“I’m not gonna let guys like you do shit like this to me any more.”
Now that was good. I have to say, after two episodes, I am very impressed with new writer Jon Brown, who’s taken up the slack from series creator Howard Overman for this unprecedently long series of Misfits. This episode deals, not for the first time in the show, with the whole concept of sexual politics, in a very nuanced and intelligent way for a series with such politically incorrect humour. And not just that, but Brown seems to have a knack – which Overman, of late, hasn’t – of giving all the regular characters important roles in the episode’s story, so none is reduced to just sitting in the background making snarky remarks (something that’s happened to Curtis all too often).
To deal with the major plot first, we got a surprisingly serious rebuff to the whole concept of Rudy’s character as a boorish, shaghappy wanker who just uses women for sex and discards them without a second thought. Up till now, this has been just a jokey aspect of his persona; here, for the first time, he – and the viewer – gets reminded that there are consequences to this kind of behaviour. Under normal circumstances, these consequences are limited to hurt feelings and disillusionment. But in the world of Misfits, where anyone might have superhuman powers, the consequences go further. And with what happened to Rudy, Jon Brown managed to tap a nerve that’s nightmarish for every male viewer, but might well have every female viewer cheering.
OK, so it was basically the standard Misfits story where the gang encounter someone who’s misusing their powers and have to put a stop to it. The show always gives such characters a believable motive for doing what they do, but it was notable that the miscreant this time neither ended up dead nor lost her power. So, a girl who’s had a string of meaningless sexual encounters with men has – like all the characters with powers – ended up with a power that reflects her personality and her frustrations. And as Rudy discovered, that meant she had the power to literally make insensitive men like him have their dicks rot off.
And, speaking as a man, ouch! That taps into a primal fear for all male viewers, one of which I suspect girls are all too aware. And in the process, it can make the male viewer think a little bit about what they’ve done in the past. OK, so I’m actually gay, but Curtis’ contemptuous remark, “You can’t remember who you slept with? Classy.” did bring a wince-makingly familiar stab of guilt to me. As did Rudy’s admission that, in his drunken state, he couldn’t remember which of the three girls he’d flirted with at the previous night’s party he’d actually ended up in bed with. At the risk of stereotyping men, yes, we really can be bastards who think with our dicks.
So this main plot became a (still amusing) quest for Rudy and Simon to find, and make reparations to, said girl before Rudy’s penis fell off as in Simon’s vision of the future. That, it has to be said, had me simultaneously laughing hysterically and wincing at the thought. And given Simon’s usually very serious role in the show, it was nice to see his visions focussing on something which was (unless you’re a man) less than a matter of life and death.
And inevitably, it was going to take finding all three flirtees before the guys found the right one, leading to some rather amusing misunderstandings. So, was it “collarbones”, “Ready Brek” or “ankles”? Along the way, Rudy and Simon formed a rather good double act, with Simon’s seriousness making him a great straight man to Rudy’s boorishness. Some elementary detective work led to an increasingly embarrassing set of encounters, of which probably the worst was Rudy’s attempt to charm one girl who turned out to have just kissed him, and actually had a girlfriend of her own. Which doesn’t sound so bad until you realise that Rudy prefaced this encounter by dropping his trousers before knocking on her door, meaning her prepubescent sister was greeted with the charming sight of his rotting penis (thankfully spared from viewers).
Of course, this too led to an amusing subplot in which Rudy was arrested, and managed to escape by splitting and leaving the police with his ‘better half’. Who, inevitably, was forgotten about and turned up at the eleventh hour to instil Rudy with yet more guilt. Because yes, Rudy did seem to actually learn a lesson from all of this. Having tracked down Leah (the actual culprit) at a night club, he made what sounded like a genuine apology over the club’s sound system (much to the displeasure of the rest of the patrons) – “I’m just a twat with a big mouth. I’m sorry”. And top marks that Leah actually wasn’t that interested when he really did offer to have a drink with her and get to know her – because that would have been too easy. So off she went, with her power very much intact; watch out, thoughtless men!
Elsewhere, the ‘B plot’ (though it was at least as significant as the ‘A plot’) delved into the consequences of Curtis’ male/female masturbation experiments, almost as a counterpoint to the sexual politics aspect of what happened to Rudy. Finding himself uncontrollably turning into his female alter ego, then finally being stuck there, Curtis was confronted with perhaps the most serious consequence of his power – he (she?) was pregnant. But who was the father? After all, to the best of our knowledge, the female Curtis hasn’t actually had penetrative sex with a man. Step up then, Curtis himself. In a plotline that only Misfits could do, it turned out that Curtis had been alternating male/female wanks, and used the same tissue to ‘mop up’ with. So, basically, he was the father of his own child.
This was a genuinely interesting moral dilemma, so I thought the way the story got out of it was a bit of a copout. Rather than have Curtis stick as a woman, and have to face the decision of abortion or giving birth, he ended up back at Seth’s, trading away his sex change power. This seemed rather too easy, and also had the sad consequence that, presumably, this will be the last we see of Kehinde Fadipe as the female Curtis – a great pity, as she’s been fantastic.
But it did tie into this season’s Big Plot, which is now clearly about Seth, Kelly, and Seth’s dead girlfriend. So we saw Seth and Kelly properly getting it on (in the community centre’s storeroom, very romantic), and then Seth offered to take Kelly to Morocco. Which would be great, and no less than Kelly deserves; unfortunately, at about that point, Seth managed to track down the important power he’d ‘lost’. And yes, as we’d all worked out by now, it was the power of bringing back the dead. So, as a tradeoff, he took away Curtis’ sex change ability in exchange for an agreement that Curtis would wield the resurrection power for him – since, as is now clear, Seth can’t use powers, only trade them.
So, next week – to judge by the flashforward – expect zombie cheerleaders and cats, something Misfits should be able to do very well. But it’s revealing that that kind of comic strip shenanigans, as shown by the Nazi episode a couple of weeks ago, tends to be less satisfying than the usual balance of reality and fantasy. Still, I love zombies, so I have high hopes. And I’m still waiting on a new probation worker to replace Shaun, who I’m already missing – as Kelly says, “they always send a new probation worker after we’ve killed one”. Watch that space…