TERRA NOVA 1.10 ‘Within’

Jim and Taylor confront the Sixers' spy as Lucas prepares to travel back to 2149 and raise an army to destroy Terra Nova.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Within"

Writer: Barbara Marshall

Director: Karen Gaviola

Previously on "Terra Nova":

Episode 1.09: "Now You See Me"

Story:

In the Terra Nova colony, Commander Nathaniel Taylor (Stephen Lang) brings Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara) to the artificial gateway that allows people from the future to safely arrive near Terra Nova. Taylor tells Jim that the 11th pilgrimage from the future is scheduled to occur in just a few days… and he wants the Sixers' spy out of the way by then. Jim says he's still investigating all of the women who were known to be in the medical lab on the night the blood sample from the spy was destroyed. When Jim finally interviews Skye (Allison Miller), she gives Jim a fake alibi by saying that she was teaching Jim's son, Josh Shannon (Landon Liboiron) how to play Chess at the time.

Later, Skye finds Josh as he is about to leave for work and she asks him to lie for her if his father asks him to verify her story. Skye also says that she was attempting to do some illegal salvaging at the time and he agrees to bend the truth to help keep her out of trouble. Soon enough, Skye slips out of the colony and makes her way into Sixers' territory. Skye immediately goes to see her still deathly ill mother, but Lucas Taylor (Ashley Zukerman) emerges from the shadows and tells Skye that he needs her help to modify the time portal to allow people to travel back and forth to the future. Threatening Skye's mother, Lucas coerces Skye to use Terra Nova's own supercomputer to finish and check his calculations.

At Terra Nova, Jim and Lt. Alicia Washington (Simone Kessell) find security footage of Skye sneaking out of the colony the night before, but before Jim is ready to believe she's a spy he has to confirm that Josh lied about Skye's alibi. Josh admits the truth, but he's still taken aback when Jim grounds him and confiscates his guitar. Jim finally brings the news to Taylor, who is clearly upset by it. Taylor says that he will confirm Skye's loyalties with his own spy in the Sixers' camp, Curran (Jay Ryan). The next day, Taylor sets a trap for Skye and the Sixers by allowing Skye to be present when he is briefed on a weapons transport. Predictably, Skye slips out of the colony before Taylor arms his convoy for a fight with the Sixers.

However, the predicted attack never comes and Jim theorizes that Skye withheld the information because it would hurt the colony. Back at the Sixers' village, Mira ( Christine Adams) chides Skye for not alerting her about the convoy and threatens her mother again. Skye then runs into Lucas, who says that his work is finished and he sarcastically thanks Skye for her help. He also warns her not to return to Terra Nova… because now his employers can come from the future and crush his father's new world. Devastated, Skye confesses to her mother that she has acted as a spy to ensure her survival and treatment. Skye's mother tells Skye to leave her behind and warn Taylor before it is too late.

On the way back to Terra Nova, Skye stumbles across Taylor and Jim. With weapons drawn, Taylor demands to know why he shouldn't lock up Skye for life. She tells them about sneaking her mother out of Terra Nova so that the Sixers could extend her life and save her. She also warns them that Lucas is heading to the portal and that he is now able to return to the future. At the portal, Lucas activates his device and a surge of energy knocks down the surrounding soldiers. Jim and Taylor arrive before Lucas can walk through the portal, but they hold their fire to keep the portal intact. Lucas brags to his father that he's finally beaten him and he vows to return with an army to destroy what Taylor has built here.

Over Taylor's shouted protest, Lucas vanishes into the time portal, seemingly back to the future. In the Sixers' camp, a soldier walks into the room of Skye's mother. Back in Terra Nova, Skye tearfully recounts the reasons for her betrayal to Josh before she is summoned to the infirmary… where her mother is safe. Jim's wife, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn) tells Skye that her mother was smuggled to safety by Curran, who also retrieved the medicine that the Sixers' used to treat her. Skye tries to thank Taylor, but he angrily walks away from her. Jim catches up to Taylor and asks why he let a murderer like Curran rejoin the colony, but Taylor seems to like a good redemption story. He also thinks that they will need everyone for the fight against the future.

In the end, Taylor gives a speech to the entire colony warning them about what lies ahead while urging them to fight for their home.

Breakdown:

In theory, this is the time of the season that "Terra Nova" should be getting exciting. Things are finally happening and the colonists are going to have to literally fight the future in order to preserve their second chance in the past. On paper, that's epic…

At least in theory.

In reality, "Terra Nova" still suffers from the malaise that's been hanging over this show since the pilot episode. I don't know what happened in development or what decisions were made, but somehow "Terra Nova" has become like a drained piece of fruit. All of the drama has been sucked out of the series to the point where it could be shown to kindergarteners. There is no edge to this show… at all.

One of the biggest problems is Jim Shannon, who is boringly portrayed by Jason O'Mara. Main characters are supposed to drive the action, but Jim is continuously at the periphery of "Terra Nova." The one moment in the entire episode that Jim is personally invested in comes when he scolds his son for lying! Otherwise, Jim is just a sidekick to Taylor and he contributes nothing to the final confrontation with Lucas at the time portal.

Stephen Lang does seem to overpower O'Mara in their scenes together, so it's understandable why the writers tend to write towards that in their scripts. However, that only serves to underscore just how useless Jim has become to the overall story. "Terra Nova" was supposed to be about a man and his family making a new life for themselves in the distant past. Somehow, the man has become a walking impotence advertisement and his family is mired in dumb subplots about raising baby dinosaurs and attempting to trade a wheel for a microchip.

If Fox wanted to create an extremely safe, slightly sci-fi drama for the entire family, then congratulations… they've done that. But as my colleague, Sax Carr would say, it plays out like "Fisher Price's My First Sci-fi."

Within the context of this episode, Skye's tenure as a spy for the Sixers came to an end far too easily. Aside from Taylor's unwillingness to directly forgive her, Skye doesn't face any consequences for her actions. And even Taylor will probably forgive Skye by the end of the season. He's kind of an old softy. But I can overlook that since Lang appears to be the only cast member with genuine charisma.

I can't say the same for his onscreen son, Ashley Zukerman; whose Lucas Taylor seems to be stuck on one petulant and crazy note. "I hate my father and therefore I'll destroy humanity's best chance for survival?" That makes about as much sense as Lex Luthor wanting Superman dead for accidentally causing his baldness. (Silver Age comics, folks! This really happened.) We're told that Lucas hates Taylor over what happened to his mother, but because it's just another line of exposition it doesn't carry any dramatic weight. For Lucas to have any potential as an ongoing villain, we need to see that he has a legitimate reason to tear down his father's world. And if that means showing a flashback, then show a flashback! Simply telling us about it is not going to be effective.

In all honesty, I've seen dozens of TV shows that are far worse than "Terra Nova." But I've never seen a show squander its amazing potential in the way that "Terra Nova" has. Next week's season finale may represent the last chance for this series to fully redeem itself. Otherwise it may go down as this generation's answer to "Earth 2;" another Steven Spielberg produced sci-fi drama that debuted during the '90s and was almost immediately forgotten.

Crave Online Rating: 6 out of 10.