Why Season 4 Of BBC's Being Human Killed the Show-WARNING SERIOUS SPOILER ALERT
I'm really not joking about the spoilers. Proceed with caution.
Because I moved last year and had trouble with cable, I missed season 4 of Being Human. I got hooked early and so much so that I actually got two of my friends hooked as well through my enthusiasm. Finally, season 4 became available of Netflix. Since I was feeling quite ill this week, it seemed to be the perfect time to curl up with some tea and catch up on the series.
Big. Big. Mistake.
Part of what made Being Human so genius is that it focused on 3
characters, none of whom were human, but used their “conditions” as
supernatural entities to explore general themes of human existence much
like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Annie’s ghostly nature became a metaphor
for the invisibility of domestic abuse, Mitchell’s blood lust-an
addiction, and George’s werewolf transformations parallel the stigma of
mental illness (at one point particularly tourette’s) as well as how a person who develops a disability later in life has to reconcile his past sense of self with his new reality.
Season 4 is a huge departure from this theme. Mitchell, George, and Nina
are all dead, and they are replaced by Hal and Tom. One of the first
problems is that Mitchell and George, complex characters, are replaced
by simpler unconflicted characters.
Part of what makes Mitchell so immediately attractive as a character not
only manages to eschew the brood-y romantic vampire mold so popular of
late, but, instead, he encompasses a dynamic range. Mitchell is capable
of childish glee when ripping into sweets with a young boy, but also the
sadistic blood lust that results in the box tunnel murders. He also
isn’t thrown up as a viable romantic interest for anyone except
incorporeal Annie. His conquests more often end up dead, and Annie only
manages to love Mitchell successfully because she’s dead already.
Hal is a far older vampire than Mitchell. He is, in fact, one of the
legendary Old Ones who, apparently, are just like regular vampires but
are immune to the cross and have a stronger pull over younger vampires.
Season Four features quite a few Old Ones, which you would think would
be impressive. Unlike on True Blood or even Kindred: The Masquerade, the
Old Ones don’t have any form of organized government or hierarchy. The
just... ARE. In season four they basically show up and demand tribute,
but they don’t have anything like...A PLAN. They are, basically, all
hype and interesting costuming. They make the Vultari from Twilight look a model of order and planning and that's never good.
Hal’s cruelty and blood lust, like Mitchell’s, are legendary. Like
Mitchell, Hal fights, with far more success, his addiction. Hal uses OCD
like rituals to achieve this goal. The OCD rituals could possibly be
linked to the myths of vampires having to count grains of rice if
spilled before them or untie all the knots in front of them, thus the
habit of draping fishing nets over doorways. Sadly, this possibility is
never acknowledged. It’s more likely that this is just a quirk of Hal’s
personality. Unfortunately, his quirk comes nowhere near the dynamic
character of Mitchell as Hal basically hides behind his milquetoast
rituals and emotional distance. Furthermore, he’s more akin to the broody
vampires Angel and Edward from which Mitchell was a stark departure so
Hal is actually a regression rather than a progression.
Speaking of steps backward, never have I been so disappointed in a
female character’s arc as I was in Annie’s. In season 1, when Annie
figures out that she was murdered by her cheating jerk of a fiance,
Owen, and then manages to literally scare him into police custody, I was
thrilled. Here Annie went from abused doormat to woman in control of
her own destiny.This is concretely manifested by the fact she became visible.
But then she got involved Saul, an alcoholic who attempted to first rape
her and then drag her into purgatory with him. She doesn't even manage to escape from Saul, at the last minute, HE lets her go. Nor does she save herself from purgatory when she gets sent there, Mitchell saves her. So Annie's gone from being a force to reckoned with to being the standard damsel in distress. Then she falls for Mitchell, her savior, which was the healthiest
of her relationships but that’s not saying much-ironically he’s also the
most seasoned and vicious of all the murderers she gets involved with,
and then Kirby. Essentially Annie inevitably falls for killers. When
she bewails that she has the “worst taste in men” in S4 after Kirby
reveals his true nature and intentions, she ignores the fact that she
rejected the two men in her life who have proven their care and loyalty
to her and Eve for Kirby, a man who just arrived and she barely knows
anything about. Kirby actually taunts her with how easily she believed
him and WELL HE SHOULD. Essentially, she’s not just easily duped, she
rejects the honest, but complicated relationships she developed with Hal
and Tom for Kirby’s simple and “perfect” facade. After all this time,
Annie has learned nothing about the nature of real human relationships
and continues to make the same mistake she did with Owen.
Annie, basically, has at best regressed to being the victim she was at the hands of Owen and at worst is now an active
participant in her own victimization, which also opens others, like Eve,
up to harm.
