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?


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.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Falling Skies - The Family Dynamic

The last episode of Falling Skies was entitled, "Mind Wars".   I guess they want to draw attention to the strangle hold that Lexi has over her mother, Anne, both literally and figuratively.  Lexi continues to evolve and her mental powers not only involve summoning weather related incidences but telekinetic outreach programs too.

Lexi continues to become a central plot point figure and the "mind wars" encompass how everyone is drawn towards her.  From Hal and his group to Tom and his small band and the already arrived 2nd Mass.

Perhaps the people behind Falling Skies want to exemplify this point by relating all of this to their "Mind Wars" title.  To me, the episode could have been named, I don't know, Family Affair, because I thought it dealt more with the issues of the families involved and how the coped with the terrible hands they've been all dealt.

We may as well start with the Lexi and Anne family dynamic.  Despite all that Lexi has done to Anne her mother continues to forgive her.  Even up to nearly throttling her.  Perhaps this is the Overlord influence over Lexi.   Maybe Lexi can't control that aspect of her nature.  You'd think Anne would learn to steer clear of Lexi or at least not press her Espheni related buttons.  But the bond between the two is apparently beyond that.

The other side of this little family circle is the bomb that Lexi dropped at the end of the episode when referring to the escaped "Monk" Espheni who is, and I quote, "Also my father."


Well, I thought that revelation went over with a thud.  No big surprise there given some of the flash back scenes we've seen involving Anne and the Espheni umbilical. 

It does beg the question if we should take Lexi literally.  I always assumed that Tom fathered Anne's child and that the Espheni manipulated the pregnancy to suit their needs.  I suppose now we should consider Tom out of the picture as the Dad and "The Monk" as the true dad

However, Lexi isn't exactly a reliable witness.  She's often confused and prone to throwing immature tantrums.  Trustworthy she is not.

Case in point betraying her mother and conspiring with Lourdes to set the Monk free.

I still think Tom is the father and the Espheni manipulated the pregnancy.   But if the Monk's plan is to work, doesn't that mean they have to find a large number of pregnant human females?  Do they have a "Farm" set up for that too?  Creep alert. 

Speaking of Tom, the real dad is aswirl in family urgency.  The bond between Tom and Hal is such that they can read and interpret each others thoughts.  Not literally of course, but their relationship is on such a plane that are basically A and 1A to each other.  It's good to have an executive officer eh Tom?

Matt is different case.  At the beginning of the episode Matt stayed Tom's hand from killing the rabbit.  Compassion still burns in the heart of Matt Mason.  Or does it?  When Tom is taken by the brothers Nick and Coop Matt turns into a war child.  Maybe the programming at camp Espheni had byproducts no one was aware of.

Thanks to a fatherly talk from Weaver, Matt is pulled back from the brink.  I think everyone was taken aback with Mat's lust for revenge.  Somehow, despite the recent loss of his daughter, Weaver was able to sum up the internal fortitude to provide a lesson for Matt.  Killing isn't that easy and you'd better be sure when you pull that trigger you're the same person you thought you were before.

Being honest with yourself is a big part of that.  Brother Coop found that out the hard way.  He couldn't bear to think his darkest thoughts after the escape from the Skitter farm and for his part, brother Nick  couldn't be truthful with Cooper.   This dishonesty was bred from Nick's cowardice and to some degree it fed into Coop's.

What a fractured and pitiable family dynamic.  Two brothers on the run from the enemy and from themselves.

Tom followed with just as  stirring a speech as Weaver gave to Matt.  Brotherhood isn't defined as much by blood as it is the willingness to sacrifice for each other.  The true nature of family isn't just your relations it's the people you trust with your life.  No wonder Weaver is so important to them all.  BTW, the writers missed a golden opportunity to have Tom call Dan his brother.  Oh well.

Odds and Ends

Didn't Tom read Alice in Wonderland?  You shoot the rabbit you won't be able to follow it down the rabbit hole.  C'mon Tom where's your sense of adventure.  I guess it's been a while since yoy watched sci-fi TV.  Rabbit imagery is everywhere.

This was cool.  Plugging into the Esphni network was neat and the graphics they used to portray it must have cost them a bit.  I liked it.  Hal finding the best route to Chinatown?  Careful what you wish for!

I couldn't help but think of the movie "The Elephant Man" when I saw The Monk with the sack over his head.

Speaking of movies, we had a "Jurassic Park" moment when Tom caught sight of his predators in a reflection.

The kids were able to fool their hunters as did the Masons.

So the episode was a nice family affair.  We've seen it before but I think the freshened it a little here.

See you next in Chinatown!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Extant - "It's Ok."

Is it ok?  Because if I see another dead person reappear I would be inclined to think not.

Extant did without the massive world building we saw in the pilot episode and got right into the conspiracy aspects. 

Fine with me.  The pilot was a thrill ride while this one, "Extinct" was a bit more sedate.  But we learned a few things including one real biggie.  Let's get to it.

Who gets to sleep this late these days?  I'm on vacation and I still wake up to my mental alarm clock.  So much for regimented astronaut training.  Fans of Fringe will remember this time of the day as Olivia's favorite.  I thought of her right away. 

Molly hears some thumping in the background.  This thumping sound will come into play later in the episode.  Cross my "heart."

As Molly descends the stairs to investigate we the viewers are greeted by several "skeletal tree" images that I mentioned in my first Extant blog post.

Trees are supposed to bear fruit right?  At the very least they represent our family trees that are also fruitful in that they represent the fruitful generations of our extended families.  Both living and dead are represented to remind us how we've passed on the family name throughout generations.  We remember our past and celebrate our future.

