It’s been a month since I watched the first season of Extant, but it’s still with me. It’s that quiet place I go to when I’m zoning out. The set design offers a vision of a gentler, more organic future, where technology is less obtrusively integrated into our daily lives than perhaps it is now. It’s the silent actor that sets a tone of calm, but there are tensions, to be sure. The introduction of a life-like android prototype into the functions of everyday life invites antagonism from many fronts, including a militant anti-technology group.
Space exploration has been privatized, but are corporations the most benevolent funders of humanity’s future? The ISEA (International Space Exploration Agency) welcomes back protagonist Molly Woods from her latest space mission, but Molly soon discovers a that the agency is hiding some disconcerting secrets. Molly’s husband, John, finds himself mixed up with the mysterious trillionaire Yasumoto, who unexpectedly decides to back his ambitious android engineering project.
While a few of the characters are necessarily archetypal, many of them are steeped in complexity and contradictions. Molly’s character, played by Halle Berry, is no exception. There are more shows than ever before with woman protagonists, and Berry fleshes out Molly with her trademark combination of vulnerability and strength.
As is popular in many TV shows these days, each episode has a different director, so while there is a cohesive style, some episodes are expositional and others fast-paced. The generally slow pace of the show may turn some viewers off, but it’s something I really liked. You have time to get to know the characters and the world they inhabit, as well as ponder some of main questions of the show: are there perhaps extra-terrestrial beings whose will to survive could conflict with our own? Should we create a fully-autonomous android who has the choice to do wrong?