“Trust me, you never forget your first Richard Saunders house party.”
Now that was fun. No, it didn’t explore the characters’ deeper feelings, or have any emotional sturm und drang. But what it did do was recapture the balance of urban reality that made Misfits so enjoyable in the first place, with a surreal story that was basically a rollercoaster thrill ride.
It did this by combining a convincingly grimy house party in a grotty flat with the exercise of a comic book style power that gave one character the ability to affect the whole of reality. Yes, this is a tried and trusted plot device in this kind of story – Supernatural did it last week too – but when done well, as it was here, it allows for all sorts of bizarre images.
Central among which was the besuited killer rabbit with a lethal golf swing, surely one of the more memorable images even in this often surreal show. Springing from the acid-frazzled mind of Rudy’s drug-addled mate Richard Saunders, it was a conglomeration of the images on his TV as he succumbed to the hallucinogenic influence – a hitman, a golf game, and a vivisected rabbit. The obvious comparison was with Donnie Darko’s demonic harbinger Frank:
But this rabbit, dressed in a sharp Reservoir Dogs-style suit, didn’t twist the shape of its inspiration; instead, it was all the more disturbing for its cute visage offset by glowing red eyes. It was both chilling and blackly funny as it strode menacingly around the grimy corridors around Richard’s flat, with some excellent direction from Jonathan van Tulleken. And it was hard to miss the inspiration from Aliens as Rudy, Alex and Finn tracked it down to the basement where it had dragged the unconscious Jess, only for it to pick them off one by one.
Richard’s party wasn’t all killer rabbits and menace though. It was well-realised with some thumping dance music and attractive young people crowding the tiny flat – a bit like a promo for Skins. Yes, perhaps a mite too glamorous, but I always enjoy the visualisation of a party that looks genuinely fun, and this one did. It was also amusingly contrasted with the other party the gang accidentally stumbled into at first, the sombre wake that was presumably ill-prepared for the arrival of Rudy.
Though as it turned out, Rudy had a bit of a blinding revelation this week, in the first of several apparent new plot threads. With the gang affected by Richard’s reality-warping power, the number of each’s sexual conquests had become emblazoned on their foreheads. Rudy’s (unsurprisingly) being 99, he was on the lookout for something special for what he endearingly referred to as his “centenary”.
Having failed to find any satisfactory potentials at Richard’s party, and dragging Finn off in search of something more vulnerable but less incapable (“yes, there is a law against shagging drunk girls”), Rudy found himself chatting to the grief-stricken Nadine.
And much to everyone’s surprise, it turned out he liked her enough to not try and immediately drag her to bed. So it was a bit of a shocker for him that she suddenly had to leave when the clock struck 11. What, I wonder, is that all about? Answers were not forthcoming here, but to judge from the “next time on…”, Nadine will be back next week. That could be interesting, giving Rudy a bit more depth than just being a sex-obsessed comic relief – he’s been in danger of becoming rather two-dimensional as a result.
Finn, still being taken under Rudy’s dubious wing (“like a little Hobbit bitch”), had rather more success. With his forehead count usefully revealing that his conquests had the grand total of 1, Rudy suggested increasing the number to (hopefully) prompt some jealousy from Jess, and tempt her away from the hunky Alex.
Finn’s usually plagued by astonishing (and somewhat contrived) bad luck, so it was a bit of a surprise that he ended up in bed with a blonde stunner with a penchant for rather athletic sex (“I’m fucking you as hard as I can… I don’t want to damage anything down there”). It was the sort of sex scene that Misfits does well, where the titillation is more than balanced by the humour – with the punchline being that the rabbit-traumatised Rudy had been hiding under the thrown-aside covers the whole time.
Yet when Finn returned to the party later, all his erstwhile partner offered was a blank stare and the enquiry “Do I know you?” Again, this was left unresolved; was it something to do with Richard Saunders warping reality, or is something odder going on? I’d like to think it’s the latter, but if the point isn’t returned to it’ll make the writing here seem a bit lazy.
And we – finally – got the answer to this series’ so far underwhelming ongoing plot, the mystery of Alex’s reluctance to have sex with beautiful women. Turns out – there’s really no other way to put this – that someone’s stolen his cock.
Yes, Alex has run afoul of another miscreant abusing powers granted by the storm, in this case an overeager transgender person capable of appropriating the genitals s/he was so desperate to obtain. That’s the sort of marvellously scatological plot point Misfits is traditionally good at (remember Rudy’s “rotting cock” affliction last year?), but I must say it felt a bit of an anticlimax after such a drawn out mystery. It seemed like the sort of thing the show would, in previous days, have dealt with in one episode.
Still, if that ongoing plot felt a bit disappointing, we at least had the pleasure of meeting someone who’ll presumably make up the numbers of the now rather depleted gang. First discovered passed out in a corridor, Abbey is a slightly scatty but (on this evidence) mischievously fun new character.
It’s logical to assume that she has a power, but as yet we’ve no clue what it is. Given her astonishingly prodigious consumption of alcohol to no apparent ill-effect (at least after her earlier passing out), perhaps she has a heroic booze tolerance. Quite how this could come in useful is anyone’s guess; but she’s already proven herself more capable in a crisis than the others, resourcefully finishing off the giant rabbit with a screwdriver to the back.
So, a straightforward (if surreal) undemanding episode that put the fun and fantasy back in the show, which as a result I enjoyed more than any this series. It seems a little late in the day to be introducing new major characters and plot points, a sign perhaps of the show’s uncertainty in reinventing itself. But this was far more promising than anything I’ve seen so far this year, and makes me feel far more optimistic about the show’s future. Let’s see if next week can carry on the trend.