AN EMPIRE OF ONE

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Does Terra Nova Justify Military Dictatorships?

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The military dictator of Terra Nova metes out “justice” from his balcony in the “Bylaw” episode.

The dictator in The Twilight Zone episode, “The Mirror,” waves to his people from his balcony.

The most interesting thing about the TV show Terra Nova may be that it implies that certain circumstances justify a military dictatorship.

A man who will turn out to be innocent is sentenced to banishment and certain death, without the benefit of a trial by jury.

Having made a mistake in banishing an innocent man, does the colony repudiate the dictatorship? Does the dictator admit a mistake? Nope. The episode ends with the banishment of someone else who the dictator “knows” is the true murderer, and it takes place outside of the colony, more or less in secret, thus hiding the initial mistake from the other colony members. Of course, the first man banished, the one they find out was innocent, will soon be seen moving about in Terra Nova, but the reactions of the others to this error in justice will not be seen by us. The show seems to be going out of its way to protect the dictatorship from criticism and resistance from those living under the dictatorship. It seems unlikely that the producers are setting up an opposition to the dictatorship from within the colony because this character, and the actor playing him, is the best part of the show. He is the only one with the charisma necessary to carry a show like this. How likely is it that they would kill him off? It’s equally unlikely that his character would survive a change in the form of government. Therefore, it seems likely that the implicit justification and sympathy the show gives military dictatorships will continue.

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Written by David Kilmer

November 2, 2011 at 11:07 am

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