How did the Being Human ending compare to past finales?

Feature Caroline Preece 14 Mar 2013 - 07:00

Caroline revisits each of the Being Human series finales and finds out what they tell us about the show's evolution...

This feature contains spoilers.

If there’s one thing (and we all know there were many) that Being Human did brilliantly, it was series finales. With such a short run each year, there was often the perfect build-up to explosive conclusions that always brought the best elements of the show to the forefront.

Now that we know for sure that there’ll be no more Being Human series finales, why don’t we take one last look back at the brilliant episodes we were given over its five year run? We had Old Ones, romance, dastardly villains and episodes of The Real Hustle, but how did they compare to each other and what can they tell us about the evolution of the show? 

Series 1 Episode 6: Bad Moon Rising 

“Haven’t you worked it out yet? Humanity is about love and sacrifice. This doesn’t rob me of my humanity, it proves it.” – George

Series one’s finale, as might be expected, held the most pure and untainted version of the show’s central message. Compared with future episodes in which Old Ones and the devil himself threaten our central trio, Bad Moon Rising really doesn’t seem to have much going on at all. With a threat from Herrick, who was the first major villain of the piece, George sets up a switch and makes Mitchell and Annie believe he is abandoning them in favour of a normal, stable life with girlfriend Nina.

Meanwhile, he’s going up against Herrick himself and, in the process of ripping his head off, changes of the course of the whole show. Mitchell, here, might be the most feeble and self-effacing he’s ever been, but Annie more than makes up for it with the newly discovered powers brought about by her turned-down door. Looking back now, this episode is most special because it featured Mitchell, George and Annie uniting against an enemy and winning, and this sadly never happened again.

Overall, it’s always nice to revisit the happy and relatively relaxed days in Annie’s house, considering how dark and complicated things got afterwards. Seeing them sitting in the kitchen together, unaware of any further danger the supernatural world might pose on them, is a wonderfully nostalgic view of a show that began as just a simple tale of monsters trying to hide away from the world.

Best supporting character: Herrick wins this one, since it’s here that he really amps up the conflict between Mitchell and the rest of the vampires. We all know he’ll be back, but Jason Watkins puts on a cracking show that makes his one of the show’s iconic villains. His scenes with George are a joy to watch, full of the tension that you’d expect between Mitchell’s two opposing allies and confidants.

Body count: Mitchell nearly meets a sticky end after being staked by Herrick in the previous episode, but survives after feeding on a willing Cara, who was revealed to be terminally ill. The big death here is Herrick, of course, even if his ‘death by werewolf’ demise means that there’s a loophole that’ll later be exploited.

Most awesome moment: The crucial moment when Annie finds her power for the first time is pretty fantastic, and their whole plan to off Herrick is wonderfully played. George’s double-cross after we’re made to believe he’s abandoning his friends is also very satisfying, and it’s always nice to see the gang score an out-and-out win for once.

 

Series 2 Episode 8: All God’s Children 

“You don’t get to be left alone! You don’t get a life, and lovers and hope. You are poisonous. You are wearing other people’s clothes. You are not human.” - Lucy

Season two was about the gang growing apart from each other and trying out their own versions of humanity, and that brutal separation can be felt strongly in this final episode. Mitchell has already fallen off the wagon spectacularly when we tune in, the previous episode having depicted the now infamous Box Tunnel 20 massacre, and George and Annie are searching for some sort of purpose now that the comforting power of the household has been broken.

The episode itself might be the weakest of the finales, no matter how you feel about the second season as a whole, since there’s no real sense of resolution. The structure is bizarre, since we spend half of the episode in the organisation and then the other half in a kind of fourth act that doesn’t really belong anywhere. This is where things turned really, really dark, but there’s definitely a sense that the series had built up too many elements that they didn’t have the time or the inclination to deal with.

