Would you like to be my best friend?
It sounds like a line from social networking site but actually it’s from the third season of E4’s Misfits. Misfits has always been wonderful in supplying some very witty and humorous lines. These have usually come from Nathan, played by Robert Sheehan, but his absence this season has required other characters to step into the role. It’s a testament to the character that his character’s presence couldn’t be sufficiently fulfilled by new guy Rudy, played by Joseph Gilgun, but requires the additional humour of the recurring freaks of the week.
The first episode of the season was fairly mundane, run of the mill introductory episode for Rudy. Granted it wasn’t quite as good as some of the previous episodes in the series but I enjoyed that Howard Overman, the series creator, made the conscious effort to make Rudy different from Nathan. Obviously there’s always a conscious effort to make any character distinct but it’s nice that they didn’t simply try to replace Nathan with someone with a similar sense of humour or personality. While Nathan let things slip off his back and generally got away with things, Rudy doesn’t have that advantage. He’s a lot more sensitive and people’s comments affect him a lot more. Nathan wouldn’t get angry if the probation worker called him ugly. Nathan wouldn’t have pined after the same woman for years just because she took his virginity. Nathan wouldn’t have been bothered if he got caught with his power out in public. Rudy cares about these things and he’s affected by them so he’s a little more interesting to watch, though perhaps not as funny.
Before the current season began, Howard Overman promised zombies and Nazis in the new season interspersed with character episodes. So far however it’s felt as though all of the episodes this season have been character episodes. First was Rudy (understandable given that he’s new), then Curtis (which possibly showed off the one and only use for his power) and tonight’s episode has been all about Simon. Next week is the Nazi episode but it feels as though there has been a lot of character development within a small amount of episodes. Rudy and Alisha have a past, Curtis likes being a woman, Simon and Alisha don’t seem like quite the perfect couple that Future Simon painted them as, Kelly has the hots for power dealer, Seth, who is also seen grieving over his dead girlfriend and looking for a specific power. If I were to guess, I’d imagine that the zombie episode will come along through Seth attempting to resurrect his dead girlfriend but inadvertently causing an undead uprising.
Returning to this week’s episode though, we got to see a very aware storyline. A show about a bunch of people with superpowers always runs the risk of seeming like a superhero knockoff that couldn’t get the rights to a big franchise like Marvel or DC. While Misfits has effectively evaded this through the use of powers, which are generally ones that no serious superhero would ever have, on more than one occasion they’ve teased the notion that the super powers don’t make a person a super hero. Possibly because most of the gang are dicks and are far from heroic as any character you’d ever see. Yet, they’ve alluded to the super hero aspect before in the second season, episode five with the costumed party, though tonight’s episode was a far more thought provoking allusion. Artistic comic book nerd, Peter is saved from a mugging by the guy in the mask, whom the audience knows to be Simon playing dress up and jumping from high buildings, but it doesn’t take Peter long to figure it out. He starts drawing, and well, but it turns out that he’s got his own superpower. Whatever he draws comes true. So he quickly sketches out a bromance with Simon, gives Alisha the boot and gives the rest a nice little beat down by the guy in the mask. Of course, this raises the question if he wanted to be a hero then why not just draw himself as a hero and draw himself with a girlfriend, along with some other nice things? Simon was clearly under the spell until people started tearing up the pictures. It seems like he was kinda missing the best possible use of his power. He did seem to have sort of warped sense of morality though so maybe he just thought a real hero wouldn’t stoop that low. I suppose the real question is whether the ending will stay in effect? Will he remain under the influence of the last comic book art in which he hides the spare suit and resolves to make the hard decision when the time comes? If so, it really changes how you look at Future Simon in season two. If he was doing all of that under the residual influence of the comic book telling him that this is what a superhero does then he never really falls in love with Alisha. He falls in love with the ideal; the noble act of saving her is what he loves, not her person, because he’s under the effect of the comic book power.
Peter’s character felt a bit lazy at times too. The nerdy comic book guy can’t get a girlfriend and gets completely obsessed by the first person who shows even the slightest interest in the same things that he enjoys. I’m surprised he didn’t have glasses, a retainer and giant pimples all over his face. Overweight too perhaps. It probably would have been just as simple to allow him to be able to pick up girls and get relationships but fail to maintain them due to his nobler impulses because, as he said, superheroes have great difficulty keeping up relationships. But this isn’t the only laziness of the current season. Curtis’s sexual ability being changed into an inadequacy is strange because Nikki in season 2 never complained. And he never failed to get her engines going because when she revved, her power usually kicked in. That’s not to say that the others seasons didn’t have their illogical plot holes (I’m looking at you Simon, turning into the Masked Guy after a reversed time line which erased the revelation where you found out you were the Masked Guy) but it’s only been three seasons and these have been glaring parts of the episodes.
There is more I would like to talk about regarding Misfits. Specifically, I’d like to address the new powers but I think I’ll wait until after the season ends to make a final judgement. At the moment I feel like their powers don’t really have a lot of general applications and the writers seem to be inventing reasons for them to be used, rather than letting them come out naturally in the story. So far, Kelly’s power has been used most consistently and most effectively, but there’s still another five episodes of the season to go. Until then, we have Nazis.