This feature contains massive spoilers for the Being Human series five finale. If you’ve yet to watch it, steer clear.
It was all going so well. The devil had been staked, the gang had become human, and Antiques Roadshow was just about to start on the telly. Then, in a moment of sheer wickedness, Toby Whithouse snatched it all away with a Dutch angle and some Japanese paper folding. After giving Being Human fans precisely the ending they’d asked for (sofa, teapot, humanity, antiques), Whithouse subverted the lot, showing us… well, what exactly did he show us?
Let’s return to the point when the diabolical Captain Hatch led Hal, Alex and Tom through the magical mystery tour of their non-cursed states. Back to full strength thanks to Tom waging bloody war on former best friend Hal, Hatch used his devilish magic to transport the trinity to a version of the world in which they were untroubled by their supernatural affliction. Pre-vamp Hal went back to sixteenth century Poland, not-dead Alex to a static caravan in Barry, and sans-wolf Tom to Honolulu Heights with his pregnant partner, Allison with two ls. “Is it a dream?” Tom asked, to which Hatch replied “Bit of a grey area that. Call it an alternative.”
Seemingly, the gang withstood temptation. Each in turn told the devil where he could stick his alternative, landing them back at the TV studio just in time for Rook and co. to sweep in and sweep up.
Two things require our attention at this point; the first, the origami wolf Hatch makes in Tom’s alternative, and the second, what Hal says to Hatch just before he beckons his vampire attacker.
We’ll start with the wolf. Blade Runner fans will note an homage in Whithouse’s use of an origami animal to pull the rug out from underneath his audience. A decade after the release of the 1982 noir sci-fi classic, Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut included a final scene in which Deckard (Harrison Ford) discovers a paper unicorn in his apartment, a call-back to the animal that appeared in Deckard’s dream earlier in the film. The implication – anyone yet to see the film should look away now and get thee to a flipping Blockbusters before they all disappear – is that the unicorn-maker knew which animal Ford’s character had dreamt of because Deckard was not human, but a Replicant with the concomitant implanted memories and dreams.
In Tom’s alternative world, Hatch leaves the folded paper wolf on the Honolulu Heights mantelpiece. Back in what we assume to be ‘reality’, after the chaos has died down and the trio are happy being, you know, human, what should be on the mantelpiece but that very wolf. The glimpse was a brief one, at the end of a shot that panned across a selection of objects each representing Honolulu Heights’ housemates (Mitchell’s fingerless gloves, George’s Star of David, Annie’s floral tea cup, Nina’s baby scan, Eve’s bib, one of Hal’s dominos, the phone number Alex gave Hal in the café, Tom’s whittled bear and stake…).
Feeding the suggestion that all is not as it seems in the Being Human ending, is the camera tilt angle directors Philip John and Daniel O’Hara have established as one of Captain Hatch’s trademarks. We saw it when Hatch walked into Rook’s archive earlier in the episode, and we saw it again here. It was so brief that if you’d have got up to put the kettle on less than a minute from the finale’s end credits, you’d have tootled away whistling a happy tune, but there it very much was.
The wolf of course, is our Inception totem, the thing that tells us whether we’re in the real world, or a dream. What does it, and that camera tilt tell us? That the gang didn’t defeat the devil, that apocalypse reigns, and they’re living in a dream.
Whose dream is it? Tom’s would be the first thought, seeing as they’re still in twenty-first century Barry and specifically Honolulu Heights, but if that was the case, then where’s Allison? Here’s where the second thing we have to pay attention to comes into play: Hal’s words to Hatch before he chose to be cursed as a vampire.
In a move that would make even the shoddiest Bond villain put his head in his hands and sigh, just before Hal refused the devil’s offer, he uttered these words: “You know where you went wrong? You should have put us together. Everything is incomplete without them.”
You’d have thought Lord Harry would know enough about evil schemes to understand that telling your foe how to fulfil his diabolical plan isn’t the smartest of moves (though, to be fair, he was losing a good amount of blood at the time). By informing the devil he should have given them a shared fantasy, Hal may well have signed humanity’s death warrant. All signs point to the fact that the trio awakening at the television studio was a shared ‘alternative’ created by Hatch to occupy the Trinity while he got on with his one-man apocalypse.
The argument is strengthened by Hal and Alex’s exchange on the sofa, after she asks him what his Captain Hatch-directed dream was. “I told him he should have put us together, that it was incomplete without you two” says Hal, to which Alex replies, “Here we are”. Here they are indeed.
To sum up then, Whithouse went for double bubble with his finale. He gave Being Human fans the perfect happy ending we’d petitioned for, a suspiciously rose-tinted resolution, then revealed it was all a cynical lie. Probably. The devil was busy whispering in humanity’s ear while the gang watched telly in their shared dream. What was it Hatch said? “There’s no shame in living in a dream if it’s better than reality.” Let’s hope they never find out.
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