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TERRA NOVA Bylaws – Recap
If you’re going to do a murder story in the style made so familiar by shows like CSI and Law & Order, you need to make darn sure your dialogue doesn’t sound like it was written by a high school student (unless that student is a recognized literary genius). There are many, many discussions had throughout “Bylaw”, particularly the early one between Josh and Boylan, that are just so clunky and sound ridiculous. Still using Josh and Boylan as an example, everything they said felt like it was from a bad film noir. Normal people don’t talk that way. It’s the kind of dialogue that may look fine when you first read it, but it comes out stupendously awkward when spoken. The entire episode felt so juvenile. Wasn’t there a time where this show had potential? That seems like years ago. I miss those hopeful days.
“Bylaw” flirts with the idea of having a decent discussion about law. In Terra Nova, they follow a simple set of laws and if you break them you are punished. They don’t use the same system we do in our time, having no need for a judge, jury, and all the other trimmings that make giving someone a fair trial so difficult at times. Jim and Elisabeth briefly discuss if its better to just punish someone without a trial, but it never gets beyond the question. In fact, the show doesn’t really decide if Terra Nova’s system is any better than the one they left behind in the future. Why bring it up at all if you aren’t going to deal with it properly.
I became a little excited toward the end as the real murderer was revealed in a set-up that reminded me of the movie Basic. In that movie you never quite sure who the real bad guy was, and nobody was ever who they said they were. In Terra Nova, Boylan is the Sixers mole, but he helps Taylor and Jim out by pretending to be guilty to draw out the real killer. But then Taylor decided to banish the perpetrator right then and there without any guilt of conscience. This struck me as odd considering just a little earlier in the episode it took him a whole day to come to a verdict about someone else. It made Taylor look like a loose cannon, capable of carrying out rash sentences based on his emotions in the situation. I’m pretty sure that’s a terrible way to judge people. Perhaps that was the point, to subtly showcase how flawed their law system is. If that is the case, which I highly doubt, then hopefully this will lead to something. I don’t want that banishment to go unaddressed, but I can’t help feeling it will. These characters don’t seem to be having much arc to them, at least not that I’ve noticed. We got a brief look in to Taylor’s backstory a few weeks ago, and it was quite intriguing. Have we heard anything about it since? Not a peep. The banishment likely will share the same fate.
I don’t like it when the show saves the Sixers for the final scene. They should have a bigger presence if they’re to be any kind of a threat. The sort of war going on between them and Terra Nova is the most interesting aspect of the show because it’s deeply rooted in the show’s mythology. But the Sixers, and the mythology, are consistently pushed to the side for these one-off episodes that end up just annoying me. I can’t help but feel Terra Nova is wasting everything it has going for it, instead focusing on silly matters like family issues and colony problems. It needs to lose these one-offs and fast. We’re almost halfway through the season and we still know next to nothing about what the Sixers are up to. I don’t want to wait until the last couple episodes for that plot to be brought up again. There’s so many unanswered questions brought up in the pilot. Taylor’s son, Terra Nova’s purpose, and who sent the Sixers back? None of it seems close to being revealed. What we’ve been having so far this season is just stalling. Stalling rarely turns out well.