The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 15 – Worth

“If they won’t end it, you have to. You have to give them a way out.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

It’s the penultimate ep of this season of The Walking Dead, and for the first time in about two years there’s the beginning of some resolution to the plot. That’s not to say this ep has redeemed what went before, or even has the sense of building momentum you’d expect the week before the season finale. But at least there’s some movement. Continue reading “The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 15 – Worth”

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 12 – The Key

“The dead have brought out our best and worst, and the worst has been outpacing the best lately, but that won’t last forever.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Last week’s The Walking Dead was fairly average filler, while the week before was actually rather good. This week? Well, somewhere in between, really. There was far too much going on for it to be filler, and some of it was genuinely exciting. But I’m not sure I buy some of the more… unexpected plot developments, and overall it still felt overfamiliar. Nothing new to see here. Well… maybe one thing… Continue reading “The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 12 – The Key”

The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 10 – The Lost and the Plunderers

“You set this course, Rick. Who’s next?”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

Well, at the risk of contradicting my recent posts on The Walking Dead’s steady decline, this week’s ep surprised me by being a marked improvement on the deliberately heavy (even excessive) drama of the last. Sure, it was a bit all over the place – an inevitable consequence of the show’s rather overused device of multi-stranded, non-linear narratives. But I was surprised to find that there was some stuff in here that I found (whisper it) goodContinue reading “The Walking Dead: Season 8, Episode 10 – The Lost and the Plunderers”

Misfits: Series 3, Episode 8

“I love a happy ending.”

MisfitsSimonAlisha

Whoa! Now that’s how to do a season finale. Admittedly, the gang dealt with the risen dead last week, so maybe the episodes could have been ordered better. But these weren’t comic-strip flesh eating zombies. This time, our heroes had to deal with the guilt of those they’d killed since the show began, pushing the characters to the front as all those seemingly consequence-free acts literally came back to haunt them. And along the way, Simon and Alisha would meet their own destinies.

It was actually an episode of two halves, with the ‘standard Misfits plot’ of misuse of powers occupying the first half. In this case, it’s arguable whether formerly fake medium Jonas was actually misusing his power; certainly he didn’t have it removed or get killed. Mark Heap was reliably creepy/likeable as Jonas, though he actually didn’t feature very much. In a way, he was simply a plot device; a way to bring back some of the victims whose deaths have defined the show, as it seemed to almost come full circle in examining itself.

There’s been a fair bit of that this year, and I was worried that so much of it might not do the show any favours. After all, such rabid self-reference was one of the things that seriously lessened the appeal of Doctor Who in the late 80s, in the way that it became near incomprehensible to anyone without an encyclopaedic knowledge of its past.There was no need to worry here, as it turned out. Yes, Misfits had become a little convoluted, with its central time paradox plot; but it only has two previous years to draw on, rather than the decades of contradictory mythology in Doctor Who. And Howard Overman, as a writer, has the knack of making self-reference incidental – most of the time.

This time, you did need some knowledge of the show’s past to figure out who the returning dead were, and what they had to do with our heroes. But an economical ‘previously on’ segment explained that easily enough, as well as neatly summarising the Simon/Alisha time paradox. I had come to think that the resolution of this would be postponed longer and longer to extend the show’s shelf life, so it came as a surprise to see the flashbacks – clearly, it was going to be resolved this week, removing one of the more complex and arcane angles the show’s had. That might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you like more conventional, less head-fucky superhero stories. But I must confess, I wasn’t expecting it to leave me in tears.

But first things first, and we had a thoughtful romp as three key figures from the show’s past turned up in search of a resolution. First to appear was Sally, the probation worker who had pretended to be in love with Simon to find out how her boyfriend – their first probation worker – disappeared. Her appearance immediately head-tripped Simon, who was clearly still racked with guilt for her (accidental) death. She seemed to have forgiven him, and wanted to make amends for betraying him. But I wasn’t fooled; she’d pretended to care about him the first time for her own reasons, and it came as no surprise that this turned out to be the case when she returned from the dead. But kudos to Overman and actress Alex Reid for almost making me believe she had nobler intentions.

