Tuesday, 27 March 2012

BEING HUMAN, 4.8 – "The War Child"

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Series 4 concluded on a note of pleasurable camp, although best not scrutinise things too much. To wit, I still don't understand how vampires could successfully take over the world—because, unlike Syfy's US remake, Being Human's vampires don't even have super-strength. They're just bloodthirsty people with fangs and unfortunate weaknesses (unable to enter residences uninvited, are susceptible to explosions and wooden stakes). It's hard to see how Being Human's bloodsuckers could ever enslave humanity, so I've all along found it hard to care about such a silly, illogical element of the show this year.

The vampiric "Old Ones" featured heavily in this finale; or, more accurately, their ashen leader Mr Snow (Mark Gatiss) received a sizable amount of screentime. Gatiss's chilly performance was fun to watch, even if the character was a clunking stereotype, and he clearly relished wrapping his tongue around the script's melodramatic lines and literary quotes ("by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes"). Snow was such a pantomime villain I'm surprised there were no sing-songs between his scenes—some of which felt amalgamated from movies like Schindler's List and Inglourious Basterds (motivation for the scene a red-coated Zoe fled from Snow, her father's killer?), or simply delighted in its thudding obviousness (Snow and the Old Ones gathered in an evil tableau of Da Vinci's iconic "The Last Supper"). Still, for every eye-rolling moment, there was some first-class material with Snow—particularly his dialogue to erstwhile companion Hal (Damien Molony) about his half-century of abstinence from blood: "I was just giving you the afternoon off." A funny way to remind us that Snow's millennia old, so has a very difference perception of time.

The biggest disappointment with "The War Child" was how Cutler's (Andrew Gower) Machiavellian plot to earn the adoration of his vampire masters, by ushering in an age where werewolf-fearing humans seek out vampire protection (to their great cost), simply crumbled into irrelevance. It made his character look naïve and silly, and the series-long build-up with Cutler's scheme feels misguided in hindsight. The only highlight for Cutler was the impressive make-up/gore when he audaciously entered Honolulu Heights without Annie (Lenora Crichlow) granting him permission.

The conclusion of the prophecy wasn't too bad, although I daren't pick it apart too much. The twist that baby Eve's survival is what ensures the vampires are victorious was fun, mainly because the story consequently showed real courage by having Annie kill herself and Eve by detonating Tom's (Michael Socha) explosives—thus also incinerating the Old Ones and ensuring the future dystopia never comes to pass. Plus this moment finally saw Annie make her literal exit through a flaming door to the afterlife, which has been long-overdue for Being Human's most problematic and wearisome character. The suggestion that feisty Scottish lassie Alex (Kate Bracken) will be Annie's replacement fills me with delight, although the writers still have to contend with the same issues of making an ethereal character interesting.

Hal and Tom kind of got lost in the episode, because there wasn't really much for them to do, but their final moment together gave series 4 a sense of completion; with Tom helping the relapsed Hal because "you're me best mate". A large part of series 4 have been about getting "odd couple" Hal and Tom together as best-friends, like their predecessors Mitchell and George, so it appears to be mission accomplished in preparation for next year.

So, looking ahead, series 5 will seemingly involve mysterious civil servant "Mr Rook" (Steven Robertson), who appears to be a Man In Black-style fixer who ensures the general public never learn about supernatural creatures. Plus there's the aforementioned likelihood Alex will replacing Annie, and I certainly hope geeky Allison returns as Tom's werewolf girlfriend. Considering how this series had to deal with the loss of so many original characters, ending its own run with an entirely new lineup, I can't deny Toby Whithouse did an impressive job under difficult circumstances. I've just been less enthusiastic about the ongoing mythology this year, which felt too half-baked to me, and never came together brilliantly enough to make me reconsider that opinion.


  • I'm sorry, but why did Alex giggle over "she took me into her corridor"? That's not even a good euphemism and perhaps so inappropriate it just felt strange to include it.
  • It's about time ghosts realised they're unstoppable, really, during the scene where Annie and Alex assaulted the Old Ones' hideout and batted away vampires like flies. Shame Annie didn't realise this in the premiere, where it would have been helpful if she'd rescued baby Eve without sitting back and letting George march off to his doom with Tom.
  • As a very early teaser, the BBC also released this image that suggests the awakening or return of a villain. Predictions?
written by Toby Whithouse / directed by Philip John / 25 March 2012 / BBC Three