‘Being Human’: Series 4 Episode 1 review

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Well, that was a game-changer, wasn’t it?

The new series of Being Human kicked off with the energy and twisty-turniness of a series finale. If anyone left Series 3 with an inkling of where the show was heading, it’s fair to say that all bets were cancelled round about the time when the caption ‘London 2037’ appeared on the screen. So, two seconds in, then.

With so many cast changes to accommodate, and a whole new mythology to establish, it was inevitable that the new series would feel like a different *ahem* beast. But, to the loyal viewer, the tonal change of this first episode comes as a surprise nonetheless.

It’s the casual brutality that shocks – Nina murdered off-screen, and George no longer in his right mind, having murdered not only Mitchell, but also, it is revealed, Wyndham.

But it’s in the creation of that new context that the show most cleverly succeeds. The establishment of new vampire, Hal, living in a flatshare with a ghost and a werewolf, reveals that George, Annie and Mitchell were not the only trinity in town, and provides the episode with necessary moments of pathos and tenderness to balance all the brutality.

It feels like we’ve gone through the looking glass into a mirror-world Being Human – one where the Mitchell character has deliberately kept corruption at bay by surrounding himself with the familiars of a bygone age: a gentleman’s barber and a 1950s housewife. And it works wonderfully well.

Of course, it helps that werewolf, Leo, is played by Louis Mahoney – familiar to Doctor Who fans from Steven Moffat’s Blink – who can play dignity in the face of the cruelty of time in his sleep.

But the dialogue sings too, and Leo’s assessment of his life as ‘the luckiest man alive’ echoes and memorialises the journey of our original series leads: ‘Together we did the impossible: a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost.’

But as the show ushers out one mythology, it ushers in a new one, and in the storyline of The War Child, the programme sails dangerously close to other genre dramas where babies have been revered as chosen ones and turned into weapons.

Whether it’s Doctor Who‘s Melody Pond or Edward and Bella’s offspring in Twilight, babies, these days, are in the habit of defying DNA to become something new. They are both messiah and serial killer in one.

It’s not a plot development that will be to everyone’s taste – and it’s not helped by the fact that the woman in 2037 who we are led to believe may be the adult Eve is necessarily denied much of a character.

Still, Being Human has the wit to have its cake and eat it too, and for every moment of portentous mythologizing, there’s an ironic subversion of the same – chief, and best, deliverer of which being Mark Williams’s Vampire Recorder. His job title may sound like a regional newspaper, but hearing ‘dead for a ducat!’ delivered in a purest Brummie accent is joy.

His presence alone signals that the Vampire community are a more disparate and shambolic bunch than we have previously seen.

And then there’s the apparent interloper in their midst, Cutler.

Cutler, at the start of the episode at least, looked like being one of life’s piss-takers: a man convinced of his intellectual superiority, but a coward too. But you underestimate the enemy at your peril, and this one can turn on a sixpence to advocate Final Solutions.

By the end it looks like being Cutler – flippant, piss-takey Cutler, with his survivor’s instinct to disappear at precisely the right moment – who may, in fact, be the real Big Bad. Watch out for him – he’s got charisma, that one.

Where all this is going is anyone’s guess – though it’s telling that the Old Ones, we are informed, are coming in two months, just in time for the end of the series.

Currently, we’re entertaining a theory that the adult Eve may herself be a trinity: born to werewolves, now a ghost and, somewhere along the line, become vampiric – although how this would fit with her ‘leader of the resistance’ status, or penchant for crucifix jewellery, we couldn’t tell you. It’s just possible she may be about to engineer one almighty grandfather paradox. Or maybe not.

Frankly, we couldn’t trust ourselves to think straight now, and it’s not just from having to translate the Greek on that poster: ‘Η σονατα του σεληνοφωτοσ’, or, if you prefer, ‘The Moonlight Sonata’. It’s the knowledge that George has to be with his Nina. The knowledge that, whatever Being Human will be from hereon, it will be a series without George in it.

Still, if any show can resurrect itself from near death it’s Being Human, and, on this evidence, you’d be a fool to drive a stake through its still-beating heart just yet.

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 5th February 2012 on BBC Three.

> Order the Series 4 DVD on Amazon.

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