Being Human: “Some Thing To Watch Over Me”

Memory Loss

“Some Thing to Watch Over Me”

Being Human

Syfy, Monday, 10 PM E/P

Written by Jeremy Carver & Anna Fricke

Directed by Jerry Ciccoritti

Reviewer’s Note: This review covers the American version of Being Human, considered by itself and without reference to the original British series on which it is based.

“It is impossible to live forever perfectly; someone always remembers.” – Aidan

This episode was all about memory, and how it shapes not only our past but our present. As Aidan walks down a Boston street, he is assaulted with images of his past victims. Sally worries that she won’t even be a memory to her mourning fiancé, and Josh broods over pictures of the family he walked away from. Worse, Aidan is caught up in a human being’s memory, as he confronts the son of one of those bloody victims in his past. None of these characters can “move on”, some of them repeatedly put it, until those issues from the past are resolved. And sometimes, the resolution is not what was wanted, expected or desired.

” I should make a seven-layer dip, right?” — Aidan

We open with a block party. Aidan has decided not only to get acquainted with the neighborhood, but to join the neighborhood watch. Whoever said vampires had no sense of irony? It seems some graffiti vandal has been tagging the neighborhood, and cop Michael Garrity has been invited in to give some tips to the watch committee. Even as Aidan mingles with the crowd, serving up his seven-layer dip, Garrity recognizes him as the man who killed his father. The implication is that he actually observed this, which makes Aidan not just a monster, but a sloppy one to leave a witness. Aidan’s mentor Bishop later drops into the hospital to tell Aidan that Garrity is searching police files about him, which is probably the most useful reason to have a vamp in uniform. Bishop warns Aidan that Garrity must be silenced, if not by Aidan then by him. Aidan revolts against the prospect of another murder, which seems to be the first real angst about murder we’ve seen from him. He promises to find “another way”, perhaps by erasing Garrity’s memory. Bishop reminds him that he hasn’t “compelled” (read: “glamoured”) anyone for decades, he’s out of practice.

“Don’t you have anything better to do, Bishop?” — Aidan

Nevertheless, Aidan gives it a try. First he tries to talk to Garrity, perhaps to convince him that Garrity has mistaken him. Garrity not only isn’t buying this, he beats the crap out of Aidan and leaves him impaled on rusty rebar in an alley. Aidan is forced to glug blood stolen from the hospital blood bank to recuperate. The scene of him awash in sensual degradation, bloodied and exhausted in the men’s room stall, was one of the more compelling images of this episode. Aidan finally does his best to glamour Garrity, after Bishop has threatened to Turn him. Unfortunately, it turns out Bishop was right: Aidan doesn’t have what it takes. Garrity goes mad and commits suicide, and we are left with an anguished Aidan feeling real remorse over his failure.

This was the first episode in which I could actually watch Aidan. I am still filled with revulsion over this character, but I have to admit the writers gave him a very real struggle in this story. He fights to overcome his nature, fights Bishop’s murder plot, fights to save the son of his victim. He loses, but he has made a good fight. If he’s too physically or supernaturally weak to actually erase Garrity’s memories without hurting him, he at least has the moral backbone to do everything in his power to avoid murder. This is a good first step in making Aidan a redeemable character. It’s okay if he makes two steps forward and one back, that’s still progress. The trouble for the writers, of course, is that audiences don’t generally want the redeemed vampire; they want the sexy bad boy, the rogue, the pirate with fangs. Sam Witwer has the looks for this, but Aidan doesn’t have the storyline. We’re going to see more violence from him, more blood and dark looks, I am sure. But unless the writers want to paint him as a total villain, they’re going to have to show us more instances where Aidan has acted with compassion and selflessness. He’s on the right road, but he still backslides; he ditches Josh at a neighborhood watch meeting without a second thought. I’m still trying to figure out why Josh and Aidan are friends; I hope we’ll get a little more brotherly bonding in future episodes.

Sally: Why are you wearing makeup?

Tony: Why aren’t you?

