When Ex-Girlfriends Haunt You: Being Human, “Making History”

You know the time when you’re watching one of your favorite television shows and you’re aware that it’s gone off the rails? It’s a terrible feeling. More than anything, you’re struck by a deep wish that the creators had a magic Reset Button. Something they could press to make everything well again. Maybe better than it was before.

Turns out, showrunner Toby Whithouse has one of those. It’s called ‘Season 4 of Being Human.’ We’re not even to the finale and it’s proven. What astounds is the practically elegant way he’s managed to pull it off….

Spoilers abound.

It’s 1950 and Hal has gotten himself locked up in jail talking to a then-human Cutler about his defense. The former family vampire lawyer who handled all the vampire cases got himself shuffled off, so they’re in need of a new solicitor. Hal rambles on to the clueless attorney about how he could become a “history maker.” He then converts Cutler without a word of agreement from the guy. Oh hey, I see what you did there, Toby Whithouse. This can’t be good.

(This Vampire Package the big guys sell has a lot of the same keywords in it; remember how Herrick told Mitchell that he saw him as an “orphan maker?” Seems it doesn’t matter what you do as a vampire so long as you’re making things. So who was told by their recruiter that they were destined to be the great “model ship maker?” Cocktail maker? Balloon animal maker?)

In present day, Cutler is recruiting a group of fellas using the same pitch Hal used on him over half a century ago, when Hal stumbles in on their little meeting. Hal is a bit perturbed to find his old kid behind all this, but Cutler doesn’t notice because he’s dead chuffed to see his creator. There are hugs and excited babbling and he even comments on how Hal’s been working out. I’ll leave you to make your quips on that one — I’m definitely not writing down mine.

Cutler is not interested in telling Hal his plans right away because he’d much rather reminisce and drink together (and probably cuddle later… there, I wrote one down). Of course, drinking with these guys is not a nice bottle of bordeaux or a smokey scotch poured neat. Hal takes one look at the glass of blood, flips, and goes home to do some exercise bike therapy. Tom comes in to worry to Hal about how Annie has disappeared, and has Hal look after Eve for a bit.

You can't escape the family, Cutler. Hal's mafia gear should have been a tip off.

You can't escape the family, Cutler. Hal's mafia gear should have been a tip off.

We’re treated to a flashback where we see Hal forcing Cutler to bury someone that was “his kill.” It’s not the most accurate description as we learn that Cutler enjoys blood, but has a pretty hard time with the murdering part—hence the menial labor tasks he’s being assigned. Hal belittles him for being the “drunk who never buys a round” and Cutler looks appropriately wounded.

Meanwhile, Tom goes to tell Cutler that he doesn’t want to be part of his plan to kill the Old Ones. Using techniques he learned from Allison (notecards! gesturing!), he makes his case to Cutler as to why he’d prefer not to go on murdering anymore. Cutler accepts his decision, and suggests they have dinner together soon to prove there’s no hard feelings. Sure.

Eve has taken Annie into the future to show her “mum” what will happen if Annie doesn’t help her. It turns out that she got the idea to come back in time through her life by hearing about what Lia did to Mitchell; Annie had told her everything about everyone when she was small. Eve shows her the site of a terrifying human crush at a waterfront, and explains that no one believed about vampires until they murdered the Prime Minister on national television.

Hal gets up the nerve and goes to talk to Cutler again, who demands to know why he left all those years ago, effectively abandoning him in a world he didn’t understand. Hal has no answer for him and the apology’s a bit weak, so Cutler doesn’t want to give up his plans about the tribute to the Old Ones… unless Hal drinks some blood in a toast.

Flashback: Hal won’t let Cutler drink a provided glass of blood until Cutler proves he has shed the trappings of humanity. During the conversation, Cutler’s wife Rachel comes down to find out why her husband is talking to men from work in the middle of the night. Hal charms her to death and she returns upstairs looking coy and appeased—the instant she is gone, Hal’s sweet smile vanishes. “Fucking kill her,” he snaps. It is perhaps the most chilling example we have seen of Hal’s former nature. Cutler cannot kill his wife, so Hal and his goons leave him on his own.

