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So this is how it begins

SPOILERS

AHOY!

I was as prepared as I could be (without being spoiled for actual specific plot points).

I COULD NOT BE PREPARED.

Far Too Many Disclaimers For My Taste Dept.: As I type this, I realize I'm clicking into a really analytical/rationalizing mode, because I literally feel a little bit physically sick thinking about some of the things that went down, and right now I'm very consciously thinking through why I want to keep watching the show. Which I do, but right now my emotional impulse is to text-vomit a whole lot of THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS and NO I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THIS and AASLDKF;ASDKJLA;S FLAAAAAAAILLLL.

Which, while I have little doubt that some of you will commiserate, is not so much with the useful or interesting to read. So.

I also want to clarify up front that I'm looking at things in terms of in-universe story integrity. I have all the respect in the world for Aidan's and Sinead's and Russell's right to make their own career choices, and for the creative team's good-faith intention to continue making something great. But at the end of the day, I have to assess the story on its own merits. My emotional experience doesn't grade on a curve. And is also entirely subjective.

With all that said...

First and (despite, or perhaps because of, going by in a blur) most complicated, because it's the thing I've been fretting most about... Nina's offscreen demise. I really, really, really wanted them to avoid killing her. But I have to concede I don't know how they could have done so without its being forced and awkward.

I can't picture Nina leaving of her own volition, not again. And (even in isolation, but especially after the way they lost Mitchell) George and Annie would move heaven and earth to get her back if she were taken by force. So I've spent the last few weeks coming to terms with the fact that Nina's death was the only way to avoid ending up with a show centered entirely on rescuing a character who, because her actor chose to leave, could never be rescued.

I can't fault them for that, but what remained to be judged was the how. And... :-/

On two previous occasions, we've faced the very strong possibility of Nina's death in the next episode, and my opinion of each case remains unchanged: If she had died in Lucy's pressure chamber, I would have had a very hard time forgiving the writers for what would have been a straight-up fridging, serving no dramatic purpose but George's pain. If she had died from the stab wound at Herrick's hands, I would have mourned desperately, but accepted it in storytelling terms, because -- despite Herrick stating outright that his purpose was to strike at George -- it happened in her story, as a consequence of her choices.

This is... somewhere in between, but more toward the fridging end of the continuum than it needed to be. And I think that hinges mostly on Griffin's little rant about George, and the gratuitous reference to killing "his bitch" in the midst of it. I mean, okay, consider the source -- Griffin is worthless slime, almost cartoonishly so, which in a way is part of my problem. We don't need him to be cavalier about Nina's death to see that he's worthless slime; he demonstrates it every time he opens his mouth.

The nature of the attack, the viciousness and cowardice of it, implies that the vampires -- quite rightly -- regarded Nina as a threat in her own right. A gang of vampires, armed with baseball bats, ambushing a lone, tiny woman mere days after she's given birth? The overkill of it veers into the absurd... as the most heinous of hate crimes always do.

And it is a hate crime, in a textbook way that in and of itself speaks to a larger significance than George's personal suffering. But the dialogue obscures that, both in Griffin's comment and in the way we learn the details from George -- in whose mind it is all about his personal suffering. However much we love him, there's no avoiding the fact that he's never been any good at seeing past his own pain. Thus, as audience, our experience of Nina's death is compromised by George's cardinal flaw.

"Everyone deserves a death," Annie told us at the very beginning, and regardless of intent, Toby Whithouse has allowed Nina's to be co-opted. That's never going to sit well, any way I slice it. It helps a bit, though, to have Annie speak for us as well as herself, in forcefully reminding George that he's not the only one who's just lost both a lover and a best friend. And to see Tom's kicked-puppy stare when George snaps that he barely knew Nina, failing to grasp that, in Tom's tiny world, Nina's significance was second only to McNair's. George never quite clues in that she's not just his Nina, but those around him are acutely aware, and I appreciate that.

George's own death... well, I know one thing for sure: After we had to watch Mitchell disintegrate over an excruciatingly long period of time, I'm rather embarrassingly relieved that this one is done.

