Primeval: New World: 111 “The Inquisition” Review
Reviewed by David Selby.
At the end of last week, Ken Leeds’ seven-episode-long secret was finally revealed. However, despite my fondness for this arc, I was more intrigued to see how Primeval would, for the first time, pull off an episode free of both creatures and anomalies. The question: did it work?
One of the things I was glad of relating to the creature-free setup was that it meant that the opening wasn’t just a whole load of contrived clichés (character with friends/colleges, character leaves friends/colleges and ends up conveniently alone, character attacked by mysterious beast, etc.). I’m quite fond of stories that open up with a scene from later on and then revert back to the start, eventually making its way to that point and revealing the outcome. Especially in a sci-fi show, experimenting with the narrative structure is strongly encouraged.
Something I’ve been particularly fond of with this series of Primeval is how all different events have magnitudes which echo throughout the other episodes; all threads are woven through each separate episode, and not one standalone story remains insincerely separated from the others. This is an episode which I believe achieved this well; developments on Brooke’s death, mentions to the future (that one dates right back to the first series), confessions about the accident in Undone, and about Ken Leeds’ various actions all seemed to fit suitably into certain parts of the narrative to explain how the consequences had worsened over time. That’s a sign of strong writing, and even stronger full-series planning. A good series arc isn’t one which is over-ambitious and tries to be too clever for its own good, it’s one like this; relatively simple in terms of structure, yet still complex, with all episodes linking in coherently.
A lot of the concepts had been touched on before; animal experimentation/ethics in Series 2 with the Oliver Leek backstory, changing the past to suit a particular individual (Helen Cutter in all series), so from that angle this wasn’t actually as inventive as it first appears. But an idea which struck me as impressive and thought-provoking was when the Colonel (Louis Ferreira) referred to global warming/climate change, and how the only way to prevent them was to return to the past to do so. It sparked some interesting discussions between me and friends; would you trust your government to interfere in the nexus of time itself if it meant that we could be living in a better world? I think, personally, it was a horrific notion, but a very, very well-thought one.
I felt sympathy for about half of our protagonists whilst I ended up practically despising the other half. Evan and Mac remain likable, and Dylan seems to be the one I feel the most empathy for (perhaps because she’s the one who has the most similar personality to me). Colonel Hall, and Ken Leeds (Geoff Gustafson), on the other hand, I strongly disliked for most of the episode, purely because of what they were happy to put the creatures through. Ken Leeds did redeem himself towards the end, though, as he re-affirmed where his loyalty ostensibly lies. Angelika Finch (Miranda Frigon), had previously been a personal favourite, and whilst she’s still well-written and realistic, I’ve found myself feeling colder towards her than ever before. Firstly, she continuously makes a big thing out of leaving everyone (this is her third time) and drawing attention to herself. Secondly, she came to confess to the Colonel, which only put more blame on Evan for abetting her cover-up, as she left… again. Plus, she turned a blind eye to the animal torture, which is a very parochial and hypocritical thing to do. So she’s going to need a lot of redeeming, if she ever returns.
The reveal scene was genuinely moving and evoked more empathy for the creatures than ever before in Primeval. The ending wasn’t explosive or action-packed either, but it was very poignant, and has brought the show to a fascinating new dimension.
My only real criticism for this one is that it just felt a little bit… bland. But that’s not a worry; it’s simply because of the unconventional style of the episode that it surprised me.
Overall Verdict: 8.5/10
In response to my earlier question, yes, it did work. Whilst three episodes so far have stood out to me above the others (Fear of Flying, Undone and Breakthrough), this one is definitely the next in line. Despite the fact that it was a bit bleak in a few instances, and used some previously tried-and-tested ideas, we were provided with an adult, stimulating and character-based drama, which I highly enjoyed. And now, due to the format of the next two episodes, we’re entering what’s looking to be the last ever episode of Primeval. Like others, I’ll be savouring these moments, and so whilst I’m looking forward to The Sound of Thunder, I’m dreading the days when there’ll be no more Primeval.