In a lot of ways, I have to say that this episode was much better than the second episode, "Sisutil", last week. The premise of the episode was interesting - a cargo plane with two people aboard goes through an Anomaly, and Evan Cross and Dylan Weir go through to rescue the pair of pilots, but get more than they bargained for. Still, in some regards it still left a lot to be desired.
The characterisation in this episode is much better, with the viewer learning more about Evan Cross, Dylan Weir, and Mac Rendall. I have to say that I don't think much of Evan in this episode, as we learn that he and Ange Finch (who does not appear in the episode at all) started the company successfully after three failed tries, and that Ange virtually runs the company while Evan is pursuing this obsession with the Anomalies, draining the funds of the Cross Photonics. Evan's also something of a jerk in this episode, given the way he treats Pallavi, the co-pilot of the cargo plane, after the pilot, Jim, is killed by the creatures of this piece. Dylan comes across as somewhat more compassionate than I expected her to be, and there's some light moments where her personality shines through somewhat, especially one sequence where she asks Evan if he's propositioning her when they talk about being trapped wherever they are and having to raise children. We learn that Dylan knows something of Buddhism, as she comforts Pallavi about Jim's death, but Dylan also gets pissed at Evan because he wants people to compartmentalise when they're in danger or working so that nobody dies. She seems to hate herself because she can push aside her feelings in situations to get the job done (as she does here, and did when Tony died in the first episode).
Meanwhile, Mac's character development here stems from his being put against the guest star of the week, Jody Balfour of Bomb Girls fame of late, playing Samantha (Sam) Sedaris, who we find out "shares a bathroom" with Toby, and thus knows the resident tech/geek. Or should I say the resident *hot* geek, as we get the starting sequence where we see that Toby Nance seems to sleep at the Tank in a low-cut tank top and underpants/panties. The sequence with Toby here is very reminiscent of the scenes from the original Series One, where Abby walks around her apartment while Connor was there in her panties. Obviously meant to please the male audience here, I suppose. Anyway, back to Mac... We learn through Mac's interaction with Sam (oh, dear, Tapping references perhaps?) that Evan saved him from a life in the UK military. We still don't know what the events were back in Blighty that led Mac to want to join the military, but coupled with some of what we've learned about him from the earlier episodes, this aspect of his character may be important later. One thing is clear, it seems that Mac has a thing that goes beyond sex for Sam, and that she doesn't feel the same way. (More on Sam later.) But what is he thinking of, taking the girl with him to the Anomaly site (regardless of his lack of desire in leaving her by the side of the road)? As for Toby Nance, there's not a lot of character development here, though she obviously wants to go into the field and she feels under-appreciated by Evan and the rest of the team.
Then there are the guest stars of the week. First off, there were the two characters on the cargo plane. Sandy Sidhu, as Pallavi Grewal, did a really good job of being freaked out by the bugs (more on them later), though I thought she over-emoted about stuff a bit too much. While I felt that her reactions were a bit extreme at times, notably opening the hatch when the bugs had seemingly left, but overall I liked her performance. Pallavi is not a confident person, despite what she has chosen to do for a living, but the character achieves a bit of redemption during her conversation with Dylan about Jim, and in the fact that Evan will send the letter to Pallavi's family that she wrote when she fatalistically wrote the letter to her family in the event she'd never make it home from the past (quite rightly, as it turns out). Then there was the guy who played Jim (sorry, haven't been able to find out who the actor was), and I was sad to see him die so quickly in the episode. We actually learn quite a lot about Jim during the time that he's present in the story - he's a hardy old salt who learned to fly in the Gulf War, seems to have moved to Canada from the U.S. for various reasons, and finds that flying through an Anomaly to wherever they ended up is only a six on his weirdometer. Lovely character, sorry to see his death.
And then there's Jody Balfour, in the role of Samantha (Sam) Sedaris. We don't know all that much about her, to be honest. She's been sleeping with Mac, eating with Mac... a lot. She "shares a bathroom" with Toby (implying they are flatmates) and that's how she knows Toby, much to Mac's surprise, and she seems pretty skilled at certain abilities, and knows how to use a weapon with what seems military precision. Sam is an interesting character; she's not fazed by the Anomalies, she's surprised but not for long when the giant beetle comes through the Anomaly, and even when Mac tells her that he more than likes her, she's obviously got feelings for him, but is more excited at the moment about the whole Anomaly thing and and the monster of the week. I don't know whether Sam's going to be a recurring character in the series, but I really like her. Would love to see some character interaction between her and Toby.
I was pleased to see that the characters, well Dylan and Evan at any rate, were going to go through the Anomaly, but to be honest, was disappointed with the other side of the Anomaly. First off, the setting (either the Carboniferous or the Jurassic, but actually the latter due to spoilers from the Primeval: New World website) was obviously a set. The terrain had the fake look of North American sets, that while it served its purpose, has really cheapened the show in that there's just not a lot of time spent in real terrain once the characters go through Anomalies. I also recognised the DC-3 that they used here as the one from the Arctic Air tv series. It was a good set piece to use, and I have no problems with it. I guess it's called making use of (other) Canadian tv resources, right? :)
As for the beasties of the week, the Jurassic flying beetles came across all right. Visually, there was nothing stunning about the beetle queen, though it's movements were handled relatively well. A lot of the events that occurred surrounding the Jurassic flying beetles reminded me of so many sequences in the original Primeval series. The worst part of the sequence was the beetle queen laying eggs in the host body of the mechanic in the hangar, which while it tried to work, just came across as somewhat gross, especially with Mac and Sam retrieving the egg string from the mechanic's throat. For me, the worst part of the Jurassic beetles' appearance was that I never really felt menaced or threatened. The episode of the original series, in which the ARC was invaded by the insects that came through with their queen during Series 5 (if I remember correctly) was much scarier and more horrific than this episode tried to be.
And then there are the problems I have with the episode... First off, there's a sequence where Toby finds the CCTV footage at the airport of the cargo plane flying through the Anomaly, which she then sends to Evan. Where the heck is the security camera that took this footage? How did it get that footage? And why don't the airport officials get involved with this, since they can a) access the footage and b) track the plane, so must know it disappeared off radar on the landing strip!
That leads to the airport stuff itself. In the opening sequence, with the cargo plane flying and all, it didn't seem to me that it was anywhere near the airport at all when it was swallowed by the Anomaly, but why finally lower the landing gear if you're that close to making your landing? Yet as the CCTV footage showed, the Anomaly was on the runway, so... Inconsistency and continuity mishap, maybe? On the subject of the airport, where are all the people at the airport? The air traffic controllers? Other personnel? Various maintenance crews and the like? No one else at the airport saw the Anomaly, other than the mechanic? Sheesh!
The business where Evan is cutting into the wing tank of the plane to put the fuel in... First of all, he's using an icepick to do it, so why doesn't he make one hole large enough to put the hose line into it, rather than chopping smaller holes and the like? He supposedly knows enough about planes, as he can build 'em and take 'em apart... And what about the fumes when he cuts into the tank? And... oh, you get the idea...
The escape from the cargo plane back to the Anomaly. It's fine to cover yourself in a blanket and soak it with gasoline from the plane, and then light it and make your run for the Anomaly. However, for the time it took on camera and all, why aren't Evan and Dylan on fire by the time they get to the Anomaly area? And if you tell me the blankets are flame retardant...
Finally, the dumb act routine... When Dylan and Evan go through the Anomaly, they take nothing weapon-wise other than a hand pistol with them. This despite the fact that Evan's vehicle is there, and it obviously has weapons because Mac and Sam are pretty well armed. Just silly, though somewhat reminiscent of the original series in some ways.
All of that said and done, I enjoyed the episode for the most part, found it better than the second episode, "Sisiutl", and felt the characters of Evan, Dylan, and Mac were developed somewhat. I can't say that I liked the episode in terms of the danger and the threat factor, as I find that I still have no real connection to the characters as yet, though I find the mysteries introduced in the first episode to be the hook for me. That, and I really liked Jody Balfour's Sam character here. I was sad to see that neither Ange Finch or Lt. Ken Leeds were present here, as I figured that Ken Leeds could have done something about controlling access to the airport and stuff. In any event, looking forward to seeing the next episode "Angry Birds" (ooh, Terror Birds maybe, anyone?), and seeing how the show develops.