Being Human Review: Ep. 6

“Fate is always playing the long game.”

Being Human

So this is the last episode in Being Human‘s first series, and like many last episodes it struggles to deliver on the promises of previous episodes. The Evil Plan of the Evil Vampires begins to come to a head, and Mitchell arranges to meet Herrick so they can fight it out One Last Time.

It’s an episode that finally manages to work out what Being Human actually means, thrashing out in one melodramatic speech the two key qualities of humanity (apparently): Love and Sacrifice.

I’m not sure the writers have thought this through. As we’ve seen throughout the series, “humanity” is prized above everything. “Humanity” always wins, whatever the odds are, because Being Human is deeply invested in the idea that you can remain “human” (I think what the show means here is something closer to “humane”) whatever life, or indeed death, throws at you; that human experience is real and important and weighty. As I said in my review of the first episode, it’s a show that translates subjective, felt importance into objective, real importance through the lens of fantasy.

However. The fact that the show prioritises humanity, and that humanity apparently translates to Love and Sacrifice, effectively gives carte blanche to Our Heroes to do…whatever they like. It’s now OK for Mitchell to murder people (for instance, to drink his ex’s blood) so long as he feels sad about it; so long as he still loves someone; as long as he’s “human”. And it’s apparently OK for George to rip Herrick – a sentient being even if he’s an evil one – to shreds; so long as he’s protecting the ones he loves; so long as that love keeps him “human”. It’s not the fact that these things happen so much as the fact that the moral subtleties of these situations are ripped away that bothers me. It’s an overly simplistic solution to a show that’s implicitly exploring how new adults navigate their way through the chaos of life. Love and Sacrifice may be worthy ideals, but they are blunt tools with which to read the world.

Having said all of this, it is, of course, ridiculous for me to complain that a soapy supernatural drama featuring a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost all living in a 21st-century townhouse does not achieve subtlety and nuance. It’s simply not what the show is aiming for. But I do feel like the episode fails on its own terms, too. George’s defeat of Herrick feels perfunctory and disappointing (so the vampires weren’t actually that much of a threat, then?), and his long, drawn-out conversation with the doomed vampire made me wonder why Herrick didn’t kill him before he changed into a werewolf. The answer is, of course, “so that the writers would have time to get Nina down to the basement so she can find out that her boyfriend is a werewolf”, but I feel this explanation does not make up for the scene’s contrivedness.

A disappointing episode, then. Still, I’ll be watching the next series.

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