Sunday, August 31, 2014

Extant - The Hunger Within


So was this a bridge episode?

See what I did there?  As the episode drew to a close and Molly exits the door with Mason (yeah, I don't trust him) we get our "Golden Gate Bridge" picture to the extreme left.  Symbolic of "crossing over" building trust, taking a leap, etc, etc.

I've watched up to "Care and Feeding" so to some of you that have already seen "A Pack of Cards" this review may come as old news.

I'll get there.  I'm supposed to be on vacation so I'm a little busy not relaxing!  (Maybe I need a flip.)





Let's get right to the nature of the "Offspring" and what we've learned.

It gets hungry.


Not the kind of hunger that can be sated with a power ade or kiddie juice.  No it needs something more.

Human flesh!

Just kidding.  As of this episode we don't know what it feasts on.  Maybe the human spirit or rather human energy.  Do you suppose the Sheriff looked like a shriveled up raisin after "Katie" was done with him?

Whatever happened I'm guessing it was slightly painful.


Sigh, just when you think this  could be some benevolent being it "circle sucks" on someone and you know it can't be good.

It least the "Offspring" is tactile.  You can't tuck a projection into bed or "beep" it's nose. Well, unless that is an hallucination as well.  If it is, then we know Sparks is in really deep and way over his head.

So what about the tactile Katie?  Last week I though the Offspring and it's spiritual projections were two separate entities.  She was referring to "it" in the third person.  Now I'm not so sure.


Poor doomed Esther spotted something in the bushes and I don't think it was "Katie" like (or a coyote like for that matter). I wonder if it was childlike yet shriveled like a raisin until it got a heapin' helpin' of some sheriff goodness.

In the last episode, Sparks turned to look for the Offspring as Katie was speaking to him.  Why does it always need to hide?  Too hideous?  Please, what does it care how it looks?  At least it seems small enough to hide behind the pipes Sparks was looking at in last episode and the bushes Esther was gazing into this episode.  

Maybe it gets small when it doesn't feed.  It sure seemed plenty big during the incubation scene of "Incursion".


See, plenty big there.  I wonder what they were feeding it.  Lab assistants?

Some of you are saying, "Oh, Dave, wait'll you see what comes next."

Yeah, well, hopefully tonight!

The Odds and Ends of Care and Feeding


Ethan's new friend, Odin, was feeding him a new line of bullsh*t.  Our little friend was being co-opted by this smooth talker and pushng him to not trust his father.


See what happens when you let a stranger change your batteries?  Julie was right to be suspicious.  Too bad she was too horny to follow up on it.  A little hunger for her too?


Molly has a different type of hunger.  The kind that wants to nurture and care for her offspring.  Yasumoto was clever to manipulate this "care and feeding."  Poor Mol makes a deal with the devil in order to be reunited with her child.  She is a survivor though and maybe Yasumoto will be willing to sacrifice Sparks as the next meal for the Offspring. 

As long as he get what he wants!


Lastly we get our new character, Mason.  Get it?  "Mason" as in a builder.  A builder of bridges or a builder of walls?  I'm guessing walls.

I'll get to the next episode tonight.  So you guys will have to wait as you snicker with the knowledge you already possess after watching "A Pack of Cards."

Hmmm, Mason as in "Mason Mint?"  Maybe he will be the next meal for the Offspring?

Yum!




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Extant - Incursion




Gee, I thought the "Offspring" was a band.  But according to the Extant episode, "Incursion" the "Offspring" is the name for the entity the Sparks group is holding in stasis.  I guess they can't keep 'em seperated!



It's a bit of a relief this episode of Extant was more of an "actioner" than trying to tackle the weighty aspirations that Hamlet brought to the table in the last episode.  Good thing, I got a bit of a headache writing the last blog post.

We start with the new holy trinity of Molly, Kern and Kryger coming up with a plan to free the Offspring from the evil clutches of the unholy duo of....


Sparks and Yasumoto!

Our trio conspires in close dark confinement as or duo lays out it's plans in well lit arboreal splendor.  I hope the trees aren't taking sides in this.

Sparks pushes for Molly's removal while Yasumoto insists she still has her uses.  At least until the Offspring is moved far enough from her and any connection they have is broken!

I can't wait to we meet this Offspring in person and see what it is capable of.  Will it be benevolent?  Evil?  Will it give itself a name?  (Marcus? Dexter?)



We learn the Offspring has "matured" to adulthood and we get our first look at it's stasis chamber and a more revealing view of the adult in repose.

