Each of “Extrapolations”’s eight episodes introduces a new conflict set in a slightly different time in the future. New and returning characters are placed in various dilemmas and are intrinsically connected by subtle details. One of the biggest selling points of “Extrapolations” is its star-studded cast: Meryl Streep, Diane Lane, Edward Norton, Forest Whitaker, Marion Cotillard, Sienna Miller, and Kit Harington, among many others. While each actor is mostly constrained to their singular episode, some, such as Harington’s Jeff Bezos stand-in, Nicholas Bilton, loom large over the series. The time jumps show how the planet changes as it gets warmer, and this storytelling device showcases technology that could possibly assist the population during the climate crisis. From finding new ways to save historical buildings from rising sea levels to imagining a future where mask-wearing becomes the de facto way of life, the innovations within “Extrapolations” are one of its most interesting aspects. It’s not too far out of the realm of possibility that some of these solutions are already being explored.
The first three episodes, launching on March 17, introduce recurring characters and how society’s need for a quick fix allows the climate to suffer. In 2037, Rebecca Shearer (Miller) is deep in the California wildfires that continue to rage unabated as the heat climbs. Saving animals and preserving wildlife means the world to her, but her late-stage pregnancy has her seeking refuge from the smoke. Meanwhile, her husband, Omar Haddad (Tahar Rahim), has a vital vote in a global climate summit. He represents the interests of Algeria, which, due again to the rising temperatures, is facing catastrophic drought. Haddad concludes that the only solution would come from a patent that Alpha’s Nicholas Bilton is in possession of, one of many patents the world-leading company owns. That patent contains technology that could once again provide the country with water. When Haddad hastily leaves the summit due to the impending birth of his child, he entrusts his voting power to the hands of a neighboring country. But he’s unaware of how much his peer is willing to give up for water. Have these decisions, however important they may seem, lead to the deterioration of the planet?
Another character introduced during the premiere is Marshall Zucker (Daveed Diggs), a newly appointed Rabbi who believes his most important work is in Israel. The source of his struggles comes from his father, Ben (Peter Riegert), who still lives by the principle that once you’ve given your word, it’s set in stone. In this case, Ben has arranged for Marshall to move to Miami and become the Rabbi of a temple in Florida, leaving behind his work. This conflicts with the principles that Marshall has sworn to live by. Of lesser note, there’s a third subplot in this episode that revolves around Junior (Matthew Rhys) and social media celebrity Hannah (Heather Graham) looking into a new location to build hotels. Apparently, with the changing sea level and temperatures, there’s land to build on. Miller and Diggs have dedicated episodes later in “Extrapolations” that continue to delve into their wildlife preservation and humanitarian pursuits, but the decisions made during the pilot have ramifications throughout the entire series.