“Cheesy.” “A let down.” A game of “Name That Movie We Stole This Scene From.” And, worst of all, a comparison to the infamous “Kim cougar trap” episode of 24. Those were just a few of your comments about last week’s “Angry Birds” episode of Terra Nova. After watching the preview for tonight’s adventure, you were braced: Amnesia virus? Really? Busting out an amnesia episode so soon?
And yet … I don’t know where you’re at on this, but aside from some rather convenient plotting, I liked this episode — “What Remains” — better than anything I’ve seen yet from Terra Nova. The characters seemed to loosen up. The dialogue was less forced, more witty. The show made better use of the CGI dinos — less screen time, more impact.
Last week, I sarcastically referenced Star Trek, but tonight felt like a traditional Trek episode in a good way. Yes, we had the Weekly Threat rather than tackling the serialized mysteries introduced in the pilot. But at least the threat was a way to explore the characters, rather than the previous two hours — with the teens trapped in the rover by slashers and the pterosaur attacks — where the action and characters seemed to exist in different, ahem, timelines.
In other words: “What Remains” was the least ambitious hour of Terra Nova — it wasn’t trying to be recreate the twisting mythology of Lost or the spectacle of Jurassic Park — yet it was the most successful in terms of pulling off some fundamental non-splashy elements which make for enjoyable TV.
We start with a creeping shot of an underground room with annoying bleeping sci-fi noises. I liked that we’re starting somewhere entirely new, an environment that prompted immediate questions: Where are we? Who’s this guy manically laughing? If you have enough green bugs and an opponent could you play checkers with them or would they keep scurrying away? There’s off camera screaming, and you wonder: Is there an insane asylum on Terra Nova? Perhaps a plaice filled with colonists driven nuts by shopping every day at the same farmer’s market?
The man runs outside into the jungle. He looks up into the face of a beatifically shot carnosaur, haloed by sunlight. IMO: The best Terra Nova dino shot we’ve seen. Carnasaur has a snack.