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This week’s Rudy centric edition of Misfits proves that when given something to do beyond gauchely screeching expletives, Gilgun can entertain even his most ardent critics. And it’s also firm reaffirmation that Howard Overman can write material for the character with more substance than the tiresomely successive profanities, and excessive recollections of Rudy’s vulgar pastimes, that are so frequently all that the character’s dialogue is comprised of.
It isn’t all plain sailing from the outset, though. The episode’s introductory sequence consists of Rudy refuting the notion of his dad’s adulterous activities with an abundance of his characteristically wheezy cursing, which has become a tediously repetitious trait of his since the time of his debut episode. Misfits has never abstained from swearwords, and nor should it, but whereas it’s always been an annex to other characters’ dialogue, with Rudy it often annoyingly makes up the bulk of it. And none of it is ameliorated by Gilgun’s stammering delivery.
The physical comedy is where Gilgun and Rudy tend to excel (the biggest laugh he’s ever elicited from me was with his arm-flailing charge at Seth in the fifth episode of the third series). And his hostile consumption of the dinner he’d ruined, by lathering it with a revolting condiment concoction of mint sauce, horseradish, and mustard, typified this, with Gilgun’s amusing array of disgusted, contorted facial expressions, changing with each consecutive mouthful he forced down his gullet.
It is something that sheds an unfortunate light on what I believe to be Gilgun’s primary inadequacy as an actor, though, which is his reliance on exaggerated physical mannerisms to convey the dispositions of his character(s). Rudy #2 – the personified amalgamation of the aggregate Rudy’s insecurities – is a prime example; he frequently exaggeratedly hunches and pouts his lower lip to confirm to the viewers that this isn’t the loudmouthed, cocksure, societal dolt we’re watching, it’s the neurotic pushover. Remove it from Gilgun’s routine, and the distinction between Rudy #1 and #2 would be almost entirely absent, with the volume of their respective vocals the only probable distinguisher. Gilgun’s eyes are usually devoid of whatever is the present emotional context. It’s a skill that most actors possess these days to portray the presence and change of various emotions solely through their eyes, and that’s because it’s a far truer depiction of human behaviour than the overemphasised countenance that Gilgun utilises.
Moving onto the actual storyline of this week’s outing, and it’s that of an infrequent occurrence in Misfits; we got to ‘meet the parents’, as it were. Only Nathan and Finn have had the honours of their parental heritage being detailed in the past, but now Rudy joins that elite band, and with it, the show expertly explores the storms previously uncharted distribution of super powers between two people of the same genes.
Geoff (Phil Cornwell) having been befell by the same power of corporeal dualism as his son was obvious quite early on. Having witnessed the Rudy-like contrast between the aggressor that was accosting Tina (Liz May Brice) and the genial, fatherly Geoff that Rudy confronts at the family home – only one conclusion could be drawn. But it being easily foreseen only enhanced the entertainment of Rudy’s imbecilic obliviousness to the fact, and the suspense of Jess’ unwitting search for clues to Tina’s suspected murder.
Geoff #2 (the evil one) being an abject manifestation of all the degenerative traits of the original, composite Geoff, invariably brings to mind the psychotic variant of Rudy that we were introduced to last series, and really underlines the congruence of their powers, which is suitably reflective of the similarities they share; from their looks (neither would look out of place pawning goods, Del Boy style), down to the likeness of Geoff #1’s personality to that of Rudy #2’s, in particular.
The father/son dynamic is primarily realised through Cornwell’s acting here being so imitative of the predominantly physical style of Gilgun’s. Geoff #1 is so overtly reserved and amiable, and Geoff #2 so outwardly menacing – aptly mirroring the characteristic, patently distinct comportments of Rudy #1 and #2.
It’s slim pickings for the rest of the Misfits rabble. Abby gets some crucial – if for the time being; slightly vague – development, which expands somewhat upon the amnesic effects the storm had on her, and finally commences the advancement of her character beyond her single, defining quirk of utter nonchalance.
Meanwhile, the “bromantics” ensuing between Alex and Finn are a pleasant change of pace from their constant antagonism, even if it seems as though Alex’s rectal antics last week have been strangely all but forgotten in the interval (‘under the underlay’, indeed). Their collaborative intervention of the attack on flying-man, Sam (Michael Winder), whilst seeming like a blatant bit of trickery, intended to prompt the fans to assume Nathan’s return (i.e. Sam’s clothing, build and hair resembling that of the Irishman, as well as his face being concealed from the first few shots), was a good moment for both of the characters. It further illustrated that Finn’s conscious efforts to impress with his telekinesis will always be his downfall, and that Alex’s mettle might yet rub off on him and progressively ease the neuroses that are holding him and his power back.
And on a final, speculative note: could Rudy #2’s befriending of Tim result in a bit of calamity down the line, and possibly his own demise, should Tim once again succumb to the gaming environ in his mind. There was an unmistakably ominous atmosphere to their exchange at the support group, so I’m interested to see where all of this is headed.
It’s a decent episode, all things considered, but still less than the sum of its parts. The burgeoning romance between Rudy and Jess (will they be referred to as “Russ” or “Jedy” by the various online ‘shipping’ communities, I wonder?), as with Gregg’s sudden infatuation with a disconcerted Finn, feels seriously half-baked. Instead of the consistent excellence of its first two series, Misfits has now become a consecution that varies from good to dire, with the occasional stroke of brilliance here and there. And with that, it no longer warrants the accolade of ‘essential viewing’. But, credit where it’s due, the ongoing narrative arc is generating a satisfying degree of intrigue, which was sorely lacking in the previous series.