Unless you’ve been exploring some deep, remote part of the Earth this week the news that Wonder Woman has been cast in the upcoming Superman Verses Batman film isn’t going to be a shocking revelation. Even if you have very little interest in comic books themselves, super hero films have become massive blockbusters that squeeze your pockets dry all year around, but especially in the summer months. And Nolan’s Dark Knight Series was certainly the beginning of a new wave in super hero films, marking a transition from quirky, slapstick made for a small audience to something deeper, darker and appealing to the masses.
Like or hate Nolan’s Batman, before his films, Fox’s idea of making the X-Men more modern was to give the team dark, leather uniforms. Now they are adapting the comic book story Days of Future Past, an intense, character defining insight into the destructive potential of the human condition, and are planning an sequel which will focus on Apocalypse, a vicious, century old mutant who corrupts and controls his victims. Even the most recent Wolverine film, The Wolverine, while not especially realistic, did more to explore the ideology of the character than X-Men Origins: Wolverine ever did.
Admittedly, it doesn’t work with every character and one character that does not need a modern, gritty update is Superman. The very spirit of optimism and restraint, he is an ever vigilant guard for the Earth. The reason Superman is super isn’t because he is an alien or because he has powers beyond that of a normal man. Superman is better than man because he will not succumb to evil and temptation as man will. They had enough Christ imagery in Man of Steel but they didn’t seem to understand the underlying motif. This isn’t about Superman killing Zod. If pushed to the limit, it makes sense for Superman to kill Zod because Zod isn’t your average villain. But you don’t give Superman ultimatums. If there is anyone who should be able to find a third option, it is Superman because he can be what man cannot.
So I worry about how Wonder Woman will be depicted. Wonder Woman has been notoriously difficult to get on to screen. There have been numerous attempts to get the Amazonian on to film or televisions over the years but all of them have fallen through, usually because the studio was never satisfied with scripts. Even when Whedon wrote one. Arguably the only reason that the studio has even green lit her appearance in this film is because they believe they can fall back on the market appeal of Batman and Superman, in the same film no less, if the character flops.
Actually, Gal Gadot is probably my most favourite casting for this sequel. Henry Cavill was decent as Superman in Man of Steel but on the whole I found his performance rather uninspired. Oh, he most certainly looks the part and the actor seems completely at ease in the role but, and perhaps this is the script’s fault, I never found myself getting lost in his performance. He just never enraptured me in that way and if there is anything that this sequel needs but likely won’t get it is that need to be drawn deeper into the Superman character, both through performance and the writing.
Ben Affleck, on the other hand, appears to have been cast as some kind of deal for Warner Bros. so that they can produce and distribute Affleck’s own movies for the foreseeable future. So Affleck gets a platform for his own films and all he has to do in return is don the Bat suit and growl a bit. To say I’m wary of how Affleck’s Batman will come across in this sequel would be an understatement. But I have high hopes for Gal Gadot.
Best known for her role in the Fast and Furious franchise (R.I.P. Paul Walker), Gadot is an Israeli model turned actress who hasn’t done a whole lot with her career. But, having been in three of the Fast and Furious and the film Knight and Day, she actually has more experience in big action films than her main competitor Jaimie Alexander, whose main role outside of the Thor films was Kyle XY. I like Kyle XY but high octane action it ain’t. I was somewhat surprised that the role didn’t go to Gadot’s Fast & Furious 6 co-star Gino Carano. Carano’s experience in film is perhaps only slightly more extensive than Gadot’s but she does have the advantage of being a trained in Muay Thai. I always prefer when my action heroes have legitimate martial arts backgrounds. However, they probably choose Gadot at least in part for sex appeal. One of her most memorable scenes from the Fast and Furious franchise was the scene where she uses her bikini to get a duplicate of the villain’s hand print.
