Primal (2020): Season 1
- Season 1
- Finished watching:
- November 2020
Might contain spoilers.
Primal is truly a stunning feat of storytelling. It’s raw, primal (naturally), brutal, violent, gory… and yet compelling, thrilling, funny, and moving. It’s the sort of brave and imaginative labour of love that could only be created by a master craftsman working with other masters.
One of its greatest strengths is what a fully-realized character Fang is, instead of being simply a dog by another name. She behaves like no other onscreen animal. Her bond with Spear is heartwarming, and seeing her in pain immediately creates the same murderous impulses in the viewer as in Spear. Watching her being brutalized and possibly left for dead in the mid-season finale is a horrifying and painful ordeal. (But of course, we know there’s more to come.)
It’s interesting how the universe of the show and its possibilities expand over the course of the season in measured ways. ‘A Cold Death’ is striking in the way it treats the central conflict: the mammoths are portrayed with respect and empathy, as beings with self-awareness and agency who have as much of a right to survive as Spear and Fang do. I detested ‘Plague of Madness’, but ‘Coven of the Damned’ is superb, and the way the ‘memory viewing’ in that episode works is fascinating.
The revelation of Mira and the more developed humans with the power of language in the final episode certainly broadens the horizon of the show. At the same time—similarly to ‘Earth’s Children’ by Jean M. Auel—this discovery robs the show of some of its mystique. I suppose it’s an unavoidable trade.