It’s hard not to classify Misfits as a superhero show. After all, what else do you call a show about people who get superpowers? I’ve done it myself, especially when comparing it to The Cape and No Ordinary Family a few months ago. But Misfits really isn’t a superhero show. Our protagonists are saving their skins, and perhaps doing nice things for themselves and a few other people, but heroes? Rarely. That implies far too much altruism, and while the misfits are improving as people, “altruistic” is still pretty low on the list of adjectives which might be used to describe them.
Except, of course, for Simon. Simon’s always been the first one to try and say they should do more with their powers, which has created some entertaining tension between him and the others, especially Alisha. And Simon is walking in the shoes of “Superhoodie”, the future-Simon who really did turn into a hero.
With all that in mind, this episode seemed to enter directly into a dialogue on those subjects and its introduction of the Superhoodie mythology from Season 2. This is one of the things I like about Misfits – it always seems willing to self-examine or respond to its fans on-screen, but it does that in an entertaining fashion.
That self-examination comes in the form of Peter, a shy young man who is immediately taken with Simon after Simon, in-costume, saves Peter from a mugger. Peter’s also a superhero fan and amateur artist, and Simon, after pushing him away, quickly comes to confide in Peter as a best friend, including telling him about Simon’s future self and the necessity of saving Alisha in the past. This makes sense, since Alisha has argued with Simon that he shouldn’t leave in order to save her, so Simon needs someone to confide in. But it does happen a little too quickly – and it’s revealed that Peter actually has the power to make what he draws in his comics reality, something that quickly spirals out of control thanks to his obsession with Simon as a superhero.
Simon’s has tried to put himself in the Spider-Man role before, adopting the “with great power comes great responsibility” idea, but his arguments here are different. He’s becoming a superhero because he believes that he has to. It’s his destiny, but he seems happy about it. Simon’s life has meaning. He gets to save the girl he loves, yes, but it almost seems like he wants to die as a hero even more than loving Alisha, who is understandably not so keen on the prospect. “A superhero has to be willing to die for what he believes in” is the quote Peter uses through the episode, but it’s unclear what exactly Simon believes in. It is clear that Misfits is ambivalent about that prospect, as Peter is not what one would call stable or heroic himself.
Misfits also pokes hols in the idea of time travel to some degree. Simon is convinced that everything that did happen, has to happen again. Alisha is equally convinced that since she’s alive in the present, she can’t have died in the past. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m normally no fan of time travel, but part of that is that fiction usually doesn’t explore the ramifications of time travel. In this case, Misfits is discussing how it would work, and it doesn’t come down on the narratively convenient response. Instead there’s confusion, manifested in the characters (I’m with Alisha here, at least at the moment). The characters’ confusion also reveals the workings of the characters – Peter thinks having a destiny of any kind is awesome, since he’s in a fantasy land. Alisha wants to protect herself and her loved ones. And Simon, well, Simon’s a lot closer to Peter than perhaps he’s willing to admit.
While I admire this episode for its willingness to directly two of the major unanswered questions about the show, I don’t think it’s quite Misfits at its highest level. The biggest problem is that Peter’s malevolence is telegraphed early on, thanks to the camera lingering on him as ominous music plays. About a third of the way through the episode I figured that he had maybe a 2% chance of survival, an indication that Misfits is getting a little predictable. As I mentioned last week, the feeling that anything can happen is one of the show’s biggest strengths.
- “Whoever does the crime does the boring mindless shit.”
- “You’re deflecting. It’s all right. Take it out of on your uncle Rudy....jesus! What the fuck is your problem?” “She’s deflecting.”
- “You’re a fucking rocket scientist!”