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This is not a review as such of “Lia” as you’ve watched it yourself, haven’t you, just some musings on what’s occurring in the fair vale of Barry Island…

There’s a nice nod to the pilot with another sarcastic, rather dry estate agent showing another quirky house whose owner had died.

Just how long is it since Lucy and Kemp found them in the isolated cottage?  Can’t be long, possibly just the next full moon but Nina and George have found jobs and presumably Mitchell is either relying on their charity or those good investments made in the 18th century.  Either way Nina is a model of calm acceptance compared to the angry, bitter inch high private eye of just weeks previously.  She knows something’s up with Mitchell though, which George just can’t see.  I’ve always thought that Nina had Mitchell third on the list of things to deal with once she’s removed the dodgy shirts from George’s wardrobe and thrown away his souvenirs – next up is “deal with unsuitable friend…”

George and Nina are doing the couple thing (yes, this series they are having sex, unlike series two when they were barely speaking) while Mitchell is so brooding and furrowed of brow that I’m worried he’ll sprain his forehead.  He’s entirely focused on getting Annie back to the exclusion of all else – including Nina and George’s attempts at ‘romance’.

It’s a good start for the new wolves on the block – Robson Green reminds us that he can act although the Hampstead/Geordie accent could do with going one way or the other!  Interesting to see more tattoos on the werewolves.  Tully was covered in them, are they the mark of an outsider or something more tribal?  Can’t see George and Nina with etchings somehow – although they would be impeccably punctuated and coloured neatly inside the lines!  I’m trying to figure out how old Tom is?  The knickerbocker glory for breakfast, the admonishment to have a nap and a proper lunch make him seem young and in need of looking after but he’s old enough to see women wearing blouses in films unaccompanied!  The almost casual way he stakes Vincent and rescues his Dad belie his apparent youth.   Is this just normal life for him?

I like the idea of the vampires holding werewolf/human cage fights and Vincent (Paul Kaye) proves a rather old school vampire – part Spike, part Johnny Rotten, part Sid Vicious and all twisted menace.  This is a far cry from Herrick’s fresh faced,  middle management evil.  That same refrain again though – the children of Darwin.  Do I detect Herrick’s fingerprint on these perverse games?  The vampire circus is just a touch clichéd – there’s even a midget – but the death of ringleader Vincent at the hands of the werewolves leaves them rudderless.  Who will they look to for guidance – or revenge?  Maybe someone else will take on the ringleaders cloak…

The real meat of this opening episode is Mitchell’s awayday to purgatory, ostensibly to retrieve Annie but really to face some of his own demons.  To get there he accompanies a hospital patient through his door (neat idea) and a rather nicely played 22 words and a gasp from Phillip Brook as Sean.

Lacy Turner’s absolutely fabulous Lia is the perfect foil for dark, brooding and terribly serious Mitchell.  Flirty, funny and touching she can turn in an instant to dish out some hard truths and then be straight back to teasing.  H12.  With Lia as guide or onlooker we get to see Mitchell’s first victim in 1917, a friend he had to poison before he could feed from him and then Sally, dead in Sheffield in 1960.  One of the many bedsit blondes Mitchell feasted on in the 1960s while battling with his developing conscience.  He regretted those too, still determinedly painting himself as the victim.  It’s a compulsion, an addiction… not his fault.  Finally he’s confronted with the Box Tunnel 20 – including Lia in seat H12.  Still trying to be a victim Mitchell is forced to consider the lives he took and the damage he’s done.  At this point I have to say that much as I love Mitchell  this is one of the times I really want to give him a good slap.  You’re a vampire – you’re supposed to enjoy blood and hunting and killing.  Giving it up is tough, it’s no fun.  Sometimes it goes wrong, horribly, badly wrong but just Deal. With. It.  Stop passing the buck and the blame – you’re not the victim here.  Although fair point about Daisy.  Surely Mitchell didn’t kill all 20, it’s rather ungentlemanly not to share one’s lunch!

An aside here.  Mitchell is haunted by the thought of the 20 and faces them – and his own truths – in purgatory.  But has everyone forgotten the innocent bible boys from Kemp’s facility that he munched his way through?  Maybe they went straight to whatever heaven Kemp promised them…  And what of the other “more than 100, less than 1000” victims?  How many doors are there in that corridor?

Who is Lia?  It’s far too simple that she is ‘just’ one of the victims.  She’s in charge of the waiting room, she can free Annie – she must be something more.  Spit spot she tells them, a supernatural Mary Poppins, the nanny who knows what is best for you – even if you don’t know it for yourself.  She’s given Mitchell his medicine, his impending death at the hands (claws?) of a werewolf and now he gets the spoonful of sugar – Annie is set free.  It’s all just a bit too easy – Lia is playing the long game and having pushed Annie into Mitchell’s arms she has all the pieces in line… practically perfect in every way.

Killed by a werewolf as the end to a journey?  Right now that could be any wolf we already know and many more that we haven’t yet met.  And is that killed but not quite finished like Herrick was killed or staked properly, done and dusted, in hatred like Vincent or with love and welcoming the end as when Lauren went?  Maybe Mitchell will reach the point when he can’t go on (or when Aidan can go on to New Zealand to pull on his pointy hat and long beard…)

At least Lia gave a parting gift to Annie – a nice new sleeveless top (grey of course) and a shorter, curlier hair do – all the better to charm Mitchell with!  It remains to be seen if she’s squishy or invisible.

All in all a good start – a different feel and the wide open brightness underlines the change in location while the bigger name guest stars need a touch more suspension of disbelief.  There was a lot to pack in to get us up and running and it was a job well done.  Onwards…

A final thought – it’s often been said that women have a greater ability to bear pain than men.  Nina can manage coherent sentences and logical thought while George and McNair are just howling and rolling about on the floor!

If you enjoyed this you might like my book – Being Human – unofficial and unauthorised

And in case you still harbour happy thoughts about cheerful Mary Poppins…