The spy is revealed, Taylor bonds with the Sixers leader and a Terra Nova reader comment sparks debate

By James Hibberd
Updated November 29, 2011 at 02:18 AM EST
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Credit: Vince Valitutti/Fox
S1 E10
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  • Fox

Terra Nova recap reader Eli commented a couple of weeks ago:

“Eureka! I have finally discovered what’s wrong with Terra Nova. It’s not a TV show like any other, because it is a Kids show disguised as an adult show! Seriously, it’s like Sesame Street disguised as The Good Wife. That’s why … everything is such a cheesefest.”

Thank you, reader Eli! Now I have Julianna Margulies playing Miss Piggy in my head. Also, if there’s an actual cheesefest being held somewhere, I want an invitation. Unlike the Terra Nova colonists, I cannot survive solely on exotic vegetables from the farmer’s market.

But Eli also raises an interesting point. Terra Nova is a throwback, a Family Drama in prime time. I admire that about the show. For all the critics knocking the series for its long list of obvious ancestors, Terra Nova is trying to revive a wholesome all-ages style of broadcast TV that is itself considered a dinosaur. But does targeting an ultra-broad family audience make it almost impossible to win over grown-up, serious sci-fi fans too? Can any show draw a large enough audience to survive on Fox, while also pleasing 12-year-old kids and satisfying EW readers who love BSG and The Walking Dead?

And most importantly: Did Skye gain weight this week?

She kinda looks like she did. Just a little … what?

Anyway. Let’s get to it! Recapping Terra Nova episode 10 “Now You See Me” starts now: After watching colonists sneak in and out of Terra Nova every week, Commander Taylor has issued a new decree: That nobody can leave without having a darn good reason. There!

Taylor then mounts a motorcycle, puts on what looks like a blindfold, and speeds off into the jungle. I wouldn’t be surprised if it really was a blindfold. Like Taylor needs vision to see.

Terra Nova: The Shannon pet dino is back! Zoe’s Ankylosaurus looks like a really cute turtle. But Malcolm and Elisabeth explain there’s just no room in Terra Nova budget to animate dinos that are nonessential to future story lines. Zoe puts on her cute pouty face. Boy, somewhere there’s a breakfast cereal not being sold.

Meanwhile Jim spies a flashing light from the forest. Somebody is trying to communicate with the super secret spy. He sees another light a response coming from inside the colony compound and rushes to try and catch the spy in the act. He’s a moment too late, but finds a drop of the spy’s blood left behind: potential DNA. Though Jim doesn’t see who left the scene of the crime, we do: The spy is….

NEXT: The spy is blue; Enemy Mira

Skye! Skye the Spy — we should have guessed. This is really going to bum out Taylor. His son betrayed him and now his surrogate daughter, too? Skye bumps into Josh who tries to apologize for the way he’s treated her; she gets flustered and rushes off.

Jungle: Taylor rappels down a waterfall. He examines his wayward son’s rebellious nerd graffiti on the rocks and finds out the kid is getting close to completing his two-way portal that will allow evil future capitalists to plunder Terra Nova’s resources.

Sixers leader Mira sneaks up and gets the drop on Taylor. She ties his wrists and starts marching him back to her “lair.” But Taylor manages to secretly grab a big sharp thorn that he uses to covertly saw at his restraints, so we know it’s only a matter of time before he gets loose.

MedLab: Skye needs some first aid for her cut hand. She sprays some magic shaving foam and it seals her wound instantly without a trace. That must be super convenient for teens who are into cutting.

Meanwhile, Jim pressures Elisabeth to extract DNA from the spy’s contaminated blood sample.

She says: “Jim, I’m a doctor not a chemist.”

Ohh, Terra Nova, you did not just drop a Trek: TOS reference! All the older geeks give the Terra Nova writers an approving nod — respect.

Elisabeth says the colony’s super computer can extract the DNA in the blood, but it will take a day to match it against the Terra Nova colonists who, after all, number in the hundreds. This is apparently the Commodore Vic 20 of DNA computers.

Jungle: Mira continues marching the captive Taylor. We learn Mira is an ex convict. She was living on the street with her daughter when she was given the opportunity to escape to Terra Nova and rescue her child from a miserable existence — if she’ll overthrow Taylor’s command. Taylor says he just wants his son Lucas back. But Mira insists the kid is crazy and beyond anybody’s reach. Suddenly Taylor breaks free of his bonds and, after a brief fight, captures Mira. “Your turn to wear the cuffs,” he says.

This is a lot of two single middle-aged people tying each other up in the jungle for nothing fun to happen.

But wait: We learn they’re being stalked — by carnos!

NEXT: Why kill a dino when you can jump off a waterfall?

The dinos attack. Taylor fires his gun and his sonic blasts strike the carnos. But this barely slows them down. So Taylor releases Mira and decides to jump off a 200-foot waterfall (the visual effects look a bit like Will and Holly falling into the Land of the Lost).

