Created by Scott Z. Burns, “Extrapolations” is an apocalyptic TV series that takes place over a decade from 2023 and imagines a time when technology has obviously advanced, but everything else is on the brink of collapse due to climate change. Yet human beings are clamoring to make the best of this calamity instead of trying to make amends on an industrial level. Apple TV+ has released three of the eight episodes today, and it follows a handful of characters as they traverse through these tumultuous times. They include the Rabbi Marshall Zucker (Daveed Diggs), his father Ben Zucker (Peter Riegert), his mother (played by Leslie Uggams), Nick Bilton (Kit Harington), Rebecca Shearer (Sienna Miller), Shearer’s mother (played by Meryl Streep, who also voices the whale that Shearer monitors), Omar Haddad (Tahar Rahim), Junior (Matthew Rhys), Hannah (Heather Graham), Carmen Jalilo (Yara Shahidi), Harris Goldblatt (David Schwimmer), David Goldblatt (Judd Hirsch), and Alana Golblatt (Neska Rose). So, let’s talk about them.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Episode 1: Recap and Ending Explained – Was Junior’s Death A Form Of Poetic Justice?
“Extrapolations” Episode 1 opens with Carmen, a young climate activist, informing the world that there’s a good chance that corporations who have contributed to climate change are going to raise the ceiling for the maximum temperature that Earth can go up to before imploding, instead of trying to control the situation. And we see that the person who is responsible for the biggest damage to the planet is billionaire genius, Nick Bilton. We also get a glimpse of Omar Haddad, an Algerian government representative who’s there to support Palestine and vote on whether Bilton’s patents for desalinating water should be given to everyone in exchange for raising the minimum temperature by a few degrees. Then we move to Tel Aviv, where Rabbi Marshall is helping the people there deal with climate change, while his father keeps forcing him to come back to Miami because that’s where he’s needed the most. Zucker’s mom is fine with it, but she is sure that his father won’t agree with him.
All the way in St. Petersburg, we see that Junior, yet another rich individual who wants to build a casino in Greenland, is preparing to go there with his actress girlfriend, Hannah. In the Adirondacks, a pregnant Shearer and her friend try to rescue anyone who has been impacted by the forest fires. But after realizing that the smoke and heat are too overwhelming, they bail out via helicopter. When Omar learns about this, he leaves the Climate Change Conference to go be with his wife. As Junior reaches Greenland to see where his casino is going to be built, Bilton learns that his plans to do underground mining there are going to be allowed. As Shearer reaches the hospital for her delivery, she informs the staff that she has taken up the offer from Menagerie2100, which is a company that partakes in cloning animals that are going extinct. Although this goes against their ethos, Shearer’s friend doesn’t make a big deal out of it because Shearer is about to have a baby.
Junior learns that the Chinese have a certain degree of hold over the piece of ice that he wants to occupy. Hence, he calls his sister and then his business manager, Ben (Marshall’s father). But Ben has to tear himself away from the call because his wife collapses and falls on the stairs due to the degrading air quality in Tel Aviv. Marshall, who is already at odds with his father for forcing him to come to Miami, totally loses his cool when he sees Ben busy talking to one of his clients instead of caring about his own wife, whose condition is quite dubious. In another hospital in another part of the world, Shearer gives birth to her son, Ezra, who already has severe health complications due to the environment. Shearer’s friend leaves her side because of their disagreement over working with Menagerie2100 because even if the world is going up in flames, one shouldn’t let go of their ethics. Thankfully, Omar arrives to give Shearer some solace in these difficult times.
