Writer: Howard Overman
Director: Wayne Che Yip and Alex Garcia Lopez
The One Where: Britain is occupied by f***ing Nazis.
Verdict: So that throwaway line from the Christmas Special – where Seth glibly remarked that he had sold Curtis’ time-travelling abilities to an old Jewish guy who planned to rewind time and kill Hitler – wasn’t a throwaway line after all. It’s spun-off here into an alternate history episode where chuffing Nazis have taken over the community centre Britain!
It’s a pleasing nod to episodes past, as are the cameos from several familiar faces. Despite these links, this week’s episode has a very different feel to any that have come before. In fact, if there’s one thing that can be said for this series of Misfits, every episode has differed greatly in tone and style, perhaps more than even we have given it credit for. The setting remains the same, of course, (almost comically so in this episode where the only difference between the community centre in the two timelines are a handful of banners and some stickers on their jumpsuits), but where the first episode had fun with Rudy’s introduction, the second had an uncharacteristic melancholy tone and the third told a classic comic book caper, this fourth has the feeling of a boys-own WW2 adventure.
The set up lends itself to some top drama. The combination of Vince Pope’s stunning music, Friedrich’s heartfelt voiceover and the tragic failure of his mission in the superb pre-title sequence is genuinely moving, though not so much that the scene can’t be punctuated by a perfectly-judged, flippant punchline. As with the sixth episode of season two, knowing the big ‘ol reset button is coming means Overman is able to have fun slaughtering kids at every given opportunity, giving the counterfactual the illusion of at least some high stakes.
The best thing about the episode is how straight it’s played. No doubt some will lament the lack of solid laughs, a perfectly valid point of view, but given the tone and content of the tale it wouldn’t be right to have Rudy clowning around more than we get here. All the gang are perfectly cast in their alternative timeline roles – Curtis as an ultra-serious resistance leader, Simon’s buttoned up Hitler youth and probation worker Sean as a laziest Nazi in Britain, for example. Captain Smith is something of a cookie-cutter villain, and it’s a shame we never get to see his comeuppance, but Kelly sticking the nut on Hitler more than makes up for this oversight.
Did You Spot? A number of characters who have died in previous episodes appear in this alternative timeline including Gary from the first episode of series one (butchered by the probation worker then, frozen by Captain Smith here); Lily from the second episode of series two (burned and blown up in a car with Nathan’s brother then, has her ice power taken away from her here) and Peter (last episode’s comic book kid, gunned down while making a break for it here)
Top Tunes: No noteworthy licensed tracks this week, so an overdue shout-out to Misfits’ composer Vince Pope, who has been doing sterling work on the show for years. The music in the pre-title sequence and the short burst of Superhoodie’s theme, heard when Simon and Alisha share a ciggy, contribute to a soundscape better than most motion picture soundtracks.
Nitpick: If we’re dealing with a totally different timeline it’s questionable whether the world would be quite as similar to our own as it is here. You’d think if Nazis invaded all those years ago at least some of the gang wouldn’t be hanging round the community centre – if they’d be alive at all.
Character: Seth was a drug dealer before becoming a power dealer in both timelines, Alisha is no longer a man eater, Simon’s not an evil Nazi and Rudy’s still a dosser. Some things never change.
Kelly: “Oi, Hitler. Why’ve you gotta be such a dick?”