Friday, 10 December 2010


Friday, 10 December 2010

After a run of sterling episodes, Misfits slipped back into neutral for this entertaining but slightly dubious hour. A murder-mystery at heart, the episode was still enjoyable, but it was more detached from the mytharc than recent episodes have been, and a few promising new directions didn't live up to expectations.

"Some bastard killed me last night." -- Nathan
This week, Nathan (Robert Sheehan) was brutally murdered in the toilets of the community centre, minutes after gawping at half-naked charity worker Jessica (Zawe Ashton) as he passed the women's changing room. Fortunately, Nathan's immortality prevented his demise being permanent, meaning he was able to investigate his own murder the next day, with Jessica his prime suspect. Elsewhere, Alisha (Antonia Thomas), privately mourning the death of Future Simon, made an attempt to get closer to the present-day Simon (Iwan Rheon) and help him fulfill his destiny. Unfortunately, Simon's attention was more focused on Jessica, who appears to have feelings for him. Or does she actually intend to make Simon her next victim, as Nathan suspects? Meanwhile, Kelly (Lauren Socha) helped a squatter called Bruno (Richard Riddell) evade the police, and was stunned and secretly delighted when he asked her out on a date. But is Bruno everything he appears to be?

This was a freewheeling and strange episode, mixing good character moments with ridiculous pay-offs, with a murderer once again the core dilemma. It's definitely straining credibility that there have been so many deaths in and around the community centre, but the police seem more interested in catching squatters. Hopefully Misfits will find different ways to fuel stories, as the show's chutzpah is managing to mask some of its problems, but it's a temporary fix. There will come a time when the sheer number of dead bodies and missing people with a connection to the centre will become too much for the show to ignore.

Still, this episode's murder-mystery worked quite well, even given the limited amount of suspects. It helped that you generally expect a freak-of-the-week in every episode, and your finger of suspicion was wavering between Jessica and Bruno throughout. The fact the killer was revealed to be Jessica's domineering dad, who didn't appear to have any super-powers, worked quite well. If you swallow the fact Jessica apparently knows her dad butchers boys who takes an interest in her, but is content to keep trying to date people. Jessica may not have been the killer, but she was surely an accessory. I suppose you just have to suspend your disbelief, as the story's intention (like many Misfits episodes) it to exaggerated problems faced by modern youth, like an overprotective parent.

"You meet a guy you really like and he's a fucking monkey." -- Kelly
Kelly's storyline was less prominent, but in some ways more touching and unpredictable. I especially liked the moments when she'd eavesdrop on Bruno's nervous thoughts about asking her out, or deciding when to kiss her, and carefully guide him into making the right choices. Kelly doesn't often get the best storylines, so it was good to see her getting something heartfelt to play. The uncertainties surrounding Bruno also worked well, as his affection for Kelly moved into mutual passion, before he appeared to soil their budding relationship by getting too rough and hurting her.

It was sweet, intriguing, puzzling... and then, frankly, bizarre. Undoubtedly this episode's most discordant moment was Bruno's big reveal, shortly after he carried Kelly up the side of a building while wearing a gorilla suit (an amusing tweak to King Kong's famous climax). Arriving on the rooftop and later shot by police (they REALLY don't like squatters, do they?), Kelly removed the dying Bruno's gorilla mask to reveal... um, a real gorilla. Yes, Bruno was apparently an ape who has been transformed into a human by the freak storm. The clues were there (kind of): he ate fruit and he was primal during sex. Maybe if he'd lasted longer, we'd have seen him swinging on a tyre suspended from a rope.

I'm guessing most people burst out laughing at Bruno's reveal; partly because the ape makeup wasn't much better than the cheap gorilla mask hiding it, but also because they unwisely added an incongruous voice-over of human-Bruno "speaking" to Kelly in his thoughts as he died. It struck me as the kind of wacky moment that may have worked on the page, but on-screen it didn't click. It was too goofy. Even if they'd had movie quality makeup for Bruno's ape-face, the idea that a gorilla being transformed into a human counts as a "super-power" felt like too much of a stretch. And there could have been better clues about Bruno's true nature along the way; like seeing a news report about a zoo's missing gorilla, or something. The way it played out, it felt like too much of a unsupported leap for the audience to take.

On the positive side: this episode featured neat callbacks to previous episodes. First, having seen Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) jump forward in time to see himself dressed as a superhero, it turned out Nathan was actually attending a fancy dress party organized by Jessica's charity, where the whole gang deciding to pull on spandex and eye-masks. I'm sure there will be some disappointment that Curtis didn't see a future where he's a superhero in the Kick-Ass mould, but it was an amusing and plausible explanation nonetheless.

And as Curtis got physical with Nikki (Ruth Negga) on the rooftop, Simon later popped his cherry with the virginal Jessica, proving that Future Simon's statement to Alisha that she won't be the one to take his virginity. Consequently, that appears to prove that Future Simon really was from the future, and not a shape-shifter (as some have theorized).

Overall, episode 5 was a disappointment considering the brilliance of the previous three hours, but it was still easy to engage with and contained some great moments. Like most episodes, things got steadily better as it buzzed along, although Bruno's literal unmasking put too much of a dampener on Kelly's storyline. Still, even when it's trying to make an all-out bad idea work, Misfits is self-aware enough to have the characters comment on the craziness themselves.

  • Does anyone else think the Kelly/Bruno sex scene owed a debt to the Jeff Goldblum/Emma Thompson sex scene in The Tally Guy? They just needed a piano.
  • Maybe it's been mentioned before, but I don't remember the community centre being identified as "Welford Community Centre" before. It's handy to know the name of the area they're living in!
  • I loved the special-effect added to the face of Jessica's dad, where his outrage appeared to make his jowls tremble like he's being blown by a fierce wind.
  • If Simon and Alisha are destined to be together, what happens to sweet Jessica? Are her days numbered? How far into the future did Future Simon come from? Months? Years? Do Simon and Jessica split up soon, or is Alisha going to realize she'll have to wait a long time before her and Simon get together?
WRITER: Howard Overman
DIRECTOR: Owen Harris
TRANSMISSION: 9 December 2010, E4/HD, 10PM