Wizards vs Aliens The Key of Bones

17&18/11/14; Written by Sasha Hails / Directed by Lee Haven-Jones / Starring Scott Haran, Annette Badland, Michael Higgs, Trevor Cooper, Alex Childs, Kristian Phillips
It is impressive how well the series has thrived despite the departure of Benny.  Following Katie’s voluntary memory wipe last week, Tom’s chief confidante this time is grandfather Simeon. There are still occasional hints the latter may not be all he claims but in the meantime we can enjoy the different dynamic at the centre of the show. Trevor Cooper certainly attacks the role with enthusiasm giving Simeon’s grand tales of glory a real heart whether or not they turn out to be true. There is a chance Tom could become subjugated too much by adult characters and easily pushed into a supporting role but Sasha Hails gets the balance about right here. 

"Dad- I want a hat like that." "You ain't gettin' my hat matey."

There is a strong rapport between the two characters and the lively script pulls Tom between the safety his gran always advocates against Simeon’s more reckless approach. It’s a scenario that the younger viewers will be drawn into because they would probably make the same choices as Tom and there comes a time in a lot of people’s teenage years when they are drawn towards options far more daring than their parents would approve of. The other pleasing aspect of the series’ evolution is how inventive the writers have become in spinning new scenarios. While still essentially presenting the Nekross plan of the week, these have become less predictable and more subtly woven into a wider arc story.
The biggest winner of the story is Michael Higgs as Tom’s father. Previously used in more of a supporting role he has grown in stature and importance this season and is now far more involved in proceedings,. He brings an everyman quality to matters particularly during the second episode when his contribution becomes significant.
Someone mentions the Wraith Lords every episode now so presumably they are due to put in an appearance next time and here we discover there is a key to closing the breaches in the Line of Twilight. This `key of bones` happens to be the decapitated hand of the Wraith Lords leader and the story’s lengthy introduction eventually leads to a quest to find it, instigated by Lady Lyzera infiltrating Simeon’s dreams, a trail that leads to Shanghai. That the production attempts to recreate this in a Cardiff alley less than convincingly should not detract from the directorial shine Lee Haven -Jones brings to the story earlier on when we are taken out into the countryside to underscore the worldwide scope of the tale.
Part 2 does suffer a little from the series’ restricted budget with the much vaunted `quest` involving some underwhelming wandering around a draughty castle and selecting from a series of boxes. Having consigned the Nekross contingent to the same passage when it comes to the climax they inexplicably find their way to the right place. Then when Tom does get the key Lyzera promptly snatches it off him, smashes it, then uses a finger to re-create it with the wizard’s blood she took last story. It’s all a bit rushed and the next week trailer seems to confirm this has been more of a feeder story for the finale. It would have been more satisfying had the themes of part one been followed through more strongly and perhaps to have given more background on who the Quest Master was. The second episode doesn’t really live up to the promise of the first but does manage to set up a strong premise for the season’s final two episodes next week.
"I'm sorry, I'm leaving you." "It's the scarf isn't it?"

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