“Season Five, Episode One”
Misfits has always relied on surprise and the unexpected. From the very beginning, with Nathan's “this is our chance to network with other young offenders,” inappropriateness has been a core value of the show. It's usually worked very well—partially because this inappropriateness is often used to subvert television expectations, and partially because the actors, especially Robert Sheehan and (eventually) Joe Gilgun were charismatic enough to make the horrible seem, if not necessarily tolerable, at least hilarious.
Part of that inappropriateness has always been Misfits' treatment of consent as a fuzzy line. Some of that is the powers changing normal modes of agency—Alicia's power was the removal of all consent, and she did use it, yet we still generally considered her one of the good guys. But another aspect of it has been the show's acknowledgment that young people can and do get wasted and have sex, in ways that they probably wouldn't while sober. You could certainly argue that the show's been a little too forgiving of this, but overall, I think it has usually done a good job of treating situations like that involving the main characters with sympathy.
But both of those lines are dangerous lines to walk. Too much impropriety and the show will move from “breaking the rules” to “shock value for its own sake,” a la Family Guy. And, of course, any kind of rape joke is a massive risk. So for the climax of this episode to be Alex knocking Finn out and raping him, well... this time, Misfits, you may have crossed the line.
I do say “may” for a reason, though. After all, Finn is literally possessed by the devil here, and doesn't this just make the moment the embodiment of Louis C.K.'s “rape or kill Hitler” bit? Not that that's necessarily instant forgiveness, but there are mitigating circumstances. Still, I found it rather off-putting that it was treated as comedy. That's not subversive; the idea that male-male rape is worth joking about (prison jokes, etc) is a major problem, which added to my discomfort. That said, I'm not willing to damn the entirety of Misfits just yet—the show has tried so hard and usually done so well at discussing issues of sexuality with a comic tone that I can forgive it. But this scene, more than anything other than Finn's kidnapping of his girlfriend, has me unhappy with the show. It felt like Misfits had become a cartoon of itself, instead of treating difficult issues with sympathy.
Apart from that, however, the first episode of the season was, like most of the other season premieres, mostly fine but a little bit awkward. The idea of a character turning evil and developing more sexual confidence was explored far better in the Evil Rudy story last season. Most of the best stuff came from Alex's new power, where an accident-prone woman needed him to fuck the power out of her. “This is a chance to use your cock for good!” Combined with the always-impressive Karla Crome as Jess responding to the relationship, it gave me the most hope for the season.
“Season Five, Episode Two”
Misfits is coming to a conclusion. This season has been announced as the final one, and as such, it needs to, well, conclude. The plot is the most obvious form of this. In the first episode, Rudy Two received a premonition sweater showing the gang apparently as superheroes. Then, in this episode, we meet a guy who can fly—which is the power apparently held by Abby on the sweater.
The show has had dalliances with superheroes before. In the second season, Curtis had the flashforward of the gang dressed as superheroes—only for that to be, rather hilariously, a scene from a costume party. More importantly, there was also Simon-as-Superhoodie, a conceit that was initially clever but proved problematic when Misfits actually had to pay off its foreshadowing. So it's difficult for me to get too excited about the idea of the gang becoming “proper superheroes.”
It's more important for Misfits to come to a thematic conclusion. The show has always been largely about young people making mistakes and becoming, well, if not adults, then better people. The first batch of kids and powers was explicitly about that. By the end of the second season, they'd largely succeeded, but the characters remained—which is why the third season was so aimless. This is part of what made the fourth season a necessarily jolt. Yes, it sucked to lose so many beloved characters, but their stories, in the way that Misfits wanted to tell stories, were largely over. We needed new characters.
But if the series is coming to an end, the new characters all have to have their stories lined up for an ending. Jess needs to allow herself to open up to someone, Finn needs to not be a fucking waste of space, Alex needs to not be selfish, Abby needs to find or come to terms with herself, and Rudy, well, Rudy probably had largely accomplished this after the nun storyline at the end of last season. But it's not like there's a lack of other things about him to be improved.
Thus the conclusion of this episode, which strongly implied a growing romance between Jess and Rudy, seemed to fit the bill. If Jess can manage to fall for Rudy, then she'll obviously have to get over her fully rational trust issues. If Rudy can fall for Jess, a real person instead of the idealized Nadine last season, then that'll definitely require personal improvement from him. But the fact that it fits so well makes me mistrust it. Doesn't that lead to a happy ending? Is that what I want from this show? I don't think so. And, obviously, Misfits has been happy to subvert such things before (Nathan and Kelly shippers, I'm sorry). But since the entire show is ending, I'm not so certain.
Another reason I'm skeptical about this season moving forward is that these two episodes weren't especially inspiring. The second episode, with Rudy's father being split into good and evil, was also reminiscent of the Evil Rudy episode from last season, and once again, nowhere near as impressive. I'm getting the feeling that Misfits is largely out of gas. That may be unfair after just two episodes—last season's first two weren't so great either—but at least there are six more episodes for Misfits to right the ship.
- Speaking of it being the last season, that also means returning guest stars! This week, the Nico Bellic wannabe from the Grand Theft Auto episode, and the gang of teens we've seen before. FINGERS CROSSED ROBERT SHEEHAN
- “You said it would be funny if they chopped his cock off during the operation.” I still like Abby, at least in small doses.
- “If I find out you've been supplying local restaurants and kebab houses with dodgy mea-t...”
- Best Rudy moment: “Oh, you speakin' French? Je m'appelle Rudy! J'habite the Community Center!”
- “I suppose you only have sex with people that you find physically attractive.” “It's a weird rule that I have.” “Well that's a bit shallow, innit.”
- Rudy on his lush pubic hair: “I use a volumizing conditioner, in case you're wondering.”
- Jess tried to sneak around looking into things for the entire second episode until she actually used her power at the end. I thought the writers had forgotten.
- Speaking of Jess, how good is Karla Crome? I've come to love Joe Gilgun and Rudy, but I'd really appreciate her becoming the focus of the show. I hope she becomes a star.