Last week’s prediction didn’t come to pass as not only did Mitchell not have sex, he didn’t even go sniffing for it. I will make one further prediction for future episodes, though: Russell Tovey will be naked again.
I understand the importance nakedness has for his character (here’s hoping he wears cheap clothes come transformation time) but the show’s producers also clearly understood how a buff, naked man was a welcome series attribute given its original BBC Three home. Nakedness has long been a feature of post-watershed dramas (Desperate Romantics and The Tudors both fine examples of flesh-filled romps) and Tovey’s buttocks have been called into action on several occasions in the first two episodes already, so I would be surprised if they didn’t say hello again in the future.
With that out of the way I can now write about last night’s episode which maintained the high levels of expectation I have for this series with aplomb. Indeed, it was a more grown-up episode this week with fewer squeaks from Tovey, less youth patter and better special effects.
I mentioned in last week’s review that I felt the sight of Tovey’s werewolf in final form was cartoonish and I was concerned about how that would play out for the rest of the series. I shouldn’t have worried. As this was an episode centring on George there was plenty of opportunity to see how the transformation would be handled and right from the episode’s opening shots, accompanied by a superb voiceover by Mitchell describing the process more fully, it was clear that last week’s problems had been dealt with. The jaw stretch, appearance of hair and, most impressively, those frightening teeth and bulging back muscles were so effective they would have been at home on the big screen. And the final result? Much, much better this time round.
The next time we got to see George going canine was during his scrap with fellow werewolf Tully in an abandoned building deep in the woods. Tully provided the episode’s story arc, taking George under his wing (and cutting him off from his friends) and offering to teach him how to control his condition. Given the fact that Tully looked an evil little blighter from the off, it was little surprise to learn that he was actually the werewolf that bit George, although his reasoning for wanting to track him down was actually touching rather than sinister, George representing Tully’s last connection with the human world.
Tully was a solid character to flesh out this episode, providing the first genuine threat to Annie in the form of some rather strong sexual harassment and giving George cause to doubt his friendships and his way of life. Does Mitchell really have his best interests at heart? Yes, as it turned out. But then we knew that all along.
Which leads me to my one criticism of the show: it’s all a bit obvious. It’s clever programming, of that there’s no doubt, but the show’s ‘revelations’ simply aren’t that surprising, although they remain shocking. It’s not a problem, as such, just a shame that the clues strewn throughout the episodes thus far haven’t led to a different path to the one you think.
Back to the positive and for such a dark, brooding episode there was a surprising amount of comedy on display. George’s shock at seeing the entire neighbourhood in his home was a good start, as was Mitchell’s desire to fit in and stop the blood-lust going into overdrive resulting in him inviting the street (including the Vin Diesel fan) round. Better still were George’s misguided, thanks to Tully, attempts to woo one of the hospital’s senior nurses. Note to self, George: you’re a nice guy. Keep it that way.
While this was George’s week, Mitchell and Annie found time to inadvertently flirt with each other, witness the upshot of more murderous activity among the vampire community and, along with wolfy, sit down and watch a DVD. Only this wasn’t a very pleasant DVD and provided the episode with the week’s standout moment. How’s this for an out-there concept: vampire snuff films. Quite brilliant, I thought, their equivalent of homemade porn and a warning sign to Mitchell that the much whispered event is coming.
Which side will he be on? The final shot of him picking the DVD out of the bin, eyes of black marble, suggests he’s set to return to the fold. I sense a supernatural face-off before the series ends. Plus a naked Tovey, of course.
Check out our review of episode 1 here.