So what does a barren tree represent?  Just the opposite I would assume.  Knowing the premise of this show and the episode title, "Extinct" it seems the family tree of humanity is at it's collective end.

John heads off to work where he is greeted by "Jealous Julie."  It seems they can monitor Ethan from afar which I found to be a bit spooky.  I don't know why this surprised me but it seems to fit.  It has a big brother connotation and it also serves to dehumanize Ethan to some degree.  Some pseudo parents these two are.  Oh, why do I call her Jealous Julie?

Now there's a sad face of resignation.  Not only did John's wife make coffee for him but Ethan is going to visit the museum with his real mom.  You've been supplanted lady.  I wonder how this will play out?  (Crackpot theory!  She's going to remotely control Ethan into strangling Molly.)

Hmm, that was a bit dark. Maybe I should try to sleep in later myself.  Either way, I think "JJ" was more than just a pseudo mom to her little "Rabbit".  Methinks she may have been playing "wife" while Molly was in space.  She did mention what a long time 13 months was.  (How dare you come back!)

 Lest I get too far ahead, guess who's back?  Marcus!  And he was preceded by that thumping I mentioned earlier.  This time it wasn't sneakers tumbling about in the dryer.  The hearbeatbeat like thumping is thematic and it will soon return.  In the meantime Molly passes out again and as Ethan comes to investigate we get this little gem.

Circles and spheres are prevalent in Extant but what these raised spheres represent is a mystery.  (And a little disconcerting.)  Did Ethan see them?  Does the fetus have it's own satellite TV?  Maybe it is a way of communication the babies progress.  Not to ISEA necessarily but to some other "group."

I'm glad Molly is communicating all this to Dr. Sam.  (See the sphere in the background? They're in Ethan's floating ball game too.)  Sam seems trustworthy and she is keeping Molly's secret.  It'd be good for Molly to have a confidant but confidants on TV usually have a short life span.

Our friend Harmon Kryger has been watching Molly as she proceeds through the museum and boy does he have a tale to tell. 

We get a nice little flashback to Kryger's stay aboard the Seraphim station.  His visitor is his deceased mother and she is just as he remembered her just before she died.  (The same as Molly's visitor, Marcus.)  She's a bit wet too.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and say she drowned herself.  Maybe Kryger bore witness to this event which led to his immediate dismissal as she being the real thing.  She also repeated the things that Kryger said to her much like Marcus did. "Mother" and "no."

It wasn't long before the spirit of "Mother" learned the true meaning of no.  Harmon was so aghast at her that he airlocked her.  Did you notice her countenance changed as she she repeated no over and over?  I think she knew what Kryger was planning.  Someone or something is not going to be happy.  

I'm merging both of Kryger's flashbacks here to get to a point.  In my previous post I had wondered what "they" had done to Kryger during his stay aboard the Seraphim.  Ben winks out on him and he gets the solar flare treatment.  (Is "Ben" complicit?)  Mom appears.  What's her role.

To get pregnant.

At least that's my theory.  Molly is the Earthbound vessel and dear ol' Mom is the space bound one. Yes, it's creepy but it seems to be the direction the show is heading.   Close call Kryger.

We'll skip back to Molly's ultrasound with Dr. Sam (woof, woof!) A normal 14 week old human fetus.  (Well, there are some circle things in the background Sam, any comment on those?  No?)

We get our thumping noise again and it's from the baby's heart.  As the viewing audience we know there is more to it than that!

Molly confronts Sparks and he goes running to Yasumoto.  Major conspiracy confirmation!

But that wasn't the "biggie" I mentioned earlier.  Here's how that confirmation/conversation unfolded.

Sparks, "You think we found them?"

Yasumoto, "I think they are already here."

I knew it.  Aliens.  Oh wait, the next evolution of humanity prematurely here?  Nah, I'm sticking with aliens because of the whole space angle.

And these guys are either in cahoots with our new alien overlords or they are laying out the welcome mat.

 Are you my mummy?

This moment wasn't without its creep factor either.  Yasumoto mentions the dearly departed daughter of Sparks, Katie, and how her sacrifice wasn't in vain.  That better not be her in the foreground!  You know, mommy/mummy an early run at the alien impregnation gone wrong.  (I said it was creepy.)

We saw the mummy earlier when John and Ethan went visiting with Yasumoto.  I had thought it was just thematic of man's wanting to preserve himself beyond death and it was coupled with the dinosaur skull and talk of extinction.  Everything comes to an end.  (I'm looking at you humanity!)

Speaking of mummification.  According to Yasumoto's little finger box he has a 102 day lifespan.

This explains the tub of goo Yasumoto awakes from in the first episode.  New age mummification.

Here's a theory, not only is Yasumoto trying to manipulate his own lifespan but humanity's also.  That's where all the alien cross breeding comes into play.  Either that or if you can't beat 'em then join 'em and preserve what little of humanity as you can.

Oh, and ha, I thought Dodd was "in bed" with Yasumoto's corporate plan but literally?  That's one way of finding out why Yasumoto brought John on board.  You sure you "won" John?

Well, all is not lost.

More tree imagery and this time they are fruitful!  Nice drawing Ethan,  I think I can climb down from the ceiling fan now.

Ethan also comes up a metaphorical plan to preserve humanity in this drawing of staving off extinction.

There's hope!

This suggests to me that the "Humanics" may have a hand in our preservation.  (And Dodd was worried.  Well, she was worried we may cause our own demise.  But let's not muddy the water too much just yet.)

Our closing scene is of the family dynamic just like in Ethan's drawing.  Safe in sound in their little bubble.  Only this time John is separated and Molly is close to Ethan as opposed to all those John and Ethan pictures sprinkled around the house.  Drat.  No matter, we still have the fruitful trees.