Possibly the first Being Human episode that was genuinely, uncomfortably creepy, thanks to Alfie Kirby. Ghost psychopath. Or possibly sociopath. Or was it that gorgeous 70s ensemble that gave me the creeps. (And a serious case of static cling…)
“Nina sent me”
James Lance’s Kirby slithers through this episode in the most oleaginous way, dominating, twisting and haunting it, just as Kirby himself does to our fledgling family. A classic case of divide and conquer as he drip feeds us a little titbits about himself, going from a bit odd and maybe not the nicest ghost to a truly unsettling creature.
Just why is he so welcomed? Well, Kirby is pretty convincing. A salesman, a con man, a psychopath – to him the trio are easy prey. Annie is still terrified of being alone, missing her friends and a little message from short and scary Nina goes a long way. Tom wants a family, someone who cares and Hal… Well Hal is more resistant, perhaps because of the impact on his routines but he’s soon dragged in by Kirby’s comments to the others, casting doubt on his motives and intentions. Where should he start? Tom looks to be an easy mark…
Tom is the human heart of this series and he neatly reverses the previous werewolf dilemma, rather than a human who is learning to live as a werewolf Tom is a werewolf learning to be human. It’s easy to underestimate the influence of his upbringing but despite his lovely manners and his killer instincts Tom has been raised away from normal life. He doesn’t know how it works, how other people interact. He’s never been taught how. He misses McNair – how could he not – and Kirby notices his reaction to his early statement about werewolves not being ghosts and he comes back to it later, making sure Tom believes his dad can never return.
His tears are those of a boy and in so many ways that’s just what he is. Trouble is he’s a boy in a man’s body in a hostile world – he reacts with alcohol and violence instead of upending his toybox and refusing to eat sprouts. Above all else he wants – needs – a family and the love and support that come with it. His wall of pictures – images of happy families, normal life – show what he yearns for and I do wonder if he resents McNair for depriving him of such simple pleasures. Although I’d be very happy with a stake and a sparkler on my birthday (it’s soon if anyone wants to oblige!)
“Your toxic fucking blood!”
When Hal fights with Tom – Tom may start it but Kirby instigated it – we see a snapshot of a different man. After Tom gets blood on his arm Hal pushes him away, shouts at him, he swears – something we haven’t seen before. Is it the deep down hatred of werewolves, pain or just the fight that had made him change? It’s another hint of just what he might be without radio four…
Tom gets drunk and beats up a vampire, one who conveniently pops up and shows his fangs. Was that vampire a real coincidence or was it a Cutler set up, CCTV and all. It’s the first time we see Tom acting other than with the clinical efficiency of an assassin – he beats the vampire with a savagery which is shocking and ends up in jail. Luckily for him he gets a good lawyer!
So Cutler’s a lawyer, or at least appears to be a lawyer. Nice suit, briefcase and on first name terms with the local coppers. Is he the duty solicitor or just keeping a wary eye on proceedings? He must have informants and contacts in the police – after all Fergus can’t have been the only one – he got that CCTV footage from someone pretty swiftly, or was he watching it live?. What’s in it for Cutler to befriend Tom? Just how useful would a tame werewolf be when you want to blame them for everything? His speech about good vampires is clever, not overdone but just enough to make Tom think and especially at a point when he has been destabilised by Kirby. Cutler has an in to Honolulu Heights now…
“I’m gay and I’m stray… no, that’s not it”
If you’re a ghost and your baby’s poorly – who’re you gonna call? Ghostdoctors? The NHS is going to struggle to deal with an invisible career so the only solution that presents itself is for Tom to play Eve’s dad. And Eve’s Mum? Hal. Two gay dads – it’s a very clever play on stereotypes and political correctness. Whatever the GP says that might be even slightly misinterpreted could land him in very hot water! The best way to stop too many questions. A very funny scene – Hal’s body language screaming with contradictions, his face when Tom puts his arm round him is priceless and the humour is only added to by Annie’s shouting and annoyance that the doctor is utterly oblivious to.
