Richard Pryor originally fancied himself a singer. Starting out on the local club circuit, he used to hit the stage and mix it up, alternately singing songs and doing comedy. He began to suspect that he should narrow his focus as a performer one night when he stepped up to the microphone, opened his mouth wide, and heard a voice in the audience say, “You can freeze on that singing.” Being Human, it's become increasingly clear this season, fancies itself to be a show about the weight of the past, with characters who've devoted their lives to running away from the mistakes they once made and the people they made them with keep torturing themselves with their memories. Then the people from their past show up on their doorsteps, looking to reconnect, and the torture increases a thousandfold. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here in front of the TV, where after a while it starts to feel as if, as Frank Zappa once put it, the torture never stops. But one of the disadvantages of watching TV, as opposed to sitting in a club watching a live performance, is that I can shout, “You can freeze on those flashbacks!” as loudly as I can without violating local noise ordinances, and it doesn't do a damn bit of good. It's a shame, because if the show could hear me, I'm sure that it would stop, apologize, and make any changes I suggested, without a peep about respecting its own needs. It just feels like a very Canadian show in that regard.
Tonight's episode was chock full of attempted shockers, though in terms of filling in the back story, I guess the big one had to do with Aidan and Suren. Suren's first appearance on this series was preceded with a lot of heavy breathing indicating that she had some interesting history with Boston, much of it communicated in the kind of dialogue where the words are just filler so that the actors can insert those all-important three little dots someplace. “Is it wise for her to return to this town after… what happened?” Like that. The reveal came in one of those scenes set in 1930, the year that somebody drew a gnarly ink mustache on Aidan while he was sleeping and he just walked around without wiping it off, because vampires can't see their reflections in mirrors, so he must not have even known it was there. (Also, despite the fact that it makes him look so flagrantly ridiculous, none of the people he meets are choking back their laughter, so he must have had it on long enough for everyone he knew to get used to it. He could have looked like that since the Spanish-American War.)
Back in the Jazz Age, Aidan and Suren were involved in a menage a trois relationship with Henry, a vampire whom Aidan had "turned,” and who, I only registered tonight, is meant to be one of this season's major players. I'd noticed him loitering around in some of the previous episodes, but damned if he made any real impression on me. This is what those little promos for the show that SyFy inexplicably runs during the show are actually good for: When something that the show is trying to do fails to click on any level, the actors and producers can drop in and gently explain to the viewers how we're supposed to be reacting to this boring shit. Thanks to the half-time show, I know that Henry is meant to be a big thing in Aidan's life. Aidan sees Henry, his creation, as a fundamentally destructive force but someone he can't just write off because he feels responsible for Henry's existence and sees him as a younger version of himself, who lacks his own delicate “moral compass.” As for Suren, she apparently at least saw Henry as more than a fuck buddy, because after she catches him in flagrante delicto with a girl during the big vampires-and-humans Jazz Age party hosted by her mother, she marches out onto the dance floor and tears out somebody's throat, which was apparently how hot vampire chicks worked out their low self-esteem issues before the invention of Girls Gone Wild.
Big Mama Vampire is displeased. Not two minutes earlier, she was suggesting to Suren that it might be time for them both to leave Boston, and just to make sure everyone knew she was serious, break out the three dots. (“I've had my fill of the city, and you've gained more than enough… experience.”) Faced with one hell of an awkward situation, surrounded at her own going-away party by shocked faces and standing next to her daughter, who has someone else's jugular in her mouth, she handles it the way Basil Fawlty only wished he could, ordering the vampires at her command to lay waste to the rest of the guests and having Suren carried out of the room to be entombed for the next 80 years or so. “I'll never forgive you for this!" Suren screams. “Perhaps a century to consider your failings will change your mind!” shouts Big Mama Vampire, which just goes to show the kind of implausible notions you may find yourself running up the flagpole when you're making child-rearing decisions in the heat of anger. Anybody think that Mommie Dearest would have had a more forgiving tone if Joan Crawford had buried Christina alive for 80 years? I'm thinking no.
The there's Nora, who receives a visit at the hospital from her, as she introduces him as, “…Will, my ex.” Even those who don't know that Josh snapped Nora up when she was on the rebound from an abusive boyfriend who put her in the hospital will probably be able to guess that any ex whose very name is preceded by three dots is nothing but bad news walking. Sadly, Connor and Brynn, the “purebred" werewolf trust fund babies who shoved their way into Josh's life last week are still hanging around, and still so devoted to a full embrace of their inner wolves that they play Iago to Josh's Othello, whispering poison into his ears until he goes to see Will, bitch-slapping and threatening him, and finally grabbing a two-by-four and making as if he's about to go all The Stepfather on his ass. He's interrupted by Nora, who tells him, “Wolf or no wolf, that guy, the one who has a few too many and flattens a bar full of people because somebody makes eyes at his lady… that's not who you are.”
The twist is that Nora, under the influence of the coming full moon, is apparently less the person we thought she was than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. She confesses to Brynn that she's been sneaking out to her ex-boyfriend's place to spy on him at night, and the next thing you know, three hilarious-looking CGI wolf-beasts are tearing the ex limb from limb. Is one of the wolves Nora? Considering that she and the twins are together the next morning, their naked, blood-caked bodies entwined in a field, that would seem to be the idea, though, at this point, the possibility of an elaborate fake-out cannot be discounted. It would have to be pretty ridiculous, but I'm sort of rooting for one. Nora didn't even appear in last week's episode, and she was missed. But really, Nora hasn't been a werewolf for half a season now, and if she just took out her ex, then her body count is starting to compare favorably with Aidan's. I'm not sure how many shredded bodies the show can lay at her feet before it starts to threaten her standing as the mature, stable one in her relationship.
- The best thing in this episode is Meaghan Rath miming deep contentment in the bed of the sexy doctor whose girlfriend's body she's “borrowed” for the occasion. In discussing previous episodes, my position has always been that the moral implications of possessing people so that one can have sex while inhabiting their bodies is one of those issues that the show would have been better off not even inventing, but in the first few minutes of tonight's episode, I was just about brought around to thinking that it's not the worst storyline in the world for a character who has the misfortune of having no corporeal form. But then Sally gets “stuck” inside the body, and to indicate this, Rath is required to lie flat on her back making weird fish faces, and then I found myself tuning out again.
- “I thought we were all too tortured to have fun.” And with that line, Josh wins the “Create A Bumper Sticker Slogan For The U.S. Version of Being Human” contest in a walk.
- “At the end of the day," Aidan philosophizes at the beginning, “all any of us wants is to feel good.” True words, and dangerous ones to include at the start of a TV show that leaves you feeling as groggy as this episode did.
- The point of Aidan's opening sermonette this week turns out to be that caring only about making yourself "feel good”, at the expense of what's best for others, makes you a “monster.” See, here's the thing: Aidan and his fellow housemates are, literally, monsters. They're nice monsters, but still, they're monsters, and their condition is supposed to have all kinds of metaphorical implications for us humans. But because they're monsters, using monsters as a metaphor for what they are doesn't work. This sort of thing could be easily avoided if the show would just stop calling on Aidan to make these little introductory remarks over the P.A. system every week, but I've found that yelling “You can freeze on the cut-rate philosophizing” at the TV doesn't get me anywhere, either.