So ladies and gentlemen, once again, humanity was saved from those pesky vampires trying to muscle in on the action and steal the planet from our grubby little mittens in this week’s series finale. With more ins and outs than a rendition of the hokey cokey at a 5 year old’s birthday bash, ‘The War Child’ was rather compelling television, so without further ado let’s get stuck in…
In this week’s opening scene we were propelled forward to 2022 and the chaffeur-driven Mr Snow being taken to one portakabin outpost of his Nazi-esque empire somewhere in the war torn country. There he encounters and interrogates Isaac Daniels, one of the remaining humans who claims to be taking his daughter ‘Zoe’ to see her Grandfather one last time in the ‘resettlement camps’ before he dies. Seemingly happy with his papers, the leader of the ‘Old Ones’ throws a spanner in the works when he asks Daniels to tell him what colour his daughter’s eyes are. Unable to answer, Mr Snow let’s the cat out of the bag that he knows he’s an agent who’s harbouring ‘The War Child’. Immediately on the offensive the human in his ‘Brave New World’-style green tracksuit produces a crucifix and declares that the vampires would never kill all of humanity, to which the unaffected leader snappily replies, “I wouldn’t want to. You’re delicious.” Oh snap! Before Daniels is unceremoniously disembowelled he manages to shout to an 11 year old Eve, who’s been sleeping in the back of his car just outside the office, to run away. She does so with Mr Snow’s blessing and help, ordering his henchmen to see to it that his ‘precious cargo’ reaches her rendezvous, unsurprisingly after we learnt last week that her survival was the key to that of the rise of the vampires: “Be seeing you Eve.” He sure will.
Meanwhile back in the present day Hal, Alex and Tom have made it somewhere in the Welsh hills after the vampire (somehow?) lured his lupine friend into the back of the Police van Cutler took him to the club in the night before. Settling on the need to sort out Alex’s ‘unfinished business’ they decide it’s probably right to find her killer, Cutler, but not before Tom thanks Hal for stopping him killing the people there, and therefore presumably preventing him becoming the ‘cold man’ Eve knew in her future. In the meantime Snow is having a Last Supper style meeting in the warehouse when the wanted man himself turns up and is promptly reprimanded for not being there to greet the ‘Old Ones’ on their arrival bearing gifts. Blaming it on a ‘werewolf infestation’, Cutler goes on to offer up the World as his offering by means of his anti-werewolf propaganda to his rather unimpressed leader and a similarly disinterested werewolf henchman, Milo. Whilst Cutler tries to get his television working (how many other people had a flashback to their teacher trying to get the telly to work at school?) Tom, Hal and Alex have all sneaked into the warehouse and are observing what’s going on, until they make a noise and are forced to flee with Hal incredibly concerned that Snow being here “changes everything” and that should he be asked to join the cause he wouldn’t be able to say no because “he’s in our DNA”. Back at the warehouse Cutler has finally got the TV set up declaring, “Welcome to Britain Mr Snow. The revolution is being televised!” Unfortunately for him there’s no sign of the werewolf footage that he saw people recording on their phones. Tiring with him, Snow confronts the solicitor and tells him that a tribute to the Old Ones still needs to be paid, to which he panickedly replies that he knows where the ‘War Child’ is. In response the Vampire Leader informs his underling that he already has the last piece of the human skin prophecy, which foretells, “Death of a Godhead. Humanity lives. To save humanity she must be killed, and therefore she must live.” Having no use for Cutler, Snow (rather brilliantly) tells him, “These eyes have looked upon Pharaohs and the Son of the Carpenter. And now they must look at you proudly showing your idea like a child with a handful of its own excrement.” Going on to further humiliate the relative whipper-snapper who’s obsessed with ‘making history’ he tells him that he’s already forgotten and ushers for his minions to take Cutler away as he screams, “I’ll make sure you remember my name!” (Bless you Andrew Gower for making your character so pathetically adorable.)
