Being Human finale review: The Last Broadcast

Review Caroline Preece 10 Mar 2013 - 23:00

Caroline bids a very fond adieu to Toby Whithouse's Being Human. Here's her review of its wonderful final episode, The Last Broadcast...

This review contains spoilers.

5.6 The Last Broadcast

Well, that’s it folks. The last episode of Being Human has aired and we’ll no longer be enjoying the company of Hal, Alex and Tom on a Sunday evening. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, as The Last Broadcast was a wonderful closer to a fantastic series that not only managed to provide us with a brilliant hour of entertaining telly, but also with a meaningful ending to a show that was, at its heart, about nothing more than the desire to be human. This is, after all, what made Being Human so special in the first place.

It may have lost its way from time to time, with some difficult cast changes along the way, but how great is it for the show like this to go out on a high? Series five has been a step up from the previous year in so many ways, and it’s clear from this episode that a level of care has been taken with the finale that too often isn’t applied. This doesn’t just wrap up loose ends – in fact there’s an argument for it doing the opposite – but also encompasses the meaning and legacy of the show’s previous thirty-five episodes in one short hour.

Last week we left off with the trinity is a state of disarray – Hal on a murder spree, Tom whittling his stakes and Alex transported to her own grave with a decomposing corpse for company. It doesn’t take long for all of this to be resolved, since we’ve got plenty to get through, but a jaunty song and dance number from Hal gives us one last glimpse of the altered character before the three of them get back to business. It also reminds us of Being Human’s unique ability to combine the ridiculous with the horrific, as well as the mundane with the supernatural.

It’s smart of the episode to go over these overarching themes in the final episode, since what happens next requires the audience to understand the struggles the three of them have always been dealing with. There are no easy moral triumphs or moments of heroism to be found here, because Being Human was never about that – it was about a monster’s quiet search for mundane, human existence. With this in mind, seeing Hal selfishly use another vampire’s blood to use in the ritual isn’t such a weakness. He wants to survive the ordeal because he wants to live, just like he did a century ago. It might not be cosy or comforting, but it feels honest.

Tracking Hatch down to the site of his master plan, the three of them are transported to tempting alternative realities in which they were never afflicted by their respective supernatural curse. This is where the episode gets really, really brilliant. Starting with Hal, he is taken back to the moment he became a vampire, bleeding out in a battlefield and ready to die. Then there’s Alex, who finds herself back on holiday with her family, getting ready to meet Hal for their ill-fated date. Tom, on the other hand, is offered a more overt ‘alternative’, as a pregnant Allison embodies the normal family life he believes he can never have with the wolf inside.

But they know it’s a lie almost immediately and, though tempted, ultimately turn the offer of a new life down in favour of fighting together for humanity’s freedom. The episode spends an inordinate amount of time in each dream-world, and this allows us to really see the worth of the show as a whole. Deep down, they’re human, and we get to see the best of all three characters as individuals, as well as celebrating what’s gone before. A lot is said here that will prove important to deciphering the episode’s end (read our theory on that, here), but this section of the episode can also just be enjoyed for its simple summarisation.

The gang awakes back in the TV studio just in time to witness Rook shoot Hatch, and the devil vacate his vessel. Returning home, Rook comes around to announce his retirement. But, with some clever attention to detail from Hal, we learn that the devil has actually occupied Rook’s body, and the three of them finally finish him off properly. Instead of dying, as they believed they would, they discover that the devil’s demise has actually made them human. Cue ice cream, telly and domestic bliss. Well, that’s what you can believe if you want, but the final shot throws everything up into the air with a slight turn of a camera angle, and it’s clear that things aren’t quite that simple.

From the beginning of this episode, we are conditioned to associate the oblique angle with the devil’s presence, and after we’ve taken a sentimental look at the tokens of residents past and present, it pops up again over a shot of the origami werewolf Hatch left in Tom's alternate world. Make of this what you will, but I’m certainly taking it as proof that the dream has continued. The beauty of this ending is that we can take it any way we please, with the option to believe they have truly become human not really lessening the impact of the episode or the series as a whole.

Too often, shows become so lost by the point of cancellation that they don’t even know what they are anymore. Being Human didn’t do that, or at least it rediscovered some purpose in the final run of episodes, and this finale is a rare commodity in a sea of muddled conclusions. We had a final showdown, a bow tied on loose ends and a pleasingly ambiguous climax but, most of all, we had a reminder of why we stuck with the series for five years. This fantastic send-off makes the goodbye easier to bear and, crucially, leaves us with the sense that our beloved characters are still out their living their lives – human at last (or at least believing they are).

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, No Care, All Responsibility, here.

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