Welcome back Terra Nova fans!
It has been a wild ride this season, with every episode of Terra Nova upping the ante for the settlers as tension between The Colonists and the Sixers grew to a boiling point. During “Occupation,” the first hour in Monday’s two-part season finale, this boiling point was finally reached, as Lucas and Commander Taylor finally engaged in direct battle.
It was a thrilling, intense episode that delivered more action and emotion than any other episode of the entire season thus far.
“Occupation” started off in 2149, where we were shown a chilling shot of the dying, over-populated Earth. Quickly, the show cut to Lucas Taylor (Ashley Zukerman), who was talking to Weaver, the wealthy man funding his operations with the Sixers, about his plans for the Terra Nova colony. Weaver seemed nervous about everything the Sixers were doing, but Lucas reassures him that everything will go according to plan since they have “the best army money can buy.” The shot of that army that followed was almost as chilling as the opening scene, and definitely left me worried for our heroes back at the Terra Nova Colony.
Then “Occupation,” returned us to the past, where Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang) and Jim Shannon (Jason Omara) were preparing their soldiers for the potential battle ahead of them. Commander Taylor reminded his men that while there was the potential that Lucas and his soldiers could be coming through the portal, there’s also the potential that it could be just another group of settlers coming to start anew in the past. Nonetheless, the atmosphere was tense. Later that night, Josh Shannon (Landon Liboiron) attempted to convince his dad to let him join the fight. Jim turned his offer down, and reminded him that he needed him at home to take care of his mother and sisters, should something happen to him in the potential battle ahead. This scene was a great one, and did a good job of selling the tense atmosphere among the Terra Nova settlers.
The next day at the portal the the Terra Nova soldiers gather toward the portal at the scheduled time of the Pilgrimage arrival, weapons armed and ready should an army come through instead of a normal group of settlers. Within seconds of Jim’s arrival at the at arrival site, the portal began to activate. Slowly, at first, it’s bright blue light flickering like a light bulb about to burn out. But then the portal glowed brighter, becoming a solid wall of blue light. All at once, a point of sharp, white light shone out from the center of the portal, and a confused, ordinary looking man emerged.
The soldiers breathed a sigh of relief, as one after another, completely normal looking men and women stepped through the portal, one after another. Among them was was Josh’s girlfriend, Kara, Immediately recognizing his son’s girlfriend, Jim rushed to the portal to greet her. Kara spotted Jim quickly, smiling and waving. But then, as the two embraced, an emaciated, confused, man stumbled through the portal. “Help me,” the man said, as he raised his shirt to reveal a number of explosives strapped to his stomach.
Before any of the soldiers could react, the bombs attached to the strange man detonated, igniting a powerful explosion. The force of the blast sent Jim flying, and when he landed in a heap, he lost consciousness. As the episode cut to a commercial my jaw was on the floor at the unexpected turn of events, and I legitimately wondered if Jim Shannon would make it out of the episode alive.
When Jim finally reawakens he finds himself in the infirmary. He stumbles to his feet, and leaves his hospital bed and ventures out into the colony to find his family. Immediately, he sees that the colony is in ruins and that soldiers dressed in dark fatigues are patrolling the colony. He looked to the command post normally occupied by Commander Taylor, and sees Lucas and Mira (Christine Adams) have taken it over. Realizing, then, that the Sixers had taken over the colony, Jim attempted to enter the command post, demanding to the Sixer soldiers that they take him to see Commander Taylor, to which they quickly respond aggressively. Before the soldiers could do too much damage to Jim, however, Elizabeth Shannon (Shelley Conn) appeared on the scene, claiming that Jim was one of her patients who had simply wandered off.
After the soldiers backed off, Dr. Shannon took Jim back to her lab and explained to him that he had been unconscious for the past three days, during which Taylors men fought a bitter battle with the Sixers that ended with twenty-six of Taylor’s men dead, Taylor himself missing, and the Sixers taking over command of Terra Nova. Right away, Jim asked about the kids. To his relief, Elizabeth confirmed that they were safe, and resting at home.
The scene cut to the Shannon household, and while Jim’s reunion with his daughters was a happy one, the same wasn’t so for Josh, who was alone in his room crying. In a fit of sadness, Josh revealed that Kara had died in the blast. “It’s all my fault,” Josh said, clearly blaming himself for her death, as he was the one who arranged for her to come to the colony in the first place. This scene was completely heartbreaking, and Landon Liboiron did an amazing job of portraying the intense guilt that Josh was feeling.
As “Occupation” moved forward, we were brought to Tom Boylan’s (Portrayed by Damien Garvey) bar where Jim Shannon and Lt. Alicia Washington (Simone Kessell) were discussing their state of occupation. She explained to him that the soldiers patrolling the camp were called “The Phoenix Group,” a privately army funded by the same people who were controlling the Sixers. They planned on strip-mining the colony, and sending the spoils back to the future. The only problem, Washington said, was that their version of the portal was damaged by a dinosaur, and that they wouldn’t be able to send any of the riches back to their benefactors unless Dr. Malcolm Wallace (Rod Hallett) was able to repair it. Jim responded by telling the beleaguered Washington that he had a plan to fight the Phoenix Group, and that he needed her help. Washington simply smiled, agreeing to help Jim oust the occupying army. I liked this scene especially, as it provided a glimmer of hope in an episode that had, thus far, been pretty gloomy.
