***This review would sound better if read in a British accent. It is not necessary, of course, but that would be my personal preference. ***
While you blokes across the pond are already halfway through Being Human‘s eight-episode third series, those of us in the States just got the series premiere this past Saturday night. I’m not complaining; other than incessant reruns of Top Gear, BBC America has become my new favorite obsession, though I suspect we do get edited versions of the show. We have our own (lesser) version of Being Human now on SyFy, of which season one will deliver 13 episodes, enough to cover all the plot in the first two British series. However, as the series premiere “Lia” showed once again, yours is better.
Series three moves the roommates from Bristol, where things ended in a bloody mess last season, to Wales. Nina (Sinéad Keenan), reunites with George (Russell Tovey), and isn’t happy that they will still be living with his friend, Mitchell (Aidan Turner). But George can’t stand to kick Mitchell out, seeing as he seems to be losing his marbles. Despite a rocky second series, Nina and George seem to fully commit to each other once more, though she’d like a bit of privacy. Mitchell is bent on finding Annie (Lenora Crinchlow), who disappeared in the series two finale through The Door to the other side. Plus, there is nary a glimpse of old villain Herrick (Jason Watkins), whom we saw resurrected at the end of last year, so there’s that dread hanging over everything. The audience knows that he will be back soon. Basically, things are chaotic.
I do like the new setting. The original apartment was a bit drab, definitely just set trapping. It served its purpose, but will not really be missed. The new dwelling, on the other hand, has some serious character, including the tropical wall and the counter in the middle of the room. It could become a character unto itself, especially if there are some strange secrets hidden within that we haven’t discovered yet. If not, it’s still fun to see the stars dance in front of painted palm trees.
We also got to meet some new characters this week. McNair (Robson Green, Wire in the Blood) and his son, Tom (Michael Socha, This is England), are werewolves shown quite a bit, mostly in scenes without any of our main characters around. McNair is captured by vampires, and Tom rescues him. What are they up to? Are they just trying to live a quiet life, as our roommates are? Have they come to town with some kind of mission? How will they affect George and Nina, or are they just there to show that there are some dangerous vampires around that like to play with wolves? So little is revealed, they definitely spark more questions than they answer.
Mitchell spends the first part of the episode acting deliciously crazy, delivering a funny scene with a realtor, not knowing how to even begin to find his missing friend. Then Annie calls to Mitchell through a television, and he figures out a way to hitchhike on the back of a recently deceased man through The Door and come after her. Little does he know, the powers controlling the other side want exactly that. They are not holding Annie for her own sake, but to lure Mitchell. You see, he went on a bloody rampage in the tunnel and killed a bunch of people last season. Lia (Lacey Turner), his guide, was one of the victims. Mitchell is unaware of this fact and Lia walks him through some of his embarrassingly brutal past, dredging up all sorts of emotions.
The Mitchell-in-purgatory bit is easily the most creative part of the episode, and is a highlight of the series as a whole. Lia is great, both memorable, but not overpowering. Mitchell has always been a tortured soul, but never has it been more explicitly demonstrated than this sequence. Having a victim he doesn’t even remember killing as his escort only adds to his depravity. Mitchell seems stripped bare, incredibly vulnerable. It is masterful writing, and Turner handles it with great care and talent.
George, who is often the comic relief, mixes his comedy with some real danger, and also gets to show some real depth. His arrest in the woods with the sexual deviants, including Bob (Torchwood‘s delightful Kai Owen), seems merely a funny happenstance. And then, as Owen battles his change in a cell with Bob, it takes a much darker turn. Kennan is amazing as Nina struggles not to change while bailing George out. There is an intense energy to the exchange that did not disappoint. Later, watching George cry at Annie’s return, I realize he played anger, sadness, joy, lust, and the wolf ferociousness all in one hour, often intermixed, with serious skill.
There are some strange implications to ponder in this episode. For instance, what does it mean that George and Nina seemingly have sex in wolf form? Will Nina carry a wolf baby? Or a fetus that changes inside of her on the full moon? Because that would be mighty strange. Who is the werewolf that will kill Mitchell, and will we see his death this series, or much later, if there is a later? If he does die this series, how will he be brought back for another series? Or will that be the end of him entirely? Will Annie have any lasting effects from her time in purgatory? I can’t wait to find out!
Being Human airs Saturday nights at 9 p.m. on BBC America.