Wizards vs Aliens: 211-212 “Endless Night” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
Endless Night was always going to be a step down. It was near impossible for anything to better The Thirteenth Floor because it was just so truly spellbinding. Thankfully the line-up of episodes means that Phil Ford’s Endless Night is himself following himself; any other writer would have so much to achieve if they were to succeed The Thirteenth Floor. Despite a few problems here and there Endless Night is mostly another fantastic story, I’m glad to report.
Gwendoline Christie and Scott Haran’s superlative performances anchored The Thirteenth Floor so Endless Night had a lot to live up to. It filled the Christie/Haran double act gap by giving supporting stars Manpreet Bambra and Connor Scarlett more prominent roles. Quinn and Katie have always taken a backseat to proceedings (the latter normally walks in at unseasonable moments to give Tom yet another ultimatum) and been defined as the generic gaggle of friends. Scarlett and Bambra have never really impressed me – at the time of writing, they still haven’t – but at least their characters have finally done something. Katie’s rather touching speech on what she would have liked to have done with her life was Bambra at her best despite some wooden acting round the edges. Scarlett also never rises to much but then again, that’s the script’s fault not Scarlett’s.
Where Endless Night really stumbles is with the central plot. The idea of the Nekross taking advantage of a solar eclipse is inspired (despite having some similarities to The Sarah Jane Adventures episode, The Lost Boy) but Ford never really follows the whole thing through. I suppose you could say it was an idea that was too big for a CBBC series to convey. The intermittent TV clips of newsmen speculating about the apocalypse are all fine and well but I never really got the feeling of worldwide terror. Regardless of Ford’s attempts to communicate the panic and paranoia through Benny’s parents, Trisha and Richard (Nina Sosanya and Don Gilet doing what they do well very well), I still didn’t think the alarm was tangible enough.
Where Endless Night failed it made up for it with that killer emotional punch. Phil Ford doesn’t so much tug at the heartstrings, instead he likes to pull them out of us and go at them with a knife. Lexi and Tom’s reunion was a poignant if fleeting one and I’m just so thrilled both of them remember but it makes Benny Jr.’s ‘death’ feel stronger than ever. Wizards vs. Aliens deserves to have a proper fandom to really feel the blunt extent of the more recent episodes. It’s developing a more adult and mature tone that just feels oh-so right. Series One was purely lighthearted fun that occasionally had a diamond in the rough now here it’s spreading its wings and stepping out from under the shadow of The Sarah Jane Adventure.
Technician Jathro 13 and the wily Chancellor Kooth’s (Victoria Wicks is very good at playing evil) masterplan appears to be taking form and I’m still not entirely sure where it’s going but judging by the title of next week’s finale, All-Out War, it may result in something consequential.
A solid but not quite perfect outing from Wizards vs. Aliens with some sound performances from the junior quarter. The whole of the second series has really been supported by Gwendoline Christie and Scott Haran’s sledgehammer emotional performances so kudos to them and bring on next week!