Though I’d wager everyone is glad to see Misfits back on their screens in any form, I also predict that, like me, this episode will puzzle and unsettle a fair few long-time fans as well. As we all now know, the writers had the massive task of replacing three missing central characters (Alisha, Simon and Kelly), leaving just Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) from the first series, accompanied by last year’s polarising third series addition, Rudy (Joseph Gilgun). This year we welcome three new players, two of which are introduced in this series premiere, and it’s a new dynamic for a whole new Misfits.
Expecting the episode to play it safe, it couldn’t have been more surprising. Instead of easing us in with characters with whom we’re already acquainted before introducing the newbies, the episode is pretty much split between the perspectives of the power-addled regulars and a couple of new arrivals who look just as confused as we are. On paper, this must have looked like a good way to force sympathy for previously unknown characters, but it wasn’t an outstanding debut for me. Things on the whole were a little off, and the combination of such a weird episode and so much change might have been detrimental to the series on the whole.
The curse of such a manic show is that anyone not immediately involved will simply be reacting to the mad goings on in the community centre, and there’s a big chance that Finn (Nathan McMullen) and Jess (Karla Crome) will make more of an impact later. The main problem is that the episode was so strange and off-putting that I was too preoccupied with what was wrong with Rudy, Seth and Curtis to worry about any new arrivals. Coming in just as the boys are engaging in some mild torture and mutiny, we later discover that they’ve been infected by a greed-related power that’s made all three turn on each other.
Because there are two of them, Finn and Jess are allowed to introduce each other while navigating the increasingly dangerous halls of the community centre. While they’re likeable enough, and there’s no major reason to worry about their future impact on the show, the awkward freezer scene and Finn’s twisted monologue didn’t exactly recall the light-hearted Misfits of old. The episode might have been the darkest the show has ever gone, and the little humour present here just highlights how grim things have gotten over the past four years. It doesn’t help that Rudy, our resident comic-relief merchant, has always come across a little distasteful when compared to Nathan.
I didn’t enjoy much about the episode’s main plotline, and found watching the familiar characters torture strangers, lock each other in freezers and generally act like monsters, horribly unpleasant. The whole episode seemed to have been designed to unseat regular viewers, essentially wiping the slate clean for the new year, but it made me more unsure than ever that the show can effectively pull off another big casting shake-up. Of course, Rudy received a mixed reaction last year with many finding him a poor imitation of Nathan, and having him now take over as the show’s lead is the strangest thing of all.
I’ve been a big fan of Misfits since it began, but felt something was missing last year without the complete gang together. While I applaud the way in which the show’s writers have stepped over these obstacles with a certain amount of grace and finesse, a disquieting sense of unfamiliarity had to be expected. That said, there are many interesting elements in this opener that could well feed into a stellar run of episodes, it’s just unclear right now what that might include. With a new probation worker and a third new character yet to be introduced, this fourth series is anything but a done deal. Misfits has a knack of surprising everyone and, as usual, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store.
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