Lost Girl: Season 2 Questions, Answered
You asked, I rambled.
How do you see masculinity dealt with on Lost Girl? Dyson, in particular, is a difficult character in this regard. KHR recently mentioned that Dyson would be “neutered” in season 4. This obviously impulsive statement makes clear the deep unease that surrounds and permeates Dyson as a character. This is a discomfort that doesn’t really get articulated or explored as such, but overflows into audience *and* actor reception and expectations regarding the standard “male lead” characterization. Dyson is very ambiguous, not because of his motivations, which I think are fairly straight-forward, but because of his shaky, unclear status as a “man” on the show. Buffy never messed with this – only maybe a little when she called the season 4 love interest “kitteny.” This was a biggish deal to the character, which is why I remember it after all these years. And I’m blanking out on this guy’s name. What do you think LG is doing here, with regard to masculinity? Do they even know?
Masculinity isn’t the focus (nor should it be) and sometimes the clarity what they’re doing Dyson gets dropped or bungled because they’re concentrating more on developing strong female characters. Overall, Dyson is a conglomeration of male stereotypes; possessive, snarling, physical, a cop, not good with emotions or verbalizations, a wolfshifter, (generally male, with the exception of True Blood and . . . True Blood. Am I missing any shows?). Physical prowess and some of these other things aren’t inherently bad, but the way they’re used are clearly markers of a familiar tv Type.
His ubersimplistic stereotypical masculinity isn’t a positive thing, nor is it meant to be. It is interesting since – even with all those characteristics which generally demarcate alpha male leaders – he plays second fiddle to just about everyone. He serves Trick and the Ash at their wills. Though he seems to have seniority in cop partnerships, Hale often outclasses him and Tamsin simply bulldozes him. Bo leads the group despite his wider array of Fae experience and knowledge; even in “Fae Day” Bo’s coming into her own and Dyson’s more the guide than leader. The one time he asserts himself and tries to take charge, he bungles it terribly. He ribs Kenzi as a younger sister but cedes to her in social situations; the only time he truly saves her is by offering the traditionally-feminine emotional support while two women go and kick ass and use smarts and obtain the cure (“Food for Thought”), and then a season later Kenzi ends up saving him when he gets in over his head. In fact, I don’t see Dyson as the ‘male lead.’ I see Bo/Silk as the lead, and everyone else as supporting players, fairly equally so (screentime aside). If anyone gets second billing, it’d be Kenzi/Solo. Whether Dyson’s status as ‘traditional man’ being backgrounded is intentional or not, the mere fact it’s unimportant is . . . well, fantastic.
Riley was a similar supposed alpha male character, though he was much more touchy about being one-upped by Buffy than Dyson seems to be by Bo. Is that because Dyson is more progressive? It’s not a word I’d really associate with him, but I think he’s more accepting of equality on an individual basis (possibly because of the seeming fae idea of equality . . . so long as you’re fae) than Riley was, and ultimately that was a large part of Riley’s ‘downfall.’ Which apparently helped enlighten him, because he ended up with another kickass woman figurehead. Now I’m off topic.
As far as Buffy touching on manhood, that’s definitely another conversation, but Buffy mostly confronted it outright via verbal quips. The biggest thing which strikes me as similar is Spike’s brain implant; does the stripping of his violence challenge only his identity as vampire, or also his identity as a man especially in the feminist world he’s landed himself in? To tie it together, could this be the sort of neutering Kris Holden-Ried is referring to? Would being stymied as a wolf shifter (as punishment, through being thrown into another world, after a fight with the Wanderer, who knows) challenge his identity not only as a fae, but as a man? Not that it should, but society ties many arbitrary and superficial things to manhood including leadership, displays of strength, vestiges of power, which, being stripped away, still have a very real psychological and physical affect on those who have lost.
Perhaps that’s what he meant. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of how the show presents Dyson as alpha male but strips him of the powers and successful leadership generally associated with that. Perhaps a dozen things. Once you delve into specific verbiage from an actor, specifically about a season we’ve yet to see, I can speculate all day, but sometimes it’s just a word – and one often associate with wolves/dogs, to boot.