For a fantasy series, the episode sets itself apart by raising the issue of science in a magical world, and it’s a shame that some of those ideas are never returned to. The episode is most important in that it’s the first to fully integrate Nina into the household, and she would subsequently become a fan-favourite character as important to the show as Mitchell, George and Annie. Having been missing from the bulk of series two, her increased presence here is a joy.

Best supporting character: Lucy, even if she wasn’t everyone’s favourite character across the series, gets a proper chance to shine in this final episode. As the catalyst for Mitchell’s turn, she’s more important to the development of the show than she’s remembered for being, and her scenes with him in this episode are some of the hour’s best moments.

Body count: Lots of red shirts kick the bucket, largely due to the sizeable population of disposable characters in the organisation. If you count the ghostly apparitions of their previous victims, then that’s even more faceless deaths. Lucy, having achieved a certain level of redemption towards the end of the episode, obviously has to die as well. Her killer, Kemp, is then banished to purgatory by Annie.  

Most awesome moment: We all thought Annie had gone, but a brief appearance on the telly proves that there’s hope for her return in series three. It’s emotional and intriguing, and too bad that the promise of purgatory didn’t quite live up to what we were hoping for.

 

Series 3 Episode 8: The Wolf-Shaped Bullet 

“You’ve been killing for almost 100 years – all of this bloodshed and turmoil, it’s become your currency. Even suicide has to be some shared bloody trauma.” - Nina

The third series finale was the first to kill off a major character, with Mitchell meeting the pointy end of a stake in the show’s final moments. The fact that it was held by George, who gave in to his friend’s pleas to end his life, was hugely significant to long-time viewers of the show, and it’s still a shock when watching it back now. The truth is, now that we know what was to come over the break between series three and four, we know that this is the last time Being Human was the show we had begun watching.

When we would return, George and Nina had followed Mitchell out of the door, and were replaced with brand new characters. This makes The Wolf-Shaped Bullet powerful and moving in a completely different way than it was when it aired, and just increases its already high level of anguish and gravity. Thankfully things got much lighter after this episode, as you can’t imagine it getting much darker. With your main protagonist asking his friend to help him in assisted suicide, you know you’re down a troublesome rabbit hole.

But the episode is great on its own, with Herrick having a last hurrah and Mitchell and Annie actually getting to save the day for once. Add to that the tension of Nina fighting for her life and the always enjoyable Michael Socha, and you’ve got a pretty effective finale. Of course, this is the first example of outside forces pushing characters off the show, but I have to admit that it’s better handled than either of George or Nina’s departures were. The build up to Mitchell’s death wasn’t everyone’s favourite storyline, but at least it pays off here.

Best supporting character: Though he would later become a central cast member, and finish out the show, Tom’s recurring appearances in the third series were a definite highlight. The image of him cradling McNair’s body and reading his last wishes are truly heartbreaking, and you can see why the producers decided to upgrade the character for series four and beyond.

Body count: Herrick dies again, but this time at Mitchell’s hand and in a much more permanent way. Then there’s the general bloodshed that he causes after returning to full-power, leading to a zombie situation and Annie’s return to Lia in purgatory. This all pales into insignificance when you consider the death of a main player, though, and Mitchell’s demise is certainly a major event for the series.

Most awesome moment: As the gang are interrupted by a bullying ‘Old One’ in the middle of their moral dilemma, George swings around and saves Mitchell from a destiny of doing their evil bidding. Secure in their decision to kill a friend, Annie, Nina and George turn to Wyndam and simply say: “I think you’ve got a fight on your hands.” It’s too bad we never got to see that fight, but it’s awesome all the same.

 

Series 4 Episode 8: The War Child 

“Why haven’t I told you to join me? Because I have you already – heart and mind” – Mr. Snow

The first finale with a new cast, including future resident of Honolulu Heights, Alex, The War Child did the best it could in a series that felt like it was made up of bits of good ideas, strung together with sheer determination from behind the scenes. A good villain in Mark Gatiss makes this finale worth a watch on its own, as well as the surprisingly watchable dynamic between Tom and Hal that had already developed across the series.