Dead people roaming the streets was immediately reminiscent of this year’s other great youth/fantasy show The Fades, but unlike those revenants, these ghosts were every bit as corporeal as they had been in life. As we discovered with the next returnee, prim, virginal do-gooder Rachel from the series 1 finale. Still incarnated by Jessica Brown Findlay (who’s been busy, what with last week’s Black Mirror and the upcoming Downton Abbey special), Rachel was convinced that the issue she needed to resolve was to finally enjoy all those sinful pleasures she’d denied herself in life, and set about it with a vengeance.

She was corporeal enough to shag Curtis (despite Rudy’s valiant effort to get in there), get drunk, smoke a joint and even throw up messily on the floor of the Community Centre. Elsewhere, Sally was corporeal enough to convince a reluctant Simon that she needed to consummate their relationship in order to move on – but it came as no surprise that she was filming the event, and even less of one that she sent the resultant skinflick to Alisha.

Because Sally was under the impression that what she needed to move on was to take revenge for what had been done to her; to that end, having broken Alisha’s heart, she then tried to throw her off the roof in order to finally take everything from Simon. But in a typically sly twist, that wasn’t it at all. What actually resolved her issues – and as it turned out, his – was finally meeting the last returnee, the gang’s first victim, Tony. Still played by Danny Sapani (and kudos for getting all these actors back), Tony explained to her that his death had been an act of self-defence. And as they kissed, they faded away to, presumably, the afterlife (though in the Misfits universe, as Rachel had previously enlightened us, there is no God – a big concept to deal with in a throwaway line).

And in another twist, after trying all the sensual pleasures and remaining earthbound, Rachel came to the conclusion that she really was there for revenge. As it turned out, she was right. As Simon and Alisha emerged from an extremely erotic make up shag in the toilets, she swiped a Stanley knife across Alisha’s throat and promptly faded away.

I must admit, this took me by surprise. There’d been a doomy air around Alisha all episode, but as Sally had failed to push her off the roof, I’d assumed she was now safe. But that lovingly photographed sex scene with Simon did have the air of a final encounter in hindsight.  And as she died, there was obviously nothing left for Simon in the present any more. It was time to go back to the past and die saving Alisha, so they could have what little happiness they could together.

So all the paradoxes were neatly (perhaps too neatly) resolved in short order. Yes, Curtis’ old time travel power had died with Seth’s iguana. But guess what? There was another time travel power, this one a one way affair which Seth had just sold. It was quickly retrieved from the no hoper who’d wanted to use it to go back in time and become a pirate (as Kelly pointed out, “who’d shag a pirate?) and given to Simon. But then there was the issue that, when future Simon previously met Alisha, he’d been able to touch her without being driven mad with lust. So he needed immunity from other powers. And guess what? Seth suddenly remembered having sold him just such a power in the past. For £10,000, which Simon didn’t have – until Seth, turning over a new leaf to please Kelly, gave him it.

So off Simon went to the past, in a heartbreaking scene on the roof, catapulted back to the end of series 1 and watching the old gang – even Nathan – from the rooftop. It felt like an ending, as we saw him buy his power from Seth then start setting up his fancy hero lair in a still-dilapidated building. The last we saw of him was striding towards the camera, undoing his top to reveal the familiar outfit of Superhoodie beneath – and by that point I was having a bit of a cry.

But was it a happy ending, or a sad one? Alisha was dead, and Simon off to his death. As Rudy neatly summed up, it meant that they spent eternity locked into a cycle of meeting, falling in love and dying. But as Kelly said, that’s actually pretty romantic. No wonder Rudy was emotionally confused enough to split into two again. He may have spoken for all the viewers when he asked, “what, are we supposed to feel happy or sad?” and Curtis gave the only reply possible, “it’s a bit of both.”

