30 November 2011

Being Human (UK) S1 E4

Spoilers Ahead

Monsters and mobs go hand in hand. I mean, what's the point of being supernatural if you don't have the occasional run-in with villagers and their pitchforks? Well, we've got the mob this episode but they're going after the wrong monster. It's an interesting twist and makes for the perfect plot device.

Episode 4 starts off with Mitchell narrating and having something of an existential crisis. I think we can all relate to his concerns about belonging. But it's particularly poignant for our three protagonists as George returns home after the full moon scratched up, wearing women's clothes, and scaring off the normal people. As for Annie, what is she if not the ultimate outsider, continuing to exist but unable to fully interact with anyone else? You really understand the pain and unhappiness inherent in what otherwise seem like pretty cool circumstances (powers, immortality, superhuman strength...)

Enraged about Herrick taking Lauren back last episode Mitchell goes to pay him a visit. Herrick shuts Mitchell up with a lecture on how badly he's treated Lauren, abandoning her after turning her and not taking care of her as he should have. He points out that Lauren's only with him (Herrick) because Mitchell isn't taking responsibility for her. Considering Mitchell treats Herrick like he's the devil incarnate, Herrick is pretty patient. You really don't get a sense that he's evil at all--just that he cares about Mitchell and is loyal to his fellow vampires. He finally dismisses Mitchell by telling him to go do his thing (that is, try to be human) and when he's done to come home as there will always be a place for him. Makes you wonder why Mitchell is so adamantly opposed to all things vampire and Herrick in particular.

When he gets home Mitchell finds Annie stress cleaning after her realization that the man she loved is also the one who killed her. More disturbing than the cleaning, though, is Annie's new--and uncontrollable--skills as a poltergeist. Every time she's set off dishes go flying, glass explodes, fixtures fall from the ceiling. Fun all around! And speaking of stressing George has a date with Nina and is panicking, not only about what to wear but also that she might just prefer the wolf (which was on the verge of emerging the last time they saw each other) to him.

Things start really getting interesting when Mitchell intervenes as two boys bully another one. The bullies give him attitude and he scares them off with his all-black vampire eyes. In the process he makes friends with the bullied boy, Bernie, and his mom, Fleur. Charmed by his defending her son (and undoubtedly by his smouldering good looks), Fleur invites Mitchell in for tea. Later she lets Mitchell take Bernie out for the day, which I find a bit weird. Fine--she doesn't believe children should be wrapped in cotton wool (agreed) but letting a man you only just met take your kid out for the day--is it just me or is that asking for trouble? Come on--even Mitchell asks her if she's sure that's a good idea!

Not that he has any ulterior motive other than just hanging out with a nice kid who reminds him of himself at that age. They bond and bowl and all is going well until Lauren shows up. Mitchell pulls her away angrily but Lauren claims she's only there to say goodbye. She says she and the other vampires got the message and that they're going to respect his decision and leave him alone. Although he still worries about her his relief becomes increasingly evident. Especially when Bernie falls and cuts himself and Mitchell doesn't react at all to the blood. Maybe he can do this human thing, after all.

To celebrate he brings Bernie home to meet George and pig out on junk food. At one point Bernie notices a Laurel and Hardy statue and asks who they are. Aghast at the ignorance of youth Mitchell tells him to run up to his room and grab the first Laurel and Hardy dvd he sees. Mitchell promises he'll laugh more than he ever has before.

The next morning Bernie puts the movie on but it's clear he did not end up with a Laurel and Hardy dvd. Instead he's watching Lauren's vampire porn. And then Fleur sees it. She shows up at Mitchell's enraged and starts telling the entire neighbourhood that he's a perv and a pedophile. Mitchell tries to explain what happened but by then no one's listening. All the neighbours start turning against him (and by extension, George), spraying graffiti on the house, egging it, picketing, throwing garbage, refusing to let them shop in their stores, spitting on them and worse.

As if things aren't already bad enough for Mitchell, Herrick shows up at work in an official capacity (for anyone who's forgotten, he's a cop) to see him about the serious allegations made by his neighbours. Herrick is more than willing to make this go away and before he leaves he has Mitchell reminiscing about the good old days when they would deal with problems like this vampire-style. Mitchell claims he doesn't want Herrick's help but it's hard to believe he really wants nothing to do with his fellow vamps. It's pretty obvious Herrick doesn't believe it either.

Events come to a head when Bernie sneaks over to apologize to Mitchell for everything that's happened. As Mitchell is reassuring him that none of it is his fault, one of the more obnoxious neighbours intervenes. Soon the mob has arrived and Mitchell is starting to get pissed off. Meanwhile Fleur starts shouting from across the street for Bernie to come home now. Poor Bernie is clearly torn but then he starts running for home, somehow not seeing the car that's coming toward him. Mitchell sees it, though, and runs. Unfortunately he gets there a second too late and they're both hit by the car. But only Mitchell gets up again. Fleur and Mitchell are devastated. The mob just gawks.

