With the family finally reunited and fleeing the city, all seems well in Survivors land. On the run and hiding from Whittaker there is a vague plan of heading to the coast. With Abby still ill from her re-infection of the virus from last week, there are still worries and trouble, but it seems that the rescuing and fracturing of the team has finally come to an end.
This is short lived, however, as, after an encounter with Roger Lloyd-Pack, who at first seems like a benevolent trader, things go downhill as the team once again run into Samantha Willis and her pseudo government controlled facility.
Backed up by Dexter and with contacts for the more ‘unsavoury’ aspects of her new world order, Samantha has tried to restore a semblance of community to the world, albeit in her own image. And while some of her ideas are working, some other more extreme views and the adamant determination that she is right and in charge – and that ‘her’ laws and judgment are right and above the rest of everyone else (typical politician) – leave the family with a lot of problems, as Samantha wants Tom brought to justice for gunning down one of her team last season.
Taking Tom hostage, the rest of the team are invited to join Samantha’s jury to try Tom for his ‘crime’. With the family members (Abby, Greg and Anya) supposedly outnumbered in the jury of Samantha’s kangaroo court, it seems that we will finally get to see what Tom had done in the past and why at the beginning of the first series he was in prison.
However, this is not to be as he, when questioned, gives a brief account of a bank robbery he was involved in, in which he shot a security guard. Whether this is the truth or not there is hardly any detail exposed which in some ways works, as the ambiguity of his past crimes keeps the mystery alive. But it’s also the catalyst for the jury to try him in an unexpected way.
With Abby working as defence for Tom, Anya votes that Tom is not guilty, followed by a member of Samantha’s community who also finds him not guilty. With Greg trying once again to get rid of Tom and tempted by Samantha’s offer of staying in her compound, he votes that Tom is, indeed, guilty. It seems that the gun toting Mancunian is going to spend the rest of his life in prison. However, the final member of the jury is Dexter, the semi-psychotic henchmen who has his eye on the prize of controlling the community and ousting Samantha.
With the vote not going her way, it seems that Tom is free from Samantha’s justice. However, he is still found guilty by her alone. Lying politicians that change the goalposts of a trial or inquiry is obviously a wry dig at some of the issues that are happening presently, and the anger of the people and the spin and slick words used to subdue them shows the writers have their finger on the pulse of what a lot of people are feeling. And while not turning this entire review into a comment on politics, there is a lot more going on than it seems. Samantha wanted Tom in the compound for a reason: to get rid of the tricky Dexter for her.
Not wanting to get her hands dirty is something that Samantha is adamant about. Her community seems to be running and the unruly elements are taken care of. As I mentioned before, Roger Lloyd-Pack seems at first to be a happy benevolent trucker, happy to help and trade, but it seems that Trigger’s (yes, I know Mr Lloyd-Pack is a well respected actor, with numerous well respected roles, but come on. He is always going to be Trigger, isn’t he?) guise of a helpful roadside friend is a huge act. Instead of giving help, advice and the occasional packet of biscuits, he is a people smuggler, transporting unknowing souls to a mine, where they are imprisoned and made to work at getting the country’s energy working again. Here, in the dark tunnels, is where Samantha’s un-needed elements go, traded away for supplies.
It is also where Tom is destined to end up. However, the family are unwilling to lose one of their members, especially one who is, quite frankly, the only one capable of helping them when they are in trouble.
With an attempted bust made by Greg and Abby, Samantha has a job for Tom to do and she is aware of Dexter’s goals and, giving Tom a knife, says he has a deal: get rid of Dexter and walk out. Half of this is right it seems, as Tom does, indeed, get rid of Dexter after a brutal fight, but Samantha reneges on her deal, once again capturing Tom and as a bonus also getting her hands on Greg as the rescue attempt is botched. The two strongest members of the family are captured.
The show has, for some of its elements, a standard pattern. Take one or two members of the team, endanger them, and let the others recue them. It’s happened to everyone. Anya has been trapped, Greg shot, Abby kidnapped and now Tom put on trial and, while a show having a team of people plodding across Britain encountering the odd angry sheep and nothing more would be dull, the repetition of the same ‘person in danger’ is wearing a bit thin. It’s window dressed by different scenarios, but it#s essentially the same episode again and again.
While this is probably a bit harsh, overall, I did enjoy this episode as the bleakness and general setup and scenarios are actually quite well developed, with characters trying and surviving, with some doing a lot more than others to cross the line of morality to keep their way of life alive.
Is Samantha worse or better than Tom? Well, that’s the question and it seems that the writers know that keeping the characters morally ambiguous is the way to go.
Three episodes in and, yup, things are still strong and with next week’s slave-focused episode, it seems that Survivors‘ dark path is set to continue and the journey to the coast is going to have to wait.
Check out our review of the episode 2 here.