Hang on a minute while I pull off the dust sheets and run around with the vacuum. Open the windows will you? Give the blog a bit of a blow through.
I can’t quite bring myself to close this blog permanently although I don’t feel the need to write about Being Human that often nowadays. I’m quite sure that occasionally there will be thoughts and this is a good outlet as I can’t see anyone rolling their eyes at me!
Today I do have thoughts as it’s six years ago today when the first episode of the first series was aired on BBCThree. It was a Sunday, a fairly mild day for winter, a bit damp and the day before the new moon.
Here’s a thing. Can we really look back at that first episode and see it as we did then?
“Maybe… we find each other”
George and Annie making tentative steps towards friendship, picking their way through the mugs of cold tea?
Mitchell coping – sort of – not really – with the help of pizza and cereal?
“…and she was mine”
Owen the grieving finance – it all sounded so innocent and so touching then.
“You’re a shark – be a shark”
Herrick, tidying up after Mitchell, charming Cara (or canteen girl as she was known then) and generally talking a reasonable amount of sense.
“A-positive? A bit Jacob’s Creek-y for me”
Ah Seth, bless his dim little cotton socks. He changed the wine choices of a fandom!
Lost, vengeful, confused Lauren.
“OK, I’m new to this, but aren’t you suppose to weep or scream or wee yourself?”
Of course we can’t see it new now. Everything – the house, the people, the passing strangers, it’s all coloured by what we know is still to come. We know their ends so we can’t help seeing the path and we – or maybe just me – still wishes they applied a little more common sense from time to time. Yes Mitchell, that means you!
Nowadays I think more about what Being Human brought with it. For me as well as being one of my favourite TV series it gave me opportunity – there are two books out there with my name on and I still write. Will I write another TV book? Maybe but it’s hard to find anything I want to watch as often and in as much detail as I did BH. I wore out a set of S1-3 DVDs!
But most importantly the Being Human fandom brought people – groups of friends that go far beyond the influence of a TV show. Transatlantic, cross European meet ups. Theatre trips. Excursions to the cold, wet yet scenic glories of Barry Island. Bristol BH pub crawls. Knicker-wetting laughter. Mutual support and encouragement. Captain Fringe. General insanity. Panda sex. A quote for every occasion. A full on gospel chorus every time someone goes to IKEA…
Series three Another eight episodes. In Wales. To be precise in Barry Island… Pretty much everything has changed – George and Nina are almost, sort of a proper couple, albeit with occasionally – let’s say robust – nocturnal activities, Annie’s been to purgatory and back and Mitchell? Ah yes Mitchell. The Box Tunnel massacre has left him with nowhere to go and it overshadows the whole series. This is Mitchell’s decline and fall. Not to mention that Peter Jackson was murmuring seductively from the sidelines while waving a pointy hat and furry boots at Aidan Turner!
This is probably the darkest of all five series and I have to say I think it suffers slightly from being so totally focussed on Mitchell’s plight and his ongoing attempts to paint himself into a smaller and smaller corner. Despite that it still has good stories for George and Nina and some great guest characters – and Annie was there too, suffering from lack of plot syndrome. Again. Such a shame and such a waste as when she got the chance to shine she probably shone brighter than any of them.
It’s another series when I know which is my favourite straight away – it’s an instinctive answer although there is much that is good about them all.
In episode one Annie was in purgatory, George was in a quandary, Nina was in Ann Summers and Mitchell was in the clutches of perky Mary Poppins-esque Lia. Lacey Turner’s Lia was wonderful – flirty and flinty by turns, keeping Mitchell on his toes and pushing him and Annie together as part of her cunning plan. And what was she? A Gatekeeper? I still think she was more than just a victim out for revenge – she had more power than that. Plus I rather like the idea that the PTB behind the doors are entirely composed of former soap stars! (see also The Leader of TMWSaTMWR)
There were plenty of other great guests and great moments in series three. One of the very best was Sasha, the very Being Human style zombie. It was another dull thud of a lesson of the week but the character was a riot and as well as being vile and funny and smelly and oozing she was touching and sad. There was the fight in The Pack when Tom, McNair and Mitchell disposed of a cage fights worth of vampires and still found time for the odd sardonic quip. The McNairs generally – and McNair senior in particular with his philosophy on life, shopping and sex education. Richard and Emma’s vampire orgy was entertaining – thought a little Abigail’s Party – and I thought the solution to their blood needs with No. 7 (plus 1-6 in the garden) was rather neat! We also got to meet the dysfunctional Sands family – poor old George, even without the wolf did he really stand much hope of being normal?! There was tenacious (annoying!) Nancy and the musings as to whether she’d return as a vampire and the rather shouty and slimy Cooper.
The penultimate episode – Though the Heavens fall– was amazing and probably the best build up to the climax of a series of them all. In fact it stands up well to many series with bigger budgets and grander ambitions. The Wolf Shaped Bullet has heart stopping moments – Herrick with Mitchell in the cage, the moment Mitchell leaves Annie in the cell after she’d pledged eternity to him, Tom burying McNair, Nina almost dying and Lia’s machinations finally unravelled by Annie with a little help from a pink TV. It had Herrick’s end – this time finally – and after one last beautiful sunrise. It also brought us the twice seen never forgotten Wyndam – the blue eyed, sharp suited wrath of god. Pineapples himself! I might have been tempted by the final episode as my favourite but the last-minute reblocking to allow Mitchell to head for Hobbit-land did show and ended up compromising it just too much. I’d love to have seen the planned version which left Mitchell’s story open.
But neither of these are my favourite. Have you guessed yet?
It’s The Longest Day. How could it be any other?
I know what you’re thinking – it’s another Herrick centred episode. Yes it is but this is my choice for much, much more than that. The writing is the best seen in all five series – and yes, I’m including Toby Whithouse’s in that. (So shoot me.) Once George gets the rambling. wide-eyed Uncle Billy out of the hospital the rest of the episode takes place entirely in Honolulu Heights and the enclosed and almost claustrophobic feel are a part of the story. The lighting and direction are beautifully matched to the unfolding events and the dialogue is perfect for all the main characters. There is depth to Nina’s black and white morality and Annie has a chance to shine. Even Cara is a fully rounded sympathetic character. Wendy the community psychiatric nurse is a triumph – written especially for Nicola Walker by Sarah Phelps – we know her the moment she walks into the house. It’s an acting tour de force and matched by Jason Watkins as the confused amnesiac vampire – or is he? I still think not – there’s enough of that ancient evil showing through to make us wonder.
The whole episode is as theatrical as a TV show can be and I love it! And for once without qualification. Not even a minor Tena Lady moment.
And remember – it’s going to be the most beautiful day.
It’s on to 2010 and series two and an extra two episodes to think about with eight instead of six.
Surprisingly this is one I haven’t had to think too hard about. There is so much to enjoy in this one – I chose it as my favourite series after all – but I just can’t get past one episode that just leaps out as my favourite.
Which one? Wait and see!
