Wizards vs Aliens doesn’t really stop to take a breath after Percelle Ascot’s departure last week – it’s straight back into the adventure, although with the emphasis firmly on the magical side of things rather than the sci-fi. Unless anyone’s deliberately tried to find out what Alex Childs, the actress portraying Lady Lyzera, looks like, odds are you won’t realise that the “journalist” who’s conveniently at the theatre is actually the manipulative Nekross in disguise (I’m not quite sure what that says about Phil Ford’s opinion of journalists…).
Manpreet Bambra gets a chance to step up as Katie in this episode, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was a bit disappointed by the character’s decision to have her memory wiped of the events she’s just experienced. She handled herself well, and in Benny’s absence, I would have thought that the chances of her seeing other wizardry stuff is quite high in future.
Ursula often has to come across as a slightly batty character, but periodically gets the chance to show her inner core of steel, and that comes to the fore here. The witches the group encounter are very much of the Wicked! / Halloween cliché type (to the extent that it’s a shame the series didn’t start a fortnight earlier so this coincided with Halloween week), but they scare Ursula, which lends them extra threat. Combine that with the return of Ursula’s long-lost husband Simeon (a nicely judged performance by Trevor Cooper), and another brush with death, and it’s a great story for Annette Badland, who rises to the occasion as you’d expect.
In keeping with the show’s emotional grounding of its leads, Simeon’s return isn’t an excuse for a party – Scott Haran shows exactly how Tom feels about the way his grandmother has been abandoned, and time is allowed for a quiet moment as Tom’s mother’s fate is revealed.
We were promised a serial feel to this season, and that’s certainly what’s coming across, with the line of Twilight fading and Lady Lyzera’s plans for Earth starting to take increasing importance.
Verdict: Another strong story that neatly combines scares, humour, and character development. 8/10