Extant – Season 1 Episode 1 – Re-Entry – Review

Extant (2014) is an American science fiction television show created by Mickey Fisher and executively produced by Steven Spielberg. The show stars: Halle Berry, Goran Visjinic, Pierce Gagnon, Camryn Manheim, Hiroyuki Sanada, Grace Gummer and Michael O’Neill.

This episode was directed by Allen Coulter and written by Mickey Fisher.

Episode Synopsis: Molly Woods (Halle Berry) is struggling to adapt to life after 13 months on a solo mission aboard a space station. She is still receiving flashbacks from her time there, and concern is raised from her son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). She lives with him and her husband John (Goran Visnjic) who is a robotics engineer heading the Humanichs Project (a project specialising in Artificial Intelligence).

Early on in the story it is established that their son Ethan is a robot who the couple have been raising as their son due to problems conceiving a child of their own.

Due to Molly’s time in space, increasing concern is raised from Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada), Molly’s employer. He heads the Yasumoto Corporation, and John’s Humanichs Project is desperately seeking funding from this. Yasumoto’s concern stems from the fact that some footage from Molly’s mission has been deleted, with Molly claiming she did this accidentally.

During the episode, Molly finds out that she is pregnant. She claims this is impossible because she is unable to have children. We then gain insight into an incident that occurred on her mission in which she encounters an apparently deceased astronaut who she used to be romantically involved with named Marcus Dawkins (Sergio Harford). After appearing unable to talk much and touching her face, she blacks out with Marcus standing before her. Later, when inspecting the camera footage she notices that he does not appear whatsoever and it looks like she is touching thin air. In a panic, she deletes it.

As a result, Molly is clearly hiding something, and Yasumoto has funded the Humanichs Project in an attempt to get closer to the family.

Due to this being the first episode of the series, there is a lot of world building occurring. Not only are we being introduced to new characters with their respective stories, but we are also being introduced to a new world; a world where technology is much more advanced than now.

This episode is nicely written and directed. There is enough twists and turns to keep the viewer interested, as well as questions raised to entice the audience for the rest of the series. It is also clear that Steven Spielberg’s touch is all over this show.

Halle Berry does not disappoint as Molly, and neither do the other actors in the cast.

There is some strong themes running through this episode; for instance the difference between humans and robots. This is mainly manifested in the Wood’s son Ethan, and whether he truly can experience human emotions such as love. Morality is another prevalent theme. Is creating robots in this manner morally right, and what are the repercussions of playing God as such?

To conclude, this is a show in which I would recommend. I was taken in by the world that has been created and the characters in it. The fact this also features Oscar winning actress Halle Berry and the legendary Steven Spielberg is enough to warrant further interest.

By Robert Spence

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