The first series of Misfits came to an end this week with yet another great episode. It’s been an excellent series, the best new show of the year, and along with Being Human, Torchwood: Children of Men and (hopefully) Day of the Triffids, has helped make 2009 a great year for British genre shows. If I had to criticise anything about Misfits, it’s that there were only six episodes. As usual, spoilers follow if you haven’t watched yet…
The finale begins with our heroes looking on as a strange cultish group of teenagers, all dressed as if they are from the 1950s, discuss how they have reformed themselves from their formerly unruly ways. Where they were promiscuous, they are now chaste and where they were once rebellious they are now very well behaved. They are a group who call themselves Virtue, and of course they’re not just here by coincidence. As Simon says, “when weird stuff happens, it’s always the storm.”
They are led by Ellie, who has been blessed with the power of persuasion. She has been going around the streets, brainwashing every slut, vandal and stoner into becoming a model citizen. While her intentions might have been good, the results are unsettling, like the entire local youth has been taken over by the Bodysnatchers. Naturally, our orange-clad friends are in Ellie’s sights, with Alicia her first target. As soon as the gang see her modestly dressed, they know something is wrong. It was quite fun to see Antonia Thomas, who plays Alicia, getting to use her real, slightly posher voice while looking very prim and proper.
In between the action we see that Simon, in some really rather unsettling scenes, has hidden Sally’s body in a freezer in a locked room in the community centre. Occasionally he goes to visit her, sometimes to eat a pizza while he watches her frozen corpse. I have grown to really like and sympathise with Simon, but he still has a little of the Norman Bates about him. Kelly and Nathan also share some pizza in the community centre, in what at the start of the series felt like a very unlikely possible romance but has grown into something rather sweet. They discuss Nathan’s failed attempts to discover his power, he says he’s realised he probably doesn’t have one because “you can’t improve on perfection”. When Kelly asks him how he manages to get girls into bed he comes out with the rather wonderful chat-up line: “I get girls really, really drunk. So, do you wanna steal some booze?”
Alicia tricks Curtis into being taken by Virtue to be converted, along with a few others, in the community centre. The next day Nathan, Kelly and Barry.. I mean Simon.. try to save their friends. Each of them put on headphones to avoid being able to hear Ellie, stopping her power from working. I love their choice of MP3s, as Kelly listens to Lady Gaga, Simon to Kraftwerk and Nathan to the Prodigy. But things go wrong as Kelly is taken by Alicia while Simon and Nathan are chased away. Even now, Nathan is being his usual mouthy self, causing Simon to turn invisible and run away. Just as it looks like Nathan is next in line to wear a cardigan, he is rescued by a mysterious figure on a bike. This is Superhoodie, who has been appearing all over the online stuff thats been going on throughout the series, including a Facebook page which has been around since before the airing of episode one.
Nathan goes to see Kelly, who has of course has become Bizzaro Kelly complete with sensible hair and comprehensible speech. He does his best to explain how he really did like her the way she was before. He liked her attitude, and I think he speaks for all of us there. Who knew that we could have so much affection for a character that so easily could be written and played as a one-dimensional stereotype. Over the six weeks we’ve slowly grown to like all five main characters, and this final episode really showed how much our expectations have been subverted, as we saw the puritanical, goody-goody kids as the bad guys and the young offenders on community service as our heroes. It’s something Nathan brilliant sums up on a speech on the rooftop of the community centre as he holds Ellie at gunpoint after managing to infiltrate the group by dressing in a suit:
We’re young! We’re supposed to drink too much, we’re supposed to have bad attitudes and shag each other’s brains out. We were designed to party. We owe it to ourselves to party hard. We owe it to each other. This is it. This is our time. Yeah, so a few of us will overdose or go mental. Charles Darwin said you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. That’s what it’s about, breaking eggs… by eggs, I mean, getting twatted on a cocktail of class As. If you could see just see yourselves, it breaks my heart – you’re wearing cardigans! We had it all. We fucked up bigger and better than any generation that came before us! We were so beautiful!
Unfortunately, Ellie realises that he’s only holding a water pistol and after a struggle, Simon, who was invisibly watching on the rooftop, pushes her off the side, setting everyone free from their trances. Simon tries to save Nathan, but it’s too late, and he falls to his death, shockingly impaled on a fencepost. Before the funeral, Kelly goes to see him, and puts his beloved iPod in his coffin. It’s a really touching moment, it felt like they were really starting to have something together. After the funeral, they all head back to the club where it all started. Simon tells Kelly through his thoughts that he was sorry and there was nothing he could do. Distraught, Kelly leaves, and Simon follows with a smile as he realises that in Curtis and Alicia he actually has some friends. While the two lovers who can’t touch each other put their hands together, with a glass table in between, Simon catches up with Kelly and hands her a DVD of this tribute film he’d cut together from the videos he’d taken of Nathan:
But in the final few moments of the series, we finally found out what Nathan’s power was – you didn’t think they’d leave us without telling us that, did you? Six feet under, in his coffin, Nathan awoke and realised that he is, in fact, immortal. When you think that everyone’s powers are linked to their personality, it really does make sense. After a few moments of shouting and banging on the lid, he turned on his iPod, put on Blur’s To The End and resigned himself to an eternity buried underground.
While the series finale didn’t quite top last week’s brilliant episode, it was still very good and had a remarkable conclusion. It was also perhaps the most beautifully shot episode of the series so far, and I’m not just saying that because it was the first to be shown on the new E4 HD channel. The series as a whole has been a triumph, a hidden gem which hopefully will soon be discovered by more and more viewers. As I mentioned before, the series could have done with more episodes to flesh out the story more and slowly build things like the Virtue cult over time, but that’s just to do with the difference between the budget on a UK digital channel and a major American network. Misfits has been a brilliant series, thanks to the sharp, darkly comic writing of Howard Overman, the excellent direction of Tom Green and Tom Harper, and the whole cast who brought life to a great group of characters.
When Overman spoke at the preview screening of the first episode, he told us that he had lots of ideas in mind for a second series, but at that point he had no idea of whether there would be one. The good news was announced this week, series two of Misfits will be made and shown next year. I’m really pleased for the cast and the team behind the show, when I met them back in September they had a lot of faith in the series but still had no idea of what everyone else would think of it, so it’s fantastic to see that it’s been popular with audiences and critics alike. Looking forward to seeing what sorts of hijinks the gang get up to in 2010.