[This review of Extant season 1, episode 5 contains SPOILERS.]
In hindsight, it’s almost a shame that we have seen the world of Extant through Molly’s eyes, certain that there is a conspiracy afoot and that her alien pregnancy is real. Because of this, we know that she is not crazy, robbing us of the chance to be a bit off balance as the world around her begins to have its doubts in ‘What on Earth is Wrong’.
Found in the woods beside an unconscious Ethan following the abduction/extraction that was ordered by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) at the end of last week’s episode, Molly is quickly taken to the hospital while Ethan is brought to John’s lab. Molly’s care is cold and sterile as her Doctor (Joshua Malina) moves to admit her for her head trauma while completely dismissing the possibility that she is (or recently was) pregnant, begrudgingly taking the time to show John and Molly a scan as evidence of his findings. Confronted by a still disbelieving John, the Doctor bluntly tells him that he should start looking at Molly’s problem as a “psychological issue and not a physiological one.”
Despite this revelation, though, John’s shift away from a place of absolute faith in Molly is far from instant. Though we know that she is telling the truth, Molly has sold John a collection of fantastic things – a conspiracy, a mysterious and nearly impossible pregnancy – while also revealing to him that she has had hallucinations.
The scene with Molly (Halle Berry) and John (Goran Visnjic) in the car as they leave the hospital – eventually heading toward Sam (who has been compromised) in a last ditch effort to prove Molly’s claims after her father reveals that there was an error with the blood test that she was running in his garage – is a fantastic visual cue that these joined pieces are beginning to pull apart. Frustrated by the increasing view that she is crazy, Molly’s speech becomes more impassioned, her hands moving about as she seems undone – certain that everyone is out to get her and defensive over the realization that John may not believe her with his whole self. John, on the other hand, chooses his words carefully, reassuring her while also telling her that nothing makes sense. His body language is diametrically opposed to hers, almost seeming as if he subconsciously wants distance from Molly.
This may be Goran Visnjic’s finest work on the series as he moves between Molly – who seems to spiral deeper toward the abyss of what he is beginning to perceive to be a now flawed view of reality – and his lab, where Ethan lays silent, his system ravaged by whatever it was that the ISEA forces used to shut him down.
Grace Gummer also seizes a rare chance to really flesh out her character and the reasons behind Julie’s maternal bond with Ethan. She’s not necessarily hung up on John and desperate to replace Molly (though, she is still quite cool to her, speaking to her in a condescending manner) as we had been led to believe. Julie is aided by some of the same technology that powers Ethan and is resentful that John took the humanech child that they built without consulting her – an ethical breach that Julie clearly views as a hazard to Ethan. The confrontation between John and Julie is one of this episode’s high points, as he sternly rejects the implication that she was owed a consultation when he chose to take Ethan, plainly telling Julie that she works for him. It will be interesting to see how that conversation alters Julie’s role on the show and her approach to whatever comes next.
That is, of course, the big question: what comes next? Though John had his doubts, Molly is able to rush back to her father’s to gather the bloody rag that she used to stem the bleeding that occurred when she was bit by a dog in last week’s episode, allowing her to prove to John that she is not fully insane.
By episode’s end, Molly’s somewhat predictable and yet unlikely re-union with the ISEA (thanks to a bit of contrition and Molly’s willingness to play crazy for Sparks) has allowed her to quickly (too quickly?) discover footage of the floating blue light cloud that she encountered in space. We’ll surely learn more about the origins of that force, where Ethan (who is now seemingly recovered) and John’s work fits into all of this, and Yasumoto’s plans for Molly’s now externally gestating baby. This show continues to move toward what may be a grander conclusion than what we imagined, but there is a very human moment, born out of fear, that needs to be highlighted.
Close to John, who is once again a certain ally, Molly seems almost disappointed that there is proof that she was pregnant and that she is not insane. Being crazy would have made this all go away in a small way, providing a simple explanation to something that keeps growing in complexity. As we watch Molly crusade to right this wrong, possibly bringing down a very powerful man (and an institution that could be hiding a world jarring secret about our place in the universe), it seems as though we are being told to remember that, despite all of this, Molly is still trying to claw her way back home to normal.
Extant airs on Wednesdays @10PM ET on CBS.
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