Speaking of masculinity, I was asked via Twitter, “Revolution does masculinity very well where Falling Skies was total shit. Agree?”
I’ve never seen either of these, but just looking at Fallen Skies‘s promo pics made me feel it doesn’t do too well. I did find this really interesting.
We had a short conversation about LOST in comparison to Revolution; I will say though LOST wasn’t primarily concerned with masculinity, it certainly had an undercurrent in many of the stories, always mixed with something else. I’ve not seen the show since it aired, but remember the following. Jack’s is mixed with Type A Saviour Complex. Jin’s is mixed with culture and tradition. Locke’s is mixed with daddy issues. Desmond’s is mixed with fighting general societal ideals and his fiancee’s rich daddy. Sawyer’s is mixed with his presentation as cocky jackass, but internal insecurity. Charlie deals with his in the issue of fatherhood and adoption. Sayid, with his obviously ‘other / scary’ nationality and soldier background, actually has by far the most balanced grasp on his masculinity [at least on the island, his flashbacks show some hesitancy and struggles with it], and flipping that narrative from what the typical American probably expects isn’t just genius, it’s important.
What is your take on where is the love triangle at the end of S2? And I know this one is not really fair and I’ll understand if you want to dance around it: is the love triangle still more useful than a burden for the writing at this point in the show?
At the end of S2, Lauren has publicly made it known (albeit under pressure of the world ending) she’s ready to try something with Bo. Dyson, who has just gotten his love back, watches it happen without protest – probably because his chivalrous code demands it, but also because getting his love back is going to mellow him out overall. Thank goodness, because Uber Cranky Dyson was really getting to me. As Dyson and Lauren slowly come to respect each other more, it will help, and in fact by the time Lauren breaks up with Bo, Dyson will buy her a drink and sympathize.
Despite all this, Dyson isn’t just rolling over. His suggestion to Lauren at the end of 2.21 that she run is a coy effort cloaked in friendly suggestion, perhaps rationalized to himself as ‘just in case’ Lauren really does value her freedom above her chance with Bo. Dyson doesn’t recognize here at the end of S2 that Lauren also has a sense of duty, not just to Bo and the Scooby gang, but somewhat to all of faedom. It comes from a different place than Dyson’s allegiance, and it’s much more broken, and at times it’s so tainted with Stockholmian possibilities it’s hard to suss out. As Dyson recognizes that, so grows his somewhat grudging respect. But along with that loyalty, Lauren knows what’s going on here. She thanks him but declines both his offer to run and his offer to get back with Bo.
When Lauren graciously accepts his advice but stays, Dyson backs off. Mostly. Egged on by the world’s most terrible advice from Trick, ‘Eh, just wait and Lauren will die,’ and a continuing sense of his own importance, there’s that one scene, which I’ll get to, which does trot out the uberselfish Dyson of S1, and which is fairly inexcusable, though the sex-to-live thing does try.
While I get the pragmatism in the ‘wait it out,’ idea, and surely there’s no way Dyson can keep from thinking it deep in his subconscious, going about life / his relationship with Bo with that philosophy is harmful. Even worse, trying to keep himself fresh in Bo’s mind for the next many years is a truly dick move. When he can accept his friendship (and sexual tension) with Bo, rather than push his current or future agenda, is when the ‘triangle’ works best.
[It may give you some insight here to know two things about me. I strongly believe in intense platonic friendships, and relatedly, I don't believe all TV representations of such, including those with sexual tension, need to fall into romance. I also believe ex-partners can continue as friends; not all can, but it's certainly possible, viable, and able to be healthy.]
At the end of Season 2, the love triangle is more useful than a burden, for a few reasons. Dyson and Lauren have both lost loved ones; it makes sense they’re going to revert to someone they’re already comfortable with, both for emotional stability and sexual healing and a known entity of relationship. It takes time to build in a new character as a new interest for any of the three, and this is a show about a succubus, and they are three really good looking people, and there hasn’t actually been a long stretch of time when Bo was fully with either one, and Dyson has been missing his love for a whole season, so teasing it out makes plenty of sense.
