It came to no surpirse that Steven Spielberg’s latest venture would be under huge pressure. The premiere of Jurassic Park meets Lost has aired and it’s now time to decide: did Terra Nova concour all high expectations?
The two hour debut wasn’t slow in pulling us straight into the action as we flied to the year 2149 where the human race is threatened by extinction. The only way in surviving this horrible fate is to travel to Terra Nova. That seems easy enough, until you throw in the fact that this place is 85 million years behind in prehistoric Earth.
Loving husband, Jim (Jason O’Mara), arrives home and we are introduced to our central family: the Shannon’s, consisting of his wife Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn) and their three children: Josh (Landon Liboiron), Maddy (Naomi Scott) and Zoe (Alana Mansour). Jim holds a suspicious grimy bag which he unveils to be an orange. This piece of fruit creates a stir of Christmas excitement that makes you believe they have never seen the orange food product before! Well, that is in fact the case for the youngest member of the family, Zoe. Josh is in the middle of performing the satisfactory peeling ritual when three policemen come banging at their door. Due to future Earth being overpopulated, couples are only allowed to have two children and so Elisabeth places Zoe into her secret hiding place, an air vent. As the police tear their house apart with no such luck, it seems as though Zoe will not be found, but the police eventually find her. To protect Zoe Jim attacks the police officers which results in him being sent to Golad prison.
Zip forward two years and Jim is still in jail but Elizabeth has constructed a plan for him to escape so he can move with her to Terra Nova. The Doctor has been recruited by the Tenth Pilgrimage to the intriguing new world so she can be of assistance (the only other way of gaining the one way ticket is by winning the lottery), and also Josh and Maddy are fortunately being allowed to go, although Zoe has been told to stay put.
After Jim has escaped from the torments of prison, he goes to the building which leads to Terra Nova and picks up a backpack on the way, containing his five year old daughter. He eventually teams up with the rest of his family and one by one they go through the portal which leads to paradise. The security guards want to have a look in Jim’s bag, but he makes a quick getaway and vanishes into the past.
On the other side, the family are overwhelmed by the natural state of the Earth and they join all the other pilgrims on their journey to camp. Commander Nathaniel Taylor, the leader of the experiment, welcomes everyone to their new home in his “we’re the new dawn of civilisation” speech and describes how they have been given the chance to start again after destroying future Earth.
Jim and Elisabeth are called in for a private meeting with Taylor about their felony (dying Earth is able to communicate with Terra Nova, despite its 85 million year difference.) We even gain our first glimpse of a dinosaur, in the shape of Taylor’s desk being made from one of the prehistoric animals’ skull! It is not possible to send Jim back because of his crime and it would be pointless putting him into prison so Jim is forced to do agricultural duty, despite his plea to be on the security team, as that was his profession before he went to jail, but Taylor is having none of it.
You would think having a fresh start away from the hell hole of the dying future and finally being reunited with your dad would be a fantastic thing, not for the Shannons! While they become settled into their new home, Elisabeth confesses to Jim her fears that they have done the wrong moving here, but before he can reassure her Zoe arrives. Being so young when her father left means Zoe doesn’t have much recollection of Jim, but eventually she cutely calls him “Daddy”. Seventeen year old Josh is not happy that he has been brought to Terra Nova, presuming because he had to leave his girlfriend behind, and takes it all out on his father, at this rate it seems as though Jim would have been better off in prison! Zoe goes missing and the family go looking for her to find that she is feeding a branch to a dinosaur.
The next day everyone is getting on with their new lives: Jim is doing agricultural work, Elizabeth shows us her first doctorial skills and two thirds of the kids attend Orientation. Maddy gets her first central screening time and, judging by this scene; it’s safe to say she is going to be the geek of the family. The siblings come across the probe that the scientists first sent into the time fracture. Josh is none the wiser of what it is and being the Miss Granger of the family, Maddy practically spells it out to him. She explains that they sent the probe out so they could figure out how far back the time fracture went, but when it never emerged, the scientists realised they were dealing with a parallel time stream, or to that effect. This means that their new environment won’t affect what happens on the old Earth.
Josh meets rebellious Skye (it seems the teenager’s old girlfriend is now officially out of the picture) and he skips Orientation so he can spend the day with her. With a group of her friends, Josh is taken to OTG (Outside The Gate) where they jump off a waterfall. Skye shows Josh strange yellow markings, which look like equations, etched onto rocks at the bottom of the waterfall (no doubt we will find out what they mean in the future.) No one is allowed to leave the camp so Skye urges Josh to not utter a word about their rule breakings. Love is also in the air for Maddy, although her motor mouth spews out worthless facts which send her crush fleeing.
