“Series Four, Episode Five” S4 / E5
- B Community Grade
The weirdest thing about this episode of Misfits is how weird it isn’t. It’s been seven or eight episodes since we had something at all conventional from this show: the zombie-noir last week, the mistaken-identity thriller, the bizarre and unfortunate breakup drama, the heist gone bad, the insanity of the season three finale, and the zombie episode. (This means that the episode with Curtis getting himself pregnant and Rudy’s penis falling off is the “not weird” episode, so maybe go back another week to the fairly genre-conventional body-switching episode.)
In this episode, we have Finn meeting his biological father, in addition to a sister. The story centers on his father dying, his sister using a power to keep dad alive, and all of them coming to terms with their new little family. It’s reminiscent of the second-season episode where Nathan’s previously unknown half-brother came to visit (oh, hey, that screencap again!). These are straightforward stories of growing up, with powers added to accent their character arcs.
These kinds of episodes were the dominant form of the show’s first two seasons. Tonally, those initial episodes were all fairly similar, and all of them used powers to demonstrate (and sometimes change) the personalities of the main character. The big shift in the past two seasons has been toward more Community or Buffy-style concept episodes. Now, the powers are used to create tonal and genre shifts: thriller, zombies, Nazis, and so on. The character-building is still a critical part of the show, but it’s done less through the Misfits learning directly from their powers, and more from the dramatic genre-fied, power-created situations forcing them to learn about themselves.
In large part, I think this is a reaction to Robert Sheehan leaving the show. Nathan was such a dominant character that any show that gave him screentime would have been reshaped. His dynamic presence always gave Misfits an irreverent, manic, transgressive feeling, no matter what was happening. And while Rudy may have been roughly as funny as Nathan from the beginning, his presence was nowhere near as dominant, something the show struggled to deal with in the third season. This helps explain why the concept episodes have become so important to Misfits. Their weirdness helps to fill the void left by Sheehan’s departure, yes, but Sheehan’s departure also gave the show more tonal freedom and room for these experiments to succeed.
But if a series is doing a concept episode, it has to ground that episode, something that Community fans may wish isn’t true, given the relative lack of interest fans have in the “conventional” sitcom episodes. One of Misfits’ most impressive feats this season has been in bypassing that convention and still making mesmerizing episodes. However, there’s still one major flaw: Finn.
Finn was introduced as a slightly unpleasant weirdo, something that was made exponentially worse by his kidnapping/mind-control/breakup story in the difficult second episode. Without Nathan or Rudy’s charm (or Simon’s adorableness), he just seems to be a creep. What he needed was an episode where that creepiness appeared human. In short, Finn needed this particular episode. But he needed it earlier in the season.
Still, although it was a little bit late, it’s still a good example of Misfits’growing-up themes. Finn initially only wants to be nice to Grace, his sister, just to look good for Jess, but he realizes there’s meaning in the action anyway. Finn’s still a problem character, but an episode like this goes a long way toward making him at least a tolerable problem character. This might not be a great episode on its own, but I’m still glad, for Misfits’ sake, that it happened.
- “Anal Mary. That was your mum’s nickname. You know, I’m not sure I am your dad!” Not sure anything can beat last week’s cold open, so I’m glad it moved in a totally different direction.
- “I have rubbed myself off on you.” You probably have, Rudy.
- Grace seemed really familiar—initially I thought she might be the Christian healer from the season-two finale with the lactokinetic, but she’s not. She has, however, starred on a show alongside Robert Sheehan.
- “You’re her brother.” “Half-brother.”
- “Unless he’s tricking girls to have sex with him.” “Why would he do that?!” On the other hand, there’s Finn’s weirdness about homosexuality, which isn’t exactly endearing. But that’s how people on TV with crushes behave.
- That preview for next week must have been fun to edit.