This series had the most embedded series arc of all of them. All the characters played their part in the tale of Lucy and Kemp and their dastardly plans. Mitchell was targeted, seduced and narrowly avoided being blown up by them, Nina was convinced they could cure her, George was less so but in desperation went to try and Annie realised that she could never move on and asked Kemp for help. Even though he didn’t think to bring a door. Silly man. Mind you he provided help in spades later on, even after she changed her mind.
Over and above the main arc series two brought us sub-plots and stories that could sit alone but they all very cleverly tied into the main thread. We saw our first proper vampire couple – unless you count Cara and Herrick at the end of S1 – the wonderful Ivan and Daisy. Ivan with his car, his twitter account, his swans; Daisy with her tea dress, enthusiastically friendly nature (ahem) and apparent lack of undercrackers. Sadly Cure and Contagion was the only time we saw them together – such a waste, they could have rampaged hand in hand all over every episode and I’d have been very happy!
It seemed that Annie was going to get all the best plots at the beginning – visible, solid, well just a bit squishy – she got a job and a bloke. Ah yes, Saul. What was Saul? Dead but not a ghost, a minion of the PTB behind the door. And Terry Wogan. And then there was Hugh – the life that Annie should have had – gentle kindness and understanding, Fatima Whitbread and hope.
I have a soft spot for Lucy and her clever manipulation of Mitchell and really liked the way that Mitchell was played against type as a bumbling suitor. Deadly furniture indeed! From the genius of Trevor to the tales of poo… It was never going to end well. There was a lovely moment with Lucy and Mitchell talking on a bench dedicated to Lauren. Memories.
We also met Carl and his gay, human lover Dan – well, technically his dead, gay, human lover Dan. Dan’s death also gave us one of the best/worst vampire jokes in Being Human. “Count Spectacular!” “Mince of Darkness!”
Serve God Love Me and Mend was a great Annie episode – and despite the early promise of this series they are few and far between. It showed us what a fabulous character she is by actually giving her something really good to do. She got another go in Educating Creature when Sykes saved her from the MWSaMWR and went on to teach her about doors and auras. Not that we ever saw any of that again… It had such potential – Sykes was a marvellous idea but the less than subtle way it hammered home Annie’s lesson of the week doesn’t put this at the top of my list.
I can’t not mention the Box Tunnel Massacre – bloody retribution on a commuter train. But was it Daisy’s idea or Mitchell’s? I’m not sure he’d have done something quite so bloody and so impossible to come back from without Daisy and her need for revenge. I’m just glad I don’t do his laundry – even Vanish isn’t going to get those sheets clean! And didn’t props and make up have fun with the bodies?!
All God’s Children was darkly claustrophobic with almost all of it taking place inside the Facility, a real life building that was almost a character in it’s own right. The creeping menace of Mitchell stalking the corridors, George finding the message from Tully, Annie’s answer phone tape and her being torn out of the world. The almost sequel in the cottage when Lucy appeared and Kemp followed, when Annie managed to pop out of purgatory and if that wasn’t enough there was yet another final final scene.
So what was my favourite? I could say it was hard to choose – and to be honest there are great parts to every episode in my favourite series but the choice was easy this time.
The Looking Glass
And not just because of Herrick! The way it pulled together the past and the present – it wasn’t always subtle but the inter-cutting of Mitchell trying to recreate what he had with Josie with Lucy was so clever. There was also the care and amusement of dead babies, the library books, discovering that tea is barbaric and that George probably could eat a whole cat. It was also the start of Mitchell really falling apart, he knows he needs the system – needs Wilson – but he can’t and won’t pay the price of doing his dirty work and Wilson’s death is just the beginning of the fall.
And OK. I admit it. It is mostly about Herrick! A Herrick in a rather sharp suit, a luxurious amount of hair and some cracking speeches – just as we’d expect. It was the beginning of his policeman disguise and he’s a fan of Lewis Carroll. Alice, handcuffs and smiling evil – what more could a girl dream of?!
Now the dust has settled and I’ve had time to ponder the end of series five and THAT extra scene it feels like time to go back to the beginning.
(Oh yes. THAT ending. THAT extra scene. Harrumph. I can see I’ll have to come back to that.)
Having made myself choose a favourite series I’ve gone one step further in the search for the next best bit – my favourite episode. This is going to be fun, given that there are 37 including the pilot and I have no idea where to start to narrow them down. Not a clue.
OK. Here’s a plan. A short-ish blog to choose my favourite episode from each series and then a final choice from them of my absolute best ever episode. OK with you? No? Well, to be honest I’m in charge round here so that’s what I’m doing!
Let’s just go with the flow. (Who leads the flow?) (No one. It’s a flow.)
Series one, six episodes and immediately I have a problem. Yes another one. How do I choose between Tully and Gilbert? Between Josie and Bernie? Between werewolf problems and vampire problems and ghost problems? Do I pick the one with the best lines or try to take a scientific view?
I’m doing this from memory – if I do a rewatch or even read my own book I’m going to find so many little treasures that I’d forgotten about so to go on what has lodged in my tiny mind seems to be the way to go! So what does stand out? Herrick certainly had most of the best lines, while George got a good serving of angst and Mitchell wavered back and forth between the vampires and the humans. I see a theme developing there…
I loved Lauren and was so sorry she didn’t get to be the vampire she might have been. She stood up to Herrick – not many did – and with a bit less angst and soooo sooorry-ness from Mitchell the two of them could have ruled the vampires. She also had some cracking lines – who can forget her riposte to Seth’s “Aow” as he turned to smoke?* And on the subject of great lines (so many!) I really – really – want to use Nina’s put down of George’s Tully-inspired attempt to ask her out.** Yes all of it. Word for word.
I loved Ghost Town and Gilbert is one of my favourite one-show guest characters and – of course – his was the first door we saw, the first resolved UFB. And this was the episode in which we found out that Owen killed Annie, that Mitchell and Annie sort of kissed (‘It’s like being attacked by an ironing board’) and when George rather memorably (and rather vigorously) proved to Nina his premature ejaculation issues were – well, somewhat less serious and rather less premature than she may have thought!
But then there’s episode five – Where the Wild Things Are. It had Annie’s door, the wonderful Josie – all the memories in that simple gesture of remembering exactly how she drinks her coffee – and Owen being driven entirely mad and the policeman needing a different form. Ending with Mitchell bleeding in the hall, Herrick demanding to be let in, George pleading with Annie to go (and letting out a tiny bit of wee) and Annie in a state over pretty much all of it! It set quite a standard for penultimate episodes.
But the last episode – Sarky Mark and his wry humour, Josie sacrificing herself for Mitchell, Herrick so very sure he was going to win – and not just Top Trumps – and we see a hint of the power that takes Annie through four more series to save the world. And that final showdown. George does what he’d always dreaded and he does it for love. Bad Moon Rising had everything – pathos, humour, darkness, horror, Brecht, Nanna and not one but two very clever cliffhangers. And Herrick in bits on the cellar floor… but not before some wonderful final speeches that gave me the title of this blog.
Maybe I should roll a dice? Randomly pick a number?
No. I’ve decided.
Although I’d like to choose more than one my favourite episode from series one has to be episode six – Bad Moon Rising. That’s what my heart is telling me so all analysis is off. And I have to choose it for no other reason than Josie’s death made me cry – and nothing else in Being Human ever has.