In present day, Hal drinks the glass of blood.

He goes on his date with Alex immediately afterward and is completely high on blood. He proceeds to be totally creepy as a result, telling Alex how much he likes her mouth and her neck, and that he’s already drunk. Alex isn’t in the mood for guy bullshit, having already put up with her middle brother getting an incorrectly spelled tattoo today, so she leaves him at the bar. Unfortunately, we see one of Cutler’s boys follow her out, and Hal does not.

Eve takes Annie to a place in the future where humans and werewolves were rounded into camps. In these places humans were branded with an “H”, werewolves with “W.” She asks her mum about Tom because she didn’t know him very well and he died in one of the camps; apparently Tom killed some humans by accident when she was young and it made him cold and distant. Then Eve tells Annie that after burying all her friends, Annie eventually dispersed into the air.

Annie proceeds to get difficult, sitting on the ground and refusing to budge when Eve still won’t tell her what she has to do, and they begin to bicker the way only a mother and a daughter could. It seems to be the last push Annie requires to truly believe that older Eve is the baby she is raising right now, and she follows her to the final location.

Tom goes out to dinner with Cutler, failing to recognize Hal’s whacked out behavior as he leaves the house. The manager of the restaurant gives Tom a tie to wear, but he doesn’t know how to tie one, so Cutler has to tie it for him. Cutler proceeds to subtly try and tear Tom down by making him feel inadequate for Alison. (Tom is planning to get all smart for her and then come back to her one day.) At home, Hal wakes up in full vampire mode to the sound of Eve crying, and makes his way upstairs….

Eve takes Annie to a hall where Hal’s picture is hanging above the words “Show No Mercy.” It turns out that Hal was one of the worst vampires of them all; it was his idea to create the camps. This is where you can see the accidental flaw of her plan: Eve was indeed the voice of the “angel” who told Leo where to find Annie, Tom, and herself as a baby. She assumed that Hal, being the monster that she knew about growing up, would kill her on the spot and this whole future would be avoided.

It’s a brilliant little twist; she didn’t count on her small change in the timeline bringing about an entirely different version of Hal, one who lives with the faith that Tom and Annie will keep him clean, one who changes her dirty nappies and reads her poetry to put her to sleep. Eve didn’t realize that in leading Hal to the B&B, she effectively restored the support group he lost when Leo and Pearl passed on (which was probably exactly what turned him into a psychotic killing machine all over again in her timeline). That’s beautiful writing, folks.

And the proof is in Tom’s return. When he goes up to the attic, he finds Hal passed out with baby Eve in his arms — he’s recently fed her. Tom realizes that Hal is drunk on blood and drags him out of the room, but instead of a staking, all Hal gets is a round scolding. Hal doesn’t care anymore. He tells Tom that he’s a child, that Annie’s left them and that it makes no difference, they’ll all go back to being the monsters they are at some point. And Tom takes that to heart, and agrees to help Cutler. Hal detoxes all night and wakes up determined to find out what Cutler’s up to.

A flashback is interspersed as we see Cutler in the present mimic something that Hal did to him in the past. Hal in the past assures Cutler that he wasn’t really mad at him for neglecting to kill his wife — he gives Cutler a glass of blood as a peace offering. Cutler in the present gives Hal a glass of blood, having figured out that Hal has been clean for a long time. He then tells Hal his plan: to have a werewolf rip apart a party full of young people who will film everything on camera phones and update the event to Facebook and Twitter, etc. Many will die, but the world will then come to the vampires for help. And Cutler has put this all together to make Hal proud, to be a history maker. He knows that Hal is in a kind and merciful phase, though, so he has to return the favor and help him purge it.

