I’ll be the first to admit after the series 4 opener that I was a little dubious about where they appeared to be going with this outing of Being Human, especially with the cast changes and the way last week’s episode attempted to address, resolve and introduce way too many plot threads within the space of an hour for it to be a wholly enjoyable experience. Fortunately ‘Being Human 1955’ pared things back, injected a shot of humour interspersed with some astute character study and felt like an old school instalment of the show I fell in love with. So there’s hope yet….
It has to be said this week’s offering opened with one of the funniest scenes I’ve watched in some time. Playing on the fact that a number of ghosts, ghoulies and humans have been despatched over the years in Being Human, Hal, Pearl and Leo discussing how to get rid of the ‘The Visitor’ upstairs, only for it to turn out to be a spider was pretty much perfect. Especially as it led into the much more serious matter in hand of Leo hearing the message from ‘Future Eve’ (at least we can assume it’s her at this point), and being spurned on to meet ‘The Chosen One’ in the East, believing that she can give him a little more time to prepare Hal and Pearl for his absence: “She will save you Leo. She will save us all.”
Meanwhile back at the house Tom’s taken over Mitchell’s old room, but after years of living pretty much feral in the back of a camper van with his Dad, he’s having trouble adjusting to Annie’s house rules or ‘Commandments’ which she’s made him learn by heart; including no smoking, no dialling 0800 number and remembering to give her two rings if he’s going to be late. The one Tom seems to have trouble remembering is that whilst he’s under her roof he’s not allowed to kill vampires, and within a matter of a couple of hours he’s threatening Hal with a stake hidden in Annie’s hanging basket (not a euphemism), who turns up on their doorstep with his friends like one third of a homage to the Three Wise Men, hoping that Baby Eve can help Leo. To the newly resident werewolf the whole thing seems ludicrous and he’s convinced that George and Nina’s little girl is just a normal baby, whilst Annie takes her guardianship of ‘The Saviour of the World’ all too seriously and decides to hold a ‘ceremony’ to aid the ailing, elderly werewolf, involving awkward hand holding, all too convenient electrical interference and much borrowing from Westlife lyrics and Star Wars. Despite Annie’s enthusiasm it doesn’t seem to work and Leo’s health worsens, forcing him to be put to bed in the ‘Guestroom of Doom’ where all supernaturals come to die at Honolulu Heights and where, after Annie asks Hal and Pearl to move in, he proceeds to fill her in on all of his friend’s proclivities including the fact that Hal and Kia Ora just don’t mix.
In the meantime bad boy vampire Cutler has amassed a homeless focus group at the warehouse and clearly yet more evidence of werewolf nastiness, in an attempt to gain hearts and minds rather than trying to bring mankind over to the Dark Side by sheer force; only for Fergus to let his ‘War Council’ accidently eat them. With the power vacuum created by Wyndham and Griffin’s deaths it looks like in the weeks to come these two are going to go head to head, and I have to say my money is on brains rather than brawn. In the interim let’s hope that Cutler keeps on throwing out gems such as, “Either you mean Peter Mandelson or you’re comparing me to a German composer.”
By far the most important scenes in the episode took place in the pawn shop that Leo had sent Tom and Hal to retrieve the ring in the advertisement he’d hung onto for years. After a spot of ‘flirting’ and then bonding when Tom explains his father was killed by vampires, it’s the young werewolf’s disgust at a mounted wolf’s head displayed in the shop and his refusal to leave until the owner takes it down that distracts them from their mission. Escalating to the point where he has a shotgun thrust in his face after a scuffle with the man, it’s Hal that manages to talk the shopkeeper down in a speech that leaves us with no doubt that he’s lived one Hell of a life in every sense: “Killing is the most difficult thing in the world, which is why when you actually do it there is nothing more exhilarating… That feeling doesn’t last… You end his life and he’ll haunt yours.”
Retrieving the ring for his friend, Hal also manages to see to both Leo and Pearl’s ‘unfinished business’, as it spurns them both to admit their feelings to each other, having danced around the fact they’d been in love for decades and opening their doors to the other side quite literally. Finally on his own in unfamiliar territory and haunted by the possibility he’s in the same house as the infant that may one day be responsible for the mass genocide of the vampire race, he snaps and visits Baby Eve in the attic room/nursery and almost loses all control as “Future Eve” eggs him on to take the baby’s life through the television screen. In the nick of time Tom bursts in and lets the the newest member of the house know in no uncertain terms that had Annie not banned him from killing vampires under her roof he’d already be dead. Cue even more panic and a further trip to the pawn shop where, about to take out his frustrations on the admittedly annoying shopkeeper, Annie attempts to talk him out of it, whilst Tom is prepared to do much more. Facing each other off, Hal with a shotgun aimed at the werewolf’s heart and Tom with a stake pointed at the vampire’s, Annie explains that by killing each other they’ll move further away from their humanity: “If you kill each other you’ll be taking one step further away from who your Father and your friend wanted you to be.” With this statement, baby in arms, Annie manages to bring them and us back to the point of the show, – being human.
In the final scenes, as the newly amassed household settles down to the obligatory cup of tea on the sofa, the pawn shop owner heads to tell the Police about his traumatic encounter with a werewolf and a vampire, only to later be mauled to death by Fergus who he’d reported the crime to. Unlucky.
There was a lot to like in this episode. A lot. The humour fizzed in nearly every scene and unlike last week the drama sprang from understated, but undeniably astute character study that gave us important insight into new and old characters. With Hal the dominoes were a really nice touch and built on the idea that he has obsessive compulsive tendencies in order to control his environment that was planted last week. They were also a clue as to how important Leo was in building boundaries and creating distractions for his friend. I do get the impression that Hal is potentially much more of a loose canon than Mitchell ever was, which leaves the door wide open for ‘drama’ in the weeks to come. I also warmed a bit more to Michael Socha’s character too. Both the actor and the character seemed to blend a little more into their surroundings and I’m intrigued by his refusal to accept that Eve is anything more than a normal baby, whilst at the same time being incredibly idealistic. As with his ‘search for the pack’ last series, Tom pinning the advert for the ring onto his bedroom wall demonstrates that his idealism, in this case romantic, hasn’t lessened at all. Also Annie finally asserted her authority as head of the household with her speech to Tom and Hal in the pawn shop, and cemented her identity as the glue that keeps their ‘family’ together. My only real beef with ‘Being Human 1955’ was the rather contrived ‘swaddelling’ plot device that now allows Annie to take Eve out without it looking like she’s floating in mid-air. I guess it’s necessary, but still. Hmmmm. I can even deal with “Future Eve” appearing on the telly in Baby Eve’s room, despite the fact I’m pretty much scratching my head over why she’d have a TV in her room anyway when she’s only a few weeks old. Kids these days! Anyway onwards and upwards!