Monday, 5 November 2012

MISFITS, 4.2 – episode two

Monday, 5 November 2012

written by Howard Overman / directed by Nirpal Bhogal

Last week's premiere divided people 50/50, but I was happier with episode 2's focus on newcomer Finn (Nathan McMullen), although this hour still didn't feel as effortlessly witty and imaginative as Misfits in its series 2 prime. I think it's a combination of the fact newbies Finn and Jess (Karla Crome) haven't settled in yet, the fact they're joined by two "veterans" in Rudy (Joe Gilgun) and Seth (Matthew McNulty) that I've never wholeheartedly embraced (especially the latter), and the only constant has been the wearisome Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). After the show's big shake-ups, I think the current mix of talent isn't the best, and they're unfortunately part of a four-year-old show that's showing signs of exhaustion.

I was relieved episode 1's shock-ending of Finn's girlfriend being bound and gagged to his bed had a slightly more innocent explanation. It even tied into the show using super-powers as a means to explore issues that affecting young people, once it became clear Sadie (Imogen Doel) was being prevented from using her ability to plant ideas into Finn's head—turning him into a more considerate, obedient, and caring boyfriend. Finn had taken understandable action to stop being "pussy-whipped" in this way, but it unfortunately meant coming across as a psycho once his new friends began to suspect strange things were happening in his locked bedroom (the one where he's occasionally seen removing buckets of human waste from...)

Back at the community centre, more trivial matters were at hand with a sculpture class for the blind taking place; which prompted Rudy and Curtis to fight over Ally (Eleanor Wild), the sexiest blind girl they both want to be subjects for... until Curtis realised she's racist. Meanwhile, hunky barman Alex (Matt Stokoe) caught the eye of Jess at the local bar, although this is clearly just planting the seed of a bigger story later in the series. It was more fun to watch Curtis and Rudy fight over Ally, leading to the hour's biggest laugh with Rudy ruining his chance of shagging Ally by using cling-film from a dog's bowl as a makeshift condom (believing she wouldn't know, being blind). The moment when one of Rudy's elastic bands pinged off his manhood at the exact moment his his trickery was rumbled by Ally—whom it's later revealed receives telepathic messages from her guide dog—was an example of perfect comic timing.

However, despite having many of the ingredients I'd class as being essential to a good episode of Misfits, there was something missing here. I think it boils down to Finn and Jess being noticeably weaker replacements for the departed Simon, Kelly and Alisha, and the fact we're now familiar with the direction Misfits episodes will take. It used to be a genuinely thrilling, impulsive and shocking show putting a very British spin on a typically American genre... whereas now it's struggling to maintain that giddy sense of volatility. I have some issues with Rudy as a character, but can't deny that Gilgun's stanch performance is almost the only thing anchoring the show at this point. When he's around, you at least know he'll provoke a reaction in you. I just wish his character's duplicating power had been better developed, because his doppelgänger ("Twody") just isn't different enough to make it particularly interesting when the two Rudy's split up. I often lose track of which Rudy's which, because there's practically no way to easily differentiate them. Or maybe that's just me.

Overall, episode 2 was slightly better than last week's tortuous griminess, but still not back to full strength. There were good moments (the Speak N' Spell used by Sadie to communicate), memorably unpleasant moments (Rudy's DIY condom), and a few amusing twists and turns (a racist telepathic dog!), but something's just not clicking for me yet. There also seems to be a weird desperation to keep throwing characters at us this series, too—because now we've been introduced to beautiful trainee probation worker Lola (Lucy Gaskell), in addition to the two new misfits, enigmatic barman Alex, and irrationally angry probation worker Greg (Shaun Dooley). In my experience, this tends to happen when the creators aren't so confident in their material and start to believe more is better.

4 November 2012 / E4