Anything beyond that... er... splunge? I think maybe I need to watch it again, because I'm kind of a little bit numb, and I don't like that as my response. Russell and Lenora and just everybody did stellar work, and the twist is just the safe side of too gimmicky. This is the point in the development of any genre show where you almost have to start pushing the envelope of your mythology, and gamble on whether your audience will accept the innovations in light of previous canon.

This business of werewolf blood being toxic to vampires, odd as it may sound, I'm actually entirely on board with? Because, as I've stated before, their revulsion to the idea of feeding from a werewolf has always struck me as gut-level instinct, not just learned bigotry. I connected the dots ages ago to the hypothesis that it -- as well as the ill-defined ability to "recognize" a werewolf on sight -- might be protecting them from drinking blood that could be harmful. I wasn't expecting it to be quite this dramatic, but there's no reason it shouldn't be.

As for George's mind-over-matter partial transformation... it should feel like a cheat, but it doesn't? Between its being the day after the full moon (when it's been firmly established from the very beginning that it's still affecting his senses and emotional state), the extreme stress, and of course the fact that it goes horribly, horribly wrong, it lands safely clear of deus ex machina territory, at least for me.

I do think I should watch it again with that settled in my mind, and out of the way of my experiencing the moment along with the characters. I think I'll feel more resolved about it then, in a way that unfortunately I'll probably never be able to with Nina. :-/

Except for one unavoidable fact: This is where they are really the "last victims of the Box Tunnel massacre," and that's a terribly hard pill to swallow. Mitchell would have submitted to slavery to keep George and Nina alive. Now they're both dead anyway, in no small measure because of his disastrous choices. The bleakness of that is, if not entirely alien to Being Human, pretty damn harsh.

And that brings us to the crux of things: This is less an episode than a turning point, a clearing of the decks before we follow Annie into what is very nearly a spinoff. And at this point, we have very little inkling what that show will be like. If we go by this episode, it seems like it will be a show about people who have to stand against the dark because there's nobody else to do it, because if they don't it will consume everything, and how it gets harder and harder to hold onto the things that matter as the costs mount ever higher.

I just described approximately 60% of my DVD collection. So obviously, to say that I have anything against a show of that description would be patently ridiculous. But BH has a very particular place in my heart for very different reasons. It's the show I fell in love with partly because they weren't looking to save the world. In fact, I distinctly remember stating that they really weren't cut out for it. That opinion hasn't changed, except maybe with respect to Annie. So it's bizarrely fitting that it's pretty much gotten everyone but Annie killed.

But -- and oh, how I hope I'm justified in that but! -- this was a clearing of the decks, not necessarily a setting of the tone. Yes, we still have obnoxious levels of Vampire Bullshit of the world-domination variety left unresolved. We have the future timeline, with someone who might or might not be Eve crossing to the other side on a quest to kill a baby for reasons unknown, all the better to confuse us and give us TSCC flashbacks. O_o

But we also have the glimpse of Hal and Leo and Pearl in their haven, safely isolated for the past half-century in a way that circumstances did not allow our familiar heroes. (Not to mention disproving yet another of Kemp and Lucy's assumptions, and hinting at a pattern that's likely happened far more than twice, a natural alliance in which a fortunate few find more strength and meaning than in sticking to their own "kind.") We have Tom, bless his completely unsubtle heart, angling for a full-fledged place in probably the only brick-and-mortar house he's ever known. We have Eve in her highly-concentrated baby adorableness.

And, most of all, we have Annie. Annie, the sweet and insecure and "more powerful than you know" emotional heart of a now-shattered family. Annie who must now also be Mitchell the gatherer of strays, and George the seeker of simplicity and security, and Nina the moral compass.

Can she? Will she? I don't know. But I have to keep watching to find out.

Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
jennetj
Feb. 8th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
I didn't read your spoilers because I've just seen the first episode (thank you Netflix), and I now see what all the fuss is about. Loving what I've seen so far. Just tell me this: will it break my heart?
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
Several times. In many jagged fragments.

