Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Being Human (USA) "Wouldn't It Be Nice (If We Were Human)"

Non Spoiler Review:
Josh finally gets the spotlight when he encounters a fellow werewolf who is eager to show him the ropes and expose his inner wolf, which may not bode well for Aidan. Sally learns to use her expanding set of abilities to interfere with Danny and become increasingly more annoying. And Aidan encounters a reformed Rebecca, but she does much better as an enabler than a protege.

I enjoyed the tension of Aidan and Josh's struggles to control the respective dark side of their natures. The promise of conflict between them has seriously ramped up now that werewolf Ray is in the mix, and it doesn't appear to be resolved very quickly. It was a pretty good episode all in all, however...

The writers still seem to be a little too over the top with witty dialogue and goofy characterization (werewolf Ray is a bit of a nut). Camaraderie is implied rather than allowed to develop naturally (aside from the ongoing couch talks between two out of the three leads at any given time). Sally keeps popping in and out, though she can clearly move on to other locations now, so why is she staying and invading their privacy? What is she doing 24 hours a day aside from stalking her ex? Sally's constant complaining is inviting comparisons to her Being Human UK counterpart, Annie, who is so much more likable at this point. We haven't seen Aidan as good-boy vampire long enough to find him sympathetic, either, when he goes off on his vampire blood binges.

Spoilers Now!
Wouldn't It Be Nice opens with a narration from Josh, who complains that it is nearly impossible in this day and age to find a place to be completely alone. Case in point, he runs through the woods struggling to find a spot to change that isn't overrun by campers and hikers. Aidan continues to find it difficult to control his desire for human blood, as evidenced by his silent stalking of a woman. And finally, Sally witnesses Danny kiss Bridget on the spur of the moment. As Josh finally changes, someone is watching him.

In the morning, a redneck man tosses Josh a bag of clothes, telling him he sucks at being a werewolf. Ray is a werewolf too, and he knows how to do it right. Josh tries to play dumb, but Ray even knows his name (bad sign). He suggests they look out for each other and ensure neither hurt any humans (key word—humans), but Josh wants none of it and heads home (with his unfashionable attire).

Josh tells Aidan about his freaky encounter as Sally returns to complain ad nauseum about Danny and Bridget. She tends to appear where her thoughts take her, and because she's always thinking about them, she ends up at Danny's apartment.

At work, Josh encounters a new brassy nurse who gives him a hard time about delivering a patient to her ward. Then he notices Aidan down the hall talking with Ray. Ray just wants to chat over a cup of coffee, and Aidan suggests it would be good for him to spend some time with another werewolf. Josh acquiesces. 

Later on, Aidan finds Rebecca following him. She's certainly changed since last we saw her. Almost likable. Apparently she's had enough of Bishop and the vampire lifestyle in general. She wants out, or at least to do what Aidan's been doing—finding sustenance in the blood bank. Aidan tries to console her, but he feels he can't help her stop as he's having a hard time keeping his own life together. But he's always found it hard to resist Rebecca. And there's that whole guilt thing about killing her...

Bridget's making homemaker with Danny as Sally lurks in the apartment watching them. She gets increasingly upset as the two of them talk about their earlier kiss. Danny seems eager to move on from Sally but Bridget is more reluctant, and the two ultimately decide it might be a bad idea if they were to try to hook up (Sally knocking a glass off the counter helps unnerve them).

Ray takes Josh into the woods for a stroll to teach him all about werewolf safety. He has some rules: No one gets hurt—either through killing or turning them. Normally he would say to stear clear of vampires, but Josh has already crossed that line with Aidan. Ray found him by looking for patterns in newspapers—a lot of local deer killings suggested there was a werewolf in the area (um...okay). Ray hasn't been too successful finding others like them, though.

He brings Josh to a vacant cabin and shows him his transformation kit—fresh clothes, cell phone, water in case of dehydration and wet wipes for cleaning after changing back, as well as some food. Apparently the wolf stomach is quite different from a human's, so when they transform back they tend to throw up all the raw meat they consumed if they happen to kill any wildlife—Josh agrees, and notes that the wolf tends to eat it's own poo, as well.  Finally, Ray has brought a side of beef that they can drag around the radius of the cabin for about a mile so that the wolf will follow the scent all night without going off looking for food and stay within walking distance of the cabin. Pretty smart. After all that and Ray's general good-natured weirdness, Josh starts to warm up to him.

Aidan brings Rebecca a blood bag to start her on her new diet. She's not happy with the taste, though. She hasn't eaten in days, and asks him to stay. She feeds off him instead—which apparently isn't something vampires do much as it just doesn't taste as good as human. They have sex too. They make a terrible bloody mess in the bathroom and Aidan says it can't happen again or they'll lose control of their bloodlust and start hunting people like crazy (seriously, that bathroom is a mess). But that reasoning doesn't last too long and they have sex again.

