Lost Girl: Season 01, Episode 01, “It’s a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World”
Editor’s note: after reviewing Lost Girl episodes 03.05-03.13, I’m starting from the top. Rather than ignore everything that’s transpired, I intend to comment how recurring events, shot selection, etc., play into the show so far. I’ll be careful, but there may be spoilers through Season 3. You can find all reviews here.
The first episode or two of any series are mostly world-building and character-establishing, whether that’s showing the audience how a group of characters knows each other or introducing the characters to each other. World-building is fairly simple for shows set in ‘reality,’ you just have to establish the specific subsetting (police station, Bronx apartment, flower shop, etc). In any show utilizing an alternate universe, rules and infrastructure must be built; the extent depends on how much ‘reality’ is integrated. For example, Battlestar Galactica doesn’t have to deal with our reality in its present tense, it establishes where it is in time, then builds its world and leaves its relation to what we know (which is its long-past mythology) for later.
Lost Girl is set roughly in the present, but has as its premise a parallel reality in which supernatural creatures live among us. It needs to guide us through the basics, and to that end it gives us literal guides who will take us through the series: a protagonist who is unaware exactly what she is until hours after we meet her (Bo) and an audience surrogate (Kenzi).
Forgive me for more boring explanation than Lost Girl opens with. Its cold open drops us in medias res, only implying by law of economy of characters the girl behind the bar is important. When Kenzi stumbles into the bar, it’s not immediately clear whether she’s a one-episode victim, or she’s about to become a main character via meeting Bo, or they’re long-time partners running a scam/hit on sleazeball businessmen.
When Bo steps into an elevator and starts sucking blue aftereffects from said sleazeball, Kenzi reacts as stupefied as the rest of us, signaling they’re strangers about to get entangled. Four minutes in, the show has already told us: supernatural powers exist; Bo can tend bar and kill people, and uses her powers for good at least some of the time; Kenzi is a technologically adept thief with access to wigs.
In the next ten minutes, it also establishes: Hale and Dyson are cops who deal with the supernatural alongside their day jobs; Dyson has an adept sense of smell; all humans in this universe are unaware they co-exist with any other species; Bo is on the run; Kenzi is hilarious and here to stay. That’s efficiency for you. It’s also clear Lost Girl is more about showing than telling, which is generally A Good Thing.
Dyson and Hale’s visit to the Dal doesn’t help us much, however, other than proving Hale is a lady’s man (if one looks and dresses like that, it’d be a loss not to be), and Trick and Dyson are going to be mysterious. “It’s beginning, then.” “I can try and stop this.” “What’s mean to be, must be. We can’t fight fate.” “Well, you can.” Clear as mud.
We’re almost to the halfway point, and while the characters have established themselves somewhat, the world is still a bit murky (three seasons in and some basic questions are still quite unclear: more on that at the bottom). The quickest way to solve this problem? Throw our protagonist in a van and whisk her to the heart of supernatural-dom, where she hears Dyson roar before sputtering that really, like the audience, she just doesn’t know what’s going on, so come on and explain it already!
Enter an insatiably curious human doctor, who shows herself more than willing to do some ‘splaining. Bo is Fae, likely a succubus, and she is one of an many Fae (a suspicious number of whom live in her very town). All Fae are aligned with either the Light or the Dark, and Bo is going to have to choose a side. Bo should have been told all of this when she was brought up in a clan, who also would have taught her to control her powers. The only way for the doc to know whether Bo is lying about her oblivious upbringing is to run her hand down Bo’s naked back. To, ah, check for brands and stuff.
Lauren’s use of touch on Bo is going to become a running theme, which is especially interesting since Bo’s touch works on all humans and many Fae, but Lauren is the only human whose touch has a strong sexual/calming/swaying effect on Bo. Kenzi and Bo touch and cuddle a lot, but it’s very much not like this, and it’s shot quite differently. This lingering tracking shot following Lauren’s hand down Bo’s back foreshadows the story to be teased out.
Bo is affected, but can’t resist turning the tables and trying to escape using Lauren. Earlier in the episode Bo got out of paying her restaurant tab via touch, and Kenzi snarks about all the parking tickets she must avoid. Next episode, Hale will say he has “sung my way into a lot of women’s pants,” and that may be a better time to get into the ethics of using one’s powers to manipulate humans. (People use words and charm all the time, is this different? What about the similarities to consent while intoxicated? So many ethical conundrum possibilities!) For this episode, we see Bo can be kind of thoughtless with her powers; she doesn’t seem to consider the waitress will probably be stuck paying for the check and Lauren will likely be punished for ‘allowing’ Bo to escape.
While the succubus and the doctor are feeling each other
up out, Kenzi is guilting her criminally-connected cousin into helping her trace the van Bo was thrown into, and the Light and Dark lords are squabbling about what to do with Bo.
The biggest difference between Light and Dark seems to be the Light act like they have some weighty responsibility to be assholes, and the Dark enjoy their license to be badasses. I’d take the Morrígan’s aggression any day over the Ash’s maneuvering couched in terms of ‘the good of the Light.’ Speaking of aggression, the Morrígan snaps a plant in the first of many phallic-centric gestures to come (the gesture may have worked better in a wide shot – whether this is because they couldn’t get it in the wide or an editor’s choice I can’t say).
In the end, both have their own reasons for subjecting Bo to The Test. Capital letters are implied, but neither Bo nor the audience know much about it, other than Lauren and Dyson seem to agree it’s ‘madness.’ So that’s comforting. Despite their obvious reservations, Lauren and Dyson obey immediately, establishing their adherence to the word of the Ash and showing-without-telling that the Fae system of government is more monarchy than democracy.
