Being Human: Series 5, Episode 4–The Greater Good

“All we’re doing is marking time till the inevitable happens.” – Hal

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It was another frenetic mix of farce and fear in this week’s Being Human, a contrast that seems to be the default style of this final year. Perhaps responding to criticisms that the show had gone too far towards the Dark Side in series 2 and 3, Toby Whithouse seems to have steered the tone towards a much broader style of comedy in its non-horror moments. Whether it works is arguable; the domestic sitcom setting of that first sleeper hit series was, generally speaking, more believable than the more overt silliness on display here. Nevertheless, it makes for a very shocking contrast when the story does turn dark.

We were also back to the story proper of this final year, with the reintroduction of Crumb, another appearance from Mr Rook, and more manipulation from the grotesque Captain Hatch (aka Beelzebub). And we got another look at Evil Hal as he struggled beneath the surface of the usually likeable stuffy vampire, while the gang found themselves cast in the unlikely role of a rehab clinic for other wayward supernaturals.

The first of these was beefy werewolf Bobby, played by the incomparable Ricky Grover. Usually typecast as terrifying hard men, Grover got to show his softer side as Bobby, an institutionalised werewolf who’s been kept under lock and key in Rook’s Archive since unexpectedly massacring his family as a 12-year-old in 1980.

Stuck in a timewarped world of Kevin Keegan and Burt Reynolds, Bobby was, despite his bearlike bulk, an instantly lovable character. Deprived of his home in the Archive as the Home Office cuts bit deep and stopped the electric, Bobby was handed over to our heroes by the reluctant Rook, who couldn’t think of anywhere else for him to go.

This didn’t please Tom any, to Hal’s amusement (“Oh my God – you’ve become a snob!”).  Thus motivated by reverse psychology, Tom immediately made it his life’s mission to integrate Bobby back into society just as he had been; no mean feat given his tendency to hide under tables and give crushing bear hugs to those he liked. Employing Bobby to work at the hotel was definitely the stuff of broad sitcom rather than naturalistic comedy – “No – it’s ‘Barry Grand, Bobby speaking’. You’re Bobby.”

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Rook’s other supernatural loose end was, of course, the increasingly manic Crumb, now cutting a swathe through Barry’s pizza delivery boys with fellow gamer and Rook’s former assistant Alan. Tasked with bringing Crumb under control, Hal popped over to his house to a marvellously surreal and bizarre scene; Crumb and Alan, caked in blood but done up in Flaming Orc finery, surrounded by bloodied corpses. As a funny/horrific moment, it was up there with the best.

I’ve enjoyed Crumb as a character, with his increasingly desperate attempts to break free of his loser self, only to discover that being undead doesn’t necessarily change your personality. “There is no Ian here, only Crumb,” he hissed manically through the letterbox in an amusingly pathetic attempt to seem frightening. Hal – who can be really frightening – wasn’t impressed.

I must admit, I can understand why some fans might find Crumb too broadly comic a character to be believable, with his ‘Colin Hunt – office joker’ persona. But while it’s obvious that this year’s Big Bad is none other than Satan himself, I thought it might be quite apropos for this show for Crumb to turn out to be the gang’s real downfall. It would have fit perfectly with the show’s original premise of the supernatural meeting the very, very ordinary – epic archetypes like Herrick or Mr Snow can’t defeat the heroes, but a jumped-up nobody would be their end.

Sadly, it seems that’s not to be. Still, Crumb provided plenty of entertainment – and yet more musings on what ‘being human’ might be – before his demise. Unexpectedly keen to follow Hal’s example in giving up blood, he willingly submitted himself to Hal’s rehab programme; returning yet again to this show’s conception of vampires needing blood not for sustenance, but as a heroin-like addiction.

Going cold turkey was every bit as nasty for Crumb as it had been for Hal – and Mitchell before him. Tormented by hallucinations of one of his victims, he unintentionally staked young Alan (a shame, as he was rather easy on the eye for those of us who fancy nerds).

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And he pushed Hal to the brink, as the tactic of leaving him with two glasses of blood – one human, one werewolf and therefore lethal – basically backfired. Having failed to rehabilitate Crumb with his own mantra of repetitive tasks, or a disastrous ‘date’ with Alex, Hal found himself strapped into a chair and engaging in haemophagic Russian Roulette with the pathetic new recruit. At which point, Evil Hal came out to play.

This, I must admit, was an interesting take on Hal’s dark side. While Mitchell always treated it as an aspect of himself, Hal seems to think of Evil Hal as an entirely separate personality; and it’s reciprocated, as each refers to the other in the third person. “He was here, wasn’t he?” Evil Hal was just as scary as he was in the flashbacks to his bloody past, and with Hal finally succumbing to the temptation of drinking the flask of blood Rook left him, I doubt we’ve seen the last of this dark side. Even if we have seen the last of Crumb, who, in a debatable final act of ‘courage’ ended up drinking the werewolf blood and disintegrating. A shame, I was enjoying Colin Hoult as the least cool vampire since Evil Ed.

This was all neatly tied in to the ongoing plans of Captain Hatch, who found another player to manipulate in the form of the disillusioned Rook. And when I say ‘player’,it’s literal; he basically did a deal with the Devil over a hand of three card brag. Rook may have had Jack, Queen and King (“the trinity – a hard hand to beat”) but Hatch could best him with three 6’s – 666.

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Still thriving on conflict, Hatch persuaded Rook that the best way to salvage his department was to prompt some real carnage – and that the way to do it was to let Wolf-Bobby loose in the hotel. After all, as Hatch persuasively argued (the old tempter), better to lose a few lives in the quest for “the greater good”.

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Phil Davis was, again, brilliant as Hatch here. Posing (perhaps truthfully) as a man who’d been rescued from vampires years ago by Rook’s predecessors, he gained the stuffy civil servant’s confidence with yet another set of mannerisms; calm, rational and well-spoken, he only lost his cool when it became clear things weren’t working out as he planned, reverting to his cockney snarl.

Because things didn’t go well – Wolf-Tom came to the rescue in the nick of time. Locked into a room together by the frantic Hal, they fought all night before waking up naked together in another amusing scene. If you’re used to Ricky Grover as a terrifying thug, just watch him and Michael Socha hugging with no clothes on.

