After a second episode of dialogue that seemed to be written for (and maybe by) 12-year-olds, I’m wondering if I have Terra Nova all wrong. Maybe the writing isn’t bad — maybe it’s true. Could it be that Terra Nova is a radically subversive text, a warning of the dull, blunt, nuance-less future that’s to come? Perhaps over the next 138 years we won’t just destroy the environment, we’ll also erode nuance. All of us will speak only in exposition, declaring what we’re doing even if it’s obvious, and then declaring it again for good measure.
Because how else to explain a line like, “I think we just found out what killed those men"? That’s our Terra Nova Groaner of the Week, but it faced some stiff competition: “The Jungle out there is a treasure trove. For all we know there could be a cure for cancer waiting to be found. There’s hope for humanity yet,” in case we didn’t see an herbalist story line coming; “All right, you miserable sons of bitches, come on. Come on, follow me,” in case we didn’t understand how Taylor and Jim’s plot worked the first two times the script explained it; and “Josh, take good care of your sisters, okay?” in case we didn’t understand that a father didn’t want his family to get hurt.
So we laugh now, but when we’re getting cockblocked by flying dinosaurs in the 22nd century, we’re going to talk like this, too. Speaking of, this week’s plot in one sentence: Jim and Elisabeth discover they can’t have sex until they convince a new dinospecies to have sex somewhere else. It’s mating season, see, and the dinosaurs are only returning to their breeding ground, Terra Nova. That’s why they stage a vaguely Hitchockian swarm at the local bazaar, narrowly missing Josh, Sky, and their Zickatankus kebobs. (That’s what my hasty notes say the food was called, and really, is the “correct” name, whatever it is, any less arbitrary?) As a friend watched the scene, she joked that this was probably even more fun to film than it was to watch. And she’s right. Next week I want the pre-special-effects Terra Nova. It’d be as eerily poignant as Garfield Minus Garfield. Humans running from an artificial depiction of nature that they can’t even see.
Anyway, to get the pteroflyingdemonsaurs to mate elsewhere, the Nova kids need to harness their pheromones. But that requires a scientist. Enter Malcolm, he of the British accent and questionable motives. Jim, ever vigilant, figures out that it’s because of Malcolm that they’re all on Terra Nova, because Malcolm, an old university chum of Elisabeth’s, requested Elisabeth to help him do “research” on Terra Nova. And here I thought Terra Nova was at least going to spare us a love triangle. But Jim shouldn’t be concerned — Malcom’s arrival is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to his marriage. Compared to Malcolm and Elisabeth’s limp repartee, Jim’s chemistry with Elisabeth can’t help but look good. Next to Elisacolm, Jisabeth are practically a prehistoric Starbuck and Apollo.
While Malcolm and Elisabeth are devising a dino pheromone, it’s all human hormones at the Shannon residence. Sky and Josh are there, trying to navigate their way around the platinum baggage hanging around Josh’s neck. (More proof that TN is a warning of an unsubtle future — apparently in 2149 it’s no longer taboo to tell pretty women about your exes.) Not to be left out, Maddy and her Taylor Lautner–in-fatigues beau are also playing house. Well, they were, but then he proved his manhood by getting scratched unconscious. No time for love when the demonsaurs are cawing from inside the house.
So the stakes are set by the time Jim and Taylor drive out into the jungle to spray the new pheromone. It either works, or all of Terra Nova gets sliced. Unfortunately, the pheromone is successful, and their Warthogmobile — the trucks look like swine to you, too, right? — returns to a hero’s welcome. And so, finally, it’s time for Elisabeth to touch Jim’s rippling abdomen and get it on. But just when it’s about to get good, the episode fades to black. For a show that lets almost nothing go understated, it sure picked a peculiar time to turn shy. But maybe that’s how they do it in 2149.