Thursday, November 18, 2010

MISFITS Season 2.02 Review

It's that time again!  Misfits time, that is.

So we're into the second episode, and as with the first season, the first Misfit that we spend some serious time with is Nathan (Robert Sheehan) and, as with the first season, we get to see him actually showing some emotion instead of just being a wanker.  After a particularly disturbing opening sequence of Nathan stripping down from his orange jumpsuit to just his bikini briefs and slathering himself with suntan lotion, we get to the real meat of the episode (no pun intended); the arrival of the brother Nathan didn't know he had.

Jamie (Sam Keeley) came to town to meet his father for the first time, and now is wanting to meet his older brother.  Of course, hitting his dad in the head with a toaster, duct taping him up, and tossing him in the boot of the car, probably wasn't the best way of introducing himself.  But let's face it.  Their dad is a twat.

Okay, Spoilers ahead!

This episode does a great job of capturing just what makes Misfits so enjoyable to me.  It's a done-in-one story, but it has tangible repercussions going forward.  It moves the seasonal story arc forward a bit at a time by carefully parceling out just enough information to keep me anxious about what's to come.  Plus, it was funny, raunchy, exciting, tragic, and had just a touch of melancholy.  There was a hint of nostalgia in there, too, but not enough to bother me.

Even though this episode is all about Nathan and his relationship with his father, using Jamie as a springboard to launch itself into that bit of character exploration, we also get a few very tantalizing glimpses of the mysterious masked figure who just happens to know how to always be in the right place at the right time, as well as an extremely interesting glimpse into the future of the characters.

I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see more of the cute bartender, Lily, with the intimacy issues and Freezing Powers.  Although, to be honest, I like the fact that there are people developing powers all over the place, and nobody knows it's happening to anyone else.  This was something I wasn't sure about during the first season, but I think I've accepted it as a nice texture to the world these characters inhabit.  That fear and paranoia that accompanies most of the powers we've seen is mainly because these people think they're alone.  It's always an effective moment, however brief, when these one-shot actors get to suddenly feel like they don't have to be afraid any more.

Of course, look where it got our bartender friend, though.  Maybe alone is best for some of these people.

Or maybe we're seeing a bit of the underlying theme of the show rearing its head.  I think it's the Misfits version of "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility", where with great power comes horrible tragedy for which they are directly responsible.  Actually accepting that responsibility is the sort of growth that we're only just starting to see develop.

Some characters are further along than others; Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), in particular.  I will admit, I got an immediate kick out of the drugs taken at the party switched everyone's powers into reverse, but then immediately fought back against it.  There just wasn't much of an explanation for it.  But when Curtis flashed forward instead of back, it was all worth while. 

That's where that responsibility I was talking about kicks in.  Curtis suddenly finds himself on a rooftop, in a superhero costume, getting ready to jump off.  Then, up walks a mysterious hot girl, who starts taking off her clothes and kissing him.  He doesn't know what's going on, who she is, or what to do, when suddenly we are flashing backwards through time, back to the party.

And in that flash, there were glimpses of things to come.  Not all of them looked very pleasant, either.  Some looked downright deadly.

Toss into the mix some excellent character moments with Simon (Iwan Rheon), Kelly (Lauren Socha), and Alisha (Antonia Thomas) at the party, and this was another winner of an episode.  Socha was genuinely disturbing tripping out on her pill, and Rheon's dancing was pretty much pitch-perfect for the character of Simon. I can't imagine him dancing any other way.  Thomas also provides a nice touch of pathos, when her powers switch into reverse, almost turning the party into something much more deadly. 

Every episode provides strong moments for each actor and each character, regardless of who is in the spotlight for the week.

The only real weakness for me was the surprise ending with Jamie's reveal to be a ghost.  My reaction to that was like my reaction to the pills only in reverse.  I hated it at first, then kind of liked it, and then just accepted it as a necessary evil in order to move Nathan forward emotionally.  I did enjoy Ghost Jamie pointing out that he was banging the Ghost Lily, though.  That was good for a laugh.

The closing scene was another of those really strong group scenes, that not only let us get to see how they interact out in the world, but it also introduced the mysterious girl from Curtis' future.  When Simon followed the masked figure to this apartment, where he (Masked Figure) then slips through the room and out over the balcony, we knew something was up.  There was a woman sleeping on the couch, but we couldn't see who.

I didn't really think about it much as it happened, assuming the Masked Figure was just ditching Simon somehow, but I'm like that.  I've trained myself not to dwell too much on the moments like that, trying to figure out what's going to happen next.  I like to just let the episode flow and see where it takes me, deciding in retrospect if it was something that worked or didn't. 

So I guess I should have guessed who was sleeping on the couch, and just before she showed up, it clicked.  And that, for me, is a scene that works.  Curtis' reaction to seeing her walk in the door was perfect and it left me really looking forward to the next episode.  Not least of which because I want to see her reaction to Nathan shitting in her bed.

This is kind of like a study in how to construct a six-episode story that not only provides a good story, but expands and builds on the characters we know, while introducing new ones who effectively broaden the confines of the narrative world.

Oh!  I almost forgot to mention the music!  Again, Misfits has the best soundtrack on TV.  Go here to get the music rundown!


  1. This is kind of like a study in how to construct a six-episode story that not only provides a good story, but expands and builds on the characters we know, while introducing new ones who effectively broaden the confines of the narrative world.

    There are often complaints that our short series pale in comparison to those across the Pond, purely because of their length, but I find that a six -- or eight, or thirteen -- episode series tends to have more focus, and less filler.

    For example, I loved the initial four-part miniseries that reintroduced Battlestar Galctica, and I quite enjoyed the following twelve episode series, but I found myself bored with the treading water when it expanded out to a "normal" length.

    In a short format series, it seems as if the writing gets sharper, and the good ideas are used, rather than being saved up for later.

    In some of these long, twenty-plus episode series, I can think of maybe six really good episodes, so why not just produce six really good episodes, and put all the effort and money into them?

    I know the answer, of course. It's a combination of "it's the way we've always done it" and fear of the advertisers, but it would be pleasant indeed if this were not the case.

    How are you watching this stuff so quickly, by the way? Is it up for download that fast?

  2. I agree. I'd much rather have quality over quantity.

    Although, I have to admit, I didn't really get into the Battlestar Galactica mini. Even it seemed a bit drawn out. It wasn't until the first episode of the regular series that I was hooked.

    That was one of the strongest first episodes of a show I've ever seen.

    And, yup. I've got a connection to a private UK-specific download site. Some stuff goes up faster than others, but if there's big demand, the uploaders are usually fast and provide quality rips.

    I'm surprised at the speed of these Misfits uploads, too. I didn't think we'd get to watch them until at least a day later.