Arriving back at the house, Hal and the others are greeted by a rather tentative looking Annie, who after being told about the arrival of the ‘Old Ones’, tells them about her trip to Purgatory and the future, elaborating on their fates in grown-up Eve’s present and about what she has to do to stop that from happening: “I had to see how terrible the future is because what I have to do to stop it is really, really hard. Eve must die…” When asked the ghost is adamant she wouldn’t hurt the baby, but when asked if she’d let anybody else harm her she can’t answer. Having a rare brainwave (bless him) Tom decides it would be a great idea to remove Eve from the equation and blow the vampires up. Heading off to Tom’s ‘explosives workshop’/the café, Hal and him decide to leave a reluctant Alex with Annie to stop her from harming the baby. Once there they pick up supplies and the werewolf divulges that he never had any intention of building a swimming pool, but had been stockpiling what he needed for just such an eventuality having picked up the skills from McNair who’d told him, “Always be kind and polite and have the materials to build a bomb.” One skill that he didn’t acquire from his father however was the ability to make remote detonators and so for this ‘mission’ to work it would require him to strap the bomb to himself, which doesn’t phase him and inspires admiration and a willingness to do the same from his vampiric partner in crime. Back at Honolulu Heights Alex and Annie are having a much more awkward bonding session. After make-up and shoes, the conversation soon turns to the “men with sticks and ropes/evil morris dancers” Alex saw just after she died which her new ghostly acquaintance tells her were just Basic Agents of the Afterlife and reassures her, “Stay frosty and you’ll be fine.” Turning to their ‘Unfinished Business’, whilst Annie feels that that ship has sailed for her, Alex is determined to find her body and give her family some sort of closure which she’s convinced will result in her ‘door’ appearing. Just in case that doesn’t happy the more experienced ghost decides to teach her some tricks of the trade.
Still tweaking his bomb equipment at the café on his own, Tom is confronted by fellow werewolf Milo, who wants to know Baby Eve’s whereabouts and is determined to coax this particular guardian into handing her over to the vampires because everyone with human sympathies “will fall on her like the plague” once they realise the key to humanity’s survival is her death. Unable to comprehend why Milo would work with the vampires Tom questions why he’s loyal to them, to be told by the mercenary, “You find the biggest kid in the playground and you stand next to him.” Disgusted by his cowardice the young man calls him out on it, only to be threatened and have the message reiterated that, “Everyone in the World wants that baby dead, except the vampires.” Meanwhile just as Annie is teaching Alex to summon a tin of beans and informing that you can’t ‘rent-a-ghost’ with a “living thing”, a knock at the door interrupts their fun. When they don’t answer Cutler kicks the door down and implores Alex to invite him in. When she doesn’t he faces the consequences of being cooked alive, crawling across the floor and eventually making his way to Baby Eve’s Moses basket with a knife in his hand, as ‘Future Eve’ appears on the TV screen and implores Annie to let him do it. Making the fatal mistake of taking the time to make a speech about what he’s going to do rather than getting on with the job in hand, Annie decides she can’t watch him murder her adoptive daughter and telepathically skewers Cutler with one of Tom’s stakes that happened to be lying around: “I’d rather let the world burn than hurt her.”
Spurned on by Annie’s suggestion that she better pass over sooner rather than later, Alex waits at the café for Hal to turn up and after they establish that, as a ghost, she’s stuck in the same clothes forever, they head to the scene of her murder only to find that someone appears to have covered it up; the cordoning off of the club being put down to a bomb scare. After yet another argument about Hal drinking her blood they manage to smuggle themselves in the building via the back entrance she was taken in before her murder. With her body still in the same state it was before Alex asks her sort of boyfriend to adjust it for the sake of her family. As they plan to alert the Police, the pair hear footsteps and turn off the lights/manage to hide just as a well-dressed group of men enter the basement room to ‘tidy’ away the body, their leader setting them a seemingly ambitious time limit of 45 seconds to do their job. In the meantime he looks around the room and seems to sense Alex just as his team have completed the task. After they’ve gone Hal urges the ghost to follow them, only to fall to his knees and start to consume the maggoty blood as soon as she’s teleported away. Returning much sooner than he anticipated Alex dryly observes, “Your café is cleaner than most operating theatres and here you are licking congealed blood off a floor. Is that the hold it has over you?” Conceding that it does, she reveals the men took her body round the back to a van and drove away.