Fittingly, the episode gave foregrounding to Iwan Rheon and Antonia Thomas for what seemed like their final appearance, and both were superb. Rheon, in particular, gave a wonderfully subtle performance, as Sally’s reappearance caused him to lose some of his newly gained poise and confidence; but not so much that Sally didn’t note, “you’ve changed. You’re more confident.” As if to please those of us who, er, like Iwan Rheon, his big blue eyes were very much in close-up evidence throughout; in fact, Rudy amusingly described him as “the stary guy”. And there was plenty more of him to see in the steamy sex scene!

It felt like an ending. There was no cliffhanger; as Kelly said, the way forward was for those left to keep their heads down and try to live a happy life. But one part of the time paradox (unless I’ve missed something again) remains unresolved. As far as I know, Simon and Alisha never did go to Vegas, as in the picture that’s been so central to the paradox, and was given so much prominence this week. A hope for them to come back somehow?

Sadly, it seems not. Antonia Thomas confirmed on Twitter after the broadcast that she really had left the show, and Channel 4’s online ‘making of’ seems to confirm that Iwan Rheon is gone for good too. But what about the photo? Well, we saw Simon pack it in his bag before heading back to the past. But remember, it was his future self who gave it to him in the first place. So, in effect, the photo never really existed; it was called into being by the time paradox. As such, who knows whether it would have to depict a real event? Yes, I know this is fanwank retconning, but it makes sense to me!

It was an emotional wringer of a last episode, that traded on how much we’ve come to care about these characters – a tribute to both the writing and the performances. In some ways, this would have been the perfect way to end the show for good, and I actually wonder if that’s what Howard Overman had in mind. But, according to Digital Spy, Channel 4 aren’t that ready to let go of their hit just yet, and have commissioned a fourth series.

In some ways, I’d just as soon not see another series. As I said, without the central time paradox concept, and with the potential for ‘the standard Misfits plot’ of misused powers to quickly become stale, it could easily become much more conventional and less fun. Plus, while Rudy turned out to be a surprisingly effective replacement for Nathan as ‘the comic relief’, Simon and Alisha will be harder to replace – in a sense, their doomed romance has been the heart and soul of the show. But still, it’s worth remembering that back in the first series, there was none of that – and it was still great. If a fourth series there must be, I’ll certainly be watching. And expecting Howard Overman to surprise and impress me as ever.

Misfits: Series 3, Episode 7

“Let’s go resurrect my dead girlfriend.”

MisfitsZombieCheerleader

With series creator Howard Overman back on scripting duties, this week’s Misfits was another of the ‘homages’ that have been so prevalent this year – and a pretty good one at that. After dissecting comic book superheroes and alternate Nazi realities, this week the show took on 1980s cheesy zombie movies. I say 1980s ones specifically, because in my experience the trend of zombie cheerleaders began about then, although they’ve shown no sign of lying down since…

This episode balanced its homage/ripoff with the show’s usual tropes rather better than Overman’s Nazi episode, retaining the humour that was noticeably absent in that one. Of course, it’s rather difficult to do a cheesy zombie story with an entirely straight face, so in that regard it was actually better suited for the Misfits treatment than the Nazis winning World War 2.

As I mentioned some weeks ago, when it became clear that Seth was looking for a power to resurrect his dead girlfriend, this plot traditionally does not end well. Horror literature is littered with tales of bringing back the dead only to find that the resultant walking corpse is rather more horrible than you might have wanted; probably the first, and best known, is W W Jacobs’ 1902 story The Monkey’s Paw, but numerous variants have appeared since in comics, films and TV shows like The Twilight Zone and notably Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which did it at least twice).

Indeed, the opening sequence bore more than a little resemblance to a Buffy episode, as Seth and Curtis ventured by night into what looked like South London’s creepiest cemetery to dig up Seth’s dead girlfriend Shannon. Kudos to director Will Sinclair for imbuing this with all the atmosphere of a traditional horror movie, though it wasn’t afraid to show its roots. The exhumed Shannon was unpleasantly decomposed, but when Curtis used his resurrection power on her, the process was reversed and she returned to her former self; almost exactly what happened when Willow revived the dead Buffy at the opening of season 6. Luckily for Shannon though, she wasn’t left buried and having to claw her way out like Buffy!

