Survivors series 2 episode 6 review: series finale

As the second series of the BBC's Survivors comes to an end, are we going to lose another cast member? Rob finds out.

Why is it that the bad guys are always so much more intelligent than the good guys? This rings so true with this week’s season finale of Survivors as it seems the nasty Whittaker and the even more cunning Landry have between them a whole pocketful of cunning plans and that it doesn’t take a lot to outwit out survivor heroes.

For the entire season they have had a bit of forethought, forward planning and have been pulling the strings, trying to clean up the mess they have created and to make the best of it. It seems they are the ones that hold the proverbial best hand in the game, able to position and bargain for the things they desire (such as an anti-viral for the pandemic), while the ‘goodies’ of the show, the hapless survivors, are just doing that – surviving, going from crisis to crisis fumbling along and ‘winning’ out of pure luck rather than judgement. All while showing they are, quite frankly, rubbish at the majority of the situations they are in. The A-Team they are not and for this finale a pep talk from Hannibal and Co could have really helped them.

Last week we saw the Family return to the labs in which Whittaker and the rest of the science team experimented on Abby back in episodes two and three. However, said lab is now desolate and nearly abandoned thanks (it seems) to Whittaker’s own hand as, by smuggling in his wife, Jill, onto the base and her eventual assist and rescue of Abby, she became a carrier for a virus. That led to her contracting and spreading the virus in the base, killing all but one member of the research team.

With no trace of Peter and a lab full of answers, each of the team spend time ploughing through to see what they can find and, in turn, tying up certain plot threads. So, while Tom and Abby search for Peter, Greg hits the computers, trying to find out about the pharmaceutical company that Landry and Whittaker work for, while Anya and Whittaker’s second in command (the only remaining member of the science team still alive) try working on the vaccine for the virus.

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With half the team busy, it’s only Al and Naj that have nothing to do. However, when it’s time to try the vaccine, Al volunteers, still grieving for his loss last week, causing he and Naj to fall out. Understandable, as Naj, in all likelihood, is about to lose another member of the family he loves.

With so much going on you would think that this episode would be clogged, clunky and really badly put together but, apart from a slight niggle or two (which I will come to in a minute), the conclusions all come together very well. Al survives the process of the anti-virus and the team are eventually reunited with Abby’s son, Peter, and Greg finds out what happens to everyone, all of which leads to some of the more drawn out arcing stories being resolved.

We also get some of the more personal issues cleared up, most significantly the unresolved relationship between Anya and Tom. Last week I got a little lambasted by stating that Tom was regressing into a caveman. On reflection, this may have been wrong, as this episode actually discusses the need for a change, an evolution if you will, to the outlook for this new world. Tom is embracing the new structure, becoming a hunter, a savage and willing to do anything to survive, while Anya the healer is unwilling to take the steps needed to kill or be killed. Tom also tries as much as he can to instil his outlook in Naj, for right or wrong , by teaching him to shoot – a questionable action, but one that could help in the future.

The culmination of the episode and the season as a whole comes in the form of a Mexican standoff on the airfield Greg and Abby found last week. Played out with various sides – the family with the anti-virus, Whittaker with Peter as a hostage and Landry with a way out  – everyone has something somebody else wants and is a great way to finish off things as a climactic finale. It’s just a shame that the Family are just so stupid, with Tom the only one with a bit of guile.

With Whittaker and Landry both showing that they cannot be trusted, it would have been stupid for the Family to confront them directly without a back-up. But guess what they do, all pinned down in the middle of an airfield with no real way to bargain and two gun-men on them?

Now, this, while daft, is really the only way the series could have gone. However, there are some really botched bits. Landry is guarded by two black-clad guards as he leaves the plane, then by one, with the other disappearing onto a building to suddenly become a sniper. How did that happen?

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Added to this the fact that it was so very easy for Greg to solve the puzzle of the postcards, and for Greg to guess the password on the computer, it looks as though time or plotting were put to the side by the writers or directors to get us to the stand-off point. Which is a shame, as these blaringly large plot holes and the fact that Tom seems to be indestructible really let down what was set up to be quite a gripping conclusion.

Finishing off with the death of Whittaker (yay) and Abby reunited with her son (double yay) the Family get what they want and have been after since season one,  and the plots and ideas of the show for the majority are concluded in a satisfactory manner.

Landry, however, escapes, but everything might not be sunshine and flowers for him and the ‘chosen few’ as the Family do, indeed, lose a member as Tom, bleeding to death, has one last surprise for the bad guys of the show.

A little rushed and at times head-smackingly dumb, the finale of Survivors does work, providing a solid conclusion to events, but it seems that editorial judgement overran good writing and explanation at times. Maybe it’s the six episode format or maybe just too many things going on, but the show was spoilt a little by these things. Hopefully, for the inevitable next season some of these issues will be resolved…

Check out our review of episode 5 here.