alex, barry grand hotel, BBCThree, being human, captain hatch, damien molony, ghost, hal, kate bracken, michael socha, mr rook, phil davis, series five, steven robertson, toby whithouse, tom, vampire, werewolf
“We’ve got loads of time” “Promise?” “Cross my heart and hope to die”
Alex’s opening scene with her little brother is poignant – at first it could be ghost Alex until we see her eat – or try to eat – an ice cream but it transpires she’s ready for her ill-fated date with Hal. Such anticipation, all trampled underfoot.
She misses her brothers every day, she tells Oliver, the mysteriously appearing Victorian child ghost. It’s clear he’s not really a substitute but off they go the fair to have the fun that she was stopped from having with her real family. I thought on a first watch that Alex was too quick to volunteer to be taken through the door, to give it all up but she couldn’t help her brothers so why not try to save Oliver? She’s only a three-month old ghost and the prospect of crossing over – even to whatever might have been in store – must have had its appeal instead of the yawning eternity she hasn’t yet managed to accept.
Oliver’s still a brat though! (Yes I am the ChildCatcher.)
“You can’t dance. You can’t conjugate Latin verbs. And your madrigal singing is subpar at best”
I’m very conscious this year of the number of conversations Tom and Hal have with Alex in public places. She’s invisible. They must look insane – not that anyone actually notices. And why not? It hasn’t bothered me before, Annie was mostly in the house and her interactions with other supernatural beings (various) tended to be away from the great unwashed but Alex is in the bar of a hotel. It’s a pretty crap hotel but it’s a public place.
“Still got it!” says Alex about her piano playing, just as Annie did about her picking up skills. I’m not keen on how broad the humour is in this series and this seems a good example. I can’t help thinking that in past series Alex would have turned out to be a talented musician which would have made a lovely contrast to her street smart spikiness but instead she’s the butt of the joke – and made to look stupid.
And not just her – Tom has always been naive and innocent which is a large part of his charm but now he’s being written as dumb. I don’t like it that he only seems there so that Hal has someone to look down on. Where’s the friendship gone? Although to be fair Hal was pretty vile to Tom in series four too.
Last week’s assisted suicide of suggestible Sophie has pepped the Devil up no end. His cup runneth over. As does his colostomy bag… Good job they have such awful carpets at the Barry Grand, they hide the stains something lovely.
The Devil thrives on the conflict between vampires and werewolves and Hatch starts to ramp things up with Tom and Hal. With Tom he’s very like Kirby, playing on his isolation, his sense of not being quite good enough, his growing realisation that he just doesn’t fit into the world after his somewhat unique upbringing. With Hal Hatch takes a different tack and we see Hal’s arrogance bleeding through his deliberately controlled façade. We’d already heard him tell Alex he’d never been anything but the best at everything and now Hatch is building that belief in his innate superiority further. Vampires loath and are repulsed by wolves and they pity the ghosts. Hal’s hidden it well but how much longer can he keep that instinct trapped?
There was no subtext to Hatch this week. He could see the ghosts and had firm charge of ghost brat, ordering him to get Alex home and controlling the MWSAMWR (What? You expect me to type all that every time?) Was he pulling their stings like a puppet or just echoing their words? Either way he was determined and it rang a little false that Alex out manoeuvred him so easily.
I loved the use of the Escher print to turn Honolulu Heights into an endless maze, trapping Alex and Brat. It makes me wonder how he’ll use The Gardens of Earthly Delights. I’m less sure about the effects that accompanied the aforementioned MWSAMWR. The white eyes were nice but all the acid flashback light effects were over the top. I actually found Martin Hancock’s The Leader (TLotMWSAMWR) (OK getting silly now) much more chilling when the effects stopped. Being Human makes the everyday supernatural and the ordinary terrifying. Herrick’s fresh-faced policeman, the hospital porter who’s a wolf, the very fact that death is a door. Whizzy computer programmes are no real substitute for character and excellent writing.