Frome hereon in, the familiar tale of unintended, flesheating consequences unfolded with lighthearted inevitability. As we waited for Shannon to start feeling inexplicable hunger pangs, Curtis took pity on an old lady by reviving her dead cat. Anyone who’s ever seen ReAnimator or Night of the Creeps could tell that wasn’t going to end well; and so it proved, as Curtis was trapped in the bathroom by the vicious undead Mr Miggles, who’d already chowed down on his owner.

With nothing else to do but come clean, Curtis called in the rest of the gang to deal with “the crazy killer cat”, but having trapped Mr Miggles, nobody could quite go through with killing him. Rudy expressed what we were surely all thinking: “You can kill numerous probation workers, but you can’t kill one cat?!” Luckily, they had no such qualms about vicious old ladies; as Mr Miggles’ undead owner lunged for Simon’s neck, Curtis was quick to ram a hammer claw into her head.

It was clear that this was going to be a high body count episode; as Simon realised what the rest of us had some time ago, he summed up the situation – “It’s like a zombie film”. And in zombie films, there are always a lot of bodies. As Rudy commented when the gang were confronted with a horde of flesheating cheerleaders, “that’s a lot of killing, even for us.”

But first, the story skilfully interwove the spread of the zombie plague with Shannon’s plight and Seth’s dilemma. As Kelly found out she’d been dumped for Seth’s formerly dead girlfriend, she didn’t take it well, and Seth looked suitably ashamed; Shannon, meanwhile, was beginning to discover an insatiable hunger for living flesh, and desperately trying not to slake it by eating her boyfriend and resurrector. Even when he realised what she’d become, Seth couldn’t bring himself to put her down, because he was still in love with her and just couldn’t let go.

That central dilemma was one of the more affecting parts of an episode that was mostly a gory fun romp. The zombies here weren’t the mindless, rotting revenants of Romero’s movies. Like the girl in Return of the Living Dead 3 (and probably many others), they were still the people they had been, with thoughts and feelings they could vocalise. But they couldn’t stop themselves from killing and spreading the contagion. This would lead, as Simon said, to the gang holing up in a shopping mall while the rest of the world turned undead. As the show’s primary geek spokesman, Simon clearly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to zombie films.

The problem of killing zombies who were still, essentially, the people they had been was later the cornerstone for some amusing gags. Still unable to bring themselves to terminate Mr Miggles, the gang had locked him up in a cat box only for him to escape and infect the troupe of cheerleaders who were conveniently rehearsing at the community centre in order to complete the ambience of a cheesy zombie film.

This led to a hilarious explanation of Rudy’s hitherto unsuspected terror of cheerleaders; as he related to Simon and Alisha how he’d caught his dad having sex with his mum while she was dressed as a cheerleader, even his friends couldn’t help smirking: “That scarred me right through puberty. I couldn’t even have a relaxing wank without it popping into my mind!”

Joe Gilgun was as funny as usual as Rudy got to work through his phobia by helping the gang put down the horde of gore stained, bitey cheerleaders (well, helping in the sense of running away and hiding in a cupboard). But first, there were some cheerleaders who hadn’t quite turned yet, leading to some hysterically awkward pauses as our heroes waited impatiently for them to die while they begged for an ambulance. It’s black humour, sure, but still funny.

And, typically, caught up at the end of it was yet another new probation worker, having turned up just in time to be bitten by a zombie. Having drawn the short straw and the responsibility of bashing her brains in, Rudy effectively summed up the whole series with his apology – “We just want you to know, this isn’t our fault.We’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. A lot.”

Mind you, the death of yet another probation worker (onscreen for such a short time she didn’t even get the courtesy of being given a name) does beg the question of quite how slipshod the Thamesmead police must have got since the first series. Back then, they were all over the disappearance of the gang’s first two probation workers; so much so that it was a cause of major panic when building work threatened to dig up the first’s makeshift grave.

