Monday, August 24, 2009

More insights into "Being Human"

Love should be the opposite of death. I mean, what else have we got? Football? Shoes? But love gets complicated. It gets twisted up with other things. Like possession, lust, and death.

--George’s voiceover at the beginning of the third episode of BBC’s Being Human

I recently watched my DVR’d copies of Episodes 3, 4 and 5 of BBC’s Being Human, a series that chronicles the lives of three unusual roommates: Annie (a ghost), George (a werewolf) and Mitchell (a vampire). One of the reoccurring themes in the series is the struggle to find redemption—and in watching the last three episodes back-to-back, I was particularly struck by the role love took in that.

As I mentioned before, the things explored as leading towards or aiding in redemption and salvation in this series are similar to other contemporary dramas about vampires—like the support, accountability and love of friends or family, regretting your previous choices and making a choice to embrace a new way of life, and facing up to your own sins and powerlessness to overcome it on your own (all of which reflect biblical truths concerning the power of love, fellowship, community, confession, repentance and confronting the nature of sin in our own conversion and transformation). But in particular, this series strongly reflects the power and value of being loved and loving others in overcoming evil both within and without and finding redemption or salvation from the bent within.

And while love is still playing a pivotal role in the personal redemption and struggles of Annie, George and Mitchell, I found this theme particularly interesting in the last three episodes as it played out in the stories of two more minor characters: Gilbert (a ghost) and Lauren (a vampire made by Mitchell).

Warning: major spoilers ahead.

Gilbert is a rather self-centric and angst-ridden ghost who died in the mid 1980s whom Annie meets as she’s struggling to figure out why she hasn’t passed on. While most people who die in the Being Human universe immediately pass on, some remain behind because of unresolved issues—like Annie and Gilbert. Annie asks Gilbert to help her figure out the reasons behind her own limbo, and they subsequently discover that Annie’s death didn’t result from an accidental fall down the stairs but that she was actually thrown down the stairs by her fiancĂ©.

But in the midst of Annie’s story, Gilbert’s also moves forward. As they spend time together, Gilbert slowly starts to put aside his own interests and cynicism as he chooses to help Annie—and he grows in affection and eventually declares his love for Annie, which is significant because he had not believed in love before. When he tells Annie he loves her, a door suddenly appears and they know it is “death.” He’s scared to open it, but knows he must. Annie looks away as Gilbert opens the door, but Gilbert’s face softens and he smiles as a soft blue light shines on him and he walks through.

Lauren’s story is somewhat more dramatic. Mitchell changed Lauren into a vampire in a moment of passion early in the series. Contrary to Mitchell, Lauren has become addicted to the feeding on humans. In previous episodes, she delights in tormenting Mitchell into guilt and remorse over his role in her transformation, and takes delight in killing humans. Then, in Episode 3, Lauren seeks out Mitchell to try to go clean, but she fails and returns to the vampire organization that Mitchell left years ago and which is seeking to dominate humans and the world. But when the leader of those vampires is about to kill Mitchell, George and Annie in Episode 5, Lauren helps them escape by killing one of vampires.

As they flee, Lauren begs Mitchell to run a stake through her. She is too far into her addiction to human blood and knows she won’t be able stop; she doesn’t want to go on hurting and killing others. When Mitchell reluctantly agrees and she lay dying in his arms, she looks up and tells him that death is coming. Then, suddenly, her face softens and she says in wonder “Oh, my!”

For both Lauren and Gilbert, arguably characters whom have spent a great deal of the time in their stories focused on their own desires (arguably, Lauren’s are the most destructive), their acts of doing what is the best interest of another and sacrificing their own best interest—acts of love—lead to redemption and salvation. They see something wonderful on the other side of death, which is in stark contrast to the more horrifying and unsettling experiences of death (including Lauren’s first experience of death) in the series.

While there are definitely more than one theological issue here with which I could take issue, heh, I must admit I was more captivated by an echo of a bigger truth, a greater Story. Love is stronger than death. Love—the realest and truest and original Love—conquered it and opened the Way to redemption and life, salvation and freedom, beauty and Light. And, in the ripples and wakes of that, it is our own acts of love that walk us down that Way. We give up our own lives to find life. We do what is in the best interest of another instead of ourselves. And this draws attention to that Way in others, who may well walk down that path, too. Indeed, Love is oh-so-much stronger than death. It obliterates it with every step.

The rest of the characters (particularly Mitchell, Annie and George) have yet to work through their issues and redemption struggles—and I guess in some ways, it could be said that most of the characters in this series are, like Annie, in a state of limbo, working out their issues and struggling to find their path towards redemption and salvation. And if the story runs along its current course, I’d be willing to bet they will find their redemption along similar routes.

Also of interest, for all it’s themes that bring God talk into these open spaces, this series more than any other I’ve recently watched displays an overt and dismissive distaste for religion. In one episode, when the vampire Mitchell offers a mother to “save” her 12-year-old dying son, she initially mistakes his intentions and cries out, “Oh not the Jesus bit. Please! If God’s so bloody marvelous, then why—” she breaks off, looking down at her son in the hospital bed. Mitchell responds by telling her that he’s “talking about something older and stronger than religion.” It will be interesting to see if and where this series takes that.

At any rate, I think the concept behind George’s voiceover for Episode 3 is a central theme in the series so far—and his words and the ideas behind them are worth considering in our own lives. Yes, love can be derailed and twisted by selfish acts and desires; we see that play out in this series as well as in our own lives and the lives of those around us. But real Love—God himself—is stronger than death. And the strength of that kind of sacrificial love reverberates all around us, reminding us of the Way to life, freedom and redemption.

(Images: via Being-human.tv; BBC/Touchpaper) miscctgy

2 comments:

elrambo said...

Good stuff, Carmen. I'm finding this show fascinating as well.

Carmen Andres said...

thanks, beth!