Misfits: Episode One (Teenage Kicks)

Rudy: “Women are very much like tractors.”

Misfits is back for its fifth and final season, and after just one episode, I already feel dirty, confused, and slightly ashamed. So mission accomplished, Howard Overman.

I think we can safely say that this was the most traumatising wrap-up of any episode of Misfits, ever. I was hoping that Alex's newly acquired skill of being able to fuck other people's abilities out of them would be at most a once an episode deal. No such luck. Poor Finn. Poor Jess. Poor me for having to watch. The explanation as to why screwing Finn didn't eradicate his telekinesis ('last in, first out') was awful, as was Alex inheriting his ability via transplant. That can't happen. Wait... you say it already did? What about Nikki? Okay, you got me. I wonder, could Agent of Satan Finn still move things with his mind? Is it possible to have two powers operating at the same time? Does any of this make sense?

Probably not, but Misfits has always required that we suspend our disbelief. And our standards. And often our gag reflex. But that final scene was shocking for all manner of reasons. A rape scene for the sake of comedy, even if for the good of the individual (contradictory though that may sound) -- did it somehow cross the line? So much of what Misfits does pushes the boundaries of good taste, it's hard not to be desensitised to what goes on, but I don't see how you can complain about that one incident and yet remain silent over the raging sexism, profanity, and general all-round bad taste which permeates the show. Was the horror of the situation offset by the sheer ridiculous of the power, Jess' horrified expression, Alex's dry heaving, and Finn's humorous reaction when he came to? I think it probably was.

What are the implications of Alex's new ability and how will they impact on this final season? Presumably he can't have sex with everyone (although after what happened to Finn tonight, who the hell knows?), but it's conceivable that he could at some point strip Jess of her power. But who were the orange jumpsuitees on Rudy's prophetic jumper? None of our current crop of misfits can fly, or turn invisible, or shoot fire/lightning from their fingers -- at least not yet. And with Seth out of the picture, it doesn't seem likely that they're due a power swap any time soon. Will the series end with them all becoming real superheroes? With the epic closing minutes of episode five (season two) in mind, there would be a delicious symmetry to that.

With an unchanged cast this year, at least the episode wasn't bogged down with the tedious character introductions of previous seasons, yet they didn't really put the extra time to good use developing the show's existing characters. Abby's past is still unknown; Finn's still a little shit with soap launching telekinesis; Jess is still pining after Alex the cock-swap barman; and Rudy's still... well, Rudy: loud, disgusting, and one of the worst ex-scouts you could possibly imagine. Even Rudy Two couldn't bear to look at himself in those brown shorts. But this was a much stronger season opener than season four. More coherent. Funnier. It feels like a show with its shit together.

Greg busting in on Alex and Finn on-the-job, and his unexpected – read 'uncharacteristically subdued' – reaction to it, seemed to hint that this is the season for his story to come out. Good. Although Greg's a difficult character to like (what with being such an aggressive git most of the time), these occasional moments of tenderness, do make you wonder exactly what his deal is. With the show's focus currently on offing Scout leaders rather than probation workers, maybe he'll even survive the season.

I was also glad to see that Alex has been upgraded to full misfit. Despite Jess' continuing attraction to him, it seems virtually impossible that they'll ever make it as a couple. Not with Alex's past habits, his admittance that there will always be more girls, and his determination to use his cock for good. This doesn't bode well for Jess who's still clearly besotted with him -- which presumably leaves the door open for Finn. When Jess was possessed by the the Agents of Satan, she did seem vaguely touched by the efforts of the demonised Finn to bed her. How much of that came from Jess I wonder? Finn's confession of love seemed genuine enough. Was Jess' reaction also authentic? I feel a little sorry for Jess -- the current bunch of male misfits are all abysmal prospective partners. They make Nathan look positively angelic. I can't say that the prospect of Jess ending up with Finn fills me full of happiness.