The pieces were all set here, with the last scene after Annie’s departure signalling a fresh new era for a series marred by external problems. The episode is remembered most by fans as the one in which Annie blows up a baby, and the Eve storyline is wrapped up pretty terribly. It’s rushed and ill-thought out, but at least it gives Annie something active to do before passing over. It really should have felt like a more momentous occasion but, the truth is, Annie had outstayed her welcome by this point and it was a bit of a relief to see her go.

The biggest job for them to do here was establishing the new cast as appropriate successors to the beloved trinity of old. We’d already met Tom and Hal, of course, but Alex was a brand new addition that had to be both likable and sympathetic, all while surrounded by apocalypse, character deaths and new season setups. It works, and by the end of the episode you’re no longer missing Mitchell, George and Annie at all. This might not be the most engaging finale, but it does its job admirably.

Best supporting character: This one’s easy – Mark Gatiss might be one of the very best guest stars Being Human ever had. He’s creepy and disgusting yet weirdly charming and powerful, all at the same time, and his performance really lifts the quality of an episode that had a lot of hard tasks to accomplish elsewhere.

Body count: We found out what happens to a vampire when they pass over a threshold uninvited, with Cutler enduring a melt-y end in his mission to kill baby Eve. Later, both Annie and Eve pass over and reach their individual heavens, and Alex’s body is cleared up by the Men in Grey. Sadly, we also say goodbye to some brilliant villains, with Tom’s homemade explosive wiping out a whole base of Old Ones.

Most awesome moment: The scene between Hal and Mr. Snow is really a wonder to observe, with both actors firing on all cylinders to set up a story that strangely never developed further. They exchange theories on whether Hal can ever overcome his inmate bloodlust, and the tension developing across the table is simply palpable. It’s the standout moment of the episode, with its quiet simplicity outshining the explosive action before and after.

 

Series 5 Episode 6: The Last Broadcast 

“There’s no shame in living in a dream if it’s better than reality” - Hatch

So, what can be said about Being Human’s final episode? What a fitting send-off it was, combining the simple message of the first series with the epic mythology of later instalments, honouring the original cast members while never losing sight of the current characters’ places on the show.  There was so much to do in this episode that it’s a miracle they managed to pull it off but, though I’m sure there were fans who weren’t entirely happy, it ended up as a poignant and entertaining way to round things off.

It’ll be remembered mostly for its twist ending which, though great, shouldn’t take away from the rest of the episode. The lengthy sequence inside each of their dream worlds is wonderful, and the various character moments that occur between the three friends equally so. I suppose, given the previously mentioned ambiguous ending, the episode was free from wrapping up its central threat, and could concentrate instead on giving us poignant finales for each of the characters.

It had the ultimate trump card in the devil himself, but in the end it didn’t really matter. When the show started it was about three outsiders hiding from the cold world outside and, at the end of The Last Broadcast, things were exactly the same. Even if they were human at last, it didn’t end up changing a whole lot, and the final scene of them watching Antiques Roadshow together will satisfy many a fan’s heart with its touching simplicity.

Best supporting character: Rook had outshone Hatch for the most past of the series, but Phil Davis pulled it out of the bag at the last minute and carried much of the episode’s most effective moments. He’s deliciously evil, but with a world-weary quality that clashes directly with his evil plans and eloquent monologues. He was a fantastic villain to play us out with.

Body count: In theory, the whole world perished, and that’s one helluva way to wrap things up. If we’re to believe that Tom, Hal and Alex are trapped somewhere in a dream world, then we can only imagine what’s going on in the real world, but, if they’ve truly become human, then we can count both Rook and Hatch among the deceased.

Most awesome moment: The montage between Hal, Tom and Alex’s individual dream worlds, in which they all reject the devil’s temptation at once, was a wonderful way to restate the original themes of the show. Deep down, they’re all human, and it was worth saying all over again when things were really at stake. Runner-up to this was probably the visual pleasure of seeing the complete trinity walk through the ravaged streets of Barry, one last time.