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This was an enjoyable episode, highlighted by two brilliant performances of comedy/pathos from Ricky Grover as Bobby and Colin Hoult as Crumb. Writer John Jackson cleverly interwove the various plot elements to come together in a gripping climax, with Hatch’s plan, Bobby’s plight and Hal’s dilemma all neatly intercut in a good bit of pacing.

And yet, while it was never less than watchable, I will admit that the show does seem to be becoming a bit formulaic, with its OTT humour lurching towards OTT horror every episode. Only two more episodes to go; in one sense that makes me sad, but in another it’s perhaps a relief – this concept may have been taken as far as it can go.

Being Human: Series 5, Episode 1–The Trinity

“The world is on the brink of calamity. We face an enemy of unimaginable cunning and power. So let’s keep cockups to a minimum.”

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And I face a viewing challenge of unimaginable confusion – watching the fifth series of Being Human while also watching the third season of the US version, which surprised me by being every bit as good. Taking the mythology into entirely different directions being a good start. The US version has nine more episodes to go, the British just seven – can I keep them straight in my head?

Well, I’m not blogging on the US version – I have a job now, and there’s Dallas every week, and both Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are back soon, so I’ll be busy enough. So, the real Being Human – the original – it is. And how is our original Being Human shaping up with its new cast?

For me, not too badly. I have my reservations about it, though less than some, and less than my own reservations about the new cast in Misfits. I can understand why a lot of old fans found the new cast impossible to get used to. The schtick of the original concept was that the gang were, on the face of it, normal people who just happened to be supernatural beings; with the new guys, they’re supernatural beings trying, none too successfully, to seem like normal people. It’s a fine distinction, but it sets them apart.

New ghost Alex is the closes we have to a ‘normal’ character – she only died the other week (as it were), and is very much a product of modern society. Hal, on the other hand, is a 500-year-old vampire with crippling OCD; even if he were human, he’d find it hard to fit in. Tom is a werewolf raised in a rarefied, sheltered environment, like a latterday warrior monk crossed with (as Alex remarks) the Amish. It’s almost a reversal of the original premise. Mitchell and George were as normal a pair of lads as you could meet – apart from the whole blood drinking/wolf-transforming stuff. Hal and Tom can barely pass as normal in any circumstance.

Still, I rather like the reversal. But there’s the whole ever-growing mythology thing too. Last year it felt like showrunner Toby Whithouse might have taken that as far as it could reasonably go, with a barely averted vampire-driven apocalypse. But he added that last-minute coda of a shadowy group of Sir Humphrey-types who go around covering for the supernaturals. So you might reasonably expect them to be the main focus of this year, right?

Wrong, as it turns out. Yes, the mysterious Mr Rook (Steven Robertson) is present, and a big player – “our job is to maintain the illusion that man is alone. And it’s been the job of people like us for hundreds of years”. But, as we discover in a series of interspersed flashbacks to 1918, there’s worse out there than anything we’ve met so far. How much worse? Well… it’s the Devil.

Um… yes. At this point, a number of fans may be thinking Mr Whithouse has performed aerial acrobatics over a certain carnivorous fish. That’s understandable; this is a well that’s been pretty much plumbed dry. Plus, it comes accompanied by all the baggage of Judeo-Christian mythology; if there’s a Devil, logically there must be a God, and that’s a whole other can of theology.

Still, Supernatural pulled that off (in its first five series, before the story ended and it was dragged out for another agonising three years), as have various comic series including Hellblazer and Preacher. So why not Being Human?

Indeed, Toby Whithouse still finds ways to surprise me even with the most hackneyed of ideas. In fact, the show’s entire premise – a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost in the same story – seems to come from the fag end of the 1930s/40s horror boom; Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein and the Mummy in the House of Dracula. But Whithouse is a good enough writer to make it work.

So it proved here. Unlike a lot of fans, I’d been pretty much won over by the new gang last year. I think Damien Molony as Hal strikes an interesting contrast between the comical (his OCD) and the horrific – the fact that his OCD is actually therapy that stops him turning into an unstoppable killer. And yes, he’s pretty easy on the eye too, as we got to see in a playful prologue where he fought the glamorous werewolf leader Lady Catherine. Logically, there was no real reason for Hal to be shirtless throughout, but I shan’t complain.

We joined the gang pretty much where we’d left them last year, albeit a few weeks later – with Hal still strapped to a chair, doing cold turkey after his first taste of blood in over fifty years. Marvellously, it was his OCD that made Tom and Alex realise he was (sort of) recovered. Clearly, he was traumatised by the sheer state they’d let Honolulu Heights get into without him; “this is going to be a two sets of Marigolds job”.

Most of the episode seemed to be played at a broadbrush comedy level I didn’t much care for. The introduction of office loser Ian Cram was initially too sitcom for my tastes, as was the sequence of Hal and Tom going for jobs at a local hotel. But it paid off when the script turned dark. Doomed by a chance encounter with a pissed-off Hal, Cram ended up knocked over by a car and vampirised by the well-meaning (or was he?) Hal. He then proceeded to turn up back at his office, covered in blood, and devour the boss’ pet employee/nephew Gavin.

Hal’s attempt to deal with that by killing both Cram and himself was a turning point, as Alex and Tom came to his rescue. And then Mr Rook turned up, and for all his ‘comedy civil servant’ routine earlier, was still prepared to do his job by ramming a pen into the office manager’s brain (“I liked that pen”). It worked precisely because it had been played so much for laughs earlier; when it suddenly turned so dark, the contrast was all the more noticeable.

The flashbacks were also well-integrated, so that by the end, it came as little surprise that the Devil unleashed by Hal, werewolf queen Lady Catherine and ghost wizard Emile was none other than potty-mouthed pensioner Captain Hatch, the Fawlty Towers-esque resident of the Barry Island Grand Hotel. Yes, it’s a deal of coincidence that he ended up in the same town as Hal; but we’ll see whether Whithouse comes up with a convincing rationale for that. Besides, I’d already guessed that Hatch would be a major player. You don’t cast an actor of Phil Davis’ stature in a novelty bit part.

Meantime, we have Mr Rook’s mysterious government department to uncover more about; it was amusing that his department is threatened with the axe by austerity-style government cuts despite being around since “the days of Cromwell”. And Alex has had her hopes of passing on dashed by the discovery that her family have already held her funeral and begun to get on with their lives – what’s the unresolved issue that will conjure up her Door? And Cram – now the self-styled ‘Crumb’ – is a bitter, psychotic prisoner of Mr Rook’s department. I hope to see more of him; he’s as interesting and atypical a vampire as last series’ Cutler.

