Misfits: "Season Five, Episode Five"
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Misfits: "Season Five, Episode Five"

How do you solve a problem like Finn? It's impossible to forget that his primary introduction to the show was that he'd kidnapped his girlfriend for weeks, on the grounds that she may have had the power of mind control. Since then, as much as Misfits has tried to humanize him, he's remained an awkward character for the show. So it makes sense to reverse the roles, and have Finn be kidnapped instead of kidnapping, and have him manage to salvage the situation by being nice. It's a good idea, and it actually works decently well in the end.

The problem is that in order to get to that ending, we get yet another episode of Finn attempting to awkwardly and self-consciously deal with girls. It's not pleasant to watch. His passive-aggressive flirtation with Jess has always seemed to lean toward Finn complaining about the friendzone and growing terrible facial hair, for one. And when he attempts to talk to any other, well, person, but especially another woman, it's just awkwardness incarnate. This is “good” in the sense that it's supposed to be awkward, and Nathan McMullen certainly carries it off.

But since we've never really had a reason to root for Finn, it’s just uncomfortable. It's not “I wish he'd succeed,” it's “I wish this wasn't on my screen right now.” This episode relies on that, once again, when Finn meets the woman who ends up kidnapping him, so it's set me up to dislike Finn. That feeling doesn't go away even as Finn is trying to be nice. The end resolution isn't so much satisfying as it is relieving: I'm relieved that Finn has a girlfriend—maybe he'll stop being horribly awkward all the time, and I'm relieved that “rape” isn't the solution to the problem as Alex seems to it to be.

The main story of the episode is that the girl Finn ends up with, Leah, is a shut-in whose power is the ability to take people's bodies over and upload them into a digital world. Once again this season, it's an episode whose story directly connects to a previous story the show's told—in this case, the creepy girl from the institution who comes after Simon in the season two premiere. It's the same arc: creepy obsession turns into mild rejection which triggers some physical threats which, when they don't work, became life-or-death physical threats, and then the object of her affection talks her out of it. It's not a bad story to do again, but relying on mind control/shapeshifting isn't usually a strong choice, as I discussed with that review.

The B-story of this episode involves the progression of the Rudy-Jess relationship. Jess says they have to tell Finn, but Rudy doesn't want to, so he decides to scare Finn off Jess by taking a video of her shitting. On the bright side, it's a great vehicle for telling scatological jokes, which is a good thing for Misfits. But it's too contrived to really get into. First, the show takes the easy way out of getting to that point: Jess orders Rudy to tell Finn, Finn shows up, and she overhears them talking. They get to the point where they both agree that Jess is perfect, and... then what? Then the scene's over. The tension exists here primarily because of editing, instead of characters resolving (or not) whatever they needed to do. Then there's the problem that the video of Jess shitting goes viral because Rudy accidentally sends to all, which is just about the most cliché television technology plot in the history of both technology and television.

And then, Jess forgives Rudy too easily when he says something sweet. I couldn't buy it. The show has always had its characters be easy on forgiveness: Curtis forgives Alisha for using her power on him, Kelly forgives Nathan for being a ridiculous jerk, and they all forgive each other for the piles of corpses they've made. In the context of the show, I get it—it hits the reset button just enough to carry on. But this one struck me as egregious in its willingness to let a pretty shocking betrayal of trust slide. Maybe it's because it was in the service of a fairly pure romance that the show wants us to root for. Maybe it's that I feel like the show should know better. Regardless, both the initiation and the resolution of the viral pooping video struck me as far too pat.

I may sound like I'm down on this episode. Conceptually, I am. But being entertaining will salvage a lot. And, other than Finn's girl-based awkwardness, this episode was indeed consistently entertaining. The probation worker pops in for a couple of hilarious scenes, where he picks off each of the misfits with a fake shotgun, and then tries to tell Jess about how he once went viral. Rudy and Abbey are consistently funny as well, and despite the plot being done before, it's one that fits in well enough with the show's tone that it's not going to ruin Misfits. I guess “not ruining the show” is good enough right now.

Stray observations:

  • “Some people say that tears are the best form of lubricant.” Rudy offers love advice to Finn.
  • “I refute that!” As catchphrases go, yeah, I can dig it.
  • “Hi. Do you like apples?” “... Yeah?” “Then you are gonna love his balls.”
  • Best exchange of the episode: “You tell her, Finn.” “Ugh, you soft twat.” “Shut up, this is good.”
  • Twice this season Jess has been shown peering out of doors in ways that leave her exposed, when she has a friggin' power that would let her avoid that. It's kind of absurd, especially since this time either Abbey or Rudy could have been the one looking out peephole.
  • “You really know your Bible, don't you?”

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