Aidan joins Josh in one good deed: they find a friend for Sally. Sally is still moping, still housebound, still full of grief. She could easily become the boat anchor of this show, but the writers let her sunny personality and dry wit out just often enough to counter those dark moods. Her brief biographies of her neighbors at the party — the crazy lady, the drunk, the closet racist – were masterpieces of understated sarcasm. When she discovers Tony, a ghost from 1987, she fills the scene with giddy delight; at last, someone who understands. Tony, whose pop clothes and outdated hair give us plenty of opportunities for jokes about the Reagan era, undertakes her education in the spectral arts, mostly in the matter of teleportation. The two of them pop in and out of scenes, giggling, then vanishing in the proverbial puff of smoke. Triumphantly, Tony helps her leave the house for the first time; her joy is dashed, however, when he gets touchy-feely with her.

Sally: If I leave, he’ll forget me.

Josh: If you stay, he’ll forget you. You’re not here.

What neither of them realize is that, while Tony is teaching Sally how to move around, she is unwittingly teaching him how to move on. Trapped on this mortal coil since the days of mullets and Madonna, Tony has lived (so to speak) completely in the now, refusing to consider old loves, old lives. When Sally persuades him to visit his former girlfriend, his “door” to the next world appears. Tony says goodbye, and Sally goes to her fiancé’s house – only to find him sharing a beer and a moment with her best friend. Something tells me Sally will need to “move on” mighty fast. Kudos to Meaghan Rath for a well played moment in a difficult role. Of all the denizens of the House of Usher, Sally is the most confined role, unable to do much (she has to have Josh turn the pages of the newspaper for her). Yet she adds so much to this household it would be a shame to lose her. She may be a lightweight, but she’s also a leavening.

“I used to have an imaginary friend, too.” – Neighborhood Watch Girl

Josh, so far the strongest character, has a very minor role in this episode. Mostly he’s walking around exchanging bad comedy routines with Jerry, a Neighborhood Watch member who seems to be developing a crush on him. Jerry actually Googled Josh, which gives Josh the creeps. It also makes me wonder why his family, so anxious to find him, hasn’t managed to Google Josh yet. Jerry wants to work at the same hospital as Josh, wants to walk a beat with him, wants to party down with him. Josh is still the socially awkward nerd, so he’s not very slick at countering these intrusions. Even when Josh corners the neighborhood tagger and nearly chokes him to death, Jerry doesn’t seem fazed. Makes me wonder if Jerry is a couple of quarts shy of a gallon, or is playing a role. Could he be a spy? A mole?

Sally: Where were you?

Josh: Just keeping the streets of Boston safe for all the little children.

The story does give Sam Huntington a chance to show us Josh’s essentially sweet, compassionate nature. Josh is behind the find-Sally-a-friend attempt, Josh comforts her, turns pages for her, sympathizes with her. He’s the most human of the three: he actually is human, in fact. He eats food. He sleeps in a bed. He feels emotions. In fact, Josh’s primary problems seem to be those of any young man his age: women, job, purpose in life. It’s only a few days of the month when he’s a different person, a situation many women would completely understand. Of all these three, Josh is the one most “integrated” into human life, the one most capable of walking away from this town house and blending into the population. I conclude that it is basically his compassion and his need for the understanding of other supernatural beings that keeps him in this mix.

This third episode shows more potential than I would have thought from the pilot; not an unusual situation. Everyone is still too caught up in their own miseries to connect very deeply yet, but time, maturity and experience will change that. The real problem that I see is emphasis: so far we are mostly watching people obsess about their own personal problems, problems the audience will not (I hope) identify with. How are viewers supposed to connect with creatures whose main focus is on NOT murdering their fellow citizens? How are audiences supposed to root for “monsters”, as Josh calls them, who are mainly trying to hide what they do from the law, from the mob. I hope we will get some interesting villains, or some activities that help out human beings, or something to divert our trio from an endless and boring recapitulation every week of the angst of being different. They’re not that different, and self-absorption grows old quickly, no matter how pretty the cast is.