Thursday, 14 March 2013

Review: Survivors 2.3

Tom stands trial, and his crime is revealed.
Survivors - Series Two, Episode Three
Written between 14th and 15th February 2013

Samantha and the Government compound was one of my favourite things about the first series, as I often found myself supporting her against the Survivors. Our mains seemed determined that society must remain anarchic and detached, and I didn't get that. Another thing I liked about Series One was arc-villain Dexter, who was slimey and more than a match for Tom. 2.3 brought both of them back, and shone a light on how their uneasy alliance came into being.
     Samantha and Dexter go to a local community centre, where they meet more people they want to bring to the commune. On the way back from Manchester, the team are forced to stop, and they meet well-stocked Good Samaritan Billy (Roger Lloyd-Pack). Billy is friends with Dexter, and he uses Billy's stocks to gain favour in the commune. The commune has been on the hunt for Tom, and Samantha has him brought in. As Abby prepares to mount his defense, Billy is revealed to be selling people into slavery in return for fuel. In the trial, Tom is proved guilty, but thanks to a power play by Dexter, Samantha is forced to force the verdict as guilty. Abby, Greg and Anya admit to each other Tom's guilt, but still feel that he is one of them and thus worthy of protection. While Samantha has set Tom free on the condition that he kill Dexter, the others stage a rescue attempt. Tom kills Dexter in a brutal, bitter showdown, but Samantha recaptures him and both he and Greg are sold into slavery.
     I enjoyed seeing my two favourite guest stars getting a second chance to work it out, and both of them provided complex and interesting characterisations. Samantha's arc has seen her degenerate from being the morally upstanding figure of law and order into someone so desperate for power that she is willing to throw the verdict of a trial in her favour and use people to her own ends. While Dexter's hubris got him in the end, it was fun seeing him show Samantha up and completely muddle her plans. The two duelling villains made the episode for me, and it's a shame that we'll see neither of them again.
Samantha and Dexter battle for control of the Commune.
     As for the episode's central moral dilemma, finally exposing Tom's crimes before the virus (killing two security guards who had seen his face during a bank raid), I didn't really know if it was well done or not. There's always been an emotional coldness to Tom's character that underlines his sheer badassery, the problem with that being that without the underlying twitches it can feel rather wooden. And that was the episode's main problem - we came away getting the impression that Tom really didn't care about anyone, that he was indeed a cold, heartless monster. It may be very touching for our gang to dismiss this and say, "He's one of us now, so that's cool," and it's good to have the heartless killing machine on your side, but it still made their endless moral proselytising a bit off.
     Dexter and Samantha's last episode had an awesome sense of pace and was a powerful send-off for two characters that the series had taken a while to develop. I keep getting the feeling that Survivors would have been better as a single 12-episode series, as this second series is proving to be ridiculously better written than the first and still develops off of those initial ideas. The showdown between Dexter and Tom is one of my favourite scenes so far in the series, and there's still more awesome to come even though the series only has three hours left.


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