This review contains spoilers.
And here we are, the penultimate episode of Primeval New World, Canadian spin-off of the UK timehole-jumping dinosaur-hunting sci-fi drama, and the first part of the only labelled two-part episode of the thirteen-entry run.
This series was promised to take the concept established in the British original but make it more adult and, perhaps, more realistic. In this episode it proves this, possibly more in the latter, by copying over a story from the first series of Primeval – namely the second episode – pretty much wholesale, but adding a grander sheen to it with helicopters, bases, and more time-jumping. But it also plunders series one for something even more exciting that the original failed to capitalise on, and wraps it up in some intriguing plot strands for the conclusion that make it, if not as exciting a lead-up to a conclusion like we got in series two, three and five of the original UK series, still a cracking episode of danger, threat and tension.
As ever, let’s begin with a detailed look at the events of the episode.
It’s a warm day and some attractive young men and women are playing beach volleyball in the park so queue some gratuitous slow-motion shots of hunks and babes battling it out. But all isn’t sun tan oil and balls, no, something is watching them from afar as one of the series’ trademark POV shots makes a re-appearance after a considerable absence. After the man the shot focusses on fails to chat up one of the opposing team members, she throws his ball into the woods which he fetches, but naturally stumbles across something nasty which, in a pretty swift and shocking attack, kills him outright via a stinging tail to the chest.
Post-credits, and heading to the lab as opposed to Cross Photonics which had seemingly become the norm, the Colonel is talking to Angelika, who is keen to get Evan on their side, and also see the imprisoned Lieutenant Leeds. Angelika, it seems, has taken over management of Project Magnet and now has some swaying power, getting Leeds’ record cleaned and his rank returned.
Moving back to Cross Photonics, and Toby has been setting up the detector elsewhere away from the Colonel’s soldiers, and has been working on a handheld device. In a neat twist and the first really good moment of the episode, Evan recognises it as the one “other” Mac dropped when he was saved from the Albertosaurus, the first of the episode’s handful of references to that event, and realises they could well be fulfilling history but he doesn’t stop her from changing the design.
As Evan gets pulled out of the office for a phone call, Mac and Dylan briefly re-cap their discovery last week of the bacteria in the lab, with a question mark hanging over what they were doing and the idea of bio-engineering. Whether this will come back in the last episode, I don’t know, but every time they mention bio-engineering my mind flicks to the Future Predator – which we’ve yet to see in the spin-off.
There is also the first big name-check back to the original series as Toby finally discovers one shred of discussion about the ARC – which she now knows as the ‘Anomaly Research Centre’ – in the UK, which she informs Mac about.
We then find out Evan’s call was for him to meet Angelika who reveals her position at Project Magnet to him. She asked Evan to join the team but they end up arguing about the consequences of the Colonel’s planned actions, the pair morphing into the Cutters, though Angelika doesn’t appear to be the unhinged person Helen was. Tony interrupts their conversation, just about managing to avoid revealing the handheld detector, and Angelika leaves.
The team track down the latest anomaly to Virginia beach, in an aged building with plenty of hiding-holes for a creature. Having analysed some tracks on the ground, they realise something dragged something heavy through the building, and theorise it’s some sort of arthropod. After a brief investigation they find the anomaly and the creature, with Mac and Dylan heading up to the second level to get closer. Meanwhile Toby demonstrates the detector, which can now tell how long it has left until it closes – a technology the ARC team never had the luxury of, but it’s malfunctioning and not being consistent with its readings.
Mac and Dylan attack the bug but their weapons bounce off its hard casing but Mac manages to knock it to the ground with a nearby large log. They then all use metal sheeting in the building to push it back through the anomaly and succeed, though not without Toby taking a graze to the leg from the creature’s tail, which has been sufficient to, if not kill her outright, poison her.
Evan calls Angelika as he knows she will have access to the toxicologist needed to help even if it means getting back into bed, so to speak, with Project Magnet. With a medical team on the way to the building the cat is out of the bag to the Colonel and Angelika about Evan still having a functioning detector.
The medical helicopter lands and Toby is put aboard but can’t be cured unless they can create an anti-venom from the creature. In a mirroring of the episode where the same thing happened to Stephen, they realise they have to get through the anomaly, track down the creature and get it to attack them to collect the venom.
For this Leeds, who appears on the scene, asks to join Evan and Dylan. There is a certain level of drama to their encounter and this episode certainly plays on the grey areas of which characters are good or bad.
With the three going through the anomaly, we get to a genuine surprise in the episode, as they come to an area filled with anomalies, a sort of junction of time portals. One of these was shown once in an early series but never really referred back to, so it’s great to see it making an appearance here and being relevant to the plot. They even manage to throw in some scientific jargon and reference string theory so it’s expanded on nicely. With Evan fearing the damage the Colonel could do when faced with such a prospect, he asks Leeds to not let anyone else through and realises he has no choice but to trust the Lieutenant.