Maybe it is the lighting but this adult looked Caucasian to me.  I thought for sure the child would be African-American.  Readers will remember I thought the child would adopt the aspect of Marcus and with Halle Berry being of mixed race I thought for sure the child would at least follow suit.

I guess we'll have to wait to find out.

Anyway, Yasumoto reveals to Sparks he knows he's been communicating with the Entity in the form of Katie.


But hold a second, by the end of the episode we learn something profoundly different about the Entity.


I'm going to jump ahead here because this is really bugging me.  When Katie reappears to Sparks at the very end she tells him, "He needs our help."

"He?"

Katie is speaking of the Offspring in the third person?  I thought the spiritual visitations were a direct manifestation of the Entity.  He used them as a form of communication and a defense mechanism of sorts.

Are they telling us these "spirits" are a seperate entity in and of their own?

That's huge!

Is there some force that exists behind or outside the Offspring?  Is that what visits you in the depths of space and "fertilizes" you and protects it's progeny?

Maybe that isn't news to some of you and I guess it makes sense in retrospect but I was still surprised.


Mol and John confer in their usual confab room, the kitchen.  The toaster makes it return!  When the toaster appears you know Ethan can't be far behind.  But where is he?  Not at home!


He's off to the park where two young hoodlums are set on damaging a utility bot.


Ethan sees a kindred spirit in the utility bot and he confronts the two bullies in it's defense.  Things don't go so well but at least Ethan's "Terminator" look ensures the hoodlums  won't "be back."


Ethan's empathy if not downright sympathy for the bot leaves him in the care of his surrogate mom. Julie.  Here she plays a very crucial role.  Her love and tenderness towards his conundrum and the bot not being able to perform it's function elicits this from Ethan...

"What's my function?"

Ouch.  It's bad enough for  a child to wonder about it's place in the universe, how about a child that is so self-aware it realizes it is an artificial being similar to the bot and therefore exist outside humanity.

Has Ethan read Hamlet?

Thank goodness Julie responds that none of us knows our purpose as we travel the stage of our existence.

(Has she read Hamlet?)


I have to say this philosophical quandary led directly to Ethan hugging his Dad upon learning he was going off to rescue Molly.  I was worried Ethan was going to go all Terminator on John.  But instead he has become closer to his humanity thanks to Julie's little speech.  Note Ethan has donned his car jammies instead of the dinosaur ones like a normal little kid.  The dino ones set him apart symbolically as they were of an extinct species and perhaps humanity was to be one too.


Speaking of extinct, Kern has been found out as Molly and Kryger descend in the elevator.  He seems to be a short timer.

Buuuuut.....


The Offspring/Entity has taken over and when Mol and Kryger escape the elevator they find the security detail dead.


Not only are they dead so is Davis in the incubation chamber that once held the Offspring.

And Kryger put a few holes in him expecting the Offspring to be there!

I guess we know where he stands.  He proclaimed earlier in the episode that the child wasn't "the second coming of Jesus."  This is in direct opposition to how Molly feels.  She wants her child to survive.  Instant enemies with Kryger?  Should we fit him for a red shirt?



This brings us to the end where Sparks shoots Molly who morphs into Katie.

Ha, they didn't fool me!  I knew it was an hallucination.  But why bother faking the death of Molly and Katie?  To send Sparks a message?  That message of guilt isn't going to stick if Katie jumps up alive and tells Sparks they have to work together because, "He needs our help."

Slightly confusing.

Odds and Ends


I meant to mention this in my last blog post but thankfully Molly reiterates the "bird message" again.  She tells Kern and Kryger that she knows the Offspring/Entity was trying to communicate with her through the birds forming the circle symbol in the sky.






It reminded me of the birds forming a circle in the sky for Detective Rust Cohle of True Detective fame.  It continues the theme of hallucinations, other worldly messages, existentialism and the madness that define both of these series.





Another cool casting moment!

I think we've seen Anya Sparks before but maybe not.  She is played by Jeanetta Arnette and as Anya she appears to Alan Sparks in a televisual message.

Arnette has incredible sci-fi street cred having appeared in shows such as Fringe, Lost, Invasion, Roswell and Star Trek.

Now that's street cred!

See you next week for another Extant creature double feature!

Extant - Heaven and Earth





Hamlet:
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

With this quote, Shakespeare opens the argument that ponders the very core of our existence.  Who are we?  What is our place in the world?  And most importantly, how much do we really know and what are our limits?

To be truthful, Hamlet's response to Horatio begs the question, "Can we really trust what we see?"