The scene then shifted to Malcolm’s lab where he was working hard to repair the Phoenix Group’s portal back to the future. Jim arrived on the scene quickly and questioned Dr. Wallace, demanding to know why he was helping the invaders. Malcolm told Jim that he had no choice, and was only trying to prevent more bloodshed.
Despite this, however, Jim managed to convince Malcolm to take his time in repairing the machine, so that he and washington would have time to mount their attack on the Phone Group while they were weakened. Just then, Mira and Lucas arrived at the lab, demanding to talk to Jim. Thinking Quickly, Malcolm claims that Jim was left deaf and brain damaged from the explosion. With a little quick thinking of his own, Jim played along and convinced Lucas that he was of no use to him. As Lucas left the lab I breathed a sigh of relief – the tension in this scene was so thick I could almost breath it in.
Back at the command post, Skye (Allison Miller) was brought before Lucas right as Weaver was telling Mira that their benefactors requested that she was to take a trip out to an area of the colony called “the bad lands.” He intimidated her, chiding her for “selling [him] out” to his father, and warning her never to betray him again. The scene then cut to Elizabeth, who notices some strange etchings on bullets pulled out of an injured Phoenix Soldier.
She calls Jim into her lab to get his opinion on the markings. Immediately, Jim realizes that the etchings were hand-written map coordinates in Taylor’s handwriting, that led to a place in outside the colony where he was in hiding. Jim knew he needed to meet up with the fallen Commander, and quickly formulated a plan to get past the guards to do so. “Occupation” shifted to Jim and Josh Shannon, then, as they were going to pick up their rations from Phoenix Soldiers. Josh pleaded to his father to let him help the resistance. Jim relented, telling Josh to get his Job at Tom’s Bar back, so he could listen in on the drunken Phoenix Soldiers, and report any over-heard information back to him. As the two were conversing, a convoy of soldiers rolling down the road.were stopped in their tracks, blocked by a man whose motorized wheelchair had seemingly stopped working.
As the soldiers hassled the man, Malcolm arrived on the scene and argued with the soldier, scolding him for trying to harm a disabled man. While the soldier was distracted by the argumentative Dr. Wallace, Jim sneaked into the back of his rover, where he would ride along with them as they leave the borders of Terra Nova, then sneak back out of the vehicle to meet up with Taylor at the spot specified by the map coordinates.
The plan went off without a hitch, and as Jim exited the Rover, he saw Lucas, Weaver, and a Phoenix soldier discussing how they planned to use sonic bombs to clear the jungle for strip-mining purposes.
Disgusted with the Phoenix Group’s plans, Jim heads into the brush and met up with Commander Taylor, and a small band of soldiers who had followed him into hiding. As Jim explained the Group’s plans to set off sonic explosives, one of Taylor’s men volunteered to find, and defuse, the bomb. The solider manages to defuse the bomb right before it explodes and from afar, Lucas became enraged, realizing that his father had managed to defuse the bomb.
“Occupation” then shifted into a series of sequences of Jim and the rest of Taylor’s men planting tracking devices on Phoenix Group vehicles and soldiers, and then using them to make coordinated strikes on the enemy army. Toward the end of the sequence the episode cut back to the command center, where an enraged Lucas came to the realization that somehow, his father was tracking his soldiers. This was a really great grouping of scenes, that was more than effective of showing that the tides of the battle were turning.
Later, Lucas headed to Tom’s bar, where he was joined by Skye. Josh served the two drinks, and was barely managing to contain his anger toward Lucas. But then Lucas began to caress Skye’s face, and as she begged him to stop, Josh became enraged at his treatment of her, smashing him over the head with the tray he had been using to serve the two drinks. Josh smacked Lucas on the head repeatedly, but was quickly over taken by Phoenix Soldiers. Skye, worried about Josh, ran to Jim and told him about the trouble he had gotten himself into. Jim rushes to the bar, where he finds a group of soldiers, led by Lucas, beating his son relentlessly. Dropping his “def-and-dumb” guise, Jim fights the soldiers off of his son. While he managed to fend off the soldiers at first, he was eventually overtaken. As the soldiers kept Jim restrained, Lucas demanded that Jim tell him where his father was hiding. He refused, and a once-again-enraged Lucas ordered that both Jim and Josh be brought to the brig, where he would “help them remember,” where the elder Taylor was located.
“Occupation” came to an end with a shot of Lucas Taylor watching Jim and Josh Shannon being dragged off to the brig. It was clear from the look in his eyes that Lucas was willing to do anything to find his father – even if that meant killing Jim Shannon.
Overall “Occupation” was an amazing episode that did a fantastic job of bringing all of the plot threads introduced this season together, setting the stage for them to be tied together in the finale’s second hour, entitled “Resistance.” I was absolutely on the edge of my seat as this first hour came to a close, and I absolutely could not wait to find out just how our heroes were planning on overcoming Lucas and his Phoenix Soldiers.
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