a/k/a, "And then everybody got super touchy-feely and couldn't keep their hands off each other."
I am not even admitting to the possibility of the show not being renewed after this. Not because the cliffhanger actually outraged me in any way, but just because these are my favorite people in the world right now
If anything, I'm most disappointed in the pacing. I am sure there were a lot of action sequences that could have been shortened to include more character stuff, and by character stuff I mean "how does Becker get everywhere so fast" and "what the hell was happening back at the ARC half the time." For example, I would REALLY like to know what happened right after they first encountered the future predators (I'm going to keep right on believing he got hurt shielding her, despite the fact that she had the gun). I want to know how they escaped and made it back to the main area. You know what would have been great? Some considerable extension on the scene with Becker & the girls after he put the predator down, given how abruptly we jump from there to him being in Connor's lab.
There were at least two separate occasions on which we had to listen to Connor when CLEARLY that time should have been spent having Becker interact with Jess. I am also a tad curious about the transition from the shell-shocked Jess everybody kind of ran off and abandoned in Save the World mode, to the cheerful, chipper and composed young lady who welcomed them back. I bet there were a few more scenes with Lester that would have been worth seeing -- at least one early on in the medical bay once they were alone again, and one when the medical team first arrived. How about those evilly taunting few seconds while I had to listen to lame engagement nonsense whilst Jess & Becker were temporarily out of earshot fetching Lester? THIS RESTRICTED VIEWPOINT MADE ME SO CHANGRY.
Anyway, this episode underwhelmed on the Jess/Becker front, but it by no means struck out, and made it up to me about 10 times over by giving me ALL OF THE OTHER BELOVED DYNAMICS EVER. In semi-chronological order, then (note that most of the following slash marks mean nothing):
Emily/Abby: Forgot to mention how much I loved Emily struggling to hold her back at the end of last week, because Emily knows grief but she is also full of objective practicality.
Matt/Connor: Even though it is at odds with my death wish for the latter, it is impossible not to appreciate Matt saving people's lives (or yelling at Philip: "Did you ever even care about him? That kid WORSHIPPED you!") While Connor and Abby may be nauseating me as a couple, Matt is clearly finding it kind of sweet, so there's that too.
Connor/Abby: All right. On fifteenth viewing, I finally gave them a second chance, and I guess I do sort of like his moment of self-loathing and quitting and how Abby's whisper brings him 'round. Even my cold heart of stone and hate can't resist how his face goes from miserable and hopeless to overjoyed. I especially like how, in the moment, nothing stops you from playing it as an "I'm pregnant" scenario just as well as one of marriage talk, both of which are equally fun. In fact, I do not even entirely hate the proposal proper, which is saved by the cute way they mess with each other until she says "Forget it" and then he can't say yes fast enough, like she might really change her mind if he doesn't lock it down ASAP. But that's all you're getting out of me.
Matt/Emily 1: Seriously -- it's like Emily has a flashing neon sign over her head that says "CAPTURE ME." Fortunately she is almost as skilled at escaping. It's a wonder she has time to do anything between the two activities. And aww, mid-danger hugging (these two are starting to remind me of Doctor Who. They could totally have their own time-traveling adventure show).
Jess/Lester: Things attacking Jess on her home turf, thumbs up. That one tiny piece of the equation missing from 5x04 -- what happens when these two are trapped alone? -- is here now. The first phone call connection with Becker, the second week in a row Lester's kept her calm, the awesome look he gives her about her cloppy heels, the "OH SHIT" look when he's the one that screws up, and a hell of a lot more.
By now, you may or may not have noticed that I am a sucker for injured people in other people's laps. Poor brave/terrified little Jess, with telltale dried blood on her face and neck and tear-mussed eye makeup (I am high-fiving the makeup department for packing in a whole lot of unspoken story), barefoot to boot. There is also a blood soaked piece of cloth clutched in one hand that you can see later on, which I noticed when I went through this scene on quarter speed because the angles kept switching too fast for me to keep track of the 5 people in the frame, and I was not missing one millisecond of background action.
Jess/Becker 1: BAM! THERE IS YOUR SHIPPER MOMENT (or as my live-viewing notes say, "Fifty-seven academics just punched the air!"). Having already spoiled myself on the plot, I further spoiled myself by impatiently picking at Tumblr between the time the episode aired and the time I found a link to watch it, but that just meant I knew something was coming. Reading "hand on her face" and seeing it in action combined with his soothing voice are extremely different things. (Shippy radar: *explodes*)
Also, the hand staying on her shoulder until Matt sends him off. The scenes look tiny at first, but they grow and grow in your heart until soon you are in full-fledged season 4 bliss. Oh! And that shot of Becker at scene's end is probably meant to be him looking at the guys who are moving forward, but I would prefer to read it as a glance back at Jess to reassure himself she's OK before he leaves.
