Those people at Channel 4 are cheeky devils for getting two episodes out in the same week, so I’m playing catch-up. It’s also a bit weird in that it’s like they had two end of series finales. It wasn’t a traditional Christmas episode, as it was neither slap-bam in the middle of a series, nor off on its own divorced from everything. But enough of the Christmas episode, that’s for a different post. This one’s all about Episode 6.
And it was glorious. A lot of pay off to things that had been building up. I said when I started reviewing this series that we’d look back and see things we’d missed, and that’s certainly true. I admit, I was wrong about the new probation worker. Not wrong about him being awesome, but wrong about him giving two shits to the people in his care. Basic plot of the episode (note: there’s really no way to talk about this without massive spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should go do so now!):
Mousy looking chap discovers he has power over milk (indeed, all dairy products). Milk Dude gets in the papers and becomes famous for his power. A publicist shows up offering to be his representation. Lots of people start coming out of the woodwork, revealing their powers. Meanwhile: Our Heroes are still working community service, and Nathan moans loudly about it to the other two guys whilst taking a piss. Unbeknownst to them, the new probation worker is also in the loo, and overhears this. He sells them out to the papers for the dosh. Publicist lady shows up and offers to manage them, and everyone but Simon accepts. They get lots of money and attention, along with all the other people who have cool powers. Milk dude feels left out, and goes on a killing rampage.
All in all, this was awesome. I’m a sucker for superpowers, but I’m even more of a sucker for when ordinary people find out about the superpowers our heroes have. That’s why I’m so in for superhero set ups that prime for Secret Identity Angst. Lots of people hate Superman these days because they things having so many cool powers is dull. I have never felt this way, and part of it is because Superman isn’t just Superman, he’s Clark Kent, and you’ve got the whole ‘Will Lois/other people find out?!’ thing going on. So I’m digging this whole plot-line right from the start.
There’s also the fact that the Weird Storm has been shown to have affected quite a lot of people over the course of what is (from within the series) a fairly brief period of time. Something like this had to happen, at some point.
And the killing rampage itself is a thing of beauty. On the downside, I can’t help but be a little sad at the way that superhero shows far too often end up showing people who get put upon turning into raging psychopaths in a way that is utterly unfair. Smallville suffers from this in a big way. But Misfits also has its share of fairly nice people who just come to unfortunate ends. I will always love them for the Old Lady storyline. Also, it was awesome, so I let them off.
It was awesome because the killing was so relentless – carefully undercut, of course, in Misfits style, by the fact that it’s being done with milk. This is Misfits at its most bleak, yet somehow keeping things from getting too grim. It starts beautifully, with Milk Dude setting out to kill the Healing Lady at the same time that Nathan realises he’s got an STD from all the girls he’s been shagging, and tries to persuade the Healing Lady to rub her hands on his cock. She falls on her Award for Being Awesome whilst choking on some dairy product she had for lunch and Nathan thinks he accidentally killed her. In a sense, it’s all quite horrific, but it’s undercut by the fact that Nathan was trying to get her to rub his dick at the time, and, well… it’s the sort of heightened mix of grimness and vulgarity that only Misfits could mix together and make work so well.
But that’s not really the true horror – it should be, after all, that woman was going to ‘heal the world’, but we all know that in fiction it’s the characters we know that pack the real punch. The real horror is the relentless cutting down of the Misfits themselves. The scene where Nathan realises he’s talking to Kelly’s ghost, because Kelly herself is dead, is particularly powerful. (And, damn it, I wanted this to be a catalyst for them getting back together!) What Milk Dude does to Nathan (as he can’t kill him, of course) is simply unspeakably horrid. And then having Simon start to get his awesome self on to save the day, and get killed anyway… It was nicely done.
Speaking of Simon – the resolution of the Simon/Alisha plot is very nicely handled. I like that, in an odd kind of way, Simon and Nathan have sort of become best buddies. So having Simon hide out at Nathan’s is awesome, and then having Alisha drop just the right hint whilst talking to Nathan when not knowing that Simon is there… it’s a really nice moment. And it’s right that we should see this come out and have them get together over this in the ‘last’ episode.
Another thing I really like about this episode is that the PR woman isn’t actually evil. She goes where the money is, sure, but she doesn’t actually turn out to be a murderous bitch – a route so many other shows would have gone down. It looked for a bit like they were going to go there, but then they didn’t, and I love that. Her death was unfair, despite the fact that she’s dumped Milk Dude for the next best thing. I thought that was very nicely handled.
One thing that is a little clunky is Curtis just happening to be lactose intolerant. It’s just so convenient. But then again, we couldn’t have the emotional punch of what happens to the other Misfits without Curtis’s power to rewind time, so I guess it’s swings… roundabouts. They need to be careful about using this power to that effect, though – you can only have people die so many times and have it matter-yet-still-undone before it loses its effect. Perhaps that’s why they’ve decided to go the way they do in the Christmas episode, but that’s a discussion for another post.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. There may have been individual moments that trumped this earlier on, but I’m inclined to say that this episode is my fave – if there can be such a thing in a series that plays so well off its story arcs. It hits all the right buttons for me, personally, and does a good job of bringing things together all round.