Being Human (USA) season 2 episode 1 review
The US take on Being Human returns for its second season, and Kaci has checked out the season opener, Turn This Mother Out...
This review contains spoilers.
2.1 Turn This Mother Out
As an American, I am constantly being told that "freedom isn't free." Certain facets of American society are more than eager to remind me that with freedom comes responsibility and that while I have many rights, I also have obligations to uphold in my relationships with my fellow man. What the season two premiere of Being Human does mostly well is explore this theme through our four main characters.
For Aidan, this manifests itself as the flip side of his freedom from Bishop. We learn quickly that Aidan's heretic lifestyle is not working for the larger Boston vampire population: the illegal army that Bishop created is going hungry, depending on Aidan to provide non-lethally obtained blood. To make matters worse, Boston is anticipating the arrival of Mother, a vampire who has precedence even over the council.
Her arrival is supposed to formalize Aidan's leadership over Boston, but when she asks his opinion on "culling" the illegal army Bishop made, Aidan argues for mercy and reasons that many of the illegally-made vampires could prove useful. Mother disagrees, and orders these illegally-made vampires to be staked. And rather than formalize Aidan's leadership, she makes him second-in-command to Boston's new leader: her daughter. Put to ground many years ago for doing some unknown thing wrong in Boston, the daughter is dug up by Aidan at the end of the episode.
For Aidan, freedom from Bishop isn't really freedom at all, but rather a series of obligations. Mother dangles true freedom in front of him like a carrot on a stick when she names him number two, and Aidan, ever eager to be free from the vampire world so that he can continue playing house with his friends, falls for it.
For Aidan, freedom always has a price: his servitude until the chaos in Boston is put back to rights, his return to Bishop's side to set Josh free from a werewolf cage fight, and the death of his former lover Celene so that he may return to health and destroy Bishop. And unbeknown to Aidan, his true freedom has one other price: Josh. Mother, believing that Josh will prove a distraction for Aidan as he helps her daughter repair Boston, orders Hegeman to seek Josh out at the full moon, armed with a gun loaded with silver bullets.
For Josh, his freedom manifests itself as a freedom from his own secrets. In the season one finale, Nora discovered his true nature and accepted him for who he is. In the four subsequent weeks, Nora has taken to reading the notebooks he has tracked his lycanthropy in, though he is still hesitant to talk to her about his condition. Not knowing that he scratched her during the previous full moon, Josh mistakes her interest as solely about getting to know the part of him that he wants to hide.
But for Nora, whose freedom manifests itself as a freedom from her ignorance of the world around her, it's not just about becoming closer to the man she loves. She suspects she will turn on the next full moon and is desperate to learn as much as she can before this happens to her. She presses Josh to share this part of himself throughout the episode, until finally he relents and allows her to drive him to the woods. After telling her he loves her and asking her to get as far away from him as possible, Josh heads out into the forest alone. As he starts to turn, he cries out in pain, and Nora is initially relieved to find that she seems to be fine. But the minutes pass and soon she is screaming in pain too, watching as her body begins to change before her eyes.
In the woods, Josh tries to run to her even as he continues to change, but not before Hegeman arrives and fires his gun. The first silver bullet grazes Josh, who continues to transform, and the episode ends with the sound of a second gunshot.
Perhaps the only weak storyline of the episode, Sally's freedom comes from the fact that Danny is being brought to justice for her murder and Bridget has escaped a fate similar to Sally's. But her freedom has come with a price: her door is gone, possibly forever, and she is restless without a fixed point.
She finds herself at her high school reunion where she meets a ghost facing similar problems: a boy named Stevie who committed suicide during their junior year. Because he committed suicide, Stevie will never receive his door at all, but has found a way to make eternity pass easier by learning to sleep. He claims that he can even dream and that unlike while he was alive, the dreams all end well.
After telling off a high school bully who recently passed away of malaria (unintentionally causing the bully to find her own door), Sally decides to try sleeping. Her storyline picks up here, as she dreams of her door only to open it and find a dark mysterious figure that attacks her. She wakes to find herself hovering in mid-air, terrified. For her, this is the true cost of her freedom from Danny: her missed door, forever haunting her, and an inability to dream the way Stevie recommended to help pass the time. She is left, unfocused, with no way to escape the tedium of the afterlife.
The thing this episode does so well is demonstrate that for each of these characters, freedom isn't the revelatory thing we're told it should be. It's a burden that they must carry, an additional weight onto each of their shoulders. It has a down side, and each of them has a counterbalance thrust upon their shoulders through having gained it.
Aidan has the responsibility of Boston, something that he tells Josh may turn him into something unrecognizable; Josh has the impending guilt of knowing that he spread his curse to the person he loves, as well as the responsibility of teaching her all he knows; Nora has the weight of her new condition to deal with, and the pain of suffering that knowledge in silence; and Sally has the fear of eternity without her door and what that might do to her sanity.
Though the ideology that freedom isn't free is certainly not limited to the U.S., this episode works particularly well because it is going out to a culture that deals with warring ideology about that idea every day; it is a culture that is uniquely obsessed with the true impact of freedom.
Though the episode had its weak points (the biggest being virtually all of Sally's mostly pointless storyline, up until she tried to dream), it was a quality episode full of suspense. I'm eager to see how Josh deals with the guilt of turning Nora, and how she deals with now being a part of the supernatural world. And though I find myself wary about the execution of Aidan's storyline with the Mother and her daughter, I have to admit that I'm curious about it as well.
All in all, I enjoyed this season opener and its exploration of the consequences of season one. If the rest of the season can keep up this momentum, we should be in for a great year.