This review contains spoilers.
1.11 The Inquisition
With just two episodes to go after this one, you would expect the series arc of Primeval: New World to start rounding off and heading towards its conclusion, and that’s what we get in this talky, plot-driven scattergun episode which abandons the monster of the week format completely to deliver us something a little more tense, revelatory and character-driven. It’s an episode that is void of new CGI or new creatures, but makes up for it by answering some of the questions we have and lifting the shroud off Project Magnet, Canada’s secret paranormal investigating department.
The episode The Inquisition takes place the day after the incidents of last week and opens in dramatic style with Mac and Dylan dressed in lab coats making their escape through the bowels of an industrial building, struggling to escape or to find an exit, being followed by “3, maybe 4” things. But what is after them? As the credits burst promptly onto the screen we don’t yet find out.
Instead we are taken to the cells of a government building where a group of soldiers come to take Lieutenant Ken Leeds, resplendent in a rather fetching orange jumpsuit, from his cell and to the most luxurious and spacious investigative room ever seen to be questioned by Colonel Anderson-Hall, a character that has been mentioned but not yet seen on screen who sports the dodgiest moustache in the series, but also a laptop and camera and a determination to get to the bottom of Leeds’ actions over the previous episodes.
Meanwhile at Cross Photonics Evan is trying to discover what the card is that Leeds left him, but it’s beyond his skills and he drafts in Toby to discover what it is. There’s also time to discuss what Leeds has done and whether his help with the card – whatever it is for – is any redemption for the character.
Back at the investigation and the Colonel is quizzing Leeds about the events of the day before, with the Lieutenant saying that he accidently tranquilised Major Douglas and that the two people Douglas saw were hallucinogenic figures caused by the chemicals.
Flicking back to Cross Photonics, in an episode that constantly jumps around from location to location and also throws in some flashbacks to previous episodes, the script does take a slight drop with lots of over-the-top pseudo computer terms and more questionable logic over how they could break into the systems. They do manage to log into Leeds’ very old PC, by a 56k modem if the sound is anything to go by. There they find lots to download and do so.
The investigation continues back with Anderson-Hall and Leeds with some cracking lines from Leeds about finding Evan’s wife (“well, some of her”) though at this point I was losing track due to the camera suddenly taking on a life of its own. Someone get the man a tripod! The Colonel, though, is clearly a man angry at Leeds and how Evan discovered the anomalies before the established Project Magnet.
His army, though, are making up for lost time by invading the Tank and though a battering ram may be ineffectual against the door, they do get in on Evan’s invite though all their material and machinery has been moved as the soldiers come looking for all the data for the “temporal vortices”. With nothing else to take, Evan is arrested and taken to the investigation room where he also finds Mac, who is freed on Evan’s insistence as he’s not been part of the team for a while, and who, upon being let free outside meets up with Dylan and they hatch a plan to find out more while it’s revealed that Toby has moved their system elsewhere.
Whilst a war of words breaks out between Evan and Anderson-Hall, Dylan and Mac try to break into the lab discovered by seeing Leeds’ driving records. Mac once more proves to be the best written character outside of Ken with more funny one-liners but also has time to reveal he’s been investigating the ARC symbol on his frozen alter-ego’s shoulder, but the internet has been ‘scrubbed clean’.
In classic prison-film, but equally unrealistic style, they break into the compound on the back of an entering van – the security should be sacked for not checking the van and perhaps should employ some more CCTV – and find that the card lets them into the main lab.
The inquisition continues meanwhile, and Leeds’ character continues to change from him being good to bad, something the episode concentrates on. Where do his allegiances lie? Connor’s words to Evan back in the first episode continue to affect the plot with Evan concerned about the actions with Leggy having an unknown effect on time, whereas Leeds is convinced anything done before the major catastrophic event that killed the dinosaurs compensates for anything they’ve done.
Back at the labs, and Mac and Dylan suit up with some medical white coats from some lock-picked lockers alongside a key card, setting up the very ‘series two’ feel of this episode, mirroring the events of that time frame of the UK programme.
