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Cult Recap

'Being Human' review: New episode 'Sticks and Rope'

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Season 5, episode 2 | Aired Sunday, Feb 10 2013 at 22:00 GMT on

'Sticks and Rope' is a well-timed Alex-centric instalment of Being Human - all that we knew about her before was what was immediately apparent on screen; she was vivacious and fun-loving, and now she's struggling to adapt to life as a ghost, but that's about it.

Here, we learn a great deal more, as Kate Bracken's playful spirit gets spooked by another ghost - Oliver (Benjamin Greaves-Neal) - who has taken up residence in Honolulu Heights. Being Human is often funny, moving and dramatic, but rarely is it actually scary. However, these early haunting scenes though are genuinely unsettling in parts, with the screaming bathroom taps in particular giving this writer quite a jolt.

Ghosty young toff Oliver claims to have been hiding in the nooks of the B&B for quite some time, hiding from those terrifying men with "sticks and rope" - dark figures first mentioned way back in Being Human's 2008 pilot episode.

Being Human S05E02: 'Sticks and Rope' - Oliver (BENJAMIN GREAVES-­NEAL), Alex (KATE BRACKEN)

© BBC / Touchpaper



It's unfortunate that Oliver grates more than a little - it's not the fault of child actor Greaves-Neal, who delivers an impressively confident performance and plays the role as written, but unfortunately the new ghost on the block is written for a large chunk of the episode as a precocious, snotty youth, insulting our heroes one moment and playing on their sympathies the next.

Alex is forced to serve as Oliver's intolerant babysitter - her and Hal take on the roles of the ghost child's bickering parents, with Tom cast as the playful elder brother - and thankfully you start to sympathise with the brattish poltergeist a little more when it's revealed that he's being plagued by the episode's eponymous villains as a result of his tragic past.

The character's later scenes with Alex - which veer from the morose to the joyful - are equally well-written and well-played, with events coming to a head in a chilling and moving climax. And though it was always going to be difficult to match the images Being Human fans had conjured in our mind's eye, the stick-and-rope boys are sufficiently creepy when they do finally appear.

Being Human S05E01 - 'The Trinity': Hal (Damien Molony)

© BBC / Touchpaper



Elsewhere this week, Hal and Tom have become employees of the Barry Grand Hotel, where they're being shrewdly observed by creepy Captain Hatch (Phil Davis). Last week's otherwise strong premiere was sorely lacking on the bromance front, but an inter-hotel competition that pitches Hal against Tom for the role of manager sees Michael Socha and Damien Molony renew their hilarious double act to great effect, before dismantling it as Captain Hatch's subtle manipulations sees their comic rivalry become something rather more serious.

Well, it's only a food fight for now - but we sense that, despite the pair apparently patching up their differences here, any lingering resentments between the pair could boil over in darker fashion in the weeks to come. On top of the Hal/Tom action, Molony and Bracken continue to spark off each other wonderfully as bantering one-time lovers Hal and Alex - the sequence in which she tutors him on how to be a lacklustre hotel employee is comedic gold.

Being Human S05E02: 'Sticks and Rope' - Oliver (BENJAMIN GREAVES-­NEAL), Hatch (PHIL DAVIS)

© BBC / Touchpaper



Following last week's revelation that Captain Hatch is the Devil, it's rather frustrating to see the character sidelined for much of the episode's first half - though once he does finally take centre stage, Phil Davis is wonderful, perfectly pitching Hatch's insidious corruption of naive Tom and pompous Hal.

The glimpses we get later in the episode of Hatch's more direct, more awe-inspiring powers are also most welcome - his apparent fear of a werewolf/vampire/ghost trinity also lends further credence to this writer's theory that only a 'trinity' of this sort can banish the Devil.

Easily the weakest part of the episode is the government/Crumb sub-plot - it's a pity that the wonderfully chilling Rook (Steven Robertson) has to share most of his scenes with buffoonish vampire Crumb, over-played to cartoonish extreme by Colin Hoult.

Being Human S05E02: 'Sticks and Rope' - Crumb (COLIN HOULT)

© BBC / Touchpaper



The sequence in which Crumb butchers his sister and niece is thrillingly dark, but his new quest to create an army of vampire nerds doesn't interest us much - let's hope it's not long before this joker takes a stake to the heart or similar.

But let's put crummy Crumb aside for now - freed from the demands of plot and character that made last week's premiere feel a little busy, Being Human is able to produce an episode that's easily the equal of series four's best. Funny, moving and spooky in equal measure, 'Sticks and Rope' is a triumph.

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