Jeff Jensen
October 03, 2011 AT 08:30 PM EDT

If you became a fan of the new Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi saga Terra Nova last week, you should know that as you’re watching tonight’s second episode (Fox, 8/7c), Jason O’Mara will be in Australia shooting the season finale. “There’s one moment in particular that’s particularly mind-blowing,” says the actor, who wraps filming on the rookie drama’s 13-episode first season this week. “I’m pretty excited for people to see it and react to it, too.”

Might that moment have something to do with the mysterious chalk diagrams near the waterfall? Or will that moment clarify the degree to which  the so-called “Butterfly Effect” might be at work in the show — i.e., the time-travel idea that even a small change in the distant past could change all of history? O’Mara told us the answer, then used that chilling technology from last Friday’s episode of Fringe to extract the memory from our brains, just because he’s mean that way. Okay, he told us nothing.

However, the Life On Mars star did note that viewers will be getting more intel on those aforementioned bits of Terra Nova mythology sooner rather than later. “You won’t have to wait around the whole season for answers,” says O’Mara. “And what I like best about those answers is that they are tied to the big theme of what this show is all about: Family.”

Terra Nova decided to resolve one ongoing mystery linked to that big theme before last week’s premiere even aired. You might recall that the opening sequence of the pilot showed how hot-headed Chicago cop Jim Shannon (O’Mara) was sent to jail for two years for resisting arrest after authorities discovered that he and his wife had a third child — a big no-no in the overpopulated future of 2149. That revelation wasn’t in the original version of the pilot. It was one of several new scenes shot this past summer and added to the two-hour launch episode. (Other new beats elaborated on how life is lived in the Terra Nova colony, including the humorous business with O’Mara whacking weeds and getting slimed by a mammoth millipede.) As a result of revealing exactly what Jim did to produce the tension that defines his relationships with every member of his family, including his doctor wife Elisabeth (Shelley Conn), the show neutralized the potential for audiences to assume the worst of Jim and not invest on him. “The sense of estrangement caused by his absence has produced issues that will carry forward,” says O’Mara. “But originally, you may have thought that the show was going to present a darker take on the marriage. That didn’t really work for the tone of the show.”

In tonight’s episode, Jim must screw on his action hero again and help Terra Nova honcho Taylor protect the colony from a swarm of pterosaurs. Check out the sneak peek below:

Whatever you think of the quality of Terra Nova’s dinosaur effects, O’Mara says he’s proud of the show’s ambition and hopes audiences will appreciate the audacity of “a sci-fi epic that’s produced on a weekly basic.” As for acting opposite dinos, O’Mara says he has had great fun “working with something that isn’t there,” and even participating in the creation of the dinosaur’s performance by producing a gesture or expression that gives the dino-making f/x guys something to react to. Still, he says he can’t get too creative: “Sometimes, I’ll do something, and they’ll say, ‘Jason, that’s great, but don’t do it again, because that little thing you did will cost us an extra $10,000.’”

If you watched Terra Nova last week, do you plan on making a return trip tonight? If you didn’t see the premiere, catch up with James Hibberd’s recap, then check out our review by Ken Tucker.

You May Like