Now, it seems, replacement probation workers are sent out without even an inquiry as to where the previous one has got to. And wherever the gang are putting all the bodies, it must be starting to look like one of those mass graves from the Great Plague. Also, even if the cops aren’t too bothered about probation workers, surely the disappearance of an old lady, Seth’s next door neighbour and a troupe of cheerleaders should prod them into action?

To be fair, the show has playfully acknowledged its increasingly improbable undiscovered body count a lot this year. But while it may seem churlish to complain about a lack of realism in a show based on superpowers, just making postmodern references does slightly undercut the previously realistic setting. Still, with one more episode to go, perhaps the police will start poking around after all…

Outside the zombie-killing romp, though, the episode did have to deal with the emotional impact of what had started all this. Satisfyingly, it ended with Seth realising that his new feelings for Kelly were stronger than those for his undead girlfriend; though it probably helped that Kelly wasn’t trying to eat people. So, once again, it was Seth who resolved the situation in a confrontation with the ‘villain’ – because after all, it wasn’t Shannon’s fault she’d ended up that way. Charlene McKenna did a good job of making Shannon a sympathetic character, but really, the only way to resolve this was for Seth to prove himself by taking responsibility for killing her personally.

Which of course he did, proving his feelings for Kelly and prompting her into a surprisingly emotional declaration that she loved him too. I’m glad this seems to be getting resolved; it’s been a nicely underplayed Big Plot for this year, and Lauren Socha and Matthew McNulty have had some real chemistry together.

So, another ‘fun romp’ episode, its homage/ripoff done supremely well in the Misfits style, and all the regular characters getting a fair crack of the whip. It ended up with the gang’s realisation that, by containing the zombie plague, they’d actually saved the world – as Kelly said, “that’s some real superhero shit.” Of course, they then comically realised they’d forgotten all about Mr Miggles, and dashed off to deal with him as the episode closed. But Mr Miggles isn’t the only loose end – Shannon had also chowed down on Seth’s pet iguana, which presumably was still housing the time travel power Seth placed into it for safekeeping a few episodes ago.

As we know from the Nazi episode, killing someone means their power is lost for good. So how will Simon’s future self travel back in time now to die saving Alisha? Or could the iguana become a zombie, and if so, can zombies still house powers? Who knows, but with only one more episode to go this year, maybe the future Simon’s fate will be coming closer. In a way, I rather hope not, as ending that plot may well end the series as a whole (although it doesn’t necessarily have to, I suppose). Either way, I’m eagerly waiting for next week’s finale…

Misfits: Series 3, Episode 6

“I’m not gonna let guys like you do shit like this to me any more.”

MisfitsRudySimon

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…

Misfits: Series 3, Episode 3

“You wear a costume and you jump off buildings. And you save people from muggers. Trust me, that makes you a superhero.”

MisfitsSuperhoodie

A doomier than usual episode of Misfits this week, as the focus shifts to Simon and his ‘destiny’ as Superhoodie, the most obviously comic-book-like of the gang. There was much musing on the subject of the temporal paradox we already know to be at the heart of his story, and while done in typical Misfits style, this was very much a thoughtful musing on fate and how much control we have over it.

All this was facilitated by the introduction of Peter, a shy, introverted, comic nerd whose personality is so wound tight he always wears his shirt buttoned right to the top. In other words, Peter was basically a carbon copy of Simon as he used to be, before the discovery of his powers and his future liberated him. As Peter, Michael Marcus put in a clever performance as the extent of his inadequacy and hero worship gradually gave way to what seemed like full on psychosis – like a dark mirror of how Simon could have ended up if things had gone a different way.

And things going a different way was at the heart of the story this week. The nature of the plot is that we know Simon, as Superhoodie, will come back from the future to save Alisha, being killed in the process. Alisha is obviously none too keen on this, for various reasons. She cites how good Simon is in bed (“Just pretend I’m not here,” mutters Curtis), and the fact that she’s never been the one on the receiving end of a dumping. But the truth is simply that she’s totally, believably in love with Simon, and knows that if he’s to follow the path time has laid out for him and travel back to save her while dying, they can’t have long left together.

