Lost Girl: Season 3, Episode 10, Deliquents
Many TV shows are campy. Many are serious. Some attempt one thing, but are the other (it’s possible I got through Season 1 of Hou$e of Lies because I was never aware it was supposed to be a comedy). Walking the line of both is a tricky thing, but Lost Girl‘s premise almost demands it. Recently, sci-fi has gone serious, but as this article points out, Lost Girl has her cake and eats it, too. Overall, and in this episode particularly, it shifts gears like few other shows can, succesfully going from one of the more ridiculous monsters (made of moss!) to A Breakup Heard Round the World.
The opener begins by also mixing tension and humor, with Bo in a sexy red outfit (we know she doesn’t sleep in that, so she must be trying something new for Lauren) and Kenzi sporting a boxing glove and a katana. They arm up to face and intruder . . . who turns out to be Lauren trying to serve breakfast in bed. One two three AWWWWWWwaitasecond, shouldn’t she know better than to be sneaking around in the clubhouse? Maybe someone who constantly leaves her door wide open just doesn’t think of such things.
While helping pick up the mess of broken plates and scrambled eggs, Bo continues to postulate that the Dawning made her ‘feel reborn,’ and Kenzi whispers ‘This is not the Bo that I recall.’ Kenzi and Lauren have a quick chat which summarizes the audience fears that the change may be for better, may be for worse. The refusal to really delve into what the Dawning meant continues with a jump cut to the B-plot: a scene out of a crime procedural where two lovers stumble upon a gory body right at the climax. Except instead, because this is not your network procedural, one of the lovers becomes the gory body.
Bo, Dyson, and Kenzi logically decide they must go undercover at the camp to discover who’s killing at-risk youth. The last time this happened (S02E16) turned out remarkably well, as Dyson’s wry guidance counselor balanced the hot-for-teacher jokes and Romeo and Juliet plotline. Any time we get to see Kenzi be a sorority girl/high school goth/at risk youth is a good time. Let’s do this every season, is what I’m saying.
This sort of thing also gives us a glimpse into what our characters were actually like in high school. OF COURSE Lauren opted for Space Camp. The bedside processing also reveals Lauren and Bo are a little out-of-sync, both wanting different things at this point in their relationship and life. Bo’s outburst of ‘blame Tamsin’ comes with a smile, but also foreshadows at least two bad things to come.
We’re quickly distracted, however, by the arrival of none other than Linda MF Hamilton, delivering a message that Tamsin needs to finish the job and deliver Bo to ‘him,’ who could still be The Wanderer/Odin/a fire breathing dragon/Bo’s Father/pick two. You can say a lot of things about this show, but you can’t say it’s not cagey about its reveals.
Or its outfit choices. My camp counselor shirts never fit as well as Bo’s. And by ‘well’ I mean ‘low.’ There are all sorts of problems with this shirt (Really, Bo’s strict parents let her work at a camp with uniforms like that? Then in all Bo’s moving and running, she hung on to that perfectly-distressed shirt?) but we’re happy to suspend disbelief as Bo ‘counsels’ the girl into a witness statement and Dyson examines the kill ground. Kenzi require no such suspension, because she recently was – and on some levels, still is – a streetwise punk kid living day-to-day and avoiding authority figures like the plague. She fits in perfectly, and takes sixty seconds to establish her cred and take note of a significant tattoo.
I have a Chrome plug-in called Jailbreak the Patriarchy which takes websites and swaps all the pronouns and most other gendered references. Knowing how male-dominated the world is is one thing, seeing it flipped is still mind-boggling. (The plug-in is especially eye-opening on sport, political, and religious websites.) Sometimes, I feel like Lost Girl is being filtered through this plug-in. Mentor/mentee bounty hunter talks like the one between Tamsin and Acacia are historically man-to-man. To have two women casually play the beer-swilling, war-story-swapping, badass, jaded warriors on primetime TV is all kinds of dream fulfillment.
The conclusion they come to is more dream-shattering. Tamsin is stuck between forfeiting her own life, or turning Bo over. Because Bo has been through the Dawning and is now strong, she must be weakened first. This shall require “One hair from someone she loves. Two from someone she trusts. And three from her own head.”