Matt/Jess: Just so I can point out how much I love the shift in tone when he gently asks Jess how many of them there were. Or when he tells Abby & Emily to look after her, in both the physical and emotional sense.
Lester/everybody: I am disappointed we didn't actually get to see them set him up in the medical bay, just because I am a sucker for Matt helping people and Lester talking to anyone, but I'll settle for everything beforehand: Emily with her hand on the wound, Matt coaxing him up, Connor's train of thought dying on the spot when he sees how bad it is, Matt & Connor helping his barely-conscious-but-grittedly-determine
Jess/Abby: Because when Jess whimpers about how they're all going to die, Abby is (almost) as good as Lester and pulling her back on course. Not as physically demonstrative as Emily, but I like it.
Abby/Emily/Jess: OK, all Jess does is crouch behind a table after the more badass women take over in the gun department, but I think she's met her quota of distinctly-not-in-the-job-description heroism today. Besides, that's where I'd be. It just makes me want people to pet her hair and tell her everything will be all right even more. And in the meantime, I briefly get another scene with my ideal field team, including the bonus point.
Becker/Abby: Him directly saving her life resonates even more after the ending and when you reflect on the fact that she's one of the two he's worked with longest, and I really like when this mismatched friendship is acknowledged.
(dear fandom: either individually or as part of a larger work*, please insert the part right after this where he personally makes sure Jess is OK before leaving again)
[* = Ideally I would like a Jess-centric fic featuring a string of brief missing-scene vignettes, 500 words apiece or less and separated by asteriks, that take us through the episode for all the missing scenes described above + any others you can fit in. Straight storytelling or word art would work equally well.]
Matt/Emily 2: Awww, look at that preciously sweet Victorian-standards kiss! Shorter than I expected, but I will never argue brevity. She packed more meaning into that kiss than the end of a dozen average rom-coms combined. And when did Matt's face gain the ability to be amazing?
Becker/Emily: Because if I can't have the ship moments I want, I will more than happily accept an alternate dynamic. Comforting your mate's distraught girlfriend: nearly as good as saving the life of your own. I would have been perfectly happy to let Abby take care of this, but I nearly fainted with joy when the role fell to Becker. AW, LOOK AT YOUR EMOTIONS ALL OUT ON DISPLAY! You've changed and I like it.
It just kept going. I was surprised enough when he reached out to her, but then suddenly there was leaning, enough for me to claim "hair kiss," and by the end it was just blatant pandering to my whims with his arms completely around her and her neatly tucked under his chin. Top 5 series moments, right here. TUMBLRBOT, DEMONSTRATE:
EVERYONE/EVERYONE: Apparently all one has to do is threaten the end of the world, and Becker goes into full on Glomp mode. He is like a baby orangutan, or a severely attention-starved dog. "Must hug everyone! Five-second limit on breaking contact with team members! Is Matt hugging Emily without me again? This won't do; ooh, Abby's standing next to me, let me put my arm around her some more..."
(clearly, all of this touching and hugging is to make up for the fact that there was no time to spare for hugging Jess before, and he had to let it out somewhere until he could see her.)
I HAS A HAPPY.
Although, pretty much everybody is doing that. I love the giant group hug, including Abby with her arms around his neck and getting a cheek kiss in return, and the extra hug & cheek kiss for Emily that almost made me flail more than the real kiss, and how there is still room for Becker to rag on him about his precious truck, and of course the couples are all perfectly happy for a long walk back to the ARC together. And the couple-y nature does not stop Becker for an instant, this is just one more opportunity to sling an arm around Abby's shoulders. Don't forget to pat Connor in case he feels left out.
Jess/Becker 2: Why yes, we ARE determined to make the most of the fact that Becker heads straight off to Jess when they get back, both of them very smiley. Can I PLEASE read about the delightful adventures of Becker/Jess/Lester? Because the former is having far too much fun with this. ("How are you feeling, Lester?" / "What an idiotic question. How do you think I'm feeling?") And look, he STILL cannot keep his hands off people.
Lester/Abby: If there is one thing I like almost as much as his dynamic with Jess, it's this, since she is completely fearless when it comes to showing her affection and he can't even pretend he doesn't like it. One of the most overlooked of the many sweet moments in this finale, but one of my favorites.
Lester/pimp cane: I'm sure it's only a temporary thing, but still, this could be my new favorite pairing. It's only a very ordinary cane, really, but he makes you believe.
