Extrapolations (Season 1), Episode 4 Recap & Ending Explained: Scott Z Burns’ climate-change tragedy drama – ‘Extrapolations’ spent its first three episodes trying to find a footing. They mostly introduced us to the world we will have to live in after just a few decades if we refuse to take any action. Those three chapters presented distinct narratives of characters trying to find the meaning of ‘survival’ in their overly polluted world. While they made a passionate plea to take climate change seriously, they suffered from what such narratives often suffer from.
Most of its writing felt more like a lecture than a moving, character-driven tale. On the one side, I believe that is how it should be. On another, it feels odd for a fictional narrative format where our emotional engagement is based on characters’ flaws and vulnerabilities. Instead, the stories before mostly painted pictures in black-or-white, leaving us without a task to distinguish virtues from vices on our own.
The latest Edward Norton starrer episode offers a compelling narrative centered around characters in grey shades. We cannot form clear conclusions about them from the get-go. We rather walk along with them through their anguish and try to understand the reasons behind their actions. Maybe we have made some of them already. That makes the episode more ‘human.’ And the episode makes us introspect on the same aspect.
Humans are driven by greed and compassion because nature is unpredictable and pleasing. The episode addresses it in a genuinely moving episode with great acting performances. Let’s dig right into how these flawed characters navigate their way through an immediate crisis. Spoilers ahead.
Extrapolations (Season 1), Episode 4 Recap
Episode 4: 2059: Face of God
The episode begins with President Burdick (Cherry Jones) addressing the U.S. decision on the climate intervention treaty. By seeking advice from people from all walks of life, she comes to a decision to sign the CIT2 – climate intervention treaty. By that, she extends the moratorium on geoengineering to manipulate the climate artificially. Jonathan Chopin (Edward Norton) is one of the prime reasons for it to happen, who advised her about it. This upsets his 22-year-old son, Rowan Chopin (Michael Gandolfini), since he disagrees with it on a fundamental level.
Then six months later, Rowan stops being in touch with Jonathan. While he sails away with his current wife, Rowan goes to Djibouti for an event for a pilotless, solar-powered plane that he has worked on with his stepmother, Gita Mishra (Indira Varma). Since it falls on father’s day, she tells him to call his father. Rowan, however, is still resentful. To sway his mind, Gita quotes the Shakespeare lines that Jonathan often used to quote – ‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ Rowan does not think his father believes in it anymore.
Martha Russell (Diane Lane), his ex-colleague from the Alpha London branch, calls to inform him that Rowan is in Djibouti. He believes that Gita is with his son and asks Martha to confirm it. She tells him to question the CIA about it. She reveals that Rowan is a big fan of Gita’s work and inventions. Meanwhile, ‘The Rowan’ plane is introduced to select investors in a secret event. Gita praises Rowan’s work on the plane’s computer interface. Then she makes a surprising announcement saying she will lead the test flights herself. These planes have been loaded with a maximum payload of 250 tons for the demonstration.
Martha covertly gets hold of footage of Gita’s speech and sends it to Jonathan. While he is worried about why Rowan is connected to this project, Martha warns him that Nicholas Bilton might order a few if they become successful. Meanwhile, Gita has a heart-to-heart with Rowan about her past with Jonathan. She recalls buying a copy of the Whole Earth Catalog from 1968. Its first line said, ‘We are as gods and might as well get good at it.’ His recent advice for a prohibition on geoengineering is against it.
Rowan gets a sense of purpose since he and Gita are fixing the world together. He leaves her after expressing concern about her safety while executing the plan. He returns to the NSI (New Sky Initiatives) controls room and changes all the passcodes as per her suggestion. She decides to travel to her hometown – Badlapur, hoping she will inspire the natives. Restless, Jonathan keeps repeating the video and then recalls a science project from Rowan’s childhood.
Rowan stated a volcanic eruption as his inspiration, where the ash spread all over the atmosphere, reflecting the sun’s rays, which caused the planet to cool down. Jonathan believes that with the constantly increasing temperature ceiling, Rowan has decided to follow this experiment. The wheels of his thoughts start rotating in what Rowan is planning to achieve with this. He privately calls Martha to ask if Alpha has sold calcium carbonate, hydrogen sulfide, or sulfur dioxide to NSI.
Martha refuses to answer, stating the protocol. Jonathan threatens to file a complaint against her for withholding this information. Gita, meanwhile, starts ascending the plane over the mandated ceiling for commercial aircraft. While her associate – Hiram, informs her about being contacted by several officials, she tells Rowan privately that he needs to proceed since they are on their radar.