So Tamsin goes to Dyson’s den to take an ambiguous number of hairs from a comb Dyson obviously rarely uses, and finds in this process a picture of Bo, and what’s left of a conscience, or at least a guilt complex. She shoves the jar of hair deep into an industrial trash can we can only assume is because Dyson takes trash out once per month, and washes her hands of the whole affair for about five minutes, or as long as it takes for Acacia to track her down and ream her out. If the verbal lashing isn’t enough, Acacia reveals that she has leveraged herself as assurance Tamsin would finish The Job.
Back at camp, Dyson comes to lock the teens in their dorm, right after he and Kenzi have a veiled smack-down about how lame wolves are. Maybe Dyson’s upbringing was literally in the woods, but even I could have gotten out of that room, and I’m not a half-dozen professional lock-picking miscreants. They’re out almost immediately, exposing themselves to a monster Lauren informs Bo stuffs its victims with leaves, twigs, and bark over the course of several hours.
Bo and Lauren’s talk of the case and their disparate lives (supernatural couples still have real-world problems) is interrupted by none other than the MossMonster, and Lauren has to watch from afar, physically helpless, while Bo is attacked from behind. Lauren calls Dyson – who last episode was reminded his physical prowess was not what Bo needed – to help Bo. It literalizes Lauren’s feelings of helplessness in the Fae realm, makes Lauren watch Dyson save the day, and it’s nicely horrific.
The creature runs, with Dyson, Bo, and Kenzi in pursuit. All they find is another grisly (yet cheaply produced) kill. Meanwhile, Tamsin arrives to find a package on her desk. It’s a truth universally acknowledged in filmmaking, that if you feature a significant aspect of a guest character (as Acacia’s hand holding a knife to Tamsin’s throat), that aspect is going to come back around. In this case, the hand is included with the rune glass, and Tamsin is out of options. She heads to Lauren’s house to lay some knowledge about the tikbalang, steal a hair, taunt Lauren, and get deservedly slapped.
Again, I feel like the show is being filtered through a looking-glass; a really awesome, equalizing looking-glass. One strong woman taunts another with the ‘I kissed your girl, and she liked it’ narrative usually employed by men, and the second woman responds with physical violence. It’s not ideal, but – and this is the key – neither is the stereotypical male response in this scene, seen in every other show with a love rhombus. The responses are both ‘normal,’ and they’re both roughly equivalent.
Lauren’s violent response was quite out of the norm for her (we’ve only seen it once, with Lachlin), and should be attributed to her despair over her relationship and her immediate panic over what had happened to Bo in front of her eyes. Ever the compartmentalizer, she temporarily tamps it down and goes to help everyone – all together back at the clubhouse – defeat the monster. Now Lauren knows what it is, she knows how to defeat it. Kenzi hears smoke, and thinks pipe bombs. Just about everyone in the room – including Lauren, natch – knows how to make pipe bombs. Now, they wait.
While waiting, Bo and Dyson have a conversation about the Dawning weirdness, the friend zone they’re moving into, and Bo loving Lauren, which all goes about as smoothly as one could hope in these potentially-awkward situations, until the pipe bomb explodes. Bo and Dyson corner the creature, Bo threatens it (reminding us they don’t feature Bo’s arms, abs, anythingotherthanboobs, enough), and we get the unmask reveal we knew was coming all along. It’s a rule universally acknowledged that a technically unnecessary speaking character given a backstory is going to have something to do with the resolution.
I was expecting the episode to move on from there and deal purely with the emotional fallout it had been telegraphing throughout the past couple episodes. It’s a fallout that needs to happen.
Instead of switching to that immediately, we get a surprise continuation of the tikbalang plot, which then segues neatly into a commentary on Lauren and Bo’s relationship. Our human boy Nelson shows up to kill Lauren as retribution for Bo killing Jolene, Nelson’s Fae girlfriend. There’s so much symmetry here, Nelson has to postulate about it while he chokes Lauren and expands the window of time in which someone can come rescue her. He voices everything about being a ‘nobody’ in the fae world, being unable to go back to a normal mortal life. Though it’s not what he means – he’s talking about the high he gets from ‘the game’ – he’s speaking to Lauren’s fear of losing her identity in her otherworldly relationship.
