Ah, "Misfits." For UK audiences, a fantastic, critically acclaimed hour that mixes drama and dark humor. For US audiences, it's a hidden gem that only a few are aware of, like that indie band that you can't get enough of and are intent to share with anyone who will listen to you rave endlessly about it. Such is my intent in reviewing the series, now in its fourth season, here at TV Rage.
For new viewers, a quick non-spoilery recap of our series so far: After a strange storm hits London, an unknown number of people are given bizarre superpowers, some of them more a curse than a gift. The series revolves around five malcontent teenagers, each guilty of some crime or another, repaying their debt to society through work at a local community center. They discover their newfound powers when their probation worker's own power sends him into a manic homicidal rage. Of the original five, only Curtis remains for the current season, along with last season's new players Rudy (with a Madrox The Multiple Man-type power) and Seth (able to absorb and distribute other people's powers). Consequently this is, to put it in comic book terms, the perfect jumping on point for new readers/viewers!
The new season kicks off in typical "Misfits" insanity -- loads of tension with plenty of offbeat humor. Curtis, Rudy, Seth, and new girl Jess (Karla Crome) chase new guy Finn (Nathan McMullen) to the roof of the community center, intent on taking a mysterious briefcase from him in as violent a fashion as possible. The five square off with weapons in hand; as Rudy struggles with his chainsaw, threatening to hack off Finn's legs, it's quite clear something is amiss.
We wind the clocks back to a few hours before the madness, as our newest juvenile delinquents Jess and Finn struggle through awkward small talk as they await the details of their probation assignment. They stumble upon their "probation worker" Rudy, who swiftly shuffles them off to pick up litter. Jess, sensing something is rotten, uses her power (seeing/hearing through walls) to discover that her suspicions are correct, and convinces a reluctant Finn to help her free Rudy's hostage: Curtis.
Rudy reluctantly fills the new kids in on the strange goings on that they've found themselves thrust in the middle of. Seth returned from his holiday in Africa without Kelly, who has found a newfound direction to take her rocket scientist superpowers: defusing land mines in Uganda. He is just back temporarily to collect their belongings before rejoining her, when suddenly a fatigued man stumbles onto the scene handcuffed to our enigmatic briefcase and presumably passing along a 'greed madness' to the three men, turning them on each other. Our new characters listen on while Rudy tells his story before realizing that the madness has also resulted in Rudy spiking their drinks as he did Curtis' before.
After sharing a bonding moment urinating on each other while captive in the freezer, Jess and Finn are introduced to the briefcase holder who elaborates further on the story. He was part of a heist when the storm hit, the briefcase full of the loot which he double-crossed his partner for, and anyone he's come in contact with since has been infected with the same greed sickness that Rudy, Curtis, and Seth are now plagued with. Plenty more twists and turns result that shed a little more light on our characters while doing a great job of setting things up to move the series forward.
The episode serves as a great reminder of one thing that I love about the series, in that the writers are frequently able to tell an immense amount of story full of twists and turns in very little time, and yet it never feels rushed or at the expense of characterization. In just 45 minutes, they quite deftly establish the new characters while providing plenty to be built on and developed further, all the while blending dark humor seamlessly with suspense.
Still, it's hard to not miss the familiar faces of Kelly, Simon, Nathan, and Alicia, and it remains to be seen whether the new kids strike the same charismatic chords as the original crew. The minds behind the series haven't let me down yet so I'm cautiously optimistic, especially after such a strong debut.
Check out the full episode (as well as the ENTIRE 3 season run) on Hulu or Hulu Plus, and be sure to let us know what you thought of the new season and new cast in the comments below!
Final Grade: B+