Anyone who has watched the first 10 episodes of Terra Nova knows that it is not brilliant television. The acting isn't all that great, the dialogue has been awkward and the series took a while to figure out just one kind of show it wanted to be.
All that said, "Within" was the third straight episode in which I have more positive things to say than negative ones. Sure, that may be because the problems with each outing tend to be similar week in and week out, and nobody would want to read about that time and time again, but if Terra Nova gets a second season by FOX, I think it's heading in a decent direction.
Let's start with the best of the best. Ashley Zukerman was fantastic this week as his Lucas Taylor finally got a bit more screen time. He was a pretty great villain in this hour, with his character proving to be creepy, funny, smart and emotional. Zukerman combined all of that into the best performance we've seen on this show to date.
Between constantly referring to Skye as "Bucket," wanting to take out his father for what happened to his mom and destroying all of those nobodies with a sonic wave, it's just a shame that it took until the 10th episode to introduce such an interesting character to a series so lacking in them.
The next major positive from "Within" was the pleasantly emotional scene between Skye and her mom. It was just a nicely acted, well-timed moment between a mother and a daughter. I would have been even more touched if this weren't the first time in 11 hours worth of television that there was a scene provoking any type of emotion other than anger.
It was too little too late, just like the plot leading up to the impending battle between Lucas' employers and Terra Nova. The past two or three episodes have done a good job at teasing this battle. The motives of Lucas and his employers have intrigued me a bit, but again, the first seven episodes were too poorly done - and all over the place creatively - to get me all that interested in how this season is going to end.
While many of my positive comments above have been a variation of the backhanded compliment, what I have to say about Jim Shannon's detective work could be categorized as no such thing.
Terra Nova has really failed at developing this character. Is he a good husband? I'm not sure. Is he a terrible father? I'm not sure. Is he a good cop? Again, I'm not sure. He seems to be, based on the fact that Taylor elevated him to Sheriff so quickly, but tonight's episode provides both cases simultaneously.
First, we witnessed Jim questioning a couple of suspects in the spy case. One of the suspects is Skye, to whom Jim asks one question: where were you during such and such time on a specific day? Well, thanks for coming in. That's it? That's all it takes?
Then the question becomes, why would Skye use Josh as her excuse? Why the detective's son? Oh, well, obviously as a way to keep Josh involved in the plot of the episode. That’s convenient.
So then, after Jim did no questioning of Skye at all, he's completely convinced it's her after seeing a video of her sneaking out at night? That's all it takes to be certain she's guilty?
What made the whole thing so much more infuriating was that Jim figured out exactly what was going on with hardly any evidence or clues. When Patrick Jane solves the crime on The Mentalist, it is because he is an expert at picking up on people's reactions. When Rick Castle solves a crime, it's because his experience as an author allows him to see things creatively.
Terra Nova has given us no reason to believe that Jim Shannon should have solved this case... well, except for the fact that he IS the "Sheriff."
As frustrating as it can be, like I stated above, there are still some things keeping me slightly interested in Terra Nova. Zukerman's Lucas is now a big one. Hopefully he makes his way back through the portal with his employers to take on Terra Nova in next week's finale.
What about you, TV Fanatics? What did you think of "Within?" And are you looking forward to seeing how the first season is going to end in next week's double-sized episode?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.