At its smartest and most engaging, Being Human is not devoid of humor. Tonight's episode had its funny side, but it was the kind of humor that's unintentional, and unintentional humor is something that a show about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together should probably not load up on. If someone writing for the show had sought out my counsel and asked how many scenes this season should be set in the 1930s, so that Sam Witwer could paste on a lounge lizard mustache that makes him look like he's in a sketch on Saturday Night Live, I would have advised the writer to include no such scenes, and then, privately, I would have advised the producers to paint a new name on the fellow's parking space as soon as possible. Witwer looks so goddamn ridiculous in these cheap-looking, zero-atmosphere flashback scenes that when he opens his mouth, I expect him to sound like Dudley Do-Right or as if he's been sucking on helium balloons. It's the kind of look that just naturally goes with a funny voice.
Aidan is spending a lot of time lost in a flashback daze because his current existence has gotten so terrible that he's sifting through every scrap of his past with Suren, the creepy-dreamy new Queen of Boston, in search of life lessons. To judge from the stuff he's back to intoning in voice-over at the start of the episodes, all he's coming up with is wisdom from stale fortune cookies, "Most people can't do it," he moos, "cover up their true feelings, pretend to be be someone they're not." Mitt Romney, come on down! One of Aidan's true feelings remains a ravenous lust for fresh human blood, chugged straight out of the bottle, as it were, and now that his best source for the packaged kind has been shut down, he's finding it harder and harder to keep it in his pants. He is, in fact, finding it harder and harder to stop himself from hanging out in the corridors of seedy-looking apartment buildings, doing his best imitation of an extra in The Panic In Needle Park.
Last week, he sought out a blood hooker who rents out her veins to the hungry undead. This week, he's banging on her door again, but apparently, it's not his first return visit. The poor old broad tells him that she fears for her life if he bites her again, but that if he comes back later, maybe "Darla" can help him out. Later in the show, he drops back in, and a little girl answers the door. Aidan enquires as to whether the hooker is available, and the little girl says, nope, she's not, but maybe I can help you, my name's Darla, and of course, Aidan performs an elaborate display of backing-up-into-the-wall, contorted-facial-expression horror and self-disgust. I get it that the whole bloodsucking-for-pay thing is a metaphor for a dangerous and debauched sex life; it's hard to miss, given how thoroughly every possible angle of the monster-as-metaphor gimmick has been picked clean on television these past 15 years or so. But if you're going to push it to the wall like this, with the hero being basically offered a child prostitute to sate his unholy cravings, you'd better have the grace and the self-knowledge to recognize that you're making a sick joke. Being Human treats it so melodramatically straight that it turns into the Reefer Madness of vampire shows.
Meaghan Rath has it even worse. Zoe, the poker-faced ghost whisperer of the maternity ward, is still around, and with every scene she's in, her story line continues to redefine the limits of the word "unpromising." Sally, still eager to bond with her, decides that what the charmless woman needs is some motion in her ocean and sets about trying to fix her up with the hospital's resident McDreamy. It doesn't go well, and that would seem to be that, because if having Meaghan Rath tutor you in cuteness doesn't do anything for your game, you're a lost cause for sure. But then Sally runs into Nick, the dead college crush whom she reconnected with last season. You may recall that Nick, instead of moving on with his afterlife, was compelled to relive his death every day, which forced Sally to realize that it wasn't her, it was him. Zoe has been helping him through her encounter group for dead people, and now, he looks so great that Sally decides to try, once again, to begin a relationship with him.
Turns out that he and Zoe are (I can't believe I'm typing this) dating. You can rest assured that the show totally ignores the tantalizing, and inherently comical, issue of how a solid, flesh and blood person and a nonphysical entity go about getting it on, instead focusing on the tear-stained dramatic possibilities of this really stupid situation. Sally and Nick take a walk together to clear the air, sort of. She asks him why, if he was seeing Zoe, he accepted her invitation to go on what she thought of as a date. He replies that he was eager to see her so that he could thank her for helping him get to the place where he was fit to properly romance Zoe. He tells her that he's ready now to put the whole "reliving my death" thing behind him, which he just wasn't ready to do the last time he saw her. "So when you get down to it," Sally says, "you'd rather die every single day than date me." I myself have been on the receiving end of enough sentences that began, "So when you get right down to it..." to know that they never end well, but still, that one takes the cake.
