Misfits S04E01

staring off roof

Well played, Howard Overman, well played.  I approached the season 4 premiere of Misfits with a hefty dose of skepticism.  Almost all of the original characters are gone, and the show hasn’t even been that funny since Nathan’s departure in season 2.  You had your work cut out for you to get me interested in the new season in its first moments.  Then the first scene opens with total melee on the roof: well, I’m certainly pulled in to what’s going on.

chaos atop the community center

I couldn’t resist all the hilarious screen-captured flail.

But that didn’t last.  We jump back about 6 hours to find out what brought everyone there, and suddenly I sense something funny.  “This couldn’t be, could it?”  I wonder to myself.  “It can’t be, but it is… could this be a plot on Misfits?”

That’s right: Overman attempted something approaching a plot in this episode.  It actually wasn’t that different from how things usually go down: the misfits attempt to go about their lives, something crazy happens with powers, they manage to stop it, and, given that this is a season premiere, at least one random person is killed.

Because the story was told out of order, however, it actually felt a bit plotty, like it was attempting a self-contained mystery.  Or maybe the plot stood out more because otherwise the episode just didn’t bring the funny.  But more on that later: first, on what we’ve learned.

first day

Actually, Finn, you were kind of right: a typical first day initiation for a misfit is that someone tries to kill you.

Rudy and Curtis are still finishing their community service.  Kelly’s skipped out on it; she went to Uganda with Seth and decided to stay.  As a self-proclaimed “f–king rocket scientist,” she knows how to defuse all those pesky landmines that the country is always peppered with (because according to the media, war/violence is all there is to the entire continent, dontchaknow).  Of course the locals are fawning all over their white savior [insert sarcasm], so Kelly’s decided to stay.  Seth’s just back for the moment to wrap up affairs and send their things to Uganda.

We haven’t yet found out what newbies Jess and Finn did to land them in community service, but they got off to a rocky start with their fellow probation-ees.  Some random guy with a briefcase full of cash is running around spreading his greed to everyone else; Curtis, Seth, and Rudy were already affected before Jess and Finn arrived, so the latter two are soon drugged and stuffed in the freezer (let’s hope someone has scrubbed it out a few times since Simon stored Sally’s body in there).

Through a series of typical Misfits gross and bloody hijinks (this week we’ve got dismembered body parts and people peeing their pants), random powers-cursed guy dies, and everyone’s free of his spell.  It’s back to life as usual, only this time the new probation worker is seriously scary.  Could he also be afflicted with a strange power, or is he just a run-of-the-mill psychopath?  Can’t say I really care; I’m still mourning the loss of the deadpan Shaun.

torture

I know they were infected, but it’s just not entertaining to see our protagonists be so serious in their contemplation of how to torture someone.

The episode’s big twist is that Finn, who was set up as shy and socially awkward, has a girl at home tied to his bed.  I can’t say that was that big of a shocker; the show’s got a penchant for the quiet creepy types, and anyway Finn seemed to think a great way of diffusing tension was to make up stories about his mother having a stroke or his uncle raping him.  Can’t say I’m a big fan of the new guy, and I’m mostly feeling “meh,” about Jess.  She’s got all of Kelly’s attitude, but without the funny delivery.

In fact, Howard Overman, despite your strong cold open, you’re officially on notice.  I was sick of all the violence against women back in season 2, and it continued a bit in season 3.  I’m really not amused to see it still going strong in season 4, and I don’t even care why Finn’s got her tied up.

One of the reasons Misfits always worked is that although our protagonists aren’t good people, they’re not evil either.  I’m already facing an uphill battle learning to like these new characters after all my favorites are gone from the show, and something like kidnapping women and tying to their beds makes me not even want to try.

community service

I do like this guy’s crazy eyes, and the misfits’ reaction to them. There’s some potential here.

Also, that’s the best you could do to write Kelly off the show?  At least Nathan got a short video; maybe it’s hard to bring the actress back after her arrest and all, but Lauren Socha and the show parted ways before that, and I feel like Kelly deserves a better send-off than that she’s suddenly found her calling defusing land mines.

Misfits has gotten creepier and darker, but the balance is off now that it’s not nearly as funny.  I really didn’t think we could attribute so much of the humor to delivery over writing, but apparently that’s the case.  So far I’m planning on sticking it out for the rest of the season (there are only 8 episodes, though that seems like a ton compared to the stellar first season’s 6), but at this point I kind of just feel like I’m going through the motions.

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