This review contains spoilers.
Last week’s Misfits was all about introducing new member Rudy, and this week we get to meet another newbie in the form of Melissa, Curtis’ alter ego played to uncanny perfection by actress Kehinde Fadipe. Curtis episodes have a chequered history in the show, and this episode manages to bring out the best and worst in his character, without much Nathan Stewart-Jarrett on screen at all.
Melissa is a hard sell from the start. The gang having new powers this year was a big source of excitement, and the gender-swap was definitely the wild-card. While other powers have the potential to aid the group in mythology-heavy instalments, and Kelly’s rocket-scientist tagline is being played purely for laughs, Curtis’ unstable role in the group is just emphasised by his off-the-wall ability. Since the beginning of series one, when he was involved with fellow misfit Alisha, the writers don’t seem to know what to do with the character.
But it’s back to basics this week, as the former champion realises that he could compete again under the guise of Melissa. It’s a neat trick, with his apparent urge to train again working with his lost personality and initiative. We’re told he’s felt misplaced since he was thrown into community service over drug troubles, and it allows the slate to be wiped clean for a Curtis-filled hour. It also means that, what’s essentially a preachy tale about women’s rights and men’s inability to empathise with the opposite sex, becomes a character piece about reconnecting with your passion.
Not all of it works. Once Melissa has started competing again, she/he meets fellow athlete Emma. Having had a disappointing sexual experience with Curtis the previous night, she unwittingly tries her luck with his counterpart, and we’re told they both enjoy themselves a lot more. Depending on your threshold for body-swap embarrassment, these scenes are bizarrely amusing and strangely intriguing in equal measure. It strikes you as a scenario no other series could pull off and, as Curtis tells Simon in response to being called a lesbian, “there’s no official term for this shit.”
As mentioned, there’s a lot of preachy stuff about sexual harassment. It’s admirable, but doesn’t quite fit in with Misfit‘s usual irreverent tone. To be honest, it’s less funny and more uncomfortable to watch the community worker hitting on Curtis, and things quickly take a turn for the serious when his coach gets a wandering eye.
It’s a general pattern with the episodes that focus on the character specifically, and the episode might have been better off taking the strictly humorous route this time around. Curtis is becoming a bit of a killjoy, and it’s sad to take a departure from the fun we had last week.
Speaking of fun, there can’t be a price to put on Rudy’s reaction to proceedings. As with last week, his actions are strictly chaotic and in the moment, but there’s also a sensitive and innocent side to him that was definitely missing from Nathan. His relationships with the group are developing nicely, and it’s good to see he’s not being forced into a friendship with anyone in particular just yet.
Though this week was disappointingly light on superhero shenanigans, it looks like we’ll be getting heaps of super-hoodie mythology next week. Based on the preview attached to the end of the episode, it’s one for the geeks, as Simon gets himself a clued-up sidekick and surges forward on his mission to become the future hero. This week briefly introduced some back-story to the power broker, as well as hinting at a relationship between him and Kelly, so that’s another avenue we can all look forward to exploring.
All in all, it’s looking to be an exciting series, filler episodes like this included.