Sunday, 3 February 2013

Review: Being Human 5.1: The Trinity

Imagine the conversation at the writer's table. They had to try and find a way to set up their new season's plot while trying at the same time to establish a cast that's barely had any chance to settle in. None of the original cast is here, the brand identity for the show is practically demolished and it's all looking like a cruel, Fantasy-adapted metaphor for the Sugababes. I think it's a little early for me to call time on Being Human as I did with Misfits, as it can still do a lot to surprise me, but this premiere felt at times as if it was struggling to fit everything into place. I'm also a bit wary of the direction that the show is taking mythology wise, as there's very little sense of continuity of tone between seasons.
Flashbacks show an older Trinity.
     A few weeks after Alex was killed and Annie passed on after blowing up the Old Ones, the main trio have forced to look into new job opportunities after Hal and Tom have been fired from the Diner. They go to a Hotel, which is hiring new staff after an incredibly high suicide rate, implied to be because of a strange old man known only as The Captain (Phil Davies). As flashbacks to the 1800s show Hal summoning the Devil in an attempt to end a Vampire/Werewolf war, present Hal accidentally kills a man named Ian and locks him up in the basement after turning him, trying to make sure that he doesn't become a killer. When Alex and Tom find him tied up, Alex lets him go and the shady, government-led (but apparently not for very long) organisation led by Dominic Rook (Steven Robertson, Ashes To Ashes, Luther) has to pick up the pieces.
      I was afraid that Rook's organisation would end up being a carbon copy of Series Two's CenSSa - an organisation who looked into and tried to control the activites of Supernaturals. The Men In Gray, as they're called, have an all-the-more interesting layer of satire relating them to the Civil Service, which gave the enigmatic Rook a lot of great lines. At the moment I think he's probably my favourite character, and I keep looking forward to seeing him again. There's just something about his Reggie-Perrin-esque outlook on life and yet his sheer audacity in the face of centuries-old-monsters that endears him to me.
     That doesn't say much, I'm sorry to say, about our main cast. There are a few good lines here or there, and they're trying their best, and I'm probably just being unfair, but they didn't stand out. Tom is as bland as I've always found him, and Alex barely gets chance to do anything. Hal gets the most runtime as he attempts to control the delightfully insane Ian Crom (who for some reason appears to be a recurring character), and the exploration of vampire psyche is covered in a way which is remarkably subtle and nuanced. Damien Moloney is just fantastic, and he's doing a good job as the show's main vampire. The problem for me is that the rest of the characters just aren't as strong in the moment.
What could have been a boring government organisation
is improved drastically by a layer of satire.
     The show's mythology, also, is odd. The show's beginnings as a small-scale comedy that used supernatural elements as a funny framing device are by this point not just dead, but buried, exhumed, buried again and then used as a fashionable hat. Wheras last series decided to take the sci-fi ideas and put them into a very strong sci-fi scenario with time travel and alternate futures and ray guns (maybe not ray guns, my memories of Series Four are hazy), this series appears to be doing in the scientist and going straight for the Biblical, with The Captain being revealed at the end of the story to be the modern incarnation of The Devil himself, who has been making people kill themselves by telling them the Secret That Only The Dead Know.
     The show took a blow with the removal of its last original cast member, but it seems to be limping towards something fairly strong. My priority at this point really is to see that Alex becomes as developed as her contemporaries; Kate Bracken is a fantastic actress, but so far she hasn't been given anything to do as a Ghost. After four seasons of heralding Annie as the "most powarful goast evor", I struggle to see where her characterisation can go. That's got to be the show's main focus, as everything else in this new story has a lot of potential, be it shady government organisations or old Nick himself.


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