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My favourite character moments in Last Broadcast (that haven't yet been mentioned) were probably the opening with Hal dancing and singing, showing the almost unseen grace and self confidence of the 500 year old Old One as well as his clear experience with making vampires. So much so that he is able to work it into his dance routine!

Following that was Tom turning up all ready for war, killing 8 vampires (I think I didn't count) in a few seconds, and then managing to get the best of Hal himself. As Cutler called him once, he is Tom McNair Vampire Slayer and his style of fighting was brutal and brawling, ending with a perfectly shot spit to the face of his own blood.

I still feel the most awesome moment of the finale of Series One was George's 'It got my attention' line. And I STILL feel injustice on Nina's behalf for her total nonevent of a glorious exit - she's still my favourite character.

For me, a huge let down.

They just came up against the Devil, and it seemed an absolute breeze. I do not think they should have ended up 'Being Human'. It is not what the show was about. It was about loyalty and friendship and dealing with this 'curse' together, not over coming it.

It left me with a huge sense of, "Is that it?". Is this how they are going to end one of the best things to have come out of the UK in years?

Yes, that it is how they have left it. 5 mediocre episodes (the best being Pie and Prejudice) all leading up to....... nothing.

Good lord, no. Gatiss is always playing the same character, charming, yet distrustful. He's good, but he's very much a one trick pony. The best supporting character by far in series 4/8 was Cutler, who did things which are not only beyond the ability of vampires (crossing thresholds) but did it for entirely the right reasons. Sure, he wanted to kill a child, but as our heroes eventually discover, it was for the greater good, which is something that most vamps, including Snow failed to comprehend, blinded as they were for their need of personal gain.

That's if you take it that they won when it seems likely they didn't. Or have you rejected the origami wolf and anything it could signify?

Have to say for me I prefer all of he penultimate episodes to the finales- being human was always fantastic at ramping up the tension. Season 3, herrick stabbing nina, season 4 the Hal/cutler reveal with Alex and season 5 scenes with Alex and Hal at the bandstand telling him to leave etc were the best moments for me

Agree about the song and dance opening, I'm about to enter day 5 of "Putting on the Ritz" ear wormage.

I have a tendency towards the smallest moments, even in the biggest episodes. This season, it was when Rook turns up at the house at the very end and Hal is in the background boredly picking his teeth and waiting for him to shut up.

and the way they left ep 5 series 1, annie about to go through he door, mitchell staked, herrik trying to force his way in and george despartely trying to keep it under control.

Not at all.

Even if it were all 'not real' and something the Devil conjured up to keep them thinking they saved the world and are now human, then that (for me) is an even stupider ending.

It's still a very 'is that is?' feel for both interpretations of the ended.

Either they are fine and defeated the devil with ease, or they didn't, and the whole series has been for nothing.

Bit of a damp squip for me, which was a shame, as I really loved the new cast. I think the Old Ones got a far better build-up than Old Nick - who, lets face it - *should* have been the baddest-ass ever. I would have liked to see a Devil more along the lines of the one portrayed in Glen Duncan's book 'I, Lucifer'.

Personally I don't see that the whole series was about defeating the devil, especially as he wasn't even introduced til this season. I think the whole series was about striving to be human, which was why one of the best parts of the episode for me was Hal's speech.

And at being human, in striving for more I think all the characters, including the old cast reached their goal.

I get what you mean about the lack of buildup, but honestly I'd much prefer a slow burn of tension for a big bad than Moffat's current system in Dr Who of huge buildup to virtually nothing.

I agree about Gatiss - whenever I watch him play Mycroft I shiver, but purely because of Mr Snow. It dampned the effect, I think, but he was still one of my favourite villians.

Actually, Mitchell recovered from being staked by feeding from Josie, not Cara.

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