CSI: Terra Nova

If someone’s being sent out in the middle of the night to get killed by dinosaurs, then you know it must be a new episode of Terra Nova. Why do they keep doing that? You’d think after a while, people would either stop volunteering or simply refuse to be some dino’s late-night snack. Sure enough, a seemingly innocent soldier boy opens the door of a remote bunker somewhere and—CRUNCH—he’s food.

This episode is called “Bylaw,” but it should probably have been called “CSI: Terra Nova.” Jim leads the investigation into the gruesome death, and I wonder who investigated all these mishaps before he arrived. Or were they just saving up all their police investigations, just in case a hunky Chicago cop happened to make an illegal voyage 85 million years into the past? Jim sleuths around, but doesn’t really have a clue until Malcolm declares that the whole thing is an open and shut case. By Hollywood law, anytime someone declares that, a case has to spiral out of control in terms of complexity and reach.

Shockingly, Josh still has a job and hasn’t even whined his way out of drying glasses or dusting the big multi-colored disco juke box distilleries. Now, there’s a conversation with purchasing I’d like to hear:

“Yeah, we’re going to need some big multi-colored tanks with lights.”
“The strobe lights or the lava lamp lights?”
“The lava lamps lights will do. This is the Cretaceous, after all.”

Reminding us that he’d still very much like to club Elisabeth over the head and drag her back to his cave, Malcolm brings an egg to the research lab, in hopes of getting her attention. Clearly, he’s never seen Jurassic Park III or any movie or documentary about nature ever. Eggs, bear cubs and Mel Gibson’s kids are all things you don’t want to get caught harboring or ransoming. Still, the ploy works, and soon enough Elisabeth and Malcolm are engaging in their favorite form of foreplay: fondling holographic images of science.

Back on “CSI,” I have to wonder when TV shows started referring to victims as “vics?” Supernatural and Terra Nova are both doing it now. I don’t know if any of the Law & Order shows do it, because I don’t watch those, not even for Chris Meloni. “Perp” I can understand, because it’s a long word. But haven’t the victims on these shows been through enough? Some poor extra has to update his IMDB page with “featured role as Vic #3.”

Jim is super suspicious of the whole “innocent dino attack” scenario, so he starts building a case. For murder! Speaking of “CSI,” remember when Marg Helgenberger played a whore on China Beach? Her character was an embedded prostitute in the army camp. Commander Taylor is a bit too straight-laced to allow a brothel in Terra Nova, but women of questionable repute still manage to make the pilgrimage, like futuristic Wives of Bath.

Seems that once you win the lottery to relocate to Terra Nova, everyone wants to be your friend. And by “friend,” I mean cheap whore tramp sex poodle. Meet Howard and Rebecca Milner. Howard is a bit of a dork, and Rebecca is a hottie with a fondness for soldiers. Yup, Rebecca was shtupping the dead soldier. It takes Howard about two seconds to confess to the elaborate murder. Well, that was easy. Plus, he gets to be the first human in history to say, “And I’d do it again, too!”

Back in Terra B Story, Malcom and his egg have attracted the lethally adorable attention of Zoe. Disaster-prone Zoe. Mistress of Evil Zoe. Malcolm might as well kiss his egg and whatever chances he had of seducing Elisabeth goodbye. For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the Zoe.

Jim tells Taylor about Howard’s confession, and Taylor doesn’t take too kindly to this level of treachery in his colony. He waxes nostalgic about all the ways people in Terra Nova die, and it’s a long list, but at least it doesn’t include murder. Not murder! He decides to banish the poor loser into the wilds of dino-land. To give him a sporting chance, he does this during the day, which is ironic since the vic was pushed outside the gates at night.

Meanwhile, Josh continues his mission to get that girl we only saw for about two seconds in the pilot to become a series regular. He’s so determined that he’s even willing to be an errand boy for Mira, the Queen of the Sixers.

Jim declares the whole death-by-dino incident and confession an open and shut case, and you have to wonder if he was even paying attention to the beginning of the show. Elisabeth, however, was paying attention, so she helps nudge him along: “That confession came really easy, don’t you think?” Too late. Taylor opens the gates and pushes Howard out, saying, “Go on, go. Walk out the door. Don’t turn around now. You’re not welcome anymore.”

Poor Howard survives in the wild for about a second before Jim sneaks up on him and accuses him of covering for the adulterous Rebecca. But Rebecca doesn’t know anything, and since she’s so good at not knowing anything, Jim believes her and decides to explore the sinister world of gambling in Terra Nova. Taylor has a fit and comes very close to bending Jim over his knee for a little discipline. I don’t think Jim would have minded.

Lt. Wash’s blinky tablet thing tells them that the dead guy owed a lot of money to Josh’s boss at the bar, so Jim, Taylor and a bunch of Abercrombie & Fitch models storm the bar and arrest the Australian. Jim is alarmed to find his son there, but at least he was just sweeping and not, you know, dancing on a box with a bunch of Terra Nova credits sticking out of his g-string. (Yet.)

Jim tells Josh he has to quit the bar, but Josh explains that in order for him to place Jim in a vulnerable position with both the Sixers and Taylor, the plot requires him to be a pawn. I half expected Josh to pull out the script to the episode and underline some meaningful passages for his dad.

Turns out one of the Abercrombie soliders killed Foster, because he owed him a lot of money. Taylor roughs him up, and I kept expecting Jim to intervene and plead for leniency. Instead, he seems to get off on seeing Taylor play the dominant daddy role. Abercrombie heads out to the jungle, and I’m surprised he didn’t choose to be the first person in history to shake his fist and say, “You haven’t seen the last of me!”

Back in Terra Nova, Josh plays his guitar as rebelliously as he can, and Jim surprises him by letting him go back to work. Only, he’s not going back to work. He’s going to meet Mira. At night, with nothing but a flashlight, a map and a Nerf gun. He wisely forgoes dousing himself in steak sauce before leaving the compound. Seconds later, the Cirque du Sixers drop out of the trees and welcome Josh and Skye. Again, I’d like to eavesdrop on that call to purchasing:

“I’m gonna need a fly system, so we can quickly jump out of the forest canopy and scare people.”
“Like a Peter Pan system?”
“Nah, more Vegas than Broadway.”

Mira tells the kids that she’ll help get what’s-her-name to Terra Nova, but Josh will have to do whatever she says, with no question, and probably involving his father or his family, and probably in the season finale. Josh, being Josh, says yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

Zoe the Terror Child welcomes the birth of her freaky-ass dino baby. Naturally, she wants to keep him and learn a valuable lesson about the dangers of domesticating wild animals in a future episode, where it eats all her classmates, while she nibbles on her Cheerios and Goldfish and giggles softly as they all scream.

So, who’s still on board? Are you digging Terra Nova? Let us know in the comments section below!

Terra Nova airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox. Check out all of FBOTU’s Terra Nova recaps here.

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