Last season on Extant, Halle Berry starred as an astronaut who got inexplicably pregnant with a killer alien baby on a space solo mission and brought it back to Earth. In season two, the inexplicable plot points pile on, resulting in a guilty pleasure dripping with everything you love to hate about scifi.
Even if you’ve never seen an episode, the season two premiere of Extant makes it easy to dive into. And, unfortunately, easy to cringe at Extant’s seemingly endless spread of science fiction tropes. We’ve got malevolent talking machines, government distrust of robots, conversant computers, and shoehorned tech dialogue. (A mistake? “A mistake is a coding error, or a broken plate!”)
So, what’s happened in the interim between the first two seasons? Let’s just say Molly’s had a rough few months...
The season opens with Molly whiling the weeks away, undergoing virtual reality therapy at a futuristic psych ward called RestWell. Why? Because since last season, she’s been convicted of arson, assault, and general looniness. But by episode’s end? She’s back out in the world, with a new ally: a bounty hunter played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy and Watchmen), ready to kick some alien ass.
But first, a series of flashbacks. We see Molly sitting before a Senate investigation hearing, lying under oath, saying there’s no possibility aliens could’ve returned to Earth. But almost immediately after, she’s royally screwed over when feds show up in the dead of night and forcibly arrest Ethan, Molly’s resurrected android son, saying that such robots have now been deemed dangerous.
Wait! Ethan died in the explosion in space last season, sacrificing himself so that Mom could escape a near-death crisis! Indeed, but in the Extant universe, reviving a “dead” robot boy is entirely in the realm of possibility. Why? Because he was uploaded to the cloud.
When Molly and husband John are seen tucking neo-Ethan into bed, he says it’s weird to be back in his body—but bigger! “That’s because you’re growing up,” Molly coos. Of course! It all makes sense (?). Well, child actors do grow up, so scifi writers gotta deal with that somehow. And I’m thinking CBS doesn’t have a big enough budget to render Ethan in ageless CGI for episodes on end, so this is what we get.
So, what led to Molly’s meltdown that locked her away? Her roboticist husband, John (who ended up having an affair with his lab assistant Julie while Molly was away, to no one’s surprise), and one of the show’s central characters, played by Goran Visnjic... dies. Or might’ve been killed? And in a suspicious, self-driving car accident, of all things. His shades-of-HAL ride parks on railroad tracks, disables manual drive mode, and locks the doors and windows. RIP John. Julie, who’s ascended to big cheese at the robotics lab, “adopts” Ethan.
To recap: Dead, cheating husband. Son who was basically kidnapped, twice. Everyone thinks she’s nuts. Things are bad. Until one night, when Molly overhears two nurses discuss a murder case in which the woman was killed in a way that sounds suspiciously and gruesomely familiar—Molly suspects the victim, too, was pregnant with an alien, who burst through the woman’s stomach.
When she manages to bust out of RestWell and carjack her way to the crime scene, she’s caught by bounty hunger JD Richter. (There’s an eBay-like service for “investigators” to bid on cases.) At first, he thinks she’s crazed. But right as she asserts that all the women killed in this recent string of murders were pregnant—pregnant with killer alien babies, though she omits that part—the RestWell gang tracks her down and throws her back in, lock and key, under increased surveillance.
Lo and behold, Richter finds prenatal vitamins in the victim’s house, bails Molly out of the ward, and kicks off as a new alien-hunting dynamic duo. Not before Molly whacks the crap out of the windshield of the car she stole during her breakout. (It belongs to a creepy dude nurse whose forceful advances were forcibly rejected). Onto the rest of season two!
I like Berry’s performance, and Morgan breathed much-needed new life into the premiere toward the end. The show is no doubt entertaining. But it’s also a show that’ll deliver lines like, “He’s more human than any of those asses!” comparing robot Ethan to the robophobics in government. I think, to enjoy the show, you can’t be a diehard scifi fan, due to trope overload and a clunky script. Otherwise, feel free to hate-watch.
Image via CBS