Terra Nova recap: 'Nightfall'
Teens smooch, dinos stomp, parasites slither as a meteor attack knocks out Terra Nova's electronics and viewers finally learn what's in the mystery box
Welcome back! If you’re reading this Terra Nova recap, I assume you’ve already Googled “intestinal parasite symptoms” and concluded you’re not a human host to a 30-foot monster that needs to be sloooowly reeled out of you.
There’s a lot of fun ground to cover this week: A meteor explosion, a Sixers invasion, the biggest dino ever, a teen make out, a claustrophobic library trip, and the introduction of Taylor’s extraordinarily bitter son.
Like all great mythic tales, Episode 7, “Nightfall,” starts with a lost pair of shoes. It’s a typical morning for the Shannons scrambling to get ready for the prehistoric rat race, with Josh misplacing his footwear. Don’t worry, things quickly get interesting.
Med lab: Skye helps her wounded friend Hunter into the infirmary. Seems he’s been drinking some exotic local hooch. You know how some mezcal bottles used to have a worm inside? This is like that, except poor Hunter caught an intestinal parasite that’s quickly grown to a scary length. (Factoid: The original worm in the mezcal bottle was a marketing gimmick, and, in recent years, a liquor company did the same stunt with a scorpion in each bottle — that either was ever popular is pretty surprising; if you put, like, dead mice in Life cereal boxes, shoppers would lose their minds).
Library: We get to see the Terra Nova version of a library: A dim room with a big disco ball suspended in bubbly blue liquid and a small cozy sofa. It looks totally different from our libraries, but in one respect is very similar since it’s totally empty. You would think this groovy room with all the video options would be a popular date spot. Mark Reynolds could have made his life a lot easier by taking Maddy here instead of getting all ambitious with the romantic field trip. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Jim brought little Zoe for some educational bonding. He explains she can use the room’s “liquid memory core” to see anything from all of human history. So what does Zoe choose? Little narcissist wants to see where she was born.
Seems Zoe was delivered in an awfully unhygienic-looking little house on the prairie. In a reference to how outlaw doctors once performed another kind of illegal pregnancy-related service, the Shannons were helped by “a doctor friend of mommy’s who lived far away from the city.” The pilot episode hinted there was some secret reason the Shannons illegally had a third child. But now it seems like they just really wanted her a lot.
Pretty field: Maddy has gone OTG with Mark for an official first date. For a heavily guarded colony, it sure is easy to sneak out of that place. They sit on a blanket in the prehistoric paradise. Mark mentions that when he was a kid he wanted to be an accountant on the moon (as opposed to, say, a tax attorney on Venus). Mark calls Maddy perfect and they talk about flowers. Some viewers are now likely relieved they ate dinner at least an hour before watching Terra Nova. Oh, just hold her, Mark, like you did by the lake on Naboo, so long ago when there was nothing but your love… They get close and lean in to kiss. Nothing could possibly disturb this–
NEXT: Meteor attack! Jim trapped with Zoe. The most disturbing Terra Nova scene ever?
Meteor attack! A giant flaming ball of space fire slams into the jungle.
The meteor emits a massive rippling shock wave. In his hut, Taylor cries out a warning and for a moment just stands there like he wants to absorb the entire impact of the shock wave against his manly chest. On the ground, colonists once again flee the Farmer’s Market (if I lived in Terra Nova, I’d just grab my groceries in a weekly sprint through that place — it’s the most dangerous part of the camp!). The shock wave knocks down tables, blows out windows and, away in the pretty field, ruffles Mark and Maddy’s hair.
We learn the meteor set off an EMP wave that fried all the microchip circuits throughout the colony. We also learn — and here’s a rebuttal nugget for critics of Terra Nova’s wimpy looking Lincoln Log fence — there’s other high-tech devices like mines protecting the colony that are now offline. The colony is now defenseless. This also means Skye’s friend Hunter is in big trouble — now Elisabeth must remove his parasite with an old fashioned scalpel rather than fancy laser surgery. Why, they might as well use leeches.
Library (I’m refusing to call it The Eye): Due to the shock wave frying the circuits in the electronic door, Jim has a scary problem: He is trapped in a room with Zoe with no way to keep her entertained and distracted. Zoe soon begins the slow torture. She asks: Will the electronics outage hurt mommy? How about Maddy? How about Josh? They’re not machines, Zoe, they’re people…
Med lab: Taylor inspects the damage. As if he wasn’t tough and grizzled enough, Taylor has added a toothpick. He chews it with steely intensity. If there’s a season 2, I hope Taylor gets an eyepatch.
It seems the colonists have a handy machine that’s basically like a CD burner for microchips that can fix all the busted electronics — problem solved, right? Except it runs on a chip too. And would you believe that rascally bar owner Tom is the only person in the colony who can manually repair it? (I know, I know, but there’s a finite number of regular characters on the show, so… ).
Meanwhile Elisabeth gently reels the parasite out of Hunter’s abdomen. The actors play this scene fairly lightly, but it’s pretty disturbing and tense — it looks like she’s flying a kite with his intestines. The set-up resembles a medieval torture device called the “intestinal crank.” Plus, of course, there really are human parasites that can grow to horrific lengths, which gave this an extra level of discomfort. (Did you know tapeworms can grow to 50 feet and survive for 20 years and, despite my recap’s opener, often do not have symptoms? The more you know…).