Having made a good choice in terms of actress, depicting the Wonder Woman character on screen will likely be the hard part. Not because writing strong female characters is hard but rather because Wonder Woman’s back story is just kind of weird. In this modern world, it would unlikely for her to come from an undiscovered island of women. For her to be created out of clay and brought to life by the gods seems a little far-fetched for this realistic setting too, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they went this way and simply replaced god with technology. However, given the success of Marvel’s Thor, I do think that they might go the modern route and just let her be a demigoddess. This may explain also further explain why they didn’t pick Jaimie Alexander; they didn’t want the association with another god-like character. The rest of her story is largely, like Captain America, about World War II and fighting Nazi’s but it would be a stretch to fit that into the already packed Superman Verses Batman.
Time will tell whether Gadot will be the perfect pick for the role as I hope she will be or whether the character will be crushed beneath the massive weight of what is looking to be an overloaded movie. While you’re waiting why not consider picking up a copy of my first novel, I PLAGIARIZED THIS BOOK FROM MYSELF, available on Amazon. And if you’ve already got a copy, remember to rate and review it and tell all your friends and co-workers. Or got a comment/opinion on my book or the above Wonder Woman article? Then please, don’t hesitate to make use of the comment section below or fire me a tweet. Otherwise, until next week, thanks for reading.
Fifty years ago Doctor Who graced our television screens. Far from Matt Smith’s rapid-fire, magpie-like Eleventh Doctor (technically twelfth), the first episode featured William Hartnell as a stern, protective old man. His companion was not an attractive action girl, such as the likes of Karen Gillian’s Amy Pond or Jenna Louise Coleman’s Clara Oswald but instead he was paired with a young girl, teaching her about the mysteries of the universe. The focus of the show was education, not action, as Carole Ann Ford’s Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s so called granddaughter, battled wits with her teachers. Science fiction, outside of the use of time travel, wasn’t a main draw of the programme. And unlike modern forty-five minute episodes (although last night’s episode ran for seventy-six), that episode only lasted for twenty-five.
Despite how the show has change since its conception it continues to be widely popular. There have been ups and downs but outside of soaps it is one of the most recognisably British television programmes in the world. It only makes sense that for something like the fiftieth anniversary Steven Moffat and his team of writers would go all out to create something that would adequately represent and celebrate the many years of enjoyment this show has given to viewers. Including a special preview with a cameo from the Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann.
The prelude itself informs us of where John Hurt’s ‘War Doctor’ slots in the sequence of regenerations but it isn’t absolutely necessary to watch it to understand what was going on in last night’s episode The Day of the Doctor. The short minisode, entitled The Night of the Doctor (shouldn’t night come after, not before? Maybe it should have been called “morning of the doctor”, but I digress) was simply a fun little addition for the fans. And it is a cool little video so check it out if you get the opportunity. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if the Eighth Doctor was the regeneration he wanted to forget because Paul McGann is a very good actor. If Doctor Who doesn’t impress, check him out in Luther for more evidence.
And they certainly pulled out all the gambits they had for the celebration, even if not all of them were quite as effective as intended. Not only was the show screened in tens of cinemas across the UK and streamed live to over ninety countries but the entire episode, from the way the titles scrolled across the screen to the upmarket CGI, seemed more like a Hollywood film than a British television show. Clearly, BBC gave the Doctor Who a higher budget for this production and it didn’t all go to Hurt’s pocket.
Aesthetics are all very well and good but when it comes down to it, what really matters is the story and character. Despite being away for so long, Tennant hasn’t missed a beat as the Doctor and it was wonderful to see him back. Miscalculating but ultimately brilliant, the tenth Doctor was often the one who came closest to being the man of war again, being saved more than once by a companion when he was about to wipe out an entire species. One only has to view the episode The Family of Blood to see how terrifying Tennant’s Doctor could be.
Smith’s Doctor has never sank to those depths and, as the episode notes, has never quite despaired at his own darkness quite like Tennant did. Tennant travelled with companions because they seemed to complete him; they made him a better person. Smith’s Doctor is more detached, noting less the effect of the companion on him but more concerned about his corruption of their personality. And yet together they work marvellously. It’s like a buddy cop drama if both the cops were geeks and were trying to outdo each other in the nerdiest possible way. And it is adorable.