Which brings us to Tom, who replaces George the most neurotic werewolf
ever. Much like Mitchell, part of George’s charm is his complexity as a
character. While powerful as a wolf, as a man he’s bumbling neurotic
mess, terrified of basic human interactions-like telling a woman he
likes her or picking a decent shirt for a date. That’s part of the
appeal of the character-the ironic tension between his powerful nature and
his fearful personality. When George “sacrifices” himself to kill
Herrick at the end of season 1 to save Mitchell, he correctly says that
this act makes him MORE human not less. His sacrifice, becoming a
werewolf to kill Herrick to save his friend, is truly a human act of
love even though it means giving into his bestial nature. It’s this type
of complexity that make both him and the show so thoroughly enjoyable
Right up until season 4. While George’s character is consistent through
the previous seasons, in S4 character consistency is no longer a
concern. George sacrifices his own life to save his daughter. Yet after
his death he blithely says he has to be with Nina....who is dead and
therefore not in danger. George, who
moments ago died to ensure the safety of his daughter, then suddenly
decides to go to be with Nina without a second of hesitation. It makes
not one lick of sense nor does it even pretend to.
And just a brief aside about Nina-did she really not deserve an on
screen death? The last we see of Nina is her standing with George and
Annie defiantly, then she’s suddenly missing. George informs us of her
death, briefly, at the hands of vengeful vampires, about ten minutes
into S4. Mainly it is used as a way to introduce the new information
that werewolf blood is actually toxic to vampires. Say WHAT?! Yes, you
would think that information MIGHT have come up sometime in the first
three seasons what with a werewolf LIVING with a vampire and all, and
vampires consistently attacking werewolves, but nope not a peep until
Unlike George, Tom became a werewolf as a small child. As such, he has
none of the conflicted emotions that George did about being a werewolf.
George had to struggle with integrating the werewolf nature into his sense of self. The closest Tom comes to being conflicted is when he meets Allison, a
teenage girl recently turned werewolf (the circumstances of which are
never revealed). When she becomes seriously sexually aroused in about
the creepiest most bizarre way possible by killing a vamp, Tom at first
rejects her advances and then breaks up with her so she can go back to
her old life despite the fact that she is now a werewolf and Tom is the
first person to accept her as such. His conflict isn’t with her as a
werewolf, but rather a vampire slayer. Tom’s hatred of vampires is the
focus of his character that season and the closest thing that comes to
conflict. Tom lies to Annie about hunting vampires (although why she is
opposed to it is never discussed) and distrusts Hal for quite sometime.
To call this “conflict” is a stretch. Essentially, Tom thinks in purely
black and white terms.
The only depth to Tom’s character is he’s actually quite romantic. He
talks about courting a girl (as Hal points out an archaic term-oh the
hilarity) and has essentially a dream wall filled with images of
“normal” human life (birthday parties, father’s day) events that he
wishes to experience. Deprived of even the normal life George had prior
to infection, Tom seems strangely clueless about what an average life
is. As such, in some ways, he’s emotionally stunted, but in others it
means has very little clue what modern dating is like. But none of it
is particularly compelling. Mainly I just want to wax his eyebrows.
This brings us to the finale of S4. Yes I’m going to spoil the hell out
of this. So S4 revolves around a new prophecy. Unlike the prophecy from
the previous season about the wolf-shaped bullet (and man did that
phrase ever get on my damn nerves), the current prophecy is about the
doom of all the vampires. Yup, ALL OF THEM. Turns out baby Eve, the
human child of Nina and George, is the savior of all humankind from
vampires. The trick? SHE HAS TO DIE. So the basically the entire season
is Annie and company protecting baby Eve and then realizing that they
have to kill her, a little baby, to save the world.
Um yeah. So the show has firmly left the ground of the more empathic
emotional turmoil of the previous season when Mitchell’s fretting about
the box tunnel investigation and George is terrified of killing his best
friend and now entered firmly into intense melodrama of the worst kind.
Mitchell’s fear of discovery and George’s fear of his own power are
emotions that most viewers can connect to-a baby saving the world, not
so much. And in the end? Baby Eve gets it. But here’s the kicker-THERE
ARE STILL VAMPIRES. Remember that whole she’s the savior bit? Well, not
so much. Apparently her death saves us from an alternative history in
which we are enslaved by the vampires (Why they would pull this trick
now, no one, including the Old Ones, ever says. ) So, yeah. Baby blows
up, and vampires are still around. A whole bunch of hand wringing for
the status quo to be maintained.
But also who the hell blows up a damn baby?! Plus all this about her
being the savior and she doesn’t even make it to her first birthday?
It’s far too anti-climatic to be satisfying. And immediately after the
remaining characters seem TOTALLY FINE. PEOPLE YOU JUST EXPLODED A BABY
TO SAVE HUMANITY, you would think that would be worth one late night
tearful drinking session wishing about what could have been. Thinking
about trips to zoo never taken, school plays never attended, first words
never spoken. Nope, not even one shot of Jame-o and a “This one’s for
you, Evie, you beautiful blowed up baby!” After all, the death of baby
Eve signals the departure of every last vestige of the original cast.
Yup, Annie takes the plunge and goes to the other side after spending
much of the season bitching about how things with Hal and Tom aren’t the
same as with Mitchell and George. I feel her pain. I'm also pretty happy to be free of the whine fest that was becoming her only dialogue.
So basically, S4 sets up a reboot of the series, which, if you think I’m
going to watch that I’ve got an exploding baby to sell you....cheap.
Labels: bbc, being human, horror, reviews, supernatural, TV series, vampires
Bad Bunni posted at 11/30/2012 04:12:00 PM