‘Terra Nova’ 1.03 Recap: Beware the Dino-Birdemic!

If you were hoping that Fox’s expensive new sci-fi adventure ‘Terra Nova’ might find its footing and start to improve after the dopey premiere, well, you’re going to have to keep hoping. The second episode (denoted “1.03,” because the two-hour pilot was technically considered two episodes) is no less cheesy than the first. In this one, the colonists have to play the most dangerous game of Angry Birds ever.

All poor Jim wants to do in ‘Instinct’ is make sweet, sweet love to his wife Elisabeth. It’s been about 85 million years since they did it last, and he’s got some serious blue balls. Unfortunately, having three kids and living in a small house with paper-thin walls isn’t conducive to foreplay. When he finally gets a moment with her, their tryst is interrupted by the piercing shrieks of some annoying birds (technically, they’re reptilian pterosaurs, but they look and act like featherless birds) that have perched outside his window. The species is unknown. I hereby officially dub it the Cockblockadactyl.

Jim also finds himself competing for his wife’s attention with her old college boyfriend Malcolm, a research scientist who was an early colonist at Terra Nova and recommended her for the assignment. Malcolm, you see, assumed that Jim would still be in prison, and that with 85 million years between the couple, he’d have a shot at winning Elisabeth back. Jim’s presence kind of puts a crimp in his plans.

It turns out that the birdspterosaurs are dangerous in addition to being annoying. When provoked, they attack and eat their victims’ faces. Malcolm suggests trying not to upset them, but there’s little chance of that once it’s discovered that the Terra Nova colony was built smack dab on top of the birds’ (screw it, I’m calling them birds) breeding ground. Like Jim, they really want to get their groove on, and they aren’t as patient as he is. With millions of the little buggers on the way, the colonists have a serious problem on their hands. As Commander Taylor puts it: “Well, that’s not good.”

Taylor and Jim manage to capture male and female specimens still alive, so that Malcolm and Elisabeth can synthesize a super-potent pheromone that will lure the creatures away from the colony. While they work on this, the rest of the colony has to batten down the hatches as the birdpocalypse strikes. Thousands of the critters dive-bomb the colony. A few even get into Jim’s house and terrorize his kids.

Eventually, Elisabeth and Malcolm successfully synthesize the pheromone. Jim and Taylor load a big barrel of it into a truck and speed away, with swarms of the horny birds in hot pursuit. Later, they return unscathed, claiming that they jettisoned the barrel and left the birds to do their business in a new location as far away as they could manage. Malcolm explains that the next generation of birds will consider the new location to be their breeding ground, and shouldn’t bother the colony again.

The mission accomplished and the colony saved, Jim and Elisabeth are finally able to make some sexy sex time for themselves. As a consolation prize, Malcolm gets to name the new pterosaur species after himself… and then presumably slink off to a corner alone and masturbate himself to death.

Side Notes:
  • In an inconsequential subplot, Jim’s irritating teenage son wants to buy a guitar off a hippie, but can’t afford it on his meager latrine duty wages. So his new girlfriend just buys it for him while he continues to pine for his old girlfriend in the future. What a dipshit. I wish the birds had eaten his face off.
  • Commander Taylor suspects that the Sixers still have a mole in his colony, so he assigns Jim to root the traitor out.
  • Jason O’Mara spends a lot of time shirtless in this episode. His abs look like they’ve been painted on, don’t they?


  1. So I tuned in to the last five minutes of this episode while waiting for the ‘House’ season premiere and laughed the entire time. The flock of angry dino-birds was really funny. Then the preview came for next week and I groaned. Really, a mysterious “disease” and someone conveniently getting amnesia? Blech.

    I really hate amnesia subplots.

  2. We just had the 1st 2 episodes here in the UK. I have to say, it was… mediocre. There’s some potential, and it was mindless fun, but I’m getting sick of ONLY mindless fun these days.

    I was also surprised by the mediocre quality of some of the effects in Terra Nova. I’ve read the excuse that it’s still a TV show and not a film, but I’ve seen better futuristic cityscapes done in the Stargate franchise, and better dino animation and effects in Primeval from the UK (Despite it being a light hearted fun show, the effects are pretty top notch for tv, on a tiny budget in comparison to something like Terra Nova).

    • worth

      I think the quality of effects work these days comes down to time rather than money. One guy working from home on a PC can create better work in 6 months than a team of trained professionals with state-of-the-art equipment and a multi-million dollar budget can in 3 weeks.

    • Josh Zyber

      Hmmm, it would appear that you are correct. The pilot is designated with two episode numbers, even though it was aired as one unbroken episode.

      I’ve updated the post title and intro paragraph, though I’ll leave the link the same since it’s already been up for a few days.

  3. So finally got around to reading this today. Couple of side notes.

    So, from 2 specimens, they manage to create a tiny vial of the pheremone overnight. So in just a couple of hours, while Taylor and Jim are breathing down their throats as they try this gene manipulation stuff (remember, they ALREADY got the pheremone), and then, they just happen to have enough ingrediants in this tiny colony to synthetically manufactor 50 LITERS of this crap?

    I thought everyone in the colony was expected to work. What is up with this marketplace suddenly appearing in the colony? I doubt that someone was brought all the way from the future to sell crap to the 100 or so people who live there.

    Judging from the first three episodes, there seems to be like 2 guys under the age of 18, and like a dozen girls.

    There is a BAR in the town. So in these 10 scientific expeditions that have come through the gate, someone had the brilliance to be approved to come through on one of the earlier expeditions, to ferment prehistoric plants and to serve them to the 100 or so people who actually live there.

    You would think that if they were smart enough to build huge fences around the compound to keep out dinos, they would have been smart enough to have some netting over it to keep out the petrodactyals as well.

    Jim and Elisabeth’s house is at the far outskirts of the compound, near the fence. Does this mean that, before the next expedition comes through the gate, that they will have to move the fence?

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