Arriving on Wednesday night is CBS's new 13-episode serialized drama Extant. Combining mystery, thrills and a futuristic backdrop, Extant gets off to an intriguing start, with a premiere episode that sets the stage for what may prove to be a truly gripping summer mystery, wrapped in a sci-fi story involving family, artificial intelligence and outer space.
Created by Mickey Fisher, Extant begins with astronaut Molly Woods (Halle Berry) celebrating her homecoming after spending more than a year in space. We're introduced to Molly, her husband John (Goran Visnjic) and their son Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), a seemingly perfect family unit enjoying togetherness in the company of their friends and family after Molly's exploration of space has ended. It isn't long before we see the complications beneath the surface, including the fact that little Ethan isn't entirely (or at all) human, though you'd never know it to look at him. What's more, Molly seems haunted by her experience in space, though she isn't willing to talk about it to anyone. Oh yeah, and she's pregnant. Given that her mission into outer space was a solo one, we're left to wonder how on Earth (or elsewhere) this is possible.
Taking into account the emphasis on artificial intelligence, not to mention other elements introduced in the first episode, it's not hard to see Steven Spielberg's influence on this series, which is fitting enough as he's among the executive producers, through Amblin Entertainment.
On first impressions, Extant's cast stands out as particularly strong, not only among its leads but also the supporting players. The pilot episode paces itself really well, introducing us to Molly's family, as well as her friend and doctor Sam Barton (Camryn Manheim), and Hiroyuki Sanada's mysterious character Hideki Yasumoto. What's evident early on is that Molly's experience in space and her family life at home, including her husband's work with artificial intelligence, will all play a factor in whatever is brewing. And something is most definitely brewing. That much is made clear in the pilot episode.
Extant succeeds in finding the balance of the mystery that's unfolding and the futuristic backdrop, the latter of which will dazzle (but not overwhelm) us as we're fed new pieces of information about Molly's confounding predicament. From the high-tech gadgetry, the visually impressive space-set flashbacks and of course, little Ethan, the non-human boy serving as the beloved son of Molly and John, there seems to be enough dressing on this series to keep us entertained while we're drawn further into Extant's bigger mystery. What exactly happened to Molly while she was on that spaceship?
There's a bigger picture developing here, which may tie into the fate of humanity. How it all shakes out remains to be seen, but Extant's introduction satisfies, and more importantly, it leaves us wanting more.
Extant Wednesday, July 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET on CBS.