Then, quickly, Bo appears to save Lauren, Dyson arrives to save Bo from killing Nelson with a baseball bat (another very portrayed-male response), and we move on to what’s been coming for 35 minutes. The symmetry continues with a reverse of Bo and Lauren’s doctor/patient angle and another Adaline song as heard in this season’s Episode 4, in much happier/sexier context. Lauren puts it all out there: her unhappiness, Bo’s changing, the wear and tear the past three years have taken on Lauren’s spirit (imprisonment, demons, and losing a long-time partner will do that to you), and says they need ‘a break.’ I think Bo should have noticed this much earlier, but she does respond supportively and fairly understandingly, says “I’m not going anywhere”. . . and then leaves.
Lauren goes to drown her sorrows, and Dyson appears to have a truly touching conversation and rightly remind Lauren that the way to drown the pain of true-love-and-the-best-sex-you’ve-ever-had lost is not with white wine, but with shots. All the shots.
Or tequila-infused ice cream, which is what Bo suggests Tamsin should have brought by. Tamsin just smirks, pulls some hair for the rune glass, evokes angry Bo, and leaves.
Now that, friends, is how you create an intense 43-minute episode of television.
Because I know this is going to be the focus of most of the attention for this episode, I’ll park here a minute. I don’t think this means the writers have decided to disqualify Bo and Lauren as a possible endgame. They’re still going to stay an option, just as Bo and Dyson are. If you’re thinking seven seasons, you cannot establish an endgame couple (or two) early and have them stay together the entire time. Open relationship or no, there have to be some ‘off’ times, or times one of the characters is out of the picture for a while for an expedition, or a kidnapping, or some other constructed reason. It works this way in sitcoms (if Ross and Rachel had gotten together in Season 2, and stayed that way it wouldn’t be the shining example of relationship tension I’m pulling out now), it works this way in drama, and it especially works this way in loaded, metaphorical-driven, supernatural/human relationships.
All that said, I was not expecting it this soon. Same with Dyson; he gave up his love really quickly after he established it was this big, life-ending thing, but that set up another arc. So my guess is this must have something to do with the big upcoming battle/season finale. Perhaps Bo still loves Lauren so the breakup can’t somehow interfere with the rune glass spell, but the breakup will somehow play into – and add greater drama – to whatever happens next in Tamsin’s game. Bo will presumably end up fighting for her life without the intimate support of the friends and lovers she’s come to count on. Sort of a “Yoko Factor” scenario. Which brings us back to the Buffy parallels.
And there, with some stray observations, I leave you. If you’ve got more to note, leave a comment!
- Yoko Factor reference pointed out by friend E.
- Some costumer has a closet of just sexy red pieces, and broke out not one but three of them for this episode.
- Kenzi named her sword ‘Geraldine.’ !!!
- I liked the lack-of-reveal during the first camp killing. It was far creepier that way – Dyson could have discovered the body later, and it still would have worked. Better, maybe.
- No-one else on earth could pull off Kenzi’s camper outfit. No-one.
- The camp counselor faux-wood-panelled- walls are adorned with inspirational animal posters. Does it get more perfect? I submit it does not.
- The puppy/kitten poster is recycled on the dorm room walls, however, and since those kids don’t do anything ironically, you can’t tell me it’d actually last more than three seconds up there.
- Wow, do Acacia and Tamsin ever put all the emphases in the right places on ‘Tecumseh.’
- “Bitch, do I look like a wizard?” is a great line. But one coming soon after, that the jar may “Make [Bo] putty in your hands” is better.
- “Che Guver-ay. Designs t-shirts for angry youth.”
- Lauren’s reaction to the attack on Bo sacrifices the cool-under-pressure, been-to-Afghanistan character a bit in favor of the horror genre inherent in this episode, but it works.
- ‘Ticklebang’ is exactly how I heard it the first time, too, Kenzi.
- If Zoie Palmer or Rachel Skarsten get nominated for anything and have to pick an episode to send in, this should be the one. Anna Silk would have to choose between this and “There’s Bo Place Like Home” (also, like this episode, directed by Gail Harvey).
- When Bo is counseling the teenage girl, it’s done without a hint of slut-shaming, as Lost Girl is notorious for. Having both members of the necking couple and the members of the murderous couple – ie, the four people are camp who are demonstrably sexually active – wind up gruesomely dead or severely punished by the end is still treading the ground of teen horror films. The monster metaphors are usually a strong suit, but I feel this plot got a bit glazed over in service of the episode’s main themes. Even in my review, there was no good place to talk about its symbolism and what about it worked or didn’t. To sum up, cheap yet effective murder scenes, but the symbolism, less than stellar.