EXTANT: THE FIRST SEASON BLU-RAY REVIEW
Halle Berry gave fans an out of this world performance in season one of the sci-fi thriller series, Extant, which premiered last summer on CBS. She led an eclectic ensemble cast in what can only be described as a movie divided into ten parts; the mere premise separating it from what else in available to viewers on network television today. But that’s not the only thing that made this show stand out. Extant brought fans a visually stunning futuristic world complete with scientific advances and dark motives worthy of your viewing time. It sucked you into a reality where the lines between illusion and delusion were blurred to the point of being unrecognizable, and left you wanting more.
Berry starred as Molly Woods, an astronaut who just returned from a 13-month solo mission aboard a U.S. space station. Viewers slowly become privy to some of the less explainable portions of her trip as the show moves through the season and Molly attempts to readjust to life on Earth with her husband, John (Goran Visnjic), and their son (of the artificial intelligence variety), Ethan (Pierce Gagnon). As Molly painstakingly tries to make sense of her experience, she realizes that she’s several months pregnant – a phenomenon by itself considering her solitary status in space. Her quest for answers leads her to uncover a mystery within the organization she works for that escalates quickly from a hunch to a deadly game of cat and mouse.
The entire scenario is further complicated by John’s research into artificial intelligence – their son being a prototype for his company, Humanich, Ethan becomes a much sought after pawn later on in the season on two fronts. One, he is leverage to use against Molly and John, and two, when his abilities become useful to an anti-robotics terrorist organization that manages to infiltrate the company through John’s assistant, Julie (Grace Gummer). When Julie gets romantically involved with another amputee and beneficiary of robotic limbs, Odin, played by Twilight‘s Charlie Bewley) she opens the family, and Ethan, up to being compromised on a secondary level.
Molly is forced to go back into space at the end of the season in an attempt to stop the imminent threat against Earth from an alien species after her “son” provides her with alarming information about his origin. All in all, the season ends with a sense of success despite several deaths and the loss of Ethan’s physical body. Season two, set to debut this July, will no doubt capitalize on reuniting the Woods with their son and what his survival means to John’s research overall.
Extant has a lot of things to boast about, from it’s cast to it’s exquisite visual effects to the director’s pool (Sons of Anarchy‘s Paris Barclay being my favorite) – but overall it was the performances that really sold me. Obviously, Berry gave us her usual 110%, but the biggest surprise came from Pierce Gagnon who absolutely nailed his role as a human-like child. Extant is a show that asks viewers to suspend reality and nothing made it easier than watching how natural Gagnon’s portrayal of Ethan rounded out the sci-fi exploits of the show.
Another feature that I equally marveled at was the special effects used specifically to create Julie’s artificial limbs, which there is an entire special features clip dedicated to. It was so seamless that it was hard to grasp. This feature helped to contextualize the use of scientific advancements in everyday life as an extreme sense. The benefits of new research, particularly John’s, transformed the way a certain group of people, who are stigmatized in our culture currently, are able to transcend past their physical differences and closing the existing gap.
Extant looks extraordinary on Blu-ray disc, which is probably owed as much to the quality transfer as it is the original production value. As the special features revealed, the attention to detail in regards to every aspect of the filming of this project dwarf what viewers are used to seeing from a network television series. And, that attention to detail was not spared in terms of extras allocated for the Blu-ray disc either. A comprehensive set of special features made watching season one of Extant on Blu-Ray a real treat.
- The Story of Extant
- Extant: Filming Season One
- Extant: The Cast
- The Mythology of Extant
- The Offspring
- The Future World of Extant
- The Visual Effects of Extant
- Deleted Scenes from Select Episodes
- Gag Reel And More
Although Extant was created as a television series, I highly recommend consuming it all at once. Since it’s not episodic in nature, it plays well sequentially as opposed to with lengthy wait time in between episodes.
Extant is available on Blu-Ray/DVD now, and returns to CBS for season two on July 1.