The following contains spoilers for Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.
Netflix and Dreamworks’ newest animated series, Jurassic: World Camp Cretaceous, takes the mythology of the Jurassic World franchise and focuses on a group of teen characters, surviving among the dinosaurs when the park’s safety features fail. Under the conceit that the park’s newest initiative is a camp for teens, a diverse group of young adults arrive to experience the wonder of living dinosaurs. But when, midway through the series, everything goes wrong, the kids are left on their own, forced to evade a carnotaurus and the incredibly dangerous Indominus rex.
Not knowing whether a second season is planned, the final episode ends in a completely different place from where viewers might expect. While no second season has yet been announced, it’s clear from the final moments of the last episode that the story isn’t finished. While that may have left viewers feeling unresolved, the show is certainly enough fun for watchers to hope the characters will return for a second season, revealing how they put their survival skills to good use.
Catching the Ferry
While the first three episodes do a lot to establish the characters and the setting, as well as how it fits into the franchise, it’s episode four that really ramps up the stakes toward Camp Cretaceous’s ending. In episode four, the Indominus rex escapes its enclosure, and everything falls apart. “Assets” (dinosaurs) all over the park are on the loose. The kids, after returning to find their camp buildings destroyed, decide to make their way to the main park. After trial and error, they discover that it looks like the park has been abandoned.
And then, at the end of episode six, the alarm sounds. Episode seven begins with the evacuation order: “All park goers must report to the south ferry docks for immediate evacuation. Last ferry departs in two hours.” The timer is on, and the kids have to cross a park filled with hostile dinosaurs to make it off the island.
Once that goal is set, everything becomes about speed and distance. With one injured camper (Yasmina, previously the fastest among them, hurts her ankle in a fall), one slow camper (Ben, who just isn’t as athletic as the rest of them), and one baby dinosaur (Bumpy, the ankylosaurus the kids saw hatch, who imprinted on Ben, and whom Ben won’t abandon), speed is a challenge. Add to that a carnotaurus that seems absolutely hell-bent on attacking these kids, and that goal seems almost impossible.
And yet, the kids keep that sense of hope that they’ll make it. Right up until they don’t.
After an epic final battle between the campers and their carnotaurus nemesis, they finally exit a sealed building out onto the docks and into the sunshine. It’s that sunshine that seals their doom: the two hour limit would have put them on the docks at night. They’ve lost so many hours in their trip across the park, running from predators, counting on vehicles that abandon them in the wrong parts of the park, that morning has arrived, and the park has evacuated without them.
But the campers have been through so much that they refuse to give up. “They’ll be back for us, won’t they?” asks one. Darius, who has become the de facto leader of the group, answers, “Of course they will. And until then, we’ve got each other.” Their belief—and what they’ve already survived—promises these viewers that the campers will make it until someone arrives.
Or, possibly, they’ll build an entire civilization of their own while the grown ups are gone. Take that, Lord of the Flies.
“None of the kids are going to die,” I promised my ten year old as we binged the last four episodes of Camp Cretaceous, all the while thinking, Come on, Dreamworks, don’t let any of these kids die…
As part of the Jurassic World franchise, there are no surprises in Camp Cretaceous having a body count, even though it’s aimed toward a younger audience. Over the course of the eight episodes, several adults are killed or eaten by therapods—without ever showing the bodies on screen. There’s no real blood or gore, but the intensity of the action is high enough that younger viewers won’t need anything more to get their adrenaline pumping.
In the second to last episode, Ben, the shiest camper, who’s least likely to take risks, saves the day. He crawls along the top of a speeding monorail to drop into the engineer’s car and stop the train from colliding with a stopped car. It’s a huge moment of triumph for Ben, and it’s immediately followed by a pteranodon shattering the glass of the train car and knocking Ben out the window, about to fall to his doom.
When, at the beginning of the final episode, Ben’s hand is firmly gripped by Darius, who’s trying to haul him back into the train, you can almost believe he’s going to make it. There’s a second when their hands slip, but Darius grabs Ben’s wrist with both hands, and the music shifts. Everything’s going to be all right.
Which is when the show goes for a one-two punch: a pteranodon knocks right into Ben, and Darius just can’t catch enough of his friend to keep him from plummeting from the tracks. The kids stare in horror from behind a crouched Darius as Ben hangs in the air, still reaching up for the train.
