Misfits and the mechanics of time travel

Last updated 12:11 28/03/2012

It's been a bumpy third season for the gang on Misfits, with a few stories that didn't quite work despite an increased focus on the fantasy element of the show, and a new character who was mostly a success. Yet my favourite scene from last night's finale (9.30pm, Four) took place right at the end of the episode - and gave me a headache.

(Spoilers from the entire third season of Misfits follow.)

Shortly after Simon reveals himself as Super-Hoodie, acquires the power of time travel and heads back to the start of the sixth ever episode of the show, Rudy (that new character who was mostly a success, played by Joseph Gilgun) points out the down side of the noble mission Simon is undertaking.

20120328"Right, so hang on. So he's gonna go back in time, he's gonna fall in love with Alisha, and then she dies," he exclaims, "and they're gonna be stuck doing it over and over and over again for all eternity?" Kelly replies that she thinks it's romantic. "Is it, though?" says Rudy. "I mean, what, are we meant to feel happy or sad?"

Rudy makes a pretty good point about the nature of time travel mechanics. As it stands on the show, according to the theory that Rudy has put forward, here is what will now happen for Simon and Alisha:

 

  1. Future Simon goes back in time as Super-Hoodie
  2. Super-Hoodie/Future Simon protects and falls in love with Alisha
  3. Super-Hoodie/Future Simon dies protecting Alisha from a gunshot
  4. Alisha falls in love with Past Simon
  5. Past Simon trains to become Super-Hoodie/Future Simon because he will have to protect Alisha
  6. Alisha is unceremoniously killed with a box-cutter by Lady Sybil in last night's finale*
  7. Future Simon goes back in time as Super-Hoodie
  8. Repeat Steps 2 through 7 ... FOR ALL ETERNITY

 

Can that really be it for poor Simon? Stuck in an infinite time loop protecting the girl he loves? And does this mean that, while we're watching the latest antics of Kelly, Curtis and Rudy in Season 4, that Simon and Alisha will still be stuck in this loop? When I'm 80 years old, rocking back and forth on a porch somewhere, am I going to be thinking about how Simon and Alisha are still living out the same few months of their lives, doomed to die again, and again, and again? Is that really the nature of the time-space continuum? Are we all just living out the same few years of our lives, for all eternity?!

No wonder my head started aching as I was thinking about it.

Overall, the third season was good, though not as good as seasons past. The writers would never admit it, but I think they badly missed having a comedic talent like Robert Sheehan to use - Rudy is a decent replacement but he doesn't have the same broad appeal that made Nathan a welcome addition to each episode, whether he was the focus or not.

The problem of replacement characters is only going to get worse, too: actors Antonia Thomas and Iwan Rheon (Alisha and Simon, respectively) have both confirmed they will not be returning for a fourth season. Exactly who their replacements will be hasn't been announced.

Regardless, I'm not sure I want to watch a show where Kelly and Curtis are the only remaining original characters.

As I say, I thought the third season was good - just nowhere near as good as seasons past. There were a few major missteps (an increased focus on the fantasy side of the show, which detracted from the character side, being the biggest) and it featured the worst episode of the show to date (Episode 4, in which history is re-written and the Nazis rule England).

It wasn't bad enough to turn me off completely - I'll definitely tune in for a fourth season, even if it's The Curtis & Kelly Show. But another season like this and I might be out for good.

What did you think of the third season of Misfits? Did you find Rudy's explanation of time travel mechanics completely baffling? Will you be tuning in again next season, even if Curtis and Kelly are the only remaining original characters?

(*) Shades of the fourth season opener of Breaking Bad there. Really, anything that reminds me of Gus Fring is a winner.

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This is a spoiler-free blog - please comment responsibly.

27 comments
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sydneykiwi   #1   12:22 pm Mar 28 2012

HOW can you say this is a spoiler-free blog when you say at the start: (Spoilers from the entire third season of Misfits follow)?

bOb   #2   12:34 pm Mar 28 2012

There is no time loop. Simon meets his future self, trains, goes back in time and Dies. That’s it. He only does it once. For it to be a loop future Simon would have to go back in time and become that times simon then keep repeating the process.

Think about it some more.

ME   #3   12:41 pm Mar 28 2012

Season 3 ok, maybe not as good, but they did keep their slaughter rate of Probation Officers up, so I'm satisfied!