Having made his way back to the café Hal is greeted by his Lord and Master, who wants him to run Britain for him. Putting up a feeble show of defiance Snow asks his future poster boy, “If you admired humans so much, why did you keep inflicting your failures upon them?” Going on to say that he was never comfortable with an ‘Old One being on the outside he admits he always knew where he was merely affording Hal “the afternoon off”. As Snow exits the eatery Moloney’s character asks his leader why he hasn’t explicitly asked him to join him, to which he simply replies, “Because I have you already. Heart and mind.” Meanwhile Tom seems to have taken what Milo said to heart, and takes Baby Eve from the house over to the warehouse where the other ‘Old Ones’ appear to be standing in a Tron-meets-Subbuteo style grid, as their ‘end of level boss’ sits gleefully in his throne. Before he’ll hand over the baby the young werewolf insists that he stays with Eve to see that no harm comes to her and Snow agrees on the condition that he do ‘chores’. Finally handing the little girl over the vampire cuddles her and then lifts her above his head as his loyal subjects repeatedly shout “Hail!” Cue the cavalry in the form of Hal with the bomb strapped to his body threatening to blow everything and everybody up. Seemingly not too phased by developments, Snow approaches his former underling and informs him this outburst is “Just the death rattle of your humanity. Mercy’s last hurrah. Let it fade and decay Hal.” Blatantly back under his spell Hal lets him remove the bomb from his body and mindlessly steps back into his place in the fold. But never fear Annie is here! Bursting into the vampires’ lair, with Alex in tow, she demands they “Give me back my fucking baby!” Snapping Hal out of his daze, the duo of ghosts send vampires flying left, right and centre as a mass brawl ensues that also involves Tom being taken out of the building by Milo. It’s eventually broken up by Snow who is left admitting that Annie would be “a worthy guardian for this precious cargo” instead of letting her live out her ‘natural life’ with all the luxuries that the vampires could lavish on her. Baffled by the Saviour’s inability to save humanity by staying alive Annie asks the Leader of the ‘Old Ones’ why and is offered the following answer: “Perhaps the humans wait so long for her to save them that they never build a cohesive defence… That’s the funny thing about Saviours. They can make one a little dependent.” With the weight of what’s about to happen to all of humanity upon her shoulders, Annie reaches down to the detonator for the bomb that’s been left on the floor, turns to Alex and encourages her to teleport Hal (as a non-living thing) out of the building before she looks down at Eve in her arms and tells the baby that she loves her, before kaboom! Having obliterated the ‘Old Ones’, in a sea of flames Annie’s ‘door’ finally appears and when she walks through on the other side are both the infant and grown-up versions of Eve, the latter of which stating “That was your ‘unfinished business’. All you had to do was save the World.” Now unable to go back, another door appears and the young woman urges her ‘Mother’ to go and meet all the friends she’s recently lost, unable to meet them herself because “I never happened now. I never grew up. I never saw the things I saw. That’s the only me now.” Apologising to her ‘daughter’ Eve quickly dismisses it and tells her “You saved us all,” before fading away as Annie stepped through the door into the light with a beaming smile of recognition on her face.
Meanwhile the blonde, well-dressed gentleman who Alex and Hal encountered in the basement of the club has also been busy. Sitting in the bedroom of one of the girls who was present at the nightclub and filmed Tom post-transformation. Likening what she saw to Dorothy catching a glimpse of the Wizard behind the curtain, he explains that she either she keeps quiet or she’ll “disappear in a puff of smoke”, elaborating that “For as long as there have been creatures like that there have been men like me. Silent, modest men whose job it is to keep the secret things secret. Think of us as the domestic servants of the World.” Heading to an underground bunker where he’s greeted by the archivist there as ‘Mr Book’, the man walks past rows and rows of what we can presume is evidence of supernatural activity before finally filing away the camera phone he’d retrieved from the young woman he’d just visited, on his way out informing the elderly man who’d addressed him, “I’ve got a 5’o’clock with the Secretary of State. You know what they say. No rest for the wicked.” Ding! Ding! Ding! I do believe we have next series’ villain! In the interim back at Honolulu Heights Tom has tethered Hal to a chair, no not for some perverted sex game, but so he can go cold turkey in a safe environment. Lamely insisting that he needs to defrost the freezer and that this can wait until tomorrow, his friend is having none of it and continues to secure the chair to the floor as he and Alex are subjected to some pretty flagrant abuse which finally results in him asking Tom why he’s doing this to which he honestly and rather sweetly replies, “Because you’re my best mate.” As the camera pans out on the last shot of the series Hal looks from Tom to Alex repeatedly as if he can’t quite believe he’s managed to secure two such loyal friends. D’awwwww!
It almost goes without saying that series 4 has been a bit of a mixed bag especially at the start, but they really did pull it back at the business end of proceedings, even if the writers do have a tendency to make the penultimate episode noticeably stronger in terms of narrative and dialogue almost every year. That said I’m about 95% happy with ‘The War Child’ and whilst I was incredibly sad to see the departure of yet another original character, I do happen to agree with the show’s creator that Annie’s denouement was both fitting and timely. ‘Unfinished business’ really doesn’t get much better than saving the world does it?Also Crichlow’s final scene was beautifully and movingly realised, so much kudos to her and the crew for that alone. Once again I feel the need to comment that Mark Gatiss really was the perfect choice to play Mr Snow. His description of his last visit to Britain where they used the bodies of adults in the village to make a tableau of vampire history and then the children were made to sing before their blood made into wine was chilling, and yet he remained a charming, if morally bankrupt, villain. After seeing him in quirky roles in both Ashes to Ashes and Luther Steven Robertson was also an interesting choice to play the mysterious Mr Rook, a character which I’m very curious to see how they utilise next year, and if we’re ultimately going to see humanity realising en masse that their world is shared by supernaturals. Finally, in the last scene we have our new core cast members Moloney, Socha and Bracken who do bring a rather interesting dynamic to what is now a very different show, but still with the original question that has always driven the narrative,- ‘what does it mean to be human?’ Hopefully we’ll get some more answers in Series 5.