Sunday, November 6, 2011

Buffy: Primeval (4.21)

I like Adam as a concept. He's a strange fusion of human, monster and machine, and explicitly designed to be evil. Here's a being who was born to kill, but has been thrust into the world without guidance or understanding, lending him an inquisitive, introspective tone that goes at odds with the 'crush-kill-destroy' antics of previous big bads. But, and I struggle to understand why, Adam didn't work. It was presumably that characterization that made him a weak villain, since his big evil trip this last two episodes felt so contrived as a result. So, he wants to create a super army of genetic hybrids like himself? That's... not all that great.

I don't know if time just wasn't on season four's side. I mentioned it back in my review of The I in Team, in which stories that felt major and intriguing were ushered in and casually dropped with such speed that it took away any significant effect they could have had. At the same time, Adam has spent most of his tenure preaching in caves, intriguing elements of his character (the ability to draw in a cult-like mass of worshiping vampires, the understanding of the world and when it has been corrupted by magic) relegated to one-episode detours.

The Initiative, too, never gained a real identity. Maggie Walsh was the leader and mother figure in this army, and yet her murder had little effect. We didn't see the pay-off of her demise, both in terms of her most loyal followers, nor in the group she was so invested in. Was it just an issue of time? Or did the writers get so far into the story and realize they didn't care all that much, so traded in story arc development for a bunch of standalone stories like A New Man and Superstar. Whatever the cause, it was an unusual misfire for this show.

Primeval, the closer to the various season four story arcs, is a weak finale. While episodes like Becoming and Graduation Day put character ahead of action, folks like Buffy, Angelus and Faith being given stunning material to work with, Primeval is more concerned with action. So we have grand explosions and gunfire as the Initiative is blown to pieces, and Buffy stars in her own remake of The Matrix. I loved the character moments between Xander and Anya and later Buffy and Willow, Zombie Walsh was method zombie acting at its finest, and I liked the use of the four Scoobies as 'forces' in the spell (the hand, the spirit, the heart, the mind), but generally Primeval felt weak. C

Guest stars Leonard Roberts (Forrest Gates); Amber Benson (Tara Maclay); Bailey Chase (Graham Miller); Jack Stehlin (Dr. Angelman); Conor O'Farrell (Colonel McNamara); George Hertzberg (Adam); Emma Caulfield (Anya); Lindsay Crouse (Maggie Walsh)
Writer David Fury Director James A. Contner

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