Thursday, February 21, 2013

Being Human (US – season 2) – review

Director: Various

First aired: 2012

Contains spoilers

When I reviewed season one of this US reimagining of the BBC series I was seriously impressed. You see the BBC pilot was astounding but the first BBC season wasn’t quite as good. The dry, Withnail like humour had been lost and whilst it was still funny it wasn’t quite the same.

Season on season the UK series has become poorer and poorer. Deus ex machina, plot holes, plot contrivances and pantomime acting/humour began to overtake the better aspects. Season 5, which I am watching as I review this, is not looking like being too much better (though the Alex character might pull the season out of the mire). So the drama driven, plot tight US series was welcome.

seeing Bishop
Season two has really not disappointed. Ok, it probably has a better budget but it also has believable (within the supernatural framework) stories and better acting that doesn’t make me want to shout “he’s behind you”. I take the point in the comments to my season one review that some of the characters are narcissistic, but I’d rather have that than what developed in the UK series. At the end of season 1 Sally (Meaghan Rath), the ghost, had missed her door to the other side but was still mostly incorporeal. At no point in the series do normal people ever see her. Werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night) and Nora (Kristen Hager, Valemont) try to have a normal life but Josh has scratched her whilst transforming – interestingly she cannot see Sally until after her first turn. Finally vampire Aiden (Sam Witwer) has killed his maker, Bishop (Mark Pellegrino) and is dealing with a power vacuum in Boston.

Mother, the vampire matriarch
Into this enters Mother (Deena Aziz, the Moth Diaries and The Hunger: A Matter of Style). Whilst there is a vampire council the real power resides with this matriarch. She decides that Bishop’s vampire army – the orphans – will all die and that Aiden will not run Boston; rather her daughter, Suren (Dichen Lachman, Bled), will lead Boston with Aiden aiding her.

dessicated vampire
The trouble is that Suren has been buried for eighty years. When she is dug up she is a withered husk, which revives with blood – astoundingly she has kept her sanity. As for Aiden – after the hospital tightens security at the blood bank (and remember vampires reflect/show on cameras in this version) he can’t get blood bags and ends up going on “live”. A recently fed vampire acts drunkenly, Aiden is known to hallucinate when on binges – in this case of Bishop.

skinned alive
The backstory shown in season gives us an insight into the near relationship that Aiden had with Suren and her affair gone bad, which led to her burial, with Aiden’s vampire son Henry (Kyle Schmid, Blood Ties). He, of course, reappears on the scene and, to gain her forgiveness, he submits to Suren skinning him alive – a fate that won’t kill a vampire, and the skin will grow back, but has to seriously sting! We discover that a vampire’s eye mojo is powerful but can have its limits. In the last series we saw what happens to an uninvited vampire who steps over a threshold. What happens if a group of vampires are in a house when it legally changes hands (thus they are not invited by the new owner)? This season shows us.

a dead pure-bred
The idea of poisonous werewolf blood was introduced in Being Human (UK) season 4 and was poorly handled. It is introduced here and works well. For a start the “acid blood” aspect is not used. Secondly Aiden admits he has never tried it, something about the smell, and thus he does not know the effect. When in desperate straits he tries it, subsequently he gets a rush of power but is quickly ill, puking blood and bleeding from the eyes, but he does not die. In other wolf lore we discover that there are pure-breds – werewolves born not changed. In a turn around from standard werewolf lore, if one of these is shot in human form (with silver) then the human corpse becomes a wolf. We also discover that, allegedly, killing the one who cursed you, whilst they are in human form, will lift the curse.

seasons don't fear the reaper...
Sally’s storyline is vaguely similar to the Annie storyline in the Second UK Season. She discovers a dark-side to being a ghost, one of human possession (an addictive pastime) and shredding (ripping another ghost apart). As well as this she meets Zoe (Susanna Fournier) a paediatric nurse and medium who helps ghosts reincarnate (if she deems them good enough) by merging them with the spirits of sickly (and dying) babies. Sally also discovers that ghosts can sleep but, when she does, she dreams of a black shape that then stalks her. This reaper (Dusan Dukic) shreds ghosts deemed irredeemable and has a job offer for Sally.

on werewolf blood
This season, if anything, was a cut above the first and is certainly superior to anything the BBC are putting out in the franchise. Cliffhangers aplenty, and a lack of ridiculous situations and pantomime performances from supporting characters, leave me totally anticipating season 3. 8 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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