Survivors – BBC TV

The BBC's revival of the classic 1970s post-apocalyptic drama by Terry Nation

Episode reviews – episode five (series two)

Episode five – BBC One – 21:00-22:00 – 16 February 2010

Synopsis

The family rescue a pair of travellers from the clutches of raiders who have driven their car off the road. Returning to the travellers’ settlement, Abby, Greg and the others discover a thriving, isolated rural community. While Al and Sarah go public about their relationship, Tom becomes suspicious of Anya’s attraction to settlement leader Sally. When Sarah visits a farm on the edge of the valley, she unwittingly enters a house in the thoes of a new, mutant strain of plague virus. Abby accompanies Greg on a return visit to his old home, where he finds a clue which leads the pair of them to a small airport. There they discover the disturbed Mr Stevens, who was summoned to the airport as the plague struck and who stills clings to the hope of rescue and a flight to safety. Sarah quarantines herself in the house, to Al’s acute distress. When Mr Stevens kills himself, Abby and Greg return and learn the terrible news about Sarah’s plight. A folorn Al keeps a vigil outside the house, as Sarah falls ill and then dies. Abby torches the house to prevent the spread of the virus. Anya and Tom are reconciled. Realising the seriousness of the threat that mutant viruses pose, Abby announces she is returning to the laboratory in the search of the vaccines that can keep them all safe. When the family arrive at the facility, they find it empty and silent; until Abby spots Peter in Whitaker’s clutches on a CCTV monitor and rushes outside in pursuit…

Commentary

For a thoroughly detailed review and commentary on this and all other episodes in both series, see: Rich Cross. 2010. World’s Apart: the unofficial and unauthorised guide to the BBC’s remake of Survivors. Cambridge: Classic TV Press. [ available to order direct from the publisher ]

Verdict

An emotionally hard-hiting episode which scales back on the action and adventure elements to provide a poignant and affecting exit for Sarah, before setting in motion the events that will culminate in a powerful series’ finale.
 
 

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One Response to “Episode reviews – episode five (series two)”

  1. I’ve been enjoying this show without ever really falling in love with it. To be honest I was never going to turn my nose up at something post-apocalyptic. As long as it’s the end of the world I’m happy. I don’t really mind whether the challenges which follow are shaped like zombies, triffids, the grown-up children of the government or, as in Survivors, the dark side of human nature. My attention has tended to waver when the focus of the action is our family of heroes falling out with each other. As with so much British drama it sometimes feels like the writer believes the essence of all drama isn’t conflict but bickering. The scenes in the lab dragged for me too, however great Julie Graham’s legs looked in a surgical gown (really quite great).

    Then suddenly in episode 2.5 the show turned into one of the best things I’ve seen in months. It opened strongly with the crowd-pleasing joy of seeing the gang work together to foil the kidnap attempt. Life in the valley was also an effective counterpoint to the cruel new societies created by Samantha Willis and Henry Smithson. So the episode was already off to a flyer before the unexpected left turn into tragedy. It was a smart twist that having survived gunshot wounds, laboratory experimentation, a building collapse, a kangaroo court and enslavement the family would suffer its first casualty as a result of someone stopping off on a bike ride to say hello and pick up some eggs.

    The carefully plotted, gradual redemption of Sarah through this season has been one of the more interesting arcs. When Sarah told the Dad in the house she was going to get some water, I can’t have been the only one to suspect she might scarper. The Sarah we first met would have done so, but that was before being around (and accepted by) Abby, Al and the others. No begging, shouting or wailing at her misfortune. Here the essence of drama wasn’t conflict but acceptance.

    However, the best scenes in the best episode so far were those between Al and Sarah. It’s a fine line between mawkish and moving but here the actors were given some fantastically bittersweet dialogue to work with and unquestionably rose to the occasion. Now that I’ve seen what the show is capable of I’ll be watching with much more interest to see whether Survivors survives the budget cuts.

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