When he follows the GP, it’s the first time Kirby shows his full creepiness and he decides to make sure any risk posed by the confused but curious GP is annihilated. Literally. He gives him a heart attack. We also get the snippet that back in the day he’d have used a knife… Something you’d like to tell us? We find out much later that Kirby isn’t just a creep and a slimeball, he’s a serial killer; but irritatingly for him not a famous one. His rundown of evil to Tom and Hal is beautifully done – we know he’s done some awful things, he piles on the detail, the toy sales, the children, the gullible mothers. This is getting very dark and it’s almost a relief when we find out that he cut the mother’s throats and a testament to the strength of Tom Grieves’ writing.
“Is it me, or do I have the worst taste in men… ever?”
Kirby keys into Annie almost instantly – does he know her background? He knows about Mitchell but does he know Owen? It’s not all that clear but what is plain to see is that this is yet another abusive relationship and a position that Annie falls into almost instinctively. She let Owen dominate and hurt her, she let Mitchell walk all over her and now she lets Kirby sap her energy, drain her, chase away her friends and leave her vulnerable. Just like Herrick he calls her nice with a sneer and eventually he kills her all over again and without anyone left to anchor her, Annie is smoke.
Then comes probably the best dance on Being Human – in a tank top – dig those 70s shapes! He’s barely finishes before we find out who sent him – its future woman/possibly grown up Eve/whatever. FW needs to know the deed is done – does she look upset that Annie is gone? Maybe, but does that prove she is Eve? Now all Kirby has to do is kill the baby but before he can Hal and Tom return after a heart to heart through Hal’s car window while blocking the whole road! Can they stop Kirby? They don’t need to find out – their presence back in the house changes everything and Annie materialises – all blue-eyed and blue-lit and powerful and she vanquishes the rather startled Kirby. Done.
Just what is Cutler’s plan? I still think it’s to expose werewolves, making vampires seem to be a better way for the world. He’s started to get Tom onside and now he’s using the Box Tunnel massacre. It s a great plan – the press coverage that we saw in S3 suggested supernatural forces were at work and even a certain Professor Lucy Jaggat’s name got a mention. Was the plan in action right back then? Maybe it was… The coroner is one of his allies and she reported human flesh in the killer’s stomach – well, the supposed killer set up by Wyndam. Is Jason Healy a werewolf or will it suit Cutler if he just seems to be?
Hal is putting this together and he confronts the Coroner, scaring her although Cutler’s hold is tighter and she won’t talk, only to say it was another vampire. She’s terrified and with good cause – as soon as she’s told Cutler what she knows she’s supper. Good boy, nice and evil and not a drop of blood spilled on the shirt. You have to admire that!
If werewolves can’t be ghosts then Amy McBride was a bloody apparition sent to drive Lucy and pervy Lloyd bats. Not a proper ghost. She must have been something else unless Kirby was making it up. Chances are he was.
“I’d kill everyone I encountered until I was sated. Barry, Cardiff, most of South Wales”
“Right. Not all bad, then”
Kirby must have had a TV set in heaven/hell/purgatory – Starsky and Hutch didn’t air in the UK in 1976, a year after his car/head incident.
Good handbrake on Hal/Leo’s old car! How long did he sit at the end of the road?
One day Annie will let someone tell her things she really needs to hear.
Was Cutler a lawyer before he was recruited? Echoes of Herrick, the Victorian legal clerk…
“Evil is like travelling first class. Try it once and you can never go back”
Hal doesn’t sing. Commendable. I wish other people took the same view. However… does that mean it can’t be him in the 2037 flash-forward, yodeling New York New York to the oppressed and suppressed wolfies?
I’m sure it wasn’t but it’s a nice thought, as opined on the night, that it was Toby Whithouse driving the car that knocked down Kirby in 1975. I’m sure that there must be an elf ’n’ safety rule about writers running over actors – but whether it prohibits or encourages it I’d be loathe to say!
“Now look what you made me do…”
Now pull on that tank top and dance – you know you want to!