Erin Willard reviews Being Human airing on SyFy. SyFy takes on the hit UK show about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf living together as they attempt to keep hold of their humanity in this re-imagining.
Photo courtesy of NBC Universal
Being Human airs Mondays at 9pm ET on SyFy.
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A very dramatic title for a somewhat less dramatic episode than the title promised. In fairness, this episode more closely mimicked the UK version than any of the previous four episodes. The two “big reveals” weren’t, for any viewers familiar with the UK series. The episode improved for me with a second viewing, and convenient amnesia about the overwrought title.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with something that absolutely was not in the UK version – a Catholic priest as a vampire. Pretty shocking, really, and he was nicely creepy in his interpretation of scripture and his perception of God and life, and given a fair amount of air time. Shut down completely, of course, when Aidan said “I get it, you’re completely unhinged” and gave him a beatdown and some dental work. Now that will be interesting. Will Bishop actually help the priest, or is “taking care of” family to be interpreted in the mafia form of the term?
I like that the show continues to clarify what is and isn’t “true” of their … do we call them creatures? I feel like they’ve done a decent job in living up to the series title, and therefore terms like “creature” and “monster” become derogatory. I decided to check out their blog on SyFy – http://showblogs.syfy.com/howtobehuman/ (it’s actually pretty entertaining, ostensibly written by each of them, with new entries every week) and I take from it that they all consider themselves cursed, so I’ll go with that for now. The Cursed. Though of course, getting back to my previous discussion, Bishop and the priest – oh hahaha – do not consider themselves cursed, nor does Ray, at least not entirely. I’d use “The Others” but that’s been taken…
Bishop’s discussion with Aidan shed light on a practical concern of vampirism: funding. “We’re vampires, not magicians” was an appreciated clarification, as many vampire stories include a healthy dose of magic. Picking and choosing people to turn, people with money, power, and/or influence makes complete sense. In giving his reason for turning the priest he also revealed his intriguing larger plan. “Nobody sells eternal life like a priest.” But by presenting turning as an attractive offer to the right people, he foresees a day when the number of vampires combined with the power – influential power, not just physical power- will allow them to live out in the open. “We live forever, humans don’t, do the math, it’s evolution. “ Bishop, who is living the full vampire life, is much stronger than Aidan, who is doing his best to avoid it. I appreciate that the show is exploring the nature of the vampires and werewolves on a larger scale, while keeping our “cursed” as human as possible.
Was the big reveal that Ray was Josh’s “were-dad” a surprise for the viewers? Clearly not for me, since I know the UK series, but I presume it was as big a surprise for those who are new to the series as it originally was for fans of the original. Ray’s character was very convincingly disgusting throughout the previous episode and most of this one, but his loneliness and desperation were as heartbreaking as his public behavior was nauseating. Ray also gave us a little more info on the series’ take on werewolves: what they do when they are werewolves lingers as only flashes of memory when they are fully human.
The other big reveal, that Danny killed Sally, was somewhat troubling to me but for the wrong reasons. Sally’s relationship with Danny is somewhat of a mystery. She was sad, even distraught over losing Danny, but she wasn’t needy with him, nor did she seem in any way fearful, even when they started to argue. She didn’t back off at all. If they had a history of him abusing her, it was nowhere to be seen in their interactions. I am fairly certain that I’ve never had friends in physically abusive relationships, so maybe it’s a cliché, but Danny’s behavior was totally out of left field, especially given Sally’s reaction to it. In the UK version, the reveal that her fiance caused the ghost’s death was totally chilling, made moreso by the fact that it harkened back to his “she belonged to me” line when asked about his relationship with her.
During the flashback of the events leading up to her death, the ghost was pleading and terrified, knowing how her fiance was going to react to another instance of imagined betrayal. Sally, on the other hand, feels internally strong, even though she is clearly sad. Her retribution on Danny was not the act of someone overcoming desperation, but of someone taking command. Which I loved. I loved that Sally trashed Danny’s apartment, and that the engagement ring at the center of the clearly deliberate swirl was satisfying AND aesthetically pleasing.
I also enjoyed the tripartate storm of each of our heroes taking full advantage of his/her curse to make a point, to take control by losing control. A side benefit of cutting back and forth between the three scenes was that we were distracted from the lack of anything actually interesting going on between the werewolves. That half-transformation was so disappointing. Really, they both started transforming at the same time but for some reason stopped at fangs and yelling while they fought? Again, though, that becomes more obvious during a second watch, because the three scenes were nicely edited with enough movement to distract from the lack of werewolf effects. Sally’s storm, however, was lovely.
The dinner was a nice little denouement. Prepared by Josh, because he’s had some closure and sees potential for moving on. Aidan must know that it’s not over with Bishop, and Sally hasn’t seen a door so she’s clearly not resolved. So we’re left, as always, with three cursed broken people trying to “hang on to the rituals of normalcy” by sharing dinner, and by simply being together.
Funniest bits this episode – Aidan to Sally: “You’re poltergeisting your own house,” and Ray walking out onto the stoop in his shortie robe and workboots. I also loved “Ain’t Misbehavin'” playing while the priest was teaching the new vamp how to feed, and the cheery “Let’s Get Away” playing in the background during Bishop’s beatdown of Aidan. Those will be the songs I’ll download from http://www.syfy.com/beinghuman/playlist when they add the playlist from this episode.