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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Enjoyed that, went out on an enjoyably ambiguous note too!

Loved the episode and the show will be sorely missed. The characters becoming human was a wonderful throwback and it was typical of Whitehouse to go inception on us- bah! Let hope In the Flesh will fill up the void.

I hate depressing endings but Being Human just does them so brilliantly. I will miss this show a lot!

Those last few seconds are going to bug me. It feels like the ending of Waynes World but in reverse "Let's do the mega happy ending."..."As if we'd end the show like that!"

I'm sad to see Being Human go, particularly because we had nearly enough time with Alex yet, but that was one hell of a send off.

so it's a Blade Runner reference. nice touch

I enjoyed that although, I am a bit bored with series ending on a ambiguous notes. but I guest Being Human will not be the last show that ends that way.

An the line about cut backs from the devil having to do all of the work himself instead of hiring some horseman of the apocalypse, was a direct dig at the BBC cuts and certainly sending a message out that ending Being Human after the fifth season wasn't the writers idea.

Personally
I think it was all real. Being Human has always had that idea of
overcoming anything to live a normal life and i think that not defeating
the devil and being stuck in a dream world goes against the message of
the show and almost betrays fans. But thats just me

Being Human was a good - sometimes very good - series that's probably ending at the right time - it never quite scaled the heights of the first two series but the show certainly survived the disappointing third series and the new cast in some ways exceeded the old one.

I am debating whether to even bothering to watch Flesh, especially as BBC channel controller has already stated he looking for a new drama and only have one on the channel, which suggests to me that Flesh has already been cancelled before it has aired.

Mmm that is curious. Perhaps it was because the writer is still 'the new kid on the block' and too fresh to have the series commissioned further more. (alas only 3 episodes) But either way, BBC 3 does have an empty slot for fantasy dramas- unless anyone know of any upcoming, similar shows.

"Too often, shows become so LOST by the point of cancellation that they
don’t even know what they are anymore" reference to LOST i belive

when hal looked in the mirror i cried

I'm still firm in my opinion that one more series would have been ideal (thus giving each cast a 3 series arc) but this final one was really great and the ending just ambiguous enough to be upbeat but not feel like a sunshine and rainbows easy solution. It also gave me what I've been silently demanding from the start of series 4...Hal in Tudor garb!

Really enjoyed this cast (particularly Damien Molony) hopefully they'll come back into the genre fold some day. :)

A 'bow tied on loose ends'. Bows tied are cool.

I (for some reason) have a feeling In The Flesh is going to be a self contained three part story. But I see where you're coming from, wanting new things is great, but wont mean anything if they're not committing to any of them long term.

Already said my piece on the episode buuut, can we just take a moment to remember how consistently good the web content has been for this show? The laboratory vlogs from series two, Alex's bucket list from this series, and Adam's pint sized spin off Becoming Human. Proper and well crafted additional content, congratulations and many thanks to all involved in that.

This show was the ONLY BBC show that I watch regularly and im gutted its gone.

The low key 'are they?' or aren't they?' ending was fitting but you can't help but think the end should have come when the year ended in an eleven. And if Satan does ever rise from the pit, is he really going to be dressed as Huggy Bear?

I think that when they died there, killing hatch that they had ascended to heaven. when they woke up. they weren't in the mortal world anymore. they died. but woke up in heaven having achieved what they truly always wanted.

Amazing ending for an amazing series which generally entertained very consistently, i did love the is it / isn't it ending, part of me thinks a series six would have been great and then the other part thinks its finished at just the right time to stop the story becoming repetitive.

The dream world solution echos the essence of the show. The whole point of being human, was trying and wanting to live a normal life. In the dream world this is their ultimate fantasy, the thing too perfect that they cannot pick it apart. If you think the ending betrays the show, from what I have read today you are definately in the minority and perhaps have missed the point/heart of the show.

Lost wasn't cancelled though. They said from the beginning that they were going to do six seasons, and they did six seasons.

I thought the final scenes of the bric-a-brac on the mantle was a way of giving a nod to all the characters, not just the current 3. I will miss this show a lot.

Being human has to be one of those rare british series that exceeds all expectations and really endears you to the characters. Along with the musical score i was in love from the first episode. What really made me appreciate it was how, after Mitchell, they managed to capture my attention with another Vampire/Werewolf/Ghost triage. Something I was staunchly against after Mitchell's emotional demise, Nina & George's tragic deaths and Annie's ascension .
Hal was really a great replacement, as were Alex and Tom. And that last scene.. so bitter-sweet and so beautiful in so far as my understanding of it was a nod to all the past characters as well as the essence of the show itself. I believe the wolf at the end was more of a plot device along those lines, saying hats off to all the characters in the Being Human universe, rather than a literal allusion to the Devil having won. Although the last bit of dialogue between Hal and Alex did seem to suggest otherwise... But that the kind of meaty ambiguity we love about the show, although it will niggle at me forever! ;)

"A monkey falls out of a tree and invents the digital watch" love how even the devil had read Hitchhickers Guide to the Galexy. Plus, I love the irony that America would be the kingdom of war and Africa the kingdom of famine in the event of the apocolyps. Not much work to do there sadly.

Ambiguous ending leaves the door open for series 6...

Seriously though, much as I loved this excellent show and will miss it, it was the right time to end it.

Being human starting going down hill from season 3 then when Mitchell died, well the show really died

Did anyone notice ALEX saying she defeated Mr.Snow and the vampires? That was Annie. They messed up.

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