Tuesday, 20 November 2012

MISFITS, 4.4 – episode four

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

written by Howard Overman / directed by Jonathan Van Tulleken

Everything about this episode screamed that I should be loving it, but I just didn't. Big things happened, but they felt more inevitable than truly surprising. It was a good episode that was never anything less than entertaining, but the emotional wallop missed me. Maybe it's because Curtis (Nathan Jarrett-Stewart) is my least favourite character of the original line-up, or that his exit from the show felt long overdue. It was certainly a surprise to see it happen halfway through the series, but this being Misfits perhaps not something unthinkable. At least he was given a feisty send-off, unlike Nathan (webisode yarn) or Kelly (off-screen excuse), although the storyline here would have worked better if Lola (Lucy Gaskell) had been given time to settle in as a character on the show. As usual for UK shows, while shorter runs guarantee better pace they don't really help character development or audience attachment.

The big story this week was Curtis getting into serious trouble while trying to protect his new girlfriend Lola's honour, after she was apparently beaten by her violent ex Jake (Being Human's Andrew Gower) outside a nightclub. Unfortunately, Jake was accidentally killed by Curtis during a fracas and later resurrected using his super-power (oh so that's what his ability is!), with the established downside being Jake quickly transforms into a flesh-eating zombie. To make matters worse, it's Curtis' flesh he eats and the poor lad has to get to the bottom of Lola's mystery while suddenly developing a craving for guinea pigs.

What I do like about Curtis is how his character feels more plausible than most of the others, although newcomers Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome) aren't quite as OTT as Nathan and Kelly once were. You can generally count on Curtis to behave like a normal human being would, so that helped shape this episode rather nicely. Unfortunately, while I didn't want to see Curtis dead, his character has felt like a strange hanger-on this series... and reached the apex of his character's growth long ago. He's just been around for continuity reasons it feels like, so getting rid of him feels justified. Strangely, as much as the episode tried to make me feel shock that Curtis eventually ended up shooting himself in the head after snacking on Lola's neck... I just couldn't. Maybe if this had happened in series 3, it would have been different, but it just felt like a strange relief to me.

Lola's mystery could have been so much better if it had been teased out for a few more episodes. It was pretty obvious she wasn't a "trainee probation worker" from the very start, so this episode's surprise that she was lying to Curtis didn't work for me. Better was the reveal that the infamous storm had transformed her into "Lola" (as she's actually just a wannabe actress who was taking lessons in the community centre when the storm transformed her into the femme fatale she was trying to channel), although Misfits is playing a little loose with what constitutes a "super power" now. The ability of self-delusion? Still, I didn't guess that aspect of Lola's story, so that was quite rewarding to see. I just wish the story explored more about Lola's real identity and her past, rather than instead pursue "zombie-Curtis" antics for the majority of the episode. Still, Gaskell has been effortlessly beguiling and sexy in the role, and this episode did a fantastic job adding a film noir vibe (most noticeably in the opening black-and-white sequence).

As subplots, the main one was establishing the comedy double-act of Finn and Rudy (Joe Gilgun) as housemates, with the latter proving to be every bit the domestic nightmare you'd imagine. Unless you like being woken up in the wee small hours by a friend asking you for lubricant to aide a sex act in the same room. As unpleasant as it can get, McMullen and Gilgun have a definite chemistry together and they're fun to see spark off each other, so I was happy to watch them try and co-exist. Less fascinating is the ongoing saga with Jess fancying barman Alex (Matt Stokoe), who's probably going to be Curtis's replacement on the show before too long, which is utterly failing to capture my attention.

Overall, episode four was straightforward story that didn't feel as surprising as intended (but maybe I'm along in thinking that). Killing a major character is a big deal, but Misfits has been so ruthless in changing its cast almost every year that the loss wasn't felt by me. Will anyone truly miss Curtis? I kind of miss Kelly more, which is a surprise to me. However, this was a fun and visually pleasant hour that made me giggle throughout... with lots of sex, violence and tragedy. I just wish it felt more like a genuine knife to the heart, rather than just a half-baked way for a veteran character to leave because he felt out of place.

18 November 2012 / E4