Antonia Thomas was great as Alisha this week, showing how she’s matured while still retaining that sassy cockiness that defines her. Obviously very worried about what Simon’s getting up to as Superhoodie, she’s none too pleased to see his hand bandaged up, but when he tells her that yes, it does hurt, her response is a simple, “good”. This is not a girl that’s going to be walked over by fate. And true to form in such plots, both her and Peter want Simon to try and change his destiny.

Alisha falls prey to one of the common misunderstandings of a time paradox, as she tells Simon that he doesn’t need to go back in time – she’s alive now, so therefore she can’t die in the past. But therein, of course, is the paradox. Simon has to follow the future laid out for him or the present will be changed and Alisha will be dead.

Peter, rather more pragmatically, addresses the concern that nerds like me have had since this plot came on the scene – namely, since Simon knows he’ll be shot saving Alisha, why doesn’t he wear a bulletproof vest when he goes to the scene? And Simon’s answer was, thankfully, not some sub-Doctor Who technobabble about the Blinovitch Limitation Effect or the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. In keeping with his more mature, thoughtful personality these days, he explains that his future self dying is the catalyst not only for him to become that person, but also for Alisha to fall in love with him. And that’s not something he wants to give up, even if he can only have it for a short time before he has to die.

But there was also the fact that Simon – a comic nerd himself, remember – is clearly enjoying being Superhoodie, and the events of this episode served to bring him back down to earth somewhat. After saving Peter from an attempted mugging in full-on Batman/Kickass style, Simon’s plainly high on the idea of being a superhero. Ironically, it’s Peter’s slavish worship of him as one that serves notice as to how treacherous the idea can be.

Of course, this being Misfits, Peter had a power of his own – and it was very much in keeping with the themes of the episode that it was to draw comics and have the events in them turn into reality. So having discovered the true identity of his saviour in the toilets at the community centre (which Rudy, typically, assumed was Simon coming to terms with himself as “a beautiful, proud gay man”), Peter set about manipulating his hero into becoming his best friend, then disposing of his current friends when they got in the way.

This led to some clever musings on the tropes of classic superhero comics, not least the often ridiculously portentous dialogue. Manipulated into splitting up with Alisha, Simon announced, “I’m terminating our relationship… being a superhero is a great burden.” Alisha responded the way most of us would when confronted with such dialogue in the real world: “What the fuck are you talking about?”  There was also Peter’s declaration that superheroes can’t have girlfriends because their relationships never end well – true enough for anyone familiar with the relationships of, among others, Superman and Spiderman.

Simon was, however, acting very much out of character – something the rest of the gang were quick to notice, even Rudy (though he continued to assume that Simon was just coming to terms with his homosexuality, and offered Alisha a charming “rebound fuck”). It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out that Simon’s newfound devotion to Peter must be down to Peter himself, and this was confirmed when they discovered his drawings of what had happened. As they were torn up, Simon snapped back to his usual self, the lights in his Batcave-like lair flickering on and off while the Hans Zimmer-like theme for Superhoodie played in the background.

Tearing up the drawings was an obvious save, but it did occur to me that burning them might have produced a more unfortunate effect. In Vault of Horror when Tom Baker discovers he can kill people by painting them and then destroying or disfiguring the paintings, he makes the baffling choice to do a self-portrait, which nearly kills him when locked into an airtight safe, then actually does when he spills paint thinner on it (he gets run over by a truck, making his face look as messy as it does in the ruined painting). I wondered whether burning Peter’s drawings would, similarly, burn Simon – though he doesn’t get torn in half from tearing them up. Still, that’s the sort of nitpicking that a nerd like Peter (or me) would do. And it’s not the end of the nitpicking either; the fight that Peter pre-choreographed with his drawings, where Superhoodie wiped the floor with his unwitting friends, must have depended on the idea that Peter knew they were all going to corner him in advance. Maybe there’s some timey-wimey stuff going on with him too?

