Wow. That was actually a genuinely good episode. But there's still room to screw everything up.
FOX.com has a summary here.
I'll tell you one thing right now: If Taylor's claim that eeeeevil corporations from 2149 are itching to despoil Terra Nova's pristine wilderness turns out to be the 100% non-embellished truth, then I will drop this series from the blog before you can say "radical environmentalist propagandistic bullcrap." I don't look too kindly on our corporate leaders' crony capitalism, but it is not in fact the case that said leaders would happily destroy the planet in order to preserve their bottom lines. After all, it's not as if their operations don't depend upon a steady flow of natural resources -- not to mention a healthy population willing and able to buy their products. What would it profit a businessman to heedlessly use up the raw materials necessary for his enterprise? Sorry, but no -- people are a lot smarter than that these days. That's why logging companies, for example, plant new trees to replace the ones they cut down.
Fortunately, it is not at all certain that Terra Nova's writers are heading in the direction I lambasted above. For one thing, I don't buy Taylor's excuse in re: why he's never told anyone about the events surrounding the death of General Philbrick. Wouldn't that serve as an excellent rallying point for the Terra Novans? "There are people out there who are threatening our home! Let's band together and fight!" For another thing, Terra Nova possesses all the features of a classic dictatorship. That's right, I said it. I can see putting one guy in charge during the initial stages of resettlement, but Terra Nova is now an established colony and has been for years now. Why haven't democratic institutions been established? Why is Taylor the only one making the big decisions? And didn't you find that Harvest Festival play more than a little creepy? Speaking for myself, I couldn't help but think of all those cute, elementary-school-aged moppets singing "Dear Leader" tributes to Obama before and after the 2008 election. So yeah -- if it's all the same to you, I think I'm going to stick with my "Taylor is a dangerous ideologue" hypothesis because that is what seems to fit the facts -- and because I would prefer to nurse the hope that the writers couldn't possibly be that oblivious. (Right? Right?)
The tensions that arise here are terrific. I especially like how the writer juxtaposed the preparations for the aforementioned play and the elder Shannons' murder investigation in order to highlight the difference between the idealized legend and the reality. Nice work.
I also feel that, for the most part, the acting was able to support the script.
As I note above, the message could really go either way at this point. Still, I'm willing to award this episode an additional point over the neutral for peeling back Terra Nova's seemingly idyllic surface.