The end of series three of BBC Three’s Being Human left a lot for series four to live up to. Along with the controversial (well, many fans were unhappy about it) death of charming Irish Vampire, Mitchell (Aidan Turner), at the hands of his best friend George (Russell Tovey) it also saw things being set up for what promised to be an apocalyptic plot line with the pending arrival of ‘The Old Ones’, the most ancient vampires, and George, Nina and Annie’s promise to fight them no matter what the cost.
As series 4 opens, it seems as if the cost for fighting is too high. We return to the decrepit guesthouse in Barry that our heroes made their home in the last series to find that things are far from well. Werewolf Nina has been killed, ambushed by vampires soon after giving birth to her daughter and George (Russell Tovey) is going insane with grief and paranoia. Resident ghost, Annie (Lenora Crichlow), is doing what she can to keep him sane but her characteristically enthusiastic attempts are not achieving much.
Meanwhile, Griffin, the first Old One to arrive in Britain and seen so dramatically at the end of series three, is confident of an easy victory and has plans to kidnap the child in order to present her as a gift to the other Old Ones. George, Annie and Tom McNair, another Werewolf who featured in the previous series, set out to prevent this from happening.
The above is the central plot for this episode, the main driving narrative that takes the viewer through to the quite shocking end. However, there is more to this episode that that relatively simple thread. We have flash forwards to 2037 where we see George and Nina’s daughter, now a grown woman, as leader of a beleaguered resistance force fighting the vampires who have now taken complete control.
We are also introduced to three new characters, supernaturals like our heroes who have also taken to living together in a shared house. Vampire Hal (Damien Malony), old Werewolf Leo (Louis Mahoney) and ghost Pearl (Tamla Kari) have what appears to be a similar dynamic to the one seen in earlier series with Mitchell, George and Annie and are obviously set to play prominent parts in future episodes.
Expectations for this episode were high and there is a lot of good stuff in here to fulfil that expectation. Toby Whitehouse has yet again shown that he is not afraid to mess around with a format and give the viewers a surprise or two – the death of major characters being one of them.
The vampire protagonists are suitably sinister and organized while still maintaining individual characters. One in particular, Cutler (Andrew Gover), is a real treat with his sarcasm (best line of the episode: ‘Before you reach the first major city, they will have raised an army. On Twitter’) and it is to be hoped that he will appear more in future episodes.
There was also a star turn by Mark Williams as an insane Vampire archivist who should also make a return. However, there were a number of issues. For one, the way that the lives of Hal, Pearl and Leo mirror those of Mitchell, George and Annie seems a little too pat.
Though it is apparently written into the metaphysics of the universe that this is a stable arrangement (the ancient Vampire prophesies which are clearly important to this series make that statement) it has also been stated in previous episodes that Mitchell, George and Annie were unique. I am not sure it is a good idea to remove that uniqueness.
I am also a little upset at Nina’s death.
Not only was she one of my personal favorite characters and a good example of a strong female character, I dislike the fact that her death took place ‘off screen’. She deserved a better end than that. There are also likely to be the inevitable Terminator jokes about the future scenes – the vampire ruled dystopia and the way the humans deal with it is very reminiscent of a certain dystopia ruled by Skynet. There is a risk here of some overused clichés being trotted out. Alternatively, said expected clichés may well be subverted.
Time will tell if these relatively minor flaws will be significant in the rest of the series or if the excellent writing and characterization will outweigh them. Time will also tell if the series format can afford to lose not just one but three of the major characters who made the previous series so entertaining. Early indications from Twitter and Facebook are that these were not popular deaths. I certainly look forward to seeing how things turn out.