Community service is finished and the orange jumpsuits are off, so the Misfits have to contemplate the rest of their lives. In Rudy’s case, this means running from commitment to Jess; and she, in the course of an ill-advised get-back-at-Rudy one-night-stand, manages to fall into the clutches of a sinister and controlling creep who has the power to make time jump forward. Which he does, firing Jess and everyone else one year into the future.
This at least brings the Jumper Posse – a story arc hitherto under-developed – into play. It turns out that in the intervening year they’ve used their powers to turn themselves into vigilantes, killing any minor criminal who crosses their path. Jess has a baby, Finn is a trainee probation worker, Alex is still in the bar, Rudy’s fallen apart, and Abby is… doing whatever it is she does. It looks as if we’re getting a proper death when our Misfits come into conflict with the Jumper Posse; but in this show, of course, death is sometimes negotiable, and after an acrobatic midair bumming and some speculation about the cause of death of Roy Castle we get something which looks like a happy ending.
And that, unless creator Howard Overman gets to make his film, is that for Misfits. The ratings plunged after season 3, perhaps reflecting how badly wrong it went. This is something of a shame, because seasons 4 and 5 were much stronger, but only about a third as many people were watching. And the show’s freewheeling, ramshackle charm could also be its undoing: in this season, for instance, Abby was something of an irrelevance, and Alex never really evolved beyond the two-dimensional. A more ruthlessly plotted show would, perhaps, have made more use of them. Still, the Gilgun/Crome axis had a good season, and this episode was as strong a finish as could reasonably be expected. There were clear signs, though, that the inspiration had run dry, and if the film were to take place it would, I think, need a shot in the arm, perhaps in the form of a few old friends returning.
Rudy’s annoyed with the world this week: partly because Rudy 2 wants to spend more time away from him, partly because (as far as I could tell) he’s upset because he’s going out with the tolerant, charming, and attractive Jess, but really because it gives the show something different to do with him. As Joseph Gilgun is the best actor on the show – with the possible exception of Karla Crome – it isn’t necessarily a bad idea to let him show off more of his range, but it seemed a little purposeless.
The same motivation seemed to be behind the news that ecstasy sends powers into reverse, which meant lots of new things happening – Jess, for example, goes blind – and a return for some old favourites, with Alex’s latest squeeze going all Satanic, after he’s shagged her hypnotic-breasts-power out of her. Not the most coherent episode ever, but it had a certain raw energy. And only one to go.
It’s a promising opening, with a group of terminally-ill young adults at the community centre: the sort of source for barely-acceptable black humour which Misfits can, in its good weeks, exploit with enthusiasm. And so it proves: one of the group isn’t ill at all, but pretends to be in order to get laid, which strikes Finn as an idea and a half. The Powers can’t be kept out of the equation, though; another of the group, who is terminally ill, appears to be able to drain the life-force from the healthy. This directly involves Finn, but just about everyone gets something to do this week: Alex is cursed; Rudy is impotent when with Jess; Abby is still trying to persuade Alex to do the needful to rescue the human being trapped inside the tortoise. Whether it’s essential to have a show in which someone tries to get a tortoise drunk before having sex with it is moot, but I’m kind of glad that it exists. With some laugh-out-loud lines (“Do you mean ‘the reaper’?” “No…”), it all added up to, unexpectedly but gratifyingly, the best episode of the season by a considerable distance.
Yet more people with storm-related powers appear this week, in order to make points about (I think) how easy it is to mistake online life for real life, with a bit of reality TV on the side. Finn’s cheeky-chappie-but-useless-with-the-ladies persona is starting to wear a bit thin, though, and since the trend this season has been for everything to be resolved by the end of the episode, the stakes were low throughout.
In the other big story, Rudy’s still pursuing Jess while trying to put Finn off. When Rudy first appeared I found him utterly charmless, a view I later revised (as did Jess, apparently). But he’s doing his very best this week to change my mind back, with a startlingly unpleasant piece of behaviour towards Jess. I realise I shouldn’t be watching Misfits expecting plausibility, but I just don’t buy how rapidly she forgave him; or, for that matter, the fact that she forgave him at all. Adding all of that up, not my favourite episode.
Having Rudy 2 appear as an elderly and somewhat helpless man promised little, but this episode surprisingly became an almost elegiac examination of the way in which the old are treated (by Rudy 1, of course, among others), and turned into one of the better episodes of the season. The problems with some of the cast – specifically Alex and Abby – remain unsolved; and, given that there are only four episodes to go, that might be the way it’s going to be: Abby trying to persuade Alex to shag her tortoise isn’t really what you’d call a storyline. Still, there was enough going on with the main plot to make this a watchable episode.
This week we get to find out what Abby’s deal is and, as I complained last week that she and Alex were contributing next to nothing, it’s probably about time. There’s a young woman, Laura, who had an imaginary friend as a girl; the storm caused Laura to bring her friend into being, also as an adult. There’s something haunting about Abby’s realisation that she doesn’t suffer from amnesia; she simply didn’t exist before the storm. And it’s reasonable to conclude that, if imaginary friends can come to life, so can Laura’s under-the-bed bogeyman. This was passable if unremarkable; the rest of the episode, though, simply provided further evidence that this is a show which is more or less out of creative inspiration. The probation officer falling in love with Finn – really? – would have been enough on its own, but Sam swooping down to save Rudy from a mugging is, as far as I can see, essentially a retread of the SuperHoodie arc from several seasons ago.
Rather like last week, this episode of Misfits just about managed to make a decent fist of an unpromising start. Rudy’s father (Phil Cornwell) has suddenly turned into a bad guy, not only shacking up with a woman who isn’t Rudy’s mother, but subjecting her to domestic abuse. Well, it really didn’t take much effort to work out what was going on, and giving both father and son the same reaction to the storm felt somewhat lazy.
The second half of the episode, though, was better: the implications of the scenario were sort-of worked through, the Misfits busted out the powers – something which, as I observed last season, seems to happen less and less – and there were a few intriguing little teasers for the rest of the season. Once more the episode reminded us just how good Karla Crome is as Jess, and although Rudy’s always a bit hit and miss, Joe Gilgun is a talent as well. Of course, that just points up how vapid the rest of the Misfits are these days: Finn just about passes muster in a good week, but with Abby moping about sniffing a scarf and Alex doing whatever it is Alex does, the team is essentially operating two down at the moment.