The Event is dead, but its legacy lives on — in particular, NBC's conspiracy-wrapped-in-slackjawed-bemusement show may have ruined me for pointless riddles and mysteries forever. Ever since watching too many episodes of The Event, I've had a rule of thumb: Any time someone asks a straightforward question on television, and the answer is a dodge for no reason, it's a very bad sign.
The above clip is where this happens in last night's Terra Nova. Spoilers ahead...
There's no reason for Mira to be evasive in the above scene — Jim Shannon isn't asking her for tactical secrets. If anything, the situation is the reverse. She's trying to win him over to her side in the war against Nathaniel Taylor, so it's in her own best interest to share her perspective with him as much as possible. But then she says that Terra Nova is not about starting over, "not now, not ever." And Jim Shannon asks, "Then what's Terra Nova really about?" And instead of explaining what her cryptic statement meant, she says: "You'll see."
Because if you're trying to recruit someone to change sides in a war, the best approach is to be cryptic and incomprehensible. It works every time.
There's really only one reason for Mira to dodge Jim Shannon's question — the writers think that episode five of the show is too soon to start giving us answers, and they want to keep us guessing. See also: the fact that Mira had Marcellus Wallace's briefcase, but she left it at her old house when she fled Terra Nova. What's inside the briefcase? What do they call a Quarter Pounder in Luxembourg? Where do the Sixers get an endless supply of eyeliner? So many questions.
Last night's episode, "The Runaway," felt like a major missed opportunity to create some urgency for this show — the Sixers are the only villains we've got so far, and so far they feel like a bargain basement version of the Others from Lost. So far, we know that powerful people in the future sent them back on the Sixth Pilgrimage, and they were plotting against Taylor before they were discovered and skedaddled. One of them, Carter, tried to assassinate Taylor, and Mira says that the secret rationale behind Terra Nova is "Control the past, and you control the future." Sadly, we didn't really learn anything new last night.
The overall episode was pretty forgettable. There's a little girl, who's a runaway from the Sixers, and she seeks asylum at Terra Nova. She goes around saying she doesn't like stuff, and everybody panders to her and lets her keep her ugly wig on. And finally we discover she's a spy, sent there by Mira to get Marcellus Wallace's briefcase. She's caught in time, but claims she's worried Mira will hurt her brother Sam. So Jim Shannon has to go rescue the brother.
Meanwhile, in the "B" plot, Maddy Shannon tries out being her mom's apprentice at the infirmary, but discovers she can't stand the sight of blood — while Reynolds proposes to her in a weirdly assclowny way that's probably supposed to be cute. (I liked Jim Shannon randomly threatening bodily harm to Reynolds without even knowing what was going on.)
This show still has a lot going for it — Stephen Lang is amazing, and the scenes where he struggles with Leah thinking he's the "bad man" and tries to pour on the charm are pretty great. The cast, overall, is reasonably strong. I loved the fight scene with Wash taking down a bunch of Sixers — Wash is quickly becoming my favorite character. Josh Shannon hasn't been too objectionable of late — although it looks like that'll change next week, going by the promo.
But there's definitely something missing from Terra Nova, and that something is real conflict in which people talk like adults about what's on their minds. Let's hope this show doesn't try to string us along with pointless mysteries instead of giving us real storytelling.
The good news? Terra Nova seems to have lots of time to find its feet. Last night's episode actually saw a ratings increase.