This review contains spoilers.
1.13 The Sound of Thunder (Part 2)
On the eve of the news that low ratings has meant Canadian channel won’t be picking up a second series of Primeval New World, even before it’s showing in the USA and only half-way through its British airing, the series ended on one of its strongest episodes yet, one that balances a successful tying up of the series, offers a hint at what could have been to come, and does a great job at some fan service to the original British viewers.
As always, let’s begin with a detailed run-down of what happened.
The final episode of the thirteen-part run began with a ‘Previously On’ summary, harking back to the days of series three when these worked so well. We were then delivered to a mocked-up London, which was actually pretty well done with its red postbox, black cab and signage, even if it was perhaps a little over done with the Union Jack pasted on the side of a red double-decker as if to ram home the point. There, we meet once again with Connor, with a set of new team members at his side, chasing a well-rendered Albertosaurus through the streets, well in eye-shot of lots of bystanders. This scene was the first of many in any episode firmly connecting up the two series, though once more the stereotypical British accents of the extras being a little off-putting to a British viewer and the lack of any other cast members feeling like a missed opportunity to fully meld the series together, though I can fully understand the costs of shipping more cast members over to Canada (though, arguably, this location could have actually been done in the UK with very little impact on the rest of the piece).
It’s great, though, to see things like the ARC logo and locking device back in the series and the eye to detail is well done, though the feeling the team has moved on in the two years since series five with all new members feels like we’ve been missing out on their adventures. Kieran, one of these new agents, finds himself pushed through the anomaly behind the Albertosaurus and is followed through by Connor.
Post-credits, we’re back with Dylan, Evan and Toby in their respective states of distress. Toby has stabilised in hospital but there’s little the medics can do for her. Mac meanwhile confronts Angelika on her allegiances with Project Magnet but she is protective over it, instead putting the blame fully on the anomalies. With the situation looking bleak, we return back to Dylan, escaping through the anomaly junction and marking her place with a knife to remember it later. As she leaves she almost crosses with Connor who spots the knife and ends up in the desert land, whilst Dylan drops off the venom-filled tail cut off from the creature in last week’s episode which gets shipped over by helicopter to the lab. Heading back to rescue Evan she stumbles across Connor and they share a lengthy conversation, with Evan’s name triggering Connor to remember him.
Back in hospital Mac talks to Toby in an emotional part of the episode, Mac is continuing to grow as one of the more likeable characters in the series, but this moment is broken by Ken entering with the tail which is quickly dissected by the scientists to extract the anti-venom.
Back with Evan, and he is trying to escape through the rock fall but the creature is on its way to attack. In time Dylan and Connor appear in the tunnel having avoided the traps in the sand and free him. There is another great piece of fan service as the trio escape the past with a credit to the writer for tying in Connor’s year in the Cretaceous into the dialogue.
Meanwhile Toby’s heart stops but the anti-venom is soon injected and her heart re-starts and returns to consciousness. Mac is a little flirty with her once more following her reveal that she heard what he’d said while she was out. She also says that being in the coma made her thoughts clearer and she realises the problem with the detector: it was picking up the signals from all the anomalies at the junction, a similar problem faced by the UK team with Connor’s dating calculator reading from two connected anomalies. Angelika asks her if she can crack it and she says she can, and she realises they have less than twelve hours before the anomaly closes so Angelika mounts a rescue squad, which could prove a mixed blessing for the team.
Connor, Dylan and Evan – the neatly grouped CDE – return to the junction point and a reference from Connor to the Albertosaurus takes them back to 2006 and on the trail of the creature. There they find Kieran’s gun and the man himself, alongside Connor’s warning about the consequences of altering the past. Evan finds it’s 97 minutes until his wife is due to die, with time passing at the same rate on both sides of the anomaly.
Evan now finds himself in a predicament and it’s a series of emotions that Niall Matter captures perfectly that’s heartbreaking to see him go through. As he takes heed of Connor’s words about the impacts of changing time and wiping the walls clean of Kieran’s blood, we realise he’s caught between the desire to save his wife that he’s been wanting to do in the seven years since her death, to the knowledge of what this action could do to the timeline. The conflict in his mind is visible on screen and further cements this as a strong, multi-layered episode.
Back at the junction with an injured Kieran, the Albertosaurus follows them through but is shot down by the rescue squad, led by Colonel Henderson-Hall; could their actions have now changed the timeline?
With Connor’s gun sized by the Colonel, he begs for him not to move the dinosaur and there is a struggle between them to let them go back to their own time. However, it doesn’t work and under capture – though admittedly not a very convincing imprisonment – they are taken back to Evan’s present and to the bustling army base that has built up, with Connor commenting on how the existence of the anomalies is not being kept as secret as he would have liked.
Back in the hospital, Ken comes to see Toby and Mac with a package and knowledge that the Colonel knows about the junctions. He provides Mac with an undercover soldier costume and they head to the camp, where Dylan realises the medic in charge has not given the Albertosaurus enough tranquiliser, though he still feels he’s right.
