I finally got the chance to re-watch episode five of Primeval this weekend since BBC America finally put the episode On Demand. This episode continues the overall up-tick in quality and storyline this series has enjoyed since episode three. The action opens with Philip (Alexander Siddig) offering Connor a job in his private lab, doing anomaly research away from the ARC. Connor (Andrew Lee Potts) is clearly flattered since Philip is his geeky idol, for reasons I have yet to grasp given Philip's presence on-screen this season. But whatever. It's been kind of fun to see Connor's predisposition towards Philip fanboy-dom get on Abby's (Hannah Spearitt) last nerve, especially after Philip orders all of the creatures in her beloved menagerie put down.
In fact, this episode has pretty much forced me to conclude that Philip has been one of the most poorly conceived and realized characters in the show's history. Having seen episode six, and with only seven episodes in this fourth series, I have my doubts that the writers can save Philip by the season's end, but who knows? *sigh* But if Philip doesn't have a point as far as the show's story arc goes, I will say I do enjoy witnessing how he gets on Lester's (Ben Miller) nerves. If there was any doubt in my mind about Lester's qualifications - which there wasn't, BTW - forcing Lester to tolerate a boss like Philip proves that my favorite snarky ARC manager needs no overseer. Between getting annoyed by Philip, telling Matt off for not listening to him, and fumbling through actual field work by standing in for Jess as a communications director, Lester was in FINE form this episode.
I really loved the whole execution of the creature storyline in this episode, the whole thing was well-conceived and quite creepy. The picturesque town giving off anomaly signal "flashes" was eerie in a horror flick kind of way - everything was "too" quiet and "too" perfect to be genuine. The way all of the townspeople cover up rumors of the Wichfield (sp?) worm was a neat twist on creature incursions - no one wants to acknowledge that the impossible is occurring, so it is repressed, that kind of thing. When Abby and Connor arrive and visit the pub to try and glean information from the locals, I loved how Abby was immediately pegged as the more serious, threatening of the two when she's given the bigger drink at the bar - poor Connor. *wink*
So while Connor and Abby split up to take care of the anomaly, Matt (Ciarán McMenamin) leaves to pursue the kidnapped Emily (Ruth Bradley) and the mysterious Ethan (Jonathan Byrne), who knows way more than any self-respecting 19th century anomaly hopper should about the 21st-century, like how to drive modern cars. AND he lets drop a comment about taking revenge on his FAMILY. Hmmm... I have really liked McMenamin in other projects, but I have to be honest, overall he's been a disappointment as team leader in Primeval. He's just WAY too serious for his own good - that's why I liked Danny so much in season three, and why as tragic as Cutter's departure was, I wasn't all that sorry to see him go. The show needs someone charismatic in a lead role, who brings a sense of adventure to the storylines, not stoic gloom-and-doom. It is with some hesitancy that I've watched Matt's relationship with Emily unfold over the last few episodes. Emily's served to loosen him up just a bit, but sadly Matt is still an extraordinarily stuffed shirt and makes Emily look positively charismatic by contrast. The hopeless romantic in me did love the moment he rescues her from the crypt, though. :) And if his connection with Emily has proven to indicate one thing, it's that both of these characters are not of this time period.
So back to Connor and Abby for a few moments...I thought having Abby trapped in a camper while the creature of the week - this time a labyrinthodont - made for some fun action sequences, especially when she starts driving the camper with the creature hitching a ride on the roof at high speed to the anomaly location. I also thought Connor's discovery that the fuel the creepy farm-folk were dumping down into the mountainside was somehow affecting the strength of the anomaly was pretty interesting. I'm not even going to try and discuss the science of that, when it comes to this show I'm not that interested in specifics. LOL! There was a fantastic angst-ridden Connor moment when, in the cave, he's confronted by the labyrinthodont that's eaten Abby's tracker and he thinks he may have lost his one and only love. I loved watching Connor go all fighting mad, since that's not a side of him that we usually get to see. And then of course to have Abby show up - his relief was almost palpable. The moment was capped by a fantastic kiss - and can I just say, Andrew Lee Potts is the master of the "sudden" on-screen kiss (just watch the last five minutes of SyFy's Alice). Knowing that Potts and Spearritt are a couple in real life made the moment all the sweeter.
Becker (Ben Mansfield) was a no-show this ep, and sadly wasn't missed by yours truly. Jess (Ruth Kearney) was also relegated to the background, but I've got to say she's getting on my nerves less and less as the show goes on. I think it's a combination of having her scenes reduced and the fact that when she's on-screen she's less annoying, proving her worth bit by bit each week. I really enjoyed her exasperation with Lester's high-handedness - those were some cute moments.
So, thoughts? Anyone besides me as exasperated with the show's development of the Matt and Philip characters? This was one of the best field operations this season IMO. And I continue to love watching Connor and Abby's relationship develop - they've come a long way since season one, haven't they? :) Episode six review coming soon!