Monday, 17 December 2012

MISFITS, 4.8 - episode eight

Monday, 17 December 2012

written by Howard Overman / directed by Dušan Lazarevic

This was an okay end to what's been a frustrating fourth series. Misfits had a lot to overcome this year, with the loss of three original characters and a fourth halfway through its run, and it didn't entirely succeed. I don't dislike Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome), but they're less interesting than their predecessors Simon and Alisha. The storylines this year have also felt slapdash, and there was such a lack of super-powers that you could be forgiven for thinking this was a scuzzier version of Skins. The finale was mostly nonsense, but it helped that Rudy (Joe Gilgun) and Nadine's (Gillian Staker) romance somehow made a connection despite them having such little screen time. Why didn't they introduce Nadine at the beginning of series 4, to get us more invested in the whole idea of Rudy finding true love? The pacing of this series, with the exception of Alex's (Matt Stokoe) search for his penis, has been all over the place.

Most of the first half could have been told in 10 minutes, as Rudy spent most of it agonising over the fact his would-be girlfriend is (a) sexually unavailable because she's a nun, and (b) imprisoned by her superiors in a local church. Jess inevitably discovered that boyfriend Alex has been sleeping with other women now he has his cock back, and Finn leaped at the opportunity to shag aloof Abby (Natasha O'Keeffe) when she casually offered him the chance. I have to question Howard Overman's attitudes to the women of Misfits, though. They're either deceitful baddies, femme fatales, have super-powers that turn men into rapists, or are emotional shells with no memories. Jess is thankfully a big exception with her no-nonsense attitude and level-head (replacing the similar Kelly), but it's worrying how many women on the show are designed to be victims or dislikeable.

My biggest issue with the finale was how it squandered the interesting idea that Nadine can summon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if she witnesses any violence in the outside world. It's a ridiculous super-power, but the visual of four ninja teenagers on black BMX's, armed with katana swords, was worth sticking around for. But why introduce the Horsemen ten minutes before the end of the episode? Also, did they even have a plan to summon doomsday? More could have been made of that, but an end-of-the-world scenario never felt part of the story. And why did they essentially kill themselves by killing their creator Nadine? It felt like they were really just a cool visual without much thought behind them—and had obvious unfortunate similarities to the similarly elusive Superhoodie character of series 1-3.

Some things worked nicely this week. Gilgun's performance treads perilously close to damned annoying, but he somehow draws it back from the brink... and, when you stop to think about, Misfits would be a colossal bore without his character around to inject energy into proceedings. I also liked the probation worker Greg (Shaun Dooley) being fleshed out slightly after his karaoke moment last week, as we discovered his psychosis is perhaps tied into a tragic tale of lost love. I still think Dooley deserved a more nuanced character to play, because he's great and dominates the scenes he's in, but at least Greg's had a few episodes in the run with more meat to them.

The series ended on a cliffhanger that didn't work for me. Alex, stabbed by a Horseman's sword, is about to receive a lung transplant to save his life, just as Rudy warns the others that super-powers can be transferred via operations of that nature. So it seems likely Alex will be given a proper super-power for series 5, but I can't say I care. The existing characters barely use their powers now anyway (I'd forgotten Jess even had x-ray vision!), and although it was heartening to see this fact used as the basis for a joke from Abby, I'd prefer to see affirmative action taken. I really don't understand why series 4 mostly avoided the unique selling point of Misfits, because it's otherwise just a filthier version of any British teen drama. There's also been more reliance on gross-outs and shocks to provoke reactions from audiences this year, which I'm not entirely happy about. The previous years had shocking scenes too, but they didn't feel as shoehorned into the scripts. Did we really need to see Finn's semen plop onto the floor between Abby's legs when she stood up? I mean, really? Yuck.

Overall, episode eight didn't impress me much. I think the show's reached the beginning of its natural end, and I can imagine ratings dipping sharply if this quality continues for another year or two. Maybe it's just time for E4 to realise Misfits' concept has been squeezed dry after four years, and the current group of actors just aren't as compelling as the original bunch. There's no shame in ending Misfits now and trying to get that movie made (which Overman has apparently already drafted)—ideally with the return of original actors like Robert Sheehan for a much bigger story you couldn't tell on TV. It feels like the TV version of the show has reached its creative limit and passed its prime, and now we're just coasting along plucking half-baked ideas out of thin air.

16 December 2012 / E4