Before The Test, the Morrígan sits Bo down and extols the virtues of joining the Dark Fae – or either side, really – summing up how the entire system works in one easy mouthful: “We take care of our own. We’ll place you in a human occupation that’s to our advantage, help with the disposal of your kills, etcetera etcetera. . . . oh, and dental.” The writers just described a world where cops, trash collectors, anyone at all can be Fae. This explains how Fae kills can be hidden or disguised as random muggings and murders. The one rule – as is implied here and explicitly established later – is: humans mustn’t find out about Fae existence. Fae take care of their own in order to keep it that way. The Morrígan points out Fae will provide friends and family for people like Bo, who are afraid they don’t ‘fit in’ in the ‘outside world.’ This is the talk of cults and general gangs of misfits, and there’s a reason it’s so appealing.
The counter to this assertion ‘nobody out there can love or understand you’ is Kenzi, who tracked down the van and sneaks into the glass factory by somehow clinging to an SUV undercarriage. I know I’ve already suspended my disbelief to watch a show about a succubus and shapeshifters and sirens, but for some reason this scene made me groan. I know Kenzi’s so skinny as to be almost flat, but this stretches my imagination.
Speaking of nigh impossible, Dyson is telling Bo – not for the last time – that she’s likely headed for death. To have her best shot, she should kiss him. Incredulous, Bo figures why the heck not, nothing to lose. Twenty seconds later, she turns towards the audience and gasps: ‘oh, oh wow.’
Nobody has much time to dwell on it, though, because the Colosseum-cum-glass factory is full of Fae, and they want their entertainment now.
The other half of this entertainment is provided by underfae. They first appear to be ‘the same, just more musclebound,’ but after Bo uses two tiny knives to make mincemeat of the guy with two hammers, a second underfae appears, and it becomes apparent they’re just not attractive enough to ‘pass’ in the human world. Later, it turns out they’re technically less evolved/devolved, but as they still have some wicked powers, we can assume the evolution applies to looks and not talent.
The second opponent attacks Bo mentally rather than physically, and it’s here she’s most vulnerable. The underfae appears much more genial in Bo’s head, but his guilt trip is not so sweet. He shows Bo coffins of her dead, and tells her she may as well kill herself.
While the coffins represent people Bo has killed, the underfae isn’t just using her guilt about causing death, especially since we know some of those coffins come from self-defense/defense of others. He’s also trying to use sexual shame to kill Bo. The use of “you’re an abomination, child,” rings very religious, as do his robe and getting her to drink from a cup he’s holding. This sex-equals-guilt tactic will crop up more directly in 01.10 “The Mourning After.”
While the Morrígan, the Ash, even Dyson and Lauren tried to convince Bo she should pick a Fae side, it’s the Fae who are subjecting her to an archaic and brutal test, and it’s human Kenzi who saves her life by screaming at Bo to snap out of it. No matter how much Bo has felt outcast from ‘ordinary people,’ and despite the fact most would reject her if they knew what she was, humans are still the ones who need her, and at least two have proven in the past few hours they don’t care whether she’s Fae or not, they will help her. Little wonder when Bo does manage to conquer her literal demons, she decides to be unaligned and ‘choose humans,’ and more specifically, to claim Kenzi.
And that’s that, mostly. There’s an obligatory scene of mystery to set up future conflict, in which the Morrígan and the Ash wonder if they should kill Bo, and Trick intervenes without revealing whether he’s playing them or really wants to keep the Bo elimination potential open. (I always thought Trick’s character was conceived as a bit darker than he turned out.) Dyson drops Bo back in the graffiti’d alley and tells her to call if she needs help, setting up further romance. Finally, Bo and Kenzi walk off together into the sunset, the beginning of a beautiful friendship and many more episode-ending process-chats.
- I like them calling it “It’s a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World,” as they’re admitting right up front the whole thing is crazy, and they aren’t going to apologize for their titles.
- Bo’s blue car quickly gets traded for a yellow one in Episode 2, and then disappears halfway through Season 2, after Lauren borrows it and Bo mentions it’s a gas-guzzling behemoth, and then it’s conveniently forgotten.
- For a moment I wondered if the Morrígan’s comment to the Ash was supposed to imply he was a eunuch, and that’s why he was put in charge of so many other Fae.
- “We have a millenia-old two-party system and it works just swell, because membership is mandatory.” The Morrigan. Also, Republicans/Democrats in 3013 America.
- ‘Don’t get dead’ is one-size-fits-almost-any-situation advice.
- Kenzi’s “please don’t be rats” is a stunning mimicry of what I do any time I have to go into an attic.
- At first, I wished the underfae’s fingernails could have been affixed to Silk’s face during filming, because it’s really distracting when the contact is obviously broken and you see the long prop nail for what it is. But then I pictured the actors standing around for hours, having juice boxes brought to them between takes, and I realized it probably wasn’t worth it.
- When I saw the first underfae, I thought I recognized those tattoos. Surely it couldn’t be Bruce!? A quick IMDB search confirms it’s the same guy, Rob Archer, of the impressive 10pack. This means the same actor has played a character who has Bo, then Kenzi, slide through his legs and and take him out, via knives to his knees and a rock to his rocks, respectively.
Still Unanswered Questions
- If Fae live for thousands of years, how do their bodies decide at what point to stop aging? Does it just pick the peak of attractiveness?
- Since “human physiology is completely different from Fae,” (hinted at here on 01.01, quote verbatim from Lauren in 01.06), and some like Bo have obviously seen a human doctor at various times, how do they hide their existence? Are there Fae doctors out posing in the world who see mostly Fae patients? How do they hide their lab results? How do they guarantee if a Fae goes to the ER s/he gets a Fae doctor? Man, this whole thing is a lot of work.
- Not technically a question, but if you haven’t yet noticed that I use hovertext for all my blog pictures, this is probably as good a time as any to point it out.