"The Wolf-Shaped Bullet" S3 / E8
- B Community Grade
As a season finale, “The Wolf-Shaped Bullet” is and isn’t everything it should have been. I’m torn about it, as it does give closure to a lot of the issues that were set up in “Lia” and developed throughout the rest of season three. But it’s largely done in a rather dissatisfying way. I maintain that the season largely showcased the monsters’ attempts to change their identities from whatever, not whoever, they are. Nina and George had to figure out a way to stop being lone wolves, har har, and depend on each other. Mitchell had to figure out a way to stop running from his past and accept the horrible things he’d done as a vampire. Annie needed to stop being so dependent on the attention of others and learn to stand firm when it came to dealing with the people that she loved.
Of those storylines, Mitchell’s has stood out the most, largely because Mitchell’s showdown with Herrick has become the show’s main event by the time “The Wolf-Shaped Bullet” comes around. I stand by my complaint that Herrick has largely shouldered the burden of action for the last couple of seasons. It's lazy storytelling, and the show deserves better than a quick and neat blast from the past that serves as the catalyst for much of everything important in season three’s second half.
For instance, the fact that the season’s climactic fight takes place in the cage where the werewolf/human cage fights we first saw in “Lia” took place would have been a lot more effective had we not just seen that same cage last week during that much-too-neat flashback with MacNair and Herrick. We only really needed that flashback so MacNair could give Thomas a reason to confront Herrick in “The Wolf-Shaped Bullet.” Which kind of makes sense, until you see how that confrontation ends—or, more accurately, how it doesn’t really have an end. Thomas is just another loose end that Toby Whithouse wanted to wrap up, much like how he had to bring Lia back (more on this later).
Still, this is all just an unwelcome reminder of how large a figure Herrick has been in the second half of Being Human UK’s third season. The threat that he poses is too great: When he goes back to being the king dick vampire that Mitchell refuses to believe he is similar to, Herrick is shown to be just as manipulative and hellbent on controlling the world as he ever was (he sometimes reminds me of a vampire version of Snowball from Pinky and the Brain, actually). Herrick is, to a large extent, what Mitchell wants to cut out of his life, all of the narcissism and self-satisfied scheming. So when he stakes Herrick by the beach and tells him that they’d squandered all of the resources that were already at their ageless command, it’s satisfying but only in a cheap, immediate kind of way.
And that is why Lia had to be brought back. Now that the season is over, it seems clear that the prophecy that she told Mitchell in the season premiere had to be debunked in order for the viewer to know that Mitchell was the primary cause of his own death. In that sense, Whithouse did right by Mitchell by revealing to Annie that Mitchell’s myopic self-pitying onus was entirely his doing. He now can’t blame forces beyond his control for his manic quest for redemption: He’s the only one to blame here for driving himself crazy (well, sort of: Lia did kinda help him along that self-destructive path, no?). Or at least, he would not have been able to if Mitchell had actually found out what Lia said. Correct me if I’m wrong (because I may be), but I can’t remember a scene where Annie or anyone else told him that the prophecy was “self-fulfilling.” I mean, what other point does that last scene in the monsters’ house serve? And why was Annie so curiously silent while Mitchell asked George to stake him?
Also, while I admire the fact that series creator Toby Whitehouse was able to wrap up so many of Mitchell’s issues, he didn’t do it in a necessarily riveting way. Lia’s talk with Annie felt largely perfunctory, as did Mitchell’s talks with George. There wasn’t any tension to these scenes, beyond the expected enmity that all four parties brought to them. Functionally speaking, these scenes are important because they’re the point in the episode where half of the characters say and do things out of grief (Lia and George) without thinking about their consequences and the other half try to talk them down while re-asserting control of their own issues (Mitchell and Annie). I just wish there was either some more build-up to these two main conflicts or even just some complicating voice of dissent that could have made them feel like they felt like they actually mattered as much as they theoretically did matter.
Then again, I’m not sure how that would work given the way Whithouse set up the season. The brutally effective way that he got rid of Mitchell felt right, even if all of the frantic build-up to it was excruciating. But that’s just it: The devil is almost always in the details. So while I appreciate the fact that Whithouse is selectively rather good at broad beat themes and plotting, the fact that he wasn’t able to satisfactorily make the characters hash out their own problems and transition from major plot point to plot point is really rather irksome. For instance, I get why Nina was silent in this episode but somehow, there should have been a point where she gave voice to her latent concern over the discovery that Mitchell is responsible for the Box Tunnel 20. That seemed pretty important at the time—surely she deserves the chance, if only during the episode’s final 15 minutes or so, to have at Mitchell or at least acknowledge that she, too, did something that altered his fate?
There were a lot of characteristically hammy lines of dialogue throughout “The Wolf-Shaped Bullet” that took me out of the show’s action. I mean, even ignoring the sheer inanity of the singing telegram from purgatory, there’s just no excuse for sloppy lines like when Mitchell warns Annie that humans aren’t ready to learn about the existence of monsters—“They’re scared of us,”—and she replies, “They should be.” Another really inexcusably tacky exchange came during Mitchell’s most emphatic speech to George, when he raves, “I can see their faces! Not just of the people I’ve killed but of the people I’m going to kill.” It’s lines like that that make me think Being Human UK never performs as it should when the pressure is really on.