So, yes, I still understand the reservations about the show. And I appreciate that the increasingly complex mythology is in danger of overwhelming its initially simple premise. But I like the mythology. And I like the characters, different though they may be. There’s still a chance that this reinvention might fall on its arse, and it’s entirely subjective whether you think it will; I was very down on the similar reinvention Misfits had last series, but I know plenty of people who disagreed. On this evidence, I still think Being Human has plenty of mileage left in it – but let’s see whether the rest of the series proves me right or wrong.

Being Human: Series 4, Episode 7–Making History

“Sooner or later, we always go back to being the monsters we truly are.”

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We’re into the endgame now, and series creator Toby Whithouse is back for the first time since episode 1 to pen the penultimate episode of Being Human’s new format. Not surprisingly, this is a very good thing – good as some recent episodes have been, nobody understands it – and writes it – as well as its creator. And yet even then, I had a few reservations. I’m gripped, sure, but I have an odd, nagging feeling that we’ve been here before.

With the concentration on the Big Plot as the series moves towards its finale, the characters were like chess pieces being moved into place. Cutler’s propaganda plan to use Tom as a werewolf warning to humanity was moving towards fruition, while the Old Ones’ slow boat was now very nearly there, and Hal’s suspicions as to what was going on hardened into certainties as he investigated ‘Stoker Imports and Exports. Meanwhile, Annie took a sidestep in time with ghost-Eve through a convenient Door, to discover a desolate future in which Nazi-like vampires rule the world and humanity is all but extinct.

It’s that latter part, I think, that gives me that nagging feeling of familiarity. Vampires subjugating humanity and ruling the world – wasn’t that exactly the Big Plot of the very first series, with Herrick’s plan to achieve just that being thwarted by Mitchell and George? Here it is again, only this time it’s worked out for the vampires. Whithouse seems to have taken some lessons from Doctor Who colleague Steven Moffat on how to do a twisty turny time paradox to both show a nightmare future and then prevent it.

Not that it wasn’t well-realised.  Future Eve’s chilling description of the events that led to the desolate landscape Annie was seeing was perfectly pitched, and underscored nicely by barely heard echoes of crying and screaming. The focus on little bits of humanity’s detritus – a lone shoe floating in the bay, and a smashed doll stuck in a bush – took on a deep significance unusual for such commonplace found objects, given the context.

There’s an obvious budgetary consideration in simply describing such massive events rather than actually showing them – I don’t think a BBC3 budget would stretch to the scenes of mass exodus, slaughter and genocide that Eve was describing. But it’s a tried and tested dramatic technique for characters to report massive events rather than showing them to the audience; Shakespeare did it all the time, mainly because it’s not really practical to stage a full scale battle onstage. It was done well here, with other nice hints such as the sign over the ‘concentration camp’ gate – “Through me you pass into eternal pain” – and the Obama-like poster of ruthless future Hal subtitled “Show No Mercy”. Though the Nazi-like banners either side of that served to remind us just how much of a long shadow these all-purpose, real-world baddies have cast over genre drama since 1945.

It also worked well to have Annie – nice, conscience-led Annie – as the audience’s identification point in this. She asked all the right questions to prompt the torrent of exposition, but prevented this from being too clunky dramatically by retaining her usual spirit of normality and humour. In the face of all the horror she was hearing about, it was perfectly Annie to focus on whether she’d been a good mother, and what had happened to her friends. Given the show’s weighty mythology, Lenora Critchlow’s an old hand at dealing with this kind of exposition, and so it proved here as well.

It wasn’t just the future we got to see though. In what I think was the best aspect of the episode, we got to see Cutler’s origin story, and how he was intimately tied in with Hal. Turns out Hal was the one who converted him to vampirism in the first place, back in  1950; as a result, Cutler has a peculiar worship/loathing towards him.

The scenes set in 1950 showed us what a nasty bastard Hal used to be – a necessary reminder, I think, as he’s been played so much for comedy that this aspect of his character has been rather neglected apart from one previous flashback to the 18th century. This time we got his forced conversion of Cutler, followed by his sneering contempt when Cutler couldn’t kill anyone, least of all his wife, and lastly a really nasty moment as he revealed the blood he’d been feeding Cutler was actually from his butchered wife, taken care of by Hal personally.

These scenes were cleverly interwoven, line by line on occasion, with the scenes between Hal and Cutler in the present to underline how their roles have been almost reversed since 1950. Now Cutler’s the powerful one, with his big plan, and Hal’s the reluctant killer. And yet Cutler still worships him; he can’t stand to see his former hero begging on his knees, becoming almost physically sick at the sight. But he still can’t let go of his anger. He loves Hal, but he hates him too for making him what he is.

This all culminated in the ultimate cruel reversal, as Hal discovered that his reawakened blood thirst was being slaked by the blood of his butchered prospective girlfriend Alex. These scenes were brilliantly played by Damien Molony and Andrew Gower, each showing how easy it is to lose your humanity and become a monster – and in Hal’s case, how hard it is to get your humanity back. As he spat at Tom, however much they try to ‘be human’, the monster always re-emerges.

With such dark goings on dominating the episode, Tom was left to deliver what humorous moments there were. Unsurprisingly, Toby Whithouse got the balance of his character better than most other writers this series; yes, he’s naive and trusting, but he’s uneducated rather than stupid. His ineptly delivered pre-rehearsed speech to Cutler, and his inability to put on a tie, were nice comic moments, counterpointed by real drama as he realised the victims Cutler wanted him to kill weren’t the Old Ones after all.

Which brought us to the climax of the episode, as Cutler’s plan came to fruition – but not exactly as he’d wanted. With Alex’s ghost having freed Hal from the locked storeroom beneath the club where the slaughter was to happen, she also prevented any actual killing by unlocking the fire exit for the screaming patrons to flee through. But not before, as Cutler planned, the shocked youngsters did exactly what any modern person would do on being confronted by a strange, terrifying creature – got their phones out and started filming it.

Director Daniel O’Hara dealt with the limitations of a low-budget werewolf well, showing us occasional glimpses of it, its own viewpoint, and blurry phone images rather than any lingering shots of the beast itself – a wise move, as it would have been rather obviously a man in a furry suit. Instead, it was a genuinely tense and terrifying scene. With future Eve having told Annie that Tom had never recovered from accidentally killing some humans, you really weren’t sure if he was going to do just that. But with ghost Alex having helped them escape, the only one really in jeopardy was Hal himself.