* “Well, he won’t be staring at my tits when he speaks to me anymore”
Now that Being Human is at an end (sigh) I’m in the mood for reflection. It’s been an amazing five years and – although I’m very sad to see it go – I AM glad it’s ended when the reaction is still so strong and there are still people passionate about it. So many shows drag themselves through one or two series too many and the end comes as a merciful release. At least that didn’t happen to Being Human.
The thought of watching it from behind my zimmer frame as the thirteenth supernatural trinity tries to save the world (again) is just too much like Last of the Summer Vampires to contemplate! (I bet there still wouldn’t have been a decent strong female vampire character though… although the idea of werewolf Nina Batty with her wrinkly furry stockings does appeal!)
I suspect I still have things to ponder so there are likely to be more posts here but while I digest and process and yes, ponder, here goes with a few quickies about favourites – favourite episodes, series, character, guests and whatever else comes to mind! Any requests?
And I’m starting with a tough one – one which I’m really struggling to answer. Which is my favourite series?
Series one – There Goes the Neighbourhood – introduced us not only to Mitchell, Annie and George but also to the supernatural lore that held their world together. We saw doors to the afterlife, a vampire trying to give up blood and others who very definitely weren’t. We learned about ghosts and their unfinished business and how werewolves are killed from the inside out every month when they transform in agony.
It brought us Herrick – my boy Herrick, the little love – and Seth, Lauren and Nina, wonderful regular characters. The other guests were overall probably the best of all five series – Gilbert, Tully, Josie and – of course – Sarky Mark! Who else? Lovely/evil Owen and tango-tanned Janey, Bernie and Fleur – Toby certainly packed them in over those first six episodes!
We rooted for Annie when she drove Owen mad – especially as he’d fooled us all by seeming to be so very lovely, we cringed with George as he likened Becca to a polo and wept with Mitchell over Josie. We admired the mad hats on the pitchfork weilding mob – and I bet none of them brought jam afterwards. We saw just how Herrick manipulated Mitchell and how he used Lauren to the detriment of brown duvet man. And at the end George did the one thing he feared the most and he did it for Mitchell. He killed Herrick.
Surely now it was all over?
Well, what do you think?!
Series two – God Loves, Man Kills – probably came the closest to fulfilling the original premise – being human. It was the only series where the threat came from humanity and in Lucy and Kemp, and also Hennessey and Lloyd it gave us rounded and convincing human characters – an increasing rarity. I might come back to that – favourite human character… Nina was almost a regular and this is the series that brought us the pre-titles flashback – which I really love. Who else? Sykes – such a great ghost! – and all the randomly dressed theatre ghosts including Robyn the usherette, the second best moustache from Alan Cortez and an attempt at a proper grown up relationship for George with the possibly only slightly desperate Sam. Oh and Molly. That child was not normal…
Series two has some wonderful stories and lovely detail – Annie was visible for a while before Saul – what WAS Saul? – and to have sweet Hugh and his Fatima Whitbread fetish whipped away was so sad. We finally saw just how dark Mitchell’s heart could get – with just a little help and encouragement from Daisy. And lets never forget the wonderful Ivan, and his car and his taste in music and his inimitable, elegant languor…
And how could anyone forget the best episode of the series – The Looking Glass. Lucy finally gets her end away, we see how Mitchell met Josie and Herrick returned! In a dapper brocade waistcoat, a suspicious amount of hair and a tidy way with a pair of handcuffs…
I’m not helping myself choose here!
Series three – The Wolf Shaped Bullet – was probably the darkest of all five series, not that that is a bad thing. The first series from Wales, away from the iconic pink house and into Honolulu Heights. Nina is a fully fledged regular and Anne and Mitchell… well, you know how I feel about that. We also got the magnificent McNairs – and when we watched Tom eat his Knickerbocker Glory and promise to take a nap and have a proper tea how could we have imagined where his story would take us?
Nina got pregnant, George got to say ‘what’ a lot, Annie got soppy and Mitchell got… well, grubbier. (Sorry M-fans, sooooo soooorrrrry…) More great guests – Vincent, Adam – filthy, pervy Adam – Sasha the zombie WAG, Richard and Emma and no. 7 (and 1-6 ‘resting’ in the garden) and the rather lovely Wendy the social worker. And Cara was back!
And so was Herrick – resurrected and confused. Or was he? I think not, he was chilling, funny and deadly in turns – and all in stripy pjs and a flowery shirt. You have to admire that! And as befits him, he got all the best tunes. Dirge, History Repeating Itself – just so very Herrick.
And in the end? Herrick gone, a fleeting glimpse of a potential super vampire villain in the steely blue-eyed Wyndam and then Mitchell was dust. But it’s OK, it’s because George loved him…
Series four – The War Child – was a challenge. No Mitchell, Nina and Wyndam disposed of between series and only one episode for George before he kicked the bucket and a few vampire arses, leaving just Annie from the original threesome. We got new vampire Hal with his braces and dominoes, baby Eve and adult future Eve and some timey-whimey stuff that I’m not even going to try to explain. We also had nipple encrusted prophecies – and no, I’m not going to try to explain them either! We found ourselves a great new baddie – the amoral, self-interested, sarky, snarky Cutler with his grand plans and too short sleeves. Focus groups – now why did my boy Herrick never think of that?!
More great guests – Griffin and his Thursday fajitas, Pearl and Leo and their fifty-years on hold romance, the return of Adam with a succubus in tow, Fergus – a street smart version of Seth, Allison the trainee barrister werewolf and Regus. Lovely Regus the Vampire Recorder, sex memory pilferer with his extraordinary T-shirt collection! You have to love a vampire in a Team Edward shirt… I have a rather soft spot for Golda (and her human skin filofax – I want one) and investigative supernatural reporter Pete. (AKA a quick munch…)
The Old Ones arrived, led by the elegantly wasted away Mr Snow but before they could pluck Barry apart Annie blew them apart with a vat or two of old chip fat. Collateral damage included a vaporised baby Eve thereby saving the world and bringing Annie that one final door.
That’s one hell of a bit of unfinished business!
Series five – The Trinity – was the final one and was written as such so expectations were high for a grand and great send off. To cap it all the Big Bad for the series was the devil – actually The Devil. Albeit in a wheelchair, a cardigan and a bit of a state… The new trinity was established with the addition of Alex, feisty, sparky, killed by Cutler (Hal drank her blood – not sure anyone ever mentioned that) and with the potential to be a pretty decent female lead! For a while until the lovelorn, motherly stuff kicked in. Hal took his shirt off a lot. Tom meanwhile wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills in search of some sort of plot…
Along with Captain Hatch/Old Scratch/Old Nick/add your own devil name we had Mr Rook. Head of the Department that keeps us safe and supernaturals’ secret – and a victim of Government budget cuts. Poor Dominic went a bit mad and until the end it was never quite clear whose side he was on. His own maybe…
More guests – good ones in wolf-mountain Bobby, Alex’s dad and Lady Catherine, decent enough ones in Lady Mary and Larry and just plain damned bloody awful ones in Crumb and Alan. Dire. Dreadful. (No I didn’t like them. Sorry, wasn’t that clear?) There were also indescribably amazing guests in a selection of bloggers – darlings, you were wonderful! Mwah! Mwah! The ideas were epic, the execution less so but we did finally see two of the things that Toby said we’d never see – the Men With Sticks and The Men With Ropes and Toby himself doing acting. I think the suit was trying for its own BAFTA but at least he didn’t wave to the camera…
Did they save the world again? The jury’s out on that one. As is the jury on whether they are really human or trapped by The Devil in an alternative universe.
