Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Syfy’s Being Human returns for its second season tomorrow, offering more thrills, spills and supernatural soap operatics for your buck than we have any reason to expect. If you missed the first season, here’s everything you need to know to get caught up.
There’s a lot to like about the Syfy series, which — like the 2009 BBC show it’s adapted from — centers around three people who share an apartment, only two of whom are actually alive. Tonally, it feels like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Battlestar Galactica,” in a sense, with the latter’s somberness and lack of pop-culture references or zinging dialogue mixed with the former’s “supernatural elements as metaphor for everyday life” and mythology of a world outside the one we’re all familiar with.
The three leads of the show are tormented vampire Aidan, neurotic werewolf Josh and Sally, who just so happens to be a ghost. Despite the initial angst that you’d expect from a set-up like this, one of the pluses of the show for me is that the three (generally) get on with each other — Aidan especially seems supportive and even protective of Sally — and the plots revolve more around the three’s attempts to try and live “normal” lives (yes, even Sally, weirdly enough) and their inability to do so than any angst-ridden “My roommate hates me!” melodrama. Or, at least, they have so far; interestingly enough, while the story arcs of each of the characters in the first U.S. season tracked with the U.K. version, things are said to be diverging a lot more with this second season, in part because the U.S. writers haven’t even seen any of the original version of the show past the first — I nervously hope that we’re not about to see any sudden changes in direction or atmosphere now that we’re in uncharted territory.
Of all the story arcs, it’s tempting to say that Aidan’s was the most dramatic, and the one that dominated the season last year. Originally a soldier named Ian Daniel McCollin was was turned into a vampire during the Revolutionary War, Aidan started the series in something approaching free fall; he’d left the tribe of vampires led by the man who’d sired him, Bishop, and was trying to live off blood stolen from his day job as a nurse in the local hospital. That wasn’t going so well, however; the first episode started with him waking up after a one night stand that had ended with his accidentally biting his partner in the throes of passion, a (lack of) choice that came back to haunt him when she reappeared as a somewhat-psychotic vampire herself soon thereafter. His tenuous estrangement with the local tribe wavered at various points throughout the season as his need for (live) blood reared its ugly head, and an uneasy alliance to prevent war between that tribe and an elder tribe came to a bloody end when it was revealed that Bishop had planned to murder the heads of the elder tribe; Aidan saved their leader, but in doing so, prompted Marcus to declare all-out war against him, which ultimately ended with Aidan killing Bishop and taking his place as the leader of the tribe.
In comparison, Josh’s year was almost relaxing; he “just” had to reconnect with his family following a chance meeting with his sister — he’d cut off all ties and disappeared once he had realized he was a werewolf; the reconnection didn’t end up going so well, considering they were all almost killed by vampires and didn’t believe that he was a werewolf — and face the werewolf that had bitten and transformed him in the first place, something else that didn’t go so well. Oh, there’s also the fact that Josh, who also works in the same hospital as Aidan, fell in love with a nurse there and got her pregnant… and now has to deal with the fact that the baby inside her is (a) growing twice as fast as it should be, and (b) is likely a werewolf itself.
And then, finally, there’s Sally … who not only started the season by discovering she was a ghost and what that entailed — fans of poltergeists, prepare to be excited; there was also a trip to something resembling the underworld as she met many other ghosts who couldn’t move on to the afterlife as she could — but she also discovered that her fiancee was actually the man responsible for her death. After attempts to punish him by driving him mad ended with his trying to exorcise and then destroy the apartment, intervention by Aidan and Josh led to her convincing her fiancee to confess his crimes to the authorities, finally allowing her to move on … except that she gave up that chance to help Aidan fight Bishop, and now no one is quite sure what’s next for her.
As you can probably tell, season one may not have ended with an outright cliffhanger, but each of the leads was left in a significantly different place from where they started, and with lots of questions left to face. For the show itself, the only real question is “Will the second season be as enjoyable as the first?” We’ll start finding out tomorrow; the first episode begins at 9 p.m. ET/PT.