It was a good cliffhanger for next week, particularly when you remember how werewolf George tore Herrick limb from limb at the end of the first series. But there was one last cliffhanger to pull out of the bag, as the Old Ones finally showed up after what must have been the slowest boat ride in history. As it turns out, they’re led by a pale and creepy looking Mark Gatiss, using his trademark sinister smile to good effect.

And yet I’m not sure about the wisdom of casting Gatiss. He seems to be on a mission to appear on every genre show made in Britain, but I still can’t properly dissociate him from the comic/horror persona he established in The League of Gentlemen. Being Human may be another blend of horror and comedy, but the emphasis here is far more on the horror aspect. Still, let’s see from next week whether Gatiss can be truly scary without also being a little too funny. He tried it in Doctor Who story The Lazarus Experiment, and it almost worked there…

So we’re almost at the end of this radical new series of Being Human, and I’m eager to see how it turns out – and if it works well enough to come back for more. In the mean time though, this episode did leave me with a number of nitpicks. Why would the Old Ones, after hundred and perhaps thousands of years, suddenly change their MO from lying low to conquering the entire planet? Didn’t Mitchell say they’d be pretty annoyed with Herrick for trying just that? And their plan doesn’t really make sense, either; if, as future Eve says, most of humanity has been killed, what will the vampires feed on? After all, predators must always have a vastly greater number of prey in order to survive.

And what’s happening with the ghosts? As I recall, in earlier times it took Annie many episodes to become tangible enough to make a cup of tea. Yet last week, Emrys was able to read the paper and play at poltergeist within hours of his death, and this week ghost Alex could open doors mere minutes afterwards. And after Annie’s traumatic entrapment within the afterlife, why are the Doors now little more than convenient portals to any point in history the plot needs?

Mind you, I did really like Gina Bramhill as the spunky, funny Alex. With last week’s talk of Annie’s Door, and her seeming acceptance this week that she might have to kill the baby, I wonder if Alex is being groomed as a potential replacement? It could be that next week will see the departure of the very last original cast member. If so, will it be the final nail in the coffin for Being Human, or will this new format have taken well enough to survive another cast change? Next week will tell…

Being Human: Series 4, Episode 6–Puppy Love

“If people find out about about vampires, werewolves and ghosts, there’ll be lynchings. There’ll be riots. It’ll be like the tuition fees march all over again.”

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With, presumably, the last two episodes of the series earmarked for the climax to this year’s Big Plot, this week’s Being Human felt like a bit of light relief. It was perhaps the first true standalone episode this year, in the sense that it could be removed from the series as a whole without making a difference to the overall story. But it was more than just filler; it now feels like we’re properly bedded in with the new characters, and this gave all three of the gang a chance to flex their comic muscles with more than a hint of pathos. And for a wonder, we actually got a script that wrote Tom as more than a one-dimensional comic relief idiot, which truly was a relief.

Obviously, the events this week were spurred by the Big Plot, as geeky teenage werewolf Allison set out to find Tom after seeing him on Cutler’s now widely viewed YouTube video. It was also the first time our less than internet-savvy gang got to find out about this (“Don’t tell me you’re still on MySpace,” sighed Allison at their blank incomprehension of the word ‘Facebook’).

Cutler too was having problems, as a comedy trio of 80s style vampires turned up at the warehouse to usurp his ‘management’ for the Old Ones. These were fun, but obviously one shot characters from the start. Golda (Amanda Abbington) was like the worst boss you’ve ever had (“If you don’t like it, complain to your line manager. Oh wait – that’s me.”), and her eventual comeuppance was like a bit of wish fulfilment for every downtrodden employee. For once, in fact, you found yourself rooting for Cutler, as his typically Machiavellian schemes drew Tom and Allison into doing his dirty work.

Meanwhile, Hal was being played for laughs more than Tom this week, as his OCD rituals struggled to compete with the temptation of sultry Scots tomboy Alex (Kate Bracken). The story actually drew heavily on both of the guys’ awkwardness with women, and of the two, Hal seemed to draw the short straw. His quiet serenity at rearranging the eggs in order of size interrupted by a girl who actually fancied him, he was stuck with a distinctly old-fashioned view of ‘courting’. “Write her a poem, then go and speak with her father,” was his advice to Tom on the matter, while Annie’s view was “get her drunk and snog her”. It can be funny that Hal has so singularly failed to move with the times, but there was possibly a bit much of that here – at least he eventually reminded us that he’d “seduced thousands of women”, although that felt more like a hollow boast by Julio Iglesias.

Just so everyone had an equal share of the action, Annie was stuck babysitting a cantankerous, pervy old ghost, after she accidentally killed him in the mistaken belief that he was trying to kill Eve. Anthony O’Donnell was surprisingly likeable as the Rigsby-alike old git, who made for a suitably comic house guest as the boys’ action unfolded around him. It’s noticeable that, of all the varieties of supernaturals in the show, the ghosts seem to have been given shortest shrift lately in terms of their mythology; so it was nice to get back to the world of redemption and Doors into the afterlife.

Mind you, it did feel like a bit of a disconnect that there was no mention of Annie’s recent, unanticipated relish for killing, in the wake of what happened with Kirby. After the portentous dialogue last week about that, I would have expected some reference to it after Annie, however accidentally, killed again. A more eagle-eyed script editor might have spotted that, and put in at least one line acknowledging it.

After much of the usual leching after Annie, it transpired that Emrys’ unresolved issue was to psychically torment his loathed ex-wife and her too-cutesy piano teacher husband. After a previous (and amusing) bit of misunderstanding in which Annie mistook a cupboard for Emrys’ Door, his real Door finally materialised. This led to much talk along the lines of “when you get your Door”, which seemed a little odd; Annie has already passed up one Door to save Mitchell, then been dragged involuntarily through another, from which Mitchell rescued her. I’ve got a feeling that for her, as far as Doors are concerned, the regular rules no longer apply. But it was surely a significant bit of foretelling as Emrys pointed out that her redemption might not necessarily involve doing something “good”. I’ve got a feeling that’ll come back to haunt her (so to speak) by the end of the series. And with all this talk of Annie moving on, are the showrunners preparing for her to leave too?

