When it was over, I asked my friend the same question I had asked again and again during the two-hour finale: "This is good, I mean good, isn't it?" I was really surprised how much Terra Nova had improved for its closer. Sure, a few skeptics of the show will say it wasn't enough. But for me, the two parter directed by 24 vet Jon Cassar -- saddled with the spoiler-heavy titles of "Occupation" and "Resistance" -- was easily the best entry of the season.
We're going to recap the finale, PLUS reveal the winning entries and runner-ups from last week's Give Commander Taylor an Eyepatch Photo Contest (yes, that was real, and yes, readers participated, and there's a couple images I am confident will brighten your day). Sound like a plan? All Shannons agree?
Let's go: We open with a shot of the planet: Dry, dusty, no vegetation, smog. We're back to 2149, bitches! We zoom into a dome. Jake Gyllenhaal's creepy cousin Lucas, having activated the Terra Nova portal to go both ways, has returned to the future. He's planning to send a team of mercenaries called the Phoenix Group to take over the colony with the help of a new bad guy named Weaver. In the process, he's hoping to kill his dad, Taylor. We learn they've commandeered the best army money can buy.
Terra Nova: Taylor gets the colonists organized for battle. Sadly, Taylor isn't trying my set-the-portal-on-the-edge-of-a-cliff idea from last week's recap. Instead, he places troops around the device, ready to blast any hostiles who come through. They could shut down the portal, but the invading bad guys would still pop into existence somewhere nearby rather than emerge at one convenient location. "We're either getting 100 colonists looking for a new life, or an army bent on destroying our home," sums up Taylor.
In the camp: Elisabeth makes a pre-war salad. Jim tells Josh that he must stay and protect the rest of the family rather than joining the troops at the portal. These home life scenes always feel a bit cheerfully forced. "We've been through a lot together and we'll get through this too," Jim says. "All Shannons agree?"
Portal: Expected a little more build-up to take advantage of the inherent suspense, but we jump right into the action. The portal is activated. Taylor, Jim and the troops get ready. And in comes … colonists. At least, we assume they're colonists. They all kind of have that Peace Corps-backpacker "hey where's the Farmer's Market?" look. Here comes Josh's girlfriend long-awaited Kara -- she made it! Nobody, oddly, seems to be suffering the atmospheric shock like in the pilot, but we're letting that go.
Then a scared-looking guy walks through, opens his shirt and -- Holy Homeland! He's wearing a suicide vest! "Please, help me," he says, and explodes!
Carnage. Man on fire. Jim on the ground. Didn't expect Saving Private Shannon.
NEXT: Terra Nova hostile takeover; What happened to Kara?