Being Human’s fourth season got off to a heavy start, but “Lil’ Smokie” brought the show back to its trademark balance of humor, drama and plot twist.
The episode opened with a funny and heartwarming moment in the kitchen as everyone who could grab breakfast did. The scene worked rather effortlessly, making you feel as if the house had returned to normal. The show’s main cast has a unique chemistry that is at its best when all five are together. Yes, the fifth character in this show is clearly the house. The chaotic and out of body nature of the first two episodes deprived us of this particular brand of on screen magic. Nothing spells humanity metaphors like fussing over supernatural predicaments in the midst of drinking your morning cup of jo.
One thing that stood out in this scene, other than Sam Huntington’s A+ comedic delivery, was the conflict between Sally and Aidan over magic. Season 3 started to create strong parallels between the nature of their struggles. Companionship, purpose and control are themes that recur in everyone’s storylines, but they are probably best illustrated through Sally and Aidan’s. As Aidan builds a case against magic during breakfast, Sally explains that her playing with power isn’t for fun, but to understand it and learn its limits – something Aidan has been testing since season 1 with his “feeding.” This simple, but profound connection between their struggles has been a wonderful dramatic addition to the show.
The rest of the episode saw the Boston roomies continuing to explore issues that date back to the series’ first season. While Nora is away buying some wallpaper, Sally decides to figure out how to call her door. When she carries out the spell though, it’s Donna that is called back up to the surface. Before the older witch can drag Sally back to wherever they were before, she burns both the witch and her book. Not before the spells etch their way onto Sally’s skin though, becoming a part of her.
When Nora returns Sally brings up what happened, and the scene rolls into addressing the ghost’s big question: what happens when everyone else goes away? Nora and Josh are mortal so they will eventually die, if they don’t move out first. Aidan may move on or get caught up in another vampire scheme. Then there’s Sally, whose only connection to this world is the house and people in it. When they go, what is she supposed to do? Nora tempers Sally’s fears in a way that felt like serious foreshadowing. She tells Sally that with everything she’s been through – including this new magic deal – she may in fact be the strongest of them all.
Sally returns Nora’s emotional favor in a big way. As they are putting up wallpaper, Nora’s shirt pulls up revealing her scars. Nora doesn’t mind them in a vanity way, but rather as reminders of her fragility and mortality. Josh thinks the wolf makes him weaker, but Nora accepts and loves her wolf because with it she is no longer a victim. And so Sally uses magic to remove her scar. Ultimately their conversations were strong illustrations of what the women have struggled with during the course of the show; being strong enough to protect themselves, not being defined by their past/weaknesses and having purpose in people’s lives. It was nice for them to share these scenes especially with the subject matter. Meaghan Rath and Kristen Hager delivered genuine and complex performances, providing viewers with a subtle and moving reminder of what abuse survivors deal with.
Most of Josh’s development came from his time interacting with people outside of the house. Josh is acclimating to a new form of the wolf. Things are quite disorienting, and we see how very little control he has a result. He questions whether he can live his life this way and we seemingly get an answer when he quits his job – the one consistent source of normalcy and most obvious reminder of his humanity. After he returns home, he bumps into Nora but swerves her questions by immediately leaving again to go for a run.
As she watches him from the window, Nora tells Sally that when she looks at her husband she sees the wolf staring back at her. She’s right. The wolf isn’t completely gone, something we see when Josh is attacked in an alleyway later that night. Josh has been the least monstrous of them all (only actually being a monster once a month), but he is still and always has been non-human. With this new set up of changing at command, the monster is constantly with him in the way that it has always been with Aidan and Sally. He seems to view this negatively, but maybe it isn’t so bad. Once he figures out how it works he’ll be in control, a desire both Aidan and Sally have shared since season 1.
Aidan also spends the episode away from the group. Arriving at the hospital with Josh, he gets snatched by vampires who bring him to Kenny. The rest of his arc just sets up one giant correlation between Aidan’s son and father. Kenny shares some of Bishop’s charm and lax nature, along with having killed his way to the top. The young vampire’s desire (like Bishop’s) to have his father’s love without his other family in the way puts Aidan in another awkward duty versus desire situation.
The raw emotional nature between them will surely bring out some of Aidan’s worst qualities. Coupled with a savior complex, Aidan is attracted to life and innocence, but everything he tries to preserve is forced to exist inside a monster shell. After a few hours on the dark side with him, it loses more than its charm. Kenny’s new role and Aidan’s history are a sure sign of disaster, leaving us with one question: who dies this time?
“Lil’ Smokie” ends with a surprising twist. Kenny’s vampire bar minions have been slaughtered and after reviewing video footage, we see the cause of death is non other than Suzanna. Overall, the episode was Being Human at its best. We were offered multiple instances of the monsters doing human better than actual humans. It tackled the heart of each characters storyline with sensitive and remarkable depth. Lastly, the series’ proved that its ability to make fun of itself has remained intact (how do our nurses still have their jobs after taking 18 months of leave between them?).
[Photo via Syfy]