Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Being Human (Syfy) 3.01: It’s a Shame About Ray (season premiere)

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahoy]

Recap: It’s 15 months after last season’s cliffhanger. Josh and Nora appear to have settled into a quiet life together. Sally is still trapped in Limbo with Stevie and Nick. Aidan is still buried alive, despite an odd hallucinatory dream of the three housemates in their kitchen, with which the episode begins.

Things don’t stay that way for long, nor has there been a status quo under the apparently placid surface. Sally has been repeatedly yanking her friends out of their suicidal nightmares and trying to open the door out of Limbo. Josh and Nora have been visiting every medium and psychic in Boston in the past year and nearly a half. And Aidan has been buried under parts unknown.

Unbeknownst to him – and, apparently, Josh, Nora and, of course, Sally – a holocaust of human influenza has been destroying the vampire population aboveground. Aidan discovers this after he is dug up by an enterprising human, who wants to sell the weakened Aidan’s “pure” blood as a cure to ailing and desperate vampires. Instead, the gravedigger is slaughtered by the cowardly Pennsylvania Dutch vamp, Atlee, who abandoned Aidan and Cecelia to the werewolf pack last season.

After telling Aidan that most of the old leadership is dead, including Mother, a recently infected Atlee feeds on Aidan (though Aidan does fight back, aided by hallucinations of Josh, Sally and even Bishop cheering him on). It does him no good. Still whining about the unfairness of it all, he turns to ash in front of Aidan. Too bad he happens to be driving a car at the time. Said car crashes and Aidan is thrown clear. His hallucination friends try to rouse him, but it looks as though he’s dying of blood loss. Is he really too stubborn to croak?

Meanwhile, Josh and Sally have decided to focus their efforts on finding Sally. They have no idea what happened to Aidan, but they do know Sally is in Limbo. They used to hear her in the radio, even though Josh is now human. We find out in flashback that Josh’s maker Ray got the upper hand in the confusion in the woods at the end of last season and went after Nora. To save her, Josh bashed his head in with a rock. It turns out the legend was half-right – if you kill your maker, you’re cured, but the cure only extends to a werewolf’s direct victims. So, Nora’s still a wolf and can only be cured by Josh’s death, which ain’t happening because Nora and Josh are closer than ever.

An accidental lead almost knocks on the door in the form of the psychic Danny hired in season one to exorcise Sally. When they spot her and run after her, she nervously tells them she senses the house is even worse now, in a spiritual sense. She can’t help them get Sally back, but she knows someone who can. Someone who is so sinister that the psychic insists they not pass along her name as a contact (Nick’s girlfriend who could see ghosts isn’t mentioned as a possibility, for some reason, though Sally does talk about her to Nick in Limbo).

This lead brings them to a middle-aged witch, Donna Gilchrist, who works in a cafeteria. She is very sinister, indeed, and she wants two thousand bucks up front, but she’s also the real deal they’ve been looking for. She says she can not only bring back Sally from Limbo, but resurrect her completely. There will be complications – Sally can’t return to her old life – but it’s doable. One of the ingredients she requests is highly suspicious, though. She wants them to bring her the heart of someone Josh killed with his own hands. Despite their paranoia, they dig up Ray and take his heart. They also dig up Sally. The witch makes a potion out of Ray’s heart and rubs it on Sally’s body. She promises them that Sally will not be an enthralled zombie – she will be sentient and living.

A catch arises. The witch says that this spell is only a sort of call to Sally to return to her body. It is up to Sally to hear it and respond. In Limbo (which is similar to, but wavily different from, Supernatural‘s Purgatory), Sally does finally hear it and sees the door out of Limbo open, but she insists her friends go ahead of her before she exits. On earth, Sally’s body gasps and chokes. Josh and Nora realize all three have come back – have the other two awakened in their own rotted bodies underground or is Sally’s body unable to handle the burden of three souls?

In the coda, Donna the witch goes to the woods. Pouring out more of the black potion she made from Ray’s heart onto the ground, she follows it downhill until it reveals Ray’s unmarked grave. She chortles over what she can do with his body. We are reminded of her earlier words about zombies being mindless slaves of those who raise them. Uh-oh.

Review: A year is a long time. Despite being quite intrigued by the triple cliffhanger for the show last spring, I wasn’t jumping with anxious anticipation of its resolution. Much genre TV had been watched in the intervening time. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised to find this season premiere (still co-written by Anna Fricke with her husband, Jeremy Carver, despite his move over to Supernatural) to be excellent. It ramped my interest right back up and now I’m all for seeing what happens next week.

While I’m sure their relationship will be tested over this season, despite Nora now being a regular character and the resident werewolf, I enjoyed the easy, solid rapport between Josh and Nora. As revelation after revelation surfaced, I was intrigued to see how they both fielded it in lock-step. These two had one goal – to rescue their friends (Nora seems to consider Sally and Aidan just as much her friends now as Josh does) – and they were equally committed to it. I really enjoyed this partnership. I hope it survives at least a few episodes, even the full season. This is a formidable and mutually supportive pairing that had me going, “Julia who?” Theyll need that, because creepy Donna Gilchrist sure has something ugly up her witchy sleeves.

The irony of Sally being unable to go back to her old life (She has no old human life to return to) appears to be an intentional echo of Josh also having no old life to return to, despite now being human again, too. Josh got his fondest wish about a month too late. Similarly, Sally’s erstwhile victims, Nick and Stevie, are presented as whiny and unheroic compared to Sally’s persistent efforts to rescue all three of them. It raises the specter of a possibility that their doors never appeared, not because Stevie was a suicide and Nick an accidental drowning, but because they were cowards. Once they stop being cowards, they may be able to pass on. But with a possible body to timeshare now, will they want to?

The one unsatisfying subplot for me was Aidan’s. He spent most of the episode helpless and flat out on his back. Atlee died too soon and quickly to be satisfying. And I was a bit disappointed to hear Mother had died. Dead I certainly wanted her to be, but I wanted to see her get killed onscreen, not have her death told in passing. It’s probably too much to ask that Henry have died, too. Lord, was he annoying.

That said, I really liked the hallucinations, especially the dream in the kitchen. They showed how much Aidan cares about his housemates and how much he relies on them for moral support, even when they can’t find him. On their part, Josh and Nora haven’t given up on Aidan. It seemed more that they were concentrating on rescuing Sally first because they knew where she was, with the idea of then using her to help find Aidan, about whose fate they had no clue. I hope everyone’s reunited soon, even if it’s too much to hope that they’ll be okay when they are. This show does love its turbo angst.

Next Week: (Dead) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun: Sally’s allliiiiiive and pure horror results. Meanwhile, Aidan is back, but you know it won’t be that simple, either.

You can watch Being Human on Syfy, either Monday nights at 9pm or on the official site.

About Paula R. Stiles

Paula is not at all paranoid about government conspiracies after six years in EMS, two years in Africa for the Peace Corps, a few summers with the Park Service, and ten years studying the Knights Templar. She's seen governments in action. They couldn't cover up a toy picnic table, let alone evidence of alien visitation. Writes about science for fun, history for money, and zombies for the company. You can read her sober-as-a-judge book about Templars in medieval Spain, Templar Convivencia, on Amazon. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.

Paula R. StilesColumn: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Being Human (Syfy) 3.01: It’s a Shame About Ray (season premiere)