Extant Series Premiere Recap: Molly, You in Danger, Girl

Extant Series Premiere Recap Halle Berry

In CBS’ 13-episode summer drama Extant, Halle Berry is Molly Woods, an astronaut facing a very freaky final frontier. And based on the Lost­-like vibe of the series premiere, it’s likely you’ll want to tear open a foil pack of freeze-dried ice cream and strap in for the ride.

In addition to serving up some serious heebie-jeebies and bringing Goran Visnjic back to my TV screen (side note: thank youuuu), the Steven Spielberg-produced thriller poses some big questions in its first outing. Among them: If a machine can fake love with precision and aplomb, does it really matter if the emotion isn’t real? How much do we really know about what’s floating around in the gaping void just beyond our atmosphere? And how in the name of all that is good and holy is it fair that Berry looks better while tossing her cookies than I do on my best day?

We’ll consider all of these points as we review the premiere, “Re-entry” — and then, we want to know what you thought of the new series.

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HARD RETURN | The hour opens with a boy flying a toy spaceship around his room but stopping when he hears his mom throwing up in the bathroom. The woman is the aforementioned Molly, who sports a gnarly saliva thread hanging from her chin as she reassures the boy that her body’s “just readjusting.”

She recovers in time to attend a party in her honor later that day: After being away on a solo space mission for the past 13 months, the astronaut has returned to normal life with her husband John (Visnjic) and son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon, One Tree Hill). It’s all very normal and futuristic in the “in five or 10 years from now” way rather than in the “tea, Earl Grey, hot” way; I, for one, am psyched if my future will include such luxurious knitwear as John and Molly sport throughout this episode.

But we soon get the sense that not everything is as normal as it first appears. When Molly takes out the trash later that evening, a shadowy figure appears on the street nearby, then disappears. Meanwhile, upstairs in Ethan’s bedroom, we learn that John and Molly’s son may look like a real (if creepy) boy, but he’s actually a robot – pardon me, a “humanich” prototype created by John, who hopes to get the funding to build many more.

Even weirder: When Molls visits with her doctor pal Sam, she gets some insane news – she’s pregnant. But I’m infertile! And I’ve been in isolation for the past year!, Molly protests. Still, the space-age EPT doesn’t lie, and the gobsmacked mom-to-be begs Sam not to say anything to anyone just yet.

SPACE ODDITY | Flashback time! Throughout the episode, we see Molly in action during her mission. The footage looks very cool, Molly’s jumpsuit looks very tight, and all seems to go according to plan until the computer craps out, the lights dim and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MAN ON THE STATION WITH HER. The low hum of the machinery, the camera work, the weird-acting, possibly alien embodiment of Molly’s probably-dead former lover/husband Marcus… if you wanted to fill me with dread and fear, Extant, mission accomplished.

As Marcus parrots Molly’s words — despite what he says, it is decidedly not OK – she starts to cry and then blacks out. When she comes to, it’s about 13 hours later and the computer is back online… and security footage shows her reacting to absolutely nothing: Marcus, or whoever he was, didn’t show up on film. Freaking, Molly deletes the footage and later tells her superiors it was an accident made during a routine system back-up, something they secretly doubt.

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SOFT(WARE) SELL | John – flanked by his colleague Julie (Grace Gummer, The Newsroom) and Ethan – goes before the board of a big-deal corporation to ask it to back his project. What about a robot uprising? one of the board members queries, but John pooh-poohs the concern by stressing how his humanichs are raised as humans and therefore pose no threat. (And somewhere, Bill Adama grinds his palms into his face in frustration and asks, “Seriously?” So say we all, dude.) Another board member angers John with her questions about kill switches if the androids get out of control, and when he shoots back, “Do you have a child? Do you have a plan to kill her?,” the meeting’s over.

Things look up when Hideki Yasumoto, the head of the company, invites John to his home and offers to privately finance the venture. Two things John doesn’t know: Yasumoto is in league with Molly’s suspicious superiors, and Yasumoto was (until very recently) encased in goo and possibly kept in a state of stasis or something equally weird.

