Being Human, the British show about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together in a house in Wales, spent much of its fourth season getting its original cast members mustered out and replacing them with new actors playing a different vampire, werewolf, and ghost. Now that the grafts are all in place and the scar tissue healed over, the show’s fifth and final season hits the ground running. Tom (Michael Socha), the sad-faced werewolf, and Alex (Kate Bracken), the novice ghost who accuses Tom of having been raised “in the paramilitary wing of the Amish,” have been detoxing Hal (Damien Molony), the remorseful, centuries-old vampire who was forced to go off the wagon last season. Tom has tied Hal to a chair, and would like nothing better than to let him go, but he has to be sure: Is he no longer a potential danger, or is he still in the throes of uncontrollable “blood lust?” “A few days ago, “ Alex volunteers, “he stopped shouting abuse and started correcting my grammar again, so I guess that’s a good sign?”
By the time Tom decides that Hal can be trusted again, their prolonged absence from work has cost them both their jobs, so they have to take new ones, at a restaurant at a hotel that has experienced 37 suicides in the past 37 years: “Perhaps,” someone suggests, “it’s the décor.” More likely, it’s the influence of one of the regulars, Caotain Hatch, an abusive old goat played by Phil Davis, a veteran of such Mike Leigh films as High Hopes, Secrets & Lies, and Vera Drake. He is, in fact, the devil, or one of his representatives, who was summoned up back in 1918 and installed in the body of a “local madman” as part of a rare vampire-werewolf co-production. (It seems that the devil “feasts and grows fat” on the bad feeling between the two warring monster superpowers.) He’ll probably want to bring on the end of the world, since all the powerful old vampires who wanted to do it were wiped out at the end of the previous season. Since Hal was instrumental in the operation that brought the sulfurous old booger to our terrestrial plane, that’ll give him one more thing to be remorseful about.
If this episode is anything to go by, Being Human is looking to go out on a level of wild, boisterous absurdity, rolling around happily in the comic possibilities of its own set-up like a pig in shit. (Dominic Rook, the leader of the secret government agency whose job is to cover up all evidence of supernatural activity so as “to maintain the illusion that mankind is alone,” interrogates one of the last of the old ones, whose body is that of a little girl, telling her that she cannot be trusted because “malevolence and greed are hard-wired into your DNA.” The vampire answers, “And your mum’s so fat, her blood type’s Ragu!”) How much you like this season may depend a lot on how much you liked the earlier seasons of this show. Me, I found the early seasons gripping and interesting but too awkward and heavy-spirited to be very pleasurable. The show tended to lean on the metaphorical possibilities of the reluctant-monster theme and milk the characters’ alienation and unhappiness for all it was worth. This episode goes so far in the opposite direction that it sometimes flirts with self-parody. (I could do without a chase scene set to Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi.”) But a lot of it is very funny, which has the side benefit of making some of the bloody shocks genuinely shocking.
Being Human’s self-consciously political side shows most nakedly in the story line involving Rook, who is informed by a government official that his “clandestine, unregulated, and eye-wateringly expensive” department is going to be shut down. Rook is concerned that all the monsters he’s been inexplicably keeping secretly penned up somewhere will just be turned loose upon a defenseless and unsuspecting world, which sure sounds like a Gitmo allegory to me. Rook’s plan to save his agency involves a newly captured vampire, Crumb (Colin Hoult), an office drone who has been shunted aside and made to feel unappreciated at work. Hal “turns” him rather than let him die after he’s been smashed by a car, and at first, he reacts with revulsion and horror to what he’s become. But when he begins to get a taste of his new capacity for raining destruction down on the kind of people who’ve made him feel like a joke, he embraces his new identity as if he were Richard III: “They ignored me and patronized me,” he rhapsodizes. “Now they’ll fear me for the rest of their lives. I’m the world’s worst nightmare: The victim who gets superpowers.” Viewers who’ve drifted away from Being Human over the years might want to consider giving it another taste. Between the new villains' gleeful appetite for destruction and Kate Bracken's way of detonating a wisecrack, its last season shows promise of being a wild ride.