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Review #3400: Being Human UK 4.8: “The War Child”

Posted on the 29 March 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: John Keegan

Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Philip John

And so this distressing fourth series of the British incarnation of “Being Human” comes to close with a literal bang, which is far and away from the dreary meanderings of most of the series. It also wraps up the plot arc in desultory fashion, more or less revealing that it wasn’t thought through very well. But there is at least one solid development that makes me wonder if my blanket dismissal of the impending fifth series was premature.

Review #3400: Being Human UK 4.8: “The War Child”

The highlight of the episode, by far, was Mark Gatiss as Mr. Snow, apparently among the oldest of the Old Ones, with a casual evil that is far more chilling that most anything we’ve seen on the series to date. The episode crackles whenever he is on screen, especially as he doesn’t so much chew on the scenery as gently caress it before snapping its neck. The scenes between Mr. Snow and Hal were reminiscent of the best scenes between Herrick and Mitchell. There’s a certain resonance between the two characters, a modality of speech, that befits two elders of an immortal species.

Of course, the problem is that the plot didn’t introduce him until the very end. Instead, the writers focused almost entirely on Cutler and his overly complicated scheme. There’s a very good reason for this: our heroes wouldn’t have had a prayer if they started out with Mr. Snow and the Old Ones making a direct move. It’s the very issue that made the end of the third series so ludicrous.

The entire conceptual basis for Eve and the prophecies just falls on its face. Mr. Snow claims that it’s a matter of complacency: with Eve around, humanity just waits around for the savior to wipe out the vampires, and thus loses the war. Without Eve, humanity fights back immediately, and thus the vampires have no traction. This flies in the face of the idea of Eve being the one who brings about the end of all vampires, which was central to the mystery! Never mind that the idea of vampires wiping out humanity still makes no sense, as that would be akin to wiping out one’s food supply. (Mr. Snow hints that there are remnants of humanity kept for this purpose, but it still doesn’t add up.)

Another major flaw is that it depends, once again, on the plot convenience of Annie’s power level. She’s woefully inept, until such time as she needs to use her power, and then she pours it on. The fact that Alex could learn many of her techniques in the space of a single episode, while still reeling from her own demise, highlight the inconsistency.

That leads, however, to the one of the main strengths of the fourth series finale: they finally take Annie out to pasture and complete the turnover of the original cast. One gets the sense that they conceived this entire story just to allow George and Annie to go out as heroically as Mitchell. Regardless, it’s precisely what is meant by “addition through subtraction”. Never mind that Alex is a far more interesting character, at least thus far.

I’m also intrigued by the emergence of this new organization, which exists purely to keep the existence of paranormals a secret. Never mind that this represents a bit of a problem, in terms of continuity, since they didn’t exactly do a good job of cleaning up after Mitchell and the Boxcar Massacre. Since the writers had no idea that the show was coming back, it felt like a nice way to tie up loose ends and leave a potential direction for future runs. I’m sure any resemblance to the Talamasca of Anne Rice lore is purely coincidental.

The third series left me decidedly on the fence regarding any new adventures, and the fourth series has left me with little interest for a fifth. Only the notion of this new cast keeps some lingering intrigue flowing. I think it will come down to learning a little bit more about the plot elements that might come into play, since the double act of Tom and Hal, the one strength of this season, is the one factor sure to remain.

Writing: 1/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 6/10

(Series 4 Final Average: 5.5)

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