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The "Occupation" of Terra Nova requires "Resistance"

Terra Nova poster

Written by : published Tuesday 20th December 2011

     "Occupation" and "Resistance" draw to a close the first season of FOX's Terra Nova. A bunch of greedy miners with few scruples follow Lucas Taylor (Ashley Zukerman) into the past, where they quickly subdue the colony. Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang) and a group of soldiers stay outside the walls, and are soon contacted by Jim (Jason O'Mara), who was injured and missed the invastion. A resistance is launched, and Jim goes to the future and blows up the portal, just making it back in time. The bad guys just pull out, confusing the settlers, until they realize that an old bow of a sailing ship has been discovered in the Badlands, which is where the bad guys are heading.

     "Occupation" and "Resistance" call to mind other TV shows and movies pretty heavily. There's an Avatar-esque battle with a company who just wants to make a profit (though Lang is now on the right side). When the characters gaze at pretty dinosaurs, who Lucas casually murders, the parallel is even stronger. There's also an aspect of Lost, in the mystery of the sailing ship, and some of the musical score plays up this well. It's a smart move for Terra Nova, given that Avatar did well in theaters, and Lost is one of the greatest series ever made.

     But execution falls short, as it has continuously done over the season. Things are too easy, and leaps are made without explanation. Jim can run faster than the explosion destroying the Hub? Really? It's understandable that Terra Nova, being in part a family drama, doesn't want to lose its patriarch, but his mission is a suicide one. It would have been far more interesting to have Jim trapped in the future next season, seeking a way home. Or anyone in Jim's place, for that matter. Also, Jim just pretends he is confused wandering outside of the compound's walls, and the soldiers take him home? And he travels to a packed bar after curfew, where occupiers and colonists alike are drinking, and no one gets in trouble?

     The thing is, though, Terra Nova does know how to deliver a killer action sequence. And it also can tug a few heart strings. Credit should be given to Washington's (Simone Kessell) heroic sacrifice, made all the more moving as she struggles with the guilt of surrending Terra Nova to save innocent lives. In "Occupation" and "Resistance," she is a complex character with good motivations and a compelling story. Which saves the season finale from being a total bust. It's also hard not to get excited when the various members of the colony, who don't always get along, come together to fight back, even as the scenes lean a bit towards the cheesy.

     In a similar vein, Lang delivers a fantastic performance, even as the story between Taylor father and soon veers between unrealistic and ridiculous. Lucas is single-minded and evil, rather than layered, making their confrontation silly. But Lang still manages to evoke some strong emotion at his son's betrayal and death, and that says much about his acting skills.

     Dinosaur sightings are light, especially in the first half, but then, that's not really what Terra Nova is about. More disappointing is not seeing the colony fall, only hearing about it from Jim's perspective, as he slept through the whole thing. However, this is likely because of budget concerns, and because "Resistance" later gives a massive explosion and dinosaur chase, that kind of makes up for the skimping earlier.

     Does Terra Nova deserve a second season? Well, people will be upset if the ship's bow isn't explained. But it's hard to argue for more installments when, despite some wonderful moments and great special effects, the stories and dialogue just are not up to snuff. There are plenty of better shows that have been cancelled quicker. The deciding factor will likely be ratings, which have been good, but not great, given the massive budget of the series. Word may not be handed down for months, and there's nothing to do but wait and see.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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