The Colonel is still ignorant of the effects they could be having on the timeline and Evan’s methods of convincing him seem a little vague and the writing at this point feels a little off.
But the episode is scaling up from here as the tension builds as the clock ticks down to the time Evan’s wife Brooke is supposed to be killed. Lieutenant Leeds and Mac turn up, with the latter spotting Connor as he takes a photo of him, recognising the ARC logo. What follows is one of the best written sequences in the whole of the series as Mac tries to work out who he was in the other life as he talks to Connor, with the conversation ending on the heartwrenching ‘There is no going back’. With allusions to Nick Cutter and his effect on Connor still present in the series it works really well and I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been with the character longer than the rest, but Andrew Lee Potts as Connor continues to light up this episode with a great mix of humour and pathos and really makes the piece.
In the camp Angelika visits Evan and he comes face to face with the fact that he now knows he has to release the dinosaur to kill his wife to stop the timeline unravelling but Angelika doesn’t like how things have turned out.
As Dylan continues to argue with the doctor about the level of tranquiliser given to the Albertosaurus Angelika catches up with Connor and there’s a nicely written in throwback to the first episode. He tells her Kieran and himself need to get through the anomaly but in another well scripted piece Angelika reveals she needs help to control the anomalies but Connor offers her the advice passed to him that they shouldn’t be controlled, even if she does want to save Evan’s wife.
In a comment that is as much upsetting as it a great piece of fan-service, Connor alludes to the fact that he’s now married to Abby; great in the sense that it ties in neatly with the previous series and shows a great dedication to tying up both series, but also suggests that we have truly seen the last of UK Primeval and are missing such things as the wedding, something that as a fan of the original, I feel is a real shame.
Connor’s words hit home to Angelika and she helps Connor and Kieran to return home with a promise that they’ll be back to retrieve their guns.
Leeds, meanwhile, comes for Evan and agrees to distract the Colonel whilst Dylan and Evan take down the van driver so they can free the dinosaur, but it’s already awake and angry and escapes, preceding to go on a rampage around the vicinity in a tense, flame-filled set piece that defines the episode, with some great flame-thrower action from Mac and Evan, only damaged by another awkward set of slow-motion shops that are more cheesy than tense.
Their actions manage to push the Albertosaurus through the anomaly, leaving the Colonel possibly dead but with the knowledge that their actions have fulfilled the timeline with Evan realising he has created his past and led to the death of his wife. But there is one piece of the jigsaw yet complete that I just remembered before it was revealed on screen. Who is there to save Evan’s life?
Mac realises he has a job to do and passes through the anomaly to save Evan, but ultimately completing the cycle and dying himself, this time in a borrowed army suit rather than the ARC uniform. Though this development does throw a few plot holes into consideration, it’s such an emotive ending to the episode and to a great character that this can be overlooked.
With the timeline fulfilled, the Albertosaurus ends up back in the junction and in revenge is shot dead by Evan. But then the anomalies start closing and they realise something they’ve done has changed time. As Dylan and Evan run back to the anomaly home with all the others closing round them, the episode ends before we find out if they get back.
It seems now with the series not being recommissioned we won’t know what happened. Is Mac dead? Did Evan’s wife get killed? What has Howard been up to in the past after his disappearance five episodes earlier? Just like the original UK series after the third and fifth instalments, plot devices have been set-up which will be ultimately unfulfilled which is a real shame for this series that, though not up to the magic and fun of the series that inspired it, has proven over the last six episodes to be a strong take on the franchise even if it dragged in the middle.
The Sound of Thunder (Part 2) was certainly one of the strongest episodes in the run. There was plenty of fan service in it with the return of Connor whose presence, advice, references to Abby were intrinsic to the plot and were balanced between pleasing the UK fans, not being too alienating to new viewers but equally making us wish we’d seen some of the events mentioned actually playing out on UK screens. There was plenty of tension, the set pieces and CGI was top-notch and though the sub-plot with Toby was so-so, the evolution of Mac as a character was excellently done through the episode and his departure saddening.
I would have liked to have seen more from Lieutenant Leeds in the episode but he, like many others, have certainly been on a journey, and the characterisation has been strong throughout.
I didn’t think I’d say this after seeing the first half-dozen episodes, but after a stronger second half it’s a real shame that we are probably not getting a second series. After the UK Primeval being sadly cut short in its lifespan this was the next best thing and, though Primeval New World ultimately wasn’t as magical or enjoyable as the series that led to it, the last half-dozen episodes have proved how good it can be and I would much love to see a second series, and I will continue to support it by viewing the remaining episodes again on Watch and buying the DVD in April in the hope that the international viewers may sway a second series decision in the favour of a cast that have grown into the characters and made an, at the end of the day, enjoyable series that has given one more breath of life to the franchise.
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