Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: Being Human (USA) "Something to Watch Over Me"

Non Spoiler Review:
After a strong two-parter, this week is a bit of a mixed bag, trying to be both dark and funny. Something to Watch Over Me plays out three separate storylines for Aidan, Josh and Sally, which probably wasn't the best choice. Josh seemed to get the short end of the stick while Sally does get a big leap forward in learning her limits.

Aidan assembles a neighborhood watch party to introduce themselves to everyone, but he inadvertently sets in motion a police officer's particular interest in him. Josh and Sally make some new friends. While the camaraderie between the three characters is a plus, I did get the sense of it happening too quickly. I know Aidan and Josh have known one another for quite awhile, but it's unclear how much time has passed since Sally has appeared to them. They seem quite at ease around her, yet are anxious for her to move on without really any comment that they would miss her at all.

Aidan's plot, the dark one, showed initial promise but left me a bit confused by the end of it. Aidan behaved erratically (which may or may not be pointing to future plot points). Though it was an okay episode all in all, I was left feeling it missed the mark.

Spoilers Now!
Aidan's opening monologue deals with immortality, and the drawback of having endless time. We get glimpses of his past incarnations while Josh and Sally mope about the house looking at memories of their pre-monster lives. It's impossible to live forever perfectly, Aidan muses.

Josh comes home to a house full of people and finds out Aidan is hosting a neighbourhood watch. Sally sarcastically comments that he's invited every neighbour she ever hated. But she made Aidan invite Danny so she's anxiously waiting for him. When he does show, he doesn't stay long, and she can't understand why he leaves.

The house has a new ghostly guest, Tony, who died in 1987. He's very 80s. Tony died at Aidan's hospital so he was brought in to help Sally learn the ropes. The first thing he shows her is that he and Sally can shake hands. Given they're just energy, they don't have to walk anywhere—just think of where she wants to go in the house and she'll appear there. Next stop...outside.

A cop present at the party was keeping an eye on Aidan. The next day, Officer Bishop comes to the cafeteria to advise his protege that one of his men, Michael Garrity was searching the police database for him. Aidan tracks him down to a bar, finding out Garrity has a bit of a drinking problem and has been carrying around a sketch of a man who murdered his father when he was ten—he happens to look a lot like Aidan. Obviously it can't be him, Aidan says. Garrity's a man obsessed—he ran Aidan's file and found nothing—he doesn't exist. The murderer also had Celene tattooed on his chest. You can see he really wants Aidan to unbutton his shirt. But he doesn't ask. Aidan manages to take off at the first opportunity, but he's intercepted on the way home by an even more inebriated Garrity.

Aidan tells him to forget they ever met, but Garrity gets all shovey and somehow throws Aidan onto a pipe and impales him! He also sees the tattoo on his chest. Aidan is in pain, and manages to pull himself off the pipe and gets back to the hospital to refill on blood bags.

Bishop shows up again. Garrity never came in for work in the morning. Aidan tells him he thinks he killed his father, but he doesn't remember, but he thinks he can handle it by brainwashing him. Bishop warns him he's too weak to erase the man's memories without causing damage. Bishop seems unusually concerned for the man's family, but it's Aidan who gets angry and says he'll do whatever he wants.

Meanwhile, Tony teaches Sally to appear outside, but when he goes in for a kiss she rebuffs him and he leaves in a huff. But he does apologize to her the next day. Tony explains ghosts usually hang around only a little while before moving on, so he was intrigued by her. He takes her to the cemetery and shows Sally her grave. Normally a door would show up once the death sinks in, and they pass through. He hasn't found his door yet. Her spirit is blocked and something is holding her back. Sally next takes him to Danny's old apartment. Danny is sleeping. Though she won't be able to touch him, she lays down with him, happy just to be there. She suggests Tony has been avoiding closure with his life, as well. 

