Sunday, 31 January 2010

More On Being Human

Good Lord. It's been an entire week since Episode 3 of the new season of Being Human, and I haven't said anything yet. People must be in tears the length and breadth of the blogohedron.

A couple of things whilst I wait for Episode 4 to download, then. First of all, I was disappointed that this week's "Acting Like A Cock" Awards have had to be cancelled. Everyone was just as self-involved as ever (1 000 000 points to Mitchell for finally telling George he needs to spend a little time outside his own miserable, brooding head), but that's pretty much inevitable for this show. Conditional on that, though, everyone seemed to be almost, well, human with each other.

If anyone could be nominated, I guess it would be Annie, for managing to convince herself so effortlessly that the best thing to do with her ghostly self would be to repair broken relationships, irrespective of the feelings of those people involved. That would be bad enough on its own terms , but it's especially irritating when you consider the added layer of self-importance in her assuming her sudden disappearance would be so emotionally crippling that only interference from beyond the grave could bring him back on an even keel. Then you have to award even more cock points for her trying to pretend all of this is some kind of great sacrifice on her part because she still loves him but she'll do "the right thing" and set him up with someone else instead. You're dead, darling, and invisible, you don't get credit for realising a relationship isn't gonna work out.

Still, as annoying as Annie's plan might be, it's a common enough response to heart-break, and at least superficially worthy, so it's much easier to write off than some of George's or Mitchell's earlier behaviour. Speaking of which, this episode's "The Real Hustle" scene has to be one of the best things I've watched in weeks. A lot of people online (who, needless to say, are nearly always wrong) have been complaining that the boys' meltdown over a missed TV program didn't ring true. Au contraire, it was probably the most relatable moment in the entire episode (only George's sorrowful admission to Hugh's ex that he was still too in love with someone else to keep dating her came all that close). People seem doubtful that a blood-starved vampire with management issues and a murderous werewolf with a coaster obsession would lose it having missed their favourite show, but that misses the point. Not getting to see TRH isn't worse than what they're already (failing to adequately be) dealing with, it's just unexpected. George and Mitchell right now are both pressure cookers. Everything's so heated inside their head, pushing so hard against their skulls, that if you suddenly slip something else in, it's just more than they can bear, and the result is that all their frustration and (metaphorical) impotence get launched at the most innocuous, irrelevant set-back possible. This is exactly how people's minds work. Well, it's how my mind works, anyway, as anyone who's seen me come in from a bad day and realise I've run out of milk can attest.

This leads us effortlessly into the other two major internet bone-pickings that have been going on over this episode. The first is something else I can't understand, and that's people's difficulty in believing a fire-and-brimstone mass-execution MC might be able to hold perfectly normal, measured conversations in the middle of ordering the deaths of dozens of innocent people. Doesn't anyone talk about the banality of evil anymore? I guess it could have been put together better than it did, but really, watching a man chat happily away with his torch-bearer in-between telling his helpless captives of the horrible death that awaits them struck me as genuinely creepy, albeit slightly more in concept than execution.

The other thing that drew a lot of criticism was the decision to show the body of a dead girl in its entirety, from head to foot, and with everything in-between. The word "gratuitous" was bandied around quite a bit. I'm not sure it that was meant in the sexual sense (which doesn't really track; the girl was clearly made-up to look like she was very, very dead) or just in the more general sense of there being no need, but I don't think either of those things are true. Watching it reminded me of Calliope in Sandman, and how Gaiman described her predicament. He explained how you get to a point where nudity stops being titillating, and is just horrible instead. In that sense, at least, a full-body shot of a dead woman naked in those circumstances could arguably be more effective than a dead woman dressed. To the extent that I'm affected by people pretending to be dead on TV at all anymore, I found it kind of upsetting, which presumably was the point.

That's the major complaints out of the way, on to the good stuff. Mitchell's "King of the vampires" story is getting increasingly interesting, though I'd point out that I'm not sure de-fanging a vampire and locking them up (presumably) forever is necessarily any kinder than actually killing them, so it doesn't really seem particularly merciful to use it as an alternative to execution, on top of being the kind of failure to follow through on his threats that is bound to fuck up Mitchell's chances to lead the vampire race to salvation by, oooh, Episode 6, I'd say. Also: good choice revealing Professor Jaggert so quickly, in an age where such things seem to always be stretched out interminably.

After a distinctly wobbly start, the show seems to be firing on all cylinders again, which is great. I'm genuinely excited to see what happens next, even if (out of context) the fact that the trailer for Episode 4 includes footage of a major character getting a nosebleed doesn't exactly make it sound like a mind-bending roller-coaster of dramatic tension or anything. It's like that Season 4 episode of BSG that included footage of paperwork in it's teaser sequence. I spent the whole episode waiting for someone to misfile a form, or perhaps not complete it in triplicate.

Anyway, I digress. I'm off to watch Episode 4.

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