“They’re coming. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Sex! Nuns! Misused powers! And the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse! On the face of it, this season finale of Misfits had a lot going for it. And yet, in keeping with this fourth series as a whole, it had a rather underwhelming, been-here-before feel to it that meant it was far from the triumphant climax we might have hoped for.
As this series has progressed, we’ve had three overlapping ongoing plotlines, none of which have felt that gripping. There’s been the mysterious ‘trainee probation worker’ Lola, who turned out to be Curtis’ downfall; then the mystery of Alex ‘from the bar’ and his missing todger; and now, over the last few episodes, lovelorn Rudy and his pining for the enigmatic Nadine.
Lola’s plotline died with her and Curtis, and with Alex having been joyfully reunited with his cock last week, this week the focus was on that last unresolved story – Rudy in love. Last week, we’d discovered Nadine’s shocking secret: despite all that flirtation with the eager Rudy, she was actually already married – to Christ!
Joe Gilgun was, as ever, superb in contrasting Rudy’s usual boorish personality with his genuine romantic feelings for Nadine. Visiting (well, blagging his way in) her at the convent on the pretext of returning her handbag, (neatly hung on the right hand of Christ), he was informed that she couldn’t see him again. The scenario gave the opportunity to deliver a lengthy stream of nun gags, as Rudy tried his usual misguided best to ingratiate himself; first by referring to The Sound of Music, then, ill-advisedly, Happy Feet – “Penguins!”
Rudy being Rudy, he wasn’t going to take “we can never see each other again” for an answer, so plans were laid for the gang to get themselves to a nunnery – with some superpowered breaking and entering.
One of the things that’s been rather frustrating this year is the relative sparsity of powers being used, so it was good to see our heroes (finally) working together as a group and using their powers for a common good. So, Finn used his telekinesis to unlock the door, while Jess used her X-ray vision to keep an eye out for approaching nuns. True, Rudy’s power didn’t get used (though he did have a heartfelt conversation with himself in the community centre’s toilets. And we’re not quite sure what Abbey’s power is yet, aside from amnesia; one friend of mine has suggested that her apparent connection with booze might be that she has to actually drink in order to stay sober.
But at least the powers got some use. Mind you, I’m not sure it helped to try and hang a lampshade on it with the show’s recent adoption of meta humour. “Why don’t you use those powers you got from that random freak storm?” asked Abbey, pointing out the bleeding obvious, to which Finn responded, “we should do that more often.” Nudging the audience by pointing out your show’s apparent failings does not excuse them, IMHO.
Still, the nun-heist was successful, with Rudy’s jawdroppingly hilarious nun-headbutting a comedy highlight, and Nadine was brought back to the community centre to finally consummate her relationship with the eager Rudy. Of course, it was at this point that the gang found out what her problem really was – the nuns had been keeping her locked away for her own safety and that of everyone else, because when she’s surrounded by arguing people, she has the power to summon… wait for it… the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And there’s no group of people more argumentative than our gang of misfits.
Summoning the Horsemen is perfectly in keeping with Nadine’s religious background, but I have to say I’d imagine them to pose rather more of a threat. Like, you know, ending the world or something. What we actually got was four clones of Superhoodie (intentional?), riding BMXes with katanas strapped to their backs. Yes, they did appear to pose a very real threat to our heroes, what with the swords and all, but that didn’t smack of the potential Biblical destruction of all humanity.
And rather than an epic final battle at the community centre, we got yet another (admittedly well-done) sequence of the gang running away down its various corridors until forced into situations where they had to use their powers to get away. Well, Finn did anyway, finally getting to be Jess’ white knight by using his telekinesis effectively to shove a threatening Horseman into the wall.
Again, though, we’ve been here before; many times, in fact, since the gang were first threatened by their rage-powered probation worker back in the first episode. It was no surprise that Nadine, realising the only way out was to allow the Horsemen to kill her, duly sacrificed herself; not only did it smack of various Twilight Zone episodes, it’s basically what Curtis did just about a month ago.
Nor was it a surprise that Alex, having been near-fatally impaled on a sword, might soon be the unwitting recipient of a transplant organ (a lung in this case) that likely came from someone with a power, just as Nikki did way back in the second series. Here again, the show perhaps did itself no favours by lampshading the repetition with meta humour, as Rudy (who wasn’t even there at the time) reminded the audience of that.
There was at least room for some character development, which was welcome as it still feels rather lacking for those who’ve just joined this year. So, we got Abbey engaging in just about the most casual, businesslike sex you can have with Finn; at least he’s now trebled his number of sexual conquests in the last few weeks. Which also led to more tension with Jess, who’s less keen on Alex now he’s got his cock back and is shagging every girl in sight while admiring himself in the mirror. I’m still not sure I’m convinced by this concept of Finn and Jess as a constantly thwarted romance, but it was far from resolved so will presumably continue next year.
Greg, at least, was reliably surreal and funny. Confronting Rudy as he tried to bunk off community service and ‘rescue’ his true love, Greg revealed more of the presumably heartbreaking backstory that lurks beneath the façade of barely-contained rage: “that’s what love is like. Crawling naked through dogshit and broken glass. I was in love once. But I never told him.”
Greg’s a fun character, unforgettably embodied by Shaun Dooley, and probably my favourite of this year’s new additions. Nonetheless, even he comes across as a bit of a caricature, though at least the suggestion of hidden depths makes him believable. Abbey, similarly, has the excuse that her amnesia means she actually doesn’t know much about her personality.
Finn and Jess have been rather less well-served though, and this finale didn’t really change that. I have warmed to them as the series has progressed, but again it seems like the show’s repeating itself. Their ‘will-they-won’t-they’ relationship is more than a bit reminiscent of Simon and Alisha; equally, Finn’s relationship with the (apparently) more worldly Rudy mirrors exactly Simon’s with Nathan. Rudy has developed this year to be more distinct from Nathan; many times last year, I had the impression he was delivering lines written for Robert Sheehan, with only Joe Gilgun’s marvellously different portrayal drawing the distinction.
But the fact remains that this year has felt like a rather messy, uneven attempt to recreate that original group dynamic (something Being Human managed rather better, despite equal levels of contrivance). Presumably if Alex gains a power from his lung transplant, he’ll (by some unlikely means) find himself on community service, and the gang will be five-strong again.
I’ll at least admit that it’s still a very watchable show, and that, even if it’s self-consciously repeating itself, the concept has more mileage in it yet. So, disappointing though I’ve found this year’s series, I’m hoping it will be back, with a slightly firmer grasp on what made it so much fun before, just addressed in a different way. I still love Misfits, with its irreverent, scatological take on classic comic tropes; let’s hope it doesn’t end with an unconcluded whimper, like Heroes did.