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Extant - 7 Facts You'll Want to Know

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The pilot episode of “Extant” was a fun journey into both the future and a world unknown. The science fiction series starring Halle Berry left a lot of mysteries to be explored throughout the season. What happened to Berry’s character Molly up in space? Was the “person” on the spaceship real? Is her robot son a violent volcano about to erupt? These are just some of the questions we hope to have answered as the season continues. But in the meantime, executive producers Mickey Fisher and Greg Walker are giving us a head start on what we should know about “Extant” now.

1. “Extant” takes place 20-30 years from now.

Did you see all that cool technology in the pilot? How could you miss it? The photograph of Molly and her old love, Marcus, wasn’t just a still photograph – it moved. The bathroom mirror in Molly’s home operated like a touchscreen, morphing from a looking glass into a live news broadcast. The small four-cylinder capsule of garbage fit into a glowing glass box that somehow seemed to disintegrate the trash in seconds. PowerPoint presentations have transformed into 3D, with words and corresponding laser lines surrounding the speaker. And the act of driving is a thing of the past. Cars apparently operate through a computerized system that enables you to sit back (or backwards, if you like) and spend more time on your transparent-screened tablet. Just watch out for that Lamborghini-like door.

Series creator Mickey Fisher confirms the world they’ve imagined takes place two to three decades from the present. But he says they didn’t want to put a specific date on it to lock themselves in. “We really wanted to just sort of set up the world, think about logically where we may be in terms of technology and space exploration, and make a little bit of a fictional leap,” he says. “We wanted to just boil it down to the characters.”

You’ll notice they haven’t put so much emphasis on the cool gadgets that they become the focus of the show. The story and characters remain the nucleus. But it’s hard not to be impressed by the imagined technology. “We do think the future is going to be cool,” says showrunner Greg Walker. “Kind of the general rule we had for technology on our show is we would want to play with it, we would want to have it in our lives.” In fact, the writing and producing team decided to focus on things they hoped existed in 30 years, whether the technology really might exist then or not.

2. There is no NASA any more.

In Fisher and Walker’s vision, the agency that sends Molly to space for a solo scientific mission is the International Space Exploration Agency, or ISEA. It is not run by the government. Fisher explains, “We started off thinking about a world in our story where space exploration had been privatized. NASA wouldn’t necessarily exist.” The agency is run by private businessmen who were so successful, they got involved with space exploration and now fund and operate space missions.

3. Marcus and Molly have an important history.

The pilot episode made this clear as we see the picture of the two of them together and follow Molly’s reaction when the mysterious Marcus appears on the spaceship. So far we don’t know how Marcus died. But Fisher explains his significance and backstory. “Marcus is a guy who is very important in Molly’s life,” he says. “He was kind of the first great love of her life. They met in the ISEA ascendance training program, a program for gifted young astronauts who were on their way up in the program. [They] fell in love, had a relationship and unfortunately he passed away early on.”

4. What happened to Molly in space may not be an isolated incident.

Molly’s strange experience in space is the central mystery of the show. And she is not the only one trying to figure out what happened. In fact, some people may have more knowledge than her. Walker explains, “What happened to Molly in space will be very much linked to a plan they have – a kind of secret plan at the ISEA. Over the course of the season, you’ll understand it through Molly’s own investigation into what happened up in space and how maybe it’s happened before… maybe not.”

5. What you think about Marcus’ appearance may or may not be the truth.

Walker says throughout the series they will take the viewer through different possibilities of Marcus’ presence on the spaceship. “How does a dead person come back to life?” he asks. “Is it a figment of [Molly’s] imagination? Is it an actual zombie in space coming back to life? Or is it a deeper mystery that Molly will have to solve over the course of the episode? All three of those are possible and at different times look like the final explanation.” I guess we will have to wait and see which account is the truth.

6. Ethan is creepy, and he is supposed to be.

No doubt about it, that scene with the dead bird was eerie. Is this child robot prone to violent behavior? He did, after all, beat up a friend over a ball. And his response to his mother finding him with the bird was to tell her that her hair looked pretty. It was chilling. But that’s the point. We don’t know what he is capable of yet. “What’s interesting about Ethan’s character,” explains Walker, “is that Ethan is going to be molded by human experience. It’s an artificial intelligence trying to take in human emotions, human experiences and processing them. And it can be very confusing. Sometimes you’re going to get aberrant outcomes, outcomes that aren’t predictable. I think the whole big stew that is Ethan allows for actions that aren’t great and actions that are great. That’s really the tension and struggle about the artificial intelligence trying to deal with the kind of crazy roller coaster ride of human emotions.”

Fisher does want to point out that no birds were actually harmed in the making of the episode. But he says the bird scene is pivotal: “The bird is kind of a moment where you see Ethan and you are not sure if he did or didn’t [kill it]. It’s sort of a prism to look at: ‘Is this kid going down the wrong path?’”

7. The baby inside Molly is real.

If Molly imagined Marcus on the spaceship, it’s hard to explain how she became pregnant. And she is pregnant. But the question is, with what? An alien baby? “Whatever is inside her is half her and half something else,” says Walker. “That is really interesting for us. What is that thing gonna be? What’s it gonna look like? Is it going to go full term? Is she going to be pushing it around a stroller or a park?”

We don’t know yet. But Walker encourages us to ask other questions as well – questions from the baby’s side. He previews, “What does it want? Why did it find her? Why did it choose her? All those questions are questions we wrestled with and that we hopefully provide answers that you find as exciting as we did.”

All these teasers have indeed left us excited for more. Next week’s episode of “Extant” can’t come soon enough.

What did you think of the technology in “Extant?” What predictions do you have for where the show is headed? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author - Tonya Papanikolas
Tonya Papanikolas is a freelance journalist who loves covering entertainment and television. She spent more than 10 years as a broadcast news anchor and reporter. Now she does everything from hosting to writing. She especially loves writing TV articles and reviews for SpoilerTV.

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