Friday, 17 February 2017

MISFITS Season Two (Part Two)

Three episodes in, and Misfits's sophomore season features that most hackneyed of long form cliches, the macro-plot. Let's see how it works out...

Episode Four
The Future Simon plot is now the main order of business, which means more gratuitous nudity from Antonia Thomas. Enough already. The sad thing about the shift to Future Simon means that Nathan Stewart-Jarrett's Curtis really gets short-changed -- although once Curtis and Alisha break up, it means he gets more scenes with Ruth Negga

On the bright side, the villain of this episode is particularly inspired: Tim (Matt Cross) believes that he is a character, Jimmy Cisco, in a GTA-style game, and that our gang are the people who have double-crossed him. One of the series' most memorable villains, Tim would return repeatedly throughout the show's run.

Joshua McGuire, Antonia Thomas's future Lovesick cast-mate, briefly guest stars as another young offender with the power to teleport. After an epic intro scored with Edwin Starr's War, the overconfident teleporter is shot in the head by Tim/Jimmy. At the hospital, his heart is removed and ends up in Nikki's chest, saving her life and giving her his superpower.

I think my underlying problem with the Alisha-Simon love story is that she falls for him because of what he is going to become, rather than the person he is. Their story becomes weirdly Oedipal, but there does not appear to be much awareness on the creatives' part

Episode Five
This episode guest-stars the great Zawe Ashton as Simon's first girlfriend Jessica. Considering what she goes through here, I'd like to think the events of this episode are a traumatic prequel for her character Vod from Fresh Meat.

Ashton as Jessica

Episode Five is a story of love and men acting like animals (and vice versa).

Nathan, that upstanding gent, pervily checks out Jessica while she is getting changed in the changing room. The lights go out and Nathan winds up dead. Did Jessica do the deed? Considering how much of a douchebag Nathan is in this episode, the rest of the gang and the viewer could  not care less.

While Nathan wonders what the hell happened, Simon also meets Vod-sorry, Jessica, who immediately becomes smitten with him. Still mourning Future Simon and his pale buff-ness, Alisha has started following Simon around like a weirdo (nice digs at the costume party though -- the filmmakers have finally broken through to my baser instincts). Speaking of baser instincts, in an odd but poignant subplot, Kelly has brief relationship with a strange man who turns out to be a gorilla (anyone catch the foreshadowing in the first episode?).

This episode feels weirdly rushed and abrupt at points -- Simon and proto-Vod's romance speeds to the finish line before you really get to register what makes them click. I was scratching my head at why Vod would want to go out with Simon in the first place, but considering how all the other male characters are constantly leering or pawing her, his non-confrontational peeping tom vibe might seem refreshing.

Considering the somewhat childish way she is attired, and her hesitancy around the opposite sex -- and how protective her dad is -- I guess the filmmakers wanted the viewer to infer that she's a bit sheltered.

BTW, the twist that it's Vod's dad whose killing her suitors/stalkers is blindingly obvious from minute one.

Episode Six
Episode Six features one of the series' most interesting plots, and one of the series' best one-off antagonists: Brian (Jordan Metcalfe), a man with the ability to control and manipulate milk products.

It should be goofy, but it plays like the Misfits version of JohnnyBates/Kid Miracleman: an ostracised man who is completely ignored by everyone suddenly finds something that makes him special. When that status is usurped, and he is tossed aside, the poor schlub uses his power to prove that he should not be ignored. It's a creepy conceit that the show exploits to the full.

The opening sequence, in which we are introduced to Milk Man, is wonderfully Tim Burtonesque. Played without dialogue and using 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King', we track Milk Man before the storm, where he sleepwalks through life -- a prime example of a wallpaper person, he is ignored by everyone.

This episode displays an admirable ruthlessness -- the Milk Man stacks up a massive bodycount, including Nikki. It gets incredibly bleak: the colour palette used for the hotel is very bland, which helps emphasise the tackiness of the media circus around the teens.

The episode even manages to work in Simon's discovery of Future Simon and his future relationship with Alisha, without it feeling wedged in. His actions in trying to defeat the Milk Man show his growing maturity. It's somewhat unmade by having Curtis use his powers to kill the Milk Man before he becomes famous and exposes them.

Christmas Special
Thankfully, the Christmas Special provides a nice resolution to the season and Nathan's story: he meets his female equivalent and they leave to go to Vegas.

As well as a season finale, it also acts as a tidy reboot -- a former drug pusher with the ability to remove and/or provide superpowers provides the characters with the chance to give up their powers. Like Superman II, this change is ill-timed as our uh, heroes then have to contend with a messianic cult leader who claims to be Jesus.

In one of the most shocking moments of the series, Nikki dies (again). What makes it worse is that Curtis cannot go back in time to save her.

In another interesting development, Simon rebels against comparisons with Future Simon, which goes some way to making this whole time travel business less ridiculous.

 The season ends (again) with our heroes buying new powers.

Final thoughts
A great build over the first season, Season 2 manages to expand the field of play with a bunch of cool new concepts and storylines. The time travel stuff jars a bit, and a few characters (Curtis) are sidelined, but ultimately it's a great sequel.

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