My money’s on the bleak, dark ending – but that won’t surprise anyone!
It’s a tough one, as I love all of them for different reasons.
But if I must pick one of the five I think for overall strength of story, diverse and wonderfully nuanced characters, depth and subtly of writing and well, everything that makes Being Human what it is I’m going to have to go for series two – “God Loves, Man kills”
Although I reserve the right to change my mind according to mood, phase of the moon and whether my shoes hurt – or just because really!
I’ve been musing – as has every other Being Human fan/obsessive/stalker about just where Alex, Hal and Tom ended up at the end of The Final Broadcast. I briefly stated my view in the review I wrote but there is so much more to ponder…
Caveat first – Tony Whithouse has promised a DVD extra set one week after the end of the episode starring the three leads that will resolve the issue properly. That means everything I say here is likely to be irrelevant in April. OK, I know. It’s all largely irrelevant now!
Although as Toby was a little confused – perhaps tired and emotional – in his quotes I’m not relying on anything yet. On the BBC Being Human blog he said the DVD extra was planned, in SFX he’d forgotten about it. He wants to leave the end open and up for discussion but he’ll resolve it.
OK Toby – ‘fess up. Which writerer’s AU are YOU in right now?!
“Perhaps it is too soon. Perhaps none of this can make sense yet”
So here goes. My theory.
The Devil tries to tempt Alex, Hal and Tom with an alternative, a different life and he shows all three what could be. They refuse and are returned to the TV studio where The Devil is whispering in the ears of the world. (Why do I have a sudden mental image of a ginormous cotton bud?!)
But Hal inadvertently throws The Devil a bone before he’s pushed out of his snowy battlefield way back when and certainly before a close-ish shave and a trendy haircut – and probably before mid-twentieth centenary diction!
“You know where you went wrong. You should have put us together”
That definitely gave Old Scratch something to ponder…
Back in the studio they were back in the real world and Rook’s misguided attempt to destroy Old Nick were also real, as were the cover stories of poisoned gas and a demented but snappily dressed pensioner! Covering up – that’s one of the many things that Rook’s department have always done so well – even if it took Alastair rather a long time to realise. Reality trotted along quite nicely though the Rook/Devil synthesis – a quite logical escape route – and it continues until the Trinity attempt the ritual in Honolulu Heights.
The ritual drove The Devil out of Rook but he returned to the only human body available before the trinity died, back into Rook and that allowed the final part of the ritual – the part missed in 1918. The human body holding The Devil was killed and his evil essence scattered – back into the hearts of men. And women presumably. (And cats)
But the Devil has one last revenge up his dapper sleeve and his last act before being scattered for centuries was to trap the three in a new AU.
They wake, they think they are human, but they are not. It’s not real. On the mantelpiece is the origami werewolf. The Devil used it to bind the wolf in Tom’s AU and now it’s holding them in stasis. They think they have a life but they will never be able to move on. They are human in this tiny world but not mortal, Hal and Alex still won’t change but now neither will Tom. How long before they go entirely mad?
Maybe one day they’ll destroy the souvenirs, The Devils’ trophies. If they burn the paper wolf they’ll be released. But to what?
But the world – the real world, not their warm, cosy, slightly fuzzy AU world – will have moved on around them.It’s probably worth saying that this is just my theory. You’ll have your own. None of them are right and none are wrong – unless you’re Toby Whithouse (and I claim my £5!) And even then… let’s not go over the giant whiteboard list of inconsistencies again right now shall we?
Why am I so sure they can’t end the series as human? So many reasons. Not all rational. Here are a few – in no particular order except the order in which they occurred to me…
Because the whole five series of Being Human – as wonderful and amazing as the ride has been – does not encourage thoughts of happy endings! Especially for vampires – mass murdering devious vicious little treasures that they are…
(Except Herrick who is living (mostly) happily ever after in my airing cupboard, but that’s a whole different story! And don’t worry – I make him suffer…)
The idea that all supernatural curses come from the Devil is an interesting one. I can go with that for vampires – although it needs an acceptance of basic theology that I don’t have – but I’m not convinced about werewolves and ghosts. Especially ghosts. Look at Annie and Alex – they did nothing wrong, they were killed and they have lingered in the world. Isn’t that punishment enough? Unseen and untouched until whatever needs to be resolved – love, forgiveness, saving the world, whatever – is sorted. How in the name of any god you wish to invent can that be a curse from the Antichrist?
If the three are human because they defeated the devil then presumably so are all the others. Think about that – all the vampires and all the werewolves and all the ghosts are now human. Lady Mary is in Primark as we speak – or in a pub toilet. Sykes is probably back in the Air Force. Or has joined the Samaritans. Basically the world is full of strangely dressed confused new people. It’s going to get a bit crowded…
And what about the MWSaMWR? They are going to be so pissed!! Or did they scatter with The Devil?
The other option is that only these three supernaturals were reprieved from their supernatural state because they were the ones who completed the ritual. That doesn’t work either. If the curse come from the Devil then it has to mean ALL of them, not just three.
If – IF – the curse on all vampires is lifted then I bet those vampires that love what they are, the sharks, are furious! I wouldn’t want to be in Hal’s slip-ons when they find out it was him.
What about doors? If there are no more ghosts then surely there can be no doors. Do the dead just pass over straight away? To what? And what if they have things to do? Even death changes if the trinity become human.
And that defeating The Devil business? Sorry, it just can’t be that easy. After all, he’s the fucking devil sweetheart! He may be scattered I don’t believe he’s destroyed. A world without evil surely also means a world without good. Now us humans may be a bit crap but in the world as posed in BH we need both good and evil. Balance. Hope.
If there are no more ghosts, who gets to save the world next time? Because the one thing I can be pretty sure of is that there will be a next time…
Whatever you believe about the ending it’s a clever one and the more I think about it the more I’m convinced it’s dark enough to suit my twisted bitter heart. And of course I’m just as sure there are people equally adamant in an opposing view.
I hope that Toby doesn’t tie it up too neatly in the DVD extra.
First off, it was good – but it begged the question of why the hell wasn’t the rest of the series up to this standard? Had Toby become the Devil himself and wanted to keep all the best tunes? It also wasn’t what most people would have expected. Much of it had a deceptive calm that belied the apocalyptic themes and while it was epic in imagination it was less so in execution.