What is Rook’s plan? He gave Crumb’s family to him and – inevitably – he killed them. On CCTV. Rook then presented the film to the Home Secretary as proof he needs to rethink the closure of the department. Surely in that vast archive he had similar evidence already that would have served the same purpose? How did Crumb escape afterwards? And how did he find Hal? I sense Rook’s hand in it all and I’m pondering if Alan is all he seems. Not that he seems much yet – set up, double agent or genuinely repulsed geek? It’ll be interesting to find out. The geeks will inherit the earth perhaps…
Hal was pretty vile to Crumb. He made him and wanted to keep him clean and now when he asks for help Hal turns him away. And not gently. He’s a nasty bastard isn’t he? What if no one had ever helped him to stay clean? If Pearl and Leo, Annie and Tom had abandoned him? Oh, silly me I forgot. He’s good at everything – especially at fucking up and not taking the blame. How long before he turns that dancers back on someone else?
Rook does seem to be inordinately fond of his pens… He regretted the one he misplaced in an eye-socket last week and this week he bestows one on Crumb. A very special honour… Even though he’d rather have had a proper secret squirrel badge.
“I’m getting stronger every day. And when the time is right I will rise. And then I’m going to drain the world dry. I’m going to lap up every drop of hope and love and feel it run down my chin. I’m gonna turn men into beasts and ruin their women and spit poison into their children, I’m going to scorch the Earth with proper Old Testament despair and teach them that the Gods are there to be feared, and everything you love will die and everything you’re scared of will come true!”
This episode had yet more similarities to previous plots. Hatch getting in between Tom and Hal and forcing them apart was very Kirby – although less subtle. Evil brat set up to get Alex through her door – versus evil/deluded Saul set up to get Annie through her door. And obviously Oliver in the house at all echoed Kirby – did he come back through someone else’s door too?
I’m not sorry to see the back of Patsy. All she did was drool over Hal and that isn’t enough to make a rounded character. I only wish she’d taken Crumb with her. Maybe if he stops hamming he’ll be more appealing but I’m loosing hope that’ll happen. Every time I see him I develop a sudden craving for a bacon sandwich. Sadly the wonderful Steven Robertson’s Mr Rook suffers by being mostly paired with Crumb the clown. He’s so much better without him.
Plaudits and bouquets to Kate Bracken as Alex though – she’s really going from strength to strength. Stay strong girl, don’t let them make you all fluffy and lovelorn.
The Home Secretary doesn’t know vampires don’t show on film? Doesn’t he watch television?
Did I see Alex’s eyes go blue when she was with the MWSAMWR? Potential power or potential visibility? Or was it just a side effect of the lighting and left over special swirly effects? What do you think?
Invisible dodgem drivers? What happened when they went to collect the fare?
Suited and booted – last year Cutler’s shirts and jackets were all short in the arms, this year Alistair’s suits seem to be wearing him. Maybe he needs a new tailor? Or the old one needs a new tape measure…
For all he was deeply irritating Oliver did have a nice line in Victorian insults – beef witted applejohn, dollymop and flapdragon. (Hopefully not the modern meaning – look it up but remember it’s NSFW!)
Toby Whithouse has previously said that he wouldn’t show the Men With Sticks and Men With Ropes as to actually see them would dilute their menace. He also said he would never be in it… What else has he said he’d never do?
I do not for a minute believe that Patsy hasn’t been trying to watch Hal on the CCTV for some time. Has she never questioned why she can’t spot him? And don’t cry Data Protection – it happens.
Interesting to see the flowers placed by Captain Hatch keeled over almost immediately. Made me think of the bowl of fruit Nina took Herrick in the attic that rotted. The corrupting power of evil. Maybe that’s why my bananas are always soft…
“He has all his own teeth” And then some…
Since last week’s episode I’ve been pondering on that flask of blood that Rook left with Hal. Whose blood is it? It’s way too simple that it came from some cooperative random human. Will it affect him or even kill him if he drinks it? Is it somehow commented with the trinity that was supposed to imprison the Devil – until someone read the recipe wrong? Or am I over thinking and it’s just a snack? Hmmm.
And yes, I don’t doubt he’s kept it – although it must be getting a bit congealed by now…
Alex telling her brother they had loads of time made me think of this classic – and also gave me the post title.