At the end of Season 3, the triangle is probably more of a burden than anything. We’ve hit most of the beats, we have a new character in the mix and Season 4 can introduce another one or two or four. Picking one point (Lauren or Dyson) and adding another party to make a new triangle is still an option, as is an open relationship – which Dyson doesn’t seem amenable to, but Lauren is willing to try. It’s certainly likely Bo will go back to one or both, not just out of convenience but a strong affinity – and let’s be honest, the chemistry is too good to let go. It’s also true they’ve been the defining romantic relationships in her life to this point, and two of the three most important overall relationships, and that’s going to be hard for Bo to either relinquish or reorient.
If I had to say which relationship hasn’t been as well explored, I’d say Lauren’s. I’m not, however, going to get into potential endgame, especially since that will change depending on how many seasons the show gets. Though it was suggested to me some sort of poly arrangement with the three could be made, I do think Bo will end up with at least one as a friend. Dyson isn’t keen on sharing, period, and Lauren has an obvious hangup about Dyson as a partner for Bo. Add that to Bo’s being the least thoughtful in her relationships, and certainly less mature than Lauren at this point, that setup would be a disaster waiting to happen.
I’m not writing off some sort of return to Dyson, though as mentioned above I see the friendship route as viable. I was totally for the Dyson/Bo sex, but against the relationship in S1-2. Dyson may have been what Bo needed physically and in relation to her burgeoning understanding of faedom, but they both acted far too immaturely. Unlike Ryan, however, I don’t believe Dyson is too enamored with his own behaviors to completely write off the potential for change. Unlike Tamsin and Bo, I don’t think Bo and Dyson’s personalities are simply romantically incompatible. Before I’d be happy seeing them together-together again, though, both would have a lot of growing to do, and Dyson would have to come to a realization of all and a relinquishing of many of the behaviors expounded on in the first question.
Meanwhile, as Dyson’s loss of love made him a complete raging asshole incapable of loving anyone, the return of said love could be written to mean he discovers an ability to love others, romantically and otherwise, or at least have sex and cuddle afterwards. It doesn’t have to be Tamsin or anyone we’ve met to this point, though Val is probably a decent option.
As for Lauren, breaking up was the right move. She was too far ahead of Bo, and her own needs were being marginalized and ignored; not intentionally by Bo, but certainly as a consequence of Bo’s continuing immersion in the fae world (and possibly as a side-effect of the dawning?) and as part of Bo’s pattern of deception and running which must be broken before Bo can have a successful relationship with anyone.
The only person Bo really works with emotionally and completely right now is Kenzi, and that’s because Kenzi makes Bo jettison the deceit and flight instinct and selfishness. Simply by nature, Kenzi also needs less complete attention than any of Bo’s partners have. Even so, sometimes Bo is too preoccupied or absorbed to pay attention, and it has endangered Kenzi, emotionally and quite literally. It’s a pattern that needs breaking before Bo’s able to have a healthy long-term romantic relationship with . . . well, anyone.
Let’s end on a video note.
Other than the Quentin Tarantino-lite font work at the end (which if they were going to use, I wish it were at least throughout), I wonder if this is a hint of the new look they’re going for. I wonder if they’re carrying it through the whole season. I don’t watch Once Upon a Time, but this seems to be edging towards that look. Taking the show towards a new world (with The Wanderer) may enable them to tweak their vibe, and hopefully John Fawcett is back to direct some more / reestablish the visual tone. I guess I don’t have too long to wait to find out.
I do, however, have four more episodes to review before that point. 3.01-3.04 coming up over the next couple weeks, and a bonus post about 3.01′s problematic . . . problem. Then, if you were wondering, I will be reviewing along with Canada’s broadcast schedule, not SyFy’s. What can I say, I live close to the border.