There are many interpetations to what Shakespeare's Hamlet is trying to tell us.  For the purpose of this examination we'll stick with the philosophical and religious aspects as they seem to heave closer to the questions posed by Extant.


 Alien visitation makes for strange bedfellows eh?  Who'd a thunk that Kern and Kryger were of the same philosophy?  It took a visit from Kern's mother to jog loose the memories of Kern's father and his own troubled past.  We learned that Kern's father was once a pilot that landed an airliner in the middle of a corn field because he heard the voice of god.  It seems that Kern's absolom addiction is meant to quiet these same voices.

Now that Kern has come face to face with something that is "more than is dreamt of in his philosphy"  it represents a sea change in his thinking.  He no longer needs to fear the ghost of his father and what was once thought as an illness as voiced by his mother. 

Hamlet was visited by the ghost of his father and it set him on a path of revenge and made him ponder his very existence.  "To be or not to be" he questioned.  Should he follow the difficult path of life or seek solace in the quietude of death?


Fortunately for Kern, his Horatio sits prisoner in his basement.  Kryger knows what it is like to be visited by something that shakes the very foundation of his existence.  The ancient Greeks thought early on that there is no absolute truth in everything because what we see has a different meaning to those that perceive it.  (Sophistry.)   During Shakespeare's time it was argued there was only relative truth as opposed to absolute truth.  

Kryger senses the inner turmoil going in Kern and appeals to his conscience.  In this, Kern comes to realize what was percieved as madness in his fathers actions was probably a deeper truth as his father saw it and it probably saved the lives of all the passengers aboard his plane by avoiding a greater fate.

Ghosts can be helpful.

Many spirits have walked amongst the living in Extant.  From Marcus to Katie and to Kryger's mother.  All represent a different truth to each of those visited.  It is up to those individuals to make sense of these apparitions and whether it will lead them down the path to a higher truth, revenge or even murder.


Speaking of ghosts, what a clever piece of casting to add Jobeth Williams to the mix as Gorden Kern's mother.  Williams signature role was from the movie "Poltergeist" where the restless dead come back to haunt those who would disturb their peace. 


 As with Hamlet there was a religious angle to "More In Heaven and Earth."  I have to say this left me a little unsettled.  Not that there isn't room for the religious side to bringing in an artificial life to our world and it's ramifications over whether we are playing God or not.  It just seemed a little late in the game for Extant to ponder this weighty argument.  There are only four episodes left, do we really want to go there?


At least, as in Hamlet, we'll get a hefty dose of palace intrigue.  Yasumoto's bed partner, Femi Dodd, has been revealed to be the leader of a religious order that is at odds with introducing an artificial life into our world.  Her chief henchman is none other than Julie's paramour, Odin.  Now, both of them are in the unique position to sabotage the inner working of those that would play God.

As for religion, during the time of Shakespeare and his Hamlet, the world was in the midst of religious upheaval.   Hamlet the play is mostly seen as a Catholic device yet oddly it was set in a predominantly Protestant country, Denmark.   It's been thought that Shakespeare did this deliberately to give voice to the two opposing points of view.  The Catholic view where the taking of a life, even your own, meant eternal damnation.  Duty to God and family was paramount.  The Protestant Reformation embraced in Denmark called into question the underpinnings of Catholicism wherein you are more responsible to your own life and the path you choose instead leaving your fate in the hands of God.

For Extant, the opposing parties are varied.  There are those who take the visitations as literal and follow the path of revenge and redemption.  Think Sparks and Katie.  Others, like Kryger and Dodd, see such visitations and the act playing God as heretical and seek to eliminate them as apostate.  Such as Yasumoto and Ethan.  Molly and seemingly Kern, embrace a new world one that is open to new life.  Existance and life in any form must be given the chance to follow it's own path.  Think Ethan and the "Entity."   (BTW, "A New World" is the title to the penultimate episode of Extant.)

Can Extant answer these questions?  Probably not.  After all, humanity as a whole still struggles with these very truths.  It will interesting to see who will be left standing by the end and I have no doubt that those survivors will question whether they have done the right thing or not.

Hamlet is seen as a tragedy and many were left for dead by it's end including and foremost the Prince of Denmark himself.  So who will play Hamlet as Extant draws to a close?  Will this player set the course of truth in his or her own death?  Will the plans of an evil Claudius be foiled?  What of a reconciliation with a dying Laertes or the sacrifice of an Ophelia?  

I guess we'll have to see how Extant "plays" out.

