I kind of love Terra Nova — there's something terribly endearing about a show that aims so doggedly at "epic," only to fly off in slightly random directions instead. And I would still watch Stephen Lang acting opposite a collection of inflatable rubber dinosaurs and brain-damaged half-deaf ex-Aerosmith roadies.
Nevertheless, last night's episode was just uncommonly cheesy. Largely thanks to the show's new uber-villain, Lucas Taylor. Plus once again, shocking revelations lead to almost no consequences. Also, the show's two strong female badasses — Mira and Wash — have been completely relegated to "flunky" status. (This was especially noticeable with Wash, who found the Sixer mole after Shannon had tried and failed several times — only to have Shannon steal the credit and boss her around.)
But most of all, last night's episode featured some of the greatest dialogue the show has ever seen. Here are our favorite snippets:
"It's a long way down. You'll do it or I'll toss your mother over the side, and she'll find out just how far it really is. So you better get moving, Bucket."
Lucas Taylor proves how sinister he is, while "Bucket" worries about her poor sick saintly mother. What I love about this line is that Lucas starts out with an implied threat: "It's a long way down." And then he decides that was too subtle. So he clarifies: "I mention that it's a long way down not just for informational purposes, but so that you'll understand that I'm going to throw your mother off." And then he decides that was still too indirect, so he adds a further clarification: "And then she'll be able to find out for herself how far down it is, because I will give her a tape measure before I throw her off. Maybe one of those ones from the Hardware Store, that she can hook onto the side." Then he adds, for further emphasis, that this threat is not just general, but is intended to encourage her to get moving. Nice use of the nickname "Bucket," too. Because it's sinister and belittling.
"He wants to keep our issues in the family. The two of us, we suffer from a Shakespearean relationship, that borders on Greek tragedy."
Later, in another one of Lucas and Bucket's 1000 scenes together, he spouts off my absolute favorite line of dialogue of all time. I love that it's not just Shakespearean, but it borders on Greek tragedy. Because just being Shakespearean by itself wouldn't be cool enough — but if you mention both Shakespeare and Sophocles, you get Triple Culture Points. What I really love about this line is that it tries to ascribe some epic significance to Lucas' daddy issues, but only succeeds in making them seem more petty and overblown. (I know, I already remarked on the wondrousness of this line yesterday.)
"Out, Bucket, I have work to do. Don't make me tell you twice."
More amazeballs dialogue from Lucas, who really needs a nickname of his own, to go with "Bucket." Maybe "Stick?" Or "Hole?"
"What? I've been grounded since I came through the portal."
I love that the biggest drama in Josh's life is that he keeps getting grounded. More to the point, Josh's lying indirectly leads to Bucket getting away with doing Hole's bidding for a bit longer, thus allowing her to get inside the Eye and finish the calculations to turn the Portal into a two-way thingy. I don't really understand Josh's character any more — he's still slightly obnoxious, like when he's loudly playing with his ball, but he doesn't really have any personality of his own any more. At least he remembered about Kara, his girlfriend from the future who's supposedly coming through with the Eleventh Pilgrimage.
"I used to like to study. Look where it got me."
Annnnd then there's Quark. Remember Quark? I think we're supposed to think he's a broken man, judging from how eager he is to ingratiate himself with Jim Shannon by giving away valuable pieces of equipment to Shannon's dorky daughter. The whole "Maddie needs a new chip for her iPad" subplot was perhaps the most throwaway subplot this show has ever done, and it ended so perfunctorily, I kept expecting there to be more to it somehow. In any case, I like the fact that Maddie is willing to exploit her dad's job for personal gain. That's the most interesting thing she's ever done.
"I've always found it so strange why people want to be like their fathers. Not me, I just wanted to destroy mine."
I guess this was the "daddy issues" episode, since we found out that Skye's buckety nickname comes from her soldier father. And meanwhile, Josh lies to his dad once again, while Maddie uses her dad's job to get free shit. And then there's the epic confrontation between Taylor Pere and Fils. But we'll come to that in a moment.
"He's a man, not a god. But don't tell him that - you'll hurt his feelings."
The Lucas Taylor dialogue never gets old. Honestly. He's like ten cheesemongers.
"Oh, that's the spirit. Go down fighting, for, for a dream - some utopia and all that's right and true. Open your eyes, old man. It's over. I won. Soon you'll be on your knees begging me for mercy. The next time we meet, I won't be alone."
There needed to be more "hnar hnar hnar" laughter with this speech. Actually, I'm beginning to think watching Stephen Lang act opposite inflatable dinosaurs and deaf/brain-damaged Aerosmith roadies would be more entertaining. The thing that bugged me during this scene was that Lucas keeps saying "You can't shoot me or you'll damage the portal and be cut off from the future." And I was basically shouting at the screen, "DO IT. SHOOT THE PORTAL." It would solve all their problems in one go, and a lot of people would be spared.
Taylor's final speech
I'm not going to reproduce it here in its entirety, but there was a lot of stuff about how the people in Terra Nova didn't sign up for this, but now he's going to ask more of them than he's ever asked of them before, and every one of them can be a hero, and they have to choose whether to fight for their homes or just let the evil corporations come in and take everything, etc. It's more or less the same speech Taylor's given in every episode, except with more added "this is the lead-up to the final battle." I did like him saying that everybody in Terra Nova had endured great hardship and carved out a life in this harsh environment — just like Maddie endured hardship in this episode, with her iPad running out of battery life. That was really hard for Maddie. She had to struggle a lot, because the environment was harsh.
Next week, we finally get the big showdown and find out whether this show has really been worth sticking with. In spite of a lot of bumps along the way, I still remain somewhat optimistic that we'll get a bang-out finale that brings all the interesting themes of the show into focus. Here's hoping!