Hurt’s Doctor feels more like Carl Fredricksen from Disney/Pixar’s UP. He spends most of the episode telling off the younger looking older Doctors but ultimately comes to appreciate their ingenuity and hopefulness. He doesn’t end up appearing to be that much more of a warrior than a Doctor though, which may be the point but it rather undermines the build up. The episode itself seems determined to make us understand how terrible his actions were, as if asking how many children were killed in the destruction of Arcadia somehow makes the war more horrifying and real. The War Doctor is conflicted about the entire matter, even though killing the few to save the many is a choice that many war commanders would make. Perhaps not easily, but they would make it.
Of course, this is television. Whereas in real life, one such call may have to be made and lived with, in science fiction such a matter can be rewritten. Hurt’s Doctor steals a device to destroy Gallifrey with but the system has its own consciousness. Appearing as Billie Piper’s Bad Wolf incarnation of Rose Tyler, she attempts to convince the Doctor that there is an alternative solution, and sends him back to see Smith and Tennant’s incarnations. Why she felt he needed to meet with two Doctors rather than one isn’t really explained nor does the episode delve into the paradox that is rewriting this portion of the time stream. Doctor Who often never explains the contradiction it makes instead passing it off as time travel mumbo jumbo, but this one has pretty major ramifications.
Even if, for instance, the event itself is still time locked, having appeared to the war room and explained the plan to the Time Lords, why would Rassilon attempt to escape the lock by planting a drumbeat in the Master’s head? The Time Lords of Gallifrey even seem to support the action as thirteen TARDIS’ descend upon the planet. Which leads to the question of how the pre-Hurt Doctors managed to find out and join the cause? The episode was fun and for the most part enjoyable but it seems like Moffat and his crew cut a few corners in the ending all for the sake of rewriting the Doctor’s past mistakes. Instead what begins as an impressive episode ultimately lacks the punch it needed.
There can be lots of reasons why someone might start watching a show. More often than not it’s a certain actor that tempts the viewer. I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I started watching Ripper Street because I liked Jerome Flynn in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Sometimes the idea behind a programme creates a unique quality behind the show that depends to be watched. The most popular example is Lost, a television show which grew out of the singular idea of a people stranded on an island. Other times, there is simply hype around the show because of potential. It doesn’t have big name actors or a particularly unique idea but it gets built up so much that practically everyone watches it. Take Marvel’s Agents of Shield for instance.
For whatever reason one starts watching a programme, it usually isn’t the reason that they continue watching. After being lured in by a person or an idea it is the character drama or the intense stories that keep the viewer coming back week after week. For some people the aforementioned shows delivered on those and for others those shows fell flat. However, if there is one show this season that has managed to hook viewers and follow up in terms of character and plot, it is NBC’s The Blacklist.
For me, and I imagine many people, James Spader was the hook. Spader, who is set to play the titular villain in Marvel’s 2015 release The Avenger’s: Age of Ultron, is an extremely adept actor. Go watch the man as E. Edward Grey in Secretary, then check him out as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddingon on The Blacklist and be amazed as he slips effortlessly from a sexually dominant attorney to a wanted fugitive turned FBI informant. He may have lost some hair and gained some weight but he is undoubtedly a very assured, capable actor.
The idea behind the show isn’t terrible but Spader is definitely the main attraction, despite technically playing second lead to Megan Boone’s Elizabeth Keene. The show tells the story of Keene on her first day working with the FBI. However, she’s running slightly tardy and misses Reddington, a wanted fugitive known for putting criminals in touch with other criminals, turning himself in. The catch is that he won’t talk to anyone except Keene. When she finally arrives at work he offers to provide a list of criminals who are truly a danger to society. Of course, this isn’t without benefit to him and in fact, to keep up the illusion that Reddington is still active in the criminal world, they can’t keep him behind bars or continuing to commit crimes.
The rest of the show is structured like your typical crime/procedural television show. A crime is committed and the FBI is called in to investigate. They usually hit a dead end, at which point Reddington will show up with vital information or a possible lead. What sets this show apart from most crime shows is that the offences themselves usually have to be quite major in order to warrant the time of the FBI and Reddington. Hilariously, there have been a couple of episodes where Reddington has been reluctant to help because the perpetrators aren’t on his list or the cases simply just don’t interest him.
