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Monday, 21 February 2011

Being Human Series 3 Episode 5 - 'The Longest Day' - Review

What’s the Story?

George stumbles upon an old face in the hospital psychiatric ward – Herrick is back, but not as we know him.  Claiming to have amnesia, Nina is forced to take him back to the B&B and Mitchell is not best pleased, especially when a Community Psychiatric Nurse appears to assess their suitability as carers.  Whether Herrick is telling the truth or not, his presence starts to fracture the relationships of the group and thanks to him Nina finally discovers Mitchell’s big secret. 

What’s the Verdict?

Although last weeks episode remains my favourite of the series so far, ‘The Longest Day’ certainly comes close despite being completely different in tone and style.  This episode was no less intense than ‘The Pack’ albeit in a very different way, taking place almost entirely in the B&B and therefore allowing a creepy, claustrophobic tension to ramp up throughout until another gripping final ten minutes that has changed the whole dynamic of the house.

I had a slight concern over whether bringing Herrick back was the right move, could they recreate the brilliance of the first series? I need not have worried.  Jason Watkins has such a strong screen presence, I find him quite mesmerising as Herrick and he has slipped back into the role perfectly.  Who would have thought Herrick would one day end up living in the same house as our heroes?  Herrick initally seems so different from the Herrick we knew, but scratch the surface and really the same cruel, manipulative streak is still there.  He cruelly and gleefully took Cara apart, leading to her suicide which I found genuinely surprising and had not seen coming at all.   Keeping Herrick’s motives ambiguous is a very clever idea at this stage, does he really have amnesia or is he fully aware of who everyone is?  We can theorise as much as we like on this and by not revealing his true intentions the writers have created a sinister and gripping scenario that is sure to generate plenty of discussion and keep us watching his every move.  My personal theory? I think Herrick genuinely does not know who he or the others are but that actually the human Herrick was just as creepy and dangerous as the vampire.  He is talking to everyone in turn, working out their role in the house and how he can take control, he knows Mitchell is the major threat to him and that he can use Nina to destroy him.  I could be entirely wrong of course, but that is one of the things I am loving about this series, it really could go in any direction and is almost impossible to predict. 
For example, just when I was beginning to convince myself that Nina would be the ‘wolf shaped bullet’ of the prophecy, that idea is brought to the forefront in such a way that I now think she is a red herring! This series is certainly keeping us guessing!

Talking of Nina, oh what have you done?! Her character has been written so consistently throughout the series that I think we all knew how she would react when she inevitably found out about the Box Tunnel 20.  Although calling the police does seem a little odd when you consider that it will surely draw unwanted attention to them all, I would have been more surprised if she hadn’t.  As far as Nina is concerned, she has just discovered that her housemate, her partner’s best friend and potential babysitter to her child, has massacred 20 innocent people and on top of that, actually seems to her to be keeping a proud record of achievement in the attic.  As much as we may be shouting at the television and feeling that she is being used and manipulated by Herrick, it is possible to understand her point of view. 

Especially combined with Mitchell’s behaviour in this episode (Aidan Turner was quite brilliant throughout). Mitchell whirled through the episode like such a destructive force, being quite menacing and aggressive to each character in turn.  His hallway ‘face-off’ with Nina was a particular highlight, with both actors really going for it and creating an intense and electric atmosphere.  His fixation on Lia’s prophecy however is affecting every decision he makes and leading him to angry and upsetting confrontations with George and Annie too. 

A heartbroken Annie is distressing to watch but here her despair seems to cause a resurgence of her powers and I suspect that this will come into play even more as the series concludes. 

Meanwhile, Community Psychiatric Nurse Wendy continued the tradition of great Being Human guest stars you just don’t want to see leave.  Played by the wonderful Nicola Walker, she infused Wendy with such humanity and likeability in such a short time that although she was played primarily for comic effect, I felt genuinely sad for her when she received Nina’s wrath (although I was pleased she managed to survive the episode, I was worried for a while!)  I also thought it nice to have another human in the building and a reminder that Annie is a ghost! We are so used to Annie coming and going that is easy to forget how unsettling and spooky her presence may be to a human. 

In all, this was another classy episode of Being Human, that showed you don’t need lots of special effects, locations or action to create gripping drama, just sharp dialogue and interesting characters.  Watching the relationships disintegrating is difficult to watch and makes me long for the days of the fun, playful montage at the end of the series opener.   However, there’s no denying that the distress of our beloved characters makes extremely compelling television and the wait between episodes is getting harder and harder. 

Best Scene

Although there are many candidates as usual, this week I am giving this accolade to the attic scene between Herrick and Annie.  Herrick was deeply unsettling here, circling Annie like his prey and mocking her for being ‘peripheral’ (an interesting line, given that it is a criticism of the Annie character I have read in the past).  What was even better however was seeing Annie stand up for herself, regaining some of that confidence she has lost recently and hopefully pre-empting a return to the all powerful Annie of previous series.  It just made me want to cheer for her!

Best Lines

‘Pissing Jenga’ –  Nina’s reaction to Annie’s idea of a celebratory night in. Interesting choice of game too, given that it involves dismantling a structure brick by brick until it topples down, a metaphor for our foursome perhaps?

It can’t be possible but it’s him. It’s definitely him. Is it him Mitchell?  - George, as decisive as ever.

‘Social services it’s gotta be.  She looks knackered and she has terrible hair’ – Annie’s first impressions of Wendy. 

Tena Lady moment’ – Wendy starts to get just a little bit jumpy left alone in the house.

It’s a contemplation room’ – Mitchell’s explanation as to why there is no bed in Annie’s room. 

‘I will wipe you from my memory and never mention your name again.  I will never tell my son or daughter that I had a friend called Mitchell, it will be as if we never met.  That’s it. Now you make your choice’.  – George finds his voice *sniff*

‘What am I? Onto you. That’s what I am. I’m onto you, little man’ – What can I say? Other than, GO ANNIE!

‘ If you don’t mind me saying so old son, I think you’re a bit touched with the simple stick’. ­– Oh Herrick, you may be a cruel, nasty, creepy barsteward, but nice to see you’re still funny!


Oh so many! This seemed like the beginning of the second chapter of the series and so introduced a whole new set of questions.  We still have the standard, wolf-shaped bullet and wolf pregnancy questions to answer but now there’s a ton more! Most significantly of course, what is going on with Herrick? Is his amnesia real? Or does he know exactly who he is and what he is doing? How long will Nina keep Mitchell’s secret from the others? What will happen when the police turn up? After her hallway confrontation with Mitchell and while George was stopping him on the stairs, Nina looked faint and unwell for a moment, her hand went to her stomach. Was this a reaction to what Mitchell had said, something else or completely meaningless?  The fruit in Herrick’s room has rotted, why? Is it a metaphor for Herrick being a ‘bad apple’ who rots everything he touches, or is that meant literally? He touched George and then George was aggressive towards Mitchell. Is there a link? It seems inevitable Herrick will eventually go bad again, when will it happen? Will he tell Mitchell the secret to resurrection? And finally, just what kind of hospital do they have in Barry? I don’t think much to our local but it’s starting to look positively luxurious in comparison!

Tune in Sunday nights, 9pm on BBC3 to find out, check out the Being Human blog at  for chat and and behind the scenes videos and follow @bbcbeinghuman @russelltovey and @sineadkeenan on Twitter.

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