Back in the present and Toby is in a hospital bed trying to work out why the handheld detector isn’t working but she’s visibly getting worse. But it’s back in the past where the exciting stuff is happening as Evan goes through one of the many anomalies and ends up back in the Cross Photonics building before he bought it, discovering it to be September 15th 2006, and six hours before his wife dies. Dylan and Evan argue about how messing could change anything and the pair share a moment when Evan dismisses her comment of ‘We would never have met’. The spark between the pair is still there under the surface, which is good as they seem more genuine than the romantic relationship between Evan and Angelika.
This discovery must mean something for the final episode, and I feel it could be playing a part next week. There have been rumours that Connor is back in the last episode and based in London, which strongly suggests more time-hopping could be involved and I look forward to finding out.
Outside of the anomaly, the collection team arrive but are successively stopped by a renewed Ken Leeds who once more flicks between sides. Meanwhile Toby is still trying to figure out the issues with the device but she is fading rapidly and needs a blood transfusion. Though must of this plot felt like a mirror of episode 1.2 of UK Primeval, these aspects introduced do make it seem more realistic at times.
Back in the past and Dylan, on the trail of the bug, stumbles into a red, rocky volcanic landscape and falls straight into a pot hole, struggling to get out.
Angelika, meanwhile, comes to see Toby and, in a nice piece of character development, they talk about how they met, as well as blocking anomalies and whether it would ever be possible. Toby also lets slip about the presence of the detector with Angelika holding her over a barrel about revealing the location, with the knowledge that if Evan doesn’t build the Colonel something, then he’s off to prison. Toby agrees to tell her but we don’t know if she does, as her health fades. The Colonel appears shortly after Toby is put on a ventilator and has a talk to the doctor about her.
Dylan, back in the past, manages to get out of the pothole but a creature is approaching her and her gun is out of reach, but Evan saves her at the last minute, choosing Dylan over his wife, by shooting the creature in the mouth. They escape by rolling stones to detect pot holes but find the area unstable and experiencing regular tremors.
Evan and Dylan though, successfully corner the creature in its nest, a dark area of interlocking tunnels found above an active fault line. There they find the dead volleyball player who has had his insides sucked out. Nice.
In the present it’s found that Mac is a match for Toby so a blood transfusion is taking place and Angelika is frustrated by the lack of appearance of Evan and Dylan but Ken tries to stop her from sending in an investigation team, but in doing so reveals the presence of the junctions and also fails to stop her telling the Colonel who, she says, “needs to know everything”.
In the tunnels Evan and Dylan hear the creature and in a battle manage to sever part of its tail to use as the anti-venom. However, a tremor sets off a rock fall, separating the pair with Evan trapped inside. Dylan, though, has the tail, and Evan orders her to save Toby and come back for him, but she fears the anomaly will close and Evan will be trapped forever, not to mention the presence of the prehistoric scorpion.
In the presence Dylan’s heart has stopped and the defibrillator is brought in. In a quick series of dramatic flashes we ask the questions – will Toby survive? Will Evan escape the tunnel? Will Dylan get back to them both in time? The words ‘To be continued’ appear in screen and we realise we have to wait until next week to find out.
The Sound of Thunder (Part 1) borrows heavily from the old series, with its key plot points lifted from episode 1.2 which created too much of a sense of familiarity, but does build a bigger sense of scale around them with plenty of tangible fear and danger. The allegiances of characters are tested and everything seems to pull together. The hints at next week’s episode – the discovery of an anomaly to before Evan’s wife was killed and the building of an identical looking handheld detector from that time – are intriguing and make me look forward to the final part, alongside the return to an anomaly junction, which make up for the lack of any huge over-arching excitement for the conclusion. The storyline around Toby is tense and I don’t know which way it will go, but chances are these bits of obstacles will be overcome, and it’s the larger arc of the Colonel and of Evan’s wife that will take centre stage.
The episode does boast some great set pieces that create a sense of scale to the universe and some good CGI for the creature, but it doesn’t get too much of a chance to shine, and a nice mixture of monster-of-the-week and established plot lines. It wasn’t the most exciting penultimate episode the six series have given us but it was enough to whet my appetite for the season’s conclusion next week. It’ll just be interesting to see how much they wrap up and whether plotlines such as Howard who went back in time are brought back into the plot and how the creation of a detector that can measure how long an anomaly has left open allows it to deviate from the abilities of the original ARC team, probably in a second season…
Read Philip’s review of the previous episode, The Inquisition, here.
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