Primeval series 5 episode 4 review

Rob checks out this week’s bug-infested episode of Primeval, which owes a slight debt to The Mummy...

I’m sure a lot of you have seen The Mummy. It’s not a bad film, and while overly reliant on CG, some bits are really creepy, especially the bit with the beetles, a clever use of graphics to show a sprawling mass of flesh-eating buggers in all their insect glory. Well, it seems that the computer graphics guys working on this week’s episode have been watching too, as the critters this week take a nod from these Egyptian beasties and we essentially have beetle mania hitting the Arc.

Last week, we saw Connor open a mini-anomaly within the ARC, as he and April finally crack the final phase of Prospero for Philip. And as we kick things off this week, the more progressively sinister boss makes a personal appearance to see what his workers have created. 

It’s not just Philip who’s hitting the computers, as Abby and Matt finally crack Connor’s encrypted hard drive and find what he’s been up to. All is revealed in the lab, where the two sides of the team finally play their hand across the console, where Conner has just made the first manmade anomaly in history.

While the two sides battle it out in a war of words, Connor states that the size of the anomaly is supposedly too small for anything to come through, which, of course, is completely wrong. Anyone who’s ever watched a film where someone says, “Nothing can possibly go wrong” knows full well that it invariably does. As soon as Connor utters those magic words, you know something will come through, and numerous ARC redshirts will become a healthy snack for some flesh-eating monster. And that happens, as an unsuspecting bit part actor is shredded alive by a fantastic wave of CG beetles of unnatural size.

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If you’re a bit squeamish about insects, then don’t watch this episode, as, surprisingly for computer-generated creatures, these beetles are suitably creepy. As mentioned, they have more in common with the wave of creatures in The Mummy than the laughably bad fire ants of the last Indiana Jones adventure. These creatures, although not as detailed as the dinosaurs and creatures of other episodes, are incredibly effective, effects-wise, as the sheer number of them is, for a television show, really impressive. Again, hats off to the techies and CG artists. While the show might not really hit the heights of originality script-wise, this week, the monsters are once again superb.

With the anomaly pouring out wave after wave of beetles, the entire ARC goes into lockdown mode, with even extreme sanctions not able to work. The lab has a infinite amount of oxygen coming though the anomaly, so burning or cutting off the room will not work. It’s up to the team, then, to try and shut down the anomaly before the entire ARC is completely overrun by the beetles.

The rest of the episode is taken up by Aliens-like encounters, with darkened tunnels, mood lighting and security sirens going off, as the beetles slowly eat through all the non-primary characters and numerous redshirts succumb to the creatures in various fun but grizzly ways. 

So there’s Abby, Emily and Becker (who it seems has become nothing more than pretty scenery this series) trying to get through to the lab and escape the beetles. They make their way past sealed doors, with lights going out, explosions, crawling through air events, running down lots of corridors, panicking and jumping around furniture, all to a specific time limit, before somebody incinerates the entire ARC.

Again, its nothing new, and it seems that the writers have sat though every infestation film of the 1980s. And we all know how it’s going to end up, with some climax involving  a member of the crew in danger and a MacGuffin pulled out and executed at the last minute. While I won’t spoil it, this is exactly what happens

It’s not a bad episode, (and there’s a nice cameo by Rex. Yay), but it was kind of run of the mill 1980s monster in the shadows affair, again hobbled by the fact that this is a family show. So the creature ‘kills’ are nowhere near the gruesome mix of fake blood, gelatine and make-up that you would get if you rented out something like this from a video shop of the past.

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However, what does make the episode rise above the generic is the fact that Matt and Abby are moving forward with their plan to stop Philip and are even trying to resort to terrorist actions to stop him. While Connor is still enticed by the dark side, Matt and Abby need to destroy the entirety of Prospero and the power station base, hopefully, with Connor’s help, but by any means necessary.

Will our favourite geek finally succumb, or will he do the right thing? Well, that would be spoiling things, but for the first time in a long time, the cliffhanger is actually tense, as we finally find out what Philip is really working on.

Read our review of episode 3 here.

Primeval airs Tuesdays at 8pm on Watch.