Primeval, Series 4, Episode 4 – The Therocephalian Invasion!

I’m loathe to rave about the latest episode of Primeval, but for this series tonight’s episode was a stonker! Comparatively speaking. Primeval isn’t Shakespeare, you know.

The source of tonight’s awesomeness was an entire herd of Therocephalians wandering through an almost empty school. The only inhabitants of this school are a handful of detention inmates, cruelly locked in Breakfast Club stylee. Oh, and the aforementioned lizard-beast.

At times, the Therocephalian looks like one of those devil dog things from Ghostbusters, but it also gives a killer venom when it bites it’s prey.

This episode is Primeval at its goriest – severed limbs, brutal murders and a tense dino-hunt through the corridors of a school. Not only does the teacher get eaten quite early in the episode, but satisfyingly a vapid X Factor wannabe student becomes dino-dinner in the gym as Jess looks on in horror.

What’s absolutely unforeseen is that Becker (and then Matt) walk into a canteen that has become a nest of Therocephalians. The ARC team outgunned by hungry prehistoric lizards? Becker goes down first with a nasty bite, then Matt rescues him and ends up fighting with one of the monsters! Brilliant scene, if annoyingly obscured by the strobe effect. Even so, it was better than last week’s scene where Matt fought off an unseen tree-creeper by using a door as a shield!

The decision to show much of the episode from Jess’s vantage point back at the ARC was genius – because she had a grainy CCTV image, it was difficult to see exactly what was happening. And when the bitchy schoolgirl got eaten in the gym, we could feel how helpless she was to do anything.

Action aside, the weaker part of the episode was back at the ARC – Abby had been told by Phillip that the remaining creatures in the menagerie would have to be put down. She rails against this and decides to move the dinosaurs to safety – but where exactly? She’s ranting on to Jess about tranquillising the mammoth and moving it on a low-loader. Great plan, but isn’t it going to be a bit obvious? And won’t Phillip want to know how the bodies were disposed of?

This episode teeters dangerously close to making us ask why the anomalies are still a secret. We have Lester subtly threatening to expose Phillip as a monster killer if the anomalies ever become public knowledge. Of course, if the public thought dinosaurs were running loose in modern-day Britain, they might be happy that someone’s culling them.

And besides – what about the clean-up operation at the school? There were a lot of dead Therocephalians in the canteen to get rid of, plus two dead bodies, plus two living geeky student survivors. I’m not sure you can cover that kind of thing up.

I don’t know if any of you lot watch Fringe, but what would be truly refreshing would be if the anomalies were public knowledge – a global nuisance that had to be policed by dinosaur specialists. That could be the new role for the ARC. As a secret organisation, I’m not convinced, but if they were proper heroes protecting the public from dinosaurs, that might lend a different complexion to the series.

Still, after a few weeks of complaining about the lightweight nature of this show, it’s nice to see an episode that got the balance of action and tension just right. The scenes in the canteen were just thrilling to watch. The show still has to get basic plotting right – it just feels like the characters don’t really know their roles in the show and within the ARC organisation. Phillip, for instance, is ridiculously inept for a multi-millionaire genius.

On a bizarre note – I watched a series one episode of Primeval tonight as well – is it fair to say that Lester has more hair NOW than he had in the first series?

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