Being Human (USA) season 2 episode 8 review: I've Got You Under My Skin

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Review Kaci Ferrell 6 Mar 2012 - 07:49

Despite the presence of charisma-vacuum Suren, Kaci enjoys the latest episode of Being Human (USA). Read her review here…

 

This review contains spoilers.

2.8 I've Got You Under My Skin

This episode of Being Human is all about violence, and our capacity to cause it. It's actually a question I've been pondering myself lately - with the impending release of The Hunger Games, the question of how we would react if placed in the Arena has become a popular one amongst my friends. Aidan tells Sally in this episode that every monster has a line of how much violence they can bear; having thoroughly debated this topic lately, I would have to extend that to regular people, too.

For Aidan, it is a question of how far he will go to save not only his own skin, but his progeny, Henry's. As it turns out, the answer is mass murder as well as actually sacrificing that same skin in a very literal sense, as he first manipulates Henry into turning over Bishop's orphans and then delivers Henry right to Suren. She insists on taking her "pound of flesh" (the puns both in this episode and in this review are abundant, for which I feel I must apologize). The thing about Suren is that she's oddly literal, first begging Mother not to "ground" her and now literally demanding at least a pound but probably more of Henry's skin. After warning her that she must leave Henry alive, Aidan walks out to the sounds of Henry begging Suren to kill him as she goes Dark-Willow-meets-Warren-Mears on him and skins him alive.

For Sally, the question is if she can truly be a Reaper when the one who has been haunting her offers her the opportunity in exchange for her life. As it turns out, tearing souls apart gives you a rush, which she learns when she tries to destroy the Reaper who has been haunting her. But her skills are no match for his and he returns, once again informing her that she can either be taken or become a Reaper. She reluctantly agrees to try, but is dismayed to find out that her first assignment is former friend Suicide Stevie, who has been unable to stop destroying souls since he saved Sally from her would-be rapist. Sally ultimately proves unable to do the job herself, though she does admit that he has lost it. The Reaper shows up to take care of Stevie for her and informs her that she'll take her first soul tomorrow, and that she was chosen for her darkness, which he claims was inevitable because of how she died.

For Josh, the question is a little more subtle. After breaking up with Nora last week, Josh has taken to the bed, lying around in unshowered despondency and calling in sick to work. Aidan, building on my love for him killing off Connor last week decides to further prove his worth this week by calling in my favourite minor character: Josh's sister Emily.

Emily shows up at the house to pull Josh out of bed with promises of brother-sister happy hours and soon, the duo are drinking through Josh's pain at the bar. Emily, however, has clearly learned from the grand school of little sister tradition and her gesture is not without its own secret motives: she has also invited out Josh's ex Julia. And though Josh is initially annoyed at her attempt to "Parent Trap" them, he soon finds himself reconnecting with Julia as they carry a drunk Emily home from the bar.

(She licked some girl at the bar, to the ire of said girl's boyfriend. This is apparently her flirting move. Have I mentioned that Emily is my favorite? Moving on.)

But of course, this is Being Human and happy times are not allowed to last, so Julia demands to know the truth of why Josh abandoned her all those years ago, and here's where it gets incredibly interesting.

It's been clear from the beginning that Aidan's vampirism is being played as though it were a drinking problem. He's portrayed as an alcoholic who keeps having to start back over on his count of days sober. I've blogged on my personal site about how I've felt for a while that lycanthropy can be used as a metaphor for rape (it involves biting a.k.a penetration in a violation of the victim's right to agency of their own body) and here the show takes it one step further as Josh breaks down to Julia about why he left.

Though he never explicitly mentions being a werewolf, he gives her his perspective on what happened with Nora, talking about how he would've been violent with her, how he would've changed her, how he would've alienated her from everyone and everything that she loved. He talks about what happened with Nora as though they were in an abusive relationship with him as the abuser. He speaks as though Nora endured domestic violence at his hands.

That's Josh's question. As Emily points out the next morning, this night was his chance for drunken rebound sex with Julia, and there's every chance she would've gone along with that after having admitted that she came to Boston for him. Josh's question, then, is where his line for violence is. After having committed what he considers abuse against Nora, could he do that to Julia? Nora once asked him why he cared enough about Julia to leave before he hurt her, but didn't care enough about Nora to do the same. Josh decides that his line is that he can't do this again, and so he hugs his little sister and thanks her for making it so that, at least, he and Julia won't have to hiss at each other in the halls anymore.

Aside from my instantaneous boredom any time Suren is on screen, I enjoyed this episode. It had the benefit of an abundance of Emily in its favour, but the story lines more than held up even without her. It was a good examination of how violent we are willing to become in order to save ourselves and the things we love, and had some interesting points that I'll be bringing up the next time my friends and I debate what we would do if we lived in Panem.

Only time will tell if Sally has it in her to be a Reaper or if we've seen the last of Nora and Brynn, or if Henry makes it out of his flaying alive, but in the meantime, there's always my one-woman campaign to make Emily a series regular.

Read our review of last week's episode, here.
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