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Being Human: Eve of the War

Woman: "I'm going to save the world. I'm going to kill that baby."

I’m not sure how I feel about tonight’s episode. On first watch, I hated it. Second time through, I actually quite liked it. Following last year's finale was always going to be a challenge. Season three was to Being Human what "Children of Earth" was to Torchwood. Mitchell's death was always going to leave a void, but to give Toby Whithouse his due, he threw virtually everything at this episode to fill it. He gave us a vampire apocalypse, supernaturals galore, glimpses of a dystopian future, and a mysterious war child prophecy written on nipply parchment. On the downside, he gave Arthur Weasley a job, killed off half the cast, and replaced them with suspiciously familiar surrogates.

In Whithouse’s defence, there's not a whole lot you can do when an actor wants to leave. But Nina’s off-screen departure -- from a fan’s perspective -- was particularly galling. She went out for a walk. She died. End of story. Not exactly the most epic of outs. Similarly, George’s departure felt rushed and oddly predictable. Russell Tovey intimated on Twitter that we wouldn't be seeing much of George this season, but I expected him to last longer than one episode. As soon as Tom suggested going after Griffin, I knew George wouldn’t be coming home. So much for promising not to die. He knew he was walking into a trap, yet he went anyway. It's almost if he wanted it to end. Kind of like Mitchell last season.

George’s half transformation was also a little lacklustre. His prosthetics looked like something out of Carry on Screaming. George fooling his body into changing (despite there being no full moon), felt like like an expedient way of saving Eve, ripping up a few vamps, and causing massive organ damage. His death, however, did feel like a fitting end to his story. Tom and Annie’s emotional farewell had me in tears, as did George naming his baby with his final breath. Crichlow, Tovey and Socha shone in those scenes. In truth, George -- like Mitchell -- was a spent force. After three seasons of trying to outdistance his past, Mitchell chose death, and tonight George followed suit. Which is a sobering message for the gang back at Honolulu Heights. Is there no way for them to be happy in this world?

Which leaves us with Annie – arguably the show’s weakest character. Now, I love Lenora Crichlow and I love Annie -- but the writer’s haven’t known what to do with her since season one. They seems to think she’s there purely for comic relief (despite her best performances coming from dramatic situations). Whether Annie can carry a season on her own remains to be seen. True, she’ll have Tom and Hal to help her -- but Hal’s currently an unknown quantity, and Tom -- despite being an enjoyable side character last season, has a long way to go before becoming a leading man. But he does have potential. I loved his not-so-subtle hints about moving into Honolulu Heights. And he does have chemistry with Annie. Their good cop/bad cop routine showcased their burgeoning friendship nicely.

Werewolf blood being deadly to vampires was new (I think), and casts a whole new light on last season’s werewolf cage fights. Maybe perspex walls would have been more prudent? How comfortably this development sits with existing show lore, I’m not sure. The same goes for the war child prophecies. I’ll be honest, a lot of the new stuff seemed thrown in there to broaden the show's mythology. Which, in fairness, may be exactly what the show needs. For it to prosper after such crippling character setbacks, it needs to change and to grow. So kudos to Whithouse for thinking big.

The concept of another trio of supernaturals living a parallel lifestyle to Annie, George and Mitchell, initially took some believing. Watching Leo, Pearl and Hal, felt like watching the American remake of the show -- but with English accents. Amazingly, the Southend-on-Sea posse also have a dark and brooding male vampire at their centre; a bossy motherly female ghost; and a less than robust looking werewolf. Coincidence? Probably not. I’m assuming Annie and Tom will eventually replace Leo and Pearl in Hal's supernatural trinity. Leo already looks close to checking out, and having two female ghosts in one house seems like one ghost too many. I predict Pearl will be stepping through her own door in the not too distant future.

All in all, this was something of a mixed bag. I'll admit, most of my dissatisfaction came from losing Nina and George -- which of course isn't the show's fault. If anything, I should be sending Tovey and Keenan pissed off tweets via Twitter. (Not that I will: they both seem lovely. But, still... bastards!) Having Hal move his gang to Honolulu Heights (as per next week's teaser) seems like a step in the right direction. The house desperately needs an infusion of new blood. It almost looks like a film set between takes. Cold. Uninspiring. Bereft of life. It seems like a lifetime ago when George, Mitchell, Annie and Nina danced in front of its painted palm trees. Leo sees his group as protectors of humanity. Hopefully, that's an ethos Annie and Tom can buy into. They need something to unite them. To give them purpose.

But it'll be hard seeing strangers stood in familiar places. Currently it feels like watching Buffy with Buffy, Willow and Xander no longer in the cast. (Well, maybe not Xander. Annie's probably Xander.) Hopefully, as we get to know the characters, the feeling of strangeness will dissipate. Whether I continue to watch is wholly dependent on how the new elements develop, how likeable the new characters are, and how interesting the season arc is. So far, I'm cautiously optimistic. There's some really strong stuff here. I suspect it's just a case of re-acclimatising to the new characters. I truly believe the show can be great again. Or maybe it still is great, and I just can't see it yet.

Bits and Pieces:

-- The rest of the Old Ones arrive in two months; just in time for the season finale.

-- What on earth was Mark Williams doing with that tea towel on his head? I half expected him to say "This season, I'll mostly be wearing special robes and a special hat".

-- The curse repairs what it damages -- unless you're old.

-- Cutler's already annoying me. I'm not sure Andrew Gower is the right actor for the part. His physical presence really doesn't match his mouth; although, he did beat a hasty retreat once George started taking off heads. Maybe he's just the cowardly type.