As far as time travel goes, they don't loop forever, if you think about it in linear terms of each character, rather than only the time we see events...

Simon discovers he's the hoodie guy from the Future Simon trains to become Hoodie-Simon because he will have to protect Alisha Alisha is unceremoniously killed with a box-cutter by Lady Sybil (haliarious really) Simon goes back in time as Hoodie-Simon Hoodie-Simon protects and falls in love with Alisha Hoodie-Simon dies protecting Alisha from a gunshot

Alisha carries on in the normal time-scale. So Simon dies as his future self in the past, is it really that complicated?

gbsmama   #4   12:47 pm Mar 28 2012

I was a little disappointed with this season of Misfits. The storylines were a little flat. I liked that the rest of the cast were a bit more comedic, but Rudy just wasnt as good as Nathan. I thought Curtis getting himself pregnant was one of the funniest things I've seen on TV for ages!!!

Natjur   #5   12:49 pm Mar 28 2012

Its more like

(1) Super-Hoodie/Future Simon protects and falls in love with Alisha (2) Super-Hoodie/Future Simon dies protecting Alisha from a gunshot (3) Alisha falls in love with Past Simon (4) Past Simon trains to become Super-Hoodie/Future Simon because he will have to protect Alisha (5) Alisha is unceremoniously killed with a box-cutter by Lady Sybil in last night's finale* (6) Future Simon goes back in time as Super-Hoodie Repeat 1 & 2 (now Simon is dead and it ends)

Scott   #6   12:53 pm Mar 28 2012

Time travel is only baffling if you actually think about it. I normally just let timey-wimey stuff wash over the top of me.

I liked the third season with its two Rudys, with Seth the power broker and with guest appearances from a number of dead characters. I also liked the zombie cheerleaders, Simon's side-kick, and the different powers the characters had. I didn't think the Nazi episode was that bad, although I agree it wasn't exactly consistent. Even if no-one punched Hitler.

Yes I'm upset by the loss of both Alisha and Simon, but they had a good ending and proper story closure. And the show does have a history of killing its characters - the powerless guy in the first episode, the original teleporting guy, Nathan's half-brother, Simon's side-kick. Not to mention the social worker revolving door.

Yes I'll watch season 4 - I think Rudy and Seth and both continuing as well so there will be arguably 4/5 main characters that we're familiar with. Possibly more if one of the rumours I've heard comes to pass.

Facebook ben   #7   12:58 pm Mar 28 2012

Hey Chris, yeah, I got that same headache. Lady Sybil was part of the Virtue group from end of season 1? I missed the last episode of season 1 when Nathan died and that whole Virtue Group storyline. Was good to see Nath on it last night though. I am going to stick with it, but only because I am a Kelly fan. Still want to know when the Vegas trip happens!!!

Chris Philpott   #8   01:08 pm Mar 28 2012

@sydneykiwi #1: The warning at the bottom of each blog refers to spoilers from episodes/shows that have not yet aired in NZ. The spoiler in the body of the blog refers to shows that have already aired in NZ, and serve as a warning to those who have not yet watched the specific show being discussed.

@bOb #2, ME #3: Maybe that's where I'm going wrong - thinking of the events in terms of how they would be viewed by a third-party time-travelling spectator. If we went into the past with Future Simon, we'd go back to Past Simon, then Future Simon dies protecting Alisha, and we keep hanging out with Past Simon until he becomes Super-Hoodie/Future Simon and goes back to protect Alisha, and then we do it all again.

Graeme Edgeler   #9   02:04 pm Mar 28 2012

I'm with Bob. I haven't seen the show, but it all only happens once. It happens in a weird order to someone who's not time travelling, but it's the same deal as if it all happened in normal order without time-travelling, it's just that in the ordinary chronology, the death happens before the last thing to happen chronologically. There is no loop. The guy dies, and that's the end; he doesn't do something again and again (e.g. Groundhog Day).

Niri Tacen   #10   02:37 pm Mar 28 2012

@Facebook ben #7 - The Vegas trip happened between seasons 2 and 3. You can find a webisode showing what happened to Nathan online.

Chris Philpott #8 - Follow it only from Simon's point of view. The problem you're having is that you're jumping from future Simon over to past Simon at the point future Simon dies. That's wrong.


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