There is a certain amount of housekeeping that is briskly disposed off, situations that I’d have guessed would have been more important. Alex in her own coffin was a chilling image and her initial despair and determination showed off just what a find Kate Bracken is, probably one of the best young actors in any of the five series. The resolution was a bit easy though. Can I rentaghost? No. Can I pass through walls, coffin walls? Yes. OK then. What did annoy me was that although she could pass through the coffin lid she couldn’t to the same with the earth? Ghost out or dig out but not a bit of both, ending up with some partly disturbed grass and muddy clothes. An anomaly in ghost canon methinks…
Back with BigBadHal at his lock in, his BigBadVampArmy are created in the time it takes him to tie up his white tie and then destroyed in not much longer than it takes Tom to brush down his tails. Or tail. Not sure quite what the point was unless it was to underline that Hal was BadHal and Tom was back to VampKiller Extraordinaire. Anyway, we knew Hal was BadHal – he was even more pretentious in his declensions than SadHal – sorry, GoodHal. (I’m confusing myself here) Either way it lead into exactly what the Devil has been waiting for all along – a proper fight between Hal and Tom. Slightly too late as The Devil had already donned his dapper blazer and dappered off to cause more mischief.
The fight itself was neatly choreographed although I was disappointed that it wasn’t done in real time, the speeding up of the film made it feel less real – especially compared to the classic BH fight in “The Pack” when McNair, Annie and Mitchell – well, just McNair really – laid waste to a whole cagefight audience. That was full speed, full pelt and Just. Don’t. Breathe. This was a little more west end wendy…
Alex – fresh from the grave – gets Hal off the hook, or the stake, again. Anyone would think she fancied him. Saving the world from the wheelchair apocalypse is just a useful by product…
“Azazel, Old Nick, Old Scratch, Voland, The Stranger”
Not even fifteen minutes in and we’ve disposed of the action points and onto the main agenda. The Trinity are working together – sort of – and The Devil’s plan is unfurling. He’s gone through the hotel and the main roads like a dose of salts, corpse-whispering his way through the population and now he’s in the archives, tempting a confession out of Rook. Lets just say that I assume he stood on a chair, otherwise I might be quite impressed!
“He can’t whisper to everybody in the whole world”
Well. Actually he can.
Once he has the Emergency Broadcast Codes anyway. He gives a pretty speech about the pitiful human race – how, without him we should have done better but actually we’re just crap. He can do nothing worse to us than we already do to each other. Cynical and bleak it maybe but I do rather think he has a point… That speech is for me the absolute highlight of the episode, beautifully crafted and amazingly played by Phil Davis. I’d throw flowers but we’ve already seen what The Devil does to flowers… After five series of talking supernatural curses, doors and afterlife without ever really touching on religion (apart from Kemp and Lucy and I’m not letting them spoil a good point!), now at the very, very end we get revelations. Or actually Revelations. Book of.
And then The Devil does what The Devil does best. He tempts. He gives the trinity a glimpse of what might have been or what could be. What if.
All three were given a choice – for Hal and Alex it was the point of death. Hal could choose to live out what remained of his life in sixteenth century squalor. he seemed somewhat concerned about the squalor. Leo popped up in his jimjams – symbolically – to remind Hal that by dying he’d save many lives. That didn’t work did it? Alex was back in the holiday caravan with her dad – a quietly nuanced performance by Gordon Kennedy. She could miss her date with Hal. Survive and have a life.
Tom’s situation was very different and of the three he had the hardest choice. Hal and Alex – despite everything – had something to go back for. Tom’s supernatural life, the only life he’s ever known had systematically taken everything away – his real family, McNair, George and Nina, Annie and Eve. Even Allison. The Devil’s offer to Tom added a family. I wouldn’t have blamed him for one moment if he’d chosen to open the box.
In the end they went back – having managed to completely miss The Antichrist under the noses for five weeks now they see right through him. They go back but Hal sows an unfortunate seed.
“You know where you went wrong. You should have put us together”
And we’re back in the room. Or the studio.
In the only frantic action section of the finale The Devil senses a threat and expels his essence like a swarm of gnats. He then expels some French. Presumably insane 1918 French. Rook shoots him and it’s all over.
Don’t be silly – no it isn’t.
Back at the house and the cover up story of poisoned gas and demented pensioners on the news and it’s time to stake Hal. Again. And again he’s off the hook, this time by a timely knock on the door – somewhat reminiscent of 1.05 when Herrick knocked on the door as George let out a little wee. Hopefully no accidents this time although luckily Hal is wearing dark trousers…
At the door is Rook. But Rook isn’t Rook, he’s The Devil and they have another go at the ritual and this time, finally, at long bloody last they manage to get something right. Alex fades, the boys wriggle around on the floor and the gnats are back. And back in Rook. Who Hal stakes.
I hope you’re keeping up?
So The Devil is destroyed and the Trinity are dead. Or not.
I admit I was shouting at the TV for a while here. Mostly “NOO!!!” and “I HATE YOU TOBY WHITHOUSE”
Luckily the end twisted to suit my dark and bitter heart. I didn’t want a happy ending. No one else got one and Hal certainly didn’t deserve it. I’m going to come back to the ending and what/who/how/when/why otherwise this review is going to be as long as one of Hatch’s speeches! I will lodge a plea here though and say I believe that Alex, Hal and Tom are in an alternate reality, trapped by The Devil when it looked as though they were going to thwart him and survive the – still utterly unidentified – Trinity ritual. The Devil still exists, just not in human form and this is his revenge. It’s not the reality he showed Tom though, despite the origami werewolf. That version had Allison in it and this one doesn’t. In this one Tom is destined to be the perpetual gooseberry, his flower perennially unplucked as Alex and Hal continue in their never-ending spiral of approach and retreat. The Devil is cruel and this is a cruel trap with no resolution or happy ending despite the cosy camera filters and warm lighting.
Why aren’t they human? Because they can’t be – there are too many reasons why not and that’s for the next post!
And finally – and it’s just a thought – about that mantelpiece of souvenirs and memories. Maybe it wasn’t that at all.
Maybe they are The Devil’s hunting trophies…
That was quite a generously sized coffin Alex had wasn’t it?
And if she was buried in Scotland near her family that’s a pretty decent rentaghost back to Barry!
“I’d do a trick for you. I’d turn water into wine but it’s been copyrighted”
BadHal’s accent is somewhat of a moveable feast…
I can probably go with vampires and werewolves being curses from The Devil – if I must – but not ghosts. Most go through their doors – even if not straight away. Why is UFB suddenly The Devil’s work?
My favourite part of all the AU scenes? The Devil, on the battlefield at Orsha, in a deckchair, with a thermos. A Cluedo moment…
The Devil distracts us with shiny things? Yes. Knew the bead and jewellery addiction wasn’t my fault!
