BEING HUMAN - Episode Three

BBC3 - 8th February 2009 - 9.00pm

No, no sign of the saying 'flash in the pan'. Episode Three again demonstrates the quality of writing and acting that have become the benchmark of the first two episodes. George pretty much summarises the following 50 minutes with his opening narration as Annie pours over the mementos of her relationship with Owen, Mitchell is seduced by the vampire porn left by Lauren and George, clearly smitten by Nina, has an RTA with a wheelchair and an elderly patient.

"Love should be the opposite of death. It should be our biggest reason for wanting to be here. I mean, what else have we got? Football? Shoes? gets complicated. It gets twisted up with other things like possession and heartbreak, lust and death"
Rachel Anthony's script examines the forms of 'love' in the relationships initiated by the three main characters. Annie is still heartbroken over her fiance Owen; Mitchell must deal with Lauren's possessiveness and George must deal with lust. Whilst all this is bubbling away in the plot we discover just why the plumbing is playing up in the house and why love can be just like death. Let's also not forget that, whilst this is deeply sad and full of heartache, it's also very funny and we get off to a cracking start with 'I'm not eating raw meat like an animal just because a ghost is ovulating' as Annie self-destructs in the kitchen. The irony here is that it isn't anything to do with PMT, as the two males in the household ignorantly assume, but it's all to do with the unfulfilled promise of marrying Owen. Wonderful physical comedy from Lenora Crichlow and Russell Tovey too as Annie blubs away about her engagement present of a mouli grater and randomly wields it around in the air much to the alarm of a flinching George.

Gilbert drifts through the drama like a younger version of Mark E. Smith
In an attempt to get Annie to resolve her difficulties and understand the reason why she remains in earthly limbo instead of passing into the great beyond, the boys take her to an 80s night at a local night spot. To the all too ironic strains of 'Tainted Love' Mitchell introduces her to literal kindred spirit Gilbert. Gilbert is the cultural embodiment of 1985, well, musically at least, and gives the creators of this episode a good reason to cram in as much music as they possibly can to epitomise Gilbert's penchant for the miserable. There are also sly digs at Morrissey's 'meat is murder' affectations and Marc Almond's then existential pretentiousness (and no angry comments, I am a huge fan of both artists. Any drama that name checks Marc And The Mambas and then dares to play their version of 'In My Room' wins me over completely). Gilbert drifts through the drama like a younger version of Mark E. Smith and Alex Price gives us a very beguiling and charming little performance. Mitchell and George discuss sex at the bar, with hilarious associations between werewolf guilt and Jewish guilt, with George embarrassingly announcing to a packed disco his temptation 'to smash the granny' out of any date he brought back to the flat. Something that will indeed be witnessed later in the episode!
...she's simply an extension of his own sublimated lusts

Mitchell is stalked by the obssessive Lauren to the point where he realises that he must take responsibility for her and ensure that she's kept fed and off the streets. Vampirism is equated here with drug addiction as Lauren uncontrollably craves fix after fix. There is no love in the relationship that one can readily recognise, just a mutual agreement to enable each of them to stem the desire to kill. It's significant that Lauren mentions the vampire porn as a way that Herrick sought to attempt to rouse Mitchell's desire for Lauren and bring him back into the fold. But vampire porn, like other forms of porn, is sublimated desire, just a mirror of society's deepest desires and fears in the politics of fantasy. Mitchell despises himself for what he has created in Lauren as she's simply an extension of his own sublimated lusts and that's symbolically evident in the sequence where they feed on each other in the hotel room.
Symbolically, as Annie decides to sort out her life, the plumbing groans in protest.
As Gilbert attempts to get to the root of Annie's earthbound state, first by showing her her own gravestone (to the cheeky refrain of 'Girlfriend In A Coma') and then by helping her try to be the unseen wife to Owen, it's clear he's fallen in love with her. Annie doesn't register this and is determined to cook and organise Owen's routine whilst it's understood that Gilbert himself is seeking to find a resolution to his own limbo state. He needs to find his peace too. Crichlow and Price are superb as they fully develop the relationship between the two ghosts and when their resolutions do materialise I'm pretty sure the audience is rooting for them to get together. When Annie returns from the cemetary, there's that lovely bit of Laurel and Hardy slapstick from Tovey and Turner as they end up on the sofa hugging each other and with Mitchell wearing George's glasses. It's these endearing moments pitched against some truly moving, often achingly sad, scenes that are pure Being Human alchemy. Symbolically, as Annie decides to sort out her life, the plumbing groans in protest.

