We’re nearly two-thirds of the way through the first season of Being Human, yet all too often, it still feels as if we’re getting nowhere. Tonight’s episode may have been the wispiest to date; looking back at my notes, it’s hard to believe an hour of actual new content transpired. (Actually, given the frequency and duration of the commercial breaks, I’d be surprised if “Children Shouldn’t Play With Undead Things” topped out at 40 minutes.) You could make the case that the episode was more concerned with character development than plot advancement, but it’s hard to get excited about that when the characterizations are so tissue-thin and predictable.
Josh, for example, is his usual shy, stammering self when he spots Nurse Nora out in a bar with a handsome doctor. But did you know that deep within his meek and mild exterior lurks the heart of a wild beast? Oh, you did know that? Well, just in case it slipped your mind, Josh has another awkward date with Nora, and since it’s his time of the month yet again, he finds himself uncontrollably growling when they begin to get busy. I’m not sure why that’s such a problem—it’s certainly better than uncontrollably farting—but Josh flees the sexy nurse’s apartment in a hurry, lest his bestial urges get the best of him. That happens anyway during the full moon the following night, when Nora waylays Josh on the way to his secret changing chamber. Before you know it, Josh is mounting her from behind for a grunty rutting session, barely making his getaway in time to go the full werewolf in the privacy of his own home.
Sally witnesses his painful transformation, which makes her feel a little better about her own sad little non-life. Earlier, Aidan had introduced her to a closed-off wing of the hospital, which has now become a depressing waiting room for boring old ghosts who can’t let go of their old lives. (Cue Tony Soprano: “It’s a retirement community!”) This scene reinforces Sally’s need to wrap up her old business and move on to the next world, but it also points up the major flaw in her arc. If she resolves her issues with Danny, she’s no longer a ghost and therefore no longer on the show, but if she doesn’t resolve them, well, that plot just gets dragged on ad nauseum as an excuse to keep her around. Maybe there’s a clever solution to this conundrum—maybe her real issues have nothing to do with Danny at all—but if not, Sally’s story seems destined to get truly pathetic.
And then there’s Aidan, who spends the episode playing big brother to neighbor kid Bernie, a punching bag for the school bullies. His ease with the boy hints again at his pre-vamp existence, and we get another brief sepia-toned 1776 flashback to reinforce the suggestion that he was responsible for something terrible happening to his family, but the full back story will have to wait. (I, for one, am prepared to be underwhelmed.) In the end, Aidan’s inability to let go of his dark side sabotages any possibility of forming a new surrogate family with Bernie and his mom, as the poor kid ends up borrowing Rebecca’s kinky snuff film along with some Three Stooges DVDs.
So we’ve learned, yet again, that whether you’re a werewolf, a ghost, or a vampire, it’s impossible to ignore the monster within and simply pretend to be human. What we haven’t learned is whether or not Being Human can use this basic premise as a building block for some compelling, unusual stories. And time is running out.
- Most Three Stooges fans developed their love for the comedy trio in childhood, but Aidan is much too old for that to be the case. He’s probably a Curly Joe fan.
- No Bishop, Danny, or Bridget this week, and more importantly, no follow-up on those creepy barn cocoons from the end of last week’s episode. This week definitely could have used some creepy barn cocoons.
- Remember to always put your vampire snuff films back in the copy of Gulliver’s Travels where you hide them. Otherwise, small children may find them.