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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Misfits: “Season Five, Episode Seven”

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If there’s been an unambiguously positive part of this season of Misfits, it’s been the development of Matt Stokoe’s Alex. In season four, Alex was presented as a mysterious object for the group. He barely even had a name, always referred to as “handsome barman.” And, to a certain extent, this made sense. Misfits was never about the tall, handsome, straight, white man. The very first promotions for the show, and its first scene, focused on how un-Alex the characters were: Alisha’s disrespect, Nathan’s manic energy, Simon’s constrained weirdness, Curtis’ swagger, and of course, Kelly being Kelly. Alex, and Alex’s type, were the aliens on Misfits.

So the storyline of him mysteriously knocking back girls like Jess, because of his lack of penis, seemed to deliberately subvert the concept. Yes, he’s the handsome white man, but the thing that should theoretically be the focus of his handsome manness doesn't exist. Then, of course, when it did exist, he turned into a selfish dick, alienating him from the other characters, and us as the audience, once again. So the idea that he was going to become a series regular didn’t seem like a good idea. But clearly, the show’s producers had seen more from Stokoe.

They’ve done three things with Alex this season to make it clear that they were right to increase his role. First, they’ve let him be clever. Even in episodes where he hasn’t done much, he’s been able to jump in with a clever line—and he’s as good at it as anyone except perhaps Jess or Kelly. Second, while I may have some issues with exactly how his power has been used, the fact that it continues to subvert his masculine power in ways that push him to be better forces both the actor and the show to expand the role.

Finally, it gives us this episode. I've complained that this season of Misfits has relied a little too much on recycling older plots without giving a deliberate new twist. That’s not the case here, where the main story, of Alex having to fight off a person with the power of the devil by himself, serves to demonstrate how far he’s come this season. Back in the season premiere, he took on the devil by relying on his power. This time, he uses his smarts. I’ll admit he outsmarted me—when he looked at the fruit bowl as if it were the key, I didn’t know what was coming next (was he going to fuck powers into the fruit?). And in a show that relies on awesome single images for its storytelling, Alex whipping out the banana and peeling it in front of Sara will fit in the pantheon. I’m glad Misfits has branched out, for his sake.

As for the rest of the episode, well, Misfits has traditionally been good at party episodes, and this is no exception. Gathering all the major and minor characters in the same place makes the world of Misfits, which can feel of indeterminate size (especially this season, oddly), feel complete. The power support group and the misfits and friends all being invited allows all the season’s bubbling plots to mix together.

Taken individually, they help reveal just how poorly the season has done overall in making its main stories resonate. Finn gets pissed off at the Rudy/Jess relationship, then Jess gets pissed off at Rudy for not wanting a child as her sweater indicates may happen. And… I didn’t really care. I mean, I cared in the sense that Karla Crome remains a fine actress, and I want Jess to be happy for that reason, but it felt like an arbitrary plot development just to have an escalation before the finale.


Meanwhile, that finale is being set up by Rudy Two and his band of “proper superheroes,” who finally all meet and buy into one another as a superpowered group. It’s difficult to discuss this now, after seeing the previews for next week indicating that the superheroes go rogue. So I’ll just say that Misfits has done well enough at introducing the storyline and characters that I’m looking forward to the finale, without it dominating everything else. It’s a little sad that “doing well enough to maintain my interest” is a positive for Misfits this season, but I am happy with this and the last few episodes.

Stray observations:

  • Another good use of Finn for comedy. “Question?” “Yes, there’ll be a buffet.” “I accept your invitation.”
  • And, of course, Abbey slicing right through awkward to deal with the probation worker. “Am I invited?” “No.”
  • Speaking of the probation worker, how cute that ecstasy actually made him happy. I kind of hope this doesn't turn to tragedy in the finale.
  • “Well I was just thinking… a drink with alcohol in it.” Alex knows what the ladies like.
  • What happens to Mark may be Misfits at its Misfitiest.