[This is a review of Extant season 1, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
After Extant's second episode, we know more, but we still don't know much about the goings on in outer space during Molly Woods' 13 month space mission and what the ISEA is working towards. Here's the thing though, that's a good thing. Just two episodes in, Extant has found the serialized drama sweet spot where they give us crumbs but never a cookie. Well, not never. Well, sometimes never. Anyway...
In this episode, we saw Molly confront one of her bosses about her pregnancy, learned about a possible romantic rival for John's affections, saw John's work expand, got a large glimpse into Harmon's creepy experiences on the Seraphim and witnessed an almost comically vague discussion on the mysterious "they" who are "here" between Sparks and Yasumoto. More importantly, though, we got to see Molly really embrace and even reclaim her family (subtly, from John's co-worker Julie, who seemed to be little more than a device to get Molly's attention and not a real threat... because there's really no room for that subplot).
There were reasons for Molly's distance last week that we discussed in our review, but it's nice to see a bit of necessary warmth between Molly (Halle Berry) and John (Goran Visnjic) and Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). Just the little things like playing a game with her son, a joke about her putting a higher value on good coffee than on him in terms of what she missed most in space and the conversational patter of a couple planning their day.
If Molly is going to keep her pregnancy a secret from John, then we're going to have to feel her burden when they are in close quarters doing the family thing. We need to feel John's betrayal when he ultimately finds out about this mysterious pregnancy and if he's going to help Molly through it, we need to remember a time when he acted head-over-heals in love with her to make those things truly resonate. It can't just be something that is assumed. This episode was a good first step towards that, but one wonders if John is going to find out sooner, rather than later. One also wonders how John's work on the Humanichs will tie in to everything.
On the pregnancy, there was some good and bad. On one hand, Molly seems remarkably calm about the fact that she seemingly got impregnated by someone or something while in space on a solo mission. One would imagine that in the future, they still have Netflix and she has seen Rosemary's Baby or Alien/Spaceballs. With that said, though, we got an ultrasound confirmation of said pregnancy and the aforementioned confrontation with Alan Sparks, her boss at the ISEA, who looked shocked (but not the, "point at her stomach, scream and run away" kind of shock that one might employ under the same circumstances) and swore up and down that he had nothing to do with it. Then he went and had that frustratingly vague talk with Yasumoto that felt like someone was shaking my Christmas presents in front of my face in November while saying, "Not yet... not yet."
It's likely going to be a long time before we know who "They" are and what the deal is with Yasumoto's weird green fingerprint reader/maybe communicator device is, but it seems pretty obvious that there is some kind of extra-terrestrial element to this and some kind of alien tech that messed with both Molly and Harmon's brains by way of the purported solar flares that occurred while each were individually on the Seraphim. It also seems like Yasumoto and Sparks are far from innocent, though the latter may have his regrets, meaning that Michael O'Neil's pained reaction to Molly's revelation may not have been entirely for show. Is Sparks an evil-doer, or is he a flunky with a developing conscience that may one day bite Yasumoto's hand and rebel?
Brad Beyer's character, Harmon, has certainly rebelled and it's working nicely for the actor. Beyer is one of those actors that has gotten a lot of chances, but who has yet to truly pop. He had a lighter but vital role in the quickly dismissed GCB, served as a regular on Jericho and had a small but pivotal role in 42. In Extant, he's been given the opportunity to really make his mark, though. Harmon is the definition of damaged and Beyer has the physicality and the All-American good looks to profile as someone who was once a cocky astronaut, amplifying the scared vision of Harmon that we now see.
Launched up into the Seraphim prior to Molly's mission, Harmon's experience with the solar flare induced visions that are far creepier than Molly's vision of Marcus with his ethereal smile. Dead for over 30 years, Harmon's mother appears in a nightgown (which amps up the creepiness), pushing him to flee, unsuccessfully barricade himself away from her (which Molly observes on mission tapes when she unwisely snoops around at the ISEA headquarters) before eventually throwing her out the airlock as if she were a Cylon.
A guide to Molly in the first episode, it's now clear, following her brain scan, that Harmon and Molly are going through the exact same situation (save for the pregnancy... I hope) and to get to the heart of this conspiracy they will have to work together. That is until Harmon is burned off to increase Molly's sense of jeopardy at some point in the middle of the season... just a theory.
Theories are all we have with regard to the major mystery at this point, but it's easy to walk away from this episode feeling a bit more engaged in the march toward answers than we were last time out (translation: it feels like we're moving in the right direction now). To put a simple cap on this: we got something, not all of it, but enough to make this show feel like something that we have to watch next week to see what the next batch of crumbs taste like.
Extant airs on Wednesdays @9PM ET on CBS.