Two Packs, Two Conflicts & One Very Special Episode
6600 painted wolves remain in the wild. Among them are Tait and her pack engaged in a bitter rivalry with her estranged daughter Blacktip. Driven by mounting pressure from humans taking their territory, both painted wolf groups embark on an intense and emotional journey across the rolling African plains in a bid for dominance and superiority. Making use of five different camera crews and a combination of aerial and grounded shots, the fourth episode of Dynasties is a breathless, incredibly cinematic journey that’s unlike anything captured on film by these crews before.
The family drama begins with Tait being driven out of her territory by her daughter Blacktip. Forced to turn to the dangerous Lion Pridelands for refuge, the two rival groups live out their lives, ever weary of one another’s presence. When the dry season hits and Blacktip sets her attention East, she catches scent of Tait and immediately goes on the hunt. Along the way, both groups follow trials and tribulations, thanks in part due to the haphazard conditions in the Pridelands and the ever-growing danger their intense rivalry poses.
While saying this episode feels more like a film than a nature documentary might be a bit of a push, the general story and camera techniques used to paint a very real and absorbing story is something that sets this episode apart from the rest. It’s a stunning feat of camera work and ingenuity too and this is coming from someone who’s watched every single David Attenborough documentary and a fair few other nature docs too. The emotional rollercoaster this episode garners is something that’s truly special and an absolute must watch.
The “On Location” segment at the end helps gain some much needed insight into the inner workings of the camera crew too and this week doesn’t disappoint. With the help of a painted dogs expert and a professional conservationist tracker, the BBC camera crew capture never-before-seen shots and manage to outdo themselves with a variety of neat camera tricks. From the top of the range cameras that help see in the dark to their use of drones and helicopters, the general ingenuity of the crew pays off in a big way that’s plain to see with this very special episode.
Going into tonight’s episode I knew next to nothing about painted dogs. Coming out of this episode, Dynasties has certainly left its mark and made these incredible creatures one of my favourites. The emotionally charged, absorbing drama between mother and daughter is something that just cannot write itself. With a growing tension and somehow boasting a three-act structure, Dynasties’ fourth episode is not just the best of the series, it’s arguably one of the best produced by the BBC and a timeless reminder that sometimes the best stories write themselves.