Ecology of the Damned
“The End of the World as We Knew It”
Syfy, Monday, 10 PM E/P
Written by Nancy Won
Directed by Charles Binamé
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.
“When we have the numbers, when we have the power, we won’t have to hide.” — Bishop
This episode was about community. Bishop, head of the local vampire community and Aidan’s sometimes nemesis, is “recruiting” new vampires from among the rich and influential humans in Boston (which gives “bloodsucking capitalist” a whole new meaning). Bishop seems to have been reading a little too much Charlaine Harris; he wants vampires to live in the open. Ray is trying to start a werewolf pack, beginning with Josh. Aidan warns Bishop not to recruit humans in the hospital where Aidan works as a nurse, but soon enough a dying patient is Turned by … a priest. Ray tries to rush Josh into a pack relationship, but it’s clear that Josh is resisting not because he doesn’t want to hang with Ray, but because he doesn’t want to be a werewolf. Both Bishop and Ray urge our heroes to forego this delusion that they can live like humans, to embrace the beast within. And once again, as they will apparently do in every single episode ad infinitum, Aidan and Josh must reject the beast and re-affirm their commitment to living as something they are not. I have to give them points for consistency, if not creativity. It also shows some basic common sense; neither Bishop’s nor Ray’s schemes for achieving “normality” have any hope of success.
“I get it. You’re completely unhinged.” — Aidan
A vampire priest. Well, this is interesting. Father Vamp (Alex Ivanovici, Assassin’s Creed) has only been a priest for six years, but he loves his work. When Aidan confronts him, he admits that he still believes in God, believes that God is telling him to “free” humans from the delusion that there is an afterlife. He’s persuaded that mankind’s natural state is immortality, and all humans should be vampires. Apparently the good father has no idea of predator/prey ratios and how important they are even in the ecology of the damned. The theology of this entire arrangement aside, Aidan has to deal with the turf problem. When he demands that Bishop remove his priest-recruiter from the hospital, Bishop beats him bloody. Aidan retaliates by knocking Father Vamp’s fangs out. Alas, as Bishop tells the distraught priest, fangs don’t grow back. Looks like Father Vamp is going to be getting his blood through a straw from now on; he certainly won’t be Turning anyone else. Nicely played, Aidan.
“We’ll find more of us. With your bulbous brain it’ll be easy.” — Ray
Ray continues as one of my favorite “villains”, a villain who is such only by contrast. His heart is in the right place, even if he isn’t the sharpest claw on the foot. Clad only in combat boots and an extremely short bathrobe, he lounges around the house delivering the best lines of the night and gnawing on chicken legs. He’s very conflicted – even as he tells Josh to embrace the wolf, Ray reveals that what he really wants is to be human, or at least to be like Josh – living in the human world. When he takes Josh into the woodland shack for their Turning, he finally admits what I suspected, that he is the werewolf who turned Josh. His speech to Josh is redolent of loneliness, alienation, and frustration. Josh complains that he lost his fiancée and his college career; Ray responds that becoming a werewolf lost him everything – wife, family, career. He’s nothing now but a beast, and has perforce embraced that destiny. Josh refuses to admit he’s a beast by nature now – even as he slashes at Ray in a feral fight for dominance. I felt a great deal of pity for lonely Ray as Josh walked away from him, rejecting the only other being he knows who fully shares his nature. I will miss Ray, and his funny, homespun sincerity.
“Why does it sound like the house is trying to eat us?” – Aidan
Sally, meanwhile, is undergoing a real catharsis. Apparently her powers of affecting the material world are growing – now every drain in the house is clogged. Though she says she has “moved on” from Danny, in fact she is brooding and morose, wrapped in gloom. Until a plumber finds her engagement ring in a clogged pipe, and her emotional dam breaks: she remembers her death. And as I suspected, Danny was behind it. In a fit of jealous rage of her losing the ring down the sink, he pushed her. She stumbled, fell downstairs, and died while Danny looked on in horrified indecision. Suddenly, all the sinks work again, and our obvious metaphor for emotional constipation disappears. But as Sally is shaken by this revelation, so the house now begins to shake like a leaf in a storm. Aidan questions Sally, learns that Danny was responsible for her death, and is ready to (probably literally) eat him alive until Sally stops him. She has plans of her own.
“All I wanted was to find the last person I had a connection with.” – Ray
We end with a family sit-down dinner. Josh, channeling his inner Jewish mother, has fixed rump roast with all the trimmings. The fact that neither Aidan nor Sally can actually eat notwithstanding, he insists on hanging on to “some rituals of normality”. Maybe a TV-viewing marathon (True Blood?) in the living room would make more sense. But as a way to keep connected, both to one another and to their common commitment to “normality”, it’s a pretty good idea. Josh the werewolf may be forging his own “pack”, out of a vampire and a ghost, without the violence and the shedding.
This episode came in at just over one million viewers and a 0.4 share among viewers 18-49. This is a nearly 50% drop-off from the premiere, in both raw numbers and shares. However, that pilot audience was the largest Syfy has had since the premiere of Battlestar Galactica, and the network will probably continue to support the show for awhile. The quality of the show is improving, and if viewers can be persuaded not to constantly compare this show with the UK version, it may eventually start to find a larger venue.