Your Mother Told You Not to Trust Strange Men With Toys: Being Human, “A Spectre Calls”

You know what no one likes? Guests who show up and decide they’re going to stick around for an untold period of time. Which should have been the first tip-off that this week’s offering of Being Human was going to make us all super uncomfortable.

I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the episode. Just that this week’s guest star might have left you feeling a bit… queasy.

Tiny reminders:

  1. Werewolf blood is toxic to vampires
  2. Baby Eve’s arch nemesis, according to Regus, is a man with a burnt arm
  3. Annie lodged a knife in a wall when a vampire came to attack Eve last episode

It’s 1975, and we see the ghost who came back through Death’s Door in the last episode walking with a kid, and talking to him about toys. So he’s alive at this point. He goes into the street to get the kid’s soccer ball (football if you’re from the U.K.), gets hit by a car, and dies. Er, not so alive anymore.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Present day and Hal is having a panic attack over how to calm little blubbering Eve — it’s his turn. Annie has created a rotor for them all, so that she’s not caring for Eve all the time. The boys are not so keen on this arrangement. They are attempting to tell Annie this when they realize that a ghost has approached the house. Everyone is suspicious until the ghost — one Alfie Kirby, which is among the worst names in all of fiction history — tells them that he was sent by Nina because he used to run a nursery, and could give them all a hand. Annie is shocked, but that gets him into the B&B where he can cause trouble.

Kirby instantly proceeds to make everyone feel inadequate (Tom’s room is too dirty, Annie should make Eve’s nursery pinker and full of more stuff, and Hal is just weird), and it’s clear that the good old Seeds of Discord are being sown already amongst our pack. Tom is dispatched to get nursery things, Hal’s pushup regiment (gratuitous male half-nudity!) and Radio Four time is interrupted for baby duties, and no one is happy.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Tom’s thrift sense angers Annie when he gets a perfectly sound chest from a skip for Eve with the intent of touching it up. Annie begins to confide in Kirby about her stresses while Tom mopes in his room. Kirby comes up to talk to him, and notices a collage of newspaper and magazine images that Tom has covering his wall. They are things that he has never done and wants to experience. One of them is a proper birthday party. Kirby tells Tom not to worry about his impending 21st birthday tomorrow; Annie and Hal have planned him a big surprise party, nevermind the fact that he’s never told them the date. (Crap.) It’s becoming very clear exactly how young Tom truly is, in terms of understanding the world and how people work. Papa McNair really didn’t do him many favors.

Annie panics because Eve has a temperature. They call a GP to examine her, with Tom and Hal posing as her gay adoptive parents. (Which is just as funny as it ought to be — apparently they think that gay men only wear arm-bearing shirts? Also, is Hal wearing Mitchell’s old clothes? Because Tom doesn’t wear black for the most part, and there’s no way either he or Hal have a studded belt in their respective wardrobes.) The GP writes a prescription for Eve’s ear infection, then mentions that he has to do some digging because she’s not in the system. Annie panics again because that could get Eve taken away.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Kirby leaves while the trio fret and kills the GP with amazing ghost powers. (No door appears for the man. Maybe killing someone that way does something weird to their soul?) He’s clearly done this before in life. Hal doesn’t trust Kirby, and calls him out when he sees the ambulance taking the dead GP away.

Kirby points out that Hal is no stranger to abrupt, unexplained deaths. It seems as though he met all sorts of lovely ladies on the other side who Hal strung along and murdered in his past. He threatens to tell Annie and Tom about it. Hal tries to insist that they care about him enough not to be appalled, but Kirby makes him think twice (and makes Hal cry, which is much worse than murdering the GP). He tells Hal that all he wants in return for keeping quiet is Hal’s help in getting Annie to like and trust him.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Hal tries to come clean to Annie in advance about his past, hoping he can sidestep the whole thing, but Annie smacks him down quicker than a fruit fly on overripe plums. So he agrees to help Kirby.

The next morning, Tom leaves the house under Kirby’s instruction, expecting a big party when he gets back. Hal notices a newspaper reporting that the Box Tunnel Murderer (catch-up: a guy was framed for this last season, but Mitchell and Daisy were the ones who killed everyone) was a cannibal who ate the people he killed. He goes to investigate, and finds out that the doctor reporting it was told to falsify the evidence by a vampire. Hal gets vampire scary in all this, but doesn’t want to hurt her, so he backs off without the vampire’s name.