Being Human continues to use its premise to devise moral dilemmas that may not be as resonant, let alone as non-goofy, as the show seems to want them to be. Heartbroken and lonely beyond endurance, Sally spies on Doctor McDreamy as he's making out with his date and jumps into her, so that she can get a little action herself, You know she's going to hate herself in the morning. As for Aidan, he's obliged to "turn" a smirky gangster with a billiard ball for a head, because the guy has offered to provide the vampire community of Boston with certain services--"waste disposal," like that--in exchange for being made one seriously hard-to-kill mobster. Aidan doesn't want to be in bed with this guy, but after telling Josh that sometimes you have to deal with unsavory individuals for the the sake of the greater good, he convinces himself that sinking his fangs into Billy Corgan is the right thing. Naturally, when he does it, he's so turned on by the taste of fresh blood that he has to be forcibly restrained from draining the guy dry. When Aidan is in lost in the sensation of satisfying his thirst, his mouth hangs wide open and his eyes roll back in his head and turn black, which is kind of what I looked like by this point in the show. Then he and Suren both get so excited that they fall to the floor together and do wonderful, terrible, very strenuous thing to each other that we can only guess about, though it's worth observing that when we cut back to them lying entangled in each other's limbs, they've apparently managed to do them without her taking her bra off. Maybe, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde's Nurse Prism, that is what SyFy means.
It's in Josh's story that we encounter the new wrinkle to the mythology that the show seems proudest of. In the course of his day-to-day around the hospital, Josh happens to meet the prickishly blond Connor and his almost alarmingly blue-eyed twin sister, both of whom are "pure bloods," werewolves from birth. Josh is quick to take a dislike to them, which is a lucky thing for Sam Huntington, because it means that he gets to deliver the only lines in this episode that are probably meant to be funny. He gives his most affable read to Josh asking the sister, regarding Connor's habit of addressing everyone he meets as "Cochise," "Does he know he sounds like a tool?" When the initial charm wears off, he describes his new friends to Aidan: "Connor's that guy who got the new car at 16 and crashed it, so his parents got him a better one at 17. And she, I'm pretty sure she had a horse as a little girl, right up to the day she ate it, and she's the one I like."
Josh is prepared to suck it up and endure the twins' company, because they share a common goal: the search for a cure for their condition. The only thing is, he at first misinterprets just what they think their condition is. As the sister tells him, he feels like he turns into something horrible once a month, and they feel uncomfortable in their skins every minute of their lives except for the night of the full moon. Or, as Josh puts it, doing his own backing up and stammering number, "You want to be wolves all the time!" In Sam Huntington's defense, this particular moment might have played as less silly if it hadn't come some 20 minutes after a promotional spot that played during one of the commercial breaks, in which executive producer Adam Kane talks about the twins and says, "They feel trapped in their bodies, and so what they want is to turn themselves into werewolves full time." Hey, remember that famous trailer for Citizen Kane, that consisted of Orson Welles leaning into the camera and yelling, "It was his sled!"
- Some nice bits of TV criticism embedded in this one. I chuckled at the admittedly none-too-timely moment when Josh, referring to the chance that Zoe and the hot doctor might hook up, said, "It's like Jack Bauer dating Chloe. You kinda want to see it, but not really." This was topped, though, when Sally. listening to the love talk between the doctor and his date, spat out a single word: "Puke!" I wish I had an MP3 of that to use as an option instead of a letter grade.
- Mark your calendar: Sam Huntington will be on the SyFy special-effects makeup challenge show Face Off this Wednesday night. I presume that he'll be making up his own lines, and I also presume that they will be an improvement.