Odds and Ends

 
You know, I don't think we got one "toaster" sighting during "More In Heaven and Earth" despite the many kitchen scenes.  They usually invoke Ethan.




 Not to worry, by the end of the episode Ethan was front and center and we find out that he in charge of his own fate despite the good intentions of his father.


Earlier, I thought it humorous to see Ethan  run circles around his human dad.   Who's the more evolved being now?  Note the ubiquitous trees to frame this ominous scene.


Also note the well placed dinosaur as John tries to lay down the parental law with Ethan.  The extinct T-Rex seems to be parroting John and the newer form of life in Ethan is lending a deaf ear to his woe begotten predecessor.



Kryger spying the means of his escape made me think of this quote from Benjamin Franklin.

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.” 

Kryger's gaining of "the nail" portends greater urgency in the next episode, "Incursion."  It seems he and Molly aren't exactly on the same path!  Where goes the battle now?

My take on "Incursion" is up next!




 

 

 

 

 






 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Extant - The Katie Nightmare



I'm a little frustrated.

With Extant?  No, I think it's great. Quickly paced, fraught with dramatic tension and superbly acted.  I guess I'm frustrated with CBS.  Next week is an "Extant special event."  Two episodes back to back.  Add this to the finale being bumped from the Fall premier week and it seems CBS has lost faith in the show and is rushing it off the air.

It's too bad.

It is summer, I don't know what CBS expected, people have things to do.  Do they really want to disaffect Halle Berry?  She may never work with them again  (Yes, I know, $$$$ heals all wounds.)

Ah well, lets get to some of the major things we learned this week.

Katie


Here's a red flag.  The balloons are back baby!  Sparks keeps a picture of  his daughter Katie when she was young.  Once I saw this I knew we were headed for a resolution of the Katie mystery.

I know we are jumping ahead a little, the fact that Ethan can dream was pretty big also but the Katie thing has been lingering for a while so I'm anxious to examine it.


 Our resident 007, Kryger, busted into the ISEA building and stole the "Aruna file."  Man, for a nervous wreck, Kryger is the bomb!  The file it seems is the proof he needed to show there was malice aforethought and that the ISEA knew what it was doing from the get go.  Not only does the file show the "Greatest discovery in the history of civilization" but how Sparks, despite the death of his daughter, was willing to exploit this discovery.

The "Aruna" was a space station filled with astronauts that was approached by the "Entity" one of which was Katie.

By the way, here is the Wikipedia entry of the Hindu spirit "Aruna."

 "In Hindu mythology and scriptures, Aruṇá or Aruṇ sometimes also called Anoora, is a personification of the reddish glow of the rising Sun,[1] which is believed to have spiritual powers. The presence of Aruṇá, the coming of day, is invoked in Hindu prayers to Surya."

We know that the other station is named "Seraphim" so Aruna fits as another celestial being especially since Aruna is the "vision and driving force" behind the path of the sun, "Surya" in Hindu mythology.  We certainly have had a lot of "visions" associated with this show and Aruna came from an egg and there has been a lot of egg imagery from Extant too.  (Learn more of Aruna here.)


Another big reveal was that Katie was pregnant (eggs, fertility.)  Dr. Sam asked Sparks earlier in the episode "what happened to you?" so I guess this was it.  Sparks took the sacrifice of his daughter and decided to run with it.  Perhaps he thought his daughter should not have died in vain and decided to exploit her death in her memory  But really, it seems to have broken him.

Katie describes the Entity as a "circular rash" that has infected the crew.  It causes hallucinations and has driven the crew to turn on each other and become homicidal.

I wonder if the Entity does this as a defense mechanism in order to protect the impregnated host?  Katie claimed they were out to kill her.  Which doesn't make sense but it does explain why Molly was sent up alone.  No one to kill her!  

Is the Entity malevolent or is it just not used to impregnating humans and the hallucination factor is something it hasn't dealt with?  I've theorized the Entity is friendly (read that theory here) so the hallucinations and violent behavior may be an inherent byproduct of it's impregnation defense mechanism.




Whatever it's reasoning, Sparks is fully on board with it.  He even knows to communicate with it and in return it gives him what he wants.

How far back or developed is this relationship???

Gordon warned Sparks to pull the plug but Sparks wouldn't hear of it.  The next balloon omen we'll get will be meant for Sparks and it will mark his hubris.


Ethan

 
 Ethan can dream but he is not supposed to!  (A discovery mishandled by the crass Charlie.  No wonder Julie is looking at other men.  Off to the "coworker lounge" with you Charlie!)  

