The most entertaining moment in tonight's episode came when Nora, lounging around Josh's room the night before the full moon, felt the heightened senses that come with her wolf powers kicking in. She could smell all kinds of odors from far away, she could hear the bedsprings bouncing in Aidan's bedroom, and then, to Josh's and the viewers' delight, she started feeling frisky. That last part was a nice, unexpected touch, considering that she'd started the conversation complaining that Josh "reeked" of food that he'd eaten days before. Josh explained how the wolf thing works and said, "I've been enjoying your stank all day." Sadly, stank was one thing this episode had plenty of.
The big news was the arrival of a new, not especially promising character, a nurse at the hospital who can see ghosts, and supervises reincarnation for those she deems worthy. One of the ghosts hanging around hoping to get a nod from her called her "Zoe, the reincarnation chick." Josh, on the other hand, referred to her as "Zoe with the Manson stare." Both descriptions made her sound both more intense and more interesting than she managed to be in her debut episode; seeing dead people and shooing them around as if directing them to the smoking area, she just seemed to be doing a rip-off of Aubrey Plaza's impenetrable, bored deadpan, with the spice missing. (Asked to account for her abilities, she muttered, "It's a gift, it's a curse. Crazy stuff.") I was a little surprised to even see Sally hanging out at the hospital, after being so freaked out from her encounter last season with the scary, unhinged ghosts haunting its old wing, but apparently that's all forgotten, and most of the "hey, all you dead people, take a number" stuff was played strictly for laughs. It didn't get them.
The other big news involved the identity of Julia, the super-hot new doctor at the hospital who spent the night with Aidan. It turns out that she's the Julia, the phantom fiancee who Josh ran away from after he started growing a pelt every full moon. The size of this coincidence really strained credulity, which, when you consider that anyone watching this show has made his peace with the whole "a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost are sharing a house together" thing, is really saying something. (The voice from the other end of the couch, which emanates from someone who'd never seen the show before, insisted that it strained credulity in other ways, but I explained that Josh has a really great personality.) By the end of the episode, Aidan did the vampire-bro code thing and told her that they couldn't adjourn to his boudoir together anymore. Just to help you keep your scorecard updated, let me sum up: this means that we now have this woman, the fiancee who she hasn't seen since he dumped her, the fiancee's best friend who's just now dumped her, and the fiancee's new girlfriend all working at the same hospital. I was prepared for this show to go wrong in any number of possible ways, but I never expected it to go all Grey's Anatomy on me.
It's not as if Nora needs this shit. The episode begins with Josh showing her the storage units he's acquired so that they can lock themselves up when they're about to transform. (Actually, the episode really begins with one of those horrible, Jack Handey-esque deep thought voiceovers from Aidan; this one starts with the observation that "One thing monsters and humans have in common is the fact that they're both capable of destruction." If he were Michael Palin enumerating the main weapons of the Spanish Inquisition, he could have added, "And typhoons. One thing monsters and humans and typhoons have in common is the fact that they're all capable of destruction. Just like buffalo stampedes. One thing monsters and humans and typhoons and buffalo stampedes have in common is the fact that they're all capable of destruction. Sort of like the ebola virus..." I like to imagine that the speech as originally written went on a ways in this vein but that it was cut for time.)
"Maybe I don't want to be safe," said Nora. "Maybe I want to be free. What if we change together and our wolves are calm? Maybe they'll be happy together." Or maybe they'd be happy together but also anything but calm, like the horny werewolves in The Howling. When upset, Nora also revealed that she knew something that Josh thought he'd been keeping from her--i.e., that she'd killed the vampire assassin who'd had Josh in his cross-hairs the first night she went wolfy. Josh was so unstrung by this news that he forgot to thank her for having saved his ass, an oversight that, if I were guilty of it, the possessor of the voice from the other end of the couch would still be bringing up on our fiftieth anniversary.
In the end, though, after she's had a confrontation with Julia that the show finds so upsetting that the camera lens develops glaucoma and the editing gets a bad case of the hiccups, Nora agrees that Josh is right: she has to be locked up for the change, because she can't trust herself to keep her violent impulses in check. I wish that she'd been given the chance to try a little longer. When Nora is taking about placing more trust in the animal inside her instead of tightening its leash, she's raising possibilities that are more promising than some of the ones the show seems more interested in exploring. Josh's whole character has been defined by his fear of the animal inside him taking over and running amok, a fear that has caused him to whittle his life down to the bare essentials. If Nora isn't going to challenge that fear and goad him to try to find a different way to live, it's hard to see what's she's doing on the show at all.
As for Aidan, he's mostly there to drive home the metaphorical equation of hot bodily urges and the lust for fresh blood. Waking up in bed with Julia, he feels the itch getting to him and has to flee to the bathroom to slake his unholy thirst by sucking up the contents of a blood bag he's snitched from the hospital. (Check it out--who knew a vampire could be a morning person?) After the hospital--finally!--changes protocol to combat the mysterious theft of what must be a substantial percentage of their blood supply, he's reduced to visiting a hooker who lets him drink from her arm, with a big, bald bruiser sitting by waiting to throw Aidan out on his ear, just in case the strung-out bloodsucker loses his grip and the services of a bouncer are needed. (Spoiler alert: the services of a bouncer are needed.) This is one more thing in the episode that doesn't quite compute: since vampires are super-strong, and based on what we've seen so far, they can get even stronger when they wig out, what good is this guy going to do? Or is he meant to be some kind of monster himself, or a moonlighting Ben Grimm? On this show, anything is possible.
- "Okay," Nora says at one point, "I will let a ghost lock me in a storage unit so you can videotape me while I take my clothes off and turn into an animal," then adds, "Yep, that sounded as creepy as I thought it would." Later, prepping her roommates for a visit from Zoe, Sally says, "The reincarnation lady is coming to interview you about me to make sure I'm good to mingle with a baby soul," and one of the guys replies, "Did you hear what you just said?" Okay, Being Human, please listen up, because I'm only going to say this once. (I said it fifty times over the course of watching maybe three episodes of The Event, and they didn't listen to me, and look how that turned out.) You have a weird premise. You're about a vampire and a werewolf and a ghost who live together. Sometimes, it's just inevitable that, in the course of commenting on or describing weird things, your characters are going to have to say weird things. Having them blushingly concede that what they just said was kind of weird only makes it worse.