Survivors episode 4 review

Survivors continues to build nicely, and it looks like we're but an episode away from things really kicking off...

Survivors

No sooner is Abby back at the farmhouse than she’s off on her own again to follow up on Samantha Willis’ tip off last week – there are teenagers in them thar hills, living it up and running down a mansion, having forced the owner out. Said owner is understandably bitter about this and stalks the surrounding forest, intimidating them. The youngest of the group of kids is called Peter… could it be…?

Meanwhile, all but Anya and Greg take off for the community, after weighing up the pros and cons of Abby’s report. Price goes on the charm offensive to Willis, but he’s not able to keep his criminal past a secret for long when there’s a copper about. Al soon finds the cost of luxury is far too high, but with so few children in the community, he’s not able to take an equally unhappy Naj without a struggle…

And back at the ranch, a couple of thugs have their eyes on Anya…

Adrian Nation’s radio version of Terry Hodges’ classic computer game, Blake’s Daleks (or something) is still developing nicely; the gang meet The Community, are frozen out, and lines are clearly drawn.

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Al and Naj are still a good value, especially when Al turns up late for breakfast and croons Jerusalem to an increasingly appalled Willis who berates and exiles him, and then spectacularly patronises Naj.

We’ve got Price back to his scheming best – absolutely loyal to those giving what seems to be the best deal at any time, Beesley rising to the challenge.

Sarah barely gets a word in edgeways but gets some great subtle stuff in when her twilight visit to the men’s dorm, for what one presumes involves a bit of a cuddle with Price, is thwarted by Al’s rescue of Naj and Price chasing after them. Priceless (Sorry.)

With the others engaged in the story arc stuff, Abby (did she mention she was looking for her son?) has the self-contained adventure thread this time, paired off with guest sta,r Daniel Millson, who you may have seen as Maria’s dad in The Sarah Jane Adventures. Millson’s considerably tougher here, landed gentry with his own cave, and fancy survival skills. Wounded by an arrow, but able to impress with his resourcefulness and Latin, he soon lures Abby into a picnic and a spot of skinny dipping. And, one has to assume, a bit of a cuddle.

This strand presents a bit of a problem at this stage. We’ve seen a lot of Abby in comparison to say, Greg, and have the big bullet notes for her character (she came down with the virus and lived! She’s looking for her son! She’s irresistible to buff men!) and while it’s no great problem as Julie Graham continues to play assertive but borderline hysterical rather well, I’d like to know her background a little better. The obvious answer is flashbacks, but that really would be the final damning evidence that if this series has a comparison, it’s Lost (Surviving in a dangerous rural environment without creature comforts, aggressive competition, mysterious enemies, goodie is really a murderer escaped from justice through the disaster, bald guy…)  

A lot more kids this time, and after Naj and Kate, it’s time for happy-slappy hoodies – and the acting is still fine, though not as spectacular as last time. Actually, they’re more hoo-ray Henrys than hoodies, as they’re a definite middle class breed of scallywags, certainly more than their older, aggressive counterparts in the Anya/Greg storyline. Even with this younger pool, it doesn’t drag the ‘adultness’ of Survivors down. If the bloody arrow wounds, self-stitching, strangulation scene and continuing fall out from Willis’ headshot isn’t convincing enough, then the sex is.

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“I was going to see out the invasion,” Garland says. This episode, and much of this series so far, is all about invasion, specifically home invasion (the kids, the thugs, our gang versus the Willisites), and the violation of personal space – the thug’s designs on Anya and brutally casual attempted rape that only fails because she’s tougher than she looks. Not to mention, of course, the virus, a foreign and unwelcome body with violent and devastating effects. The confrontation between Garland and his invaders is violent with about three good twists in a few minutes. Abby claims it was a wild goose chase when she is reunited with the gang at the end (her body language with Greg after frolicking with Jimmy? Let’s hope he never finds out, Mrs…) but was it really a fruitless diversion?

We don’t get any more Bunker stuff this week, discounting the trailer for next time – looks like it’s going to kick off. Hopes for next week then: pair off Greg and Abby and let’s hear a bit more about them, especially the former.

Still, on the whole, very good. I’m looking forward to next week.

Check out our review of episode 3 here.