Sally's made friends with Ray, too, and is now telling him about all her problems. She's managed to break up Danny and Bridget simply by looming around. Ray's hanging out with them quite a bit, watching TV, having dinner, and Josh asks if Ray can crash there awhile given he doesn't have a place to stay. Aidan is not impressed, but he's a bit preoccupied with other things, like his life spiralling out of control.

Some time passes (about a month) with Aidan and Rebecca getting closer every day, Sally continuing to keep Danny and Bridget apart (Bridget is the one leaving flowers on her grave), and Ray bonding with Josh. While playing pool, he encourages Josh to become more of a wild man with the ladies and let his inner wolf out to play. Oh, and vampires are evil. They beat up werewolves all the time and think they're so cool. Redneck Ray is a vampire racist!

Ray's settled in at the house and is using the fridge to store his meat (at the expense of Aidan's blood bags, which he just leaves out on the counter and they go bad). Aidan tells him he needs to leave after the next full moon, but Ray's emboldened with his new friendship and accuses the vampire of treating Josh like a pet.

Aidan continues to suffer from renewed bloodlust, seeing everyone as a potential feed. At the hospital, new and improved Josh hits on the nurse we just met and does pretty well as far as confidence, but not so well at avoiding sexual harassment. She tells him not to talk to her again while Josh explains to Aidan he was channelling his inner wolf.

Sally's feeling guilty now about coming between Danny and Bridget. This time she and Aidan commiserate, who has taken to wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses in the house, so that can't be good. He suggests two people she loves coming together might not be a bad thing, even if they weren't perfect for one another.

So Sally attempts to communicate with Bridget to let her know it's okay to go to Danny. Bridget does hear something, but isn't sure what. But later on she shows up at Danny's with a kiss and thinks she got a message from Sally that it was all okay. Danny wonders if there's something to that, so shows up at the house with no one home, calling out to Sally. She keeps quiet this time.

Aidan and Rebecca go to a fancy restaurant to act like they're normal and eating real food, but it's the patrons that get them all hot and bothered and the two of them run out to go hunting. They nearly kill a waiter out in an alley before Aidan regains his senses and pulls her away. But that was enough for Rebecca to know she can't keep living like a human. She's just not strong enough and it's driving her crazy. Aidan has hit bottom before, but she isn't in the mood to listen to his lecture that it gets better, and leaves when he's in the bathroom.

Ray and Josh are out on the town as well, and Ray shows Josh the vampire bar, where the vampires get drunk on blood. Ray says they're pretty weak and vulnerable when they're gorged, and given he and Josh are within days of transforming, they're equally strong. So he takes the opportunity to beat up a drugged up vampire in front of Josh. Ray wants payback for all the beatings they've taken at the hands of vampires. Then Marcus shows up and a fight ensues, but it appears the werewolves kick royal ass (It's unclear if they actually killed them). When they get home, Ray tells Josh to admit how good it felt to beat them up. Josh reluctantly agrees.

The Good and Bad:
I liked this episode more after reflecting on it, rather than watching it, and I think that's due more to Ray's character proving distracting, as well as Sally's constant complaining. It has a lot going for it this week, especially since it's left matters unresolved promising a longer arc over the season. While it was probably not the best idea to follow last week's Sally gets a mentor storyline with Josh gets a mentor, the writers are obviously trying to keep the plot moving briskly. Josh got to be the focus and find his inner wolf, while Aidan and Rebecca spin out of control together. Finally we get some werewolf lore and insight into the physical changes that are causing Josh such grief.

The character interactions do need more polish and subtlety. I'm still not sure what to make of Aidan's extremes. It almost makes me wonder if Bishop is exercising some sort of mind control on him. Scenes swing wildly from very dark to very lighthearted moments. There needs to be a more even tone throughout with less forced humor (the poo joke was far funnier than the earlier goofiness of Josh's arguments with Aidan). We get that the trio get along now, so we don't need to have little vignettes that play out like Friends.

Being Human is starting to suffer from expectations if you happen to follow the UK version. This week borrowed heavily from a similar episode, and that werewolf character came across better than Ray. Ray's character was too over the top not to raise some alarm bells right away. The same problem applies to Sally. If they're taking things in a direction with Danny like the British series did, then it's probably best that it gets dealt with soon, as he and Bridget are not interesting at all, and Sally's becoming a huge pain to have to suffer through.

All the pieces are in place to make this a great series, but the writers really need to pull it together rather than try to evolve relationships too quickly. Without the sense of Josh and Aidan's longterm friendship, it becomes meaningless when someone like Ray can drive a wedge through them in one episode (despite the month long montage we get). And we've started the series with Aidan falling off the wagon by killing Rebecca, so we don't have a sense of how different he was during his good vampire phase.

But...this was a thorough improvement over last week, and I'm willing to give the series a grace period given it's still finding its footing.

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