In my review of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal: The Complete First Season, I called the series an “animation masterpiece.” As the 10-episode second season revealed not only does the world of Spear and Fang expand, but so does the series’s scope as seen in the one-off episode, “The Primal Theory,” set in 1890 England. However, my opinion of the series remains the same as I continue to be awed by the creative genius and talent on display.
“Sea of Despair” takes up right where Season One ended with Spear and Fang pursuing the kidnapped Mira across the sea, but the duo is soon separated after the loss of their makeshift raft. In “Shadow of Fate,” Fang encounters Red, a male Tyrannosaurus, with whom she bonds. Spear is welcomed into a tribe of Celtic warriors. When the pair reunite, mayhem and death ensues as neither of their new companions understand the dynamics of their interspecies relationship.
In “Dawn of Man,” Spear and Fang discover bear-riding Vikings, whose symbol matches the one tattooed upon Mira’s head, and find where she and her clan are imprisoned. Under “The Red Mist,” Spear and Fang kill the Viking tribe and free Mira and her people. Shortly after they leave, the Viking Chieftain and his eldest son Eldar discover the massacre. After giving their family a traditional funeral, they set out to exact revenge.
Taking a break from Spear’s story, the aforementioned “The Primal Theory” finds Charles Darwin discussing man’s evolution with fellow scientists and whether or not man’s current mental state at the end of the 19th Century will allow him to access his animalistic origins. His peers dismiss the notion, but when a homicidal manic from the asylum breaks into the house, the competing theories are put to a brutal test.
The two Vikings catch up to Spear, Fang, and Mira in “Vidarr” and the cost of hatred and revenge proves a costly one. But Fang has some good news as her time with Red leads to her laying three eggs. Freedom doesn’t last long as they are imprisoned by the fighting forces of the Egyptian Queen Ima aboard her massive ship Colossaeus, led by their colossal fighter Kamau. Forgoing Valhalla to continue his quest for revenge, the dying Viking Chieftain makes a deal with a demon, selling his soul to transform into a shape-shifting fire being.
Queen Ima forces Spear and Fang into her servitude in the same way she blackmails Kamau. They take part plundering numerous societies, including one reminiscent of Kamau’s, which causes him anguish. The trio never stop seeking their own freedom, which inspires Kamau to help them and his own people.
The Viking Chieftain catches up to Spear in the season-ending “Echoes of Eternity” where an epic battle impacts not just the characters but the series moving forward. It’s a bold move, but the creative team has engendered such confidence that the audience should gleefully follow wherever their imagination takes the series. I know I will.
The writing staff does a marvelous job plotting the episodes and the season. The characters are believably motivated and the twists always feel earned. The animators also do a fantastic job depicting the gory violence. It’s ugly and ruthless yet exquisite to view.
Like the First Season, the video for the Second Season has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
encoded transfer displayed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The colors pop in bold hues. Blacks are inky. The objects are well defined and stand apart from the backgrounds. Some banding occurs during scenes that find the characters passing through fog or red mist.
The audio option DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is the same as well. Aside from “The Primal Theory,” dialogue is again predominantly guttural yelling and screaming, although some of the more civilized societies have language. The evocative score by composers Tyler Bates and Joanne Higginbottom swells in the surrounds and gets great support on the bottom end from the subwoofer. The effects are bombastic during the action scenes and are featured in the front channels. Ambiance comes from the rears.
As with previous season release, there’s only one special feature. This time it’s Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal: Inside the Evolution (14 min) – Tartakovsky (creator, director), Scott Wills (art director), Darrick Bachman (head writer), and Aaron LaPlante (Voice of Spear) sit outside and talk about the process for the season and the episodes.
Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal deserves to be considered one of the best TV shows currently airing and should not be overlooked simply because it’s animated. It’s a marvelous blend of fantasy and horror that should satisfy genre fans. The violence and gore might be too much for some, but the art is so well executed, I would still recommend giving it a chance. The high-definition presentation showcases the animation, although banding blemishes some scenes, and the sound design.
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