Monday, 14 March 2011

Being Human: The Wolf-Shaped Bullet

Mitchell: "Thank you, all of you. You made me human."

What an exceptional season finale. I watched with five friends, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. (Apart from Sue, but she's menopausal.) As far as emotional punches go, tonight's episode was brutal. At one point, it looked as though Whithouse would press the reset button. He didn't, and I applaud him for that. Unfortunately, we're now a cast member down -- unless, as well as entering houses unbidden, the Old Ones know how to bring people back from the dead. I'm clutching at straws, I know.

Mitchell's departure was everything it should have been and more. It was inescapable, tragic and positively dripping pathos. Realistically, there was nowhere left for Mitchell to go. He's tried hard to curb his instincts these past three seasons, but he finally lost his will to fight. Carl killing Dan last season showed us that even the best of vampires can fail. There's an inevitability to it. The vampire gene is stubborn -- it finds a way to thrive. Rather than waiting for the cycle to repeat itself, Mitchell chose to remove himself from the game.

I was surprised that Lia's prophecy turned out to be bogus. She couldn't see the future after all, but she knew the psychological impact a lie would have on Mitchell's fragile psyche. She also recognised the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy. She wanted to break Mitchell, to turn him against his friends, and then rip away all that he holds dear. Trapping Annie in purgatory was part of that plan, as was allowing Mitchell to rescue her. It was the catalyst which brought them together and allowed them fall in love. By luring Annie back to purgatory, and keeping her there -- apart from Mitchell -- Lia hoped to ruin him. It would have, too, had Annie not managed to talk herself back out.

All she had to do was appeal to Lia's humanity. She made her see that revenge would have implications far beyond personal retribution. Nina and George would be left bereft. Is that what Lia wanted? To destroy the lives of two innocents -- like her own family had been destroyed? I loved Annie's comment about Lia waking up somewhere unfamiliar with her underwear on back to front. That summed up the situation perfectly. Lia was lashing out. She'd become drunk on revenge. All Annie had to do was draw Lia's attention to the consequences of her actions, and remind her of who she was.

I was a little disappointed that Herrick's protégé story had no real function. It was but one of several red herrings tonight. Cara didn't bring Herrick back from the dead, she simply dug him up. George ripping him apart had been nothing more than an inconvenience. Only a stake through the heart can kill a vampire -- a piece of information which, in the end, sealed both Mitchell and Herrick's fates. There's no coming back for either of them.

Which is a shame because Jason Watkins was brilliant again tonight. I loved watching him drive a wedge between Mitchell and George. George's roar of pain on learning of Nina's death was heart-wrenching. It made sense that George would suspect Mitchell's involvement in the box tunnel massacre, but it was Nina's death which pushed him over the edge. If he could have killed Mitchell there and then, he would've. All Herrick wanted was to see was himself reflected back in Mitchell. He wanted him to be ugly and corrupt. In the end, he got his wish. Maybe that's why he smiled when Mitchell staked him.

I loved Mitchell's manipulation of Herrick. He made him believe he was back on side, that he was a shallow man, forever changing allegiances for the sake of expediency -- and Herrick fell for it. George, however, saw right through Mitchell's façade. Even threatening to kill Nina and the baby wasn't enough to fool him. He's known Mitchell long enough now to know his heart. He knows what Mitchell feels for him. He also knows how he feels about Mitchell. I seriously welled up when he cried out "I can't believe this is happening". It was an iconic moment seeing him stood there, stake in hand.

Their final confrontation was mesmerising. In truth, Mitchell had had enough. For a moment, I thought Edgar Wyndham's last minute appearance might offer a way out, but even death was preferable to Wyndham's proposed plans for world domination. How ironic that Wyndham's attempted intervention was the very thing which gave George the courage to kill Mitchell. In the end, George was the wolf shaped bullet, but it wasn't an act born of anger and violence -- it was intimate, and perfect, and fuelled by love. In killing Mitchell, he also saved him.

