Primeval, Series 4, Episode 5 review – The Witchfield Worm

Did anyone else think this episode of Primeval was going to be a ghastly Blair Witch type rip-off?

Tonight’s episode of Primeval raised groans around the room as a lone monster-hunter camped on a windy clifftop while videoing himself. It wasn’t long before the “Witchfield Worm” was tucking into raw camper for supper. Awful, awful, awful. Hackneyed, cliched, sooo 12 years ago.

And then the episode suddenly got a lot better. Corporate pain-in-the-arse Phillip Burton continues to try and recruit Connor, but in a creepy way that feels like grooming. However, in one sentence, Phillip sums up exactly what’s wrong with Primeval, so succinctly that you’d swear the writers were thinking the same thing I do each week:

The animals are a distraction, it’s the anomalies that really matter.

Yes! You’ve got it it one! Let’s stop with the lame dinosaur hunting and play with time travel via temporal anomalies!

So what happens next? The team go hunting for a dinosaur that’s been eating tourists in the area for decades…*groan*

Again, this setup raised some eyebrows, because Connor, Abby and eventually Matt walk into the pub in a village that is to all extents and purposes, Royston Vasey. A local pub, for local people and all that. People are secretive about the ‘worm’, and they go to great lengths to cover up its existence.

Strangely enough, this was one of those episodes of Primeval that managed to strike the right balance between dinosaur hunting and anomaly investigation. It’s interesting that this is one of the main challenges for Primeval – balancing a blowout CGI monster each week with having an engaging arc to keep older viewers interested enough to tune in. This schism is mirrored in the show itself now, with Phlilip Burton keen to investigate the anomalies while Lester remains stuck with creature containment.

And as much as Burton seems a slightly seedy character, I have to agree that the prospect of uncontrollable gateways in time opening up all over the place is more interesting than chasing dinosaurs.

Like I said though, the balance was great in this episode, and even the dino-hunt was fun – especially as Abby lured the critter into a camper van and went for a spin around a caravan park. Though if the characters in this show were quicker-witted, there were undoubtedly plenty of one-liners Abby could’ve muttered as she drove through the caravan park.

Elsewhere, Matt confessed to Lester that he’d been harbouring Emily. Well, up until the point she got kidnapped. That’s OK though, Lester did little more than grumble at him a bit.

Ethan took Emily off to a cool cemetery to kill her, but Matt arrived in time for a scuffle with Ethan and then some aimless hunting for Emily who was clearly suffocating in a sarcophagus somewhere. There was the implication that Ethan is actually from present-day London, which seemed to startle Emily. So he must have been passing himself off as Victorian throughout their acquaintance.

I couldn’t help but think that this part of the episode was undercooked. What if Ethan had hidden Emily in an anomaly – giving an entire hour-long hunt through time for the ARC to retrieve her? Or even sticking with the cemetery plot, leave it until the end of the series, have Matt fall in love with her and Ethan kidnap her and bury her – all the while taunting the ARC team’s hilarious ineptness. 

Of course, that’s a minor digression. Episode 5 delivered plenty of excitement and some fun moments – the interchanges between Lester and Jess were pretty good, especially as Lester tried to briefly take over Jess’s role and discovered he hadn’t got the abilities for it. Connor mistakenly thinking Abby had been eaten was obvious, but still a good way of showing the readers they’re a bona fide couple now. And any episode without Captain “Hairgel” Becker is a good one for me.

Finally, question for you long-term Primeval watchers – is the show getting a bit gorier now with body parts being dropped everywhere by careless monsters?

The Cast Of Primeval are: Andrew-Lee Potts as Connor Temple, Hannah Spearritt as Abby Maitland, Ben Miller as Sir James Lester, Ben Mansfield as Captain Becker, Ciarán McMenamin as Matt Anderson and Ruth Kearney as Jess Parker.

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