READ THIS REVIEW AT CULT FIX.
On balance, this fifth series has been a definite improvement on the last. In between two fairly poor outings, Misfits has been consistently good/very good, rather than weekly oscillating between extremes of quality (or lack thereof) as the previous series did. But if there’s one aspect where it hasn’t compared quite so favourably to last year’s run, it’s that it has yet to dish up anything truly show stopping. Even when it’s been at its best, it hasn’t been quite as refined, nor exemplary, as the ‘Psycho Rudy, ‘Zombie Curtis’, and ‘Hell Bunny’ episodes from last year, for example.
But with the great, the good, the psychotic, and the weird uniting for a bash in the community centre to celebrate the one year anniversary of the storm, Misfits turns out its most confident episode thus far, proving that there’s not just life in the old dog, but that the dog’s not even old; it’s just been a bit lazy and slow to get going, like your typical, teenage misfit.
I’ve criticised this series’ tendency to let the scales tip too far away from the actual drama, and too heavily towards the obscenities, a number of times. There needs to be equilibrium between the humour and the gravitas, and this episode is ripe with a critically equal measure of both.
Case in point is Sarah (Erin Richards, joining Ellie Kendrick and Kate Bracken as another of the Being Human alumnae), and her miraculous hypno-tits, introduced during the fantastically funny, ‘point-and-stare’ directed opening sequence.
What seems to first appearances like a power conceived for nothing more than a few laughs, as with a number of the powers that Alex has been forced to wrest from their hosts this series, is layered with a degree of pathos, as Sarah confides that she has had to cease contact with her dad, who was similarly entranced by her mesmeric bosom, and the full extent that Alex’s removal of her power has extricated her becomes evident.
It’s one of a number of inimitable aggregations of humour and highly effective drama that this episode has in spades.
Whether it’s Alex reluctantly catalysing the fateful effects of the accident-prone “power” that he inadvertently imbued Sarah with — utilising the mishap cliché of a banana peel — or Abbey’s ingenuitive use of the power-reversing narcotics to liberate Mark from within his tortoise shell, only for what’s inside to be brought outside one final time in a satisfyingly gruesome depiction of the power that was mooted a few episodes back as having turned a cat inside out; the elements of comedy never threaten to overwhelm the drama, and vice versa.
Abbey’s benumbed gaze at Mark’s everted corpse was a particularly heartrending moment. It was typical of her stolid character, in that it lacked any overt outpouring of emotion, the like of anguished screams, profuse weeping etc., but was all the more effective for the nuance of it.
On the whole, there’s a sullen atmosphere that permeates throughout. Rudy and Jess hit some trouble in paradise, as Rudy discovers to his consternation that he is a father-to-be, and falls back on his habitual imprudence; abandoning a temporarily blinded Jess and later confessing that he is unwilling to be shackled by those kinds of responsibilities. And Finn is outraged after experiencing a ‘walking in on mum and dad’ moment with Rudy and Jess, and though his unreasonable indignation is excellently performed by McMullen, there’s still a sense that it’s one step forward, and two steps backwards, since his encounter with Leah sadly appears to have had no bearing on him whatsoever, despite how crucially fruitful it seemed for his character at the time.
Whilst we’ve had glimmers of the real people beneath the often comically caricatured characters this series, Jon Brown’s script devotes its time to placing them front and centre for the duration. For the first time since they hooked up, it’s not all plain sailing for Rudy and Jess — a genuine inevitability of their antithetical personalities — but we also get a far truer depiction of their love than the comedic impotency of last week, with Rudy rushing to Jess’ aid once he was informed what the ecstasy would do to her.
If I had a criticism, it’s that Misfits seems to have got into its stride a bit late in the game. But this is the most enjoyable it’s been all year, and I’d rather see it go out with a final flourish, than a brilliant build-up and faltering finale. There’s a real sense of momentum as we head into the last ever episode (something that was a notable absence in last series’ penultimate outing), and it’s in perfect time for the subplot of Rudy ‘Ghostbusters’ #2 and his rabble of superheroes to finally step into the story limelight. Hopefully, it’ll mean some more power usage from the gang — was anyone else a bit confused as to why Helen didn’t just zap ‘Video Game Guy’ Tim?