Last night I saw the first episode of the new series of Misfits.
It’s a new series, with a slightly new cast. Robert Sheehan, Nathan, is gone, arrested in Las Vegas for cheating a casino, and in his place – and on the stage is… the new guy.
Now, Misfits was an ensemble show, but no one can deny, from the first episode on, Nathan was the motor mouth that drove the show. Always happy, delirious, to say the wrong thing and watch the chaos that ensued.
So… what now? Well, we know the score. South London-somewhere underclass granted super powers. I’ve called it X-Men-Meets-Trainspotting, and the best use of super powers on the screen, big or small, to date.
Well, courtesy of the power broker, everyone has new powers – and I’m not going to tell you what they are. Except that Lauren’s is hilarious, Simon and Alisha’s are potentially useful and Curtis’ is… well, also hilarious, but it loks like it will take the second episode to work that out.
But this is not the regular cast’s episode. Just as the first episode of the series focused on Nathan, so this focuses on the new member of the gang, Rudi, played by Joe Gilgun. With the Jamie Madrox ability to split himself into two identical people. Identical on the outside at least, on the inside they are very different, one person split into two with one taking confidence, adventure, promiscuity while leaving the other with doubt, risk-averse instincts and prudishness. It can’t end well.
The episode concentrates on his story, undergoing community service just when the rest of the Misfits have left, and having to deal with other people’s powers as well as his own. But the big question is, does Joe Gilgun’s Rudy in any way replace Robert Sheehan’s Nathan?
And, well, yes he does, especially when split into two. And one of him becomes an anal sex obsessed gobshite with lines that will be quoted across playground the next day. And, yes, mostly about anal sex. I’m betting on “I’m wiping the shit off my cock” shouted from the bathroom to his latest sexual context, as he wrestles with himself. Literally. But it’s a testament to Gilgun that he portrays two sides to the character so believably, and a testament to the Canadian FX guy that the tussle to the ground with both of him looks utterly convincing, even when conducted on an E4 budget and projected onto a massive screen. I couldn’t see the joins.
But all this serves a story which takes the shape of a couple breaking up after a long relationship, less through anger, more through resignation, made all the more poignant that it’s just one person. And the story of one woman who feels she has been wronged, and has all the power to take revenge.
This has always been Misfits greatest strength, to tell the smallest human stories, exaggerated by super powers, then covered with a bucket of sexual depravity. There’s no saving the world, there’s no saving anyone, there’s just trying to get to the next day, alive. From the first episode of the third series, we’re right back there, and I didn’t find myself missing Nathan one bit. The dialogue is as sharp and as funny as ever, the super powers are used imaginatively and without cliche, and people behave like the bastards most of them usually are.
And as a result of the careless use of powers, Rudi comes into conflict with the Misfits, and recalls a hidden past with Alisha that brings out the worst in him. Again, literally. The crew are still hanging around the estate, which seems to have expanded rather now, somehow unable to leave. Simon has his Superhoodie den with Alisha, Curtis works in the bar and Lauren is trying to get a job. The blurry XBox environment has been replaced with cameras (and a set) that can look more that twenty metres away. As the geography of the show begins to expand so does the main characters’ influence. The plot takes its trademark zig zags – we know they must all end up back in the orange jumpsuits, but the show keeps throwing orange herrings at us, as a very deadly use of a seemingly inocuous power seems to threaten them all.
Rudi seems a perfect fit. We’ll see how he does in the second episide which seems to focus on Curtis… and his new power…
The Q&A was revelatory in a number of places, from the plans for a fourth series, the conversations about an American remake and the state of Curtis’ ex power, to reverse time. Writer and showrunner Howard Overman said that it had been hinted at in the previous episode, and when asked if anyone knew what it was, muggins here stuck his hand up, recalling that the power had been bought by an eighty year old Jewish Nazi hunter who was trying to use the power to kill Hitler. And in a rather clumsy accidental fashion, the cast managed to spill the news that Lauren is going to headbutt Hitler in an upcoming episode. Oh and Simon will be butchering zombie cheerleaders, too.
The Doctor just shoves him in a closet. Lauren gives him a Glasgow kiss.
The star of the Q&A, as well as the first episode, was Joe, who showed himself to be as much the motor mouth as his character, stumbling blinded, madly, through a variety of anecdotes that he could just as well have told in character. Including letting everyone know that his agent is pregnant, before realising that she probably hadn’t told anyone else yet. In front of a crowd full of tweeters as well.
Yeah, he’s perfect. And a perfect fit. Misfits series 3 will air in Britain probably at the end of the month and will come to Hulu in the US when you all start screaming for it.