Even though we have no clue who this Hunter guy is, this is the most engaging Med Lab patient crisis we’ve seen and I bet some children watching this were rather freaked out.
NEXT: Mark and Maddy have a spa date; The “Go Away Spider Song”
Pretty Field: Mark and Maddy are stranded since their rover uses a chip. Mark turns the setback into a spa date, smearing dino-deflecting stink mud on Maddy. I suspect fans of their romance liked this scene. They try to walk back to the colony but get trapped by darkness and prowling Nykos. They climb into a tree.
Library: Jim is still trapped with Zoe. He’s found an handy access hatch that goes outside, but it’s a tiny space and apparently designed to be accessed by only a pre-teen workforce (no labor laws 85 million years ago!). He comes up with the “two birds, one stone” solution to being trapped in the library and wants to send Zoe down the hatch. She refuses to go. Why? Because she’s afraid of spiders….
Jim says: “Let me get this straight, Zoe. You’ve been smuggled back in time in a backpack, lifted off the ground by a massive dinosaur, been attacked by killer birds and have barely survived all sorts of nightmares in this crazy prehistoric jungle, and yet you refuse to climb through because you’re afraid of spiders? Did you see the Terra Nova pilot, Zoe, it’s not like you don’t have experience going into air vents!”
Okay, he doesn’t say this, but if only he did! Instead, Jim makes up a song to reassure Zoe. The “Go Away Spider Song,” which I’m sure is overthrowing whatever they sang on Glee this week on the iTunes downloads chart. “Go away spiders, go-go-go,” he sings. “We don’t like you, no-no-no.”
Tough to judge whether Jim or Hunter had it worse in this episode.
Outside: The Sixers have learned Terra Nova’s defenses are down. They’re leading an impressively enormous dinosaur — the “Empirosaurus” — toward the colony. You wouldn’t think those tiny people waving torches would be enough to wrangle it, but this thing must be as dumb as it is huge.
Med lab: Skye has to take over reeling Hunter’s parasite since Elisabeth got called away. While Skye is doing this gross and delicate maneuver, Hunter reveals he wants to be more than friends. I’m not sure I can think of a worse time to try and escape from The Friend Zone than when the girl is reeling a massive intestinal parasite from your body. Skye is distracted. The parasite breaks and slithers back into his abdomen. We’re also told it has teeth.
Make Out Tree: Trapped in the tree overnight, Mark is beating himself up for not having asked Maddy’s parents for permission to take her to “The Harvest Festival.” That sounds suspiciously like another Farmer’s Market date and we’re glad he avoided it.
“Do you think we’ll die out here?” she asks.
NEXT: The Mystery Box opened!
“Do you think we’ll die out here?” Maddy asks.
Some male viewers immediately start to think of all the crafty ways you can answer this. But Mark is noble: “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, not tonight, not ever.”
She tells him she wants to kiss. Yeah, that’s right, kiss — while covered in stink mud! Do it! Mark and Maddy sit-ting in a tree…
At last, the couple has their kiss. Maddy says: “Now I can die.” Oh man, every viewer over 17 just did.
Terra Nova: Zoe releases her father from captivity just in time for Jim to rush outside and find the massive Empirosaurus coming toward the colony. What to do? Taylor is confident. He hands a bow and arrow to Jim — who apparently is an archery expert (hey, it could be worse, it could be the bar owner again). They fire flaming arrows at a moat filled with flammable liquid that Taylor must have poured around the colony — the sudden wall of fire halts the dino in his tracks. Good show! But Taylor quickly realizes that the dino was only a distraction. Sixers?! The box!
Med lab: Taylor has an intense fight with Sixers trying to sneak in and steal the mysterious box (including that one scrappy Sixer who, for some reason, never closes his mouth). Despite some help from ever-handy bar owner Tom, the Sixers escape. Meanwhile a microchip is made just in time to boot up the fancy scanner machine to save Hunter from a really horrible death.
Jungle: Mira gets the box and hands it to — dun-nah-nah — Taylor’s son. He’s able to open it and we see… a bunch of tech stuff we don’t understand … that’s going to help him with his work that we also don’t understand. Okay, that’s a bit of a letdown. It doesn’t have to be Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, but if you introduce a mystery box and then, episodes later, finally open it, whatever is inside should be something that means something to the audience. I’m sure the tech stuff has an important function that we’ll later learn, but the moment was a bit frustrating.
Still, good to have Taylor’s son in the game.”If he wants to stop me, good old dad will have to choose between his flesh and blood and his precious Terra Nova,” he sneers. We don’t know what Taylor’s kid is up to, but based on that line delivery, we’re thinking the Commander’s choice might not be that difficult.
So! What did you think of “Nightfall”? I’m sure the producers will love it if your feedback after all their hard work on this episode was: “Where’s the pet baby dinosaur the Shannons adopted last week!?”
So comment below. Or Google “tapeworms.” Or just sing along with me: “Go away Zoe, go-go-go. We don’t like you, no-no-no.”
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