Bishop shows up at Garrity's to see how he is. He asks Bishop if he believes in monsters. Actually, yes, he answers, and Aidan's a vampire and he's the one who turned him. He makes Garrity an offer to join them, as he's exactly what they need. Oddly enough, this news isn't as shocking as one might think. Garrity obviously believes him and runs out, into Marcus. But Aidan arrives and Bishop orders Marcus to stand down. They leave Aidan to his work, and he attempts to pick through Garrity's memories and erase himself from them. This causes Garrity to have a seizure.

In another subplot, Josh begins patrolling the neighbourhood in search of a graffiti artist vandal with two of their neighbours. One of them, Jesse, seems to have developed a bromance for Josh, and is quite impressed when Josh is able to sniff down the vandal and bring him down, barely controlling himself.

After his outburst, Josh tells Aiden he doesn't want to use the hospital room anymore (hasn't he just used it once?) and prefers the woods. He's afraid of bringing that animal part of him out around others and wants to keep both sides of himself separate. He and Aidan are walking by Garrity's house, and they watch him come out and grab the newspaper and go inside. Everything appears normal. Jesse runs into Josh at the hospital and he's not bothered at all by the previous night's meltdown. He jokes around with Josh about his fighting moves.

Sally is sitting at her grave site when Tony comes by. He went to his exgirlfriend's after talking to Sally and says he saw she was happy. A door appears, but Sally knows it's not for her. It opens for Tony and he steps through. Before he leaves, he tells her she can touch the living, if the living are open to it. He disappears. Sally is left to wonder what will be the key to her moving on.

For the final montage, Danny is watching television while Sally attempts to communicate with him. When the doorbell rings, Sally is horrified to see her friend Bridget coming over to have a beer with him, but then as they sit in silence Bridget says she misses Sally a lot too. Josh wanders off to the woods as the full moon rises. Bishop pops by to see Aidan, handing him an envelope and commenting that Aidan's way was definitely more compassionate. The photos show Garrity after he's shot himself in his house.

Ambivalent Musings:
It was an okay episode, but seemed to suffer from too many storylines. I found it difficult to even write a summary of it. The things that worked were the characters just being themselves. Despite the overall weak threads of the episode, Aidan's story seemed to get a lot of set up. Why does he not remember certain things? Who is Celene? Why did he suddenly turn all control freak and tell Bishop no one will stop him from doing what he wants? Why did Bishop worry about Garrity's family? I guess there is also the possibility that Bishop manipulated the whole thing and even killed him, or Aidan is suffering from some vampire memory disease. If this is only part of a larger thread, then some of my criticisms will be muted.

Sally also asked Aidan some vampire questions for us. Aidan can eat for appearances but not for sustenance. As for sunlight, Aidan says they evolved from being nocturnal to just being photosensitive. Convenient. Bishop also asks permission to enter Garrity's house. Hopefully they've thought out this mythology, because right now it seems only there to serve as plot devices and make for easier filming for the crew.

I realize it's only the third episode in, but Aidan is getting a lot of focus at the expense of Josh. It works against Josh's character that he's the most morose of the three of them, but his affliction only hits him once a month, while Aidan and Sally are monsters all the time. His depression and self-sabotaging is starting to wear thin already.

I felt a little jarred by how at ease everyone is with the living arrangement, without a sense of how much time has passed between these two episodes (I assume Josh hasn't transformed since last week). But they're all joking around as if they've known one another for quite awhile. I know the writers are striving to achieve the easy friendly banter and humour of the original, but it overly forced here, as if they were just running through a series of one-liners to establish how good they get on.

My complaint about the casual acceptance of the supernatural continues this week with Bishop's "I'm a vampire" conversation. Sure, Garrity's likely had a lot to drink, but he seems to believe Bishop right away, as if that's what he's been waiting for to explain his father's death.

I also got to wondering about ghosts in general. Josh can see them, but apparently Sally is the first one he's noticed, despite that he works at a hospital with Aidan where Tony hung out. Wouldn't he be seeing ghosts all the time since he became a werewolf?

When I mentioned last week I didn't want Aidan to have deux ex machina vampire powers, I didn't mean for him to be knocked down by a drunk and impaled on a broken pipe. What was that all about? 

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