Episode 1.03 Writers: Jon Cooksey Director: Mike Rohl
THE ONE WHERE Two pilots drive into a Jurassic anomaly and land on a nest of hungry beetles; Evan and Dylan get swarmed; Mac has a new girlfriend… kinda.
VERDICT Everyone knows that dinosaurs rule and insects dool, and this week Primeval: New World proves that dinosaurs are more entertaining than bugs as “Fear of Flying” gives us the weakest episode so far in the series. There’s more than one problem with this one: the bugs are boring, there’s little plot development, a couple team members’ are missing altogether this week, etc etc. etc. It’s really a stand-alone episode and the word “filler” pretty much sums it up.
Honestly, it was frustrating right from the start. Was anyone else tricked into thinking that the airplane was flying at the beginning of the episode, and then felt bamboozled when you realised they were still on the tarmac? The pilot and co-pilot’s lack of quick reflexes sent them rolling straight into the anomaly… slowly… with plenty of time to turn around or bail from the plane.
So it’s up to Evan and Dylan to travel through the anomaly to find the lost plane and its pilots, while Mac and his new girlfriend stay behind and play kissy face. It’s a strangely paced episode, slow then quick, with excitement building to find out what the creature of the week will turn out to be, and then we see the beetles.
Oh great, prehistoric bugs… fun…
In the original British series there were giant Jurassic bugs too, and that one wasn’t a fan favourite so this all feels a bit familiar. What a disappointment this one was, especially because carnivorous beetles that feed on humans are completely fictional. While the premiere featured historically accurate raptors and other dinos and the second episode played on our fears of the water and of snakes with the Titanoboa, the beetles, it seems, were designed simply to give us nightmares. How do you make normal, prehistoric bugs scary? You have them crawl under your skin and eat you from the inside-out, obvs!
And then there was the queen beetle of the nest. Now she was a real B! She gave Mac and Samantha something to do, and at least someone got to fly in this episode! Also the queen laying eggs in the unnamed guy’s throat was disgusting and cool. Who hasn’t ever worried that a bug would lay eggs in your throat while you slept?
The death of likeable pilot Jim by the hungry beetles’ added fun gross corpse shots and squeezed some emotion out of the characters, but that doesn’t make up for what the episode lacks: plot development. The only plot development was the bonding and flirting between Dylan and Evan, and even that seemed misplaced within the episode. There were still no answers or hints to who the frozen corpse in the lab is. And where were Angelika and Lt Leeds? They were completely left out. However we are introduced to Mac’s new girlfriend Samantha, who seems like a potentially strong addition to the team. Hopefully we will see everyone working more together, and get a few more answers next week.
What saved “Fear of Flying” from being a complete ball of dung was the realisation that this show isn’t afraid to kill off its characters. Evan builds up hope and reassurance in Pallavi that she will return safely home to her family, and then once it’s her turn to believe in herself a little and conquer her fears, she gets swarmed by the bugs and eaten alive. The idea that not everyone can be saved – civilians, team members, and the creatures – is something a little more new to the franchise.
Aside from the shocker of Pallavi’s death and the queen beetle aside, “Fear Of Flying” deserves a massive round of yawns.
CREATURE OF THE WEEK Fictional carnivorous beetles
TRIVIA Beetles didn’t evolve until the Cretaceous period and were never eight-footers. They also never had the ability to fly or had a taste for human flesh. The size of the queen beetle in this episode and the beetles’ appetite was greatly exaggerated to help give you nightmares.
GROSS! Pilot Jim’s death is supposed to make your skin crawl, and it succeeds in doing that with the close-up of the beetles skittering just under his skin and then exiting through his mouth.
DID YOU KNOW? I know what you’re thinking: but beetles don’t kill people… But on TV and in the movies they do! Did you know that Egyptians actually worshiped the bug for its beauty and its symbol of hope? Still, that doesn’t make us not want to step on them.
BEST LINE Mac: “I really wish we had a big bug zapper.”
Primeval: New World airs in the UK on Watch, Tuesdays, 9pm