So the idea behind the show isn’t entirely original. Comparisons have been made between The Blacklist and The Silence of the Lambs, though Spader’s Reddington is presented far more affably and benevolent than Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. And yet, that is a part of the story’s charm. It would be a flaw if the show simply informed us of Reddington’s unethical and immoral approach to dealing with problems and never showed us but instead we get glimpses here and there. Flashes of the hidden evil, such as when he deals with the Stewmaker in episode four, create a sense that show is building towards showing exactly how appalling the character can be.
Similarly, there is a clear, underlying feeling that Keene isn’t being told everything in pretty much all parts of her life. The FBI was unaware of her father’s criminal background but even she is unaware of her adoptive father’s connection to Reddington. A popular theory is that Reddington is actually Keene’s birth father, which certainly seems possible. Reddington’s family was said to be murdered shortly before he went rogue but he also pilfers a photo of a little girl from the Stewmaker’s collection. It would certainly explain why Reddington is so interested in Keene, especially her personal life. While it does seem a little too obvious, sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one.
Outside of Reddington, Keene’s husband Tom, played by Ryan Eggold of 90210 fame, may or may not be a trained killer with connections to corporate terrorists. There is some evidence that he was set up but, and this is what is good about the writing of this show, the viewer is allowed to remain suspicious of him. Tom may wind up being a red herring, designed to distract the viewer from a bigger plot, but the programme is written in such a way that it allows the audience to decide for themselves whether they believe he is innocent or not.
Meanwhile, an unknown group have set up surveillance of Keene’s house. So far it is uncertain whether they are tracking Elizabeth or Tom but they don’t appear to be working for either the FBI or Reddington, suggesting that a third party may be involved in whatever is going on between Keene and Reddington. Not to mention, that the FBI don’t trust Keene. With all of these storylines, one might expect the show to seem busy but it doesn’t. The structure and pacing comes off as poised and methodical. The Blacklist is as refined and volatile as Reddington. The time will come when both will drop their calm demeanour and just unleash. I suggest you get on board now.
Depth is not an attribute I would ever expect to be applied to Thor. The first film set up a world that is rich and enjoyable in the way that it draws from Norse mythology and then plants the characters firmly in the setting of the modern era. However, the characters weren’t especially deep or conflicted. Loki found out he was adopted but it didn’t change his motivation as he always desired the throne. Thor was cast out and made to live as a human but he only felt betrayed because he thought he could never return home. Had he not been tricked by Loki, he would likely have still saved that village and fought the Destroyer.
In Thor 2: The Dark World, all of the characters, from Thor to his mother, appear much more colourful and display many more shades to their personalities. Thor, at first seems to be a hero king, travelling the nine realms and willing the approval and admiration of their people. Underneath the surface however, he still desires to see Jane again. Four or five times various characters attempt to dissuade Thor by telling him that he cannot rule the nine realms if his heart is focused only on one. At a number of points, the fleetingness of human life compared to the Asgardian lifespan is also noted.
As the film shows, all of this weighs heavy on the shoulders of the main character. He wants to pursue his true love but he also wishes to save his home and later he desires vengeance for the death of his mother. Thor is pulled in many directions and though he knows what the right thing to do is, he struggles to always do it. On the flip side, Loki always knows what the right thing to do is but has no trouble doing the exact opposite.
The Dark World really attempts to delve deeper into the character of Loki. Yes, he is a trickster but many of his tricks were taught to him by his mother. In fact, we even see her use such tricks for good, suggesting that there is a benign use of Loki’s powers. But Loki desires the throne, or more basically he desires authority and power itself. Much of his actions throughout the first film are his attempt to prove his worthiness, much like Thor had to prove his worthiness to wield Mjolnir. In this sequel, his actions are largely born out of his acceptance that he will never be worthy. Of course, that doesn’t mean he will just submit the throne to Thor. Even as he comes to terms with his inability to inherit the throne, he still desires it.