What is it with Being Human and appalling dressing gowns? It’s not quite mustard polyester paisley but maroon towelling wasn’t much better…
I’ve walked down that Cardiff street surrounded by sprawled bodies. Less of an apocalypse than a hard night on the beer…
“Resurrecting the anti-Christ? All to safeguard your pension”
“Some Type 2’s like to think their affliction can be controlled”
In one of my favourite Being Human traditions we begin with a flashback. Fifteen years ago when Rook was, well, Rook. Grey suited, composed, clinical but finally showing us a hint of the cracks in that businesslike facade that I wish we’d seen more of earlier. I expected him to be morally ambiguous and so far the anger at TPTB has covered that up but now we get just one tantalising little hint. A touch of humanity from the human, a small girl finding what may be the only chink in his matte grey armour. When he holds her I see a trace of regret for the life he willing gave up – family, companionship, love. But it doesn’t last and he’s worryingly keen to use that grown up girl as bait having been goaded or persuaded by The Devil to ramp up the conflict between Hal and Tom. Although why was Rook taken in by The Devil so easily? It’s not as if this whole supernatural life is new to him…
The other thing that this last but one Being Human (ever) (probably) brought me was a lovely gift – one of the things I’ve been wishing for this series. A guest star who didn’t leave teeth marks on the scenery.
Kathryn Prescott did a great job with Natasha and she had quite a job to do. It wasn’t difficult to make the connection between the young girl rescued by Rook and the young woman who stumbled into the Barry Grand and her impact on Tom was nicely done. It may have been better to have edged her in over a couple of episodes but that isn’t the style for this series – she in and she’s up and running.
“I could have shaved his poodle for all you know”
Tom fell for her like a sack of spuds – she did have some great lines – and she appealed rather cleverly to his instincts to protect and nurture; he so wants his own pack. Hal falls for her blood – which she offered very freely, too freely until you factor in what Rook had presumably instructed her to do. Mind, the inner thigh? It is – of course – the only place he could have used without the evidence showing. Yeah, right. Hal seemed to accept that she knew what he was and was prepared to let him feed with remarkably few questions.
Interesting that Tom took Natasha to the same restaurant where Cutler clinically dissected his entire relationship with Allison and trampled it neatly underfoot… Doomed again then.
“It’s just that I’ve seen you like this before”
Hal on the blood got himself all arch seducer-ish again but at least he resisted the temptation to tell Alex he liked her neck this time. He and Alex duly kissed. Of course they did and just like Annie and Mitchell it seems that we are incapable of seeing an attractive man and woman becoming friends without a romantic or sexual involvement. It does occasionally happen you know and I rather wish that Alex had got over Hal – especially after he got her killed. Bit of a passion killer that one.
When Mitchell kisses Annie in series one – sort of accidentally – he said she was cold and tingly, she certainly wasn’t solid or even squishy at that point. Alex has been a ghost for less time but her solidity didn’t seem at issue. Or maybe Hal isn’t quite so fussy. Or is terminally out of practice and can’t remember what it should feel like!
Alex was back to being bright and feisty this week thank goodness and she was onto Hal pretty sharpish. And onto The Devil. Why on earth Hal hadn’t got any kind of inkling about him is beyond me. The Old Ones really are a disappointingly ineffectual bunch aren’t they?!
“What a fucking hero”
The scene between Hal and Alex outside the hotel was one of the best of the series – Kate Bracken has been fabulous. Hal was frantically, desperately justifying but Alex is having none of it. Finally she sees it. He’s lied and lied and finally they are onto him. Now that Natasha has shown Tom Hal’s fang marks – with a touch of embroidery on the explanation – there are no chances left. Will they ever believe him again? Right now it seems impossible that he’ll ever regain their trust but let’s face it, stranger things have happened… *cough*Annie/Mitchell*cough*
Hal ended the episode in his local for a whole new kind of lock in and I was disappointed that the barman didn’t look up and go “The usual?” What would be Hal’s usual anyway? Mitchell was a proper badass (apparently, according to Herrick …) and he drank peach schnapps. Perhaps it’s a Tequila Sunrise for Lord Harry? With a nice paper umbrella. Rather obviously the Box Tunnel massacre came to mind – a group of people, trapped, at the mercy of a pitiless vampire but I have to say the progress in from abstainer to this was less convincing for me with Hal. Mitchell had had his illusions clinically stripped away and once he knew about Lucy retaliation was inevitable. Hal had slipped off the wagon – mostly all by himself – and he could only be disappointed in himself, Alex and Tom had done nothing but try to help. To very little thanks. For me this proves again that there never has been a good Hal, a clean Hal, one with good intentions and any level of benevolence. It’s a ruse, sustained by the saintly Pearl and Leo by locking him away. This is Hal, Die Hard vest and all. Liar. Merciless killer. Complete bastard. All kinds of evil. Looking at that list I wonder why I don’t like him more?!
Finally we start to see the promise that the casting of Phil Davis as The Devil has been dangling over us for what seems like an eternity. He really hasn’t had much to do – although he’s done that little very well. Now he’s rising. (I wish Alex hadn’t mentioned Viagra though! Brain bleach…) Next time lets see some ambulant evil please – and that rather dapper outfit!
Something I’ve been pondering… The Devil needed conflict between a werewolf and a vampire to gain strength. (I’m not saying rising again. Eww) Did it have to be Tom and Hal? Obviously there are other vampires and werewolves and it’s not unlikely that there is conflict. I mean, cage fights?
If Hatch has been in the Barry not-so-Grand Hotel for so many years how did he get no hint of the conflict between Mitchell and George? Or Mitchell and McNair? Or Mitchell and Nina?
If it HAS to be Hal and Tom – why?
“HE WILL RISE”
Penultimate episodes of Being Human have garnered quite a reputation for nonstop, heart in mouth thrills and spills so this one – the very final penultimate one (if that’s not some sort of oxymoron) had its work cut out.
Does it make it?
It’s not a patch on Though the Heavens Fall or Making History, it didn’t give us a guest with the emotional impact that Josie had or quite the shock that Mitchell’s darkest heart brought. It’s by far the best in series five and the last 20 minutes ramp up the tension and promise a damn good finale.
Sadly some of the impact is diluted by a sense of déjà vu – inevitably perhaps in a fifth series on the same premise. How can Alex, Tom and Hal avoid the same traps, the same mistakes and the same quandaries that befell Annie, George and Mitchell? They can’t and comparisons can’t be avoided.
I’m starting to get a suspicion that some kind of resolution for Hal will be found and I won’t be happy. I don’t care how many topless press ups he does or how much he does puppy dog eyes at Alex. Or Tom. None of that gets over the fact that he’s an unapologetic mass murderer who will never stop. Whatever he does – kill The Devil, shag Alex, buy Tom a shirt with sleeves – it’s too little too late and if he finds a happy ever after I’ll feel cheated. Vampires don’t get that.
Tom, however, I’d like to see survive – and survive to follow McNair’s last wish for him to have a normal life. After a series of being made to play dumb and dumber it’s the least he deserves.
Alex? A door please. And not for saving the world. How about for killing Hal? Cutler may have done the deed but Hal was the reason she was dead.
Although the shots of Alex sharing a cosy coffin with her own decaying corpse were clever and chilling I almost wished the episode had ended on those rather Michael Caine-esque words:
“I’m only the fucking devil, sweetheart”
Anyone thinking of blowing the fucking doors off?
Amazing how the Barry Grand has a selection of staff uniforms in just the right sizes – they fitted out the tiny Natasha and the less tiny Bobby without so much as a tuck and a safety pin.