-- Griffin's not a patch on Herrick. Uncle Billy would eat him for breakfast.

-- If werewolves can trick their bodies into changing, is it possible they can trick their bodies into not changing?

-- When Michael Socha says "dick head", he sounds uncannily like his sister, Lauren Socha.

-- A special shout out to both Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan for giving us three years of greatness. Russell, we'll never forget George's part in The Real Hustle meltdown. Sinead, we'll never forget Nina's massive hair, her kind ways, and her foul mouth. She totally unleashed the shit storm.

-- At times it felt as though Annie was channelling Rik from The Young Ones.

-- Is anyone ever going to decorate Honolulu Heights? I know it's full of depressed supernaturals, but would it kill someone to pick up a paint brush? Let's hope Leo, Hal and Pearl are more house proud. Their place actually looked pretty decent.

-- How does Superman cut his hair? Reflected heat vision or gold kryptonite. How else? Or maybe his hair just doesn't grow.

-- Actors never look convincing when they're choking people. Give those necks a squeeze, for God's sake. It's not as if you're going to kill anyone. George's neck snapping routine was also pretty lame.

-- I'd like to think George met up with Mitchell and Nina some place nice. Certainly not that shit hole Annie ended up in a few seasons ago.

-- Why could the guy who killed "the woman" see her after she died? Was she commanding an army of werewolves or something?

-- It was implied that "the woman" was Eve, right? I didn't just imagine that?

-- The backdrop to London 2037 was dreadful. It was so obviously a painting. The smoke didn't move. Even I know the smoke's supposed to move.

Quotes:

Dewi: "Do I talk too much? 'Cos my mother can't stand it. She has to lie on the sofa with a door sausage over her head."

George: "Nina left. Nina died. So, like I said... she doesn't leave this room."

Tom: "Even McNair gave me a name, and he ate my parents."

Hal: "No looking at medical websites. Last time you convinced yourself you had heart disease."
Leo: "I had all the symptoms. Shortness of breath. Constriction of the airway."
Hal: "All the symptoms of someone who put their jumper on back to front."

Hal: "If a ghost loses their root, and their familiars, they fade. She will disperse, and drift away on the breeze like smoke."

George: "What's to talk about? I thought you wanted me to stop moping?"
Annie: "George, I meant have a shower. Not storm the Bat Cave. Besides, it's... erm... Splodge's first transformation."

Tom: "I thought we could do this together, like me and McNair, back in the day."
George: "Tom, I am not your fucking father!"
Tom: "You ain't nobody's father."

Regus: "We're all going to die. Game over. Because of this baby."

George: "I have to be with my Nina."

Hal: "We need a miracle."

Annie: "So, this is how it starts?"
---
Also posted at The Time Meddler.

3 comments:

  1. Great review, Paul.

    I was really underwhelmed by this episode. It wasn't terrible but with all my favourite characters now gone I am struggling to stay enthusiastic about the show. I'll give the new characters a chance but so far they can't help coming across like pale imitations of the ones we loved and lost. Then again, I felt the same about Rudy on Misfits and he became one of the best things about Series 3.

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  2. Everything hurts and no amount of Grant Gustin singing can make up for the fact that George and Nina are gone.

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  3. I managed to both hate this episode at times and remember why I'm so hopelessly in love with Being Human as a series at others.

    My main hate was Mark Williams (in fact, I've just realised this is the first time I've disliked a BH character, they're normally written and cast perfectly) - that sort of slapstick comedy just can't work whilst the show is so dark and the stakes are so high. The character humour, like Tom hinting about having a room in Honolulu Heights, can and will still work but prancing around in a tea-towel, spouting bad Latin while the murder of a child is imminent just doesn't work. Nina's departure really sucked, I'm gutted they couldn't have even gotten Sinead for a day or two of filming, but I think George got a send off that was powerful and made a lot of sense under the circumstances: without Nina and Mitchell George didn't have a story. I'm glad he got to kill Wyndham in the off-season.

    I'm also cautious about the future scenes, I'm generally wary about time-travel in programmes that aren't Doctor Who (or Misfits if I'm honest), but it dropped a lot of tantalising hints: I also thought the woman who died was Eve and she was leading an army of werewolves (the soldier she was talking to mentioned how they first met at a werewolf recruitment drive) resisting the vampires. That made sense to me, that humans and werewolves would ally because werewolves might harm humans, but they don't do it on purpose and they're still mostly human. The idea she has to die to save the world, after her father died to save her is pretty interesting. I'm just worried about Eve grandfather paradoxing herself.

    I've got my concerns about Annie to: she's going to be the undisputed lead for a few episodes at least and it looks like she's going to have to create an army. That takes more substance than she's shown so far and she needs to be much better written as a character. I've got no concerns about Michael Socha, he's a great actor and I'll give Hal time.

    At first I really hated the fact Hal seems to be set up as coming from an identical group - it seemed cheap - but thinking about it, it's actually pretty cool. Hal, Mitchell, Carl from S2: there seems to be a streak in vampires that causes them to reject their vampirism and try to regain their humanity and that urge could be important in a war. The trio of Hal, Pearl and Leo also show us Mitchell's fall wasn't inevitable and, had events gone differently our trio/quartet could have achieved the life/unlife they wanted. There still would have been tragedy when George and Nina died of old age, but it would have been human tragedy. There's some solace there, knowing what the gang were attempting wasn't doomed to fail. I wish you hadn't referenced the dancing in front of the picture scene Paul, because that really does become heart-breaking when seen from the perspective of S4.

    Overall, I think the episode was brutal and it killed off the old Being Human but there's more than enough to keep me interested and, dare I say it, hopeful.

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