Extant casts wide net; may come up empty

image from globaltv.com

image from globaltv.com

It’s Alien.

It’s ET.

It’s Predator.

It’s AI.

It’s Extant, and it’s having trouble deciding what it wants to be.

[Tweet “#Extant is having trouble deciding which #SciFi sub-#genre it wants to be.”]

Extant is the story of astronaut Molly (Halle Berry), her husband, John (Goran Visnjic) and their “son”, an android–called a humanich–named Ethan (Pierce Ganon). After spending 13 months in space, Molly returns pregnant. Half-human, half-alien, the baby is removed from Molly’s body and incubated in a secret facility ran by the Yasumoto Corporation, which also happens to be John’s employer. Molly’s friend and colleague, Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neil), is in charge of the project.

This week, Sparks escapes the facility with the hybrid (known as the Offspring) and goes to an isolated resort where he can be alone with the visions of his deceased daughter the Offspring shows him. He calls his ex-wife to join him in the reunion. In order to maintain enough energy to produce it’s illusions, the Offspring must feed on humans (calling to mind Defiance’s Irisa and Atlantis’s wraith). The people survive the feeding in order to do Alan’s bidding.  Meanwhile, John and Ethan are essentially held captive by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) at his house along with Odin (Charlie Bewley), a member of an anti-humanichs group, pretending to be interested in John’s assistant, Julie (Grace Gummer). In a third sub-plot, Molly is handcuffed inside a truck by one of Yasumoto’s men who supposedly wants to help her find, raise and protect the Offspring.

Are you confused yet? I can’t say as I was, but it is an awful lot to take in, the net result being that I have a lot of questions.

[Tweet “#Extant asks more questions than it answers, which is an awful lot to take in.”]

Alan is a die hard professional, determined to see the project proceeds in a by-the-books manner. In this episode, his character moves to the opposite extreme. He is now a devoted father, determined to spend as much time as he can with a facsimile of his daughter, which–on some level–he knows is an illusion produced by the Offspring. Nevertheless, he does his level best to protect her. He feeds the Offspring, not for the creature, but to maintain the illusion of his daughter. Alan is a scientist. Why does he fall so easily for something he knows is in the domain of the heart and not of the head?

Molly is a smart woman. She goes to space hoping absence will make her heart grow fonder for her husband. She knows Alan is working against her even when he insists he’s on her side. She figures out why friend Sam (Camryn Manheim) turns against her and uses Sam’s predicament to work in her favour. Why is she so quick to believe the  ruse Yasumoto’s man portrays about putting all of his employer’s resources at her fingertips once they recover the Offspring?

Ethan is part android, part child. He is inquisitive like a child, but shows incredible logical and analytical deduction ability. Why is he so quick to believe Odin’s bologna  about parents not being trustworthy and shun John as a result? Every character–and I mean EVERY–is a scientist. Why is someone like Odin able to outsmart them all?

My last question deals with the focus of the show. Why can’t Extant decide which sub-genre of science fiction it wants to be? Rather than decide, it tries to be all sub-genres at once. This week alone, Extant covered the following sub-genres: parasitic infestation; vampires; androids; paranormal investigation; mind control and conspiracy theory. And I’m probably missing a few more. I really like Extant. In addition to having two of my favourite actors (Visnjic and Manheim), Extant is refreshing for it’s focus on future families striving to stay together in spite of the perils that threaten to tear it apart, rather than on sci-fi elements alone.

As of this week, I can no longer say that about Extant.

Extant taken on too much? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

[Tweet “Has #Extant taken on too much? Extant casts wide net, comes up empty.”]

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