Stars: Andrew-Lee Potts, Hannah Spearritt, Ciaran McMenamin, Ruth Kearney, Ben Mansfield, Ben Miller, Alexander Siddig, Ruth Bradley, Jonathan Byrne, Anton Lesser, Lucy Brown, Rory Keenan, Norma Sheenan, Barbara Adair, Peter Hanley
Writer: Matthew Parkhill
Director: Robert Quinn
Network: BBC America
Original Telecast: February 5, 2011
Jenny Lewis (Lucy Brown) makes a welcome but mostly squandered return appearance as this latest series of PRIMEVAL reaches its penultimate episode. Jenny’s getting married, and when her wedding planner is satisfyingly killed by a Hyaenodon in a plastic-shrouded basement that makes one wonder when the parallel universe Cybermen are going to show up, the ARC team swing into action to help their old friend.
Meanwhile, Matt (Ciaran McMenamin) is still struggling with Gideon’s (Anton Lesser) warnings about getting too close to Emily (Ruth Bradley) or anyone else while trying to track down Ethan (Jonathan Byrne). The apocalypse is just around the corner, and one person may be responsible.
As we reach the end of this first run of new episodes (with a fifth series already on the way later in the year), we get a nice nod to the past with Jenny’s return – even if she seems a bit flightier and out of character throughout – while the ongoing story arc (heh) ramps up. The revelation of who Gideon really is seems pretty forced if mildly predictable, and we’re getting closer (presumably) to finding out what Ethan’s story is. The constant chase to either find Ethan or corral Emily has never been interesting, and it’s just tedious when every episode involves lots of tentative sneaking through dingy locations, whipping guns around corners and desperately searching for people we still don’t know anything about.
The various couples have some mild development as Jess (Ruth Kearney) tries to get closer to Becker (Ben Mansfield) while Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) puts his foot in it by suggesting marriage in front of Abby (Hannah Spearritt). It’s good thing everyone has a relationship to work on too, because if it weren’t for the soap opera intrigue, there wouldn’t be a lot happening in the first half of the episode. Fortunately, just when Matt is opening his heart to Emily, Ethan begins springing traps and the Hyaenodons start to attack, thus sparing us much more of the thinly-acted romantic subplots. When the creatures break up the wedding – come on, no ceremony ever goes uninterrupted in genre television – things take a slightly more exciting turn.
It is a nice little twist to have Jess grab a taser and get into some field work herself, and that brings me to an important point. It’s worth noting, while often pointing out how consistently this show fails to live up to the premise’s potential, that the cast are the least blame-worthy. Everyone gives it their all every week, some perhaps more than others, but ultimately all of them are poorly served by the material. Still, if it weren’t for the conviction of everyone on screen, the show would be impossible to watch. The only real crime this year has been the massive under utilization of Ben Miller, whose sardonic Lester has been softened too much and given only a few confrontations with Philip (Alexander Siddig), who is sadly completely absent this week.
This installment ends with Matt losing a father, Ethan looking for a brother (please don’t let this be what I think it is), and Emily cleaning up nicely to attend Jenny’s wedding party. As we head into this season’s finale, all I can say is: Abby, get that hair cut and styled. Really, you look like a sheepdog.
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