One of the big reveals, though, is being made in the inquisition room. It’s revealed that Leggy was the tip of the iceberg and the Lieutenant has been regularly skipping through anomalies with teams to bring back many specimens and this is confirmed by the discovery of Mac and Dylan of a room full of creatures including many seen in the series so far, in particular the Pachycephalosaurus, now having undergone a visible lobotomy. Mirroring Toby’s comments from earlier in the episode, they’ve become attached to some of these creatures and there’s a few heartstring-tugging moments thanks to the swelling musical strings and some well-placed flashbacks. But something is wrong in the labs and they have to get out.
The depth of Leeds’ actions becomes clear meanwhile, with a total of fifty-three people having gone through the anomalies. The Colonel suggests he has seen the future – whether it’s the same one witnessed in series three, four or five of the UK series we don’t know – and tries to curry favour with Evan with some emotional blackmail over his wife. But his plan is also revealed. Colonel Anderson-Hall wants to specialise in geo-engineering, going back into the past to put plans in place to fix global warming and the mess humans have made, coming across as a weird combination of Helen Cutter, Oliver Leek and Philip Burton, as someone who wants to make a difference to the world but going the wrong way about it, not considering the impact this could have on the timeline, and has been capturing creatures to do so. It’s a neat revelation that goes a little beyond what the original series covered, but it does feel as if it’s just a composited plan taken from earlier series. He’s certainly not planning anything we haven’t seen before from the villain side of the concept before.
The small twists do keep coming, though, with Angelika making an appearance in the room, setting Evan on edge. Where has she been and what’s she doing there?
Back in the lab and Mac and Dylan are running, with the action catching up with the start of the episode but continuing to them hiding successfully behind a door. Do the soldiers really not check anything in this lab?
At the inquisition, we fear Angelika has turned, and in some ways she has, but even she’s not fully aware of the Colonel’s plans. The deaths earlier in the series in the Cross Photonics building from the Lycaenops are weighing heavily on her and she spills the beans to the Colonel. She tells Evan he needs to join Project Magnet and lead it as they’ll do it with or without him. Naturally he still refuses.
In the lab, Mac and Dylan discover more specimens, this time in jars and petri dishes, with the ‘Chromista’ system being employed to investigate the bacteria taken from the dinosaurs.
The inquisition, meanwhile, is coming to a close with the Colonel determined to bury Leeds far down the pecking order unless he gets Evan to reveal the location of his tech. Leeds refuses and says his allegiance is to Leeds, but do we know how much he can be trusted?
The Colonel also gets the chance to question Mac and Dylan as they get cornered at the lab – in Mac’s case tasered – and brought to the room. With incriminating photos and documents in their possession, Anderson-Hall has the bargaining tools to get what he wants, preventing them from being imprisoned from stealing Government property in exchange for whatever Evan invents next for the anomalies, after he has been convinced the detector has been scrapped. It seems a weird thing to be offered – what if Evan doesn’t build anything else? – but that was what was on the table. Check mate.
The episode rounds off neatly with a musical montage as Evan wonders if he’s done the right thing and Leeds is returned to jail, passing by Angelika in the corridor and realising he’s been dropped in it from a great height.
With The Inquisition over, it just leaves a two-part conclusion to the series. The episode was a refreshing change for the show; enjoyable to watch and relatively easy to follow considering the amount of jumping around both in space and time. The character and plot-driven nature of the piece was well done and the lack of any new creatures or CGI would have helped their budget but equally doesn’t feel lacking, and some of the new set-pieces and the dino models were very well done. The development of the plot, in particular with the Colonel, is interesting but nothing new, with most of the issues having been tackled by the original series. They take the idea of dinosaur experimentation a little further but it’s essentially what we got with Helen Cutter and Oliver Leek in UK series two.
Leeds continues to be the best character and even now I’m not sure whether he is friend or foe, but he is played with such fun. The new character of Colonel Anderson-Hall is your typical big-bad but ticks all the boxes. I’m interested to see how the rest of the series pans out, and whether outstanding questions such as where Howard has got to through the anomaly and what implications that will have, and whether Mac finds out anything about the ARC organisation. Providing these can be satisfactorily wound into the final episodes I’ll be happy with the series that has certainly picked up after some lacking episodes earlier in the run.
The Inquisition was another strong episode, different from what we’ve had before, and though there’s a big feeling of familiarity with its plotting, is building up week-on-week to concentrate on the overall plot.
Read Philip’s review of the previous episode, The Great Escape, here.
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