In the past, Hal takes Cutler to see the body of his dead wife, the person’s whose blood he just unwittingly drank. In the present, Cutler takes Hal to see whose blood he just imbibed: it’s Alex. Hal finds out that Tom is the werewolf that Cutler has lured into his plan. He begs Cutler to stop. Cutler is horrified and, more importantly, he is furious at Hal’s suggestion that he remember what it was like to be human when that is precisely what Hal stole from him. Hal knows he is right, but also promises to stop him, so Cutler locks him up with Alex’s body.

Which is when Hal finds out that Alex is a ghost. A damn funny ghost.

Eve tells Annie that she has to kill her or let someone else do it: the final piece of the prophecy told her that the War Child had to die. It turns out the Eve herself is the nemesis as well as the savior — she has an “H” burn on her arm from being in one of the camps. She assures Annie that she was a good mother, despite how everything turned out, and Annie goes back to the present.

Cutler picks up Tom, realizing that the War Child is still alive when he hears her crying inside the house. He sticks with his plan and takes Tom to a staff room near a dancefloor where he tells Tom the Old Ones will be after he transforms. Of course, he fills the place up with a bunch of 20-somethings instead and has them dance to a DJ. Tom figures out that the people outside aren’t vampires, but he’s locked in.

Hal is trying to figure out how to get to Tom in time and tries to get Alex to rent-a-ghost like Annie, so she can let him out of the room. Alex is pretty pissed at Hal for turning out to be a creep and drinking her blood, but she figures out how to do it and lets him out. Tom has already transformed, though, so Hal and Alex are left to help the party-going kids find a way out of the place. Everyone makes it out alive, except for Hal, who stays behind to fend off Tom. As Tom-the-wolf lunges at him, we cut back to Annie holding baby Eve and singing “Que Sera Sera” while tears stream down her face…. In the final scene, the Old Ones finally arrive after all this time. And at the head of their little tribe is Mark Gatiss.

There's no way you didn't recognize that silhouette.

There's no way you didn't recognize that silhouette.

I’m sorry, let me repeat that: MARK GATISS. For those of you who are confused, he has some writing credits on these little shows called Doctor Who and Sherlock (where he also plays Sherlock’s easily-aggravated brother, Mycroft). If you are not shrieking with joy… well, you probably don’t watch much British TV. In which case, why are you reading this recap? Point is, if this is the treat we get after waiting such a ridiculous amount of time to see the Old Ones, then Toby Whithouse should feel free to string us along all the time.

But I digress. Do you see what’s happening here? Because it looks as though all that future scope and expanding mythology have really been a way to get the show back to Square One. Last episode, Emrys told Annie she might have to do something not-so-nice to settle up her unfinished business before she crossed over. Letting George and Nina’s baby die would seem to fit the bill. So really, it could mean that this entire season was just leading up to an elaborate bow-out for Annie. It would make sense in terms of changing out the old cast for a new one and starting fresh. Also, having the show center around raising a baby is problematic in the long run, so getting rid of Eve makes sense as well.

Alex is the cutest. Her reaction here was also my reaction to seeing Mark Gatiss.

Alex is the cutest. Her reaction here was also my reaction to seeing Mark Gatiss.

We have a new ghost to take Annie’s place in the household — and Alex is fantastic. Her rapport with Hal is already very Benedick-and-Beatrice, which is exactly the sort of thing that will keep viewers coming back for more. And she’s adorable and Scottish! What’s not to love? I also find myself hoping that they don’t get rid of Cutler; he’s one of the more engaging characters we’ve gotten this season, and the damage that Hal did in “creating” him is perhaps more realistic than we’ve seen in any vampire yet.

Thought: it’s shocking that this episode is so clear when you realize that the events in it take place during the past, present, and a possible future. There’s some class act storytelling going on here.

My only complaint is that we only have one more episode, and then we’ll have to wait an entire year for more.

 

The season ends next week with: “The War Child”


Emily Asher-Perrin really does feel bad for Cutler. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

5 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!