After getting buried in all the craziness leading up to school starting again, or college, in my case, I’ve finally found the time to sit down and start catching up on Extant again. And with these two episodes, titled Shelter and What on Earth is Wrong? respectively, I’ve once again found myself seriously intrigued by the themes and ideas Extant presents, but also frustrated that it seems to stubbornly refuses to give the audience any kind of tangible answers or progression. While these episodes showed some improvement, and Shelter in particular provided a satisfying break of pace, I’m still waiting for the show to really let loose and dive into the depth and intrigue that’s so inherent in its premise.
Let’s start with briefly recapping Shelter, which saw Molly, John, and Ethan fleeing their home after discovering that Molly’s boss, Alan Sparks, was going to bring Molly to his superior in hopes of performing probably painful tests on her in order to discover just what made her pregnant in space. Right off the bat, the change in scenery was refreshing, and I actually found myself enjoying the episode more than the previous ones just because the locale had changed. No longer were we spending almost 40 minutes in Molly’s apartment or workplace, but instead had the chance to see Molly return home to her father’s cabin on a peacefully secluded island.
While I had high hopes for Molly’s dad, Quinn, I was a bit disappointed to see that his relationship with Molly was so unoriginal. The character himself was fun, and I really liked his interactions with Ethan in particular, but the cliched conflict between him and Molly was so cliched that I couldn’t really get into it at all. Especially considering we’re not likely to get any progression or closure in their relationship. The end of the episode was a highlight though, as it left John and Quinn in a prison cell for assaulting a police officer, and Molly in the hands of Mr. Yasumoto, who seems to be intent on taking the ‘child’ in Molly’s womb at whatever cost necesarry.
The plot moved at a decent pace overall, and the stereotypical father-daughter relationship aside, I enjoyed the introduction of Quinn as a character, but it was the brief scenes between Molly’s best friend Sam and Alan Sparks that stole the spotlight in my opinion. Sam’s been a fairly one-note character so far, as she’s never really evolved beyond the ‘best friend’ role, but her interrogation by Sparks’ proved to be one of the episode’s best moments, as both characters showed some new depth that made me view them a bit differently. I doubt Sparks’ conflicted personality is going to go anywhere special, but it is still nice to see him straddle that fine line between trying to protect Molly and her family and outright ordering their termination. As for Sam, I found the reveal that she used her status as a prestigious doctor to get her mentally unstable brother out of a prison sentence for murder to be genuinely surprising, and knowing just how far she’s willing to go for those she cares about definitely explains why she’s so dedicated to helping Molly.
However, the following episode didn’t seem to do anything different from what we’ve been used to. While it did provide more interesting questions regarding what kind of scientific anomaly caused Molly’s pregnancy, there was so much conspiracy nonsense being thrown around that it muddled up the few good things the episode did. There’s hardly anything substantial to even recap because it all felt far too familiar, with Molly and John frantically digging for answers in all the same ways we’ve seen them do it in every episode.
Molly’s abduction by Yasumoto didn’t really lead to anything either, unfortunately, and it ended far too quickly to feel threatening or suspenseful. While the fact that Yasumoto seemed to have removed the growing child from Molly’s womb via surgery is both unsettling and fascinating, it seems to only lead into more excessive conspiracy theories that just aren’t enough to make me connect with any of the characters in a meaningful way.
And as for Ethan’s robotic coma, well it was almost an afterthought, and the only character who benefited from it was Julie, John’s assistant who helped him build Ethan from scratch. I appreciated that they finally did something with her character, as up to this point she’s done almost nothing except act like the jealous coworker who resents Molly from taking her ‘project’ from her. While this is still Julie’s defining characteristic, I liked seeing it more directly addressed when she confronted John over it. Will we see this particular plot thread continue? Maybe, maybe not, but I still appreciated a break from the typical conspiracy formula that the show has fallen into.
Extant is a show that seems to be tripping over its own ambitions and ideas, which is disappointing because there really is so much potential here for a fascinating look into life, family, and science. These two episodes both had their pros and cons, with Shelter being the most successful in overall plot progression, but the show’s obsession with stacking mystery on top of mystery is starting to get old, and I really hope to see it break some new ground soon. I’m still interested in seeing where it all goes, and will continue to catch myself up, but so far Extant still has a ways to go in order to live up to its potential.