Terra Nova: Episode Three- “What Remains”

Originally written for TV Pixie


If television is anything to go by, there are few occupations more perilous than Remote Scientific Outpost Staff Member.

If the outpost is taking measurements on the weather, an active volcano or scanning the skies for asteroids, it’ll get a.) blown away, b.) exploded or c.) obliterated along with everything else on the planet.

If it’s in the depths of Antarctica, it’ll almost always find some kind of half frozen ancient menace or just fall prey to people going snow-crazy and eating each other.

And if the team are researching a virus, of course said virus will get out of the lab and infect the lot of them, leading to a lack of radio contact (which in turn means an investigative team will be dispatched to investigate what happened, who will then also get the virus, leading to another investigative team being sent out… and so on).

So yes: don’t take that job. Even more so if the virus-research outpost is in a remote part of a dinosaur infested jungle. That’s like standing on a mountain in the middle of a thunderstorm wearing a tinfoil hat and flying an aluminium kite. 

Of course, no one ever told the inhabitants of Terra Nova that this might be a problem, which is clearly the reason why they set up a remote scientific outpost in the forest. Although, why they put it so far away from the main camp is a mystery.

If they’d been there to investigate the dinosaurs, fair enough, but they seem to have been researching a genetic cure for a futuristic version of Alzheimers: not something you need to be in a sort of Jurassic bird-watching hide to do effectively.

Although, to be fair, as we’ve not had any luck with a cure of late it might be worth a try: “Gosh that’s interesting: the results have been spectacular since we went back in time. Turns out all we needed to do was stick the research lab in the middle of a Late Cretaceous rainforest. Works a treat.”

The whole episode oscillated between the illogical and the obvious: from the fact that the outpost was an unnecessarily, dangerously long way from the main settlement to the introduction of a hitherto-unknown dinosaur species who just happen to love chewing up fibre optic communications cables: the problems and resolutions seemed entirely contrived.

However, the biggest get-out-of-jail-free card was assigned to Jim ‘Boring Cop’ Shannon; who handily caught a cold from his daughter that just happened to make him immune to the virus, minutes before he was due to head to the outpost to investigate his wife Elisabeth’s disappearance: who herself had gone to investigate the outpost’s mysterious silence some time earlier.

You could see the resolution coming a mile off: it was more predictable than the reaction of the British public to an X Factor voting fix (outrage) or to anything to do with the dismantling of the NHS (apathy).

The virus caused Elisabeth to regress to a time at University before she’d met Boring Jim: conveniently, the exact same time she was going out with smarmy Terra Novan science officer Malcolm – who takes advantage of the situation by trying to cop a feel (as you would).

As mentioned, the cure for the virus turned out to be the common cold, which Jim happened to have. What’s the best way of passing on the common cold? Exactly.

However, instead of coughing in Elisabeth’s face, Jim opted to kiss her instead: rekindling her forgotten love and reminding her that she was old and married. Urgh. It was more twee than a babies and kittens convention organised by Julie Andrews.

Slightly less boringly, the virus caused Terra Nova’s craggy-faced leader Commander Taylor to regress to a time when he was participating in a psy-ops war with Somalia in the early 2100s. No drippy lovey dovey stuff for him: instead he went all Apocalypse Now, invading his own camp covered in mud with a knife clamped between his teeth.

Sadly, Jim opted not to snog him better: that would have been a far more entertaining (and gay-friendly) conclusion to the episode. Instead, they just knocked Taylor out and gave him an inoculation.


There was nothing utterly wrong with the episode per se: it just seemed to insult the viewers’ intelligence. Although insult is quite strong… mildly offend might be more appropriate.

The ‘infected outpost’ plot has been done a million times, the cold ex machina conclusion was visible a mile off and – whilst the episode did explore the idea of love, marriage and relationships – so did last week’s obvious mating birds metaphor episode.

However, although we didn’t learn about how Terra Nova came to be established, why you have to be in the middle of a jungle to research Alzheimer’s or why certain dinosaurs like to eat nickel… we did learn that if you’re ever offered a job at a remote scientific outpost: don’t go.

Never mind the appalling economic climate, the fact your children are clothed in rags or that your only other career option is to appear on Embarrassing Bodies – just don’t do it. You’ll end up having to kiss Jim Shannon’s snotty face.

*     *     *

Episode 1.1 & 1.2 – ReviewFlintstones Ridiculous
Episode 2 – ReviewNeeds More Dinosaurs


About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

One Response to Terra Nova: Episode Three- “What Remains”

  1. The Loocher says:

    I gave up 15 mins into the mating dinosaurs episode. Thanks for confirming that I made the right choice. The wife would have given up 15 mins into the pilot and I think the whole sorry business just demonstrates how much wiser than me she is…

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