Misfits: Series 5 Episode 4 Review
Reviewed by James Wynne
It’s that rare breed of Misfits with this week’s episode. There’s a befitting precedence to the dramatic core of the story, which is Rudy #1 embracing his indebted duty of care to an elderly Rudy #2, and a lessened prominence to the drollery and copious innuendos. Whilst they’re still in subordinate abundance elsewhere — particularly with Abbey urging Alex to indulge in a bit of zoophilist heroism with a tortoise — the predominant comical output (i.e. Rudy) is otherwise occupied.
The senility of Rudy #2 is suitably upsetting and the tutelage Rudy #1 provides for him pleasantly heart-warming (there’s even an amusing “care” montage). Jess’ influence on Rudy might well be the instigation of some real change for his character down the line.
The aged Rudy #2 (played with some real aplomb by Kenneth Colley, Life of Brian) represents an analogy for the transposition of guardianship that is sometimes required of a child to provide for their parent(s). Rudy #2 has always previously been the voice of guidance and reason to Rudy #1’s haphazard ways, and with that dynamic inversed for the first time; it sheds some new light on Rudy’s dualism.
Rudy #1’s initial negligence towards his “geriatricised” (yes, I’ve coined a new word, because needs must) duplicate is wholly indicative of his rash imprudence. Rudy’s triplication resulted in three totally distinct personas (i.e. the idiotic Rudy, the insecure Rudy, and the late psycho Rudy), so without #2’s internal or external presence, Rudy’s actions are completely unguided, until Jess steps up as a surrogate for the indisposed Rudy #2, that is.
Jess’ anguished pleas for Rudy #1 to take responsibility for his #2 are supremely performed by Karla Crome. Just as Nathan McMullen’s acting has meliorated since the last series, Crome has refined and improved upon her own. Whilst Jess’ characterisation remains somewhat nondescript, comparative to the clear-cut personalities Misfits tends to dish up, she has begun to assume the role of a moral compass to the rest of the group, which has lent a crucial sense of significance to her presence.
Similarly, Joseph Gilgun impresses with Rudy #1’s conflict of wayward desire versus the aegis he owes Rudy #2. Occasionally, the gravitas of various scenes is punctuated by the obtruding smiles that Gilgun seems unable to suppress for any lengthy duration (e.g. Rudy’s heart-to-heart with Jess on the community centre’s roof), but generally he excels, as the layers of Rudy #1’s character are peeled away, and the overt insecurities customary to Rudy #2, which are usually buried beneath an overcompensating façade of buffoonery, come pouring out.
It’s a stout reminder that it is all just a front. Rudy #1 isn’t the personification of the aggregate Rudy’s inconsequential idiocy; he’s the embodiment of Rudy’s self-protective pretences. And it’s deftly emphasised most of all during the final scene, with the slightly neurotic sincerity of his romantic proposition to Jess.
There are elements of the predicament that don’t appear to make sense, though. Rudy #1 makes no attempt to merge with the older Rudy #2. Surely doing so, and subsequently dividing once more, would be the first considered means to amend the discrepant age of Rudy #2. The mechanics of Rudy’s duality have never been fully elaborated on, but it seems the most feasible, potential solution to the problem at their disposal, and yet it is not touched on at all as a possibility.
In addition to this, Rudy discovering the photos of Mr Johnston (Kyle Redmond-Jones) in his youth with such apparent ease calls into question how the care worker that Johnston was besotted with, or anyone else working at the care home for that matter, never stumbled upon them themselves, and identified the young Mr Johnston as the man pictured therein. Considering that the older Mr Johnston had mysteriously vanished, young Mr Johnston’s presence should surely have caused alarm for some of those who had cared for him in his elderly state, since the photographs would have been among the possessions in his room.
Elsewhere, the subplots of this episode also provide ample entertainment and intrigue. Whether it’s Abbey’s peculiar fixation with a tortoise that supposedly contains an imprisoned, human consciousness, the prophetic knitter’s augury of what appears to be Finn, Jess and Abbey’s deaths, or the exploits of the literally ‘trapped in the closet’ Stuart (one of the most inspired and hilarious “powers” Misfits has created) – there’s barely a falter to be found (besides Greg’s jarringly over the top rant midway through). It’s a greatly satisfying continuation of the form evidenced with last week’s episode, and one of the most affecting storylines of recent times.