However, the heart of the episode (hence the title) was Tom’s burgeoning romance with Allison. Ellie Kendrick was genuinely sweet as the gawky teenage weregirl, making a character that could have seemed like a cardboard copy of Ab Fab’s Saffy believable and charming. She also got some proper character development, as she went from Blue Peter badge-wielding debating champion to eager vampire slayer – a development Tom was none too keen on. The montage of her ‘training’ in vampire killing, to the title tune of ‘Puppy Love’ was fun and sweet, but in the end maybe she was too light a character to be kept on.

That’s a shame, as the rapport between her and Tom worked well. Michael Socha rose to the challenge perfectly as his character was finally written as a shy, sensitive virgin however many vampires he may have killed. His final, all-too-transparent pushing away of Allison was a little heartbreaking; she felt like a character who could have stayed on. But then so did Emrys. And Adam, last week. It’s notable that the ‘guest’ characters this year have been so memorable that they felt like potential additions to the main cast; possibly an indication of a show in transition. Or, if you’re one of those (and there’s quite a few) who simply haven’t taken to the new characters at all, an indication that the main cast aren’t as interesting as those around them.

This was, ultimately, a fun and amusing romp of an episode. It was never less than entertaining, and made me laugh a lot, but was really pretty forgettable. It was chiefly notable for giving Tom some proper character action, and for the foreshadowings of the climax to the Big Plot, as future-Eve appeared through Emrys’ door and made herself known to Annie. A ‘filler’ episode then, but a rather enjoyable one. This may be Being Human on auto-pilot, but it’s still miles better than a lot of other cult TV shows on right now.

Being Human: Series 4, Episode 5–Hold the Front Page

“He’s not the Nemesis. He’s far too much of a nob.”

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Yay, Adam’s back!

After last year’s endearingly obnoxious portrayal of the 47 year old vampire forever caught in a teenage boy’s body, it was great to see the excellent Craig Roberts return to Honolulu Heights this week. With his charmless innuendo, teenage awkwardness and outdated 80s pop culture references, Adam was an instant hit last year; as a result, you couldn’t help feeling that bringing him back was something of a fan pleasing move, when the show still seems a little uncertain with its new formula.

Nonetheless, this fan was pleased to see Adam back. After his enjoyable reprise of the role in last year’s webseries Becoming Human, Craig Roberts slipped back into the role as comfortably as an old pair of shoes. The 80s references were present and correct from the outset as, on first meeting Tom, he instantly referred to him as “Littlest Hobo”. There’s an amusing interview with Craig Roberts in SFX, in which the actor confesses (with much the same sweariness as his character) that he didn’t know half the references himself. Thankfully the interviewer is able to fill him in on who exactly Suzi Quatro is…

Adam was accompanied by his latest conquest, an ever-so-proper girls’ school headmistress called Yvonne Bradshaw. Selina Griffiths as Yvonne gave the character an amusing comedic rapport first with Adam and then with the rest of the household. Her initial, rather kinky, teacher/schoolboy relationship with Adam was genuinely funny, as his crudities were met with a clip round the ear to which he responded, “sorry, miss.”

But there was obviously something a bit odd about Yvonne from the outset, signalled pretty clearly by the fact that she could see Annie. Mind you, Annie was being a little careless in her assumption that she was invisible to Yvonne – if she actually had been, Yvonne would have been confronted with the image of a baby floating in midair.

Yvonne was obviously something supernatural then, and as soon as she began telling her seemingly exaggerated stories of her irresistibility to men, the penny must have dropped for any fan of horror stories. When Tom started to make puppy eyes at her after she touched him, it was obvious – Yvonne was a succubus. The offspring of a demon and a human, she was cursed to bewitch every man she touched, then kill them with the act of what Annie tactfully whispered as, “s..x”.

Now, granted, not every casual viewer is likely to be as aware of succubi as they are of vampires and werewolves, so for some Yvonne’s identity may have come as something of a surprise. But, I have to say, not for me – even The X Files once featured a succubus chasing poor old Walter Skinner. And even if the viewer didn’t know the name of what she was, I have to say that we’ve seen this plot before in all manner of genre shows – mysterious female inveigles her way into ensemble cast, setting all the men against each other by bewitching them with desire. It’s been done on shows as varied as Red Dwarf, Deep Space Nine and Futurama. It is, in short, a cliche that’s already been richly parodied.

The fun to be had in this episode, then, was seeing how  the Being Human gang reacted in a situation which is already familiar to your average fanboy. And, fair enough, there was some fun to be had here. Hal’s reaction to first Adam and then Yvonne was pretty amusing; Adam being less than impressed with Hal’s status as an Old One was soon followed by Hal’s Lestat-lite courting of Yvonne once she’d finally touched him. Recalling his conquest of a girl in the 17th century (“I gave her a thousand tulips”), he followed it up by quoting one of Keats’ love letters, which Adam could only counter with, “there was a young girl from South China…” The whole scene was a spot on parody of lovelorn, Twilight-style vampires, nicely skewering that particular cliche which is still being mined by True Blood. It was almost a shame that it turned out to be a fevered dream of Hal’s, though that was pretty clear from the moment he appeared to have killed Tom.

Tom, for his part, was once again the broader comic relief. Not only did he moon after Yvonne for most of the episode (his sexual fantasy of her as a barrister quoting nonsensical Latin was a highlight), he also again proved himself utterly useless at dealing with the wider world in his doorstep ‘interview’ with the scandal-hungry journos camped outside the B&B. “Piss sticks!” was his response to a query about Adam’s non-appearance in photos as he mindlessly repeated everything the unseen Annie said to him.

I must admit, I’m really starting to get irritated with using the character as this kind of comic relief. I get that Tom is meant to be an innocent, with a sheltered, old-fashioned upbringing that can sometimes cause social awkwardness. That’s kind of cute (as was Michael Socha appearing in nothing but his boxers initially). The trouble is, the show’s writers seem to be interpreting this as ‘Tom is a complete moron’. While that does make for some good comedy, it doesn’t make for a believable, sympathetic character, something Tom certainly was last year. Michael Socha is capable of more than broad comedy, and I’m hoping the writers give him something a bit more serious to do soon.

The strengths and weaknesses of the characters were, if anything, magnified by the fact that the story took place almost entirely within the confines of Honolulu Heights. In some ways, that was a good thing; I like that we’re truly beginning to see the new gang as a proper household, with Hal doing the washing up (“marigolds”) and all taking turns to mind the baby. It was also (as usual in this kind of story) the lone woman who spotted something was amiss.

