Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Misfits: Episode Four

Kelly: 'No! You’re not allowed to die.'

Tonight’s episode picked up a seemingly throwaway line from season two and ran with it to incredulity shattering lengths. Last year we learned how Seth sold Curtis’ superpower to some Jewish guy who wanted to kill Hitler—tonight, we got to see how Friedrich Hisch made out. Unsurprisingly, not very well. Instead of preventing the war, his dropped mobile phone gave the Nazis the tactical advantage needed to win, resulting in a poignant, shocking, sometimes hilarious trip through an alternate-history Britain. Oh, and Kelly mullered Hitler.

The idea of travelling back in time to kill Hitler has been done to death in numerous films and TV shows (The Twilight Zone and Doctor Who being notable examples), but the not-so-subtle combination of tension, violence, humour and romance, breathed new life into this somewhat antiquated sci-fi trope, making tonight's episode something of a gem. It made absolute sense that the Nazi regime would victimise anyone with powers. (Albeit for their own devilish ends.) It made less sense that everybody in the alt-reality would be pretty much unchanged. Rudy was still hopelessly lacking in common sense, Kelly still couldn’t give a shit, and Shaun was still a complete tosser. Growing up in such an altered environment—especially one with such rigidly enforced rules on race and behaviour—would surely have resulted in significant personality changes, not to mention altered living circumstances. (Particularly for Curtis and Alisha.)

For the sake of our sanity, let's run through the chronology of events. Curtis sold his time travelling ability to Seth, who sold it to Friedrich, who then used it to travel back in time and inadvertently lose the allies the war. Friedrich's then bounced forward to a radically changed future, where the Nazis controlled Britain and, because of his failing health, was forced to give his time travelling ability back to Seth. Seth later transferred it to Kelly, who then used it to correct Friedrich's mistake, before being catapulted back to their original future, where everything was back to normal, with only Kelly remembering the details.

Both Kelly and Friedrich seemed able to travel back in time, and then jump forward to an altered future. Curtis wasn't able to do that. He could rewind events, but could only experience them again in real time. Which means that either Curtis was hopeless at using his power, or that Howard Overman rewrote the rules of Curtis' superpower hoping that we wouldn't notice. It would have made more sense had Friedrich bought a entirely different time travelling ability—one with slightly different characteristics. Not that I'm complaining—Kelly's time travelling shenanigans set up one of my favourite quotes of the series. ('Just been fighting the fuckin' Nazis and kickin' the shit out of Hitler.')

For such a dark story (significantly lighter on laughs than we’re used to), they managed to temper the gloom by focusing on the gang's burgeoning romantic entanglements. If there were ever any doubt as to the timelessness of Alisha and Simon’s love, tonight's episode should have dispelled them. They even managed to fall in love in the alt-reality—as did Kelly and Seth, who even managed to sneak a kiss. Will the knowledge that he copped off with Kelly in an alt-reality affect Seth's relationship with her in the here and now? It certainly can't do any harm. I wonder if Shannon existed in Seth's alt-future? Perhaps they never met, or maybe she was killed by the Nazis. The Nazis do stuff like that, you know?

I also found it difficult to discern who—if anyone—actually had powers. Rudy could still split into two, so the storm obviously still occurred. As for the rest of the gang, despite sympathising with those with powers, they seemed pretty much normal. Kelly and Curtis were members of the resistance, and Simon and Alisha were members of the Nazi party—Simon by conscription, and Alisha out of desperation. If they did have powers, why didn't they use them? If they didn't, then why was Rudy the only one changed? Was it just a vicinity thing? Were they all just in the wrong place at the right time? (Or the right place at the right time, depending upon your perspective.)

Niggling questions aside, Kelly pretty much stole the show this week. As well as seeing her at her most sensitive—spoon feeding an incarcerated Seth ice cream and raspberry jelly—she also, virtually single-handedly, defeated the Nazi threat. Not only did she dispatch Hitler with a Glasgow kiss, she also blasted her way through numerous Nazi guards, winged a spineless Shaun, and then went on to win the war. Did Alisha shoot Shaun after saving Seth? I’d like to think she did. I'm glad Howard Overman decided to expand Shaun and Seth's roles this season. Shaun's dry humour is something I never tire of, and Seth, in particular, I'm anxious to know more about.

I know I said it last week (and if I didn't, I was thinking it), but this has been my favourite episode of the season so far. Misfits, for me, has always been about the characters, and tonight we got some tremendous character development. Whether it'll have any impact beyond tonight's episode remains to be seen, but Seth recovering Curtis' time travel ability is certainly significant; both for Seth and for Simon.

Other Thoughts:

—How did Rudy manage to get out of that window so quickly?

—Some nice parallels between Friedrich and Simon. Both felt impotent in the face of personal loss. Both were prepared to risk everything to turn their realities around.

—I absolutely loved them holding up Shaun’s car wearing Hitler masks. What else would they wear?

—I though Rudy was much improved this week. His character has finally clicked for me.

—Creaky floorboards = secret hideaway? I hope the Nazis never raid my house. They'd shoot the place to pieces. It's like something out of American Horror Story.

—Some nice ex-character cameos, tonight. Comic book obsessed Peter went down in a hail of bullets. The other two under the hoods were Gary, the original sixth misfit (killed by a rampaging Tony in the first episode) and Lily, whose cryokinesis led to her self-immolation whilst on the job with Nathan's brother, Jamie.

—How did Friedrich get into Hitler’s office so easily? Security obviously isn't high on the Nazi check-list.


Kelly: 'Oi, Hitler! Why have you got to be such a dick?'

Alisha: 'If I’m so crap, why did you give me the job?'
Shaun: 'Because you have other talents. Oh yeah... you are very, very talented.'
Alisha: 'What you mean is, I’ve got nice tits?'
Shaun: 'Yeah!'

Kelly: 'Fucking Nazis!'

Rudy: 'What about them Nazis, eh?'
Curtis: 'What about ‘em?'
Rudy: 'Very bossy.'

Kelly: 'I guess I’ve got a soft spot for suicide cases.'
Seth: 'A tart with a heart.'
Kelly: 'Who you calling a fucking tart?'

Simon: 'What’s wrong?'
Alisha: 'Everything.'

Alisha: 'Where have you been?'
Kelly: 'Just been fighting the fuckin' Nazis and kickin' the shit out of Hitler.'

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