'Terra Nova' finishes its season with an explosive finale

'Terra Nova' has introduced themes of utopia and good versus evil during its fall run

Charles Sykes/FRE/AP
'Terra Nova' star Stephen Lang plays Commander Taylor, whose son may destroy everything the settlers hold dear in tonight's season finale.

It has been a pivotal first season of the sci-fi drama backdropped in a world where dinosaurs still roam.  TERRA NOVA ambitiously set out to show us the story of a family that was willing to travel back in time in order to stay together and have a chance at a better future for humanity.

But paradise is only beautiful on the surface.  There have been bumps and bruises along the way as each of the Shannon family members struggled to find their place in this new world and tried to figure out who they could really trust.  Utopia is a wonderful ambition, but human beings always bring the element of surprise and unpredictability as their emotions sway their decisions — for better or worse.

For Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara), the former police narcotics detective turned prison-escapee desperate to keep his family together and to ensure the safe-keeping of his youngest daughter, there was literally no place left on Earth to hide.  Fortunately for him, he married the right woman, Dr. Elisabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn), a trauma surgeon who the government recruited for colonization in an experimental settlement comprised of scientists who would safeguard the planet 85 million years in the past.  The colony of Terra Nova sounds ideal, but humans rarely can agree on how to best shape the future, let alone protect the planet.

When the Shannons arrived, they discovered that things were not as idyllic as promised and that there was a rebel force known as the Sixers who were working covertly to crack the code to open the time portal in both directions — thereby allowing an unknown faction to swoop in and exploit the resources of Terra Nova for their own nefarious purposes in the future.

This first season has been one of both wonder and discovery.  There was the wonder of the amazing animals and dinosaurs that populated the planet before time erased them from existence.  There has also been the sad realization that humans can still be bought and blackmailed into doing things destructive to the entire human race.

Mira (Christine Adams), head of the Sixers, is the hired gun/strategist who is motivated to find a way back to 2149, where she has left her 4-year old daughter behind.  With the time portal only working to allow them to travel back into the past, it is her mission to ensure that Commander Taylor’s son, Lucas (Ashley Zukerman), can crack the formula to open the portal from the other side.  Mira’s motivation may be money or fear for her own daughter’s safety, but Lucas’ motivations were even darker.  Lucas blamed his father for his mother’s death and swore to undermine everything Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang) stands for by opening the portal from Terra Nova back to 2149.

Reluctantly aiding Mira and Lucas in their dastardly plan is the mole within Terra Nova, the lovely and oh-so-innocently looking Skye (Allison Miller).  Coerced into helping the Sixers into providing intel in exchange for medicine for her mom, Skye is the lynch-pin in the TERRA NOVA story.  From the very first moment in this amazing world, Skye made sure to welcome the Shannons and integrated herself into their lives.  She instinctively knew that they would both provide a great cover for her and that ultimately one day she may need them.  Skye’s instincts did not fail her.  She repeatedly exploited her friendship and good esteem with the Shannons to keep her actions from raising suspicion.; thus, proving that the best disguise is the friends you keep — and Skye had perfected the art of making friends in key places.  It also gave her an escape plan if things turned dicey in the high-stakes game of espionage with the Sixers.  Skye always knew that befriending Commander Taylor and the Shannons would be the one thing to save her if she were ever discovered.

So TERRA NOVA’s first season has slowly peeled back layer-after-layer of the dangers of living in a world without the full resources the settlers were accustomed to.  From fighting with the local wildlife to combating new contagions to meteors with detrimental soundwaves, life in this new world was unpredictable and dangerous.  Even with the modern technology brought with them, it is not enough to truly protect them from “mother nature” and all she has to throw at them.  Though, at times, she helped to level the playing field with the Sixers and it forced them to work together from time to time in order to survive.  Humans have never quite fully figured that out:  our very survival depends on cooperation and mutual appreciation, or we will not survive.  Alas, as most recently seen, all it takes is one blindly-determined angry genius to topple peace on Earth. 

Lucas Taylor’s rage was converted into a hatred that opened the door to war.  With the portal gate now functional from both sides, at Lucas’ whim, all Hell is about to break loose.  For nothing will appease Lucas and assuage his boiling anger more than to see his father’s work destroyed and everyone who stands with him taken down.

How will Commander Taylor, Jim Shannon and the settlers of Terra Nova survive when confronted with the advanced weaponry of the future?  It was not a war they were prepared to fight.  Their mission was to travel back in time to preserve the planet for the future — not have to defend the planet from armed resistance and exploiters from their home timeline.

Suddenly, the ferocious, native dinosaurs seem to be the least of their problems.  Who knew that humans would steep so low as to destroy the planet before they would ever be born?  It could create a time paradox that is monstrous.  This is not a mere “butterfly effect” to worry about — it is the end of the planet as we know it.

Tiffany Vogt blogs at The TV Addict.

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