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I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM | Molly and Ethan’s trip for ice cream is marred when she gets an anonymous note – “I know what happened to you. Contact soon” – and Ethan throws a fit and maybe murders a bird. At home that night, Molly thinks something is really disturbing about Ethan, shouting, “He approximates a behavior that resembles love, but that’s not love!” and John counters that she’s the one who’s been acting oddly since her return. They make up the next morning, but all is still not great in Casa Woods.

Of all the questions raised in Extant‘s first hour, we get at least one answer. When the shadowy figure once more approaches Molly at trash time, she sees that he’s her former colleague Harmon Kreiger, who allegedly killed himself after his own trip to the stars. And he’s got one piece of advice for her: “Don’t trust them.” Who, exactly, does he mean? “Anyone.” Houston, we have lots of problems.

Now it’s your turn. Are you as intrigued by Extant as I am? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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43 Comments
  1. KCC says:

    Great start! A good mix of confusing and compelling! I’ll watch again

  2. M80 says:

    Best headline ever.

  3. Really enjoyed it! And I second the woo hoo at the return of Goran Visnjic back to my tv!

  4. Marcus T. says:

    The visual’s were pretty good. Felt almost like a film

    • Fyrkat says:

      Can you say “Executive producer – Steven Spielberg”? This show is a film with 13 parts. They are going all out with it to see if it hits.

  5. ben says:

    A sci fi show that doesn’t look like a video game!

  6. allie says:

    I really liked it but my husband fell asleep. I think it is far better than the other scifi shows we are watching at the moment – Falling Skies and Under The Dome

    • Lo says:

      I liked it too, but let’s not put Falling Skies and Under the Dome in the same sentence, ok? Falling Skies is phenomenal and well-scripted/ acted…. Under the Dome is what they should be streaming at Gitmo 24/7 to make the terrorists talk. LOL

  7. JJM says:

    What are the chances this show picks up like Under The Dome’s first season and it’s renewed for a second?

  8. laurelnev says:

    The 1st ep of a sci-fi show is always a combo of too much and not enough exposition. I will hang on for ep 2, at least, and I hope it’s not canceled just as it starts getting good/making sense like so many other sci fi shows on network Cough…The Event, Firefly.)

  9. don holley says:

    Slow setup, but nice payoff @/the end! I’d watch Halle Berry read the phone book! LOL Nice supporting cast. Intrigued enough to keep watching.

  10. para says:

    Does the robot company have to be a Japanese company?

    • Ty says:

      Yes, yes it does. And the guy playing the Company head was PERFECTLY cast. Same as his role in HELIX. He is the go to guy for mysterious thousand layers deep character with secrets for days.

  11. A Fan says:

    I wonder if Hiroyuki Sanada is going to be on this show if it gets renewed and Helix which has already been renewed. He must like playing these mysterious type characters. His character on Helix is similar.

  12. lame says:

    Intruiguing premise, and Halle Berry, I’ll watch it again.

  13. JAB says:

    I flicked over and watched the Tour de France coverage during the episode.

    It was a fifteen minute episode jam packed into an hour.

    You could easily eliminate the husband and robot child from the episode since they bring nothing to the story .

    This show DID NOT live up to the hype.

  14. Rick Katze says:

    After digesting the story, it seemed better than it was when I watched it in real time. Definitely worth a watching the next episode. But this really feels like a ONE SEASON story with a beginning, middle and AN END unlike Under the Dome which clearly changed in the middle of the show when they figured they could add a season or two to the story.

  15. jerry says:

    Is this a mini series or is it going to have more than one season? I don’t want to commit to more than one season before I watch it. I don’t want another Dome.

    • Steven says:

      Then don’t watch so ratings are low & it doesnt get renewed …. Its about ratings and dollars. If it rates well, CBS will give Halle money for a second season. They also already have a deal with Amazon & mo doubt have sold it to foreign markets

  16. Not sure about it…too many unrelated bits and pieces although I’m very suspicious most of them will end up linking. Also not sure if there’s enough plot here for more than a single season. But since Halle Berry is the lead maybe it is only a one series show.

