Thursday, February 24, 2011

Primeval 4.6


Well, obviously I fell behind with my Primeval Series 4 reviews. Thankfully this season was only seven episodes, so I don't have too much catching up to do. *wink* This episode opens with the mysterious Gideon (Anton Lesser) having some sort of flashback to another world. As we learned back in episode three, Gideon is terminally ill - and at this point he's so close to death he's fanatical in his insistence that Matt (Ciarán McMenamin) promise he'll use Emily (Ruth Bradley) as bait to capture Ethan (Jonathan Byrne) and stop him from destroying humanity. For reasons that have yet to be revealed, Gideon has lumped Ethan in the same category as Series 1-3 baddie Helen Cutter - an amoral individual with the right knowledge to wreak unimaginable havoc on mankind. Only Ethan is an underdeveloped, poorer version of the same type - mainly due to lack of decent characterization - only part of which, to my mind, can be blamed on the fact that this is a seven episode season. Matt, being the stoic lump on a log that he is, of course promises to do just this - because even if in Matt's world he's sort of attracted to Emily, he can't let that interfere with his mission. I like the basic idea behind Ethan and Matt as adversaries across time, but I think the fact that again, this season is so short, the impact of the possibilities between these characters are never fully explored to the extent one would wish.

This week's anomaly opens at a swanky mansion where a wedding is being staged. Matt, Emily, Connor (Andrew Lee Potts), and Abby (Hannah Spearitt) are sent to investigate the anomaly, leaving Lester (Ben Miller) to man the ARC offices and Becker (Ben Mansfield) to track down Ethan, with Jess (Ruth Kearney) for company. The creatures this week cracked me up! Hyaenadons are apparently quite fierce dog-like creatures who are rather cute when they're in the "puppy" stage, quite another thing when they are fully grown. While searching the mansion, Connor and Abby run into the bride-to-be who turns out to be none other than former ARC team member Jenny Lewis (Lucy Brown), more high maintenance than ever. I have VERY mixed feelings about her reappearance. Jenny left the team in episode 5 of series 3, shortly after Cutter's death and the realization that yes, he wasn't crazy - in a different timeline she was his true love Claudia Brown. I guess my main issue here is that seeing Jenny again reminded me of how much I preferred the Claudia incarnation of this character - Jenny always came across as way too...hmm, I don't know...wishy-washy to me. For most of series 2 and 3 Jenny didn't deserve Cutter AT ALL...and then she leaves the show when she finally starts to show some moxie (and act like Claudia). So in the intervening time since she's left the ARC, she's attempted to completely purge her former life from her mind and she's gotten engaged to a musician with horrible fashion sense. Nothing against musicians, but yeesh after Cutter's awesomeness this Michael (Rory Keenan) person is the best rebound option the writers could come up with? And in spite of her past experience with the ARC she is delusional enough to think that the anomaly won't leak creatures to wreck her wedding. That's just delusional. *wink*

Connor had perhaps one of his best awkward-but-you'll-forgive-him-'cause-he's-adorable moments ever when he and Abby are catching up with Jenny and he off-handedly suggests that he and Abby should get married at this location. Abby's look of shock and horror at the off-the-cuff way he brought up marriage was absolutely priceless! And then the way he tries to back pedal, and then just sort of gives up because he knows he's dug himself into a deep hole is vintage Connor. One thing that has remained constant for me throughout Primeval's run is how much I love these two characters, and series 4, for as much as some of it's been up and down quality-wise in my opinion, has given me plenty of fantastic Connor/Abby moments for which I am eternally grateful. It was also a lot of fun to see Connor cut off and locked in the basement with only baby hyaenadons for company while their very angry mama tries to take him out. The sequence managed to strike just the right balance of Connor's dorkiness and proficiency.

The whole concept of Emily and Matt working as romantic interests really crashes and burns completely here. First and foremost, Matt's high-handed attitude toward keeping Emily in sight at all times just made me want to smack him upside the head for acting like such a neanderthal (apologies to the guys in the Geico commercials). And while I get that she's from a different era, for someone who has been traveling through anomalies for as long as she has, I was surprised she didn't kick him to the curb figuratively and literally. But alas, that is not to be as apparently she's supposed to see past the facade into his tortured soul or something, so she puts up with his chauvinistic shenanigans. Whatevs.

