This may sound overly grumpy, but while this episode had exciting and tense moments, I never found myself truly involved in what was happening. I think this has a lot to do with my tepid response to Hal (Damien Molony) and Tom (Michael Socha) this series, as neither has really captured my imagination. Both actors have their strengths, which came through best in the more comedic "Puppy Love" last week, but when an episode's emphasis is on pure drama their performances don't grip me.
Socha, in particular, is almost being dragged through the show by the might of whoever he's sharing a scene with—and what's with the implausible, ridiculous way they've written his geeky girlfriend Allison out of the show? Just one example of how the more "authorial" UK dramas often fail at developing things in a satisfying way as a collective effort; another being the writers' blind hope that we care about Alex (Kate Bracken) dying—a character introduced only last week. You'll forgive me if I didn't shed a tear for her abrupt demise. Wouldn't it have been wiser to introduce Alex much earlier, perhaps instead of the "goth poet" whose relevance was even briefer? Maybe the plan is for Alex to replace Annie for series 5, in which case we'll have another vampire-ghost romance on the cards?
The most interesting thing about "Making History" was learning that Hal and Cutler (Andrew Gower) have a shared past, and there's bad blood between them. Hal was the vampire who sired Cutler, back in the 1950s when he was still part of the infamous "Old Ones" gang, and it was fun to note how their positions have changed in the intervening half-century. Hal's turned over a new leaf and has abstained from blood for decades (successfully), while lowly Cutler's risen to a degree of prominence in vampiredom and retains a grudge over Hal cruelly killing his human wife (Natalie Burt) to make a point. As you would.
It was a great way to deepen both characters, although I wasn't too impressed with Molony's performance once Hal drank human blood for the first time in decades. Whereas Mitchell went on a crazy rampage back in series 2, Hal's response was a glassy-eyed creepiness. This was fine in principal, but Molony's a curiously unthreatening onscreen presence. His scene at the bar with infatuated girlfriend Alex, unable to take his eyes off her or prevent himself from vocalizing his desire to shag/drink her, just felt rather laughable to me.
Annie (Lenora Crichlow) was there to receive a mountain of exposition from Future Eve (Gina Bramhill), who whisked her to the future and explained everything in simple terms. It was just unfortunate that most of Eve's explanation wasn't anything we didn't guess or assume from very early on this year, and BBC3 obviously don't have the budget to fully portray the dystopia (beyond an abandoned dockyard, a hall emblazoned with Nazi-style artwork, and dingy corridors).
However, one scene worked surprisingly well, by almost turning "Making History" into a radio play—as subtle sound-effects gave Eve's description of the nightmarish future an evocative chill. But most of the Future sequences failed to get under my skin enough, and the show equating vampires to Nazi's felt very lazy and antiquated. The return of concentration camps designed for werewolves and humans are one thing (their skin tattooed "W" or "H" respectively) is one thing, but a revival of 1930s fascist poster art? Silly.
Admittedly, this penultimate episode burst to life when Hal was trying to stop Cutler's dastardly plan to slaughter a group of young revellers by tricking Tom into crashing their party on a Full Moon—the naive lad believing he'll be exterminaing the newly-arrived Old Ones who want to kill baby Eve. The denouement with the actual Old Ones finally stepping foot in the UK was suitably eerie, although we'll have to see genre stalwart Mark Gatiss (League Of Gentlemen, Doctor Who) brings to the role of their pallid leader, Mr Snow. I like Gatiss as a comic actor, but he always brings such a flavour of camp playfulness that I don't think I'll be cowering behind my sofa next Sunday.
- I guess it was a fun detail that Eve's her own killer, due to the fact she has the prophecized burn on her arm. I didn't see that coming.
- Russell Tovey and Sinead Keenan's genes can produce Gina Bramhill? Only in TV Land.