Annie is none too pleased that Tom and Hal are both missing for their rotor shifts, and finds that she’s feeling very tired. This should trigger your ‘What’s up?’ Flag since we’ve had no indication that ghosts got tired before this. Hal tries to tell Annie about what he found, but she’s acting awkward with Kirby around so he backs off there, too. Tom comes home expecting his party, and doesn’t get any acknowledgment at all besides a good scolding for being out. He goes up to his room to sulk and tear down his collage, and Kirby comes in and tells him that he’s sorry. Also that Hal doesn’t want Tom to grow up and leave his “kennel.”

Tom goes in to tell Hal off (and maybe stake him). Hal is understandably confused. Tom forces him into a fist fight, gets his own mouth all bloody and bleeds on Hal’s shirt, which hurts because, ow, werewolf blood. Tom runs off, and Hal is left with Annie shouting at him for screwing everything up. Kirby looks even better to Annie now.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Annie clearly needs glasses or a good smack upside the head if she's finding this attractive.

Tom gets drunk, wanders the streets, and sees a vampire follow a girl into an alley. He beats the vampire up and gets tossed in jail for his trouble. Then Cutler comes and gets him out by showing the CCTV (since a vampire wouldn’t show up on it, it looks like Tom is beating the air). We have no idea why Cutler would help Tom, but he gives him a card and acts all trustworthy. It’s unnerving.

Hal finally confronts Kirby, which turns out to be a bad idea; Kirby wrecks his room (triggering all of Hal’s neuroses at once), breaks his picture of Leo, and makes it look as though Hal is trying to kill Eve. Which is, of course, the exact opposite of what’s happening, but Annie just sees the fangs and tells Hal to leave immediately. Hal is too practical to fight when he knows he’s been beaten, and promptly packs his things. He drives his car to the end of the road and sits there, blinker flickering for a left turn.

Kirby finally moves in on Annie, just as she’s feeling as close to him. He tells her that she’s the reason that everyone keeps dying and leaving; she’s boring, nice and tedious, and drives people away. Kirby admits that he never ran a nursery — he was a traveling toy salesman, who wormed his way into households and murdered the kids’ mothers. We realize that Annie is tired because she’s fading. With those final hurtful words, she evaporates into the air, leaving Kirby alone with the baby.

Kirby does a crazy incredible disco dance to celebrate his victory, but is told to move on and murder baby Eve by — surprise, surprise — the woman who died in the first episode to go back and kill the tiny savior. She’s the one who gave Kirby the info on Nina. Tom finds Hal sitting in his car and the end of the road and apologizes, realizing how he was manipulated. They both go back to the house, but Kirby already has Eve and that giant knife that Annie planted in the wall last episode. The lights are doing a lot of flickering….

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

While Kirby goes on about how famous he should have been as a serial killer, Annie rematerializes in some disturbing supernatural light and melts that bastard into the carpet with a terrifying little smile on her face. Hal and Tom are horrified, until she makes a very appropriate quip about how terrible her taste in men is. (It really is the worst taste, Annie. You need to work on it a little more proactively.)

It turns out that Cutler is the vampire behind the “Box Tunnel Murderer Cannibal” thing, and when he finds out that someone else has been snooping about it, he kills the doctor to prevent anyone from finding out.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Hal is lovingly restoring Tom’s wall collage when Annie shouts for their help. It’s a ruse! She has a birthday cake for Tom, covered in candy and chocolate frosting and colorful candles, because she and Hal really do care. A lot. Tom runs off to get plates and Hal points out that maybe that whole prophecy bit about Eve’s nemesis is rubbish; Kirby failed to kill her. Annie isn’t so sure since Kirby didn’t have the burn on his arm — maybe that man was still on his way. After an awkward hug (Hal still has issues with people touching him), Hal excuses himself briefly and goes up to his room…

…and there, he pulls down the shoulder of his shirt to examine the burn on his arm left by Tom’s blood.

It’s okay, you’re allowed to gasp in hurt and exasperation.

Being Human, A Spectre Calls

Your face probably looks something like this, yes?

Questions:

  • No, Hal! You can’t be Eve’s nemesis! (Okay, that’s wasn’t a question, I’m trying to cope with my dismay.)
  • Is Cutler trying to make it seem like the Box Tunnel murderer was a werewolf? And what is he buttering Tom up for?
  • Was that ghost-killing thing some of the “untapped power” we’ve been waiting to see from Annie since season one? Because that trick was pretty badass.
  • Is the ghost woman from the future on the other side an older version of Eve? I’m guessing yes, though it’s almost too obvious, but the fact that she knew about Nina would suggest it.

 

Check back for next week’s episode: “Hold the Front Page”


Emily Asher-Perrin needs everyone to stop messing with Hal’s stuff — it’s triggering her neuroses. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

7 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!