Um, WOW. For my money this was easily the best episode of Primeval so far this season, and it hopefully, hopefully bodes very well for the rest of Series Four. Despite the noticable and much-lamented (on my part, anyway!) absence of Lester (Ben Miller), this episode was a huge leap forward in story quality and stakes for our characters, and very reminscent of the type of story that made me fall in love with this show in the first place.
For the first time in the show's history (correct me if I'm forgetting something here), we get actual unknown characters coming through an anomaly into present-day London. The set-up for these characters is most intriguing - apparently a group of them have a colony of sorts that travels through time. It really reminded me of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Lost World, for some reason. In addition to the Lost World connotation, these mystery intruders lent the storyline a real "steampunk" vibe, which turned out to be completely on the mark since at least one of this group is from Victorian-era London (at this point it's unclear if the unseen members of the group are also from the late 1800's). And to make things even more interesting, the setting for the anomaly opening is a beautiful theater, which of course reminded me of The Phantom of the Opera, with the creepy tree creature taking the role of misunderstood and feared Phantom. *wink*
Perhaps Lester's absence in this episode left the scriptwriteres more "room" to finally explore the mystery of Matt's (Ciarán McMenamin) association with Gideon (Anton Lesser) and the reason Philip Burton (Alexander Siddig) was so interested in financing the ARC operations. Apparently Gideon is dying of some unknown disease, and has been waiting for something to do with the anomalies for years - a cure, perhaps? The question remains, is Matt simply his disciple of sorts or could Matt be his son? And what exactly are they waiting for?! The answer had better deliver, know what I mean? :) I am hopeful that since Matt's deception appears to be tied to an real emotional connection with Gideon, that their master "plot" isn't going to turn out to be like Helen's (i.e. wiping out mankind). That would feel like a copout IMO.
For much of this episode, Connor (Andrew Lee Potts) and Philip take center stage. Last week when Connor was allowed to rejoin the ARC team, it was clear that Philip thought he was unsuited for the task, in part due to his lack of military training and the fact that Connor can be a little, well, unorthodox. LOL! While Abby (Hannah Spearitt) and Becker (Ben Mansfield) are sent to the theater to invesigate the anomaly, Connor is sidelined so he can run tests on the new security system Philip wants put in place at the ARC. This opened the door for some workplace related humor (irritation at the boss, dismay at having to write reports) that was pretty funny. When Philip stumbles upon Rex loose in the menagerie, and the security system goes into lockdown, Connor and Jess (Ruth Kearney) have minutes to work out a way to save Philip's life, since lockdown = the oxygen being sucked from the room where the creature incursion has been detected.
Thankfully this episode pretty much sidelined the supposedly brilliant Jess in favor of letting Connor shine and remind us just why he's such a valuable member of the team. If anyone is going to nearly accidentally kill the boss, it's going to be Connor. But see that's one of the many things I love about his character - Connor may seem to screw up regularly, but no one could be more invested in learning from his mistakes and making things "right" than him. When Philip thinks he's going to die, he lets slip to Connor that the reason he's working with the ARC is that he's part of operation "new dawn," which sounds suspiciously like a "reset" project, which really reminds me of crazy Helen. But of course before he can share more information, Connor proves that he's a computer wizard every bit as good as Philip and deactivates the lockdown. After all, he's the original ARC computer master. :) And can I just tell you, I freaking LOVED the revelation that his password was "Abby Temple." Long before Abby would give him the time of day he was dreaming about being married to her! LOVE it! And only slightly less gratifying was witnessing Philip's new respect for Connor's capabilities - though since I don't quite trust him, Connor had better watch his back.
Back to the humans that come through this episode's anomaly for a moment. Lady Emily Merchant (pictured above) is played by Ruth Bradley, and crazy, unhinged Ethan is played by Jonathan Byrne. Bradley appeared in the movie Flyboys, which is long overdue for a rewatch in my book since I can't remember if she played the romantic lead or not. Emily's incursion presents an interesting opportunity for conflict between Matt and Becker. Matt breaks all the rules and follows her through the anomaly, not realizing she went there on purpose. Becker is obviously still so scarred by the events of last season that he has to be convinced to bend the rules and reopen the anomaly to give Matt the opportunity to come back. The show's attempt to create some sort of possible romantic attraction/tension between Matt and Emily sort of works...at least in my opinion Matt came across as a bit less of a cold fish in this episode, what with the crazy rule breaking and all. *wink* I'm more interested to see how his flagrant disregard for ARC protocol and his protection of Emily (known to Abby, but hidden from Becker) plays out - there's all sorts of potential for dividing the team here if things go south.
With not just one but two great chase-and-destroy the tree creeper sequences and the mystery of how humans from over a century ago coming through an anomaly could impact the storyline (please, please scriptwriters don't have squandered this opportunity!), this was easily the best episode of the season thus far.
I have no idea what episode the above picture of Connor is from, all I know is it came up when I was searching for episode three pics. But even though it doesn't belong to this episode, who doesn't appreciate a gratuitious Andrew Lee Potts picture?! So you're welcome. :)