It’s no big secret that the cast of E4 superhero comedy Misfits has had a turbulent time in the show’s absence. Once the key player in an arguably ensemble group, this summer Robert Sheehan decided to leave the show, leaving it the job of not only writing out its best loved character, but finding a replacement. A bit of a headache for creator Howard Overman and his team.
For those of you who’ve seen the resulting webisode, titled simply Vegas Baby!, and featuring the former immortal landing himself in jail, you’ll have caught a glimpse of new player Rudy, played by This Is England‘s Joseph Gilgun. He’s wearing the now-iconic orange jumpsuit that members of our gang finally managed to shed at the end of last season. Rudy is the main focus of episode one, as the first instalment juggles the introduction of his character, with the much anticipated new-power reveals.
With all that going on, it’s no wonder that many had declared the show dead upon Nathan’s departure. It’s true that Sheehan was a massive personality both on-screen and off, reflecting the character’s crude disregard in interviews and appearances for the show. When imagining how the dynamic between the four remaining cast members might change in his absence, it’s unclear where anyone would stand, least of all Simon, who developed one of the show’s most endearing relationships with Nathan across the first two seasons.
But I’m here to tell you that, not only is Gilgun’s Rudy up to the job of replacing the most prominent Misfit, his whirlwind performance and likeable quality put all memories of Nathan out of the viewers’, as well as the characters’, minds. He does of course get a mention, but it’s in passing, and before a big revelation regarding the new guy in town. The dynamic between the group was irrevocably altered over time before any mention of departing members, so the episode feels more like a new chapter than the beginning of the end. It’s still quintessentially Misfits, even without its loudest member.
But what of the episode itself? Well, the gang are out of community service and trying to make it in the real world. For the show to work, the writers had to figure out a way for them to get back into their superhero garb (jumpsuits and brooms never looked so heroic), and the ride to that resolution is hugely entertaining and not lacking in hilarious false starts.
It’s clear from both the established look of the show, and the promotional material for series three, that the gang wouldn’t remain useful members of society for long. But how we get there is one of the most entertaining threads of the episode.
Everyone’s in much the same state as we left them at the end of the Christmas special, albeit with a few new powers to be dealing with. Some, of course, are played for laughs, while others will almost certainly prove useful in the future. These new powers are less a reflection of the characters’ personalities like before, but a comment on who they’d like to be if they could. Simon’s, for example, is something that could both help and hinder him in his quest to becoming ‘superhoodie’ this series. Knowing Misfits though, the seemingly humorous powers will probably prove the most pivotal along the line.
At the beginning of the episode, there’s a new community service gang containing Rudy, and the trio provide both the villain and the casualty of the week to break him in gently.
The episode, and by the looks of it, the new series, is extremely promising overall, with the rejigged powers and new blood offering the chance to shake things up. Rudy is not overly dissimilar to his predecessor, but has the fundamental differences that will keep things fresh.
Misfits has never played it safe, but Nathan’s departure may well be the best thing that could have happened to it.
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