Lenora Critchlow once again got many of the episode’s best scenes and lines, alternating between comedy moments (“I could have been in catalogue when I was 16. But you don’t hear me going on about it”) and more of last week’s darkness. As she nudged Hal on to terrify the persistent journalist who’d noticed that Adam was invisible to cameras, you wondered where this new, bloodthirsty Annie had come from. It was chilling when she told Hal that after ‘killing’ Kirby, she was hungry for more – “it’s addictive”. Hal, who knows a thing or two about killing, got to nicely reverse roles as he tried to teach her something about restraint.

The Big Plot was threaded through all this, if a little lightly, intersecting with events at the B&B with intrepid journalist Pete (Sacha Dhawan out of The History Boys, who isn’t on TV enough in my opinion). It turned out that staking out lecherous schoolteachers was just Pete’s day job; he’d been building a case file on vampires. To his misfortune, this led him, via Adam and the police footage of Tom, to Cutler, still working on his big werewolf reveal propaganda.

Having already mocked up the corpse of a werewolf ‘victim’ in the woods, Cutler was more than happy to use his newfound press acquaintance to further his aim, posing as a ‘reliable source’ about vampires to show that werewolves were worse. Pete, it turned out, wasn’t quite taken in, managing to hoodwink Cutler into a trap by inviting him in to the hotel room then drawing a crucifix on the door.

That Cutler managed to outwit him using a ploy Hal had used once (killing him then using his body as a shield from the crucifix) was a shame; Pete was an interesting character we could have done with more of. But it also provided a chance for a bit of exposition to explain away the inconsistencies in the show’s vampires. Hal, as an Old One, has no fear of crucifixes, though it wasn’t always so. We can also extrapolate that, as an Old One, he has other powers not shared with your run of the mill vampire, though I seem to recall he still had to be invited in when he first showed up at Honolulu Heights.

Indeed, the show’s mythos was (perhaps unintentionally) expanded considerably this week. Up till now, we’ve only been aware of three kinds of supernaturals – vampires, werewolves and ghosts. There was the ‘Type 4’ zombie we encountered last year, but she only existed because of Mitchell’s tinkering with the afterlife. At the time, Mitchell himself seemed surprised that there was another kind of supernatural being.

Now, we not only have succubi in the mix, but also, by extension, their demonic parents. You could charitably assume that Hal was aware of these while Mitchell wasn’t because Hal is so much older. Nonetheless, if the show’s supernatural universe starts becoming too cluttered, it might be less believable that it could be kept hidden from the normals; indeed, give the incompetence of Adam, Tom, and last year Mitchell in staying ‘off-camera’, it’s already looking implausible that their secret wasn’t out years ago.

Be that as it may, this was a mostly amusing romp, with an unexpectedly sweet ending as Adam realised that he really did love Yvonne, spell or no spell. His contention that love is always out of fear of being alone was mournful and surprisingly mature; thankfully he was back to obscene hand (and tongue) gestures as he climbed into Yvonne’s car to leave for happier climes. The Big Plot was mostly to the background this week, only apparent in Cutler’s manipulation of the hapless Pete; Hal did have a dream that his ‘destiny’ was to kill Baby Eve, but he was bewitched at the time, so who knows how much of that to believe?

As watchable as ever then this week, though some may have been put off by the over-familiarity of the plot’s basic premise. Still, great to see Craig Roberts back as Adam, and as he made it out ‘alive’, I’m hoping it’s not the last we see of him. Hal continues to work well as a markedly different replacement for Mitchell, but as I said, the temptation to use Tom as ‘comic relief idiot’ is one the writers would be well-advised to steer clear of. This episode was fun, but not one of the show’s classics.

Being Human: Series 4, Episode 4–A Spectre Calls

“Might be useful, having another feller about the place.”

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“I don’t mean to cause any trouble between you guys,” beamed newly arrived spook Kirby, and straight away, you knew that was exactly what he was going to cause. After last week’s slightly frenetic mix of comedy, action, and Big Plot exposition, this week’s Being Human was an altogether smaller affair, an intimate psychodrama with the focus tightly on our new trio, and the mysterious cuckoo in their nest.

This kind of thing is something the show’s always done well, but that, if anything, may have been its biggest flaw – it felt like we’d seen this before. Kirby’s poison whisper mindgames were a good deal less subtle than those used by the amnesiac Herrick last series, and it might also have helped to ratchet the tension a bit higher if the script and direction hadn’t made Kirby out to be a wrong ‘un from the outset. His first appearance at the end of last week’s episode, shoving his foot into a Door to re-emerge from the afterlife, had him lit and portrayed as a bad guy; how much more interesting might this episode have been if we’d genuinely believed, at first, that he was there to help?

Not that it was unenjoyable. The tight focus on the main characters was welcome at a point when we’re still getting used to them as a new ensemble; and even if we have seen this kind of thing in the show before, we haven’t seen it with these characters. After bonding so well last week, it was a useful reminder that those bonds are still new and very fragile, nothing like as strong as those between the original trio.

Necessarily, then, we got a lot of attention paid to how well Tom and Hal are settling in at Honolulu Heights. Apparently they’re not working at the cafe any more (though this went without comment), as Annie has set up a detailed and complex rota of how they’re all going to attend to baby Eve. This upset Hal; as the king of OCD, he had of course developed his own rota which looked nothing like Annie’s. Tom, continuing to be the faux-teenage son of the family, just didn’t like all the martial organisation. “This must be destroyed,” was the pair’s verdict.

But before it could be, there was a ring at the doorbell as Kirby arrived. A precredits flashback had showed us Kirby’s death in 1975, and even here he seemed very dodgy. The attention he was paying to that little boy before he strode fatefully into the road to rescue his ball was somehow very unwholesome, and I’d fully expected that, by the episode’s end, he’d be revealed as a child molester. At least here I was wrong, though not as wrong as the production for having Kirby hit by an R registered (1978) car in 1975. And for the true car geek, the other R registered car in shot, a MkIV Cortina, hadn’t even been introduced in 1975.

Still, not everyone pays that much attention to the period details, and the sequence did at least give James Lance a chance to show off his skill at pulling off unwholesome smarm. I like Lance, having enjoyed him in varying comedies, but for me his best role was as a slimy PR man in spin comedy show Absolute Power. Here, as there, he was superficially charming but with a true sense of something nasty underneath. Kirby’s hideous 1970s outfit was a nice touch, making him appear comical on top of the deviousness.