Hal sorting paper clips into order in a desperate attempt at control (didn’t work then!) was a good image but I couldn’t help thinking – why is there a tub of giant multicoloured paper clips in the hotel kitchen?!
Why didn’t Rook guess Alex was there in the archive? He knows HH has a ghost and Hal wasn’t exactly ignoring her.
Alex and her files reminded me of Annie and her BT20 investigations.
I wonder what Rook’s human blood donors thought they were donating for? Did he get the idea for his controlled blood distribution scheme from the vampires? The alley was just a forerunner of Herrick and his human pantry after all…
And – if he’s so sure that vampires cannot control or manage their condition why distribute blood at all?
Oh! And what other vampires was he feeding??
“He will rise” from the mouth of a corpse was truly disturbing.
I’d like to see the scene where Alex steals porn for Tom and Hal has to answer his questions!
Who is going to find that knife in Honolulu Heights?
And finally… Will all the loose ends be tied up neatly (with a bow) in pink ribbon at the end of episode 6? I hope not. And I seriously doubt it. Maybe this it the time to quote Hal (and Tom):
“You’re trying to make sense of something that just fundamentally doesn’t make sense”
“That’s what I said! Sort of”
If you’re tied to a chair (hey – it’s your private life, who am I to comment!) and want to sing-along-a-Hal…
Last time we had a six episode series was way back in series one and there are some parallels between the two episode fours. Crumb is to Hal what both Bernie and Lauren were to Mitchell. Not entirely of course, unless Hal’s been having rampant and bloody sex in a hotel bathroom with Crumb. (Unlikely) Or going bowling and eating enough junk food to be sick and then exchanging porn films. (Slightly more likely)
Bernie and Crumb were both recruited by vampires who were sworn off blood in order to stop them dying – or to stop said vampire feeling guilty as them dying would be their fault. If we believe Rook’s emails to the lovely Alistair (do we??) then Bernie went to the bad. Despite the cutesy montage it doesn’t take long for Hal to realise Crumb is also doomed. After all he isn’t ‘cured’, he never has been, so why does he really think any one else can? It was interesting to hear him echo Carl’s words from 2.02 when he talked about killing Dan – how he wasn’t surprised but disappointed. Carl was probably the most successful clean vampire we’ve seen – and it caught up with him in the end. Caught up with Dan at any rate.
It was Sylvie who was disappointed when Hal killed her. She had kept Hal good around 200 years ago with the generous offer of her time and her body. Bully for her. I wonder if she knew he was popping off annually to visit the equally deluded Lady Mary whose time as the Keeper of Hal’s Clean crossed over with hers. Did he have a whole tribe of these poor idiots thinking they were doing him good? Were they doing him any good at all? I suspect an element of stinging along here. Hal seems to thrive on hero-worship and a few juicy lies help it along nicely.
I’m also doubting that Hal is anything other than the evil Hal we see in flashback – and never has been. Yes he stayed off blood with Pearl and Leo (or so we believe) but they pretty much kept him prisoner. He stayed (relatively) sane through the OCD-ish routines drilled into him by Leo and by being kept away from everything that might temp him. Which is everything really… After he moved into Honolulu Heights his routines didn’t help him. Only being kept away from the world does that – and it’s hardly practical.
I’m not at all sure about the sudden introduction to canon of the spilt personality vampire. It landed with a similar clunk to toxic werewolf blood and like TWWB it unsuspended my disbelief while I muttered WTF? In the past it’s been quite accepted that Hal’s good and bad cycles were just that – cycles. Good Hal is aware of his misdeeds or why would being good be a struggle? Bad Hal knows about his good times – in 5.01 he says how terribly dull the good cycles are. Is this dual personality something completely separate to good/bad Hal? Does it all hark back to the Trinity and to containing the devil? Or is it firmly in the TWWB camp…
In a series with only six episodes and one that was knowingly written as the last one I expected a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I didn’t expect filler and repetition. Sadly we’re getting both. After Larry the werewolf we have Bobby the werewolf. Ostensibly they are very different – Larry newly scratched and knowing no others and Bobby a long-term wolf but locked away for all that time. Larry gave Tom (another) lesson in trust – or more accurately in not trusting everyone. Bobby gave him a chance to babysit (makes a change from Alex) and to feel he could teach someone something. The one aspect of that grated on me was that Tom is still being portrayed as stupid – yes he’s naive but he’s not a fool. Making Bobby such a hopeless case did Tom no favours – I’d have liked to have seen both characters more self-aware.
I didn’t really take to Larry’s character – not desperately subtle – and I think Bobby suffered as a result of that. Two weeks of WW story made me think the ‘Lessons of the Week’ they brought could have been combined to no great loss. Mind you I’d have been sad to have missed out on Ricky Grover as Bobby, he’s a massively underrated actor – he was fab in Getting On – and he brough to Bobby an endearing pathos that didn’t make me want to throw rocks at the screen. Which I did with Larry.
Oh, and Lady Mary at times.
Actually not stopping just for a moment. I can’t bear to go into it in any depth at all (maybe later) but…
thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you
Crumb is dead. I’m going to say that again. CRUMB IS DEAD.
No I didn’t like him. In case you couldn’t tell.
And finally! Rook and Hatch meet. (Or Hook ‘n’ Ratch as I keep calling them…) Have they ever met before? It seems odd that Rook is so free with his confidences to a man he’s only just met. And why are they all so oblivious to his evilness? Rook is an experienced supernatural finder/jailer/destroyer, Hal is an Old One and Tom has werewolf nose and senses. Have none of them noticed a faint hint of oddity about the Captain? Or maybe they put it down to BO and the less than alpine freshness of an overloaded colostomy bag.
Hatch pushes Rook into a somewhat desperate plan – let Bobby lose in the hotel during the convenient full moon resulting in mass maulings and lots of press. Nope. Didn’t work last time either.
They play cards while they play games. I have to say I rather liked that until the utterly predictable conclusion – a timely trinity for Rook but one, two, three sixes for the Devil… He wins. He won Bobby – another well-timed whisper and all his plans of moving into HH fall to nothing. Is it wrong to admire the rawl-plugs holding that light fitting in place?
Speaking of the capital T capital D The Devil… When I first read that the series five big bad was the ultimate big bad I was intrigued – especially when TUBB (maybe that acronym is unfortunate) was to be played by the eminently wonderous Phil Davis. I’m having second thoughts now. The other BH villains – Herrick, Kemp, Cutler et al all had room for doubt, for shades of grey and levels of ambiguity – all the things that BH does so very, very well. The Devil leaves no doubt. He is evil. There is no possibility of redemption. He can’t be saved. The only thing we can’t be sure of (yet) is if he can win. If good and evil exist can you have a world without The Devil – even without the theological arguments. (Where is Kemp when you need him?!) If evil is vanquished would the evil and potentially evil supernaturals also vanish?
Would it be the end of the vampires?
Now that is something to ponder…
The dressing up box is back – third time and counting! I think Herrick kept the fairy wings though… And Wyndam had the wand up his sleeve.
