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Being Human: Sticks and Ropes

Hal: “Very well, Thomas. I accept the challenge.”

Now Being Human has been cancelled, I'm finding it difficult to decide what might pass as an appropriate finale. Will they all live happily ever after? Have the new characters had sufficient time to develop so that, in the event of their possible deaths, we'll all feel suitably distraught? If Hal died, I'd definitely miss him. Tom, too probably. Alex, being the relative newcomer, needs some work, but tonight Toby Whithouse did his best to oblige, and thankfully, he did a better job of hanging flesh on Alex's bones than Alex did of playing the organ.

It's rare we get an episode where all the elements work but, with the exception of Crumb, everything about tonight's episode seemed to gel. Alex's story was engrossing, and her bonding with surrogate Victorian nightmare, Oliver, was the perfect way of introducing us to her past. Although Alex wasn't able to keep her promise to her brother, she was at least able to take racist ghost, Ollie, for an invisible ride on the dodgems. But in the end, the thought of watching her family survive and prosper without her, was simply too much. Instead, after a moving farewell to the tune of Russian Red's 'The Memory is Cruel,' she chose to let go and become a permanent resident at Honolulu Heights. Hal's reaction to her saying goodbye was lovely. He thought she was saying goodbye to him. Instead she was officially saying hello -- and now our trinity is complete.

I loved how brave Alex was when the men with ropes and sticks arrived. She even offered to trade her soul for Oliver's in an attempt to save him from pain. Those guys from hell were so creepy. (Also crusty, and a bit smelly looking.) Luckily, Alex was able to outsmart them -- at least for now. She also managed to put her own guilt to rest about wanting her brother gone. She hadn't meant it, nor had she deserved what happened to her; it was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Similarly, Oliver's own guilt over his brother's death had caused him to misinterpret Albert's love as revenge. Initially, I thought Oliver had been thrown in purely for comic relief, but his story turned out to be quite moving. At least Oliver got his happy ending. Will Alex, when the end finally arrives? Will any of them?

All told, I think this was probably the scariest episode of Being Human I've seen. The show's often creepy, but rarely does it delve into the realms of the genuinely unnerving. Despite being a relatively low budget show, it used every trick at its disposal to make us feel uneasy. Brother Albert's crazy walk, the screaming taps, Patsy's bloodied face, Alex's Les Dawson rendition of The Blue Danube, and our first glimpse of the men with sticks and ropes, were all used to unsettling effect. I was forced to turn on a second light in the room at one point. They even had Captain Hatch shit himself, and made Tom clean it up. If that's not enough to rattle you, I'm not sure what is.

Thankfully, Hal and Tom's bizarre relationship was the perfect antidote to the darkness elsewhere. Their rivalry, culminating in a food fight, was exactly what the doctor ordered... or rather, what the devil ordered. Will Hatch succeed in driving a wedge between Hal and Tom? Hal clearly has a problem. Alex teaching him how to be slovenly was inspired. I howled with laughter at him messing up his perfectly aligned pens, and his continued attempts at screwing up his chances of winning Employee of the Month were hilarious. Patsy just couldn't see past her infatuation with Hal to acknowledge that Tom's the best employee the Barry Grand Hotel has ever had. Unfortunately, it looks as though Mr Hatch may have sent her to her doom; unless the swim in the sea was just to wash off the blood.

The only real weakness of the episode, for me, was the over-the-top Crumb. I did get a bit of a shock when he slaughtered his own family, but Crumb's non-stop comedy stylings were something of a distraction. Rook's plan to save his organisation at least gave Crumb's story a reason to exist. The lengths Rook seems prepared to go to contrive propaganda to further his cause is alarming. No wonder Alan defected, although I sincerely doubt becoming a vampire will live up to the excitement of playing 'Flaming Orc'. Next week's trailer promises further desperate measures from Rook. I can't wait. Mr Rook's growing on me week by week.

It looks as though Hal has quickly come to terms with his guilt over siring Crumb. He didn't give him the lickings of a dog, tonight. Admittedly, Crumb does seem to have slipped off the rails somewhat. If Crumb were more likeable, I dare say I'd have felt saddened by Hal's rejection. In fact, there was a moment, when he looked at Hal through the door pane and tapped the glass with his finger, where my sympathies were almost engaged. Then he stormed off to the beach and reverted back to being a buffoon. My main problem with him is that his character doesn't seem rooted in reality. A full-on comedy character can work in an isolated context -- say over one episode -- but over a full season, it just serves to pull you out of the drama.

Phil Davis, although a little underused, managed to make some tasty allusions to his character's rivalry with Christ, from his superiority over his brother, to his betrayal, to his eventual casting out. Yes, his last minute speech felt a little overblown and was positively pregnant with exposition, but it did a great job of getting across the Devil's dastardly agenda. Seeing Davis in full flow is always worth the price of admission, and as this is the show's final season, having the devil as their last foe seems entirely fitting. Now the barriers between worlds are collapsing, absolutely anything could happen. Here's hoping it will.

Bits and Pieces:

-- I love Hal and Tom's bromance. They're like chalk and cheese. (Hal being an expensive cheese, possibly that Serbian Donkey cheese Novak Djokovic is so fond of eating.)

-- Great impression of Hal by Tom.

-- Tom, a master manipulator? I can buy a shaved monkey, but I really liked how Hal stood up for him at the end. Of course, assuming Patsy survives, she'll probably find a way of seeing Hal's actions as noble and just love him all the more.

-- Is Tom going to change into a werewolf this season, I wonder? It's been a while.

-- Two pairs of Marigolds in two episodes. They really are spoiling us.


Alex: “You're not yaying, Hal.”
Hal: “Yay!”

Alex: “I think the house is haunted.”
Hal: “Alex, there's no easy way to say this..."
Alex: “No! Not me, idiot. There's another one. You have to come home.”

Tom: “There's nothing you wouldn't do to beat me, is there? Well it doesn't matter how far you are up Patsy's bum, I'm going to win this competition.”
Hal: “If only you could. I've been trying to throw the bloody thing all day, but no matter how shit I try to be, you find a way of being shitter.”
Also posted at The Time Meddler.

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