Review: The Extent of My ‘Extant’ Patience is Low

Let’s be honest. You didn’t think CBS’s Extant was going to come back for a second season, did you? When it was renewed for a sophomore go around, I was left scratching my head. What started as a space paranoia tale full of alien offspring and government cover-ups, Extant descended into an overly stuffed melodrama that couldn’t keep its head above water. The star power of Halle Berry made it watchable, and the retooled second season showcases the obvious changes.

It’s been six months since Ethan sacrificed himself for the good of humanity, but his mother, Molly Woods, isn’t doing so great. She’s lounging in a mental institution engrossing herself in virtual realities of spending time with her son and having shower sex with men that aren’t her husband, John (Goran Visnjic). I would endorse her having sex with anyone else other than John, because he’s probably one of the worst characters ever written, and Berry had more chemistry with Bruce Willis in that horrendous thriller, Perfect Stranger.

Molly has been told her offspring/child/alien lovebaby has been killed, and John manages to rebuild Ethan to a noble state. May I say thank goodness, because Pierce Gagnon is easily one of the best things about the show. Ethan is always a leering, creepy presence, and Gagnon is an actor far beyond his years. His return is unceremonious, however, because he is quickly kidnapped by some men in uniforms spouting off matters of national security. Not all is good at home, though, because Molly discovers that John and his lab assistant, Julie (Mamie Gummer), have indeed been having an affair.

The strongest thing about the second season opener is the notion that Berry embraces the idea of how absurd this all could be. There’s a scene where she mouths off to the sanitarium’s officials over her mental state (Molly refers to it as a “rest facility”), and we are reminded that her alien baby ages rapidly. The episode finishes with a college aged kid picking up a babe in a bar before his eyes turn a vicious yellow. Sheesh, I’m glad I’m not on Tinder.

The entire show has been completely retooled. Fingers crossed that CBS will just let Berry run wild like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown and struggling to find the truth! Molly teams up with a hit man played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, looking particularly scruffy and bored. My wish to see John get the boot is granted when he is hit by a train midway through the premiere, but something really bugged me about the treatment of the character of Julie. They allow her to fall into the trap of a clichéd scorned woman. She insists to John that they can start their “family” over again even though he clearly ended things. There is a scene where she has Ethan in her house, and I hope that they aren’t going to try and pit Berry and Gummer against each other for too long.

The show is trying to takeoff again, and it doesn’t need weighted down by such obvious plotlines. It’s going to struggle to keep my attention as is, so just let Berry run amok!

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