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Terra Nova – Occupation / Resistance

A lot happened during the two-part finale of Terra Nova. Some of it was funny, some of it was touching and some of it was sad, and although there were some breadcrumbs setting the stage for a subsequent season, the whole of it pretty much felt like a conclusion.

In the first half of the finale ("Occupation"), the forces behind Lucas Taylor make their move, sending him back to Terra Nova at the head of an army for hire. The private army takes over the settlement, pushing Taylor into military resistance and quickly creating an atmosphere as to make his previous absolute military leadership seem like a Jeffersonian democracy. If we forget the scene shared by Maddy and her soldier, everything leading up to the arrival of the army was pretty decent, but then there was the anti-climactic moment after the explosion. Even if you have little tolerance for battle scenes, here the build-up was such that when the story moved from the explosion at the Terminus to the infirmary, you had to feel a bit robbed of some promised outcome.

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As if that wasn't enough, we learn soon after that Kara was killed by the bomb. Love triangles can be tiresome, but the show was in a way so invested in the Josh and Kara relationship that killing her off so soon feels like an abrupt end to a storyline that had not run its course, even if it wasn't a fascinating one. The forgiveness scene between Lucas and Skye was creepy and wasn't really necessary. If the rationale behind it was to justify why he didn't throw her in the brig, I would say there were much worse plot holes and weaknesses that could have been addressed as well, like having the newcomers so systematically gullible and conveniently blind, or going through the trouble of etching those coordinates by hand on all those bullets hoping that the message would be understood only by people sympathetic to the resistance. And there is more: why would the operation to plunder the Late Cretaceous be led by Lucas, the physicist?

Although the first hour included what is arguably the funniest scene of the finale (featuring Corporal Riley's "If everyone could just shut up for a second") involving the bomb, it was undoubtedly the weaker of the two parts. "Resistance," the second half, took us through a full blown coordinated reaction by the original settlers, leading to the destruction of the infrastructure supporting the portal in the future, temporarily (or indefinitely according to the story) cutting off the Late Cretaceous from 2149.

Because of those events, the second part was much more gripping and even the Taylor family feud couldn't spoil it. What is arguably the best moment involves a favorite character, Elisabeth Shannon, threatening Weaver (the representative of the hidden forces) and then casually revealing that she was bluffing. By remaining interesting throughout the finale, the actress (Shelley Conn) has once again proven that she is the only cast member impervious to bad material from the writers.

The Shannons' escape brought about the death of Lt. Washington. Her ultimate conversation with the family was touching. So was the scene between Taylor and the little Shannon, who was very appropriately used. The death of Washington was the first event that really gave a conclusion-chapter feel to the finale. She had been there from the start and managed throughout the story to carve out a place in the characters' and the viewers' hearts.

The second half also had its share of plot weaknesses. The ease with which Lucas's employers took control of Hope Plaza, the only hope for humanity, is intriguing no matter how deep their pockets are. The little trip of the carnotaurus to 2149 to conveniently hunt down the baddies was amusing, and finally, with the importance of the project, you would think there would be a more robust operation waiting for "goods" in 2149.

Virtually absent throughout the extended episode, Mira and her Sixers were only used to leave some breadcrumbs for what seems to be one of the story arcs of the next season (if there is one). About that, it would have been more effective not to show what was found in the Badlands or maybe show something more mysterious. The prow of a ship had to conjure up thoughts of the Bermuda triangle and that is too much of a giveaway, no matter how the show plans to develop the story.

In its second part, the finale managed to put the Shannons at the center of the story with relative ease, and it seemed to bring the story to a conclusion that would be acceptable even if production on the show stopped. The finale was also a good representation of what the series have been, mixing some sweet moments with good ideas not so well executed, aimless storylines and uneven performances by most of the cast.


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