Through the end of S3, I sincerely judge it to be in the good way. This season, I'm not entirely sure about yet.
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:53 pm (UTC)
The only way I can accept Series 4, personally, is to imagine it as AU. Everything before that is devastating but brilliant. Not even sure, at this point, if I'd recommend watching past the end of Series 3. The first 3, though, are perfection.
sabaceanbabe
Feb. 8th, 2012 01:48 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen it yet, but when I saw your post, I decided, based on my own personal fears, that it would probably be better for me to watch it spoiled than not. Thank you for a very eloquent post. *hug*
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I think being spoiled might be wise for a number of people on this one. Which is funny, or perhaps telling, being the opposite of what I believe about TWSB. {{{hugs back}}}
vaznetti
Feb. 8th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
I really like what you've said about the way Annie's death was handled here -- both the nearly-ludicrous level of violence and the way it was taken away from her to be made all about George and his pain. Which is very in-character for George, as you say, but I felt that the narrative didn't undercut that as much as it could have. Especially, as you say, with Griffin's description of it. If I think about it too much it makes me feel ill.

I would very much like to see Annie take on the role you see here at the end -- I feel like I'm clinging to her character desperately now.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
Anything for Nina would feel kind of fraught to me at this point, given the flat-out hatred of her in some quarters of fandom. But the actual story has always done such a good job of showing that she's doing what she believes is right/necessary, whether or not it worked out to everyone's advantage, that it's really disappointing her death comes in a way that could have been so much less problematic with such small adjustments. :-/

I'm clinging desperately to Annie along with you. I've always wanted to see her come into her own, but oh, this was not the way. ~meep~
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:47 pm (UTC)
Completely agree...
...with everything you say. Philosophically, it just doesn't naturally spring from what we've seen before on the show, and that's why I talked about the whole thing not feeling organic to the storytelling in my review. Usually when fans say they're going to disregard a certain twist on the show as actually being canon, I personally find it silly, because that is the writers' story that they chose to tell, and so, yes, it's canon.

But this might be the first case where I have trouble reconciling that, because I don't think this is the story the writers wanted to tell. And I have a great deal accepting this as the ultimate message of the George/Nina story, that they end up the last victims of Mitchell's box car attack, particularly due to that final shot of Series 3. That stance that the three of them held spoke volumes and was reminiscent of the united George, Annie, and Mitchell facing down Owen in the first series, and the three of them vs. Herrick at the end of the first. It was clearly meant to indicate that they were going to stand up to the vampire menace and nothing would stop them, that they would be the powerful force they are when they are together, despite the immense odds. It makes no sense narratively for them to then be defeated so swiftly in the very next episode. It undermines nearly everything that led up to that moment. And it just doesn't fit this series, which, yes, can be very dark, but even throughout its darkest moments, is not bleak and has always maintained an overall optimistic though realistic view of humanity.

I felt like the events of this episode were very rushed and arbitrary, quickly clearing away the remaining characters so that the show could get on with evolving into its own spin-off. And like I said in my review, as much as I love Annie, I'd have been happier had we simply had a spin-off without her, so that we could have left those three characters together, knowing they were off together, fighting the vampires. Also, the more I think about the whole prophetic baby blah blah blah, the less I like it. It just feels too Chosen One, standard epic fantasy trope rather than the down-to-earth Being Human I fell in love with. I will keep watching, because I love Lenora Critchlow, because I love Toby Whithouse, and because I think this new show has potential, but the only way I can enjoy it is if I imagine it as its own thing, unrelated to the first three series. I'd much rather imagine that final pose as the real end of Being Human--it's an open ending but a triumphant one that metaphorically speaks volumes of what to expect from these three (four, really, once the baby is born) in the future. I simply do not accept this as the end of George and Nina's story. This new Being Human is just an alternate variation on the story, a might-have-been alternate universe. And again, I think this completely acceptable, because these turns of events were forced by external circumstances, and just aren't organic to the story that was originally being told.
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Correction
To clarify, when I said, "Usually when fans say they're going to disregard a certain twist on THE show as actually being canon," I meant *THEIR* or *A* show.
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
Err...
And of course that should have been "And I have a great deal OF TROUBLE accepting this as the ultimate message..." Oof!
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Err...
Clarifications/correctoins noted. :-)
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
That stance that the three of them held spoke volumes and was reminiscent of the united George, Annie, and Mitchell facing down Owen in the first series, and the three of them vs. Herrick at the end of the first.

