[Review] Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 9, "Breakthrough"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
Primeval: New World returns after an extended break. In 2012, the new show was highly inconsistent to say the least, but was improving little by little. My question when we left was, can it keep up the level of improvement, or will it slip backwards?

The answer, based on this episode, seems to be "Ask Again Later." Because after it was done, I struggled to develop any sort of opinion on it at all. It wasn't a strong episode, but it had it's moments, while not lapsing wholly back into it's former condition.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a double frozen in the basement.


First, as usual, this week's animal. And it is a perfect example of the lifelessness of the episode by the relative lifelessness of the Triceratops that appeared this week. It was wonderfully rendered (but not well enough to make the line about it obviously not being fake anything but laughable) but as I was afraid, the show can't figure out how to use docile herbivores effectively. Before the break, the Pachycephalosaurus amounted to little more then a cameo. Here, the Tric (one of the best known dinosaurs, ever) is treated with respect, and thankfully not cranked up fully of crazy like the predators have been. Instead, they went in the opposite direction, and had it do very little. What it did do was provide an opportunity for a nice bit of characterisation (and possibly disturbed psychological mindset) for Dylan in the final minutes. I just couldn't shake the feeling that the Tric was handled with too fine a touch, like it was being treated as sacrosanct.

Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens, the creators of the Canadian edition of Primeval, are responsible for what is thus far the worst episode of the series, which sadly was also the pilot. Somewhat understandably, I was nervous about their return to the writer's credit. Their writing tends to be filled with insignificant detail, and an over reliance on technobabble, and less so on character development. Or rather, fully realised character development. And there were signs of that in this episode, where the development came in broad strokes, and scenes revelled in nonsense language. Thankfully, they weren't building new roads here, as it was mostly a reaction to the previous episode.

I feel that Mac and Toby are still shadow characters, not having been fully realised yet. And because of the desire to pair the characters off into buddy groups, they end up being empty with each other. Their dialogue was stilted, and the conversations filled with easy solutions and quick acceptance of major developments. Toby especially is becoming the Scotty of the show, eternally exasperated and beleaguered, but able (or wanting) to fix every problem that appears before her. Problem is, there never seems to be any reason for her being exasperated, because solving her various problems never seems to be that much of a issue. Mac too gets the worst of the emotional problems on the show, but never seems that hard done by any of them.

Colin Ferguson, who was prominently used in the promotions for the series, finally appears and I felt was something of a waste. I hope they intend to revisit his character in the future (whatever future the show has), because I'd like to find out more about his Steve Jobs/Howard Hughes-stlye genius recluse. It is unclear if his emotional instability was meant to be so pronounced, or if that was Ferguson making the best of unclear intentions. He runs the gamut from angry to sullen, to overjoyed within the course of a single conversation. It might have been nice to see him stick around, to give Cross an equal to coordinate with (or at least help him solve some of the mysteries gradually, rather then the instantaneous revelations they went with here) or a human to compete with. Cross, for all his swagger, remains isolated and suspicious, and considering that he has surrounded himself with people he trusts, I feel like his characterisation should move on now, that he should start to open up more, and get others involved rather then keeping it all so close to the vest. There was a shade of this when he and Ferguson deduce the way to detect anomalies.

The military subplot continues to be danced around, giving us hint after hint (except they are all the same hint, they are collecting animals, same as they did in the British series) without giving us anything conclusive. I have a hard time believing the Canadian military would be up to anything so cloak and dagger, and continue to be confused by the inconsistent way the Leeds character is being portrayed. He is alternatively a stereotypical polite Canadian, a bumbling Clouseau-esque parody, and a brooding loyal officer. I'd like to see more of this before the finale, but I know they are leaving all of the revelations for the final episodes.

After the hour was done, ultimately this was a forgettable episode, without the spark that was beginning to shine in the last few. It was simply mundane, which is better then usual because it could have been worse.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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