George and Nina's relationship is really up and down this episode. At first he's relieved to find out she doesn't prefer the wolf to him when she suggests they slow things down a bit (apparently when he rocked her world last episode it was a bit much for her). But as things start going downhill with the neighbours he becomes convinced he and Mitchell will never be accepted anywhere or be able to live any kind of normal life. He becomes cold to Nina and then tells her it's over, that trouble follows him and he can't be with her anymore. Nina's not entirely convinced and she shows up at his place to tell him so. He keeps pushing her away until she finally gives up, first making sure he knows she would have listened to him.

He's determined to stay away from Nina but after Bernie is hit George goes to see her, horrified to the point of tears that he's just seen a child killed. Nina is a great support and George eventually tells her that he has secrets but he can't tell her about them yet. This prompts her to reveal her own secret--horrific scars on her abdomen (she doesn't give details, just says that people can be bastards). Their relationship seems to have found its footing and I really hope it works out for them.

While all this has been going on Annie's been having her own relationship issues. Her stress level goes off the charts when Owen shows up at the house with his new girlfriend. Annie tries her best to control her uncontrollable poltergeisting (yeah that's a word), although her efforts aren't entirely effective. After talking to the guys about the situation with the neighbours Owen is understanding but still gives them notice--they need to get out so he and Janey can move in. This about pushes Annie over the edge. Not only is she about to lose her only friends but her ex and his new girl are getting ready to step into the life that was meant to be hers. After Owen and Janie leave Annie makes a decision. She's not going to lose the guys or let Owen and Janie have the house. She's breaking with her past and to emphasize it she has a little barbecue of all her Owen-related items. Although the boys are concerned she claims she's never felt more alive. And she might just be right. When Bernie is hit Annie comes outside to see what all the commotion is and is shocked that people can see and touch her. Does anyone else see ghostly revenge on the horizon?

Bernie ends up on life support, although he's fading fast. Fleur is blaming herself when Mitchell shows up. Probably breaking every rule there is he tells her he's a vampire and, after offering some proof, tells her he can turn Bernie to save him. Fleur is disbelieving and then torn, unsure whether that's the right thing to do. Mitchell responds that she has to make that decision. The next scene is Fleur sobbing over Bernie's body while Mitchell sits outside. From there he meets Fleur at the train station. She's got a bag and is leaving town. She lets Mitchell know that she told the neighbours she was wrong about him and he's actually okay. Whether that'll make a difference remains to be seen. But Mitchell's focus is elsewhere, particularly when Bernie shows up looking pale and carrying a bag of his own. He and Fleur are happy to see each other again but when Bernie tries to thank Mitchell for saving him, Mitchell says "don't" and walks away. So if he thought it was such a horrible thing to do why did he do it? Especially when the next moment Bernie tells his mom he's hungry and the formerly sweet kid suddenly has a tinge of menace about him. In this moment it becomes all-too clear just how difficult his and Fleur's lives are going to be. Not just difficult but dangerous.

The episode ends with Mitchell going to see Herrick. With just two words ("I'm in.") he turns his back on his humanity and joins again with the vampires. Is it out of self-hatred, disgust with humans, an overwhelming need to belong, or any number of other reasons? I don't know but I'm also not sure how long it'll last.

I like this episode a lot. It somehow manages to show the difficulties of life as a human and as a "monster." No matter what it's not easy and there's no clear winner in terms of which is preferable. So how does one decide which path to follow? Maybe Mitchell's right--maybe it's just a matter of finding where you belong. Or maybe we're all a bit of both. Whatever the case I'm not too sure one can survive without the other.

Fang Files

Appearance: Human, until the vampire emerges--then pure black eyes. A vampire's image cannot be captured. Vampires are cold to the touch.

Strengths: Not easy to hurt, quick healing.

Weaknesses: Blood lust, cruelty to humans.

Mythology: Ideally a maker should take responsibility for their "children," helping them through the transition and teaching them about being a vampire. To make a vampire a human must be "snatched" at the moment of death.

Sound Bites

Mitchell: You can piss your whole life away wondering who you might be. It's when you've worked out who you are that you can really start to live.

Nina: [Re: taking it slow with George] Don''t get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we wear those weird chastity rings--you know, American kids 'we're not shagging 'cause we're mentals'...

Lauren: [to Mitchell] God, it's always about the blood with you, isn't it? Like that's all there is. There's a whole dark and beautiful world and you're obsessing about what we eat.

George: We're not fit to live among decent people.
Mitchell: It's a good job we don't, then.

Fleur: If you were me, would you choose that life for your son? Because I don't see much happiness in you, Mitchell.

Being Human (UK), Season 1 Episode 4. Written by Brian Dooley. Directed by Alex Pillai. From the BBC.

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