Marvel also show Loki as distressed as we’ve ever seen him. The character is usually quite unflappable but the death of his mother, or adoptive mother, throws him into a state of despair that is really quite unlike him. It reflects the power of grief and gives the character the motivation to set aside his differences in order to work alongside his brother and avenge their mother. That isn’t to imply he is too depressed to get his little comedic jabs in. Along with Jane Foster’s intern Darcy, who now has her own intern, Loki delivers most of the comedy. On particular cameo by Captain America, an illusion by Loki, was especially hilarious.
Not to be out done, Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster with all the subtleties and short comings required of her and yet never comes off as a damsel in distress. Early in the film, a very ancient power, the aether attaches itself to her. This ancient element threatens to drain her life completely, causing her to faint sometimes, and throws up a force field against all except the mightiest Asgardians who touch her. In a much less capable actress, it would be very easy to play this role without any strength but Portman never plays the character as allowing the gravity of the situation to bring her down. The script itself depicts Foster as intelligent and strong, despite her need to be saved from the force killing her from within. Little moments like finding the way of the planet of the Dark Elves or figuring out Asgardian technology were great little character moments that kept the character from seeming weak.
Kenneth Branagh was the perfect choice to direct the first Thor and admittedly I was a little wary of the change to Alan Taylor. Taylor is by no means a bad director, but Branagh was such a perfect fit to the character of Thor and the world that he lived in that the change felt unnecessary. Some might argue that Taylor was a better fit for this darker sequel but I would challenge that. Branagh has years of stage under his belt and I have no doubt that he knows how to do conflicted and gritty. Yet, Taylor’s experiences from shows such as Game of Thrones and The Sopranos did bring something to the show that it lacked before and this fresh perspective may have made Thor in to a more relatable hero on the whole.
Of course, the film is far from perfect. Many of Loki’s tricks can be seen coming from a mile away and Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith as a villain has less personality as Loki. Compared to the more layered characters portrayal of the other characters, Malekith seems rather one note and unintelligent. The only reason he acquires the aether is because of a gambit partially gone wrong by Loki and Thor. And after all the threat and doom, the fight battle has far too many comedic spots. The battle manages to take place across all nine realms, which is fun, but the film winds up having Thor hop on a train because he lost his hammer, right in the middle of what appears to be the looming apocalypse. Humorous as that scene is, it was completely mistimed.
As a sequel, Thor 2: The Dark World takes a lot from the original and builds upon it enjoyably. As part of the wider Marvel universe, it arguably cements Thor, the Asgardian god, as the most relatable hero when compared with his teammates, the genius billionaire, the war hero from the 40’s and the guy scientist who overloaded on the nerd rage perk. Maybe Captain America: The Winter Soldier can change that.
If Ripper Street was considered violent before then the second season opener did very little to askew those claims. First a man was flung out of a window and impaled his leg on a railing spike and then Edmund Reid and Bennett Drake put down a prisoner revolt, with a little help from Homer Jackson. And that’s all before the opening titles. Of course, why would Ripper Street shun its violent reputation when it really makes the show stand out from all the more modern detective crime shows? While they might lose a few squeamish viewers but more will find the bloody depiction of the Victorian period intriguing.
Season Two was always going to be difficult for Richard Warlow, creator and writer of Ripper Street. The first season begun six months after the last Jack the Ripper murder and with the black cloud of the police’s failure still handing over Whitechapel. In this second season, the show moves further and further away from the Ripper killings and now requires an equally intense story to complete with the first eight episodes. Reid, Drake and Jackson require new direction in terms of story and motivation and thankfully ‘Pure as the Driven’ delivered.
When a police officer in another division, a friend of Drake’s has his leg impaled on an iron railing, H division become embroidered in a case involving Chinese gambling dens and opium trade. It’s really interesting to see a time when opium was legally traded and no one really cared, that is until it is revealed that someone has found a method of enhancing the drug, turning it into the now well known narcotic, Heroin. Captain Homer Jackson discovered as much after testing the substance on a rat and then, later, himself. Jackson has been shown to take drugs in the past but he has never really been depicted as addicted, so it will be interesting to see if his heroin use develops into something more.
