Is Halle Berry's 'Extant' Baby An Alien? That And 4 Other Huge Burning Questions
On paper, Extant has everything going for it. It's a big-budget summer sci-fi show with a blockbuster hook and major pedigree. Steven Spielberg is an Extant producer and Halle Berry, an Oscar winner and one of today's biggest movie stars, is using the show to make a jump to the small screen. Also, Malia Obama was an intern on set. Not too shabby. Berry plays Molly, an astronaut who's just returned to Earth from a 13-month solo mission... during which she somehow became pregnant. With an alien baby. Molly has one kid already — except he's not a real kid, but actually a robot designed to learn and grow like a child. If you're starting to feel like Spielberg is borrowing plot lines from his own previous films well, you're not the only one. I guess he's taking the phrase "steal from the best" to heart.
But Extant isn't just the lovechild of A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Alien. Over its first three episodes it has slowly — often too slowly — introduced the audience to a world set in the future, where creepy robot kids worry about playground bullying and brilliant astronaut moms just want some peace and quiet for once. Like all good sci-fi dramas, Extant's mysteries, conspiracies, and double crosses keep piling up, making viewers question every character and stay tuned for each new twist. Let's take a look at what's been revealed so far, and what questions still need answering.
1. Is Molly's Baby an Alien?
This is obviously the major mystery of the entire show, and it may not even be resolved by the end of Season 1. All we know so far is that Molly experienced some sort of hallucination on board her spaceship, during which she saw her dead ex-boyfriend Marcus (Sergio Harford). Marcus touched Molly's belly, which seems to be the way she was impregnated (is that not how it works IRL? I may need to do some research). But video footage from the ship shows that Molly was alone during the time she saw Marcus. So did invisible aliens make her imagine her ex, then implant her with one of their own?
For now, Molly believes that the International Space Exploration Agency was running a covert experiment on her, and used her husband John's (Goran Visnjic) sperm to get her pregnant. For some reason, she seems relieved by this explanation. If agents from the government secretly impregnated me while I was up alone in space working for them, I probably wouldn't be as chill.
2. What is Ethan Capable Of?
Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) is a robot child, and I have very little trust in either of those creatures, let alone the combination. He's the first functioning Humanich, or data system with a physical body. His dad John invented him, then raised him in a lab for several years before downloading him into human form. Ah, the joys of child rearing.
So far, John assures every doubter that Ethan learns right from wrong just as normal children do, and that he's not a threat to people. The fact that he needs to keep insisting that Ethan won't destroy the entire human race kind of makes me think that Ethan will one day destroy the entire human race. He combines all the unsettling qualities of an intelligent machine (no emotions, cruelly calculating, dead eyes) with the sinister characteristics of a horror movie kid (creepy obsession with birds, weird whispery voice, more dead eyes). I'm not saying he's going to kill Molly, John, and this alien baby. But let's be real, he most likely will.
3. Who is Yasumoto Working For?
Remember when we talked about how Extant seems to be borrowing plot lines and common sci-fi tropes from other works? Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) is one of those tropes. A malevolent Japanese millionaire obsessed with advanced technology and samurais? Just give him a gross hairless cat to stroke and call it a day.
But even though Yasumoto is a pretty flat character, he still holds the key to a lot of the show's other mysteries. He's funding John's Humanichs research for one, and he's somehow involved in Molly's pregnancy. He also likes to bathe in weird yellow liquid that apparently keeps him from not dying. So what exactly is his deal? One guess is that he could be part-android himself. Or that he's working with the aliens. Or that he's part-android, part-alien, part-lazy writing.
4. Where Have We Seen Her Before?
OK, this one I actually know! Julie Gelineau, John's research assistant and Ethan's number one fan, is played by Grace Gummer: Meryl Streep's daughter. So if that's been bothering you, you're welcome.
Grace has played a few smaller parts before, including the lead in the show Paloma and a love interest/rival journalist for Jim Harper on The Newsroom. She also looks exactly like her slightly more famous sister Mamie Gummer, who has appeared in The Good Wife, Emily Owens, M.D., and a slew of movies. Before Extant, I thought that Mamie and Grace were the same person, and that one actress was just working super hard.
You had me fooled, Gummers.
5. Will We Get a Second Season?
Hard to say. After just three episodes, CBS moved Extant to a new time slot (Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET), which is never a good sign. A lead in from Criminal Minds repeats at 9 p.m. may help, but the show's third episode had ratings 30 percent lower than its premiere a month ago. And despite a buzzy debut, there has not been much social media chatter or written pieces discussing the show. Speeding the pacing and upping the intensity could go a long way towards improving this show, but Extant may not be around long enough for those changes to be implemented.
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