Extant‘s second season premiere, “Change Scenario,” features a great shift in the make-up of the show, simplifying the plot and grounding it in more CBS-friendly procedural elements. But with that shift comes a major cast shake-up, as well as some dramatic changes to one of the show’s main characters.

The episode picks up six months after the first season finale — in which Molly saved the human race from being exposed to the alien spores — to find Molly trapped in a mental hospital. Through flashbacks, we learn how Molly wound up in her current situation. We also meet Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s JD Richter, a gruff cop tasked with solving a case that only Molly may be able to help him with.

Extant Season 1 Finale Recap: Everything is at Stake >>>

Molly’s World Falls Apart

After the opening sequence reveals that Molly is in a mental hospital, we flash back to six months earlier. Molly is appearing in a government hearing, detailing what happened during her last mission in space. She confirms that she destroyed the alien spores before they could reach Earth and lies that she knows of no alien life-forms making it to Earth. She also confirms that her colleague, and thus one of the only people who can back up her story, died shortly after they returned to Earth. The board thanks Molly for her heroism and she is applauded for what she did.

After the hearing, Molly asks her friend Toby, who is also a General, if her alien son is really dead. He says that the boy died of a seizure on the same night that he was picked up by that unsuspecting couple in last season’s finale. He will show her pictures of the body if she wants proof. She takes him at his word because apparently they go way back.

Later that day, Molly arrives at John’s lab, interrupting a close moment between John and Julie. John is excited to tell Molly that Ethan is ready to be brought back online. John rebuilt his body, albeit with a slightly older appearance so it reflects how a human would age. (This is a nice way to cover the fact that Pierce Gagnon looks noticeably older than he did in season 1.)

Molly and John take Ethan home and Molly shares a nice moment with Ethan. She tells him that even though he is not human, he has more humanity than most people on the planet. He proved that when he sacrificed himself to save her. But while things are good between Molly and Ethan, the same cannot be said about Molly’s relationship with John.

Molly is apparently suspicious of the moment she witnessed between John and Julie, so she checks some camera footage of the months she was away in space. She finds proof that John and Julie were having an affair, just as John walks in. John tries to explain it away as a mistake, but Molly is furious. Their fight is interrupted when a group of government agents arrive at their home to take Ethan away. Apparently, Ethan has been declared the property of the U.S. Government because he has been ruled as a threat to national security.

Molly and John Lose Ethan

John and Molly go see Toby, as he is the leader of the Global Security Commission as well as their friend. Toby explains that the government sees Ethan as a threat because he hacked into the ISEA mainframe and blew up a building. Molly and John point out that he only did that to save Molly, but the government apparently does not care about the reasons Ethan did what he did.

John thinks it is suspicious that as soon as Molly gets in bed with the GSC, Ethan is being decommissioned. John wants to know what is really going on, but all Toby will say is that his hands are tied on this one. He claims the higher-ups want all advanced service-bots decommissioned and that the whole Humanichs project is being set aside. Molly is furious that she lied for the government under oath and they are repaying her by taking her son.

Meanwhile, Ethan is delivered to an unknown building. He manages to get away from the agents guarding him and runs straight into Julie.

John Dies!

John arrives at his lab and learns that he no longer has access. Julie explains that she was approached by HomeSec — a government branch that controls the GSC — and asked to run tests to see if the Humanichs could be adapted for defense purposes. Julie is apparently willing to bypass the protocols in order to make this happen so that she can maintain control over the project. John warns that this is too dangerous, but Julie does not care. She asks him to bend a little so they can resume their work and life together, but John reminds her that they do not have a life together. John leaves, determined to get Ethan back and shut down the program. Julie then makes a mysterious phone call.

When John is driving back from the lab, his service car stops on train tracks. John tries to shift into manual drive but he is locked out. Though we do not see his death, we are later told that John was killed by the train.  

Molly Meets JD

After John’s death, we are back in the present with Molly. She is facing the board at the mental hospital as they determine whether she is ready to be released after a mandatory hold. The board decides that Molly is too unstable to be let out into the world and Molly helps makes their case by ranting about how the government is trying to silence her.

While Molly is being held in the mental hospital, we meet JD Richter. He is a futuristic cop who apparently has the choice to take or refuse a case whenever his number comes up. This new case is worth a lot of money and they need his decision right away, so JD accepts the case without knowing much about it beyond that the victim is a young woman who may have been murdered.

Back at the mental hospital, Molly overhears two employees discuss the murder, which is only the latest in a string of strange deaths. Molly flirts with one of them to get him to hand over his phone so she can check out the case. She sees a picture of the victim and it looks like something exploded out of her stomach, much like the way Katie Sparks was killed in space. Molly breaks out of the hospital, steals the guy’s car and makes her way to the crime scene.

There, Molly meets JD. After he calls the police to have her sent back to the mental hospital, she tells him that she thinks she knows what happened to the victim and that she believes the victim was pregnant. Once Molly is taken away, JD searches the house and finds prenatal vitamins.

The next day, JD arrives at the mental hospital with a court order to let him take Molly out for 72 hours. Apparently, she is his only lead so he does not mind that she is a bit crazy. Yet he may re-think that when she tells him that is not a murder investigation, but an invasion.

Comic-Con 2015: Thursday Schedule for TV-Related Events — Under the Dome, Teen Wolf and More >>>

The Fate of Molly’s Sons

In other news, Julie is still running the Humanichs program, but she is starting to feel the pressure. She returns home with dinner for two and we learn that she is taking care of Ethan. Ethan asks Julie when he is going to be able to go home and she says that he is home. (Did Julie arrange to have John killed so she could get custody of Ethan and keep the program up and running?)

As the episode ends, we learn that Molly’s alien son is not dead. But he is also no longer a child. He has aged so much that he appears as an adult, as we see when he approaches a young woman in a club. What has Molly’s alien son been up to all this time? And does Molly really believe he is dead, or was she only playing along?

What did you think of the season premiere of Extant? Were you surprised to see John killed off so early in the season? And is John really dead? We didn’t see a body, after all. What do you think of the changes made to Julie’s character? Have you formed an opinion of Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s JD? Do you think he believes anything Molly has said about the government trying to silence her? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Extant airs Wednesdays at 10pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV