Episodes 1.09-10 Writer: Gareth Roberts Director: Joss Agnew
THE ONE WHERE Benny uploads a virus to the Nekross ship to disable their magic extractor – but then he faces a moral dilemma as the virus mutates and threatens the aliens’ lives when it destroys their ship. To save the bad guys or not save the bad guys, that is the question…
VERDICT No prizes for guessing that the plot this week has been lifted wholesale from Independence Day, with a handy virus wiping out the Nekross ship’s systems (complete with a sinister smiley face icon). What results isn’t a resounding victory, however. While Will Smith might jump up and down and whoop with joy to see his alien foes dead, Tom and Benny react in the opposite way – devastated that their actions may cause widespread death.
Benny’s sad face
There’s some interesting back-and-forth between the younger generation – who want to save the aliens – and the older one, who just want them dead. While there’s never any doubt that Tom and Benny will do the right thing and the Nekross will live to fight another day, it’s interesting to see the moral quandaries unfold. And what would we do in that situation? To emphasise the point, we even get to see the Nekross drain the life out of a perky young Japanese wizard, just in case we’d forgotten that they’re supposed to be evil gits.
Ursula in particular comes over as a badass in this episode, reacting to the loss of a friend who’s been similarly drained of magic by becoming positively bloodthirsty. Thankfully she sees the error of her ways by the end, but now we realise she’s a force to be reckoned with when she wants to be, despite her daffy exterior.
Last week’s storyline had Lexi and Tom becoming almost-friends, although she spends most of this two-parter being her old, threatening self… right up until she calls Tom and begs him to help her. She even cries! Who’d have thought that the Nekross, who are played for laughs half the time and moustache-twirling villains for the rest, would ever have such depth? Shame she doesn’t seem bothered at the thought of killing Benny, though. Oh well, change happens in stages.
BLESSED BE! The Nekross King emits a Brian Blessed-sized belch this week. A sound technician in the booth with him lost both his eardrums from the concussion.
NICE TO MEET YOU… We get to meet a lower class of Nekross for the first time in the form of technician Jathro, who has red skin and tentacles without an eye or a mouth attached. His twitchy, subservient performance nicely echoes Randal Moon’s – the alien equivalent of a hobgoblin, perhaps?
IT’S GOOD TO TALK Randal Moon calls Ursula on her compact mirror, while Lexi calls Tom from space on his iPhone. Both magic and science in action there!
COMEDY NEKROSS MOMENT The Nekross King looking around him in shock when Benny disappears from the spaceship is comedy gold. This show does shocked silences remarkably well. Ditto the reaction Tom’s dad gets when he arrives home with Chinese food and everybody’s too busy staring at a computer screen to give a chuff.
FAB FX There are some lovely FX shots in these two episodes, from the pretty magic dancing around the stone circle, to a sequence in which the camera moves through Moon’s magical seeing-mirror to reveal the Nekross spaceship with the humans staring at it in the background. Er, it works better to watch than to describe, but trust us, it’s great.
IS IT JUST US, OR…? Did it seem a bit careless of Tom and Benny to sit around reminiscing in Benny’s shed, talking about their friendship, when the Nekross had less than an hour to live?
BIT HARSH, THAT! The Nekross call Ursula “The Hag”. That’s not very nice of them.
TRUE COLOURS While Benny seems to stick to neutral shades, Tom wears a lot of primary colours, particularly red. There’s almost a touch of Clark Kent in Smallville going on with him. Additionally, Tom’s house is all primary colours (crazy magic), while Benny’s house is mainly earth tones (down-to-earth science). Great attention to detail there.
VOICE FROM THE PAST Gabriel Woolf provides the voice of the stones at the end of episode two. Fans with long memories may recognise him as Sutekh from Doctor Who‘s “Pyramids Of Mars”, and he also played The Beast in the more recent Who episodes “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit” (above). Non-Who fans looking for some childhood nostalgia may also like to know that he played Peep Peep’s father in the Look And Read episode “The Boy From Space”, way back in 1971.
BEST LINE Ursula: “I was seven years old when I cast my first spell. All I wanted was a puppy. I ended up on the top of the Eiffel Tower. The gendarmerie had to coax me down with a croissant.”
New episodes of Wizards Versus Aliens air on CBBC every Monday and Tuesday at 5.15pm