‘AAAAAAAGGH!’ And breathe… breathe… It’s going to be okay…isn’t it?
After all, you know the deal by now: the penultimate episode of a series of Being Human is always a Faustian pact between the show and its viewers. We surrender 60 minutes of our lives, and in return we’re gifted an hour of escalating tension and a week to torture ourselves over the cliffhanger at the end of it.
‘No Care, All Responsibility’ certainly keeps its end of the bargain. But cliffhangers are only effective because of the quality of the storyline leading up to them, and Episode 5’s succeeds because of the strong narrative placed before it.
As the board in his room hints, Captain Hatch has been playing a grand game of supernatural chess this series, sacrificing pawns here and there with but a whisper, and now he’s moving his Rook deeper into play. Or rather, Rook’s secret weapon, Natasha (Skins star Kathryn Prescott).
Prescott’s performance is confident in a way that few solo-episode guest roles are; a combination of feisty and just a tad vulnerable. In other words, the right personality type to attract the attentions of Hal and Tom. Chivalrous romantic Tom gets to know her, while a thirsty Hal gets to gnaw her. It’s a doom-laden love triangle, exacerbated by the narrow corridors and the pokey rooms of the Barry Grand. This is one episode where the show’s unfortunate budget constraints work in its favour.
But to Hell with the budget; this is an episode built on performances. Kate Bracken has largely been used as a phantasmal comic foil this series, but her emotional ultimatum to Hal wounds deeper than any stake, while Damien Molony isolates the lower part of Hal’s gasping addict’s face to give the finest quivering lip action we’ve seen since David Tennant’s Doctor blubbed ‘I don’t want to go!’.
Yet it may be Michael Socha who leaves the deepest impression by bringing such nuance to Tom’s naivety. His move from lovestruck buffoon to vengeful warrior is so understandable you’d almost forgive him if he staked Hal over Natasha’s grisly demise.
Natasha’s death is The Devil’s triumph, placing the trinity in the very situations we don’t want to see them in. If the goal for our protagonists is to live as normal human lives as possible, then this is a cliffhanger buried in defeat, for everyone is as removed from humanity as possible.
Tom, close to having a CV and a suit and a normal human life, reverts to his default setting as the wax-jacketed weapon that McNair trained him to be. Hal collapses back into the glorious vampiric debauchery of Lord Hal. And Alex – poor Alex! – who’s only just come to terms with being dead, is trapped six feet under in her own coffin and unable to Rentaghost out.
As cliffhangers go, its execution and impact reverberates long after the tantalising finale teaser. You’ve a week to prepare yourself. Or at least try. Because Being Human‘s final hour is at hand, and it’s going to be much more than you bargained for.
Aired at 10pm on Sunday 3 March 2013 on BBC Three.
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