When I found out Scott needed someone to pinch hit for him on Being Human this week, I was pretty excited. I’ve been faithfully reading his weekly reviews, and while I agree with most of his criticisms of the show, I’ve found myself almost inadvertently becoming quite the fan. I was looking forward to discussing the aspects I really believe are effective and compelling, even if the series as a whole is probably a bit more slight than it should be (and, let’s face it, I probably like it more than is reasonable based on what we’ve been shown so far). Imagine my disappointment, then, when tonight’s episode was easily my least favorite to date. How am I supposed to build a compelling argument when you give me nothing to work with, show? Don’t you want me to defend you?
The main criticism that has been thrown at the show, and that I agree with to an extent, is that we have been presented with very little forward plot movement in the first nine episodes. This is true, but in my opinion, plot momentum isn’t essential as long as the character development is strong. On this front, I think Being Human has been successful, especially demonstrated by the easygoing chemistry of the cast. Put three people together who are very believable as friends and have them bounce semi-decent dialogue off of each other, and it’s easy to spend time with characters, even if they’re given nothing much of importance to do.
Still, the lack of momentum in Josh’s story with Nora was glaring enough this week that it bothered even me. After their little animal encounter last week, it seemed as if things were finally moving forward. Instead, we got an entire episode of Josh freaking out (again) and confusing the heck out of Nora by wanting to take things slow (again) and then ultimately running to her and attempting to win back her heart (again). Things do get a little more complicated with the reveal that Nora has a tragic past of her own, but it isn’t something we couldn’t have guessed, considering her continued attraction to someone who, from an outsider’s point of view, comes across as a crazy person. Not to mention the very act of giving Nora some sort of damage in order to make it more easy for her to accept Josh’s random bullshit sort of takes the legs out from under her character a bit. Why couldn’t she just be a freewheeling, slightly off-center woman who enjoys chaos? Instead, she is made into yet another victim, albeit a human one this time. Granted, her past abuse will likely give the show plenty of fodder for future stories, but it still was a bit of a disappointment.
Last week, Aidan spent his time playing with a neighborhood boy and paying the obvious consequences for being a weird, unmarried man playing with a neighborhood boy. Since the boy was his neighbor it was likely the story would continue, and the hint of backstory we got from a flashback of Aidan with a son of his own promised continued character development along those lines, which would be welcome. Of the three main characters, Aidan is the one we know the least about, and being the most familiar “type” amidst this current climate of vampire saturation in popular culture, he is the one who desperately needs the chance to develop a persona of his own. Instead of a character-illuminating story, however, we got the very predictable trope of Aidan having to kill a vampire who was turned because of Aidan's own carelessness.
Bernie being killed and then turned (by Rebecca, who honestly Aidan should have just killed weeks ago, just to save himself endless grief) was quite a dark place for the show to go, and Sam Witwer rendered the emotions of the situation well, but it was not an interesting thing to see unfold. The second Rebecca found out what happened, anyone who’s seen a vampire tale before (or, honestly, anyone who’s seen a television show before) knew what she would do and what Aidan would be forced to do to Bernie in turn. The only semi-surprising thing about the situation was Bishop using Bernie’s transformation to further manipulate Aidan and push him to the brink, in an attempt to bring him back into Bishop's twisted “family.” Now that's a story beat that needs some momentum, and it was good to see it inch just a little bit forward.
As for Sally, she remains the least essential of the three characters, and her story this week doesn’t do much to dissuade this argument. She spends the whole episode bonding with a fellow ghost, a man from her past life whom she had a connection with that seems to remain even beyond their deaths. He is even less evolved than her in his path to find his door, though, and so she remains in a standstill state. The problem with her character is obvious: If she determines the reason she can’t move on and is presented her door, her character is off the show. Until then, anything she does can be easily interpreted as useless filler. Meaghan Rath’s energy is a good contrast to Sam Huntington and Sam Witwer, and I think any scene where all three of them are together is a pleasure to watch, but the writers need to figure out a way to give Sally’s individual storylines some weight. This? Was not it.
Despite using 900 words to completely tear this week’s episode apart, I do still enjoy the show quite a bit, and this all comes back to the characters. Television generally is a medium that favors character over plot (although obviously the best of programs combine the two seamlessly), and sometimes, when you turn your television on you just want to spend an hour with characters you like. Being Human will hopefully get the chance to see if its storytelling can live up to the promise the characters have shown.
- Like “Hallelujah,” the “Mad World” music cue needs to be retired permanently. Once General Hospital uses the song (albeit the Adam Lambert version) for an entire three-month span of storytelling, it’s time to let it go, music supervisors.
- “Are you in the Dead Poets Society right now?”
- “Yeah, and your sex cloud, or whatever this is. It’s gross, OK. It spreads out, and I’m afraid to breathe because I don’t want to inhale part of you.”