Extant Review: War is Coming

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A doubled-up block of Extant was intense, plot-driving, and served as a great mid-season event, launching us full speed into the back half of the season. And boy am I ready for it!

At an hour and a half long, sans commercials, this two-fer was basically a feature-length film. While I'd be lying if I said that the entire run was non-stop action and excitement, I do think that Extant Season 2 Episode 6 and Extant Season 2 Episode 7 were two of the strongest episodes of season two and of the show overall.

Everything Changes - Extant

As expected, the hybrids' motivations for moving in on human territory were expanded and deepened: as Ahdu showed Molly, the aliens' home planet was (allegedly) destroyed by a virus, and they needed to find a new home.

This confirmed that they are not the straightforward villains in the story. In fact, it's becoming evident that there really is no "bad guy" in this series. Everyone has their motivations for doing what they do, and everyone's justifications are actually fairly sound.

That said, I was more than a little disappointed that the hybrids had such an obvious explanation. The whole "home planet was destroyed, in need of new headquarters" M.O. has been done to death in the sci-fi sphere. It was definitely an understandable reason for Ahdu's and the aliens' behavior over the past one and a half seasons, if not the most creative reason they could have come up with.

The closest faction we have to a "bad guy" would be Anna and her crew of government ninnies. I've mentioned this before, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a more unflattering depiction of government in recent TV. The Extant world's government is a band of easily-influenced, short-sighted imbeciles, and for that reason it's hard to take them seriously as villains. 

I specifically objected to their decision to use Mei Fong, the hybrid mother who is now experiencing the same symptoms as Molly, for human experimentation, most likely against her will. That was really screwed up. The showrunners are definitely going hard in establishing the crazy ends a government will go to when under duress. Desperate times and all that...

Lucy: What's an expiration date?
Charlie: You're not supposed to be snooping...
Lucy: I wasn't snooping. I was looking.
Charlie: John Woods made it very clear that he wanted Humanichs to have the human experience. So he built in a program for them to expire.
Lucy: You mean die.
Charlie: Humans die. It's part of the deal. It sort of defines us. To make Humanichs more human, it just seemed logical to build in a termination point.

Now, Lucy as a villain? That I can get behind.

As off-the-rails as Lucy's behavior has become, it is still difficult to consider her a bad guy. John Woods, for all his many faults and personality hang-ups, was right on the money when it came to his philosophy on the Humanichs. Lucy's reaction to discovering that she will die to fulfill what John considered the realistic human experience was fantastic.

Lucy, with her Machiavellian sensibilities and her overwhelming mistrust of humans, was resoundingly failed by those who created her. She is very intelligent, and once Charlie agreed not to change her neural algorithm by installing limiters, it was obvious that everyone (human and hybrid alike) was doomed.

As an aside: how adorably narcissistic was it that, of all the names, Lucy chose the masculine version of her own to name new Humanich Lucas?

If Extant makes it to season three, I foresee the Humanichs taking center-stage as the villains of that arc. It's kind of like when, in ecology, a certain species is introduced into a new habitat to control an unwanted overpopulation and the introduced species ends up being a way bigger catastrophe than the initial problem species ever was.

By creating the Humanich "monsters" to take care of the actually-peaceful hybrids (really, they're practically hippies), the humans created the true enemy themselves.

Ethan: You're my real family, Lucy. I wanna be a soldier, like you.
Lucy: Someday you will be. In the meantime, you build your army and I'll build mine.

Ethan, as always, is such a complex and interesting figure in the midst of all this. He, like his mother, seems to straddle two species. While Molly is becoming a human-hybrid crossbreed, Ethan (at least mentally/emotionally) is a Humanich-human crossbreed in nature.

Ethan's growing isolation from his human family, and his parallel growing attachment to Lucy and their Humanich "family," has developed perfectly. At each step, it seems entirely believable that Ethan would react as he does. In his view, he has been lied to, manipulated, abandoned, and treated as a lesser-than piece of property by nearly every human he has come into contact with.

Ethan calling Charlie his "BHF" (best human friend) was a cute moment, but also set off the alarm bells for me. "BHF" Charlie was Ethan's last real connection to the human race (since he feels he's been abandoned by both Julie and Molly) – but we all saw cute little Spyder spying under the couch during Lucy's partially-successful seduction of Charlie. Ten-to-one, Spyder caught it all, and seeing the near-hook up will send Ethan into a tailspin and isolate him from Charlie as well.

Speaking of that near hook-up: was anyone else tremendously creeped out by that whole scene? I can't tell how old Lucy is supposed to be (the internet tells me her portrayer is 21), but she has consistently acted like Ethan's rebellious older teenage sister. Charlie is a grown man in a position of authority over Lucy. He is sort of like a father figure. I can't say I didn't see their aborted hook-up coming, but all the same, it absolutely cast Charlie in a bad light.

Of all the issues I had with that scene, Charlie's stated reason ("this is maybe illegal because robots!") was the most irrelevant, in my opinion.

JD: What was it like? Up there by yourself for so long.
Molly: It was better than I ever thought it would be. I didn't have to lie up there. I didn't have to pretend to be somebody that I wasn't. I could just... be.
JD: I envy that. I wish I could just be.

Though JD and Molly got way less physical than Charlie and Lucy, their scenes were practically buzzing with sexual tension and rife with romantic chemistry. That scene where they said goodbye at the hybrid compound, right before Lucy and Lucas' ambush began, was heartbreaking. That kiss on the head! That touch of the noses!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Halle Berry have incredible chemistry.

Finally, after what seemed like eons of uselessness, Toby finally managed a win: utilizing "TAALR," their top-secret homeland security software, Toby managed to pin down the location of the hybrid commune. It is here, during Lucy and Co.'s storming of the hatches, that we leave off. Based on next week's promo, it looks like the war is kicking off into high gear starting with the next episode.

Some lingering questions:

  • What was up with that elevator scene? Who, if anyone, tried to kill Julie (and maybe Ethan)? Why wasn't Ethan panicked? Why did this all cause Julie to weep miserably over Ethan's sleeping form?
  • What's up with these hybrid names? Ahdu? Terra? Heleos? Ares? At first, it seemed like they were going for Greek and Roman mythology, but if so, I can't figure out how the name Ahdu fits into that.
  • Do you think there's any actual plot purpose for Julie's random and poorly timed trips to DC? Or does her portrayer just have a lot to do outside of this show?

Sound off in the comments below voicing your opinions or answers to any of the above questions. Remember that you can watch Extant online, right here at TV Fanatic, to catch up on anything you missed before Extant Season Two Episode Eight.

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Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Extant Season 2 Episode 6 Quotes

I'm hearing voices right now, too, and they're telling me to put that tarp back on this car.

JD

Molly: What I need is an exact gene pairing. And I can only get that from my son.
JD: The alien?
Molly: Yeah. I need his DNA. And I know he's here. Somewhere.
JD: Alright, just so you know, I can't plug 'somewhere' into a GPS.