Last week's Season 2 premiere of Being Human didn't have the luxury of immediately knocking us over the head, because it began three weeks after the events of the Season 1 finale. But it did set things up to kick down the door with the opening of last night's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?," a very strong episode that re-emphasized what Being Human is all about: three sympathetic monsters clinging to humanity while adjusting to the new rules of their existence.
After all, it is right there in the title: Being Human isn't so much about a werewolf, a ghost, or a vampire as much as it is about three people who used to be human. And one of the great challenges of being human is having to deal with problems. The cold open of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" was masterful in its execution. Where most shows would drag what happened into half an episode, Being Human laid everything out in three minutes. Here it is again in case you missed it:
Being Human wisely chose to cram so much awesomeness into that opening because it knows its strength isn't in showing us its characters in action, it's in showing us their reaction. And that allowed the rest of the episode to focus on how Josh and Nora are handling Nora becoming a werewolf. How Aidan is responding to his new boss. And how Sally is dealing with loneliness and fear. That’s the stuff I want to watch.
Let's start off with Josh and Nora, television's most adorable new supernatural couple. Josh giving Nora lycanthropy is a tad more serious than the "regular" human equivalent, which is solved by shaving the pubic area and applying some topical cream. This is a lifer disease that pops up every 28 days and leaves you naked in a pile of leaves with a woodland creature in your craw.
The way Josh and Nora dealt with their new reality felt very true. Obviously, Nora was in shock and thought she should go shopping for muzzles and Kibbles n' Bits. From her perspective, her parade will be getting rained on for the rest of her life. But Josh knows what it's like to be in her shoes, and spent all of last season understanding that he can live as both the man and the wolf. His first instinct was to guide her down the same path of understanding and acceptance to make sure she didn't lose her sense of humanity. But either way you slice it, it's a pretty sucky situation that only time will be able to heal. Hey, at least it isn't herpes.
Aidan dug up a new boss, a wrinkly prune who's been stuck in a box underground for 80 years. Suren (played by Dichen Lachman, who I still can't figure out if she's attractive or not) has "horrible boss" written all over her, and she's already holding things like Josh's life over Aidan's head to force him to do his bidding. I've never been part of the vampire management structure, but Mother's decision to put Suren in charge of Boston isn't likely to keep the stockholders happy. Suren is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, thinks turning humans is like friending them on Facebook, and was once a major buzzkill at a party because she ate all the guests. That's not an ideal choice for the boss of Boston. Washington D.C., maybe. But not Boston. However, if Aidan wants out of the vampire society, he has to put up with this reckless pup and train her to run the show.
All this stressed Aidan out, and when he stresses, he likes to bone chicks. (Several ladies just clicked over to Amazon to buy the book How to Stress Out a Man in 12 Easy Steps.) So he was about to take home Julia, a doctor who interviewed at his hospital, and all he could hear was the thump thump of her veins pumping blood. It was the equivalent of putting an In-n-Out Burger under the nose of a freshly turned vegan.
Sally's problems looked the most innocuous when the episode started, but her path is potentially the most dangerous. It's the old [blank] is a drug storyline, and in this case, [blank] is train-hopping the bodies of the living. I'm glad she's still hanging out with Stevie, the freshman ghost from last week who offed himself in high school. He's a potential favorite character, provided the writers can keep the actor from going through puberty (though sharing so many scenes with hottie Meaghan Rath may speed that up).
Sally had only worn someone's body once before, and that was for like ten seconds. But when she saw Stevie's lame friends Dylan and Boner jump into some dudes, her natural longing to feel again got the best of her. Like all drugs, body-hopping was fun for a bit until someone, meathead Dylan, forced himself sexually on Sally. And that hangover Sally was wearing looked awful. I recommend having Chinese food delivered and settling in for a Jersey Shore marathon. But will Sally have the self-restraint to stay away from feeling human again? She looked pretty euphoric while stuffing her face with beer and chips in that girl's body. I just hope her story moves more toward wondering how Stevie de-materialized Dylan and less toward Sally becoming a body-jumping junkie, because that metaphor has been done to, uh, death.
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" showed how Being Human can simultaneously be an escape (these are vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, after all) and remain grounded through its depiction of problems we can relate to. The situations of hurting a loved one, working for a jerk of a boss, or succumbing to temptation are dressed up with supernatural overtones, but the lessons we can learn from them are the same.
– How funny was Sally this episode? With all the drama that happens in each episode, it's easy to forget that Being Human is a well-rounded series with some legitimate laughs.
– This is a great cast all around, but Kristen Hager as Nora really stole the show this week. She is absolutely fantastic as a woman completely who's confused and fearing for her existence. She totally reached into my eyeballs and tried to yank out tears during her heart-to-hearts with Josh. But it didn't work this time, Kristen! Almost, though.
– Another potential new favorite character: that weird redheaded vampire who is going to look for Heggemann.
– I've always been iffy on Dichen Lachman being cast on shows I like, but Suren seems like a great fit for her and she seems to really enjoy the role.