  17. Bark Star says:

    Thanks for the Bill Adama reference ! It was more entertaining than the whole episode wich failed to connect.

    “Ohh, I passed out while an impossible stranger was touching me. He doesnt appear on the videos so I better delete it all WITHOUT watching to see what happend to me AFTER I passed out”

    • Liz says:

      Yeah, that was the only part of the episode I disliked. It was completely implausible that an astronaut would simply open the door to an unknown, unexpected phenomenon. I get that she was alone and people tend to act strangely in isolation but she barely paused before opening that door.

  18. EMJ says:

    Smart writing and a well put together cast. I really enjoyed it.

  19. After an intriguing premiere, I’m sold. I hope they can continue to serve up the chills and the mystery, but I’m kind of afraid that there will be some last-minute silly twist that ruins the whole thing; Like she’s actually a Humanic but doesn’t know it, and they are beta testing her responses

  20. herman1959 says:

    I liked it, although it weirded me out to the point that I could’nt watch the weird episode of Criminal Minds that followed it, but I’m committed for the entire run. I’m glad to have to a show to watch for the Summer since my usual shows (except for PBS) are all on hiatus, and Astronaut Wives was pushed back to midseason.

  21. Bobu says:

    I thought it was good . Waiting to really see it take off .yes I will watch it again, the acting was great

  22. Very interesting and that kid is crreeeeeppppyyy.

  23. Lisa Benwitz says:

    I wasn’t interested in seeing this show at all, as I always *want* to like Halle Berry so much more than I actually do after seeing her in–well, anything, basically. But my husband really wanted to see it, and since he suffers through most of the things I like to watch, I figured I’d be fair and watch it with him, hope he didn’t like it, and be martyr and whine about it ever after if he did and I had to keep watching. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to find myself enthralled by it and feeling like the acting was really strong, and I wasn’t annoyed with Ms. Berry’s character at all, even when she didn’t watch the tape long enough to see what happened to her after she passed out, as someone else mentioned in the comments below.

    I feel like they gave away more than I wanted to know during the preview for the season at the end–and I also feel like it’s a given that the show is going to try to do too much, rendering the ‘payoff’ anticlimactic and annoying. Then again, I am one of the people who was thrilled with the ending of ‘Lost,’ so I guess you never know what will happen… in any case, I’m officially along for the ride.

  24. Theresa says:

    I love all the mysteries involved in the incident. What are her superiors keeping quiet about? I am so intrigued.

  25. Liz says:

    I liked it and will keep watching as long as it doesn’t seem “Lost-like” by which I mean one mystery is replaced by another two and everything gets dragged out until it is no longer recognizable.

    Orphan Black is a great example of a show providing answers to viewers while keep the mystery about the larger storyline evolving instead of just trotting out one inexplicable subplot after another which makes you think the writers are making it up each week with no overall plan. I’ve found that shows with a limited run (10-13 episodes) usually have better structure and are planned out better than regular TV series which kind of meander around for 9 months. So, I’m hopeful.

  26. Steven says:

    THE SMOKE MONSTER IS BACK. I hope if I invest in the show, they air all episodes & answer questions since its limited vs cliffhangers for possible second season

  27. Phantom says:

    Very good…..glad to have Goran Visnijc back on tv. Not only is he a good actor….but good looking also. With Steven Speilberg in on this series it is bound to be a thriller. Hope it stays around awhile.

  28. dianneps says:

    I am intrigued by Extant, but not yet awed. I am curious to learn if there is truly no one that Molly can trust. I sincerely hope that she doesn’t choose to trust the untrustworthy therapist she is forced to see. Looking forward to next week!

  29. K95 says:

    To be honest I was expecting a bit more out of premiere but it’s good. Excellent heading too.

  30. Mary Colurso says:

    Succinct and witty recap. Kimberly Roots had me with the headline, and I simply had to look up a clip of “Ghost,” just to hear Miss Whoopi Goldberg say that again.

  31. Leslie says:

    I blacked out and missed last 20 minutes of finale! What happened, I don’t have access to On Demand or TiVo or Amazon prime, please tell me?

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