Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 20, Lachlan’s Gambit
You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
It’s been pointed out that I give Lost Girl a pass sometimes. At this point in my career, I’ve worked on mostly low-budget sets. Even the SAG-approved, big-network, name-actors shows I’ve worked on have had to get incredibly creative when it comes to workarounds. A fellow producer on a movie just wrapped suggested we write a book, “How We Made A Feature Film With Three Stars And Two C-Stands.” When you have to spend all the money on unions and payrolls and transportation and permits and food, and your incidentals money on unavoidable overtime and after-wrap beer [and yes, that's a necessity to keep any low-budget crew happy] and getting an emergency trailer because the sprinter broke down, you have to let some storytelling dreams go. Having your heroine jump on a flaming unicorn and ride her magical lance right into the heart of a 20-story Griffin-Gone-Wild may look awesome on paper, but it’s not going to work when your CGI guys are already using older software and being sustained solely on Cheez-Its you brought from home. (But it’s ok because we’re not watching this show for the sky-high production value, and in fact this is a far better show than a dozen I can name which have more money.)
All this is going to influence the last few episodes of the season, and it shows up right in the very first scene. Some may roll eyes at the use of newspapers to show phenomena and plot progression (the arrest of various baddies, the animal terror here) rather than filming an insert shot, I may appreciate it (perhaps more) for the use of workarounds. It would take a whole camera crew a full day to get a couple seconds of Zephyr going on his actual rampages, then being arrested, not to mention extras. Filming animals gone wild requires (at least in the US) additional permits, calls to the humane society, paid trainers on set, and extra work getting the information needed for background checks for all your crew. ‘Never work with children or animals’ isn’t just an adage because those things compound shooting difficulties, but because they’re freaking expensive.
So you make a mole-fae with makeup rather than with prosthetics, use an eyeless minion rather than a town slaughter to exemplify the Garuda’s nastiness, have props mock up some newspapers, stage an oldfashioned one-on-one swordfight, make sure it’s believable Lachlan is never seen with more than one head, and create an effective torture device with an old light. When you can write around obstacles this easily, and save some of that budget for a firesword and a couple spare naga heads, why wouldn’t you?
But then, you also have to hope the director and actors and producers are going to be able to frame it in a way which makes your creativity work, and not a way which highlights its minimalism.
This episode is all about setting the stage. Nadia and Nate have been dispatched, now it’s time to bring back Ciara, up the ante (via the aforementioned newspapers and mole, as well as some generic minions), and start a plan. But against this backdrop, we also have a few character developments which finally get a little exploration.
Trick’s willingness to use torture, murder, etc., has before only been hinted at, and now he finally gets his hands dirty, using the ‘we’re at war’ line to quiet any objections. He craftily refuses to play anyone’s strategy but his own in dealing with the threat. In addition, the way he and the Garuda both callously attack eyes draws some nifty parallels.
Dyson comes back from his shirtless soul-searching, and his first and most enthusiastic greeter is Kenzi. His misinterpretation of the wolfspirit’s vision plays into his ideas of his own chivalrous nobility, but the way reality plays out fits the way Dyson functions: better as a teammate, a footsoldier, part of the story of another hero. That hero happens to be female, and here she takes his word, but has plenty of doubts. This isn’t to denigrate Dyson as a fae, person, or character, it’s simply who he is. His pride and desire to be Lancelot clouds his judgement. He claims to be positive simply because he wants to be, and because he wants to believe it’s a way to reclaim his love.
The storyline of Dyson losing his love has become somewhat of a broken record in relation to Bo, but something sometimes missed in that cacophony is how his loss of love has made him, overall, an angrier, more selfish wolf. When one has no love, it’s a natural outcome, no? Because the focus has been mostly on romantic partnerships, and the nature of what love he can and can’t feel is a little hazy (he obviously still has a close bond with Kenzi, though his partnership with Hale is fractured), this can get drowned out. As the Garuda says, ‘no morals, no loyalty, guess that’s what happens when you lose your heart.’
