Misfits: Series 4 Episode 1 Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
After the departure of three main cast members, it’s not an understatement to say that series four’s first episode has a mountain to climb. In an effort to make up the numbers once more, two new members of the probation gang are introduced: Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome). For the most part, this episode is your traditional Misfits fare, but it does struggle at times to captivate quite as the series has done in the past, as well as occasionally struggling to manage the sheer load of all it has to do.
The episodic narrative is something of a typical heist romp, with a brilliant super-powered twist. After a man clutching a briefcase to his chest stumbles upon Curtis, Seth and Rudy standing around the community centre’s infamous vending machine, it appears some sort of supernatural transferral has gone on when they make contact with him, as all three suddenly become enamoured with the potential contents of this case. Cue, as Rudy puts it: new powers, a hint of…sexual possibilities, tears, laughter, horribly graphic violence… Oh, mate, mutilated testicles.
The constant circle of betrayal – mostly from Rudy’s attempts to dupe everyone he comes in to contact with, utilising orange juice and a sedative – is the episode’s source of comedy gold. Rudy’s behaviour does become irritating on occasion, with his character often refusing to change note in reflection of the situation. It’s an issue that was present last year also, but it’s never been an overwhelming one, so the episode suffers little from it. It would still be nice to see an attempt to deliver some more dimensions to his character. His splitting in two does excuse this to some extent, but perhaps we could see more of him as a whole, and how that impacts upon his actions a bit more.
In desperation to acquire the money inside the case, it prompts some extreme acts of violence from certain of the main cast. Seth’s genital surgery on the captive man and Rudy’s amputation of the hand chained to the case are seriously gruesome – more so the latter, which we see in all its bloody detail. It’s a darker tone than usual – even for Misfits – so it’s a pleasure to see the show runners, as per usual, managing to sit it alongside the comedy in perfect harmony.
In keeping with the established notion of people’s powers being attuned to them as a person – whether for good or bad – it turns out the man’s lethal greed granted him the biggest burden of a power we’ve seen on the show. It’s a case of what goes around comes around, as he becomes a source of that same greed for any and all that touch him. In true Misfits fashion, his spell is ultimately broken by his death – similar to the ‘Virtue Virgin’ from series one. He even meets his demise in the exact same way – a terminal fall from a rooftop. As he crawls to reach his money-filled case for the last time, the episode creates a nice juxtaposition for his character, with him finally letting go of that which has cost him; his greed; opening the case and letting the wind sweep it all away from him.
The episode doesn’t quite hold up in terms of how it handles its characters. Curtis is relegated to the background for the most part – his purpose seeming like nothing more than to lend a sense of familiarity to the fans. I don’t have much of a problem with this given everything else going on, but it will be interesting to see if his inclusion follows the same pattern for the rest of the series. In terms of his power, it seems little else can be done. We saw last year that it brings nothing but trouble when used, so it’s hard to imagine him and his ability to raise the dead being a focal point for another episode. That said, Seth is onboard for the duration, so it’s possible that his power-dispensing traits could deliver something new and interesting for Curtis.
In terms of the new members of the gang, the episode didn’t really do enough to characterise them as the unique individuals Misfits is famous for. It’s difficult to envision quite how they’re going to fit in, and what dynamic will be established between them and the remaining group from last series. Finn came across as an awkward mesh of Nathan and Simon; his distasteful humour and twitchy awkwardness providing a somewhat interesting contrast, reminiscent of the duelling pair from series one and two. In neither area did his character excel particularly well, though. It’s not clear whether we should even like him. Although, it’s arguable that this is entirely intentional: with his dark secret tying up the episode quite nicely. Just who is that girl, imprisoned in his bed of all places?
Jess is not quite as difficult to fathom, but she also lacks any real distinction as a character. She had some amusing moments, but doesn’t appear as stand-out as the characters that Misfits usually dishes up. It’s too soon at the moment to get much of a definitive impression, but it’s obvious some work needs to be done from here to develop both in to characters that will be remembered alongside the ones who’ve left the shoes to fill.
It seems Lauren Socha’s choice to leave the show was not as prepared for as the show runners would have us believe. Her absence is explained away by Seth as being an act of dutiful compassion. It turns out that the holiday frequently mentioned by the pair last series was indeed taken, but the destination was Africa instead of Morocco. In an odd turn of events, her extreme levels of intelligence, which she acquired as a power from Seth, prompted her to stay behind in an effort to defuse land mines. Apart from seeming so drastically out of character (what about her extreme love for Seth that dominated so much of the storytelling last year?), it has all the unwelcome hallmarks of a poorly conceived, and rushed, ‘explanation’.
Best Scene: “I have been spinning you a yarn!”
Rudy’s duplicitous actions are revealed in a hilarious scene. His stupidity outdone by that of Finn’s; as he has to explain in detail how he has got the better of them.
This is not Misfits’ absolute best outing, but it does tremendously well, all things considered. It’s refreshing to see a show undergo such drastic change, whilst still maintaining its core appeal. Characters have come and gone, but it seems the show’s unique quality has endured regardless. A little more work needs to be done on the newest members, but there’s still more than enough time for that to take place. The verdict is still out on them, at the moment.