‘Being Human’: Series 4 Episode 2 spoiler-free review

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After the adrenal darkness of Eve of the War, Being Human 1955 is a welcome chance to pause, wipe off the gore, and consider just what Being Human is really about, as characters are moved into place and the new take on the series’ old premise is set up.

This is a quiet episode, a slower episode; the kind that harks back to Series 1 in its intimacy and focus.

Not a great deal happens compared to last week, but that’s not a flaw, for in counterpoint to action is a beautiful character(s) piece in which individual lives are explored, the important relationships are expounded, and every interaction is loaded with humour, emotion and subtext.

Writer Lisa McGee’s confident script shows she has a great grasp on characters old and new. There’s the odd gut-punch of emotion but you’ll laugh a lot in this episode – more than you’d think possible given recent events – particularly as McGee has a knack for well-placed one-liners, and boy can the cast deliver them.

At first it’s Lenora Crichlow who stands out, with a performance as full of comedy as it is of pathos.

Annie’s asserting herself as the matriarch of Honolulu Heights and her motherly scolding of Tom (Michael Socha) is not only a wonderful piece of comic acting, but a symbol of her attempts to fulfil a role of her own creation; a role she feels is required after the tumult of recent events. Annie has never felt more ‘Annie’ than she does here, and it’s marvellous.

However, it’s ultimately Hal who is the object of fascination.

Damien Molony, with a stare as deep and frightful as an empty grave, has a monologue on killing that may leave you slack-jawed with its power and delivery. It sounds gushing, but he’s a remarkable actor (based on his performance here you can imagine him making the ideal Master to Matt Smith’s Doctor) and thanks to his work and McGee’s writing, Hal is a mesmeric character.

The unusually calm voice, the overly-restrained composure… he’s a vampire who’s seen and caused so much horror and you can see it’s all roiling millimetres beneath the surface, held in place as precariously as the line of dominos he routinely builds.

You’re just waiting for the facade to topple. No doubt that’s going to happen eventually, and Tom is all too aware of it.

The atmosphere between the two is all snide quips one moment and testosterone-soaked, ‘in your face’ friction the next. They’re like Barry’s The Odd Couple, if Walter Matthau had wanted to stake Jack Lemmon through the heart. It’s just one of many varied and beautiful relationships at play throughout.

But the most important relationship of all is established anew here. The equilibrium is set for the series and reaffirms what we’ve always known; that despite prophecies and loss of characters and the vampires’ ‘Mwa-ha-haaa!’ plans, at its core Being Human is still what it set out to be from the pilot: a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together.

Except this time they’re having to change nappies.

Airs at 9pm on Sunday 12th February 2012 on BBC Three.

> Order the Series 4 DVD on Amazon.

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