Tuesday, 11 December 2012

MISFITS, 4.7 – episode seven

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

written by Jon Brown (story by Jon Brown & Howard Overman)
directed by Dušan Lazarevic

Not as ostentatious or as significant as some episodes from earlier this series, but I found myself enjoying episode 7 more than expected. Maybe it's because Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome) have settled in and newcomer Abby (Natasha O'Keeffe) is such an instant hit; but it’s also because I enjoyed the various storylines this week, even if most were undeveloped and the hour lacked a focus.

Misfits is always onto a winner when it's found a clever super-powered way to tackle something that affects people in real life, so I appreciate the reveal that macho Alex (Matt Stokoe) is essentially a post-op transsexual because a woman called Tom stole his penis. This causes an obvious issue regarding Alex's relationship with Jess, which essentially stops when it becomes time to get naked, but it's a shame the story didn't really use the idea to go anywhere particularly deep and meaningful. It threatened to, but then opted for the humour of a man who's hired a private investigator to find his genitals, before Rudy (Joseph Gilgun) impersonated Buffalo Bill, and normality was restored once Alex found his cock-thief and persuaded her to give it him back. Still, while I found some of the storyline a wasted opportunity to explore a sexless relationship, writer Jon Brown deserves credit for the brilliant denouement... with Jess finally able to have sex with her perfect man, only to realise the restoration of Alex's manhood has transformed him from a caring gentleman to a selfish narcissist—mechanically pumping her on his bed, while gazing at his own reflection in a nearby mirror. Brilliantly done.

Love was a bit of a theme this week. Rudy was out of sorts with himself, flushed with feelings after his encounter with the beautiful Nadine (Gillian Saker) at last week's party. I sometimes think it's a shame Gilgun has to play Rudy as such a coarse potty-mouthed character, because he's a great deal more appealing when he's going for audience sympathy. As fans of This is England will attest, there's something so likable about Gilgun when he's trying to keep a lid on his rudeness and channel his better nature. This episode gave Rudy more opportunities to do that once Nadine walked back into his life, but it ultimately felt like setup for next week's finale. The twist that Nadine's a nun (who presumably doesn't have sex) amused me, given Rudy's a nymphomaniac, but also because you tend to assume every character's secret has something to do with a power... although there's still a possible it might do, in some additional way.

The most undeveloped story unfortunately belonged to Abby, who was on the receiving end of an instant pregnancy after stumbling onto a disgruntled expectant mother in a toilet cubicle. A little story about parental responsibilities could have been fun, but it struggled to make much of an impression because there was too much of greater consequence going on elsewhere. Still, as a light hearted way to introduce Abby properly, it had its moments. I particularly loved the scene where tranquil Abby came face-to-face with the bellicose probation worker Greg (Shaun Dooley), which was like fire meeting ice in terms of personalities. If nothing else, it felt great to have a character who isn't in the slightest bit perturbed by Greg.

Dooley's certainly been memorable this year, but it's a shame his character's so one-note. I think he deserves something more nuanced to play, but it appears that the probation worker's permanent bad-temper was just a six-episode setup for a joke: that he's secretly a karaoke legend, capable of pulling off a beautiful and emotional rendition of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power of Love" (coincidentally the current UK Number One single, as covered by Gabrielle Aplin, surfing the crest of the John Lewis Christmas snowman advert wave). I doubt we'll see him a different light next week, but it's good to know there's a softer side to him... and, rather like Alex and Nadine, he's another character with an embarrassing secret.

Overall, I had fun watching episode 7, even if some of its subplots were pretty thin and there wasn't much holding it all together. Abby's a great character who isn't an approximation or amalgamation of those we've lost, and the tragic twist for Jess that her barman boyfriend was preferably when he had a vagina was unexpected and nicely handled. I hope next week's finale is a rousing climax, but I don't think anything can prevent series 4 being most considered the weakest year of this show.

9 December 2012 / E4