If WW blood is toxic to vampires why couldn’t they smell which glass of blood was which? Vampires can smell werewolves – or at least they can when it suits the plot. Admittedly Crumb was a beginner (a stupid one) but Hal isn’t. I suspect he knew damn well what he was about to drink. It suited him rather well that Alex and Tom saw that Crumb ‘committed suicide’
Why didn’t Crumb get blood on his knickers? The thought of him changing them after each victim is WAY too disturbing! And why am I even thinking about this???? Pass the brain bleach!
Hatch can see Alex. We can see that. All except Alex, Hal and Tom. All those finely tuned supernatural instincts… Clearly The Devil has a scrambler. Maybe it’s the teeth?
I loved the way Tom had been shopping on THE eBay.
Cutler’s grand plan isn’t working any better for Rook. In fact, you could say Cutler achieved more – Rook had to clear up after him, his own plan just misfired all on its own.
Was there any point to Alan? No there wasn’t.
“He must be right, he drives a Lexus” Right maybe. Imaginative and stylish? The jury’s out!
I’m sure the chef at the Barry Grand is well acquainted with lobster. Yeah. Right.
Hal drank the blood. To quote sweetheart Hugh from the New Found Out: “Well… we all saw that coming”
“Hello Bobby-love. Hope you had a good day at school. There’s last night’s macaroni cheese for your tea so pop it in the oven. My shift finishes at 10, so get yourself to bed after Shoestring. Love you monkey”
In particular how in the Being Human world there a definite tendency for the dedicated watchers to try and find redemption for the big bad baddies. Or make excuses for them. What started this train of thought is the reaction to Cutler and how his character has been interpreted.
Let’s start with the basics – He Who Must Be Right (AKA Toby) said that the best way to tell if Cutler is lying is if his lips moved. That once his wife was dead he had no humanity left in him. So, he’s a monster right? I’m not arguing with HWMBR, it actually is his toybox!
However, the prevailing view of Cutler seems to be more along the lines of “Oh bless him, poor CutlerNickCutler, Hal was really mean and nasty to him. Poor boy had no choice. He was MADE to be like that. He had to do it.”
Sorry, don’t buy it.
Cutler had fifty-five years without Hal and I doubt he spent them knitting and volunteering at the local cat and dog shelter. He may have found the killing distasteful and messy but he drank blood. He was happy to have others kill for him and when he did have to kill he got on with it – the coroner, Pete the journalist, Golda – and not a drop of blood spilled on the suit. He had enough influence to walk into Stokers and push people around. He was invited to the meetings – or he just expected to be there and no one turned him out. Griffin listened to him, albeit reluctantly and not without a selection of snide comments. (Did he ever get that fucking tea made?) But seriously, Cutler was sarcastically, utterly, beautifully subversive. A 60-year-old, practically a child, challenging an Old One and no one stopped him or ignored him. That’s not a doubtful, still human vampire, that’s the real deal.
We know so little about Cutler, probably a lot less than we think we do which is testament to how well the character worked. We know he was a solicitor who qualified in 1947, he was married and somehow he’d come to Hal’s attention. He was recruited in 1950 but didn’t immediately take to killing, although he seemed to dig a good grave. He refused to kill his wife even when Hal asked him so very nicely. to do so.
(A side note about what we know. We don’t know how old Cutler was when he was recruited but qualifying in 1947, he had to be at least 25 in 1950. That means he escaped conscription or national service. I wonder how. Flat feet? Weak chest? A note from his mum? And yes, I know it’s not real but I’m just saying!)
We know nothing else about Cutler until we find him in the present day when he’s “a duty solicitor in bloody Trumpton.” We see him in his office, at Stokers and that’s pretty much it. He looks quite at home in the police station, certainly at home enough for plenty of that special brand of Cutler sarcasm anyway. There’s no hint of any other life – although he seems to favour a decent restaurant. (I’d have the Merlot.) If – and it’s a big if – we count deleted scenes as canon then we could surmise that he’d been watching Honolulu Heights as he asks Fergus about the reports on Herrick’s epic munching of the local police force. Or maybe he was just watching Herrick…
Beyond than that we’ve all had our crayons out to colour in the back story for ourselves. One area where there’s been a lot of enthusiastic going over the lines is the marriage of Nick and Rachel Cutler. The received wisdom seems to be that they were totally besotted, madly in love, perhaps even childhood sweethearts. Now come on, we don’t actually know that. If you ask me she sounded pretty stroppy in the few lines she had and he sounded henpecked! Just look at his posture if you don’t believe me. Fair enough he didn’t want to kill her but then he didn’t really want to kill anyone.
Maybe he loved her deeply and madly. Maybe she was OK, kept his socks darned and his shirts ironed. More likely it was somewhere between the two. I don’t think we see enough to really guess and those two brief scenes when we see Rachel alive and dead can be interpreted so many ways. And probably will be!
What intrigues me the most is what was it that made Hal notice Cutler in the first place? Personally I wonder if he was already up to no good way back then – a useful trait for a potential vampire solicitor…
It’s interesting to compare Cutler with Herrick. We know just as little about Herrick’s origins; born 1843, recruited by Hetty in 1890 when he was a somewhat corrupt legal clerk. The difference between the two is that we glimpse Herrick across the years – 1917 when he recruited Mitchell, 1933 in Paris, 1969 in swinging London and a rather fine brocade waistcoat and 1992 or thereabout with McNair in the cage. Those little snippets add to the character in that we see he was evil all the way through but he had a weakness. Mitchell.
It’s very different to the more extended glance we saw of Cutler’s early vampire days but nothing between then and now, it showed his initial struggles and perhaps allowed that “poor boy” response come through. It’s odd though – I don’t think anyone has ever said that Herrick’s evil was anyone else’s fault than his own. If we’d seen Herrick’s family (if he had one) laid waste to by Hetty would we sympathise more with him? I don’t think we would so what made Cutler different? And please don’t say it was just because a proportion of the viewers fancied him – even I’m not (quite) that shallow!
I’m not making excuses for Cutler or Herrick. I don’t want to. I love them both to bits but they are not human, they are evil by our morals but not by those of their own species. I don’t want them crying over the bodies and weeping and wailing and wanting forgiveness. “You’re a shark – be a shark” puts it perfectly.
Am I alone in wanting the villain to be irredeemably, unforgivably evil and to enjoy every dark moment of it? I know I’m not (you know who you are!) (Yes, you do there was a memo) but I think we’re in a minority.
Having said that all good villains need shades of grey (no, not THOSE sorts of shade of grey) and that’s where Cutler and Herrick were written and played so brilliantly. Read it on the page and it’s utter bastard, put a beautifully nuanced performance on top and you have the depth that makes you doubt and then makes you wonder if they really are going to do something THAT awful?
And then they do.
And then they do some more.
And I thank them for it!
The post title is from one of the many versions of Kurt Weill’s Mack the Knife which always strikes me as a very vampire song! This is Nick Cave’s take…
See the shark with teeth like razors/And he wears them in his face
And Macheath has got a knife/But not in such an obvious place
Now see the shark, how red his fins are/As he slashes at his prey
Mack the Knife wears fancy gloves/Which gives a minimum away