Tuesday, 12 February 2013

BEING HUMAN, 5.2 – 'Sticks & Rope'

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

If this wasn't the last series of Being Human (coupled with the fact I've reviewed every episode so far) I would give serious thought to dropping weekly reviews. It's lost its freshness. I quite like fastidious Hal (Damien Molony), but sleepy-eyed Tom (Michael Socha) leaves me cold, and Alex (Kate Bracken) has yet to grab my attention. When the show is trying to be funny and relying on the chemistry of the three leads, I find it a little unbearable. They're just not very compelling as a trio, which makes me realise just how much their predecessors worked as a dynamic threesome. Where the show still manages to come alive is whenever it's being dark and creepy, with a handful of spooky scenes towards the end going some way to rescuing the whole hour.

This week, Hal and Tom faced off to become the hotel's employee of the month (resulting in a food fight); Alex became the surrogate sister of Oliver (Benjamin Greaves-Neal), the ghost of a young Victorian boy who's inexplicably been hiding in the B&B all this time; Rook (Steven Robertson) video-taped crazy Crumb (Colin Hoult) killing his own sister and niece to use as evidence for his department to be reinstated (a flawed plan that made very little sense to me); and devil incarnate Captain Hatch (Phil Davis) continued to manipulate everyone at the hotel in order to replenish his powers.

Moments and aspects of this week's episodes worked nicely, others didn't. I wasn't a fan of posh Oliver the ghost, and the continuing sub-plot with Crumb just feels very misjudged—or maybe it's just the actor's decision to take his performance to a nutty extreme that's not working for me. Crumb's more annoying than captivating. But I did enjoy getting some insight into Alex's past before she died (playing "mum" to her brothers), and the sequence where she had to contend with The Men With Sticks And Rope (denizens of Hell, mentioned way back in the 2008 pilot) was genuinely chilling. They felt like a more palatable take on Hellraiser's Cenobites, in many ways. I'm also happy to see Davis play The Devil, even if the notion of him needing to drive a wedge between a werewolf (Tom) and vampire (Hal) in order to regain his strength feels very dubious. But it's worth overlooking such nonsense if we'll get more scenes with Captain Hatch expertly manipulating people to get what he wants, and causing people's faces to bleed in the process. Nasty.

Overall, "Sticks & Rope" clawed its way back to becoming a reasonable episode—but this was mostly due to a few very effective frights and Davis oozing malevolence from his wheelchair. In the gaps between those highlights, I was struggling to feel engaged with the weak comic interludes at the hotel, and found the Alex/Oliver storyline rather lacking.

written by Daragh Carville / directed by Philip John / 10 February 2013 / BBC Three