Monday, 14 February 2011

'BEING HUMAN' 3.4 - "The Pack"

Monday, 14 February 2011

After a few weeks focusing on largely self-contained stories, Being Human returned to elements introduced in the premiere "Lia", with an episode that brought certain elements of series 3 to an unanticipated close. In many ways "The Pack" was the conclusion of a volume, while allowing the show to continue some plot-strands into the second half.

This week, George (Russell Tovey) and Nina (Sinead Keenan) were in turmoil over the prospect of having a baby together, unsure if their child will be born a werewolf and, if so, survive transformations in its infancy. Luckily, they cross paths with Tom (Michael Socha), the athletic young werewolf George saw preparing for a transformation in the woods recently, whom it transpires is cosseted by his tetchy father McNair (Robson Green), and has been since he was a young boy "wolfing out" while locked in their blue campervan. The "McNairwolves" are an itinerant twosome, who initially offer little sympathy or assistance to George and Nina's concerns about werewolf pregnancy, and the reasoning was quite intriguing...

McNair has filled Tom's head with lies all his life; particularly concerning the existence of "the pack", which has become a fable McNair uses to keep his son's libido under control, which itself becomes a problem when Tom's attracted to she-wolf Nina and believes his promise of a family "pack" is about to be satisfied. And, of course, there was the later shock reveal that Tom wasn't born a werewolf (as he's been led to believe his entire life) but was actually the sole survivor of a werewolf attack on his parents by McNair. McNair chose to atone by raising Tom as his own; a shocking truth for his "son" to deal with, while also leaving Nina and George without proof that giving birth to a were-baby is possible.

Socha and Green were both great throughout this episode. The former quite heartbreaking because of his isolation from society, which has turned him into a man-child who's only recently started pushing the boundaries imposed by his father; while Green's clearly having a ball getting to access the scowling physicality of McNair, but balancing that rawness with his character's politeness around women and embarrassment when trying to explain the birds and the bees to his boy. It was particularly good fun seeing McNair interact with Mitchell (Aidan Turner), given his hatred of vampires, who he only sees as malicious creatures who enjoy the blood sport of "dog fighting" (a pastime Mitchell's aware of but believed faded into obscurity years ago.)

My first boyfriend took naked pictures of me while I was asleep and put them on the internet. My second boyfriend got drunk and asked my mum for a threesome. My third boyfriend pushed me down a flight of stairs and killed me. I think a vampire's pretty much marriage material. -- Annie
The significant subplot of "The Pack" concerned Annie (Lenora Crichlow) and Mitchell coming to realize the problems inherent with a vampire/ghost relationship, particularly in the bedroom department. I'm not really sure why Annie (who clearly has a physical presence) isn't able to, uh, stimulate Mitchell in the bedroom, but maybe I've forgotten something the show explained in passing? Can Annie touch people, it's just that they don't feel it? Whatever the reason, Annie became desperate to satisfy her man sexually (even trying awkward dirty talk), and that led to the solution of having Mitchell bring a random girl back home to sleep with, because Annie can apparently experience sensual pleasure via someone else's body. This all led to a discomforting threesome, with Mitchell ruining the moment when he became too excited, exposed his fangs ready to bite his bedfellow, and frightened the poor girl away.

I can understand what this storyline was aiming to achieve, but none of it made much sense to me. It wasn't just the illogic of Annie being unable to arouse someone, more the fact it felt extremely out of character for Annie to even contemplate a threesome (she already blushes over simple dirty talk!), and the weirdness of the whole situation just didn't work for me. Even if Annie could get sexual release as an emotional parasite of the girl shagging Mitchell, how does any of this help Mitchell bond more with Annie? For me, this subplot was amusing at times (loved the hallway moment when George realized a threesome was about to happen), but it was ultimately flawed and silly.

Still, whenever "The Pack" focused on the McNairwolves, it was an example of Being Human at its best. It's still a worry to me that most episodes of series 3 have focused on interlopers (vampire Adam, zombie Sasha, the McNairwolves), but maybe that's just unavoidable because the regulars don't offer the same riches as they once did. At least the idea of George and Nina becoming parents has some freshness to it, although I'm uncertain about a fourth series with a baby and all that entails. Yes, I can't see creator Toby Whithouse being unable to resist pursuing the idea of making George and Nina into parents.

It's also been interesting to see how episodes this year knit together, what with the unexpected return of vampire swingers Richard (Mark Lewis Jones) and Emma (Melanie Walters) from "Adam", who were tipped off about McNair's presence by Mitchell, but instead captured George, Nina and Tom for a three-way dog fight. The unfortunate error thus necessitating a truce between McNair and Mitchell, who break into the vampire enclave to rescue their friends before they transform into slobbering beasts and tear each other to shreds. A great moment of action, climaxing with a group werewolf transformation.

The biggest surprise of "The Pack" was watching it conclude with the McNairwolves leaving the B&B, to continue their wanderings. I expected those characters to be the backbone of series 3, but instead their story was told in what amounted to a non-consecutive two-parter? I suppose there's a chance they'll make a surprise return, which would be appreciated. It feels like there's unfinished business between McNair and Mitchell. But for now, it seems the remaining four episodes will switch focus to former vampire leader Herrick (Jason Watkins), who made his belated return in the denouement, seen being pushed in a wheelchair down a hospital corridor looking quite deranged.

What did you make of this episode?


  • I approve of "Gina" as a great compound baby name for George and Nina's unborn baby, even if there are probably 'shippers who use that term when talking about George and Nina as a couple. Yuck.
  • Herrick-watch, week 4: he's back! Unfortunately, he's an invalid, but I'm sure he'll get better soon. Will the story be that he's a reformed character? Or that he has amnesia?
  • Do you have a new theory on the "werewolf-shaped bullet" prophecy that's haunting Mitchell? If the McNairwolves are out of the picture for good, that leaves only George and Nina as suspects. Or will a new character enter the picture soon? Or maybe the prophecy shouldn't be taken literally?
written by John Jackson / directed by Colin Teague / 13 February 2011 / BBC3/HD