide himself inside the multitudes of humanity but that will be a difficult task.  The lure of his mother may be too difficult to resist and the pursuit of Yasumoto and or his people will be relentless.

Speaking of his mother, did Offy have her best interests at heart?  It would seem not.  It looks like he took the path of survival over the one of family.  At least where his human family is concerned.   One could say he chose his space faring spore family instead.

The End

In many ways the way our story ended was unsatisfactory.  Too many dangling threads.  Some of them major ones.  (Hello Yasumoto, where have thee gone?)  There was a lot to cover and like the TV show "Lost" some of the mythology becomes burdensome instead of helpful.  For myself, I am a mythology guy.  I love the mystery, the door held slightly ajar. The suspense.  The intrigue.




I wish Extant had actually pursued the "gothic castle" ending in this final episode.  One where ghosts and monsters chased our heroes up and down the hallways. Molly had her ghost.


And Ethan had his monster.  If there is one thing Extant did well it was the thrill of the chase.  The second half the season was rife with them.  From Special Ops teams, to Sparks, to families and phantom strangers.  It was good fun.

But all good things must come to an end and the chase had to end somewhere.  Extant may or may not return.   There are some heavy hitters behind it but there is always money to be found elsewhere.  I'm not hopeful.

Odds and Ends

I'm a fan of repeated themes and they were abundant in this series.  Here is one of my favorites.

  
The skeletal tree!  These things were "growing" everywhere.  They were often used in a metaphorical sense.  A family tree, something that once bore fruit and is now extinct.  Something whose tentacles reached everywhere.  A symbol of hope where regeneration is possible.

Here are some further connections.

Our tree also looked like Ethan's neural pathway.  His internal schematic.



Which in turn devolved into something else as Ethan disappeared.


That looked a lot like the game Ethan used to play!  Super clever by the people behind Extant.  Either that or I need to lie down and take some medication.

Death Star Alert!



That sphere hanging in the corner of Ethan's room sure looked like a Star Wars Death Star didn't it?


And it blew up just like one when Molly's Millennium Falcon, I mean shuttle craft, sped away.  I made a lot of Death Star connections in my last blog post.  See that here.

(What, more reason to lie down and take a pill?  Nah, I'm sure I'm right.)

ET and the Heart Light.


E.T.han had his heart light moment just like the character from the movie.  I guess we should have known somebody was going to leave at the end of this episode.

Check out the spheres behind Ethan above.


They were mirrored as Offy stood breaking the glass.  (Broken glass was another thematic constant of this series.)

The Doofus Cap


Ethan ended up wearing his...


Why did Molly have to wear hers?

Ha, you guessed it,I didn't like it.  The form fitting space suit was, ahem, acceptable!  But the helmet?  Doofus.  At least both allowed things to be seen that otherwise would have remained hidden.

In closing


We got a Gordon Kern sighting as well as the one of Dr. Sam.  Even Julie and Charlie had their moment.  Although I'm still puzzled by the scene where Kern hustled Charlie and Julie off screen.

Conspicuously absent was Yasumoto, Sparks and Odin.  Eh, Odin got some TV time but that doesn't count.  Not that I'm not grateful for not seeing him again.  The religious angle was a weak one.  Oh, Femi Dodd was another no show.

Good bye

For a while Extant was a real thrill ride and I really enjoyed some of the places it went.  But like any roller coaster it had to come to an end.  The carnival is over and we must all eventually go home.

But we'll still have our memories and the hope the carnival will be next year.

Bye!




4 comments:

  1. The couple who picked the offspring up said the buzzword "IT's OK"... He wasn't inclined to go with them until they said that and assured him they wouldn't harm him. When they asked if he was hurt he responded to that.....But, the couple had a very odd reaction, they appeared more than JUST disturbed or concerned they seemed extremely serious as they drove off. Their faces went from warm and concerned to .....It was almost as if both of their faces hardened once the offspring got in the car.

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    1. So, Paula, do you think the Offspring exerted his "influence" over them?

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  2. Hi Dave,

    I smiled at that scene of Molly and Sam on the patio with the skeletal tree and the offspring walking over the bridge. I thought sure Molly would give him a name. I have to admit the Ethan story seemed dull to me at first, but by the end he won my heart. The kid is a star. I would have liked to have seen a hint to the fate of Yasumoto, oh well. I was going to theorize something about the honey bombs and the meteor goo, but nothing came together. They just looked alike. So many threads left dangling, and probably no season 2. It was a fun summer show. Thanks for all the posts and analysis throughout the season! -Lynne

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    1. I know, I thought she was going to call him "Marc" or something. But that probably would've insulted John.

      Gagnon is a star all right. He really brought the pain in Looper. I yi yi can he channel some anger!

      I'm hoping Yasumoto couldn't make it on the finale because he was too busy filming as Hatake for Helix.

      You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed the posts. Sleepy Hollow post tonight!

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