Misfits: Series 5 Episode 5 & 6 Review
Reviewed by James Wynne
Misfits’ fifth outing takes us beyond the midpoint of the final series with an episode that’s a marked divide, comprised of some of this run’s best storytelling on the one hand, and a substandard plotline on the other.
Starting with the former, Leah (Scarlett Brookes), and her power of VRC (Virtual Reality Construction), which is essentially the concept of The Matrix adapted into superpower form. It’s an incisive satire of society’s continuing reliance on the internet as a social outlet. Leah’s reclusive personality provides a natural simpatico with Finn, due to his social ineptitude, which the episode utilises brilliantly. It’s easily the most impressive outing for Finn’s character, and it culminates in a particularly touching scene between the two, as Finn tries to convince her that there’s more to the outside world than the online one.
Meanwhile, the contrived romantics between Rudy and Jess just pales in comparison. Howard Overman’s clearly attempting to emulate the love story of Simon and Alisha, but it was difficult enough to invest in it as a believable development prior to Rudy accidentally sending a video of Jess on the bog to all of his contacts, but all being forgiven in light of Rudy spluttering that his intentions were noble strains credibility beyond belief.
Misfits is famed for pushing the boundaries of what’s acceptable in modern television, but it often goes overboard with its puerility; a victim of its own renown to do what other programmes won’t. It sometimes feels like what’s unfolding is just the writers’ checklist of juvenile indulgences, absent the requisite rhyme or reason, rather than any form of substantive storytelling.
Case in point is the running gag of Abbey’s pleas for Alex to wield his phallic instrument of power-removal for the benefit of her infatuate tortoise (although, this week it’s a turtle, apparently). Subjected to a punitive gypsy curse for his unchivalrous behaviours earlier in the episode, Alex is coerced into lending the services of his empowered genitalia to Abbey’s reptilian companion.
As if it wasn’t enough that Misfits appeared content to depict something so ridiculously crass in the first place (thankfully, Finn’s convenient suicide attempt put the bestiality on hold just at the last moment, and allowed Abbey’s tortoise to scuttle off, unsullied), the whole situation was conducted with further, excruciatingly poor taste (Abbey: ‘Maybe you could just spunk in its shell.’).
There’s a figurative line that Misfits used to just about toe, but frequently nowadays that line is left behind in the wake of completely inordinate vulgarity. Perhaps the use of excessively base humour is in an effort to compensate for some of the more tenuous storylines that have plagued recent series of Misfits, and indeed this week’s instalment, but it only seems to exacerbate things.
The narrative surrounding Alex (aptly dubbed “the Raper” in a hilarious instance by Rudy, which harks back to the superhero monikers that Nathan came up with for Curtis and Simon; Backwards Man and the Invisible C*nt, respectively) feels like an obvious retread of Rudy’s encounter with Leah (Amy Manson) from the third series, whose power of penile disfigurement set Rudy on a similar course of involuntary redemption, to atone for his ungentlemanly conduct in the bedroom (an instance that, like every other lesson Rudy has been forced to learn, effected no actual change to his character).
But it’s unwarranted with Alex, since he’s already displayed an admirable degree of heroism with his willingness to rid Stuart of his closet teleporting (even if he didn’t end up having to do the deed), and helping him come to terms with his homosexuality, during the fourth episode.
Misfits has been persistently retrograding characters recently, reneging on developments contained within previous episodes, by failing to depict the effects they have beyond the span of the episode in which they occur. It’s been evidenced innumerable times with Rudy, but the same is happening with Alex and Finn.
What became of computer-whizz, Leah from last week, for instance? Finn makes no mention of her here, despite him declaring that she was his girlfriend, and evidently striking up the sort of mutual, romantic rapport that’s eluded him with every other girl he’s set his sights on in the past. You think he’d want to hang onto her. Instead, we see him employing despicable tactics to lure sympathetic females into his bed, by feigning terminal illnesses, albeit in his typical asinine manner, it must be said (AIDS – that’ll get them in the sack for sure).
After the exemplary progress that was made with his character during last week’s outing, one can’t help but feel that it’s an egregious misstep to subsequently portray Finn behaving so odiously. And lest we discount the unfavourable message it sends about women: basically, just tell them that you’re dying and they’ll drop their knickers faster than you can say “this is a bit sexist”.
Similarly, Rudy is being depicted more and more as though he’s God’s gift to women (even Ellie Kendrick’s Helen was helplessly ensnared by the allure of Rudy – Rudy #2 in fact, behaving unrecognisably alike Rudy #1), despite the fact that he’s a witless chauvinist.
I, perhaps futilely, assumed that Rudy #1’s relationship with Jess might finally instigate some change for his character, but going on the evidence of this episode, during which she gets uncontrollably aroused at the sight of Rudy bellowing that “decefecating” is a real word, and detailing how he “decefecated” in Starbucks, it seems there is very little necessary change on the horizon. The whole thing is just coming off farcically contrived, even more so in light of Rudy’s clichéd, love-induced impotency.
The elements of the plot that centred on the terminal illnesses produced a smattering of affecting moments, but all in all, this was one of the most imbalanced and dissatisfying episodes Misfits has produced.