This review contains no spoilers and is based on all eight episodes of Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous season 2.
The stakes have changed with Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous season 2, moving from the frantic “get off the island before the ferry leaves” pacing of the first season to a survival-oriented, mystery-solving season where the dinosaurs get some kinder treatment.
If you missed Season 1 but are familiar with the legacy of Jurassic Park, you are probably aware that the series revolves around a theme park with genetically engineered dinosaurs. If you’re familiar with the movie Jurassic World, Season 1 of Camp Cretaceous took place during the events of that film. Season 2 follows the aftermath of an escaped, experimental dinosaur hybrid, the Indominus rex, which terrorizes the island and forces the guests to flee. But not everyone made it off the island, we realize: the teenagers who’d been part of the first trial group of campers have been left on their own, believing that one of their fellow campers died as the group tried to escape.
The initial goals of the campers—Darius, Kenji, Brooklynn, Sammy, and Yaz—involve finding a safe place to live and getting word back to the world that they exist (and need to be rescued). The first episode places them predominantly on Main Street, the main hub of the park, where they seek out an emergency distress beacon; this beginning grounds viewers in the reality that this was a park and gives a sense of the dangers that remain when all the park’s safety protocols have failed. The second episode moves the campers to their own attempts at survival.
In a move favorably reminiscent of Serial Box’s excellent dystopian YA serial ReMade, the teens are shown as competent makers, who figure out ways to use their environment to create shelters. This works in part because season one established that several of the campers have real-world skills: Internet celebrity Brooklynn’s videos have helped her learn almost any skill required for the plot. Ranch girl Sammy’s experiences in animal handling and ranch life are frequently useful, Yaz’s artistic talents are frequently relevant, and Darius’s dinosaur knowledge is crucial to the group’s survival. (Kenji doesn’t possess much in the way of actual skill, which he makes up for with over the top arrogance and assuring himself that his charm is the glue that holds the group together. Despite that starting point, though, even Kenji ends up contributing more often than not.)
One of the delights of Season 2 is the exploration of the dinosaurs not only as monsters and adversaries, but as creatures worthy of study, observation, and protection. Darius’s awe of the dinosaurs from the first season expands—and ends up spreading to the other campers—as they make observations of dinosaurs in the wild that no other person has ever made. Kids who grew up with animal and dinosaur science shows, including Wild Kratts, Dino Dan, and Dino Dana will be thrilled at the inclusion of Darius’s field journal (and Yaz’s drawings) as part of the story. Adults are also likely to recognize some real animal behavior science included in the way the dinosaurs behave.
But of course, the park is not idyllic; the dinosaurs are still dangerous, despite how cool they are, and the story veers back and forth between those two extremes. While the campers are surviving, waiting for rescue, they find themselves with a mystery to solve as well as new allies and adversaries of the human kind.
As in the previous season, the cast here does a tremendous job creating a group of diverse and loveable characters. Where in the first season many of the campers began as prickly, Season 2 has smoothed their edges. Paul-Mikél Williams (Westworld) depicts Darius with all the heart he exhibited in the first season. Brooklynn, performed by Jenna Ortega (Jane the Virgin, Elena of Avalor), shows more of her vulnerability and desire to fit in, despite her celebrity status. No longer burdened by a dramatic secret, Sammy’s optimism and good-naturedness are infectiously performed by Raini Rodriguez (Austin & Ally). Kausar Mohammed’s (What Men Want) hard-working sports star Yaz, who was injured in Season 1, is aptly played against Ryan Potter’s (Big Hero 6) all charm, no work Kenji, allowing both of them to grow from the other. While they still make some questionable decisions, they tend to go with the best options they have available to them—making them smarter than a number of the adults in this franchise.
While there are some characters from Season 1 whose reappearances viewers will be eagerly awaiting, not everyone shows back up. The episodes move so quickly, by the time the last episode comes around, it will have only whetted the audience’s appetite to find out what happens next. Though no Season 3 has been announced, the story needs one—and viewers, especially families, will be eager to spend more time with these characters.
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