Friday, 17 December 2010


Friday, 17 December 2010

The finale was unfortunately a dud comparable to last week's episode, which means Misfits had a mid-series run of extraordinarily fantastic episodes, capped by two hours that failed to intensify and conclude the year's story. Simply put: the riveting Superhoodie storyline ended in episode 4, and Howard Overman didn't know what to do next. In retrospect, given the brevity of this show, it feels like a mistake not to have ensured the Superhoodie plot stretched across the whole six episodes. Instead, it dissolved into a sideline issue by episode 5, although there are signs it'll regain its prominence next year...

This week, the gang watched with jealousy as a round-faced tea boy called Brian became world famous after demonstrating "lactokinesis" (the power to manipulate dairy products with the power of his mind) to the world, after showbiz agent Laura discovered his talent. After overhearing the gang talking about their own powers, probation worker Shaun (Craig Parkinson) exposed the gang's secret to the world, resulting in the community centre being besieged by reporters and photographers, all desperate to interview "The ASBO Five". And while Simon (Iwan Rheon) warned against them whoring their abilities in exchange for fame and fortune, he was outvoted by his friends and the five delinquents became overnight sensations.

There were a lot of problems with this finale; some of its excusable because of budgetary limitations, others just examples of poor writing and unconvincing creative choices. Obviously Misfits can't accurately portray the realities of superheroes being discovered, but the illusion of that event was awkwardly achieved. The gang, together with many other "supers" Laura is representing, were ushered away to The Grand Hotel, which was both a retreat from screaming fans outside and the setting for murder. Nothing about this idea was handled very plausibly, as the show can't afford the narrative scope and large ensemble to pull this kind of storyline off convincingly.

The hotel simply became another insular playground, similar to the community centre. But the oddness of the barren community centre environment works well, as it’s a kind of parent-less limbo for the troublemakers to toil in, whereas nothing about the hotel rang true. It just made no sense that they'd all be gathered there to fraternize and, in Nathan's (Robert Sheehan) case, participate in a TV demonstration of his ability to survive death ("Nathan Young; Oops, There Goes My Brains!") I was hoping this gathering of supers would be revealed as important, perhaps with Laura intending to steal all their powers but needing everyone in one location, but she was actually far less sinister than she appeared to be, and had no great bearing on the story, other than to kick-start it.

The plot truly began when Brian (briefly the most famous person on the planet when his power was revealed), became resentful of the fact he's a comparative joke in the field of superheroes. Far from a unique wonder, he realized his power is actually the least impressive compared to other people's, and his bitterness turned to murder when he decided to take his frustration out on people by making them choke on dairy products they've eaten.

Having a murderous super-powered individual wandering around is fast-becoming Misfits' biggest cliché, which is a shame. There are so many other problems the characters could be encountering, which better reflect real teenager's problems. And the more times the show involves a killer, the more predictable the outcome becomes, especially because Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) is the show's walking reset-button, able to reverse time and change any outcome. Which is exactly what happened here, as "Lactose Boy" killed Kelly (Lauren Socha) and Alisha (Antonia Thomas), then put Nathan into a vegetative state, leaving Simon and Curtis to save the day.

Great scene with Simon apparently taking a step towards his Superhoodie persona by symbolically whipping his hood up to avenge Alisha's death, quickly undermined by his swift death with a stab to the stomach. And who didn't see the supposed "twist" with Curtis coming a mile off, after he'd awkwardly sneaked in the fact he's lactose intolerant during a conversation with Nikki (Ruth Negga)? What was more frustrating is that you didn't need to have that foreknowledge, as Nathan simply telling Lactose Boy about his condition made its point without the laboured setup that only succeeded in spoiling things.

The finale just felt very ill-conceived and messy to me. You can blame the budget on a few things, but there was too many problems to lay at the door of Howard Overman himself -- such as the hasty solution to the problem being for Curtis to reverse time and talk his friends into visiting a pre-fame Lactose Boy and punching him in the face. How would that stop anything? It would make more sense to prevent him going outside during the freak storm that gave him his lactokinesis.

Overall, it's a shame Misfits staggered to its conclusion in this manner. Episodes 2, 3 and 4 were some of the best television I've seen this year, but they now feel like their own self-contained arc. Episode 5 and 6 had only a vague connection to that excellent three-episode run, and that was a bad move. In the finale's subplot, Simon discovered Alisha in his future self's lair, so we're definitely going to be continuing this storyline into the third series. But is that a wise move? I was rather hoping the finale would answer some questions about Future Simon, but we're clearly being asked to wait for series 3, and possibly beyond, before things are fully explained.

The thing is, I can't help thinking that the show has straitjacketed itself too much with this Superhoodie plot, as Simon's destiny doesn't seem to be avoidable, and it'll involve changing his character in a fundamental, irreversible way. Is it a good thing that we're headed towards Simon becoming a masked time-traveler, who'll go back in time and sacrifice himself to save Alisha? I hope there are still some twists to come, to avoid what currently feels like a traipse to a predetermined destination.

What did you make of this finale? Do you think I'm being too harsh? Do you agree that it failed, partly because it was so separate from the Superhoodie mytharc? Or was this another marvelous hour of anarchic silliness and ballsy attitude in your eyes?

It's also worth mentioning that the Misfits Christmas Special (essentially a seventh episode) airs this Sunday at 10pm on E4. Hopefully it'll help remove the bad taste of this episode with some festive pandemonium.

  • Simon offhandedly revealed to Alisha that Jessica, the girl he lost his virginity to last week, is no longer seeing him. This felt like a huge missed opportunity, as it would have been fun to see Simon grow more confident thanks to Jessica, while making Alisha jealous. To have introduced Jessica last week, giving her such an important role in Simon's development, only to dismissively write her out, felt like a big waste of time.
  • "The Invisible Cunt". Nathan's typically blunt suggestion for Simon's superhero name.
  • It's becoming more of a problem just how casually people treat the existence of super-powers. I've suspended my disbelief a few times, but having Shaun eavesdrop on the gang discussing their powers and not even questioning things was a step too far. And why would he tell the media, knowing it would turn them into wealthy superstars? Oh, the plot demanded it.
  • Does anyone else think Brian looks like a young Simon Pegg? Seriously, if Pegg ever needs someone to play himself as a teenager, give that actor a call.
  • "I shagged a monkey." Kelly comes clean to Laura about any embarrassing things in her past she should know about. "Technically, it was a gorilla" corrected Nathan.
  • Motormouth Nathan having been turned into a drooling vegetable was quite a haunting moment, reminding me of the similar fate suffered by Skins character Tony between series 1 and 2.
  • Was it just me, or did Nathan's shtick overstep the mark this week? He's usually my favourite character, but some of his hijinks just felt rather distasteful -- pretending to "milk" Lactose Boy's nipples and embarrassing him in public, or trying to get Daisy the healer to touch his penis. Nathan's always done shocking things like that, but it fell flat this week. Maybe it's because it's usually more in jest, or he ultimately makes himself look foolish, whereas here he was just totally tactless.
WRITER: Howard Overman
DIRECTOR: Owen Harris
TRANSMISSION: 16 December 2010, E4/HD, 10PM