Very true. It struck the exact same emotional note for me too, and I hadn't really put that together consciously before.

And like I said in my review, as much as I love Annie, I'd have been happier had we simply had a spin-off without her, so that we could have left those three characters together, knowing they were off together, fighting the vampires.

I'd be with you on that if (a) Lenora too had chosen to move on, and (b) if I didn't so very much want to see Annie fulfill more of her potential, as a character and as a person, than she's previously been able to. This is, as vaznetti put it, what I'm a bit desperately clinging to at this point.

Incidentally, I didn't comment directly on your review, since it was easier to just point you here. :-) But I very much appreciated and enjoyed reading it.

I'd much rather imagine that final pose as the real end of Being Human--it's an open ending but a triumphant one that metaphorically speaks volumes of what to expect from these three (four, really, once the baby is born) in the future.

This reminds me of something I'd forgotten: That if the show had ended there, it would be very akin to the conclusion of Angel. Which, all these years later, still stands as a startlingly satisfying example against the theory that shows should have "closure."

Edited at 2012-02-08 11:09 pm (UTC)
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
You do make very good points about Annie, though for me I feel that she has already evolved into such a strong character. Just look at how she stands up to Mitchell and later to Lia in "The Wolf-Shaped Bullet." I would be fine just extrapolating from that where she goes from there, rather than "live" in a Being Human world where George and Nina die like this (and also where Annie must spend an episode feeling as small and helpless as she does here, immediately after she was so strong in the previous one), for the sake of Annie staying on the show, y'know? Not every actor gets to choose when to leave a show, and I feel that in this case, Whithouse went the sentimental route rather than doing what was best for the story. And I don't blame him. I'm sure it would've been a massively difficult decision and probably a very scary one, since at least with Lenora, we have that link to the original cast. But I think that it would have worked better for Tom to have been the spin-off character. I'd rather know Annie was off being awesome with her dearest friends in the world than being new den mother of sorts to a new gang she hardly knows. And also having to go through the torment of losing everyone she ever really loved.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
I can see that. At this point, we all find our own way to play the hand being dealt. :-}
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
:) Oh, also just wanted to add, I also don't LOVE the idea that the only reason Annie can't go off to the next plane with George, Nina, and Mitchell is because she has to take care of the baby. Just a tad too plot devicey for me. With that said, I do appreciate (a) the irony, like you said in your post, about the dead girl being the one who "survives," and (b) that it does thematically follow up on Annie's desire to keep the ghost baby in the second series.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
Yes, yes, and yes.

That is all. :-)
robwillb
Feb. 8th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Completely agree...
AND YES YES YES, re: Angel. :D
tinheart.dreamwidth.org
Feb. 8th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Hi, I followed this link from tumblr.

I just wanted to point out that there is a reason werewolf blood being toxic to vampires (to the point where the gang who killed Nina wore visors to avoid splash damage) isn't really consistent with cannon. Because when Seth and co where beating up George on the night George and Mitchel meet, none of them were very concerned about his blood. They were hitting him barefisted.

Also, no precautions were taking during "dog fights" to protect the crowd from splash damage.

It just doesn't seem to fit with cannon and it seemed like a pointless addition... unless it's going to be plot important later.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
Well, visors with helmets implies that they were worried about their eyes, not their skin. There'd be next to no risk of dogfight spectators getting the combatants' blood in their eyes from past the fence. Not much for Seth and his buddies either, with the particular way they hit and kicked George. (Plus, well, Seth. Never exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.)

