Through its entire run, Misfits has used the idea of structural balance—and imbalance—to keep each episode fresh. Going into the show each week, it’s hard to tell whether you’ll get an episode that has a single-character focus, an ensemble piece, or something in between. The clubbing episode in the first season was the most ensemble-like of that series, and probably its best, while the third and fourth episodes of this season focused on Rudy/Jess and Curtis respectively, and were also marvelous. As long as those standout episodes are distributed among the various characters, and the ensemble episodes demonstrate all of their strengths, the series gets the best out of everyone.
The première of this fourth season was a good ensemble piece, but it wasn’t terribly relevant to Misfits as it stands now. Five episodes later, two of that story’s five characters—Seth and Curtis—are gone, and two others—Jess and Finn—are no longer new and requiring introductions. Five episodes later, we have Alex, still mysterious at the start of the episode, and the “surprise, there’s a new girl in the credits” addition, Abby.
As an introduction to the new character, this is an even odder episode than the première. Abby is passed out in a crumpled heap for the first half of the episode, and shown doing little more than swilling alcohol at a rate that indicates it’s somehow her power. When she wakes up, she’s still largely a cipher. Other than making a Finn-like joke about how her knickers were inside out at Finn’s expense, everything she says is essentially directly related to the plot. I got the feeling that this was intentional, though. Abby comes across here as quiet, yes, but it’s a quietness with intensity and slyness behind it. I don’t often see this style of character portrayed on television, where the verbalization of motivation is almost constant. I’m looking forward to seeing how her character is developed.
This is also a bit of a throwback-Rudy episode, as he spends most of it trying to help Finn get laid. He’s occupying the “mentor” role that Curtis’ death thrust upon him, but he’s still operating almost entirely as a horndog. “Can I just say… long-term relationships, there’s no shame in that.” “There’s shame in that, there’s deep shame in that.” I could almost see the ghost of Simon staring at him in open-mouthed shock as he revealed some of his methodology.
Finn’s reactions are amusing as well, such as this when Rudy said he needed a girl who was emotionally distraught: “Are we going back to the funeral?” “Yeah, we’re going back to the funeral, come on.” Yet we also get more signs of Rudy’s growing maturity. His goal of making his 100th sexual partner special starts as something shallow—the girl with whom he was starting to hook up wasn’t particularly creative in bed—but it turns into him starting to view women as more than just a means to an end. When he meets Nadine at the funeral, consoles her, and realizes that he actually seems to like her, it’s an important step in his development. Like Finn last week, he starts going through the motions to try to get what he wants, but ends up actually believing in those motions.
The continuing redemption of Finn’s character also takes some half-steps forward. He’s still a little creep to Jess, and that is, perhaps, an accurate representation of a guy with a crush at that age—but that doesn’t change the jerk factor when he calls Alex “Mister HIV.” But detached from Jess, and off with Rudy, Finn’s awkwardness is much more tolerable.
We also finally learn what Alex’s secret is: Someone else used their power to replace his penis with a vagina. This makes sense, given his behavior, and it could lead to some interesting discussion of gender performance. But it doesn’t actually make Alex a terribly interesting character outside of that. He’s nice, he’s cute, he’s angry about his lack of penis, and what else? I do think it’s interesting that, after two seasons of time travel and noble death as the overarching storylines, season four is about a man chasing his lost dick.
Alex may not be the most interesting character, but he gains strength from the fact that most of his interactions are with Jess, who has rapidly become Misfits’ strongest character. This is one of her best episodes, flashing between sweetness, anger, and sadness. Karla Crome imbues her with a feeling of three dimensionality, where I both like and believe her in every single one of these roles. Her line delivery for “46. Must’ve been one hell of a weekend” manages to convey exactly the right amount of friendly sarcasm with a dash of pain.
But where the sixth episode of the fourth season falls down is its villain. I don’t know about you all, but that preview last week made me feel like we were getting a trippy horror flick with an insane rabbit murderer. The rabbit’s there, but it’s just a bit weird. It’s almost like it, and the characters, were in a horror movie with the flickering lights and the girl punished for sleeping with too many men, but the viewers see a conventional character-based episode of Misfits. As an episode on its own, it’s quite good, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed thanks to that preview.
- “It’s the wrong flat. Get your shit, it’s the wrong flat.”
- “So while you’re just jerking off, right, into a wet flannel like a stinky little hobbit bitch, I’m gonna be joining the hundreds club!” Epic line, epic line reading.
- Lovely little interaction between Jess and Alex: “We should keep drinking.” “We definitely should.”
- “No it can’t wait I had to wait for you to ejaculate!” Rudy’s so considerate.
- While I like Abby in theory, I have issues with leggings-as-pants. We’ll see how this goes.