John theorizes that Ethan's leap of evolution is due to an "override" from his shutdown.  He's anxious to get Ethan to the lab despite the fact that crass Charlie is there and not "late" Julie.   It's a good thing they do get Ethan there because his intellectual capacity has taken a leap also.  (Hmm, Julie is "late" is she pregnant perhaps?)


 Ethan's new found "superpowers" allow him to decipher the Aruna file as if he were playing a game.  Where is this leading?  I'm not sure.  I also theorized Ethan will be a host for the Entity some day.  Maybe not him specifically, but other "Humanics" to follow.  One mystery resolved in Katie and a new one started for Ethan.



Ethan's drawing is revealing also.  He predicts dire consequences for his mom.  "Something bad is happening to you."  Maybe not Ethan, yes she is still in trouble working against Sparks and ISEA but thanks to the fetus being extracted the hallucinations have stopped as verified by Dr. Sam.  (Plus a cute message delivered by Molly to Sam, "Family is different.")

Ethan saw the circles on his mom when she had passed out.  His newly formed subconscious has sought to process this warning when she was in distress.



It's funny that Kryger saw this as a distress signal also.  Perhaps the Entity is reaching out to people.  Sparks and the ISEA was quick to squelch this warning/distress call.  I think they wanted to make sure the Entity could approach a single human without killing it or having it killed by someone else.

Mission accomplished.

Odin

 

The god of war and poetry has arrived on the scene.   So who is the new guy?  He certainly worked his way into Julie's life quickly  "Second Korea" my foot!  It's obvious he is a plant.  I think he knows who Julie is and wormed his way into her life by revealing his prosthesis.


By doing so he managed to get into the lab and close to Ethan.  Nice going Julie!  So who does he work for?  Yasumoto?  He already has John and all his work in his lab.  I suspect a third party.  The military maybe?  He did introduce himself as a veteran and of course he is the god of war!  He had that little aside with Ethan about poetry and the need for heroes.  Hmm, working for the good guys?  Probably not!  Do we need a third party?  I'm thinking no but we will have to see where this goes.


Gordon and Kryger

 
Here's a guy that is skating on thin ice.  Did you notice the return of the "Skeletal Tree" as he entered Sparks' office early on?  Sparks gets a nice leafy one next to him.


The Skeletal Tree makes another appearance later on and this time it frames Gordon's head.  Not a good sign.



It seems Gordon has a bit of an addiction problem.  This led to 007 Kryger exploiting his weakness and allowing him to breach ISEA security.



I thought this was a pretty cool moment.  It showed us Kryger is no fool and is prepared to topple Sparks and the ISEA.  Sadly Godon is no fool also.


I had a feeling Gordon smelled a rat when the Bradfield Park meeting didn't go off as planned.  This will get Gordon in good with Sparks again.  But I still feel Gordon is a goner.  He did urge Sparks to pull the plug so maybe there are pangs of guilt.  If he is being pulled in two directions then one urge will have to override the other.  You're done Gordon!

What happens to Kryger?  Nothing good!  Exposed to the Entity?  I'm thinking yes.  He'll be tortured and interrogated and then "exposed."   You're done too Kryger!  (Actually, I hope not, we need heroes right Odin?)


Odd and Ends



When John was urging Molly to have Ethan sent to the lab after his dream, his backdrop was a lone astronaut floating in space.  It made me think of Ethan alone with his dreams but it also speaks to the single astronauts alone in the Seraphim.



Sparks had a model sailing ship behind him at his desk.  The sailing ship reappears on the fridge behind Molly.  Previously, I had referred to the ship as a reference to a Styx song, "Come Sail Away" where the ship is really a space ship and the sailors really spacemen.  Reinforced here?


What does the Entity want?  It speaks to Sparks, Gordon fears it and it has a track record of driving people crazy.


It drove Calder to homicide.  I think Sparks realizes you have to approach it alone.  He told that one security guard to grab a coffee.  Good thing, the guard had a rifle!  Uh-oh for poor Glass the crewman alone aboard the Seraphim.  The Entity is here so why is Glass up there?


Sparks sees the reflection of the person he once was.  A loving father.  He's not that person anymore.  Does Yasumoto know to approach the entity in this way?  Is Sparks the only one with this relationship?  How much of this is he hiding from Yasumoto and how does this fit with the life prolonging substance from the meteorite? 

Yasumoto returns in the next episode or should I say "episodes?'  Does everyone have their own motives?  

We'll find out when Hamlet makes his return!