So, where does that leave us? Will Tom become a regular cast member? I'm guessing not. Four werewolves living under one roof is just too many -- but replacing Mitchell will be a near impossible task. There's still plenty of story potential -- in fact, I'm excited about season four already, but, how long can the show run? Can Being Human survive without Mitchell? More importantly, should it even try?

Other thoughts:

I didn't think much of Lee Ingleby's contribution as "Old One" Edgar. He lacked any real presence. Physically, he was smaller than Mitchell. “I'm the man from Del Monte,” isn't much of a catchphrase, either. It was probably meant to be the cryptic ramblings of a madman, but Edgar felt way too generic. George's lack of fear said it all. He just wasn't imposing. I'm glad he didn't kill George, Annie and Nina, though. I'm curious to see how Nina's pregnancy pans out, and whether Annie's as powerful as Edgar suspects she is. Could make for an interesting fourth season.

I was surprised that McNair turned out to be a man of substance. His final letter to Tom revealed a side of him we never really got to see. His single minded pursuit of Herrick had made him bitter. He'd turned Tom into a weapon. Did McNair know that he'd die? Is that why he wrote the letter? Or was it simply a precautionary measure? Maybe, like Mitchell, McNair had simply had enough. Perhaps he realised that the only way Tom could truly live was if he died.

Hopefully, they'll develop Annie's character more consistently next season. In two episodes she went from being hopelessly in love with Mitchell, to wanting to kill him. All because of a lie she wouldn't let him explain? I truly believe Annie can be a great character, and a fine asset to the show, but they need to do better than this. Hopefully, next year will be Annie's year.

Bits and Pieces:

-- McNair's full name is Anthony Michael McNair. I keep hearing Anthony Michael Hall in my head.

-- Loved one last reference to The Real Hustle. It won't be the same without you, Mitchell.

-- You can only kill vampires by staking them though the heart? Well, why didn't someone tell us? I had no idea.

-- Why do vampires never use their super speed when it would actually do some good? Like in taking out Tom?

-- Did we get gypped by too many of the story elements being essentially irrelevant? (The protégé back-story, Lia's fake prophecy, Herrick coming back to life, only to die again?) I have mixed feelings. On balance, I think the emotional ending more than made up for any minor quibbles I had with the denouement.

-- It was sad seeing George cast off Mitchell like that. Thank goodness they reconciled before he died.

-- I guess DC Nancy Reid is dead. Boosh!

-- Nina and the baby survived. Hurrah! I've no idea how Annie brought her back to life, though. Is this another of her new skills?

-- RIP John Mitchell. Thanks, too, to Aidan Turner for three fascinating seasons. Here's hoping he moves on to bigger and better things. We love you, man!

Quotes:

Mitchell: “Yeah, I wouldn't expect you to understand. Your character's always been pretty consistent.”

Mitchell: “I get the fuck out of Dodge. That's what I do.”

Edgar: “I'm the man from Del Monte.”

Herrick: “You'll be the villain now?”
Mitchell: “Christ, I always was.”
Herrick: “There will come a day when one of us finally kills the other.”
Mitchell: “But it won't be today.”

Herrick: “Sorry about these two, it's clearly dress-down Friday.”

Herrick: “George, did you know you've been living with a celebrity these last few weeks. Oh, it's not me. No... you're so sweet.

Herrick: “Come on. Me and the boy wanted a fight. There's popcorn. And at half time were were going to have an espresso.

Lia: “I can't control people. I can't see the future. You've been watching too much TV.”

George: “Is this really happening?”

George: “I'm doing this because I love you.”
Mitchell: “I know.”

Herrick: “Listen, it's okay. I understand. You've just agreed to abet the decimation of mankind. It's bound to put a man out of sorts.”

Mitchell: "You are the love of my long life."
Annie: "And you are the love of mine."

Mitchell: "I guess I'm finally doing the decent thing."
Nina: "Then this is what we'll remember."

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