Worse, when the kids abandon the train (because it’s taking them away from the south docks), they lose track of Bumpy, Ben’s ankylosaurus. They debate: do they go back to look for Ben and Bumpy? Do they keep heading toward their only hope of escaping the island? What’s the moral choice? It’s a deep moment for younger viewers, knowing that there is no right answer: of course it’s the right thing to go look for Ben, but if it costs everyone else their lives—especially if Ben has already died in the fall—then they can’t afford to make the right choice.
So the campers leave Ben and Bumpy to their fates, hearts heavy with regret, while they continue their escape.
But, thank you Dreamworks, I did not lie to my ten year old. In the final moments of an intense last episode, after the rest of the campers are somewhat safe and the screen has gone dark, the animation continues, and Bumpy appears on screen, hurrying to Ben’s side. The boy lies still… but then his fingers twitch. Roll credits.
It’s possible that Ben will rise from this accident and become an antagonist determined to get revenge on the rest of the teens for abandoning him. But it’s equally likely that the campers will go out to look for him, now that they’ve lost the time crunch, and there will be a happy reunion for all. Only season two can tell us!
Sammy and Manta Corp
Although readers familiar with Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park books may peg BioSyn as the company most likely to try to undermine InGen’s control over Isla Nublar and the science behind Jurassic World, the company that’s outed for corporate espionage in Camp Cretaceous is Manta Corp (possibly Manticore). In an effort to gain access to the technology being developed by Dr. Wu for InGen, Manta Corp blackmailed camper Sammy to become a spy. Sammy, a gregarious Latina who loves her huge ranch family and seems determined to become friends with everyone, is the least likely character to become a spy. She’s over the top, not under the table. And yet, it’s exactly those qualities that force her to spy in the first place.
Sammy cares deeply—for her family and her friends. Her family supplies all the meat used by Jurassic World, but they had to borrow money to get to where they are. And the people behind that money—Manta Corp—are determined to use every advantage to gain access to InGen’s technology. They tell Sammy’s family to send her to Camp Cretaceous to spy, or they’ll call their debt.
Sammy’s family refuses. Sammy sneaks off, determined to save her family from ruin.
When social media star Brooklyn catches Sammy spying in Dr. Wu’s office (more successfully than Brooklyn herself, who is caught), she doesn’t dwell on it. But when Brooklyn realizes she has video proof of Sammy’s spying, and her phone suddenly vanishes, Brooklyn is determined to call Sammy out.
Sammy’s equally determined to deny everything.
But when the stolen phone is discovered, broken, falling out of Sammy’s pocket, she has to face facts. She confesses everything, and loses the friendship of the camper she admires most.
At the end of the season, all the campers look well on their way to forgiving Sammy, but what will happen with Manta Corp? Will they arrive on the island, looking to retrieve whatever information their spy left behind? Or will they consider Sammy a loss, and look for another way to gain access to Isla Nublar? Odds are good that the threat of Manta Corp isn’t finished, and the teens will have to face them again in the future.
While this is probably the least precarious loose thread in Camp Cretaceous, viewers may wonder about the fate of Brooklyn’s social media channel, a major concern for a chunk of the series, will recover from the Internet randos who declare her “over.” When the superstar disappears, lost after the evacuation, will her fans come to the rescue? Will her disappearance be the thing that makes her a superstar again, or will she fade into obscurity? Likewise, Kenji’s wealthy family doesn’t seem to care much about him when he’s around, but when he’s missing, odds are good they’ll spare no expense to rescue their kid.
The most guaranteed team dedicated to rescuing the Camp Cretaceous campers is that of Dave and Roxie, their counselors, who’d intended to leave them for just forty-five minutes, and instead were never able to get back to them during the evacuation. Dave and Roxie do their best through the entire series to keep the teens out of trouble—an impossible proposition, even if the whole island hadn’t been evacuated. Remarkably, as the counselors follow the signal of the lost teens around the island, they never encounter the difficulties their campers do. Where the campers see the carnotaurus and have a dramatic encounter, Dave and Roxie see it off in the distance and manage to avoid an encounter entirely. When we last see the counselors, it’s on the back of an evacuation boat, with Roxie demanding that the security officer turn the boat around. Roxie, in fact, almost gets into a physical altercation with the security officer before Dave pulls her back. If anyone’s definitely determined to come to the rescue, it’s those two counselors, and even a mosasaurus won’t be able to stop them.
The faith that Darius pretends to have in those final moments—that of course someone will return for them—isn’t misplaced. Someone will be back for the kids.
And until they return, at least the campers have each other.