Ciara shows not just her fairy powers, but her perceptive ones, as she’s the first to piece together Bo killed Nadia. She’s also made her peace with her and Dyson’s breakup, and is able to decide she’d still like to have some life-affirming, end-of-the-world sex. She’s not confused. She simply knows what she needs.
Lauren and Hale both want to be left alone to their pain and feelings of abandonment. Both express it verbally at first, then Lauren comes to Bo for physical (and liquid) comfort, and Hale . . . well, we’re not sure what Hale and Kenzi do, but it’s sure to be depressing.
The way Ciara/Dyson and Bo/Lauren are intercut as they pass their night, all finding solace in physicality, some through being the comforter, some the comforted, some through raucousness, some riding the edge of a lighter danger than the one they’ll face in the morning, some through words and some not so much, is fascinating. People deal with grief and fear and desire in a myriad of ways, and none of them fit into neat little boxes. People can be depressed and angry and verbose and withdrawn and sexually needy and etc. etc. etc., in any mixture. It gets complicated. So though the story has to rush characters through a lot of grieving and terror all at once, the way it displays them in not just these scenes, but in the periphery, is lovely. Lauren’s messy apartment with a bathrobe and tissue box, Dyson’s second-nature wrapping of his hands to go to work on his punching bag, really works to bring across these points.
Lauren’s coping mechanism being the one less displayed and more complex to portray makes it more interesting. It’s not too difficult to shoot Dyson punching more things, but having someone spill her feelings and admit to doing her hair before coming to Bo’s house without it feeling highschool or hackneyed takes a finer touch. Crosscutting the two is perhaps the obvious editing answer, but is really brilliant, and Lauren ends up essentially explaining to Bo and the viewer how all these reactions are human and chemical and normal and ok, and you should have friends and lovers to whom you can just admit what you’re feeling, and from whom you can get what you need. If you need sex or tequila to get your feelings flowing, so be it.
The confrontation with the Garuda could have used more of this nuance and less grandstanding, more infighting, much less running pellmell down hallways after obvious bait of a minion. While it’s true this ended up a skirmish before the real end, it didn’t require the main characters to flaunt their lives about, and indeed it ended up with Ciara dead (as we knew in our guts would happen if not this episode, then this season). The emotional scenes leading up to it, and the emotional aftermath, are much better done, and frankly more interesting. I understand why shows want to have episodic and meta arcs in each season, but when picked up for a back nine the one got rushed and the other got underfunded.
The actual fight. Well. There’s this fascinating thing which you should definitely read and which talks about how the ante keeps having to go up and up and up – the end of a city! country! world! civilization! – instead of keeping the stakes low. I like the idea of having the Garuda come for Trick, or Lachlan as the leader of Light fae, whether from a personal vendetta or to throw the system into disarray. Then this mini battle [and the one in the finale] works; one gang versus another, personal stakes, we’re invested. To frame it as the possible end of not just this hidden fae microcosm but The World As We Know It, elevates expectations which are not met. Had we not these expectations, we wouldn’t be disappointed.
Lachlan’s scheming, Trick’s stubbornness, Lauren and Dyson’s personal pain, Kenzi’s bravery, Ciara’s and Hale’s nobility and feelings of abandonment, Lauren’s choice to stay as one in a series of people doing the Greater Good for various reasons, Dyson’s lack of self-introspection, Bo’s going from handing over the plans to Dyson to emergence as leader; these are the things we’re interested in, these are the things which work, these are as important to us as the end of the fae world, because to us they are the fae world. It’s why next episode, “Into the Dark,” works better than the actual finale and this mini-finale. (Also, definitely, John Fawcett.)
When these things are at the forefront, versus when the supposed epic battles are going down, is clearly the demarkation between which parts of this episode work, and which don’t.
- “Every single snake has disappeared.” “Maybe they’re on a plane?”
- You’d think Bo and Kenzi would get a peephole in the clubhouse door, already.
- “I’m too cute to die!”
- This episode supports my theory: Lauren’s apartment door somehow interferes with sound. We never see it in frame when Bo and Lauren are talking, then when Lauren goes to open it (and ask Bo to leave), in that cut Zoie Palmer’s mouth is never seen, so her phrase could easily be ADR’d.