Having established that this year’s threat for Being Human is, in fact, Satan himself, episode 2 finds Alex babysitting and Hal and Tom in a battle for employee of the month.
Just as Alex is missing her younger brother, the ghost of a turn-of-the-century child appears. His name is Oliver (Benjamin Greaves-Neale) and he claims to have always lived at Honolulu Heights. When asked why he hasn’t been seen before, he tells them he’s been hiding from “Sticks and Rope.” The precocious, needy lad runs Alex ragged, while Tom taunts Hal into competing against him, even though their manager Patsy clearly only has eyes for the well-spoken vamp.
Following from last week’s excellent return to form, ‘Sticks and Rope’ is a slightly less exciting episode. Alex and Oliver’s story-line is well-written and nicely played by Bracken, who shows that Alex’s sardonic humour (“Everybody loves a party! It’s the f***ing law!”) masks the fact that she’s still very much grieving for what she’s lost. While it occasionally feels like Annie’s mother-bear protectiveness, there’s a sharpness here that was missing previously. It’s also a lot funnier than you might expect, with Oliver’s age pin-pointed not just by his outfit but by his racism (a game of eeny-meenry-miny-mo is stopped just in time). But the storyline doesn’t particularly feel like territory that Being Human hasn’t covered before.
The same goes for Hal and Tom’s story this week. Their competition this week felt slightly too much like a replay of last year’s episode ‘The Graveyard Shift’, in which the two attempted to woo Goth girl Michaela. It’s funny enough, and the enthusiasm that Tom musters for emptying the Captain’s colostomy bag is hilarious (more Michael Socha gold), but we are on very familiar ground here.
Rook’s plans for Crumb lead to confronting the desperate-to-feed vampire with his sister and niece, and Crumb’s subsequent scene with Hal gives the character more depth than he’s had so far. But Crumb still feels a bit too broad. This week his character spouts about role-playing games, which is a little too reminiscent of Mark Williams’ vampire nerd from the last series. Captain Hatch’s manipulation of Hal and Tom by stroking their egos similarly feels like textbook evil.
That being said, there were some genuinely creepy moments this week. The dripping tap whispering Alex’s name was beautifully done, and Sticks and Rope’s appearance was an impressive jolt. And while Phil Davis’ final monologue felt like it over-egged the pudding somewhat, it was nicely played against hotel manager Patsy’s (Claire Cage) bloody and protracted demise. It would be a shame if this is the last we see of the character as it would have been interesting to develop her beyond her insatiable Hal-lust.
It is nice to see, however, that the relationship between Hal and Tom has been developed into one that is distinct from Mitchell and George’s. While George might have been an awkward nerd, he and Mitchell often felt like equals which was a big part of the early series’ housemate dynamic. We’re increasingly seeing Hal step in to protect Tom and, more often than not, protect his feelings. With their competitive natures but inevitable reconciliations, Being Human‘s new line-up feels much more like a family than the first one ever did.