The second episode of E4’s delinquents-with-superpowers show Misfits has shown that the high quality of the first episode was no fluke. It was very funny, has some touching moments, and a great twist which gives an idea of the potential of this series. Spoilers follow if you haven’t yet seen episode two…
The episode opened with our five unlikely heroes finding a naked man who turns out to be Nathan’s mother’s boyfriend, Jeremy, although Nathan can never bring himself to say those words. At first they deduced that he must be either a sex pest or cruising (“George Michael gets away with this but he used to be in Wham, who are you?”) but it turns out that he was affected by the storm as well. When the lightning struck, he was thinking about his dog, which means now he starts acting like a dog at certain times, a werewolf without the fur. This leads to some quite touching scenes, with Nathan protective of his mum, but after finding that she will still stay with Jeremy, he begrudgingly learns to live with them being together, but reminding him “if you ever hurt her, I’ll take you up the vets and have you put down.”
Meanwhile the Felonious Five are made to help out at a pensioner’s dance as part of their community service, leading to some amusing scenes where Kelly reads an old man’s mind and makes him a cup of tea, and one moment where Nathan is pushing an old lady in a wheelchair and is distracted by a pretty girl, causing him to stop in his tracks while the wheelchair rolls out of shot. The girl he was looking at is Ruth, who says she’s a volunteer at the community centre, and he meets her again while sleeping there that evening, leading to a whirlwind drink’n’drugs-fuelled romance.
The episode very much focused on Nathan, meaning there wasn’t a huge amount of time for the other characters. Curtis, for example, was hardly seen and didn’t use his “turn back time” powers at all. Kelly continued to be a very funny character, brilliantly played by Lauren Socha, not always enjoying being able to hear people’s thoughts. But Alisha has powers she really doesn’t want, it’ll be very interesting to see how her story develops. Making anyone she touches lust for her to the point of sexual assault isn’t really the most useful or welcome gift, although in a scene which was both funny and quite disturbing, it did allow her to get out of trouble with a policeman played by Nicholas “Nathan Barley” Burns, someone used to the superhero genre after his role in No Heroics.
Speaking of funny and disturbing, Simon finally got to put his invisibility powers to good use, spying on the girls as they got changed. He also started chatting online with someone who has suddenly taken an interest in him, “shygirl18”, which can surely only lead to trouble. She might have something to do with the notes the gang have been getting in their lockers, saying “I know what you did”. Not the most original concept, as pointed out by Nathan saying “I know what film you watched last summer”, but it’s another interesting plot thread which will probably climax in the final episode. Judging by the way probation worker Sally was looking all evil and knowing at the end of the episode, we’re supposed to think it’s her – so it probably isn’t. Or is it? Ahhh…
The star of the episode was definitely Nathan, Robert Sheehan’s comic timing and delivery being as brilliant as the first episode, but also getting to show his acting chops too. He finally got Ruth into bed, showing at first that his power might be super-speed. He then had another go, in a sex scene which might usually be described as gratuitous, but was explicit for good reason – suddenly the naked lovely young lady writhing on top of him became a naked 80-year old woman. No, it wasn’t a sight we particularly wanted to see, but it helped us to understand Nathan’s shock and revulsion as he ran screaming from the bedroom. It turns out that Ruth was also affected by the storm, she is an old lady who wanted to be young again and she got her wish. Despite all the clues being there beforehand, them being in “her grandmother’s house”, the only drink she had being sherry, it was still quite a shock. But now her powers are fading, and in a very sad, touching scene at the OAP’s dance, the elderly Ruth spots Nathan and slowly makes her way towards him on her zimmerframe with a loving smile on her face. When he spots her, he runs away in disgust again and when the others ask him why, he blames it on the James Blunt song that was playing (“Line in the sand, my friend”) which is a fair excuse, but he forgot about Kelly’s mind-reading powers, meaning his granny-bothering secret was out. Nathan eventually returned to Ruth’s house to apologise, but found that she had passed away. This moment was so well written and acted as Nathan flicked through a photo album to see wartime photos of the girl he fell for, flicking through each page as she grew older, and then the final pages were empty. Despite his grief, he was still not able to bring himself to kiss her forehead, instead, to his own shame, ruffling her hair as he said goodbye.
The episode was a perfect balance of light and dark with genuinely emotional moments mixed with some great one-liners, along with a great plot twist. If it’s a sign of the quality of the rest of the series, as we start to meet other people around the town who might have been affected by the storm, then this is definitely going to continue to be something to look forward to each week.