“You didn’t ask for help because you knew you’d get it. You didn’t want to be clean.” – Alex
In this penultimate episode of Being Human’s final series, things were expectedly ramping up as the year’s various ongoing plot strands came together. Mr Rook was still unwisely following the self-interested advice of Captain Hatch (aka Lucifer), and trying to promote supernatural conflict as a means of restoring his department’s funding. Having failed with last week’s aborted werewolf attack, he’d moved on to breaking up Hal and Tom’s friendship, forcing them into fighting.
Hal, meanwhile, was still struggling unsuccessfully against his blood addiction, while Alex, curious after Bobby’s unlikely suicide last week, was getting extremely suspicious of the sourfaced Hatch. And for a bit of light relief, Tom’s inner feelings were again being stirred towards romance.
As things are moving towards a climax, the balance was tilted more towards horror than humour this week. Even Tom’s newly discovered interest in the sins of the flesh, comical though it was, fed into the darkness of what was going on elsewhere. For it turned out that the young lady he had a crush in was actually an agent provocateur working for Rook, with a mission to torpedo our heroes’ happy home.
I must admit, I wasn’t too happy seeing Tom written as a comical imbecile again. Yes, he’s had a very sheltered upbringing, and I can believe (even after last year’s dalliance with Allison) that he’s still a virgin. I find it rather harder to believe that he would be so completely ignorant about “the birds and the bees” (which he took to mean ornithology when Hal mentioned the phrase).
Granted, McNair didn’t seem the type of chap to talk about women in anything more than old-fashioned terms of chivalry; but Tom lives in the normal world now, and he’d have to be astonishingly unobservant to have failed to pick up a few tips from today’s highly sexualised culture. Does he never pick up a magazine, or watch the TV? For that matter, has he never glanced at the front of Captain Hatch’s Daily Mail-alike newspaper? (Headline this week: “Is Health and Safety turning Britain’s Farmers Gay?”)
Be that as it may, the object of his desire, Natasha (capably played by Skins’ Kathryn Prescott) turned out to be a cuckoo in the nest. Eliciting Tom’s sympathy with a ‘damsel in distress’ turn which resulted in her getting a job at the Grand, she then surprised Hal by instantly spotting his withdrawal symptoms for what they were, and even more surprisingly offered herself as a blood supply.
Alex, who appears to be the most sensible of the gang, had her suspicions of Natasha from the start. And rightly so; she was the little girl rescued from vampires fifteen years previously by Rook, now working for him undercover. Getting Hal back on the blood was only a start, to be followed by sowing the seeds of discord between him and his werewolf best bud.
The ever-watchful Alex was quick to find out that the man who’d, effectively, caused her death was back to drinking that intoxicating red stuff – and she wasn’t happy. It was a payoff to the similar disillusionment suffered by Lady Mary a couple of weeks ago, as Alex too had been deluding herself that she was keeping her sharp-toothed friend on the straight and narrow. She even, this week, succumbed to her own feelings of romance, finally breaking the sexual tension between her and Hal with a kiss; though from experience of the trouble Annie and Mitchell had getting it on, she shouldn’t expect much more.
Not that she’s likely to want to now. Stumbling over the wretched Hal feeding off Natasha, she was disgusted enough to tell him to get out of the house. It felt like a truish depiction of addiction; as she commented, Hal could have asked for help easily enough, but like the true addict he was, didn’t want to give up that last possibility of another hit.
It’s worth remembering at this point that Being Human arose from Toby Whithouse’s attempt to do a less supernatural kind of sitcom, based around three characters who were agoraphobic (which became a ghost), had anger management issues (a werewolf) and was a sex addict. The last of these, obviously, was the one that morphed into a vampire; initially Mitchell and now Hal. The idea of blood being not sustenance but an addictive narcotic has always been central to the show’s idea of vampires, but it’s rarely been portrayed as closely to real drug addiction as it is here.
Very much in ‘suspicious’ mode this week, Alex also recruited her friends in her investigation of Hatch (sceptical though they were). This led to some actually rather tense moments – Alex doesn’t know what she’s taking on here, but we do. So I actually found myself shouting at the screen at one point – “Careful, Alex!”, as she tried to goad Hatch into revealing that he could see her.
Similar reactions were inspired as Tom stumblingly tried to read her questions from smudged biro on his hand – “what are your views on… the quilt?”, to Hatch’s contemptuous incomprehension. It was only a matter of time, of course, this being the penultimate episode, before Old Nick showed his true face. So it proved as Alex made another foolish attempt to provoke him, with no one else around.
With Tom having learned of Hal’s blood-drinking betrayal, and Hatch having conned Natasha into slashing her own throat to frame him, the vampire/werewolf fight was properly on, and it was made that much more effective and heartbreaking by the emphasis on Hal and Tom’s ‘bromance’ thus far in the series. So, it was a revitalised Hatch, his eyes glowing red, that Alex made the mistake of confronting in his shadowy hotel room. Rising shockingly from his wheelchair in a ‘punch the air’ moment, he roared in true Phil Davis style, “I’m the fuckin’ Devil, sweet’eart!” before waving a hand and banishing her to regions unknown.
Some audacious direction from Daniel O’Hara allowed us to share Alex’s plight, as the screen stayed black for what seemed like ages, the only sound Alex’s panicked breathing. Just as I wondered how long he’d let it play out, we got a bit of light from Alex’s penlight, revealing her to be in a shadowy cramped space with a rotting corpse. I figured it out just before the camera panned up for the big reveal; she’s trapped in her own grave. Nasty stuff indeed from writer Sarah Dollard, but I’m guessing Toby Whithouse will find a way of getting her out for next week’s last ever episode…
So, with Hatch ascendant, Alex trapped, Tom whittling a stake for his former best friend, and Evil Hal truly back and about to devour a diner full of customers, the stage is properly set for a big climax. This series’ shorter run of six episodes, like the first series, has allowed for less meandering than the show’s more frequent eight episode lengths; it’s been a more concentrated, intense ride. It’s also true that, as a consequence, the show has lost some of its depth, especially noticeable with its somewhat OTT comedy this year. But if this is to be the Final End for Being Human, this was a suitably nail-biting lead up to the Big Finale. Let’s hope Toby Whithouse can give the guys – and his concept – a fitting sendoff.