Going after Nina in a group with baseball bats is somewhat more likely to result in someone getting her blood in their eyes, although probably still not all that much risk. Which serves to underscore her murderers' cowardice.

I do suspect you're right that it'll be important later, too. My guess would be that just because Eve doesn't turn into a wolf when the moon is full, it doesn't mean she's entirely baseline human...
daryl_millar
Feb. 8th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
If we go right back to the beginning, it seems as though Being Human has always had two main story threads. The first is the quest of the central trio to stop hiding from the world and band together to find a way of 'being human'. The second is the wider vampire conspiracy which has hidden in the shadows but threatens to break out into a war on humanity.

Sadly, because of cast departures, it seems as if the first story has not played out as originally intended. I just hope that the producers can find a decent conclusion to the second story thread and let the show end on a high instead of fading away without complete resolution.
wiliqueen
Feb. 8th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
Definitely agree. And TBH, I've been hoping hard for a resolution of the potential vampire war pretty much all along. I'm just heartily tired of vampire politics in general, and of how it seems to be so difficult for any writing team to keep it from taking over a show, just because of its inherent Byzantine complexity. (On the long list of things I miss about Blood Ties, the territorial imperative of Tanya's vampires ranks quite high these days.)

And seriously, vampires, hasn't ANYBODY seen Daybreakers? Sustainability, people! It's not just for granola-crunching hippies anymore! *headshake*
daryl_millar
Feb. 9th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
I really liked Daybreakers. For me, it got the 'tone' just right. I've been hoping for a sequel, unlikely as it might be. (And Cutler seems a bit more savvy, so I wouldn't be surprised if he had different plans than total domination).

I like politicking and power-play in TV dramas, so I was happy to see the vampire war play out alongside the story of the central trio each finding their own ways of 'being human'. That story felt as if it had real soul.

I don't want to pre-judge this series, but I'd be uncomfortable if they tried to imitate what went before. But if they don't, then the central idea of 'being human' which I found so fascinating would seem to be lost.
wiliqueen
Feb. 9th, 2012 01:12 am (UTC)
It's a terribly delicate balance, for sure. But they've surprised me pretty consistently, so I expect they'll continue to do so. We'll have to see what we get when we get it. :-)

Cutler and his snark are definitely giving me more hope for the invasion storyline than I'd otherwise have. He clearly doesn't think this is going to work, like at all, so I'm curious why he's hanging around. We've already had Ivan and his "front row seat to watching it all burn" attitude, so I have to think there's something else going on in Cutler's head.

Edited at 2012-02-09 01:14 am (UTC)
robling_t
Feb. 10th, 2012 06:04 am (UTC)
THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS and NO I WANTED THE OPPOSITE OF THIS and AASLDKF;ASDKJLA;S FLAAAAAAAILLLL

I'm already just about there just from what I've heard via spoilers; the creative team seems to have decided on a course that's so 180 degrees towards making BH into Just Another Vampire Show like all of the ones that I already wasn't watching that I'm... annoyed, let's say. The thing that was different about this show, the thing that was attractive, was the weird domestic moments, and I'm disheartened that they seem to have gone away from what was appealing to the segment of the audience for whom the not-another-scarefest-about-vampire-politics aspect was the point of this show... {sigh} I'm still hoping that it could get back to that core where it's about found-families, but they've got maybe a season left to convince me that they haven't lost sight of that picture entirely, and that's about it.
wiliqueen
Feb. 10th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
The thing keeping me from that conclusion right now is that in all the PR, interviews with Toby and especially Lenora, etc., they're going out of their way to emphasize that they're at least aiming to refocus on the domestic side. Even S1 had the Herrick-plotting-world-domination arc threaded throughout.

If they can get back to something approaching that proportion of elements, and if the Annie-Tom-Hal chemistry works out, then they'll succeed in their own stated goals. If not, it seems very unlikely that it'll be recommissioned anyway. I don't know that it's likely to be even if they do, really.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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