One of the first questions that comes to mind (or to my mind, anyway—the rest of you may have more important things to think about) regarding any ongoing series with a supernatural element is this: What do the normal people know, and how long have they known it? In other words, is it common knowledge that we’re sharing the planet with demons, spooks, and shape-shifters, or is that sort of information strictly on a need-to-know basis? For instance, when True Blood began, vampires had only recently come out of the closet, but by season three, it seemed as if everyone in Bon Temps had some sort of paranormal ability they’d been keeping under wraps. Similarly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer initially posited a world in which evidence of the existence of vampires was greeted with skepticism at best, but by the later seasons of both Buffy and its spinoff Angel, humans and demons were hobnobbing at karaoke bars and keg parties like it was no big deal.
That question occurred to me again while watching “Some Thing To Watch Over Me,” the best of the three episodes of Being Human to air so far. At this point in the series, there doesn’t appear to be much human awareness of the supernatural at all, but as we’ve seen in the examples mentioned above, that can change quickly. This week, we’re presented with Michael Garrity, the police liaison to a Neighborhood Watch group organized by Aidan, much to Josh’s dismay. Garrity, it seems, has some inkling that monsters lurk among us; based on Aidan’s resemblance to an old police sketch, he suspects the vamp of murdering his father many years earlier, despite being (presumably) too young to have done so. His suspicions are confirmed when he impales Aidan on a metal rod and sees that he has the same tattoo (“Celine”) as the killer. Aidan defies Bishop’s wishes (not for the first time, and clearly not the last) and attempts to use his mind-clouding abilities to wipe Garrity’s memory of their encounter, but his efforts only spur the tormented cop to suicide. (Bishop, meanwhile, uses his mind control juju to get free coffee in the hospital cafeteria. And it’s not like he even needs the stuff to stay awake.)
Some of my other pressing questions were answered, thanks to Sally’s curiosity about vampires. Yes, they brush their teeth. They eat—although mostly for show, not for sustenance. And no, sunlight doesn’t fry them to ash. According to Aidan, they evolved beyond their nocturnal origins, although they’re still “photosensitive.” We learn more about Sally’s abilities as well, thanks to Tony, a ghost recruited by Aidan and Josh (via Craigslist, I guess) to get her mind off her still-living fiancé Danny. Tony teaches her how to move from room to room instantaneously and even how to get outside, but despite the fact that he’s the only other dead guy around, he still doesn’t seem to be Sally’s type. (Tony is one of the best visual gags of the series so far; since he died in 1987, he’s doomed to wander the astral plane in a mullet, jean jacket, and eyeliner. Unfortunately, Tony doesn’t amount to much more than that one gag and his “ghost trainer” plot function, and the actor playing him doesn’t bring a whole lot to the party, either.)
Josh doesn’t have as much to do as his housemates this week, although he does draw Neighborhood Watch duty, during which he ends up nearly strangling a graffiti tagger to death. It appears that the wolf within isn’t far from the surface, even when the moon isn’t full. That’s probably a necessary development, given that, of our three protagonists, Josh is the closet to—all together, now—being human. After all, his transformations are completely predictable and containable (at least when his sister isn’t around), so the character has to have some sort of conflict to wrestle with on the 352 days a year he isn’t turning into a werewolf.
Although it wasn’t a perfect hour of television by any means, I thought “Some Thing To Watch Over Me” struck the right balance between the show’s darker impulses and the humor implicit in its absurd premise. The characters have grown on me with each episode—Aidan less so than the others, although he’s somewhat hamstrung by having to carry the weight of the larger mythology, in terms of his conflict with Bishop and “the family.” It remains to be seen whether Being Human can maintain this balance with any consistency, but I’m much more encouraged than I was a week ago at this time.
- Once again, Mark Pellegrino makes the most of his limited screen time. I would rather he never ask me about the saddest thing I’d ever seen, thanks all the same.
- Nice touch: Josh turning the newspaper pages for Sally.
- Also: “Casper the Handsy Ghost.”
- Sadly, this is the last of the episodes SyFy provided for review. I’ll be watching live from here on out, just like you civilians.