Misfits: Series 5 Episode 1 Review
Reviewed by James Wynne.
Misfits is bidding adieu with its fifth series, and if this first episode of its final run is to be principally indicative of the rest to come, then it’s still in the creative straits that befell the majority of last year’s output, and showing no signs of escaping them. It’s saddening to see a programme that transcended conventions as one of the boldest and most ingenuitive shows of its age plummeting to such trite depths. The profanities and vulgarity have begun to take precedence over any genuinely purposeful storytelling, and the coalescence of Overman’s lewd humour with the trenchant drama that formerly provided the requisite antithesis is all but absent. All that’s left is a veritable shell of what Misfits once was; the same array of inane gags we’ve heard a hundred times before (overuse of the word “cock” for comedic impact is a bothersome ongoing theme), and no depth to the storytelling whatsoever.
Even with its frequent missteps last series, there were still numerous elements to accredit, at least offsetting the increasingly prolific negatives to some degree. What has always been Overman’s strength is his incisive balance of the mundane and the supernatural; the characters’ powers were oft as not more a hindrance than a help, and constantly inhibited of their full potential because of how attuned they were to the imperfections of the humans that had accrued them (i.e. the pitfalls were usually reflective of the characters’ own innate defects).
But all this episode produces on that front is a slightly tweaked plagiarism of the prophetic painting power seen in Heroes, with the only real difference being that Misfits’ sibylline portends through knitting rather than murals (even the white-eyed stupor of Isaac Mendez’s auguring is parroted), and a scout leader who exhibits a satanic dominion over his victims. The latter is given little in the way of substance to explain its origins as a power, and the mechanics of its transference to Finn after the original host’s hilarious death by bar of soap go unusually unexplained as well.
Meanwhile, the jocose of Alex’s genital switcheroo last series has been substituted for a crude amalgamate of sorts of Alisha’s sexualising tactility, and Seth’s power-extracting, which is resulting of the lung transplant necessitated after his impalement on one of the apocalypse riders’ katana in the finale. It’s a retread of a previous plot strand so annoyingly characteristic of Misfits nowadays (see: Nikki’s heart transplant that gifted her the capability to teleport), and the fact that one sexually-orientated storyline surrounding Alex has been superseded by yet another, with his newly-acquired ability to f*** others’ powers out of them right upon the moment of his climax, is a bit frustrating. Matt Stokoe has demonstrated that he’s a competent enough actor to handle more than the crass, one-dimensional scripting of his character, but his talents are simply being wasted.
There’s also the matter of how Alex’s new power eventually leads to what is the most excruciatingly puerile denouement Misfits has ever produced. It was a foreseeable inevitability the moment that Rudy #2’s duplicity was revealed, and Jess’ exorcism by way of Holy Sprite fell on deaf ears, but the mental preparation made enduring the actual visual spectacle of Alex rearing Finn to – in his words – ‘f*** the devil out of him’, no less painful, nor embarrassing. As with last series’ ejaculate escape, this was Misfits crossing the line of puerility so far as to be out of sight of it. I’m with Finn; this is one occurrence in the show that I’d rather see swept under the underlay under the carpet.
Mind you, Alex’s fornication in the hospital didn’t make for much less awkward viewing, either…Another moment to dust under the underlay.
And since I’ve gone this long without mentioning Rudy’s involvement in this episode’s affairs in any explicit detail, now is the time to rectify that. I confess myself disappointingly unsurprised that Nadine’s demise has had no bearing on his character development (or lack thereof) – I predicted this would be the case with my review of the finale. Unlike a lot of the critics that review Misfits, I’ve never been too enamoured with Rudy or Joe Gilgun for that matter. Rudy #1 (the excitably doltish man-child) is nothing more than a comedy caricature; effective at times, irritating at others. Rudy #2 is far more interesting, primarily because his subdued mentality is satisfyingly absent of Gilgun’s one-note hyper-activity, which enables the writers to be far more acutely explorative of the character’s schizophrenic idiosyncrasies.
But, in general, Gilgun lacks the acting prowess and versatility of most of his cohorts. McMullen was particularly compelling as the demonised Finn, and conveyed a surprising imposition with it. He appears to have made the most significant step between series, relative to those around him. Karla Crome is still doing her commendable best with such a bland character, and Natasha O’Keeffe likewise with the relentlessly nonchalant Abbey (she at least gets to do a great scene-munching sequence as she attempts to delude Jess with a dead and dripping chicken concealed behind her back). The acting isn’t really a problem (also, the grimly cinematic direction is as meritorious as ever), and firmly illustrates that if Overman and co. weren’t floundering in the writing department, Misfits could go out with the bang it deserves, instead of the whimper it likely will.
Will Nathan feature in next week’s episode?
If you didn’t spot it, the next time montage featured a brief clip of what looks to be Nathan being accosted by the group of thugs that stole his brother’s car whilst their dad was trapped in the boot (Series 2 Episode 2). He’s definitely wearing the same clothes and the character at the forefront of the image is the same that Nathan made his diversionary proposition to. Whether we’ll simply be in for a brief recap of past events that consists of an uncanny Robert Sheehan double, or if the man himself will actually be putting in an appearance remains to be seen. But it is nonetheless an intriguing tease for next week.