Elisabeth is working on a patient who was shot because he was stealing. She asks the security guard why violence was used on him and he replies that the victim is a Sixer. The Doc doesn’t get the chance to ask any more questions as the man darts up and threatens to cut Elisabeth’s throat. He escapes from the hospital and Elisabeth is safe (for now.) Jim is the least bit interested in learning his agricultural duties and instead spots our strange Sixer hiding something in his shirt. Putting his police instincts to the test, Jim follows him until he sees the Sixer unveil a futuristic looking gun and Jim saves Taylor from assassination (earning some much needed brownie points.)
Jim even gets a one to one session in the forbidden jungle, where he is filled in on all the gossip about the once perceived paradise. We learn that the Sixers were given their name because they came through to Terra Nova on the sixth pilgrimage. They have a certain “agenda” which is yet unclear and Taylor doesn’t know who sent them. Eventually the Sixers realised that Taylor and Co knew that they were up to something so they bolted into the jungle, taking weapons with them. Since someone corrupt must have sent them out in the future, Taylor has decided not to tell anyone on dying Earth about them as it is unsure who he can trust.
Jim is granted his wish of being on the security team and it’s not long until he’s put on his first mission when Taylor spies two Sixer tanks heading to the camp. The two in their buggy catch up to the Sixers, but they’re not given a chance to stop them when a Carnotaurus appears, chasing the three fleeing automobiles. One of the Sixers is demolished in a second by the creature and Taylor makes a spur of the moment decision; jumping out of the buggy to grab the dinosaur’s attention. Jim speeds around in the buggy and saves his boss; they quickly arrive back in camp as the gates close. They’re not the only ones to arrive back in town though; the two Sixer trucks are kindly awaiting their arrival. The leader of the Sixers, Mira, explains they are here to gain Carter (the Sixer who tried to shot Taylor) back by doing a trading with meteoritic ore. The camp is running out of ore supply so Taylor agrees and with the trading completed, the Sixers leave. On their way back they discover Skye’s empty buggy and make a move to strip it off its power. However when one of the Sixer makes his move, he is caught and killed by a deadly dinosaur called a Slasher.
At camp we discover that Taylor has a son who went missing three years ago, but he has not given up hope that he will appear again. Jim is called by Taylor and they both watch some security footage which shows the group of friends escaping into the jungle. As it is becoming dark they form a search party and set off to find the teenagers before the dinosaurs do.
When Josh and his group of newly acquainted friends arrive back at the buggy they are shocked to see it has been stripped off its power cells. Over a small stream they see a Sixer vehicle and Skye leads them towards it in the hope that the camps enemies can give them their power cells back. On arrival a Slasher appears and it’s clear they will all be murdered unless they gain entrance into the vehicle. A badly injured Sixer, called Drake, is reluctant at first, but recognising Skye and so he lets them in. The group try to fend off the Slashers and they send out a call on a device in the hope that those at camp will pick it up. Luckily, Taylor receives the message so they know the children are ok and have a better idea of where they are located.
Tasha, one of the teenagers, is overwhelmed by the situation and thinks they should try to go back to camp themselves. They try to change her mind, but it’s too late and she runs out of the vehicle and is attacked by a Slasher. The search party discover Tasha so her father and Elizabeth head back to camp to sort out her wounds.
Skye thinks that the group should head back to their buggy and try to power it up so they can flee from the Slashers. The remaining teenagers agree and head off to their truck. Their journey is intense as Slashers appear from every angle and both Max and Hunter are injured in the process. Fortunately, Taylor’s squad shows up just in time, causing the dinosaurs to flee. Taylor goes to find Drake at the Sixers vehicle, but he has disappeared and the Commander believes Mira had come to rescue him.
The rebellious teenagers are safely taken back to camp where Josh reunites with his family and Taylor and Skye have a private conversation. It seems Taylor is a softy at heart who sheltered Skye when both her parents had died. Nevertheless, he asks if she and the group had gone to the waterfall. She deceivingly replies no and it seems Taylor knows about the strange equations on the rocks.
Mira and Drake are by the rocks at the waterfall and it is explained that the markings were created by Taylor’s son. They have been created to remind Taylor the reason for Terra Nova’s existence: to shape up the entity of time, past and future.
The Shannon’s gaze at the night sky and wonder what more challenges they face living in Terra Nova. One thing is certain: they have arrived home.
What did you think of the premiere? Will you continue watching?
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- Behind the Scenes of ‘Terra Nova’: What Makes Commander Taylor Tick? (buddytv.com)
- Thoughts on Terra Nova (chyrondave.wordpress.com)