On to Becker and Jess's activities this episode. Jess, I know, is a really hit-or-miss character - and perhaps I am tolerating her more only because my ability to stomach Matt has decreased by a proportionate amount each week. Anyway, I thought it was kind of cute that she brought takeout to Becker's stakeout in front of Ethan's hideout (wow...look at all those words ending in "out"). I also liked how Becker's predisposition to run in and just get the job done backfired on him here, as he ends up in the middle of a booby-trapped room and Jess has to save the day and disarm Ethan's bomb. Nicely done, girlfriend. *wink*

While Jenny's return felt a bit lamer than I would have wished, I did enjoy the craziness that ensued when Connor frees himself from the basement and interrupts the ceremony. If looks could kill poor Connor would have been fried on the spot. The set up played nicely into hyaenadons following and completely freaking out everyone in the audience. Finally we see more than a small handful of one-off episode characters encountering dinosaurs gone wild! This show works best for me when there's a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor (the complete lack of that is Matt's downfall), something Danny's character brought to the show in spades. That quality was abundantly present in the spectacle of overgrown wild dogs terrorizing wedding guests, while Abby and Emily, decked out to the nines in formal dresses, wielding maces as weapons.

I really thought it was a nice touch to finish the episode by having Lester officiate Jenny's wedding (who knew managers of top-secret government offices could perform weddings?). This was one of those scenes that forced Lester out of his comfort zone, and while he may complain we know him well enough by now to realize that somewhere deep (deep) inside he's probably rather touched. *wink* With only one episode left, we finally get the not quite surprising revelation that Gideon is Matt's father, and they are (also not surprisingly) not from this time period - sent from the future to stop someone - who has now been revealed to be Ethan - from using the anomalies to destroy mankind. Like much of this season, the overall storyarc has been rather poorly developed...so I'm curious to see what sort of cliffhanger we're left with after episode 7...

8 comments:

heidenkind said...

I really needed Cliff's Notes for this episode, and the next one for that matter. When Jenny showed up I was like, "Yay, Claudia!" But then they said it was Jenny and I was all, "Wait... who's that again?" Still, I'm glad her husband loves her enough to ignore the fact that she used to work with dinosaurs. ;)

Ruth said...

@heidenkind - You know, you bring up a great point. I shouldn't let my frustrations w/ Jenny color the fact that Michael was VERY understanding in the end. :)

And yes...there was A LOT going on in this episode. Almost too much at times... *sigh*

Lori said...

Ok, when I commented on your last post about not seeing some thing coming, I was referring to events from ep. 7.

As for this ep., I fully agree about the disappointment with the reappearance of Jenny. She came off kind of lame and in total denial about what kinds of weird things go on in the world—like you said, why wouldn't she expect an anomaly to disrupt her wedding?!?

You're also right about how many plot lines are not fully developed. Maybe they shouldn't have tried to do so much. Maybe if there were fewer new characters they could have made it work with such a short season. They set up so many questions that it would take an American-style season to answer them!

Ruth said...

@Lori - LOL, yeah that's what I figured.

Glad I am not alone in thinking Jenny's reappearance came off as something of a disappointment. She was suffering from massive denial!

On the one hand I am glad the writers had ambition story-wise, but it seems like with only 7 episodes this season ambition outweighed reality a bit. Oh well, c'est la vie! Be interesting to see where things go with season 5...

Lori said...

Surely season 5 will be more like a continuation of this season and tie up loose ends. I'm going to be really worried about this show if it starts up again and appears to be headed in another direction.

Ruth said...

@Lori - Seriously, that would be pretty bad!

Kaye Dacus said...

I finally got caught up on these last two episodes on On Demand this weekend.

The one thing that bothered me the most in this episode was Connor's going down into the basement WITHOUT A WEAPON. We're talking about someone who survived a year in the Triassic (or Jurassic or whenever it was) and who's been doing this job for years now. He knows there's been a creature incursion, he hears a strange noise, and instead of calling for backup or finding some kind of weapon, he goes TOWARD the sound. Just another example of the writers' ridiculous overreliance on the "one of the team has to face a creature without a weapon" device in this season. It's just stupid--as if Connor has never learned a bloomin' thing in all the time he's been doing this. Also, couldn't he have CLOSED THE DOOR when he ran into the room where the ceremony was taking place if he knew the creatures were right behind him?

Though I really wanted a solution that would allow Claudia and Cutter to be back together, this did kind of give me the closure I wanted on the Jenny Lewis/Cutter storyline with how she talked about Cutter when she explained everything to Michael.

Ruth said...

@Kaye - Re: the weapon thing - weapons have been handled really haphazardly this season. It's like everyone forgot how to use them properly. :P

I'm glad you got some Jenny/Cutter closure. ;) I am still a bit disappointed that they bothered to bring her back only to have her come across as her most annoying...but oh well, c'est la vie!