As satisfying as the denouement of “Though the Heavens Fall” may be as a series of shocking events, it leaves me wondering how the episode, which only really comes alive during its final 15 minutes, fulfills the ideas that were set up over the course of the last six episodes. Season three has largely been about refusing to be, as Nina puts it, “defined by what you are.” Too bad she doesn’t say that to Mitchell, but rather to Herrick, a character that has almost entirely been responsible for setting things in motion in the last couple of episodes. Mitchell should be the one wrestling with the limitations of his own agency, not reacting to other characters.
Taking its name from the Latin aphorism, “Let justice be done though the heavens fall,” tonight’s episode is the one that most decisively accelerates the events in Mitchell’s life. And yet, he spends most of the episode responding to other people’s actions, which kind of makes the part at the end of the episode where he yells, “I want to be punished!” seem antithetical to everything that the episode sets up and even how it ends. The fact that he can say one thing and do another should make him a more complex character. But as written by series creator and episode writer Toby Whithouse, it just seems like there’s a disconnect between Mitchell’s thoughts and deeds that is never properly acknowledged.
Which is exactly the kind of scenario I objected to when Herrick plopped Graham’s scrapbook into Nina’s lap two episodes ago. He seems to be the only character whose character has evolved in the last couple of episodes. His response to Nina’s attempts to quell his own identity crisis-related anxieties is overwrought (“If I am a victim of a conspiracy to drive me mad, I confess that it is working”), but it’s significant in the sense that it shows how much more ruminative his character is about his past crimes than Mitchell has been of late.
The biggest way that “Though the Heavens Fall” fails to convincingly sustain Mitchell’s character as a reluctant penitent is the way that he reacts to being interrogated by Inspector Nancy Reed from last episode. As is the way with most generic cops that are told that their investigation has hit a brick wall, Reed only becomes more determined to pursue Mitchell after her boss tells her that she’s chasing a false lead. This naturally distresses Annie, a necessarily irritating caricature of herself this episode, who eavesdrops on Reed throughout the episode in order to quell her own fears that Mitchell is indeed the Box Tunnel 20 killer.
Mitchell makes a huge illogical misstep when he tries to cast suspicion on Daisy. Reed is investigating a major crime. Under what circumstances would Reed just take the name of a vampire and merrily walk away from Mitchell without investigating and finding out that, whoops, Daisy’s been legally dead for a few decades now? There’s no excuse for that kind of thoughtless move on Mitchell’s part, save for the assumption that he was panicked and/or wanted to be caught. There is still time for him to confess that either excuse was why he flaked out and screwed himself over. But as it stands, that logic seems like a huge fan wank, something that Whithouse wants us to assume but didn’t actually develop into the plot. The way Mitchell explains that the scrapbook wasn’t his but rather Graham’s shows you that on some level, he wants to selectively tell the truth in order to get rid of Reed.
But apart from that, there’s really nothing in tonight’s two skimpy interrogation scenes that suggests that there’s a meaningful conflict going in Mitchell’s mind when he fingers Daisy (mind out of the gutter, please), just blind panic. Which, again, is fundamentally dissatisfying. Having Mitchell freak out and accidentally implicate himself may be a more truthful reflection of what his character might do if he were really placed in that situation but Being Human U.K. has never really tried to be realistic in its character psychology beyond a point. Its hyper-real approach to getting inside its characters heads often resorts to manipulative but satisfying dialogue that, for dramaturgy’s sake, hastens the show’s plot along while giving us a pointed idea of what our characters are thinking. I have no doubt that, since Mitchell is in jail by the end of “Though the Heavens Fall” thanks to Reed’s snooping, he will soon try to explain himself, as is foreshadowed in the teaser for next week’s episode. Still, his story just didn’t have the nuance it needed to to seem like more than just a rushed means to next week’s ends.
And how about that explosive ending? Apart from providing a lot of good gasps, the episode’s conclusion gets more dissatisfying the more I think about it. For instance, I can get behind Herrick killing Nina because the way that he did it felt right: He would quickly and quietly impale someone just to prove that he hasn’t gone soft. But the way that Nina doesn’t put up a fight when George goes running to bust Mitchell out of jail is really irksome. Why would she just accept that dressing down after anonymously calling the police on him? What happened to Nina’s righteous anger?
Also, MacNair and Thomas seem to have been brought back for a third time this season for no good reason. First, MacNair pointlessly throws viewers during that one scene where Mitchell comes home and grumbles, “Prophecy my arse,” right before MacNair goes slinking off to confront Herrick. Because apparently MacNair also has a bone to pick with Herrick, a gripe that I should add is only alluded to in a skimpy flashback that kicks tonight’s episode off. MacNair is the perfect werewolf-shaped MacGuffin needed to restore Herrick’s mean streak, and knowing that kind of sucks.
That is, he would have been perfect if Whithouse hadn’t also had Herrick kill Reed, hastily tying two loose ends with one all-purpose baddie. The death of MacNair will mostly likely set Thomas up to come into his own next episode by killing Herrick, but that’s just idle speculation. Obviously, I should wait until next week to judge how well Whithouse resolves the show’s current preoccupations, but if “Though the Heavens Falls” is any indication, the season’s not going to go out on a high note.