It’s another classic trope of comics to have a bad guy who’s basically how the hero could have turned out if things had been slightly different – Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke hinges on the Joker drawing that similarity between himself and Batman. Here, as Peter descended into what seemed full on madness, he kidnapped Alisha while actually dressed as Superhoodie. And when he died after Simon had stabbed him with his own butcher knife, Alisha even commented, “it’s like watching you die for a second time”.

But the story had one last twist to play. It seemed out of character for Simon to have actually killed Peter – yes, he did kill the social worker back in series one, but that was an accident that horrified him. But as the camera panned over some still intact drawings, it became clear that Peter had still been manipulating events up to the end, to both embody and teach his perceived idea that “a superhero has to be prepared to die for what he believes in”. Insanity or destiny? Hard to know, but it was a nice way to end the episode as the camera panned down to the last panel of the comic to reveal: “To be continued…”

While the plot generally hinged on Simon, Alisha and Peter, the rest of the gang were still not as sidelined as they were in last week’s Curtis-centric episode. Rudy got to be typically coarse and offensive – although I assumed that many of these were lines previously written for Nathan before Robert Sheehan chose to leave, as I could easily imagine him delivering them. Though I must note that his failed attempt to disable Peter’s burglar alarm featured him saying first, “I took a BTEC in computer science”, then after making the noise even worse, admitted “But I didn’t say I passed!” For the origin of that little gag, look no further then the introduction of Jo Grant in 1971 Doctor Who story Terror of the Autons!

Rudy also got to demonstrate his own power for the first time since episode one, leading to an amusing confrontation with probation worker Shaun when he discovered the two Rudys in the changing room. Shaun too was as drily funny as usual; assuming the two Rudys to be twin brothers, either of which might turn up for community service each day, he resignedly commented, “I’m going to forget what I’ve seen here. Because I really don’t give a fuck.”

Curtis didn’t get much to do this week beyond making the occasional wisecrack from the sidelines, but fair’s fair, he got pretty much the entirety of last week’s episode to himself. Kelly, though, was rather busier; besides once more exercising her ‘rocket scientist’ power to disable the burglar alarm, she also carried on flirting with ‘mysterious power guy’ Seth. He’s not as mysterious as he was, though. After Kelly flat out told him that she fancied him, we learned his backstory – he was a drug dealer who’d accidentally caused his girlfriend to OD, hence visiting her grave in the cemetery. And he can’t get it on with Kelly because he’s still in love with his dead girlfriend.

This caused me to speculate that perhaps the special power he’s so urgently looking for is the ability to bring the dead back to life; if so, he should be careful, as anyone who’s read The Monkey’s Paw will know, for resurrection seldom goes to plan. But Seth’s involvement is obviously crucial to this year’s storyline, and I also wonder whether it could give an out to Simon. Here’s my theory – Simon’s obviously going to have to acquire the power to actually travel in time, and Seth’s the only one who can deal powers out, so he’ll have to get it from him. But in the process, perhaps Simon might also, somehow, acquire Rudy’s power – meaning that it’s actually a duplicate Simon who dies saving Alisha, and the actual Simon can go off and live happily ever after with her.

Of course, I’m probably way off beam here, as I think Howard Overman’s plot solutions are rarely that obvious, but we’ll wait and see. Temporal paradox plotlines are very tricky things for a writer to get to grips with (unless you’re Steven Moffat perhaps), but Overman does seem to have an overarching plan for the show; that became obvious when Superhoodie was introduced at the end of series one. I think it’ll come together in the end, but in the mean time, this was a clever episode that combined comic fanboy enthusiasm with a bit of serious moral philosophy. Pretty impressive, and worth a look for those who still say that Misfits is just Skins meets Heroes. And next week’s trailer, with its plethora of Nazi uniforms around the community centre, seems to show yet another time paradox and comic book trope – I’m looking forward to that!