During the concluding moments of the show, Marshall puts a stop to his father-son relationship with Ben because Ben blames Marshall for the state Marshall’s mother is in. Bilton arrives at the Climate Conference and watches a man light himself on fire to protest his actions. But Bilton is unperturbed by that, and he goes on to announce that he’s giving away his patent for desalinating while also promising to join the Tel Aviv accord to keep the global temperature ceiling at 2.3 degrees. And as this is understandably horrendous, we see Junior being impaled by a walrus while searching for the minerals that the Chinese are also searching for. It’s a way of nature reclaiming its spot on the food chain by killing a human being who is hugely responsible for the degradation of the ecosystem. Is it going to solve anything? No. Because, going by the text from Bilton, Junior would’ve lost his control over Greenland anyway. However, seeing him in that bloodied state after acting like a jerk for around an hour is cathartic.
Episode 2: Recap and Ending Explained – Has Shearer’s Whale Warned The Rest Of Her Kind?
While the first episode of “Extrapolations” had multiple narratives unfolding simultaneously, “Extrapolations” episode 2 focuses on just one, and that is Rebecca Shearer’s. Almost ten years have passed since the events of that episode, and Shearer is an employee of Menagerie2100 and stationed in Colombia. Omar has died saving people from one of the many forms of environmental crisis. And their son Ezra has grown up but suffers from a health complication where undue stress or heat can cause him to collapse. Rebecca has also lost her mother to cancer. But her memory lives on through the stories and poems she has recorded for Rebecca and Ezra. In addition to that, Rebecca is using her mother’s voice to translate the whale’s (apparently the last one on Earth) conversations. So, that’s yet another way how Rebecca is preserving the memory of her mother. Also, yes, in 2046, humans have apparently learned how to translate what animals are saying. However, they are still not in the mood to tackle the worsening condition of the planet.
Now, the dilemma in Rebecca’s line of work is that she’s supposed to capture this sole surviving whale so that Menagerie2100 can “drain her brain,” preserve her DNA and make clones of it. But that means this particular whale has to die, and that’s something that Rebecca doesn’t actually agree with on the inside. So, she hasn’t relayed the motive behind her mission to the whale. In fact, due to this deep connection to the whale, her boss (played by Eisa Davis) forces her to hurry things up. When that doesn’t work, she sends Hendricks (Douglas Hodge) to warn her that she is not only violating company protocol by assigning human voices to animals (something that Rebecca has done in the past as well), but she’s also wasting company time and money. And while she’s reeling from the shock of this intrusion, Hendricks drops a truth bomb. He says that the mating sound that Rebecca’s whale thinks she’s hearing is actually a recording from a male whale that died seven years ago.
In an attempt to save the whale from any harm, Rebecca decides to rip the bandage off and tell her the truth. It leads to an interesting conversation about how whales haven’t developed the vocabulary to tell lies, while everything that human beings have built is a lie to cover up a series of lies. Rebecca is understandably apologetic about it. But she tries to conclude her conversation with the whale on a hopeful note by saying that everything that she has taught Rebecca will lead to a brighter and more ecologically sound future. The whale doesn’t reciprocate this optimism, as she’s sure that humans are going to make a mess of it again. And maybe she’s right because human beings are not good with second chances. We’ll talk about them in movies and TV shows. However, in real life, there are probably a select few instances where people have capitalized on their “second chance at life,” while the rest of us have repeated our mistakes, thereby bringing us back to where we started from or maybe somewhere worse.
At Menagerie2100, we see Rebecca being reprimanded for her actions and being moved to Alaska to continue her work with the last pack of wolves because the colder climate will help Ezra. Before leaving, though, Rebecca takes Ezra for a swim to show her the whale (who is technically imbued with Ezra’s grandmother’s spirit), while a voice-over tells us that she asked the whale to warn the other whales to stay away from humans. The whale says that she already has. This can mean one of two things. There are other whales, and Rebecca’s whale has told them to steer clear of humans, or Rebecca’s whale has told the other whales to stay away from humans, and yet things took a turn for the worse, thereby bringing their numbers down to one.
Episode 3: Recap – What Happened To The Temple Israel In Florida?
