For a reason that this writer has yet to deduce, Nova seems to have gotten hyper-specific this season. Broad issues, while present in some episodes, have taken a backseat to vaguely interesting minutiae. Even when there is a broad issue to be discussed, the series has opted to focus on the smaller bits and not tackle the larger, quite possibly more interesting, story.
Such, sadly, is again the case with their latest episode, "Lord of the Ants." The episode tells the story of E.O. Wilson, who has spent the vast majority of his life studying ants. Wilson, we are told, knows more about ants than anyone else on the entire planet. He seems like a good humored man, and takes an interest in his work with enthusiasm rarely seen in a 78 year-old.
Early in the episode, for semi-comic effect, Wilson allows himself to get stung by fire ants just to prove that he knew what was going to happen. It's a moment that's quite telling in the episode. Watching Wilson get stung by the ants, and do so with as much of a smile as anyone getting stung can muster, one can't help but feel some enthusiasm for the wonder that are ants. Yet, for all that, it's just an older gentlemen destroying the top of an ant colony and then placing his hand on it for little reason. They are, after all, just ants.
"Lord of the Ants" is quick to point out that Wilson has spent a large portion of his life trying to draw larger conclusions from his study of ants. He is, we are informed by the likes of David Attenborough, a naturalist who has always had the incredible ability to not just focus on the small bits and pieces, but to look at the world as a whole as well.