When he finally revealed his true colours and identity to a baffled Tom and Hal, it was both chilling and funny that he should turn out to be a fairly amateurish serial killer, frustrated at his lack of reputation in that regard. First though, he set about putting the housemates at each other’s throats, playing on some very good knowledge of their weaknesses, and it was here that Being Human’s usual excellent characterisation was to the forefront.

Nowhere was this better done than in the attention to detail of Tom’s and Hal’s bedrooms. Tom’s was messy, like a typical teenager, but tellingly decorated with cutouts of traditional family scenes from magazines. As Tom went on to confess, this was the kind of normality he yearned for but had never known, and Kirby was quick to exploit that by misleading him into thinking Hal and Annie surely had a surprise party planned for his 21st birthday – which of course they knew nothing of.

Hal’s bedroom, by contrast, was neat as a pin and fastidiously organised; exactly as you’d expect of a vampire whose obsessive-compulsive rituals kept him on the straight and narrow. Less naive than Tom, Hal was a tougher nut for Kirby to crack. But not that tough. Like Mitchell (and pretty much every vampire since Anne Rice began publishing novels), he’s got a very dark past, and the guilt from it haunts him. Little wonder that Kirby managed to get him – and Annie too – to doubt his own self-control.

Annie, for her part, was still missing her old friends, and that was the crack in her armour that Kirby exploited. It was desperately sad when Kirby’s steely onslaught about nobody even remembering her made her fade away into a puff of smoke, and for a minute I actually wondered whether screenwriter Tom Grieves had pulled off the neat trick of killing off the last of the original cast without even a hint of prior warning.

But no, Annie wasn’t gone, and I’m glad about that – much as I like Tom and Hal, they’re still too new for me to be comfortable with losing the only original character left. Instead, we got a very welcome return to dark, powerful Annie; Lenora Critchlow made her seem almost terrifying as she popped back into existence, her eyes deep blue and her face twisted with fury.  All of those den mother neuroses were nowhere to be seen as this awesome, powerful wraith simply squeezed Kirby out of existence.

I’m glad that we got another payoff to all those hints about how Annie is the most powerful of them all, for reasons yet unknown. It’s also exactly right that these moments should be used sparingly, so we can reconcile them with the lovable character we know most of the time. Still, I doubt we’ve seen the last of ‘Dark Annie’ for this series.

With all that going on, there was still room for a few bits of the Big Plot, along with some laugh out loud comedy. The latter was best in the extended scene of Tom and Hal pretending to be gay lovers to fool a visiting GP into thinking Eve was being properly parented. Hal does look rather good in a tight vest, and his interplay with Tom was hysterical. Damien Molony pulled off the neat trick of being convincing within the show as Tom’s lover, but still managing to make the viewer laugh with his obvious discomfort at the role. I should hasten to say, that wasn’t out of any sense of homophobia so much as Hal’s oft-amusing inability to be close to anyone.We also got another laugh later, as he stiffly accepted a hug from Annie while muttering, “awkward…”

As to the Big Plot, it became clear that Kirby had been sent by future-Eve (if that is who she is) with the intent of killing the baby. It’s not clear yet why she couldn’t do it herself (apart from the obvious temporal paradox, but that applies just as much to her asking others to do it). I dare say more will be revealed later in the series.

As will the prophecy about Eve’s ‘Nemesis’ revealed by Regus last week – all we know is that he has a burned arm. Kirby, of course, did not. But in a final twist, we saw that Hal’s wound from his altercation with Tom had become what looked nastily like a burn. A nice setup, but it could get a bit repetitive if we have to spend the rest of the series wondering if one of the main characters will turn out to be the bad guy. That’s basically what happened when Mitchell went off the rails in series 2, and with the prophecy of the ‘wolf-shaped bullet’ in series 3. If they’re doing something similar again, I hope they can make it sufficiently different to feel new.

Elsewhere, there was a welcome return for Cutler, now the only vampire baddie left until the Old Ones’ slow boat reaches Wales. Turning up at Barry police station posing as a defence lawyer, he got Tom freed after CCTV showed his ‘assault’ on a vampire to be, seemingly, a man kicking at empty air. Cutler’s motives in freeing Tom obviously have something to do with his PR spin plan to release the existence of werewolves into the public domain; and the naively trusting Tom seems to have taken his ‘nice vampire’ act at face value.

Meanwhile, Hal found that the framed ‘Box Tunnel Killer’ had been autopsied, and a false coroner’s report issued that he had human flesh in his stomach. This, again, was obviously Cutler’s doing, a prelude to ‘revealing’, presumably, the killer’s werewolf status. This was confirmed after Hal interrogated the terrified coroner, only for her to run straight to Cutler. Who duly bit her throat and graphically drank her blood, in a nice one-shot effect. It was nice to see that, for all his former cohorts’ contempt, Cutler is as much a frightening predator as any other vampire.

A more focused episode, then, with some good characterisation, even if it did feel rather as if we’d been here before. James Lance was a good guest turn as Kirby, who turned out to be a memorable mixture of comic, pathetic and scary. It was also nice, after last week’s torrent of exposition, that the Big Plot was left largely in the background this week. Hal is shaping up nicely, but I’m beginning to get frustrated with the writers’ tendency to play Tom as an idiot for laughs – even the visiting doctor commented that he seemed like a ‘halfwit’. Tom, it seems to me, is more sheltered, naive and uneducated than actually stupid – an important distinction that the show would do well to remember, or his character could quickly become quite irritating.

Being Human: Series 4, Episode 3–The Graveyard Shift

“Sometimes I think the only demons worse than him must be the ones he’s fleeing from.”

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After a thoughtful, character building piece in last week’s Being Human, the action (and the convoluted plot) were back with a bang in this week’s episode, The Graveyard Shift. There was a lot going on in Jamie Mathieson’s script – I’d say perhaps too much for one episode, resulting in a slam bang piece that felt like a chapter of a story rather than a story in itself.

Not that there wasn’t plenty to enjoy. Amidst all the plot advancement – Eve’s destiny, the vampire prophecies, the Old Ones heading for Wales in a boat – there was plenty of the character based humour the show seems to be recovering with its new cast. In particular, we learnt a lot this week about Hal, the ultra-repressed, OCD-ridden vampire who refers to his supernatural status as “my condition”. After last week’s cliffhanger, in which Fergus learned of Hal’s return, we got an opening flashback very much in the mould of those we used to see for Mitchell, showing his past as a Big Bad, slaughtering all and sundry with Fergus. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, massively reminiscent of the flashbacks to Angel and Spike’s historical killing sprees in Buffy.

