“For your sake and your sweet mother’s sake, I hope so.”

“But one way or another, this is going to end.”

“I’ve always found it so strange why so many people want to be like their fathers. Not me, I just wanted to destroy mine.”

“Open your eyes old man. It’s over. I won. Soon you’ll be on your knees begging me for mercy.”

“All we can do is hope for the best. And prepare for the worst.”

If you’re looking for a singular reason why Terra Nova hasn’t lived up to Fox’s expectations and is dangerously close to being cancelled, tonight’s episode showed it to you again and again. The lines of dialogue used to open this recap are just a handful in a long line of woefully written one-liners that have been dished out this season. Here we have some zingers from Lucas, Elisabeth and Taylor that quite honestly could’ve been written by high school freshman. When you combine the DOA dialogue with the uninspired performances we’ve been getting, it’s a wonder anyone is still watching this show.

I was going to be scared but then I fell asleep while you were talking.

Keen-eyed observers will note that three of those atrocious lines came from Lucas Taylor, the mad genius working to undermine Terra Nova and his father, Nathaniel. While I’m sure the showrunners were hoping Lucas would prove to be a complex antagonist whose twisted family drama added a layer of depth to the father-son struggle, what we’ve gotten instead is a cartoon character with a knack for numbers. I can appreciate the attempt to show Lucas as unhinged and unstable – in other words dangerous – but Terra Nova has made him over-the-top in a way that would make most movie villains blush. His behavior, like when he clutched his head against Skye’s and called her “Bucket,” and the putrid one-liners he’s been asked to deliver (especially that one about destroying his father) have undermined his chance at being a villain who’s truly disturbing.

Ron, I know it sounds harsh, but God does not want her to live.

Even more mind-boggling than the dialogue in “Within” was the asinine subplot involving Maddy’s quest for a new Promethium core. This pointless storyline felt like filler from the very beginning and distracted from the infinitely more interesting plot involving Skye, Lucas and the portal. I understand that Terra Nova is a family show and involving other members of the Shannon clan is a necessary evil. But here are the problems: every Shannon family member outside of Jim is irritating and forgettable. The family dynamics are clichéd and boring. The two daughters – Maddy and Zoe – are useless. Any doubt of that went out the window when Maddy had to be shoehorned into the penultimate episode and Zoe was completely absent minus a brief appearance early on (thank goodness for that).

The Shannon family needs a major shake-up. Someone needs to get killed, Jim needs to get captured, Maddy needs to get knocked up…I don’t know the right answer. All I know is that for a show about a family, Terra Nova is missing the mark terribly in its first season. The Shannons are a bunch of cardboard cutouts whose most appealing quality is their collective good looks, and if the show is lucky enough to get a second season, it either needs to shift its focus away from the Shannons (and move it to Taylor) or introduce some storylines that make the audience care about this family once again.

Questionable choices regarding criminals: the new bedrock of Terra Nova.

Let’s talk about the one thing that worked in this episode: seeing Curran re-enter the fold! It was great to see a plotline that started in “Bylaw” and continued in “Proof” pay dividends before the season ended. I thought Skye’s mother might have been in trouble when that shadowy figure approached her bedside, but alas, it was just a murderer-turned-spy coming to save the day! My sarcasm hints at my apprehension regarding the resolution of this storyline. I think Curran has earned a second chance but as we’ve seen with Taylor, sometimes the Commander throws his complete trust behind someone before they’ve really earned it. Jim Shannon is a perfect example.

I probably wouldn’t even mention this issue if it weren’t combined with a more glaring problem – after repeatedly betraying the colony and inciting a manhunt that spanned several episodes, Skye is free to return to her normal life in the colony? I know Taylor is furious with her and has bigger issues to deal with, but Skye’s actions could ultimately lead to the downfall of the colony. She’s helped Lucas complete his formula for reversing the portal for crying out loud! Captive mother or not, that action alone should be enough to land her behind bars until Taylor can decide her punishment. Instead she has her mother hand delivered to her (thus ending Curran’s usefulness as a spy) and gets to enjoy some quality time with mommy dearest at Taylor’s rally. I don’t buy it and I don’t like it. Whatever blood is spilled in next week’s finale, a portion of it is on Skye’s hands.

Random thought from this episode

Apparently a love for fingerless gloves runs in the Taylor family!

Big question we’re left to ponder

When the smoke clears next week, who will control Terra Nova?

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