Talk about 'you always hurt the one you love'. Devastating.
As 'fun is such a bourgeois concept' for Gilbert (more interested in collecting Japanese imports) he frowns upon George's date with Nina. Quite right as their date is perhaps the most normal depiction of dating in the entire story, even if George is petrified of turning wolf during sex. As Gilbert demonstrates 'fun' to Annie in the form of an inspired dance routine, a verbal assault on local bobbies and reading Human, All Too Human by Nietzsche set to Fun Boy Three, the story is at it's most playful and charming. Naturally, this is all leading to a a crisis for her, Gilbert, Mitchell and George. Mitchell is increasingly desperate to satiate Lauren, offering her blood from a blood bank, and which ultimately ends with her returning to the bosom of Herrick. George's coitus interruptus with Nina reaches an...ahem...hilarious climax when he loses control and has sex with her before running off to transform. Annie, after tending to Owen, finally discovers that Owen's plumbing at the flat isn't as innocent as it seems. When he unblocks the loo, removing a discarded thong, she instantly recalls their row and, what we've suspected about her death and Owen all along, that he pushed her down the stairs and killed her. Talk about 'you always hurt the one you love'. Devastating.

Best. Thing. On. Telly.
Equally devastating is the unrequited love that Gilbert endures over Annie. It's very moving when he understands that his own resolution is in helping Annie come to terms with her own death. Once his task is done then death comes to claim him. Love and death in parallel runs throughout the episode. Crichlow is again quite amazing and Price plays his 'death' to charming perfection. Very bittersweet. But as one door closes then another opens and it looks like a proper relationship is finally on the cards for Nina and George. Unfortunately, in his deliriously happy state, he compares the repaired plumbing with Annie's resolution of her own death. But the episode leaves Annie convinced she still hasn't acquired peace and that it has yet to be found. What can you say...a brilliant, poignant and funny script, superb use of music, electric performances, gratuitous shots of Tovey's arse and Turner's chest. An absolute winner. Best. Thing. On. Telly.

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6 Responses to “BEING HUMAN - Episode Three”
  1. Perfect love casts out fear. Beautiful.

  2. S Bates says:

    I agree, great show.

    Although the first half sort of dragged a little for me (perhaps it was the usual Sunday night doldrums?). But the second half made up for it.

    Funnily I thought Gilbert was going to be a "bad guy" and try to take advantage of Annie. He struck me as being creepy... until the end bit with the door. I also thought his resolution was learning to actually, truly love someone. Once he'd done that, he could move on (which makes one wonder whether love is a mortal thing and not heavenly).

    Anyway, nice review.

  3. I thought Gilbert was sweet. How could he learn how to love God until he'd learnt how to love a human? As C.S. Lewis put it, "How can we meet the gods face to face until we have faces?"

    Okay. I'll shut up about religion now.

    *takes a deep breath*

    I absolutely LOVED the Eighties music - and George finally getting his leg over! If the hospital portering thing doesn't work out, George and Mitchell could always go into stand-up comedy, 'cos their double act is HILARIOUS.

    Bit of a girly episode, this one. "Men - they're all the same! The ones who aren't bloodsuckers or murderers are complete animals!"

    I wouldn't let a child of mine under the age of eighteen watch this... but I enjoyed it immensely.

  4. A girly and a gay show, me thinks.

    With you on the C.S.Lewis jive. Before you know God, you must know yourself.

  5. You are the Delphic oracle and I claim my £5.


    I always thought Owen had murdered her. Shifty-looking beggar. I hope the resolution Annie needs is shoving him down that same flight of stairs and straight into the afterlife.

  6. Lucy McGough, I'm shocked. But nevertheless am in total agreement. Whack him over the head with the mouli grater first though.

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