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05 July 2011 @ 06:47 pm
Primeval 5.03  
In lots of ways I wish Primeval had attempted something like this in season 4 or, at least, put this level of thought into Emily before now.

If I'm honest Emily's characterisation is still very much presented through the lens of the 21st century and, clearly, Primeval's approach to Victorian London is about as rigorous as its approach to the workings of big business, computer technology, government and the military. However, for the first time the show demonstrated some appreciation of the fact that she wasn't a 21st century woman and that she might have a different moral perspective on things. It was convenient, therefore, that her husband managed to get himself munched in the final few minutes and remove any awkward moral objections she might have had to getting further involved with Matt Anderson. As well as appreciating that some gesture was being made towards her Victorian upbringing, Emily was also here genuinely shown to be independent and self-sufficient where in season 4 she functioned as little more than a damsel-in-distress. Even if the overall thrust of the episode remained Matt rescuing Emily, Emily herself was a lot less passive and helpless than she was in much of the last season. It has to be said, right up until the end, I was half hoping she would remain in Victorian London and then we could all imagine her teaming up with Madame Vashta and Jenny in order to fight crime.

Of course the other half of the episode was the Connor and Abby shenanigans which, broadly speaking, I also liked. I'm not a huge fan of the long drawn out will-they-won't-they nonsense these two characters have been put through, but at least here we were being given a genuine dilemma rather than a manufactured obstacle to their relationship. It would be nice, of course, if Philip Burton were being played in a more nuanced fashion because the set up does make Connor look a little dumb. However, at heart it's a straight up matter of trust. Abby has no more reason to believe Matt is right than Connor has to believe Burton is. Moreover she has good reason to suppose that if she tells Matt's secret to Connor, he will immediately relay it to his hero and he has good reason to suppose her opinion is biased because of Burton's lack of concern for the animals. At heart it's a dispute about which of them places trust more reliably with the unspoken request on each side that the other put some faith in their judgment. The wierdness of Connor and Abby's relationship in seasons 3 and 4 could have done with more genuine clashes like this and fewer feckless brothers and pointless cold-shoulder behaviour.

I'm beginning to like Primeval much better again. Although darker in tone, this episode hinted at a level of thought about the characters and their relationships that I don't really think it's shown since seasons 1 and 2.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/47259.html.
lukadreaming: Burton coollukadreaming on July 5th, 2011 07:00 pm (UTC)
I've enjoyed S5 better than S4, mainly because of Emily. My big objection, though, is to Connor reverting to S1 habits and, as you say, looking dumb. I'm sorry Burton has been so 1-D - I was hoping for better, based on what I'd heard of Alexander Siddig. Not sure, though, how much is the actor and how much is the script.
louisedennis: primevallouisedennis on July 5th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
I've seen through to the end of the season now, though it'll probably take me a while to write up my thoughts on it all. But broadly speaking I think Burton is suffering from "Helen-syndrome" - the basic story outline, in may ways, allows for a complex character with an agenda which while not, perhaps, straightforwardly moral, is at least understandable, internally consistent and not in and of itself particularly villainous. But the show feels the necessity to have a "villain" and therefore the antagonist is crammed into that role willy-nilly. Connor is being played/written as if he's interacting with the more complex character, while Siddig is being acted/directed as the simpler one. Given that understanding, if anything, I think Connor appears more of a numpty in the next episode though I will come to that anon.
lukadreaming: Burton coollukadreaming on July 5th, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
Ah, I wasn't sure if you'd seen through to the end yet. I was so arsy at stupid!Connor that I was reduced to sending Fred ranting emails in capital letters while I watched the eps! Connor's never been a favourite of mine, but I liked him better in S3 where he at last looked halfway competent. I thought he'd come back in S4 in the same vein. Instead, he's been an idiot all through S5!

I think you're right about the villain syndrome. Burton in the final ep was how he should have been all through . . .
louisedennis: dinosaurlouisedennis on July 5th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
I think the next episode is Connor's worst, but mostly I'm frustrated that handed only slightly better scripting, Connor's behaviour would seem entirely reasonable but, as it stands, there are huge leaps of logic-fail in the character's journey from here to the end of the season.
fredbassettfredbassett on July 5th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
My main objection to this episode was Matt and Emily heaving the poor raptor straight down the stairwell. Whilst Emily might have had a different attitude to creature survival based on her experiences, this is OOC for the Matt we see being caring to the dracorex.

I also disliked the treatment of the raptor as bait in the submarine ep. That also seemed OOC for both Matt and Abby.
louisedennis: dinosaurlouisedennis on July 5th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I long ago consigned Primeval's grip on how people who work with animals, particularly dangerous wild animals, approach animal welfare to the heap which contains its grip on so many subjects outside the basics of "what dinosaurs look like". The characters are variously both too kind and too cruel, lacking the pragmatism needed to kill an animal that is a direct threat to human life and the kindness to treat them in a manner that minimizes the animal's own pain and suffering. And, of course, next episode we learn that they suffer from that common ailment of jettisoning all considerations about animal welfare when faced with something that does not possess a backbone.
fredbassettfredbassett on July 5th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Yes, indeed.