Does Alex honestly believe that he can use his todger to help people? After a season of not having one, who can blame him for wanting to put his newly reinstalled tallywacker to good use? To be fair, he didn't screw the accident prone Emma immediately -- he initially resisted -- but her showing him her scarred, broken body was enough to break his resolve. I can't decide whether Alex's motivations are purely humanitarian, or whether he's simply using his new power as an excuse to legitimately over-indulge in his love of knobbing. Both maybe, although his initial foray into selfless coitus didn't seem overly enjoyable -- at least, not to start with. Maybe shagging his way to salvation is going to be harder than he thinks.

There's not much needs to be said about Rudy. Like Nathan before him, he's rightfully the centrepiece of virtually every episode. His character's the strongest, the best developed, has the best lines, and the most unfathomable personality. Next week's episode looks set to be a Rudy-centric affair, which I'm pleased about, although I do hope Abby gets her own story at some point during the seven remaining episodes. Can we expect any cameos this season? Probably not from Kelly, but a visit from Simon, perhaps? Will the series finale be a launch point for the much talked about Misfits movie? I guess we'll have to wait and see. If we've got the stomach for it.

Bits and Pieces:

– I love the way that dead bodies at the Community Centre are such a common occurrence these days that nobody even seems to care.

– Rudy is hopeless. Despite being dragged half-naked and blindfolded to the Community Centre, and sat in a candlelit pentagram, he still thought it was some marvellous birthday surprise.

– I liked the People With Powers support group. I wonder if we'll ever see the tortoise in human form? And nice to see the return of Tim from season two. Still thinks he's living in a computer game, I see.

-- The fight between Rudy Two and Alex was just like a real fight: plenty of poorly landed punches, inappropriate squeezing, and grunting for no reason.


Finn: “He may have a new lung, but you can't replace his cheating heart.”
Jess: “Twat!”

Rudy: “The first time I masturbated... scouts. The first time I ever saw another boy's penis... scouts. The first time I touched another boy's penis... scouts. The first time another boy touched my penis...”
Jess: “Scouts?”
Rudy: “It was in scouts! It was in scouts. Happy sunlit days is what they were.”

Finn: “You've got the wrong guy. I'd make a terrible agent of Satan. I'm lazy, I'm disorganised. Ask anyone who knows me... I'm shit.”

Finn: “You're not going to believe what just happened to me!”
Rudy: “Were you bent over double again, sucking yourself off? Bit of pollen's got up your nose, you've sneezed, you've bit the tip off your penis?”
Finn: “No.”
Rudy: “Oh, come on!”
Four moor peaces eye rote, sea hear.


Iago said...

I watched this and my initial reaction was it was classic Misfits: disgusting, disturbing and bloody funny. Then it hit me, we'd basically just seen a rape played for laughs and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I like to compare Misfits with Being Human as they share a number of remarkable similarities (we can now add the appearance of Satan to that list), but I think Misfits has handled the complete cast change so much better. It's felt seamless, the new gang being built, and I think it was a good decision to add Alex and Abbey later on.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's been established that people can have more than one power at a time. SuperJesus had a bunch, including telekinesis, teleporting and Alisha's rape "power" and Simon/Superhoodie seems to have had at least two when he went back - his pre-cognition and the power negation.

Paul Kelly said...

Thanks, Iago, you're right. Elliot (SuperJesus) had a whole bucket load of powers.

And I sympathise about the rape thing. The only way I can justify it to myself is by seeing it as a saving act rather than an assault. Alex wasn't trying to hurt Finn, he was trying to save him. Unfortunately, the only method he had at his disposal was utterly bonkers.

I think Finn being embarrassed rather than angry was a tacit admission that he understood. I dare say he was even grateful. If Alex hadn't humiliated himself in front Jess, and done something totally contrary to his own desires, then Finn would still be an agent of Satan. Alex had no choice, really. But it's a scene I won't be forgetting any time soon.