-After season 4: I loved all the critters in this season. No ape-things or giant bugs in sight!
Completely made up for that, didn't we?
-Post-car-fixing: Yeah, Becker absolutely earned his MacGyver badge this week.
-Shooting the predator point blank: "THAT'S for Sarah. THAT'S for threatening
-One thing I will miss: the particularly musical lilt in the way Matt says Emily's name. I haven't found his accent much use so far, but I do love that.
-Yay for more Cutter references; there is only the haziest of memories concerning his and Connor's relationship but in one of my brief respites from hating the latter, I enjoyed how broken up he was about trying and failing to fulfill Cutter's vision.
-It was nice to see Phillip nobly sacrifice himself to save others. Not only was there a brief moment in which I actually felt sorry for him, but it also hurt much less than when Stephen did this.
-"One thing on which all the fic writers can agree": TRUTH.
-Anyone who feels annoyed by the cliffhanger should feel free to stop on that last shot of Lester, which would be a very fitting concluding shot indeed, strutting off all pleased with himself and very proud of his team. His accidental second family, as it were. I know that's where I always stop.
In Conclusion: best finale ever, the end. Would rather it not serve as the literal end, due to own selfish reasons, but it absolutely could hold its own as a series finale. I'm proud of everything accomplished here.
UPDATE: Primeval future is predictably uncertain, but even if it happens, "it is unlikely to air until 2013." I remind you this series currently consists of 36 episodes and started in 2007. Longest, slowest life ever. If it were an animal it would be one of those frogs that goes into suspended animation in the winter. And winter is 10 months out of the year.
(Of course, just when I learn to love everybody except Connor, they strike fear into my heart at the thought that, like last time, even with a green light they might not be able to get everybody back. I'm telling you right now, the only other person I can bear to live without is Matt. And even him, I need for romantic purposes. Emily can hold her own, I've just grown accustomed to that extra shot of joy. As far as my very favorites, can Ruth Kearney and Ben Mansfield's serious dearth of IMDB entries give me hope that they're hard-pressed to find work and will have free schedules? Because I might prefer the show dying to limping on while missing any of my characters. I would consider a world without Abby, just because my love for her is alarmingly dependent on the length of her hair, but that is it.)
Huh. Normally I would feel ready to shut the door on a series once I've finalized the last review and move on, but I find that all I really want to do is tunnel into the internet and start digging up every finale-related fic I can find*, and then continue to stalk primeval_denial and the Primeval tag on Tumblr for the next week or two. After that it will probably fade fast, but right now...
*Crazy fic idea #2: I have never wanted to see a high school AU as badly as I want this one. Sometimes I also think I would really like it to be set in the 50s, for some reason. (probably has something to do with how extra tame all the romance is. I just feel like getting pinned is a theme I could work with both Jess and Emily) This mental AU is American -- sorry, I don't understand education in other countries, and since Emily's got an exotic out-of-time element, the nearest equivalent my brain came up with was "British exchange student." (did they have student exchanges in the 50s? We'll say she just moved here, then.)
I like Matt as the other new kid/star jock, threatening Becker's varsity captain spot (see what I did there?) only to wind up being embraced as a friend. This group would make a delightfully odd bunch of lunch mates, when you add in athletic Abby (cheerleading for the 50s version, take your pick of sports if we're going modern day), Connor as the established nerd, Emily the lovely and talented academic, and then I have no idea what to make of Jess, whose computer aptitude and blushing nervousness around Becker say "shy straight-A student," but whose bubbly personality and fashion flair say "popular, involved and well liked."
(and then I tried to fit Lester into all this, which made him either a very strict teacher or the principal, and I realized I was dangerously close to veering off into territory where I match them all up with their Saved by the Bell counterparts. Take a minute to think about it, and it will become eerie. The pairings don't align, but boy, the characters sure can).
THIS GOT AWAY FROM ME, SORRY. TIME TO STOP AND POST, SELF.
..."Flyboys" apparently contains Martin Henderson (Off the Map) AND Ruth Bradley (Primeval). It is like a perfect marriage of my main 2011 fandoms. No more excuses about my dislike of war movies that do not revolve around horses; I need to see this now.
Speaking of those fandoms, Off the Map DVD set being released in August. Which is normally irrelevant to me, but I have to get this one, both because I adore it and because I just can't rely on YouTube to bring me, what's that, DELETED SCENES. Tiny, perfect scraps of my show live on undiscovered! I sadly do not see any sign of commentaries, but whatever additional material they've got, I am watching every second of it.