However, beneath the illegal use of opium there was a much more private matter going on. The house that the police officer was thrown from was not his own and belonged to an Asian woman called Blush Pang. Despite the somewhat silly name, she has in fact been supplying people with heroin. No one thinks much of her being in White Chapel as apparently there are two streets of Chinese people with no way back home until her brother shows up. Having learned much from Jet Li and Jackie Chan, he busts out the martial arts, punching people into the air and beating up at least a dozen men all at once. Eventually, Jackson makes the logical move and pulls a gun on him. Turns out Blush Pang is his sister and she was taken from Hong Kong. Coincidently, Detective Inspector Jedediah Shine of K division previously spent 10 years with the Hong Kong police.
Unfortunately for Reid, nothing can be proved and to get to Shrine he can only imprison Blush Pang for the theft of a hard candy. Reid is rather glib in that moment but this actually represents a massive turning point for the character. Amongst the police corruption and lack of respect by the public in the previous season, Reid was shown to very meticulous. He insisted on paper work, forensic evidence and that thing the proper processes and protocols were followed. For him to throw Blush Pang in jail for any reason he wanted highlights a significant divergence of the character and possibly hints towards deeper corruption through the series as Reid attempts to reveal Shrine’s crimes.
At the same time, however, Reid will also have to prove his own innocence. In a wonderful use of dramatic irony, we the audience saw Shrine give the police officer an overdose with heroin, knowing that Reid had given the man a dose earlier in an attempt to gleam information. Of course, all fingers point to Reid as the murderer. Warlow also gave us a scene showing the elephant man witnessing the death. So we know Reid is innocent and that the elephant man is the only way to prove his innocence but leaves out the how, forcing the viewer to wait and find out how the two dots will be connected by Reid and Drake.
This is what makes the writing of Ripper Street so watchable. The historical context isn’t just there so that the characters can use funny, archaic words and women can wear huge frocks. Instead it actually affects the characters and the story. Other programmes might have the Elephant man appear as a cameo but Ripper Street actually writes the character into the plot, giving him more importance than a passing nod to the time frame. Similarly, the opium trade and Shrine’s police work in China are rooted in the historical context of the Opium Wars and Britain’s colonial conquest of Hong Kong. The characters themselves grow out of the history surrounding the show’s time period, clearly reflecting that the Victorian setting isn’t just a gimmick.
Ripper Street is not perfect however. Admittedly I have never been much of a fan of Captain Jackson or MyAnna Buring’s Long Susan. Susan never seems to do much of significance, even when she has her own stories. In fact, much of her private issues could probably be resolved by just confiding in Jackson or Reid which she never seems to do. Jackson, on the other hand, is written as a one stop shop for medical knowledge which seems rather implausible at times. And after befriending Reid at the end of the first season, both are now contemplating running away again, so what was the point of that then?
The stand out as far as I am concerned is certainly Jerome Flynn. Compared with his role on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Flynn appears to seamlessly switch from selfish rogue to good natured copper. Though he has to play second fiddle to Matthew Mcfadyen’s Edmund Reid, Drake is always enthralling in his supporting role. Between him and the shows subtle but excellent writing, I will be glad to see this show continue.
Misfits, as a series, has never shied away from vulgarity. And why would it when it centres around five young offenders working off their crimes. These are not people that are typically well mannered and polite. In addition, it is the characters who aren’t apart of the scheme or who committed rather minor crimes who are the least crude; characters such as Alex or Seth or Curtis and Simon. All of those characters have their moments and none of them are poets with words but they do fulfil a much needed balance to the other characters. The use of bawdiness was best employed when it fitted with the story, such as the season one finale.
Howard Overman recently admitted that season four was a failure. While the fourth run wasn’t as enjoyable as the previous three, I don’t think that it was the stories that ultimately let the show down but the characters. In the first three seasons, the characters didn’t have especially epic back stories and their powers were all born out of rather mundane feelings like loneliness and narcissism. When new characters Alex, Finn and Jess were introduced, they were all given dramatic stories. Alex remained mysterious for seven episodes to the point where the eventual reveal about his penis felt lame and confusing. Finn had to deal with appearing creepy, receiving two episodes. One revolved around an existing relationship where he was forced to be the perfect boyfriend and the other about his previously unknown half sister and his dying dad.
