Friday, February 17, 2017

MISFITS Season Two (Part One)

After a bit of break, here's the next instalment in whatever the hell this is. The Misfits Revisits? Whatever. Read on.


Reviewing the second season of Misfits is something of a melancholic experience. It represents the end of the show's original line-up, with Robert Sheehan's Nathan making his exit with a new girlfriend and a baby in tow.

But that's Episode Eight. Let's take things back to the beginning, where our (anti)heroes have gelled as a team, and have figured out what they are doing.

Episode One
Episode One is an interesting spin on The Thing, with our heroes forced to dealing with an enemy who can imitate them. This enemy is a young woman who Simon met in the psych ward has gained the power to shape shift. Enraged that he has new friends, she uses her ability to turn our heroes against each other. Overall, it's a neat idea for a bottle episode, and uses the location of the rec centre effectively.

The mysterious figure introduced at the end of the first season returns, this time with a lair which resembles Batman's digs from The Dark Knight (2008) and some serious parkour skills. We also get my personal favourite of the probation workers, the wonderfully disinterested Shaun (Craig Parkinson).

Episode Two
Episode Two introduces some dimension to Nathan: it turns out he has a half-brother. A half-brother who has their dad (Dexter Fletcher) tied up in the boot of his car.

Once this situation is resolved, Nathan and his brother Jamie join the rest of the gang at a club. Here, I noticed a plot hole: When the group is at the club, Alisha is wearing her usual get up, with no sleeves. How is there not a bunch of sex-crazed people surrounding her?

Like a bunch of teens, they take some pills to get the party really started. However, the drugs reverse their powers: Kelly says whatever is in her head; Simon becomes the centre of attention; Alisha repulses everyone she touches; and Curtis jumps forward into the future (giving us the first appearance of Ruth Negga as Curtis's future love interest Nikki). The fun ends in tragedy when the ice-powered girl Jamie has sex with bursts into flames.

In the end, Nathan learns that his power comes with a darker dimension: he can see the recently deceased. It turns out his brother died in the girl's self-immolation. He fulfils Jamie's final wish by trying to mend fences with their dad.

Thankfully, since this is Misfits, the show ends on wonderfully barmy note: thinking they have discovered the masked man's hideout in one of the estate's flats, the gang break in and Nathan defecates on the bed. Only then do they discover that the flat belongs to Nikki. 

Episode Three
The masked man plot begins to supplant the 'freak of the week' format. Nathan and Kelly get involved with a super-powered tattoo artist whose tattoos allow him to mind control his customers (he forces Kelly to fall in love with him and Nathan to fall in love with Simon).

Meanwhile, Alisha is saved from a mugging by the masked man -- when he helps her to her feet, she notes that he is unaffected by touching her. Intrigued, she tries to repeat the experience, figuring that the masked man will turn up to save her. She provokes a random stranger and when he gives chase, she trips down on a flight of stairs and knocks herself out. 

The masked man comes to her aid and takes her to his lair, where she is shocked to discover her saviour is Simon. Claiming to be from the future, this buff confident version of Simon gets Alisha all hot and bothered. He forbids her from telling anyone about him, claiming it will ruin his 'plan'. Alisha starts treating Simon better.

It's sad that it takes a look at Future Simon in the buff to make her treat his younger self with a little respect -- I'm not really a fan of pre-determined narratives anyway, but here's a little bit of wish fulfilment here which is a bit contrived  -- the time travel angle also takes away from the characters' agency in a way I don't like.

Plus there's the scene where Future Simon sneaks into Alsiha's room which is just weird and stalker-like. Granted, it's to return the necklace the mugger stole, but it's... weird. He also starts talking about how they are pre-destined to become lovers. 

Thankfully, the script presents Alisha as (a bit) confused and conflicted about the whole idea. The focus on touch helps -- it makes sense that the character is so starved of physical contact that she jumps at the first chance to have a proper relationship. 

Sadly this leads to a trope of this show that I could not stand -- a prolonged love scene that goes on way too long -- long enough to wonder why Future Simon doesn't get more sun. Dude looks like a corpse. 

This was also the episode where I began to notice how often the filmmakers turn Antonia Thomas into a sex object. Re-watching the first episode, she is introduced in a long shot focused on her body, with her head peaking into frame as she pulls on her overalls. This episode features Thomas wearing only a sweatshirt, which is strategically hanging off her shoulders. Bits of business like this are strewn throughout her tenure on the show, and while her power is based on her sexuality, this focus on her body comes off as gratuitous. 

Moving on from Mulvey of it all, I will admit that Alisha and Future Simon's final embrace, in soft focus, is a nice moment. Despite an over-emphasis on shaky cam and insanely shallow depth of field, this show has always had a great sense of style.

Meanwhile, Curtis bonds with Nikki after the gang's antics last episode. She gets a heart transplant and gains the ability to teleport at inopportune moments.

To be continued...

Previous reviews

MISFITS Season One

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