Misfits: Series 4 Episode 8 (Finale) Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
It’s an episode that promised more than it delivered this week, as the series climaxes with a finale that doesn’t feel as such until it’s just too late. Its flaws are some of the most apparent and significant in the series to date, and the highlights are just meagre in comparison.
Alex has undergone a drastic change after being reacquainted with that most personal of possessions, and though this should have been somewhat expected when his numbers were revealed in episode six, the extent of his character’s behavioural changes – his complete narcissistic indulgences, for one – still came as a suitable shock. It gets a little development in this episode, but it’s not the main focus and is more of a background attraction. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t feel that, like his endeavours to locate his penis last week; this should have all been dealt with towards the mid-point of this series, instead of being one of the final threads left hanging for the next one to pick up. It’s quite an impactful change that’s been made as well, and has been one of the most interesting themes of the current run, but his actions at the conclusion of the last episode, and his brief scenes in this week’s, do not make the audience care about what happens to him in the long run, so it feels like an odd time to give him a supposed death scene (quite how he ended up with a punctured lung, when the sword went through the centre of his abdomen and was angled downwards, I am unsure) and then hint at the potential of a rehashed transplanted-power scenario for him in the future – should there be a fifth series, that is.
It’s difficult to see the development around Rudy’s love interest as being anything other than a disappointing, short-term distraction for his character. Joseph Gilgun brings us Rudy at his maniacal worst and most irritating here, as he cranks the volume up for the entire run and spends most of the episode spewing out streams of semi-incomprehensible rants about Nadine. It’s disappointing to see him hamming up most of the emotional moments his character has as well, as that’s often been where Rudy’s been at his best; his sensitive side offering a more visualised insight in to that area of his person, but there’s a definite disparate between his handbag scene in the beginning, his cradling of Nadine’s corpse at the end (both of which were done to brilliant effect) and the rest of his tearful moments. It also doesn’t help that, in an episode which was trying its hardest to make us feel something for his plight, we still got him behaving like a total tool for the duration – I was expecting Finn to be a bit more angered about his smashed television. It would have been great to see a bit more thought put in, and time given, to his romantic misadventures this series. Nadine’s introduction being just two episodes beforehand and her making few appearances in total, made it difficult to muster up much of an emotional response to her death, noble though it was, and its eventual effect on Rudy – which, I’m guessing, won’t end up being that profound.
The rest of the Misfits entourage are left with the scraps, as the main focus is elsewhere, but there are some interesting developments for some and some less so for others. Finn’s telekinesis is featured first as its usual futile addition to his person, but then he breaks through with it, as its true capabilities are brought to the fore when its usage is more instinctual than routine. It ties in with his character’s neurotic persistence to impress those around him, and is used as the reflection of his persona that it should be, as it demonstrates that maybe he should stop trying so hard all the time. It’s unfortunate, then, that while this is a decent moment for him, his copping off, in the most business-like of manners, with Abbey, feels like such a misplaced and pointless development for both of them, and that it all culminates in to one of the most disgusting and shameful scenes Misfits has ever had, just further emphasises the reason it shouldn’t have been included in the first place. It also makes me question the reasons behind it being Abby’s life that he saved with his impressive dose of telekinesis. It might have made the moment all the more important for his character had it been Jess placed in the life-threatening situation – the girl whose appraisal he craves more than most. While Abbey’s remark about feeling alive after nearing death will have had an undoubted impact on her search for what she’s lost, her current characterisation is difficult to connect with; her providing more of a nonchalant narration of events as they’re unfolding, as opposed to being a strong character within the group, so it’s difficult to care what happens to her – if she dies, or not.
In a sense, the episode struggles to capture the feeling of grandiose that the series’ three previous finales have managed in abundance, which is, in no small part, thanks to the late arrival of The Four Riders of the Apocalypse. It’s not until well in to the second half that they are brought out, through the use of Nadine’s biblical powers, which are instigated upon her witnessing some form of evil – in this instance, Finn receiving a deserved thump from Alex. It’s a firm highlight in an otherwise dull episode; something this series hasn’t been lacking is innovation with the powers that have featured, and it’s no different here. It’s not perfect, though, as it’s arguable that the riders are mere imitations of Simon’s ‘Super Hoodie’ with samurai swords, as opposed to being accurate representations of the four riders: Conquest, War, Famine and Death. Little is done to convey the apocalyptic implication of Nadine’s summoning, and instead the riders take on the shape of simple murderous pursuers. It seems like the premise was wasted on an episode that didn’t donate enough time or thought to the idea, and instead of being portrayed as the biggest threat the gang has faced, it’s brushed off and dealt with as something of a non-event.
Best Scene: “Mind your own f*cking business.”
Alex puts his point across to a whimpering and faltering Finn, as some great focal shots are used to emphasise the different levels of intimidation both characters are conveying.
It’s got some great ideas, and the riders are an enjoyable and exciting spectacle, if nothing else, but so much falls short of the promise; it’s difficult not to be annoyed at the abundance of missed opportunities present.
So, how did the series do overall?
It doesn’t matter the programme, significant changes like the kind Misfits has had to deal with are always going to rock the boat and cause some noticeable issues. Misfits hasn’t escaped that this series, but as much as it has suffered from the obvious implications of losing its original cast, it’s just as often showcased that the sparkle is still there in the writing, and that the characters and actors of old were not the sole reason for the series’ appeal. It’s a shame that this hasn’t been demonstrated as a constant through all eight episodes, with the biggest issues often stemming from the inconsistent development and appeal of the new characters and not enough being done to establish the sort of inimitable group-dynamic that was present between the last gathering. It’s obvious that, with Finn, for example, there have been issues trying to find a balance between his unique quirks and moulding him in to a likeable persona alongside that. Jess has been the biggest success, in terms of her walking a consistent path throughout the series, but she’s been sidelined all too often, so the focus on developing her as something altogether more unique than she is at the moment seems to have been abandoned.
It doesn’t feel as essential viewing anymore, with as many memorable episodes as forgettable ones. It’s been all too often that stories and developments feel half-hearted, but it would be downright ignorant to write it off as a total failure because of this. It’s just as often been brilliant as it has been dreadful, and its highest points (episodes 3, 4 and 6) are some of the highest the show has had. It’s arguable that, just like the last series, this one might have benefitted from a reduction in episodes – a return to the six episode format of the first two series – as it would have meant less episodes that felt like fillers as a consequence of the extended run, and more time could have been spent perfecting the remaining episodes in to much better packages.
Best Moment of the Series: Curtis Departs
What else could it be? Nathan Stewart-Jarrett continues the trend of his character’s understated nuances, as he bows out in the most dignified of ways.
Worst Moment of the Series: Finn’s Ejaculate makes its Escape
It’s a moment that sees the series stoop to the absolute lowest to get some shock laughs, and it’s about as hilarious as it is tasteful.
Best Episode of the Series: Episode Four – The Zombie Noir, Innit
Worst Episode of the Series: Episode Seven – Pregnancies and Penises