Jess, arguably, has gotten the shortest straw. She hasn’t been given an overarching back story like Alex or Finn so instead she got lumped with the love story. Season one set up the initial relationships with Alisha and Curtis and Nathan and Kelly but these relationships are cleverly turned on their heads in the following seasons as the social awkward Simon comes out of his shell and begins a relationship with the promiscuous Alisha. Meanwhile, Nathan and Kelly, for all their flirting, are actually sexually incompatible and wind up with other matches. Jess on the other hand, attracts the attention of Finn and Alex but prefers Alex. Why is never really established, other than his handsomeness, especially because he spends two thirds of the season actively trying to avoid her.
So the character’s backgrounds and stories really fail to live up to the same standard that was expected from the first three seasons. But they had really rad powers like telekinesis and x-ray vision. Those are definitely from the top shelf. Well, sure, though that has never been the point of Misfits. These weren’t meant to troubled kids who turn out to be superheroes. Their powers derived from their insecurities and personalities. I guess someone who was particularly perceptive or paranoid might inherit the power of x-ray vision but Jess isn’t either. The official reason is down to her ability to see through people but that has never really been shown to be true. Otherwise she would have seen Alex to be a cheating jerk and stayed well away. Some kind of built in lie detector would have been more fitting. Finn, on the other hand, isn’t even given a reason for his telekinesis.
The bigger issue that I have with these powers is that, much like Alex’s recently acquired power, they have limited uses in the large scheme of things. Much of the action in Misfits tends to happen in the wide open, so X-ray vision is rarely needed. Finn is so inept with his telekinesis that it only gets used during intense situations and usually fails, effectively softening the dramatic tension. Now Alex has the power to remove other’s powers through sex. The irony is apparent. Despite trying to be faithful in order to use his power he has to cheat on his girlfriend. And Alex screwing the devil out of Finn was good for a one time laugh. Unfortunately, it’s a bit like Curtis’ time travel power. If used too much, it will seem like a get out free card from any conflict but if it isn’t used enough then ability will seem redundant and ineffective.
Despite that, I do actually think Alex’s power will be useful in a way that most of the powers weren’t; to create character drama. Think about this, unless Jess wants to lose her power she can never have sex with Alex. It is a pity that none of the older team members are there to tell her about that one Christmas they all sold their powers and got held up by a disciple of fake Jesus. Her power has utilised so little that it is doubtful she would miss it much but I expect an upcoming episode to highlight how useful it can be, giving her a conflict over whether have sex with Alex and lose her power or keep her power and attempt a chaste relationship with a known philanderer.
Then again, where do you go after zombies, Nazis and ghosts? Season four was a struggle from the start to introduce new characters and new stories. As I mentioned at the start, the episodes weren’t bad but the plots either felt unnecessarily contrived or overloaded with ideas. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse especially suffered. We got four guys on bicycles and not a whiff of pestilence or conquest. But that was season four. By now, all the creases have been smoothed out for season five, right?
Sort of is the answer. If the first episode is any indication, season five has a narrower focus, which is good but the plot was still rather silly. Everyone gets possessed by the devil, which is controlling the boy scouts (though they now take girls, much to Ruby’s chagrin). The possession doesn’t really change them though which raises the issue that if an action won’t significantly change the characters, what are the stakes and why bother with it at all? The episode didn’t aptly address those overhanging questions, instead preferring to linger on the Alex/Jess/Finn love triangle. I did like the support group for the super powered and I’m interested to see where Rudy’s involvement with them leads. The episode did warrant a few laughs too, so it wasn’t all bad.
Overman is a great writer and I get the feeling that somewhere in season three he got thrown off the path he was on. From then on, no longer being able to write the story he wanted, the show has been scrambling to pick up the pieces. Watchable as it is, it doesn’t compare to the greatness that came before. This opener to the programme’s fifth season shows some glimmer of the old gold. Maybe, just maybe, Misfits can at least go out strong.