Stars: Sam Witwer, Meaghan Rath, Sam Huntington, Mark Pellegrino, Cindy Sampson, Jason Spevack, Kristen Hager, Sarah Allen
Writer: Nancy Won
Director: Paolo Barzman
Network: Syfy, Mondays @ 9 PM
Airdate: March 14, 2011
Credit this U.S. episode of BEING HUMAN with finally giving ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) a lively and original new subplot. Allowing curiosity (and perhaps boredom) to overcome her fear, Sally finally explores the haunted hospital wing further and comes upon a message, albeit not left for her, from Nick, who she knew in life. Sally finds Nick at the beach. It turns out they both had wild crushes on each other, which rekindle promptly, and they can feel one another, which leads where we might expect. Nick has just one problem – he keeps re-experiencing his fatal drowning, and Sally begins to suspect this is intentional, something Nick does to let himself feel alive.
On the parts that have been copied from the U.K., werewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) fumbles around in his relationship with Nora (Kristen Hager), not wanting to break up but afraid to be intimate, until she finally shows him her literal scars from a previous romance that went very bad. The I-can’t-be-with-you-but-don’t-date-other-people-because-I-love-you-but-want-you-at-a-distance business didn’t entirely work dramatically in the British version, and here it plays so awkwardly that we wonder why Nora sticks it out, given that she doesn’t know what Josh’s problem is yet.
Something that does work if you haven’t seen the U.K. version, but smacks of a massive cop-out if you have, is the Aidan/Bernie storyline. In the previous U.S. episode, “Children Shouldn’t Play With Undead Things,” vampire Aidan (Sam Witwer) befriended neighborhood boy Bernie (Jason Spevack), which went well until Bernie “borrowed” a DVD of vampire pornography. In the U.K. version, Aidan inadvertently gave the disc to Bernie and the entire neighborhood rose up in outrage against the apparent pedophile. Here, the error is discovered quickly, although Bernie’s mother (Cindy Sampson) is still unforgiving.
In “I Want You Back,” Aidan is afraid to step in and prevent Bernie from being bullied by neighborhood kids, with the upshot that Bernie falls into the street and is hit by a car. Stricken with guilt, Aidan arranges for great hospital care, but it is clear Bernie will never awaken. Aidan is so distraught that he seeks solace at a vampire club, where he nearly kills one of the volunteers until stopped by his vampire sometime-girlfriend Rebecca (Sarah Allen).
Rebecca (Sarah Allen) takes matters into her own hands and turns Bernie, thinking she’s doing what’s best and that maybe she, Aidan and Bernie can be a family. However, a little vampire boy is just about impossible to control (one reason vampires don’t turn kids) and before much can be done about it, Bernie has taken care of his former child tormentors permanently. On the guise of taking Bernie and showing him how to kill animals for food, Aidan stakes Bernie, grieving terribly.
Contrast this with the U.K. version where a) the boy getting hit by the car was the result of the mob violence rising against the (innocent of pedophilia) vampire character, b) the vampire character was the one who turned the child and c) the child was left with his mother, who knew what he was, but much preferred a vampire son to a fully dead one. The moral ambiguity was huge, whereas here, Aidan is guilty simply of some bad judgment (shouldn’t have left Bernie alone with the DVD collection, should have stepped in when the boy was being bullied). The result feels very tidy, very within the boundaries and lacking the sort of nuance that seems reasonable to find in a show like BEING HUMAN.
On the upside, Witwer is very affecting in Aidan’s helpless misery and the Sally/Nick flirtation is charming and overall, the episode works. Still, it’s disappointing to see the show pulling its punches, especially when we have seen those punches thrown successfully before.
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