Extant Premiere ‘Re-Entry’ Review!
It is odd to see Halle Berry making the jump from movies to a TV-show. And yet, here she is in the new CBS show Extant produced by Mickey Fisher. The show straddles various genres such as Science-Fiction, Mystery and Drama while taking care not to get bogged down in the SF department. I first heard of Extant about a year ago. I thought it odd it would star Halle Berry but I wasn’t against it. My first thought was that this show would be something like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Contact starring Jodie Foster. As of this moment I am not sure if will go in any such ‘familiar’ direction. Halle Berry plays astronaut Molly Woods who is back from a mission in space that lasted over a year. She has trouble readjusting to normal life set in the near-future. If you’re intrigued, continue downward for the rest of the Extant Premiere ‘Re-Entry’ Review!
Things take a strange turn when Molly discover she is pregnant despite having been alone on the mission. She is also bothered by a reoccurring stranger who seems to stalk her. Her relationship with her husband John is often awkward as she is reminded of her previous lover, Marcus. Molly and John have a son Ethan. At this moment it is not clear whether Ethan ever existed for real or was purposefully designed as a robot. Ethan has a temper and reminds me a lot of the character David (Haley Joel Osment) from Steven Spielberg’s movie Artificial Intelligence (2001). The connection may be less surprising as the famed director acts as a executive producer on this show.
Ethan’s ‘father’ John shows his son to a group of researcher at a company called Yasumoto led by Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada). There he discusses why people are still uncomfortable with robots. He states that the ‘uncanny valley’ is not due to lack of esthetics but the fact that robots do not have genuine learned emotions. John is however questioned whether Ethan has a kill switch. Actor Pierce Gagnon who plays the young Ethan manages to vividly portray all emotional states including anger very well
Meanwhile Molly comes to grips with her pregnancy that by all accounts is impossible. Through flashbacks we get to see little snippets of her 13 month stay on the space station Seraphim. There Molly has hallucinations of her former lover Marcus. However, as Molly is questioned about a blackout that occurred on the station the viewer slowly realizes that Molly may have deliberately deleted footage suggesting she may have been in contact with Marcus. The intense questions by the NASA staff also leads to the possibility that they know more than they admit. Mr. Yasumoto is seen revived by a unknown method at the NASA headquarters.
Yasumoto arranges for funds for John’s robotics project in order to stay close to Molly and find out what happened to her. Extant tries hard to immediately create a sense of conspiracy and mystery. I think it may have been more elegant if such effort had been delayed for a few episodes. There is the imminent risk the show would burn itself out before the end of the first season. Hiroyuki Sanada dominates every scene he is in, though he reminded me too much of Hatake from Helix. Though John is shown to be dedicated to his work there is almost no existent chemistry between him and his wife. I am not sure that this is by design or bad casting. Nonetheless, both Molly and John have very different feelings towards Ethan.
As I mentioned before I have no idea where the show is headed. Though Extant focuses mostly on Molly her husband acts as a sort of father to what I can only describe as a new version of Pinocchio. The stalker that has been shadowing Molly is revealed to be Harmon, a astronaut thought dead. Before Molly can question him he flees but tells her not to trust anyone.
Extant felt as a pleasant surprise. I haven’t seen this show advertised much and the buzz around it was low. However, that made the first episode feel all that more special. The viewer is still left in the dark around many of the issues as well as the setting but that can’t be helped in just 40 minutes. Despite my positive opinion I did feel that the creation of mystery surrounding Yasumoto felt forced. This should have been avoided. An actor such as Hiroyuki Sanada can easily take over the series. Showrunner Mickey Fisher is taking a chance with a show that is not action packed or featuring a episodic story structure. For now I am quite content to wait and see where Extant takes us. This was Extant Premiere ‘Re-Entry’ Review!
Score; 8 / 10.