President Burdich learns about Gita’s plane being on the radar for breaking the height protocol. By then, Jonathan calls the FBI to warn them about Rowan possibly being associated with a global security event. While he was an advocate of geoengineering, he & Gita had put a lot of thought into that idea. That’s why he has a reason to believe that she is trying to alter the course of climate with an experiment. He requests to be taken to Washington, DC, to speak with the President’s office.
The President sees Gita’s video message, where she tells her that any way to stop her will cause a worldwide deployment of calcium carbonate. She sees it as a way to slow the rise in the temperature. By then, the military reaches NSI HQ and looks for Rowan. By then, he leaves as per his plan with Gita and moves to a safe spot. While he & Gita discuss their further plan, Jonathan reaches the Oval Office to explain Gita’s plan through an analogy.
Consider climate change as a bear. Planet earth has been wrestling with this bear in a cage, and Gita’s solution is like putting a lion in that cage. It would change the odds but not make the win a certainty. He then warns of the calamities her geoengineering attempt would cause along with the good it will do. Nevertheless, he believes that with Gita’s level of talent and intelligence, she can achieve what she wants. While discussing the odds of her success, they also discuss her determination and how she never needed permission to pursue what she believed in.
Madam President calls Gita to invite her to the White House to discuss things instead of taking any reckless decision. Gita refuses to do so and speaks about the people from various countries who lost their lives due to the increase in temperature. She mentions that it only takes two million tonnes of calcium carbonate dispersed into the atmosphere to reverse the course and begin to cool the planet. While the resulting change in environment would have causalities, she believes they would be significantly lesser than the amounts that are currently dying.
Gita asks her to use the technology instead of sitting idle. Jonathan chips into the discussion and sees humans as the problems. Even if the alterations eventually lead us to a better, survivable world, human behavior will still keep causing problems. Our utter greed & selfishness will keep making us want more and more, leading us back to a calamity. Since it will be required to be done repeatedly year after year, it would cause more harm than good. He fears that it would also become a tool for wealthy people to add something to the air carelessly.
Jonathan worries about the unpredictable repercussions of her experiment while she argues about doing what’s in their control. Since they cannot re-engineer the brain, they should at least take a step to re-engineer the planet. Suddenly, Rowan chips in to say that not Gita’s experiment but Jonathan himself is the problem. Jonathan gets anxious about whether Rowan is in the plane, flying impulsively. Rowan alerts Gita about some fly-bys, and the communication suddenly cuts with them.
A secretary decides to jam the communication worrying about who else they are working with. Jonathan fights against that decision. But they suspect him of being involved in this family plan. So he is suddenly kept captive away from the Oval office. Both the president’s secretaries present opposing sides to her, and she wrestles with choosing one. She soon gets a call from Nick Bilton, where she talks about something called ‘cover for action.’ While no clear explanation is given, it seems to be about her trying to get the plane destroyed by Bilton and using him as a cover for her agenda.
Extrapolations (Season 1), Episodes 4 Ending Explained
Does Gita reach Badlapur with her plane as she planned to? What does Jonathan realize about Gita’s experiment?
Jonathan, sitting in his nearly dark room, suddenly realizes a crucial detail and begs to be returned to the oval office. Meanwhile, Rowan stays in an undisclosed place and evades getting caught by the authorities. Gita tells him that the Air Force planes have suddenly stopped flying by her cargo plane. She rejoices by thinking that they have finally accepted her proposal.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Gaurav (Adarsh Gourav) looks at the sky to find a massive explosion. Gita’s plane gets destroyed, and every other country starts putting the blame on someone else. Since Burdick decided to return the planes, her office does not get under the radar. That’s when Jonathan barges in to note the glaring difference between the calcium carbonate tonnage Gita mentioned and the one in her plane. So, he worries that her plane was just a decoy to hide a bigger plan.
What happens to Gita’s experiment with calcium carbonate?
Jonathan’s assumption is correct. The President sees the world map filled with yellow dots all over several countries, denoting that the chemical has been spread over those places altering their climate. Rowan operates it from his remote place and makes deliveries through Alpha drones to make it a success. So, in the end, Gita’s experiment happens as she wanted. However, the repercussions start emerging in the environment since it creates blue circles in the sky.
The whole aspect of ‘humans deciding to be gods’ is frightening. There’s a fine line between taking charge of our destiny vs. believing our way of thought to save the world. This episode discusses where the fate of the world rests over the success of an experiment. Considering the dire circumstances of the world, the possibility cannot be denied in the near future. However, it is for us to decide whether our actions are veering toward the side of eco-terrorism or genuine help.