It’s all about Nathan right now. Well, in a sense, Misfits has always been all about Nathan. He’s the most dominant character in terms of laugh lines, causing reactions, always having to say something. As one of you noticed in comments, most every screencap I picked for the first two series was from a Nathan scene, which makes sense. He was like a force of nature, but interestingly, he was not the most important character to the overall narrative. That would be Simon by a mile, with Alisha and Nathan well behind. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show where the character who takes up the most space like Nathan didn’t also become the show’s most important character, like Homer taking over from Bart early in The Simpsons.
But Nathan has left Misfits, although we do get one last hurrah in the “Vegas Baby!” short. We see that Nathan has exchanged his immortality for being a fantastic magician, which is an idiotic choice to be sure, but it’s one that seems to give him a chance to strike it rich in Vegas, baby. Until he uses his powers to make a dice with a seven on it. “Seven and four. Even I know that makes eleven!” As far as send-offs go, this is pretty light stuff, but I suppose it’s better than nothing, and it opens the vague possibility that we might see Nathan again, should Robert Sheehan decide to return to the show. Until then, we have a new character, Rudy, who makes a brief cameo in “Vegas Baby!,” and is the focus of the first episode of the new season.
“Can Misfits survive without Nathan?” is one of the two big questions that the show has to answer in its third season, and based on the first episode, I think the answer is a clear, but not terribly emphatic, “Yes.” Rudy in many ways feels like a Nathan repeat, but he also has some key differences that, I think, are going to make this work.
The chief similarity is that Rudy is profane like Nathan. His new girlfriend’s propensity for anal sex is an oft-repeated refrain. If you were worried that without “Doin’ the triple” Nathan Misfits would become a show you could watch with your fundamentalist relatives, I think this episode will assuage that anxiety in tremendously humorous fashion. With that said, Rudy is also very different from Nathan, in that while he is profane, he’s not manic. In this episode, he takes center stage, but it’s entirely possible for him to remain in the background in a way that Nathan never could.
Rudy’s power is also well-chosen from a narrative perspective. He has the ability—or perhaps curse—to split himself into two people, who are probably best described as Insecure Rudy and Arrogant Rudy, or perhaps Superego Rudy and Id Rudy. He’s also got a past with Alisha, which forces both sides to confront each other, and gives us tremendous initial insight into his character’s past. It’s superpowers used to make exposition easy, and it works.
The powers are also effective in a different narrative sense. I had the theory during the first batch of Hulu Misfits episodes that the powers are essentially designed to force the characters to grow up (note: link leads to a review featuring my favorite screencap—but it might not be yours, or your boss’). As we look at these characters now, we see that, with Nathan’s exception, that’s generally true. Alisha explicitly states that she’s a different, better person, and although she doesn’t mention her old power, it’s pretty much impossible for anyone who’s seen the previous episodes not to make that connection. So Rudy is essentially forced to confront his feelings about himself and his actions, instead of simply letting hedonism dominate. It’s probably good to have a character who isn’t as far “progressed” as the other characters, as it creates internal conflict that can be good for both humor and drama.
Speaking of the powers, that’s the second major question that this episode needed to answer: “What happened with the new powers?” I was happy with that twist at the end of last season, as Alisha and Curtis both had powers that severely hampered the narrative once they played themselves out. So let’s take a look at the new powers, with Nathan and Rudy already covered:
- Alisha can now see through other people’s eyes. This is a definite improvement on her old power, and moderately useful generally, but it’s not terribly exciting. Guess we’ll find out what can be done with it.
- Simon can now see the future. I wouldn’t have gotten rid of his invisibility, if I were him, but this is probably a pretty straight swap in terms of utility to both Simon and the story. I can foresee (heh) this one getting tired eventually, but the opening still exists for it to be replaced at some point.
- Kelly is now a rocket scientist mentally, but with no other significant changes. She wants a different power immediately, and I can understand why, since nobody takes her seriously. On the other hand, I can see this one being really fantastic story-wise, as Kelly comes to term with class issues.
- Curtis can now change his body to a close female facsimile. As the preview indicated, this is the focus of the second episode, so we’ll talk about it then.
The guy who replaced the powers is also still around, and as the first scene makes clear, he’s up to something possibly dangerous. Looks like our main plot is going to revolve around him and his search for whatever that might be, especially as he and Kelly seem to have a growing antagonistic relationship.
As for the specific plot of this episode, it’s solid, but not spectacular. Rudy’s two halves hit on two different women, which angers one of them. She happens has the power to stop time when she gets highly emotional, and she goes on a rampage, which also triggers a resolution to the unfinished business between Rudy and Alisha. It's got some interesting moments, but it wasn’t my favorite individual episode. Still, it gave me a lot of hope for the season to come.
- “Can you feel anything?” “None, not since Nathan Jr was born.” I kind of wish we’d seen more of Marnie. Maybe we will at some point, separated from Nathan.
- “We don’t have to do anything, we just put our heads down and stay the fuck out of it.” “Yeah cause that always works.”
- “I mean, come on, do you really think we’re just going to spend the next seven weeks picking up litter?” Misfits is getting meta, and right now, I love it.
- I cannot even begin to tell you guys how excited I am about next week’s episode. (I’ve seen it already, but haven’t seen others after it). It’s pretty much everything I ever wanted to write about as a television reviewer. I’m almost scared that I’m going to mess it up.