Also set in 2047, the third episode of “Extrapolations” establishes a few things. Marshall has left Tel Aviv and moved to Miami, just like his father wanted him to. But it doesn’t look like he’s in touch with his father anymore, which makes sense because their last altercation wasn’t a good one. Marshall’s mother looks better, though, because we see her talking to her son. However, the most important information is that Miami is flooding, and the Temple Israel, where Marshall currently works as a Rabbi, is sinking. “Extrapolations” Episode 3 also focuses on the Goldblatts, largely Harris, Gabriela (Marianne Rendón), Alana, and David, as they are in charge of the Temple Israel in Florida and the only ones who can financially ensure that it doesn’t go underwater. And although everyone in the Goldblatt household is very money-minded, Alana is clearly nihilistic, as she feels that praying to God or fussing over money is pointless because they are in the middle of an apocalypse. Well, technically, she’s on the fence because she has a lot of questions about why God, if there is one, is doing all this and whether there’s any punishment reserved for her dad, who is using the flooding to make “Little Haiti” and selling apartments to millionaires.
Amidst all the flooding and conversations about God’s will, Marshall’s mother moves out of Miami because of the risk to her health. But while shipping his mother off to Chicago, Marshall has to deal with Alana’s never-ending quest to link the crumbling of the ecosystem with the wrath of God, which ends up making Marshall question his relationship with God while negotiating with Harris regarding the survival of the Temple Israel. All this dilemma causes him to dream about performing “Singin’ in the Rain” inside the Temple Israel, and it’s so surprising, jarring, and entertaining because Diggs and Rose are dancing their gumboots off. However, reality comes crashing down in the form of the fact that Marshall has already made a deal with the devil (the Goldblatts) to preserve the temple, who in turn have bribed the Government officials of Tallahassee to get the job done. Marshall thinks he has done what he has done for the greater good. However, he soon finds out that the Goldblatts have given up the homeless shelter to “save” the place of worship, which is something that Marshall clearly didn’t know about. Alana starts digging into Marshall’s past but she has to discontinue that because her grandfather dies of a mosquito bite.
‘Extrapolations’ Episode 3: Ending Explained – What Kind Of Change Did Alana Bring About In Marshall?
When Alana initially confronts Marshall about what he has done, he gives some vague answers about moving forward on the basis of faith and not something more concrete. But the need for specificity rises when the FBI comes knocking on the doors of the Goldblatts to arrest Harris for bribery. Later on, during Alana’s bar mitzvah ceremony, she makes it very evident (while citing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah) that she’s the one who called the FBI because she just couldn’t stand her father’s overall dishonesty and overconfidence that he can get away with everything. However, that’s not all. She replays Marshall’s public conference from Israel to remind him that there was a time when he used to talk about shunning neutrality and choosing sides because neutrality always benefits the oppressor and not the victims of oppression. That ends up being enough for Marshall to resign as the Rabbi because he clearly thinks he’s not fit to play the role. That said, when the hurricane comes knocking, he does rush to the temple to save the Torah from drowning and finds out that Julia (Annelise Cepero), the plumber, is also there to help.
Marshall and Julia, along with the rescued Torah, try to escape in their respective cars, but they notice that the flood has rendered all land-based vehicles useless. So, they reach the rooftop to flag a passing helicopter and escape through that. Thankfully, that works out. Marshall reunites with Alana, and although she’s happy that the both of them have survived the latest onslaught of the apocalypse, she still wants him to answer the question of why God doesn’t intervene when millions of people are dying. Marshall blurts out a version of the answer to the same question that Moses had asked and says that it boils down to the fact that humans have to endure because they are humans. However, Marshall’s last line, that it’s totally up to us if we want to suffer constantly or live deliciously, encapsulates the ethos of “Extrapolations.” Humans are responsible for the things that humanity has to suffer. God didn’t create us. God isn’t causing the apocalypse. We, humans, are causing the apocalypse. I don’t know how much time we have, but we need to choose better leaders who understand climate change instead of turning to the Gods we believe in for answers. Religion has never been the answer, but science is.