What are they good for?
While I won’t go as far as “absolutely nothing” it’s a bit of an unspoken question running through Being Human. A ghost, a vampire and a werewolf share a house… so much potential. After all vampires are sexy, they have lots of mythology and (dare I say it) they are rather fashionable. Werewolves are, well, not sexy – although someone might want to present McNair’s arse in mitigation m’lud. They are intriguing – human but not human, and again there are lots of nice chewy legends to play with.
Ghosts are inevitably more amorphous and there are no commonly agreed legends. Can you see them or not? Can they communicate or not? Why are they here at all? A TW designed ghost is trapped until they have resolved something about their death so they can pass through their door, they can’t eat or drink, are stuck in the clothes they died in and can only be seen by other supernaturals. They’ve seen the mysterious “men with sticks and men with ropes” when they died (as did the vampires) but they haven’t finally gone from this world yet.
Being Human has not yet fully explored the ghost world, and while we see Annie change, but not evolve, we are constantly being reminded that she is something different. That’s all very well, but different from (or is that to) what exactly?
Annie has turned down death. Her door popped up as Herrick popped in and left Mitchell in a bleeding mess. Not quite a case of turning death down as just asking it to pop back in a bit when she’s less preoccupied! Refusing death – we are assured – made Annie something new, more powerful. She could rent-a-ghost further, when she remembers to but even by the time she sees Sasha she still tends to run away instead of pop off. She could hear the suffering of the dying – just for long enough to rescue Hedrick’s human herd from BEdwards, but not apparently since. She also developed her own personal wind machine for appropriate hair effects for the duration of the rescue.
Annie’s visibility was linked in series one to her self-esteem and when she finally admitted the truth about Owen she could be seen by humans, to some momentary confusion with Nina in episode six. Her visibility was removed as a punishment by TMWS&TMWR when Saul was unable to drag her through his door and down his nicely red-carpeted passage. So not self esteem related at all then.
Sykes taught her how to close her door but how did he know how? Do we assume he turned down his own door in a continuing terror of what lay waiting for him? How would he know otherwise? It didn’t make him visible or powerful though so what made Annie different? He’d learned tricks but we have no idea where from. Ghoul School? All his skills left him just a ghost but he too saw Annie as something new, something different.
He also taught Annie aura reading, well, she read one and never did it again – there’s a theme developing here. Shame she didn’t take a closer look at Kemp and Lucy (although I don’t want to think about what pervy Lloyd’s aura shows…) Of course if Annie had read them and warned everyone series two would have ended with rather a whimper. None of those skills seemed to cross Annie’s mind when Kemp exorcised her in S2, not a scrap of fightback to be seen.
Gilbert, the series one 1980’s ghost remains a favourite of many people even now – existential angst, music fascism and a Walkman, he died the year Annie was born and had never found love until he met her. Falling in love with Annie helped him resolve his life and pass through his own door. It was our first lesson – ghost 101 – Gilbert died, muddled along for a bit, found resolution, saw the light and passed over. Simple. Or maybe not.
So, other ghosts? Can they shed light on the ghost world and just what it is that makes Annie different? Well, no, not really. The only other ghost we saw in S1 was Billy, one of Herrick’s human dairy who appeared to Annie to lead her to their rescue. Maybe ghosts just aren’t that common, certainly Seth was a little confused by Annie asking her “Can you, like, move things about and walk from one room to another?” Although you have to remember one thing about Seth. He’s an idiot.
Series two brings us Sykes and then Kathleen and baby Tim/Rufus, all in the lesson of the week mould. A whole theatre full of ghosts in episode six seems more hopeful but guess what? It’s another Annie lesson as her mum comes to a séance and finally lets go of some of her hurt over her daughter’s death and moves on, leaving Annie to consider moving on in her turn. I didn’t say the lessons were subtle did I?!
One of my favourites was the brief peek at Hennessey’s ghost, a bittersweet moment when he really sees Annie for the first time. Then there’s the ghost that may not be a ghost, here’s Amy MacBride, dead werewolf – ghost or delusion? Who knows but she’s enough to worry Lucy which isn’t a bad thing and petrify pervy Lloyd which is a very good thing!
Series three added few more – a glimpse of Adam’s Dad and Sasha going through their doors with apposite (and unsubtle) last words, the ghost policeman who watched his dead body quote Lia’s poetry and George’s Dad who turned out not to be a ghost at all. So George and Nina can’t sense ghosts – is that true for all werewolves or yet another exception to the BH Rules?
I really hope that series four shows us what Annie can do. I shall have to grit my teeth and just accept that she is different and hope we’re going to find out why. Lenora Crichlow said about series four “She starts to realise her destiny as a ghost – it is bigger than her, but it’s also empowering to know what she has been put here to do.”
She’s more powerful than she knows – Wyndam said that so it must be true. I’d like to think that with a baby to look after, a vampire war to fight and the loss of her friends to deal with Annie will abandon the tea urn and draw together her door closing, light flickering, electric sparking, poltergeisting, rent-a-ghosting, aura reading skills and seriously kick some ass!