Writer: Paul Mousley
Director: Mark Everest
Previously on "Primeval":
Several space-time anomalies appeared in the UK, which allowed predators from Earth’s distant past to travel the present and threaten humanity. To combat this, Professor Nick Cutter (Douglas Henshall) formed the Anomaly Research Centre (or the ARC), with his colleagues Connor Temple (Andrew-Lee Potts), Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearritt) and others. However, Nick was eventually murdered by his estranged (and insane) wife, Helen (Juliet Aubrey), leading Danny Quinn (Jason Flemyng) to take his place.
More recently, the team discovered Helen’s plan to eliminate humanity in the prehistoric era using a device that could open anomalies at will. The team followed her back in time and barely managed to stop her. Helen was also killed by a raptor, but Danny was separated from Connor and Abby. And they were all trapped in the past with no way to return home.
One year after Danny, Connor and Abby disappeared, the ARC has moved on with mostly new personnel. The new tech, Jess Parker (Ruth Kearney) accidentally releases one of the prehistoric dinosaurs while attempting to familiarize herself with the system. As the creature stalks through the ARC headquarters, Captain Becker (Ben Mansfield) directs Jess to safety and confronts the beast himself. He handles the crisis with confidence and locks up the creature in the office of James Lester (Ben Miller). Big changes have taken place in the ensuing year since we last saw the ARC. It is now a joint government and private initiative under the watchful eye of Phillip Burton (Alexander Siddig), who seems to enjoy lording his authority over Lester.
Back in the distant past, Abby and Connor have been surviving, but both have trouble keeping up hope for a return to the present. After staying near the initial site where they arrived nearly a year previously, they reluctant decide to move on when a Spinosaurus follows them back to camp. However, they catch an unbelievably lucky break when poaching some dinosaur eggs in a nest and find Helen’s anomaly device. After reactivating the device, Connor and Abby find their way blocked by the Spinosaurus, but they lure another dinosaur into its grasp and escape through the newly opened anomaly.
Connor and Abby arrive in the present, and quickly celebrate their return before they are surrounded by the new ARC team, including Becker, who is very happy to see them. But the duo are less happy to hear that Danny never returned home and they have no idea what happened to him. As the ARC team starts to seal the anomaly, Connor tries to show off Helen’s device but he ends up opening the anomaly even further, allowing the Spinosaurus to come to the present. Connor and Abby are briefly left behind as the ARC team tries to heard the creature to the arena, but they soon hijack an ARC vehicle and join in the effort.
Using their newly procured vehicle, Connor and Abby make contact with Jess and Lester over the radio, who tell them how to assist the ARC team’s efforts. After drawing in the creature, Connor continuously puts himself in the line of fire to fix his mistake and ultimately loses Helen’s device when it falls into the Spinosaurus’ mouth and sucks the creature into another anomaly. Back at the base, Connor is very glad to meet Burton, who is one of his personal heroes… until he is told that he and Abby are being forced out of the ARC despite their experience.
Later, Connor and Abby stay together in an ARC hotel suite, but neither of them has fully adjusted to being home just yet. And it soon becomes clear that their romance has deeply progressed as they kiss each other passionately while watching the sun rise.
As much as I enjoy a good sci-fi show (and Britain puts out some of the best), "Primeval" desperately needs to get away from its dinosaurs escape to the present formula. It’s just become so stale in that regard that I had to role my eyes when the Spinosaurus came to the present. Of course that had to happen… sure. The previous storyline with Helen and the bleak future of Earth was at least taking the story into a more interesting direction. As an opening episode for the new season, this felt too much like everything that we’ve seen before.
None of the new characters really stood out either, although I want to like Burton, since I really enjoyed Alexander Siddig’s work on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." But Burton is kind of the standard issue dick boss here. As a source of conflict, that can work out in his favor over time. However, I’d prefer some added dimensions to his character. In fact, all of the new characters need some development very quickly.
The idea of Connor and Abby spending so much time in the past was actually the most interesting thing about the episode. Although I don’t think they went far enough with the feral and unkempt look for either of them. I suspected that their time together was going to bring them romantically closer and the pay off at the end was well played. It would also be intriguing if we see them both suffering post traumatic stress from their ordeal. Abby’s inability to keep herself from watching over Connor may be the first sign of that to come.
Overall, this was a disappointing way to kick off the season. I’m willing to give "Primeval" some time to find itself again, but there’s only so many iterations of the same idea that I’m willing to sit through. This show may need some fresh blood, not just in the cast but among the writers as well.
Crave Online Rating: 5.5 out of 10.