Survivors Season 2 Episode 4

At last Survivors engages with the economics of the post-virus society. And while not perfect it’s a compelling treatment. Outbreaks of spoilers may follow.

The ‘Smithson Experiment’ a coal mine worked by slavery proved a good idea for a setting. Giving the villain of the piece a background in classical history (although I’m not sure I by him as an Oxford Professor some post virus reinvention perhaps?) allowed him to make some decent, if not convincing arguments on the legacy, history and presumed economic necessity of slavery, The performance of Christopher Fulwood as Smithson was excellent in a broadly well acted piece. In previous things I’ve seen him in (Hornblower comes to mind) he has frequently been called upon to portray quite a petulant narrow range – in this I felt the script gave him plenty to do and he was up to the mark.

On the economics I have a sneaking suspicion that come winter Smithson would find not everyone would be in market for his coal given the competing resources of wood, dried dung, peat etc; that would be out there even if you ignore stocks of dried and seasoned logs etc; But his ignorance of mining, his chosen line of business suggests that he is after all an arrogant fellow.

I also felt this episode gave more insight into the post virus world in such touches as the position of Sally in her relationship with Billy, and Sarah recognising the difficult nature of that & the haphazard weaponry of Smithson’s men (sporting javelins a nice touch.

Smithson’s key foreman also gave a good performance as a man doing fairly horrible things but mainly because he’s a bit easily led and lacks confidence rather than inherently evil.

The mechanics of the plot where a little two steps forward and one step back – it felt a little like a 70s Doctor Who story with different people getting captured, escaping and captured again. But the premise carried me along.

Smithson also had a lovely jibe at original Survivors with a line about a Commune full of fluffy kicks and earnest discussions of democracy. It is perhaps a shame he has come to a sticky end in what was for constraints of Survivors sets itself a fairly convincing portrayal of slave revolt. Though personally I suspect rescuing Sally would have a lot harder and suspect he would have been in a much worse state when they found her. She was after all part of the enslaving process and even as a ‘house slave’ was unlikely to get off lightly.

It was also nice to know that Naj has developed mutant powers that enable him to spot a neck collar at 500 yards. If Survivors ever do get tooled up Naj will be one hell of a sniper.

Al & Sarah also continue to grow up and surprise. Tom showed some decency which indicates the rest of the Scooby gang are rubbing odd on him. Not a lot of development for Greg or Abbey mind but that all change with the pre-end credits plot development – a nice touch.

A good solid episode and one were you get the feeling Survivors is finding it’s feet. It’s just a shame this is a short British series as opposed to a longer American Season were such foundations could be built on. The teaser for next week suggests in part we are back to the lab but we can’t have everything.

GS Reviewer: Andrew Clark

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