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Misfits: “Series Three, Episode Five”

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It’s hard for a dynamic show like Misfits that only has six or seven-episode seasons to have conventional episodes, so I guess it’s only fair that it would take until late in the third season to have an episode that could really be called such. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. This was a good episode overall. It just had what might be expected – a set of situations ripe for comedy as well as drama, a bit of character development, a bit of movement on the main storyline of the season, some surprising farce and tragedy, and a dead probation worker.

It’s actually been a while since we’ve seen a dead probation worker, over 10 episodes, but it’s still a Misfits tradition. I did like this guy. He was a good foil for the Misfits crew, and sure, he was a Nazi, but that was just the context of the times. You’d have been a Nazi too! Still, it’s a reliable way to shake up the status quo, so we’ll see if anything comes of it.

Body-switching is something of a tradition on speculative fiction shows, and it’s usually a lot of fun. One of the main reasons for that is that the show’s actors get to move out of their comfort zones. And these switching episodes can also show more-than-expected range from actors, too. I’m thinking of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dusku playing each other’s characters in a Buffy episode, where each supposedly terribly limited actress did a good jump of changing their mannerisms.

In this case, it’s Lauren Socha as Kelly, whose performance has generally been one of the best aspects of Misfits. She runs into a girl in a coma who has the power to switch bodies. Kelly ends up paralyzed, as the coma girl, Jen, tries to regain her old life and boyfriend. But surprisingly, and disappointingly, Socha doesn’t seem to actually be all that different. Same accent, mostly the same mannerisms, just a bit more staring as the camera focuses on her to indicate internal tension. I couldn’t see her as a different person, more Kelly with different clothes and motivations.

You would think that this would be a crippling thing for the episode, and yes, I am talking my final impressions of it down as I write this review. It was a bit too busy, with two sub-plots – Superego Rudy starting a relationship with Id Rudy’s therapist, and Alicia then Simon catching Curtis wanking in the closet – being left by the wayside.

But while there were problems, as with most episodes of Misfits, I was entertained throughout. Most of that came from Rudy, filling the Nathan role fairly well, making a steady stream of profane comments. There’s also a stellar farcical bit where the misfits steal coma-Kelly from the hospital. So I can’t complain too much.


Yet even as Misfits remains entertaining, and can still score big, as with the Curtis episode earlier this season, I feel like there’s something missing. The show just doesn’t seem as urgent as it did in the first two seasons. Part of that may be familiarity, and that would certainly be understandable. Still, I can’t help but feel that the lack of Nathan is part of the reason the show has lost that urgency. Robert Sheehan just brought so much intensity that even when his character wasn’t important, he was still a must-watch. Joe Gilgun’s Rudy brings much of the same comedy, and theoretically, yes, the other characters have more room to breathe. But I don’t think Misfits has taken advantage of that enough yet.

There’s two episodes left in the season to turn that around, although I know that the finale is more than slightly controversial. And there are going to be big changes in the fourth series based on the casting news I’ve heard. So it is perhaps appropriate that the same “anything-can-happen” feel that makes Misfits so great to watch sometimes is also attached to the show itself.


Stray observations:

  • “I love therapy. I love it!”
  • “You’re wanking. On your own. In a cupboard.”
  • “So I guess you stood me up.” “I was in a fuckin’ coma.” “So that’s you’re excuse, is it?”
  • Most SF shows use a strict mind-body dichotomy for storytelling, and Misfits is no exception – Alisha tries to see through “Kelly’s” eyes and sees out of the eyes of the girl in the coma.