This is one of those reader Eli moments. If you’re a kid, this is a thrilling sequence — dino attack, Taylor lets her go, they jump off the waterfall. Fun stuff.

But if you’re an adult, particularly a longtime fan of sci-fi shows, you’re probably wondering: Would anybody jump off that waterfall rather than shoot-to-kill a dinosaur? Is the style of gun he’s carrying only a stun gun and Taylor doesn’t actually carry a lethal gun like the green-laser kind he used in the “Bylaw” episode? Or is he just keeping the gun on a non-lethal setting due to the community’s whole policy about not killing dinos? And if the latter, what bothers me isn’t just that Taylor refuses to kill the dino, but that the supposedly far more ruthless Mira is apparently totally on board with using stun too and isn’t screaming at him to just kill the damn thing (surely Mira, at least, was carrying a real gun when he captured her, right?). It’s like nobody wants to draw attention to the — ahem — carno in the room. The whole scene falls somewhere between unclear and unbelievable, but by which standard — that of a kid or an adult — should it be judged?

Med Lab: Zoe tries to shoplift the Ankylosaurus in her jacket. So that happened.

Sixer Hut: Despite Taylor’s new rules, Skye manages to sneak out of Terra Nova and visit the Sixers camp. What motivation could Skye have for betraying the other colonists? How about the same one Mira, Josh, Jim, and other main Terra Nova characters have when they do bad things? To help the people they love. Aww.

Turns out Sixers have Skye’s sick mom hostage and are denying her medication unless Skye helps them. A Sixer snarls: “Remember, we’re the only ones with a cure.” Evil Sixers! Evil dialog exposition! And really, how do the people living at Sixer Hut have a medicine that the Terra Nova folks don’t? They really need to upgrade that Vic 20!

Skye sneaks back to Terra Nova and further contaminates the blood sample so they can’t identify her.

Jungle: Taylor and Mira swim to shore. He’s distressed that he lost his gun in the water that doesn’t harm dinos anyway. Taylor offers Mira a knife: “We can fight each other or we can fight them.”

That night, sitting around the campfire, Taylor prepares for the carno attack, making primitive weapons (there’s no carno knife fight, sadly). He listens Mira explain how she choose the wrong side during a battle in the future that got her locked up. “Here you are on the wrong side once again,” Taylor says.

NEXT: “Dear Terra Nova: I am very angry about tonight’s episode…”

At last, the dinos find them and strike. Taylor throws a flaming spear into one of them while Mira fires a bow at the other. I know, Taylor is an expert archer, but the flaming spear is the way cooler weapon in this scene so Taylor must get to use it.

The dinosaur howls in pain as the fiery spear creates carno flambe. Gasp — was that fatal? Did Taylor … kill, or at least really super hurt, a member of the local wildlife community?

[Across the country, outraged viewers send emails protesting Terra Nova‘s inhumane treatment of prehistoric predators. Distressed parents flood Fox with calls, asking how do they explain this scene to their weeping children. An irate Steven Spielberg assembles an emergency meeting of the Terra Nova writing team: “See? I told you!”]

Taylor lets Mira go. “I figure there’s a parallel universe out there somewhere where we’re allies,” he says (hey now, don’t give Fox any ideas).

Back at Terra Nova: Skye chats with unsuspecting Taylor. Once again, we see how close they are. Taylor is such a superman. Do you buy that Skye wouldn’t trust the commander/father figure with her huge problem that’s totally not her fault? If anybody can rescue her mom, it’s Taylor, right?

The episode concludes with the Shannon family visiting the edge of the jungle. They’re going to release Zoe into the wild! Oh wait, no. The Ankylosaurus. The cute turtle-like dino takes a couple steps and makes an even cuter noise. Then a giant grown-up Ankylosaurus ambles along and looks at the little one. The Shannon family beams with joy. For a moment I want the big Ankylosaurus to gobble up the little dino to utter horror of all involved. Why do I think these things?

And more important: What are your thoughts about “Now You See Me”?

UPDATE: Received a few requests to comment on a certain scene, so I’m adding this graf below (it’s out of context down here, but that’s all right, it was sort of a stand-alone moment). Here goes:

Meanwhile, Sir Mark Reynolds hails Lord Shannon and nervously says he wants to “declare his intentions” toward his 16-year-old daughter. Now, usually when you have a male going after a female, the word “intentions” refers to the guy wanting to have sex. Sir Mark hastily tries to reassure Jim that, no-no-no, don’t misunderstand, he’s looking to marry Maddy. But to Jim, this is sort of like saying, “I’m not trying to have sex with your teenage daughter, I trying to have sex with her every night for the rest of her life.” It just doesn’t make anything less uncomfortable at this early stage. Jim shoots down Mark’s request to set up a dowry and commence negotiations for Maddy’s chastity belt key and reminds him they’re supposed to be searching for the spy.

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