All right, so here we are with the write-up of the second episode of the American Being Human. For those of you just joining us, my stated goal is to watch the first three episodes (my write-up of the first one is here), take notes, and give as objective a review as possible for someone who’s seen and enjoyed the original British series. Yes, I know that will be hard, but I’ve acknowledged my likelihood for biases, and I’m gonna do my best to not let them get the better of me.
Once again, we’ll tackle this in the format of Show Structure first and Characters second, so we can see how each of them has developed, week-to-week. Everybody got it? Good, then let’s get into it.
So not only are we continuing the voice-over, but we’re going to wait until the second episode to have Sally’s intro to How We Got Here? And it’s not even “how We got here,” so much as how She got here. We’re still talking in metaphors and allusions to horror, rather than brute facts, which is actually kind of an interesting tack, especially when paired with the gruesome and supposedly heart-wrenching scenes we’re given of the main characters’ origins. Honestly, an emotionally deepened version of this should have been the intro to the pilot–not only because it mirrors the BCC series, but rather because it would have made me give a shit about the people we’re meeting. As it stands, I still only kind of want to know anything about these people, or what they’re doing with their existences. Oh, and Five American Dollars says that the next episode opens with a voice-over intro from Josh.*
Speaking of Josh, his post-transformation glazed-over stare did work quite well this episode. They really seemed to key into how viscerally and mentally draining the whole experience is for him. I hope they keep that for now, but also show him growing more and more into what he is.
And while we’re talking of show versus tell: so far as character direction goes, Adam Kane either needs to tone it way down or turn it way up, because the reactions of the main characters to their various situations are still not tracking as genuine. Everyone’s delivery is a bit off and the timing isn’t working. What it comes down to is that people are saying words and acting as if they feel a thing, but all I’m getting is just that: Saying and Acting. Most of the time, there is no actual emotional connection to the world around them other than, at best, a kind of petulant sense of “This is Unfair! Why is this happening to Me?!” Footstomp footstomp footstomp.
The music is really working now and really feels akin to the people and situations we’re seeing. I’m very glad they’ve found a solid tone for that at least; now if they can use that as their landscape and build up from there, that would be great.
So far as the special effects go, see my note about Sally, below.
Aidan: Our vampire is still distant, still aloof, and he still seems to only care about not drinking blood, but not about not drinking blood because it killspeople. In this episode, the only real rise we seem to get out of him is when he finds out that the woman he thought he’d killed has been turned into a vampire, so it seems that the main problem for Aidan isn’t in the death which can result from his feeding–rather the problem is in any more people becoming vampires. Now this could be an exceedingly interesting angle…if they actually play it right; if we can actually see him understand the transience of life, see him wrestle with what vampiric immortality actually means, I think that would be a great new twist on an old trope. Also, his reaching out to Josh to have Josh stop him from killing someone was really quite touching in its way; showed he was trying.
As a side note, I’m really hoping they explain why vampires in this world can move about in the sun. A nod to Bram Stoker would be best, from my perspective, but any kind of explanation other than “We’re Part Of The Twilight Universe!” will do.
Josh: Our werewolf seems to be less of a douche this episode, if still very socially awkward. He’s beginning to actually care about people other than himself, and to try to do what’s best for them. The aspect of emotional transformation is really important for a werewolf character, and it looks like the writers are starting to notice that with him. That’s about all I have to say there.
Sally: Her personality Still Doesn’t Work. That “Hey I’m sorry I couldn’t help you not kill your sister, but I’m glad you didn’t” thing between her and Josh? Really pretty disgusting, in its disingenuousness (Disingenuity?). I am obviously supposed to empathize with her–and her plight–but I simply find her vastly unlikable. I can say that I am very glad they’ve decided to start working in an ability to affect physical objects, and that it’s dependent on her emotional state. Unfortunately, even with her acknowledgment in the conversation with Josh at the end of the episode, it still feels like she doesn’t understand what “Hey You’re Dead” means.
And the floating down the stairs? Really? Hey, folks: I get it! She’s a Ghost! Dial it back, why don’t you. Geez…
Bishop: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from The Big Lebowski, Lost, and Supernatural, it’s that Mark Pellegrino can do no wrong. His acting is the strongest in the entire show thus far, and his portrayal of Bishop–Aidan’s power-hungry sire and mentor–is one of someone who’s cruel, dark, and knows exactly how to push the buttons of everyone he meets. No complaints about this character.
Rebecca: This brand new vampire doesn’t seem resentfully crazy (emphasis on the crazy) enough for someone who was left for dead and brought back to undeath by freaking vampires. When she’s around Aidan, she acts like a spurned ex, but not like a spurned ex who’s had all of her metaphysical and emotional frameworks ripped out from under her; just like maybe she wants her grandmom’s necklace back from your apartment, or wants her share of the money back from your vacation fund. Well… right up until she eats someone. And even then her demeanor seems like it would fit equally well to having just left a nasty voicemail, or perhaps slashed your tires.
Emily: I still feel like our introduction to Josh’s sister Emily was a bit cheap, and that feeling was reinforced by the fact that they let her live and then sent her away this episode, presumably never to be heard from again. First the cheap hook with the lesbian relationship, then the “Why Won’t My Brother Let Me In?!” moment? Woman, there is a window in the door! Walk over and see for yourself that your brother is a freaking Werewolf!
Letting her live is fine, I guess, but they could have stood their ground on a really dark moment, right out of the gate, there, and they let it go past, un-stood-upon. But even having let her live, she could have been so very interesting, if they had actually integrated her into the group dynamic, rather than shooing her off. So far, it feels like she was just there to give Josh an emotional anchor to his old life which he could then push away, but if she comes back next week and demands to be a part of her brother’s life, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
David: Pretty much a non-entity, so far. Really quite bland, even in those moments where it seems like he can hear Sally’s voice as memories in his own mind. I hope they start to do more with him, soon.
And that’s that. One more episode for them to hook me in, and it looks like things have the potential to get quite interesting, in the coming episode. Check back here, next week, and let’s see what happens.
*Ahem. I will not actually pay you five dollars.