This would have been a brilliant six-part series. I say that because last night’s back-to-form barnstormer further proved just how insubstantial the previous two episodes were. Stretching the series to eight episodes hasn’t really worked, largely because of the ongoing conundrum of what to do with Annie, the solution from the writers to attempt to make her the soul of the series. And while this has worked on some levels – her attempts to re-establish herself back into society by getting a normal job, for example – it’s largely failed. Her reconciliation with her mother last week seemed contrived, her dalliance with babysitting too rushed.
The result has been that Annie’s story has been shown for what it is: nowhere near as interesting as George or Mitchell’s. The problem has been that now nobody can see Annie again, there is no way she can become human and little reason for her to really try. It’s different for the others. They can get a normal job, have normal relationships, and live a relatively normal life. Their decisions throughout this series have centred upon how much they truly want to be human and how they, and those around them, can deal with what lies beneath the human exterior. Annie doesn’t have the luxury of this intriguing plotline anymore and the writers have struggled with how to react to that in recent weeks.
It made perfect sense then, this week, that she should take a backseat to the storylines we’ve all been looking forward to following. How can George contain the beast within and how will Mitchell react to the revelation that girlfriend and confidant Lucy is actually Professor Jaggat?
Not well, as it turned out. In a glorious return to the gore and genuine eeriness that befell the show’s opening episode, the vampire attack on the train was brilliant.
We’ve always known that Mitchell was feared among all vampires but until now, we’ve never seen just why that was the case. As he’s been trying to kick the habit since we first met him in series one, we’ve not yet been privy to the full extent of his rage and power. We now know that if you meet him in a dark alley and he’s had a bad day, you’d be wise to run. Fast. The sight of a passenger’s guts spilling out will live long in the memory and that standout scene was another fine example of the ambition that this series has shown over the course of the last seven weeks.
I’ll admit that the coroner’s confession about Lucy seemed a little manufactured – only knowing her first name, for example – but it set up a chain of events that would ultimately see Mitchell turn his back on society and run riot. I could have done without the bloody bed scene between him and Daisy, if I’m honest, but I guess it did suggest the depravity of the vampire hoards.
By the episode’s end, Mitchell was increasingly turning to the dark side with a particularly creepy attitude towards Annie and worse mood swings than George. Then came the Jaggat revelation to set up next week’s finale. Lovely.
Russell Tovey was brilliant last night, absolutely brilliant. He’s a wonderful actor and given the right material, he soars. Last night’s episode was a prime example of that. A mix-up with the clocks led to him transforming in the streets of Bristol, seen by goodness knows how many people, with the camera right on his face throughout. Probably the series’ finest hour, this portrayed the heartache behind George’s worst fear to great aplomb. Hats off to the special effects and make-up departments, too, for this was the finest and scariest transformation yet.
George’s relationship with Sam has proven less successful. I get that he was desperate for a normal life and that’s why he attached himself to her so quickly. What I’m not too sure about is Sam’s acceptance of the speed with which the relationship was heading, given her earlier reticence regarding him moving in and her obvious past mistakes in the boyfriend department. It made sense, then, that this liaison should come to a shattering end this episode, with young Molly’s reaction to the Wolfman brilliantly handled.
And so to next week’s eighth and final episode of the series. While it may have taken too long to get there, in my opinion, I can’t wait to see how things are going to pan out. All roads have led to Kemp, Jaggat and their headquarters of salvation, redemption and the opportunity to become human once more. Nina’s return led to many fevered conversations about her own experiences with the Prof. – conveniently leaving out the part about that nosebleed – and their failed relationship. Nina was, understandably, a bit fed up by having received the curse of the wolf from George and, while she has obviously tried to hold it all in, plenty of guilt was thrown his way last night.
So, now he’s gone to see Jaggat with Annie in tow and Mitchell will be going there to try to save his friends from the fate that met so many of his comrades, including Ivan, who was the star of this week’s opening flashback.
With lots of questions unresolved – will George go through with it, will Nina really survive the series, will Mitchell get there in time and be able to contain his rage – it’ll, no doubt, fly by at breakneck speed.
We know a third series has been commissioned, so one presumes all the major characters will see it out until the end, but part of me hopes Annie finally gets to walk through that door. It’s the treatment she deserves.
Check out our review of episode 6 here.