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TERRA NOVA: “Nightfall” – RECAP
Terra Nova continued its streak of showing a lot of potential followed by needless squandering. That sounded mean, let me try again. “Nightfall” was actually a pretty entertaining episode, dividing the family up while a disaster struck Terra Nova in the form of a meteorite. I loved the idea of a meteorite taking out all electric power via EMP, but the way it was explored felt very typical. Don’t get me wrong, some of storylines, particularly Taylor and Sixers, did well enough, but not everything was up to snuff.
Maddy and Mark’s little date I’m sure will tweak the hearts of teenage girls everywhere, but for me it was such a waste of time. At first I couldn’t put my finger on why I didn’t like it, but AVClub’s Rowan Kaiser said it reminded him of the Anakin and Padme love story in Attack of the Clones (that field of flowers? Through in political discussion and you’ve got Episode II) and suddenly I knew what was wrong. Their romance feels artificial; from the way Mark was “courting” Maddy in earlier episodes to seemingly borrowing from other source material. I may have missed the AOTC bit my first time through, but I noticed straight away how the Jurassic Park homage when they slept in the tree. This romance has been done before.
Jim and Zoe’s storyline of being trapped in the Eye (a virtual library of sorts) was a lot less aggravating, but it still felt very familiar. They only way out of the sealed room (why does everything have to run on electricity?) is through a crawl space only big enough for Zoe to squeeze through. Naturally she’s terrified of the small space (there could be spiders), and Jim reassures her, singing her a song to give her courage. This has been done before, but it did an all right job fleshing out Zoe’s character, not by much, but enough. Thankfully this story was wrapped up earlier than the others, before it became really boring.
For the first time, Skye had a storyline completely separate from Josh (who actually did barely anything all episode). It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make her seem like a fully competent person worth spending time with again. The whole business with cutting out the parasite the old fashion way (or to put it a different way, how our generation does it) could have been a great segue into over reliance on electricity. Everything in Terra Nova is run by microchips. Even the guns have electric firing pins (is that anymore efficient than a regular one?). All it took was one EMP to basically cripple the colony. I thought for sure there would at least be a discussion about possibly distancing everyone from the comforts of the future and relying more on what can be found in the past. Alas, it never came up. That was a huge disappointment.
At last we get to it: the Sixers. They made good use of a dinosaur this week by using a spinosaurus (I’m guessing) as a diversion while a small group stole that weird purple box from a few weeks ago. That fight scene between the Sixers and Jim and Taylor was fantastic. There was a brutality to it that made it seem grittier, more real. But all the fighting aside couldn’t keep one of the Sixers getting away with the box and delivering it to who it belongs to: Taylor’s son. I was wondering if we’d see him before long and let me down just as I thought he would. He says some crap about needing the box (which seemed to be a kind of data storage unit) to complete his “work”. This was supposed to be a big reveal, but the guy showed up for two minutes and did nothing of any real importance and I knew he was Taylor’s son the moment he stepped into camera.
There were plenty of good ideas thrown into “Nightfall”, but they just didn’t get the attention they deserved. Instead of showing more scenes with Maddy and Mark, someone could have been seeking alternative ways to power the colony that aren’t susceptible to EMPs. That’s a pretty big flaw in the colony’s defense, and nobody seemed to think it was a big deal. So like I said at the beginning, there was potential here but it was needlessly squandered.