At this point, I think the show needs to be a little bit careful. Up till now, the writers have been at pains to distinguish Hal from Mitchell (though both characters’ resemblance to Angel has never been shied away from). The flashback to 1855 was nicely done, with Fergus and Hal (gratuitously shirtless, not that I minded) covered in blood having slaughtered the inhabitants of a big country house.  But Mitchell too was a former Big Bad, revered among the vampire community for his previous life as an unrepentant killer, as frequently shown in flashbacks just like this. As we learn from Fergus, Hal’s past as a vampire Old One is arguably way more prestigious than Mitchell’s. But the similarity was there, and I think the show’s going to have to be careful not to make Hal – in some ways – seem like a carbon copy of his predecessor.

Still, Hal in the present is very much a different vampire to Mitchell. Socially awkward where Mitchell was easy going and blokish, this week saw him forging a more friendly relationship with Tom. The tension is still there, of course – initially, Tom’s carrying stakes around just in case, while Hal almost turns him over to Fergus and the gang. But the episode quite skilfully built the beginning of a believable friendship between the two; not quite on the level of Mitchell and George’s easy mateyness, but by the end of the show, you could see them getting there.

This started by having the aloof Hal having to get a job, in order to pay for the baby stuff that Annie is currently having to spectrally steal from Aldi. In a week which has seen much debate about the UK government’s Workfare (read ‘slave labour’) scheme, with the Work and Pensions Secretary decrying objectors as ‘job snobs’, this was curiously timely. Initially, it seemed like Hal thought counter work in the same cafe as Tom was beneath him; later, though, as they grew closer, a Jaws-style pissing contest over who’d had the worst jobs revealed that Hal had done some pretty grim stuff to earn a living.

Nonetheless, Hal seemed to find the job rather distasteful at first, with his glacier-speed table wiping and lettuce chopping. It was only when he and Tom began to build up that camaraderie you tend to have with your co-workers that he lightened up a it. We got some nicely humorous business with Goth-ish wannabe writer Michaela, who amusingly tried to freak the boys out with her ‘edginess’ (mostly comprising terrible poems and drawings). She resisted the boys’ competition to see who could get her number because they weren’t ‘edgy’ enough – something that would come back to haunt her later.

Michaela, along with vampire recorder Regus, provided much of the broad comedy this week. How funny you found this depended on your tolerance for a character who was a little too broad and comical to be realistic – for me, anyway. Laura Patch put in a good comedy performance, but Being Human has never been that kind of comedy. It was too much like caricature rather than character to be believable.

By contrast, Mark Williams, returning as Regus, pitched the humour of his character just right. It’s nice to see that even a vampire can be a nerd and a loser (“my lunch fought back. I mean, who carries a crowbar to walk the dog?”). Williams played him as genuinely weary of 400 years of being a nobody, thrust into the spotlight by his interpretation of the mysterious prophecy.

He also developed a sweet but creepy rapport with Annie, who was this week struggling to accept Tom and Hal as being more than just lodgers. It’s good that the new trio haven’t just fallen straight into the pattern established when the show began. It’s always traumatic when a beloved flatmate moves out and is replaced by someone you don’t know, and for Annie that’s even harder as both of her ex-flatmates are now dead.

Annie spent a lot of the episode advancing the Big Plot, firstly in a genuinely tense confrontation with Fergus and then in mountains of exposition with Regus. As the oldest hand in the show, Lenora Critchlow has the confidence to pull this off while the boys get all the action, but I’d just as soon see some return to the dark, powerful Annie we’ve occasionally seen before.

Perhaps that will come to pass by the end of this series, but for now, she seems largely stuck with relationship building and comic moments. There was quite a good one of the latter, as Regus blackmailed her into telepathically sharing her memory of her first sexual encounter – only to discover that, being from her point of view, he was actually going to experience what it felt like to have sex with ‘Dave’ (“Don’t worry, I don’t remember it lasting very long”). Annie’s always been the show’s real moral heart, steering George and Mitchell back to the straight and narrow when necessary, and now she seems to have become a den mother in addition. All very well, but I’d like to see her take more of a role in some of the action again.

Said action erupted as Fergus and a gang of vampire heavies turned up to storm the cafe, and there was much shouting, hissing, and brandishing of stakes. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Michaela got caught up with Hal and Tom, only to end up with her throat slashed when Fergus and his heavies crashed into the B&B. Inevitably, the lonely, creepy Regus brought her back as a vampire – this made me groan, but I was relieved that the new happy couple headed off for happier shores. It was a little contrived, but I think that might be my dislike of Michaela as a character colouring my opinion. At least the script got in some not too subtle digs at the vampire-worshipping fangirls. Pointing out Regus’ Twilight T shirt, Michaela asked, “are you taking the piss?”, only to receive the inevitable reply, “well, you started it.”

Still, an actual vampire battle in the B&B was a welcome bit of excitement in a show that has had so much happen between seasons. I was genuinely surprised to see Fergus offed so quickly; Anthony Flanagan has made him a rather good villain, and I expected him to be around a bit longer. There was no sign of Cutler this week either, fisticuffs plainly not being his thing. Still, I believe that makes him the only vampire villain left not in a Hoover bag at this point.

And Hal nailing his colours to the mast after initially convincing Fergus that he was back to his old ways was a superb – and necessary – bit of drama. Up till that point, like Annie, he was undecided whether the flatmates were his actual friends. This was the moment when he decided, and as a consequence convinced them too. I’m very much enjoying Damien Molony as Hal, and hope the show survives its cast change to see a bit more of him.

By the end, then, of a tumultuous episode, we were back with Hal and Tom slouching on the sofa watching TV just as Mitchell and George used to. The point that “it’s similar but different” was made amusingly but unsubtly, as the boys rejected watching “something about conmen” in favour of Antiques Roadshow. Still, as Annie sat down to join them, it felt like something of an equilibrium had been forged with the new trio. In many ways, the show could have ended right there – but no, we still have the Prophecy to deal with, along with a boatload of vampire Old Ones and a ghost from the future intent on killing herself as a child. Still, on this evidence, our new gang of heroes may have bonded well enough to deal with those things.