Being Human: Pie And PrejudiceBookmark and Share

Monday, 18 February 2013 - Reviewed by Tom Buxton
Reviewed by Tom Buxton

Pie And Prejudice
Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Philip John
Broadcast on BBC Three, 17th February 2013
Filler can be a killer sometimes. Indeed, the art of the "filler" episode is one that 21st-century dramas are constantly having to deal with, Doctor Who being a prime example of how to get it right, and US shows such as House and Smallville showcasing how mundane things can become in a season as a whole if it's handled in the wrong manner. Being Human has tackled much the same challenges in the past four seasons regarding how to integrate an "arc-lite" instalment so as to fill one of the six (or eight) episodes commissioned by the BBC. The results have generally been mixed, but unfortunately Pie And Prejudice won't go down as one of the rare instances where the series' writers have risen to the task.

Make no mistake: key to this third instalment of Series Five's failure to impress is the severe lack of direction that viewers can't help but notice. Where The Trinity and Sticks And Rope flourished in their integration of arc elements such as Captain Hatch's dark revelations and the first hints of a new vampire-werewolf conflict, here we're forced to suffer one of the most irksome characters in the show's brief history. Just as the portrayal of Crumb began to grate in the latter stages of the second episode, so too does Julian Barratt's Larry Chrysler simply ooze with the infamous iconography of seedy self-made "businessmen" who draw the weak-minded into their haphazard marketing schemes. It's reasonable to believe that Michael Socha's Tom would be sucked into such a ploy, yet by the time that Chrysler makes his exit from the show, this viewer was practically begging Hal to revert back to his "real" form and send the cretin to the underworld.

On the positive side, though, the plot thread involving deceased countess Lady Mary and Hal's attempts to understand her modern-day nature was a little more innovative. The contrast between Amanda Hale's Downton-riffing portrayal of the character and her more passionate 2013 self was inspired both on the actress's and the writer's parts, her sequences spent alone with Kate Bracken particularly memorable for their rather gritty and blatant depiction of social life as it currently stands. If anything, it was a shame that it all had to descend into the good ol' confrontation at the episode's latter stages, writing Mary out of the proceedings with a swift axe, because it might have been interesting to see Hale return to play a part in the climactic finale in three weeks' time. There is, nevertheless, a sense of total closure here, and for the most part it works, even if that snippet of dialogue regarding Hal - "How long until you're the one holding the stake?" - was a rather predictable retread of the series' core themes and morals, especially in light of the vampire's recent deadly resurgence.

Elsewhere, we subsequently had a few updates in the world of Mr Rook. The idea of the character's suicidal phone conversation seemed intriguing at first, yet it was a shame that it devolved so quickly into something far more lustful and shallow on the part of someone who seems to be layered and morally skewed. Indeed, viewers may yet wonder whether the more effective twist would have been to see the character killed off at this moment, biting the proverbial bullet as it were, and whether this might have forced Alistair and his government officials to launch a full-scale inquiry into supernaturals. All the same, it seems that Rook will have a major role in the concluding instalments of the show, first asking Hal and Tom to repay the favour by getting more supernaturals under control next week…and then what? Discovering the answer to that question should be a compelling reason alone for fans to keep watching.

Pie And Prejudice is certainly a strange one - in spite of advancing just one or two minor core plot elements, writer Jamie Mathieson still seemed to struggle to balance its various story arcs. Never mind the loathsome Larry Chrysler, between Rook's suicide contemplation, Mary's tale, and the developments for the Trinity of lead stars, Mathieson leaves little breathing space for the show's trademark humour, in spite of what feels like an incredibly drawn-out hour for the viewer. It seems as if this outing will be the solitary weak link in Being Human's fifth and final season, and here's hoping that's the case, because the show can't afford another misstep like Pie And Prejudice in its final three weeks if its writers aim to leave the fans with a satisfying legacy beyond the finale.