This review contains spoilers.
Have you ever played Warhammer and wondered what a Slaan would look like in ‘real life’ (okay, CG)? Well, this week’s monsters of the week show that the visual effects team are obviously fans of the tabletop fantasy games, as the ‘tree creepers’ bear an uncanny resemblance to the reptilian-men race from the game.
While the design guys go all out special effects-wise, with the creepers and the whole Forest Of Doom thing, as well as giving a little nod to Ray Harryhausen’s Valley Of The Gwangi, the actual writers of this week’s episode should hang their heads in shame, as things were just so incessantly dull.
What could have been a great idea seemed, to me, to be wasted. It seems the anomalies are not recent events and that those pesky things have been popping up across history for many years, and its not just dinosaurs that have come through. People, too, have ventured from one side to the other (and vice versa), transporting themselves through time, whether they want to or not.
While this was explored a little last season, with Helen managing to pilot herself through various time periods, it seems that there are those who, like Abby and Connor last week, are trapped, not only in the past, but now also in the future. And those who cannot make it home have set up shop in a nightmare future filled with the tree creeper creatures.
However, it’s not just these reptiles that provide the problems. Those stuck in an another time become a little broken inside, which is where we kick things off, as we are introduced to Emily, Ethan and Charlotte, three escapees from the future who themselves come from the past.
What a good idea, you may think. Some new characters with some new knowledge of the anomalies and first hand experience of passing through them and the worlds in which you can pass should be a great addition. But this opportunity is wasted. While it might be that Emily will return in a later episode, Charlotte dies nearly instantly, and Ethan cracks, killing those around him for no real reason.
We don’t get any real reason for this, especially his disposing of the homeless man at the end. Is he grieving for Charlotte? Why are they there and what is the motivation? There just isn’t anything here at all to get your proverbial narrative teeth into and things just turn into another chase and capture montage, which all feels like its been done before.
Now, I am not saying everything is bad this episode, just a little lazy. It may well be that there has to be an obligatory chase scene in every episode by a contractual thing or something to keep kids watching, but it seems that twenty minutes trying to catch two lizard men is a little much and is not anything more than filler.
On saying that, if this is, indeed, aimed at kids, it’s gruesome stuff. As mentioned last week, the little blink and you’ll miss it death of the construction worker was a little grisly and the ‘kills’ this week are also a bit on the harsh side. It seems that things are not child-friendly enough to allow your littleuns to watch it, or adult enough to make for a compelling story.
Still, there are some positives overall, though. While Abby is assigned with Matt and Becker to work out in the field, Connor is given a new role as ‘a glorified button pusher’, working with Philip on developing the ARC’s computer systems, going as far as to nearly inadvertently kill Philip in the process, by accidentally shutting down the ARC into lockdown.
With the prospects of something shady going on with Philips ‘New Dawn’ project and a nice new chemistry with Jess, there is a lot more going on here than the usual chase, tag, and bag dino hunting that took up most of the episode’s plot.
Maybe I am being a little harsh, but there is so much potential here. There are hints about a traitor in the ARC, new characters and situations to explore and a whole potential evil conspiracy to uncover. We are three episodes in now and these should be looked at and taken further.
There are high hopes for the show and ITV should look at its investment. A lot of money and time was taken to make this and it could have a roaring success (sorry for the pun) on its hands. It’s just a shame that things are not as tense, exciting or action-packed as they could be, and there is a serious threat that those liking the show will drift off if things don’t get a little more pacy. Still, the Slaan were good though.
Read our review of the series premiere here.
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