Lost Girl: Season 01, Episode 02, Where There’s a Will, There’s a Fae
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.
After the chaos in Bo’s life thus far – what we assume of her life on the run, plus last episode – opening on her and Kenzi doing something as ‘normal’ as shopping for household items suggests settling down into a rhythm. Buying hinges and a plunger and tiki lights signals they’re settling in together for the long haul. Deciding on and buying paint with another person is a major sign of commitment. (Actually painting the room isn’t required.)
This episode establishes a pattern many upcoming episodes will follow: Fae/humans in need; Bo learning about aspects of Fae culture from her cases, Lauren, and trial-and-error; Bo trying to figure out how to control her appetites; Bo dancing around Dyson who in turn dances through Mysterious Exchanges with Trick; Kenzi making sly comments about all of the above. Characters fall quickly into their roles – Bo as the main impetus, Kenzi as audience surrogate, Trick as explainer-of-all, Dyson as tortured eye candy, Lauren as brainy sexual tension with an unending supply of helpful syringes – which is especially important for a 13-episode first season.
The main ‘monster-of-the-week’ is also the character-in-distress. I say character because he looks as far from a stereotypical fairytale damsel as possible. His green fire precedes him, immediately following Bo’s proclamation not to draw attention. He’s Will, a Will-o-the-Wisp, and his treasure has just been stolen by a human. It’s literal treasure, as in diamonds and gold, but “’crashing through the woods, cutting down trees, looking for my treasure” insinuates oil and rare wood and land, too. He’s needs the Fae who’s “not part of the system” to help him retrieve his jewels.
If this were a cartoon, Kenzi’s eyes would flash dollar signs, but Will has something to offer instead of money. He tells Bo he saw a midwife fleeing through his woods 28 years ago with a baby who had a birthmark on her left foot. Bo has the same birthmark, and now she’s compelled to help Will.
Bo goes to the police station, where Dyson and Hale are wandering the halls exchanging stories of sexual prowess and doing other important police-stuff. This buddy-relationship is often more implied than enacted, but the fact they’re talking about double-dating and casually referencing long-past events establishes they are friends with a history, and are comfortable on a personal as well as professional level.
Dyson wasn’t expecting Bo so soon, but he doesn’t seem to mind being asked for help. It’s worth noting the framing is fairly traditional; one the conversation is established, Bo stays on the right of the screen, Dyson on the left, every time the camera switches to focus on one, the shoulder or similar part of the secondary (usually non-speaking) character is in frame on his or her respective side. The shot does place Bo on a desk, sitting slightly higher than Dyson in his chair, and so her shot is on a slightly upward angle.
Nothing Lost Girl does as far as angles, framing, movement, editing cuts, etc., is extreme. It uses thirds and visual cues fairly traditionally (unlike the current trend in BBC shows, for example). As the show goes on, exterior establishing shots become fewer and farther between, both because they cost time and money and because the viewers get quite familiar with where characters are; it would become annoying to incessantly point out ‘we’re back at the clubhouse’ in Season 3.
Lost Girl makes great use of blocking and camera movement. Camera movements help prevent stagnation, especially when we’re seeing the same sets a lot. Interior establishing shots often start with movement and/or zoom, whether characters are already situated or walking into the room. The movement stops either with or right before the cut, then usually the cuts go to a standard back-and-forth between close-up and medium shots, like in this scene. Lost Girl somtimes plays with this by opening on an object in the foreground, like a box of cereal, and zooming and/or panning out to a more comprehensive shot. 02.03 ‘Scream a Little Dream’ has frequent examples of this.
Last, like this scene with Bo and Dyson, Lost Girl uses upward and downward angles a little more often than a traditional dramatic narrative, especially to exaggerate Trick’s stature, to point out when someone is lording over another (as in many scenes between Lauren and the various Ashes and then the subtle reverse in 03.13 “The Wanderer”), and to keep things visually interesting. Sometimes there’s flair, like a shot inside a trunk or cabinet, or a lengthy moving shot, but often it’s like this scene: not flashy, nothing attention-grabbing, just good work. Bo sitting on a desk to talk feels natural, it keeps the desk from creating a barrier, and it allows for some easy angles.
Dyson tries to encourage Bo to ‘just live your life’ and not get involved. Bo points out she kills anyone who gets close to her, and getting involved with the Fae can help her avoid that. Dyson’s response is to take Bo to the Dal, which he describes as ‘a place where we don’t have to hide who we really are.’ Much has been written about the way Lost Girl treats its characters as far as race, gender, sexuality, etc., and that line is intended to sum up: they’re just going to Be, they don’t have to explain or excuse.
Dyson’s real intent here is to show Bo other Fae and, most importantly, introduce her to Trick. Knowing what we know now [which is too big to put in this early a review], it’s amazing how casual Dyson is about the whole thing.
Speaking of camera angles in relation to Trick. The camera starts looking up . . .
then down at him as he comes around the bar . . .
then up at Bo and Dyson and the ceiling, with Trick’s upper arm in the shot.
Surprise is obvious on Bo’s face, and though it’s never verbalized, the visuals highlight people’s expectations and uncertain reactions when said expectations are upended.
Trick is “one of our elders” and a keeper of the Dal, which is a bar-cum-waystation. It is also a place of sanctuary: neutral ground, though mostly Light Fae seem to frequent it. Bo’s status as an undeclared Fae makes her welcome decidedly frosty. As Non-local Fae must declare themselves, Trick takes Bo into a back room where she is to sign in with her name, plus her Fae mother’s and father’s. She says she doesn’t know who they are, and Trick proceeds to offer no helpful advice whatsoever.
Most of the episode so far has continued establishing the Fae rules and Lost Girl‘s world, but now Bo and Kenzi turn their full attention to Will’s problem. The gun Will gave Bo, Bo gave Dyson, and Dyson gave Hale turned out to be registered to a Michael Connell. Ever the direct investigator, Bo drives to his house, marches up his porch, and opens his unlocked do-BOOOOOOOOOM.
On one hand, barging into a stranger’s house – a stranger who tromps around the woods waving guns and stealing expensive goods, no less – seems like a bad plan. On the other hand, if you can heal by having sex, who cares if you get a bit banged up?
Now they went through the danger of taking out the booby trap, they may as well go in for a look around. The books on Faerie Folk And You and a jewelry store ad confirm Michael Connell is their man.
But before they can leave, Bo almost chi-sucks a nosey neighbor to death, then chokes Kenzi when Kenzi tries to cock-block / save the neighbor’s life.
Subtlety is certainly not Bo’s strong suit, nor does she want it to be. As she tells the jeweler while choking him with his tie (hmmm, twice in two minutes, I’m going to have to note exactly how often choking comes up between now and 03.05), “I don’t do undercover well.” She’ll have to start, though, because her use of Fae powers has already drawn the cops to the unconscious nosey neighbor. Before, she only had to run from humans, most of whom she could overpower if she had to. Now, an entire legion of other supernatural creatures are aware of her existence, her feed signature, her status, and her location. All of these powerful creatures have a vested interest in their existence staying hidden, and some of them have a vested interest in Bo’s demise. In the next few episodes, Bo will learn to exercise her subtlety; at feeding, at undercover work, at manipulating certain people but not the pizza guy. Still, even in 02.14 “Midnight Lamp,” Ryan notes she has ‘no finesse.’
Her use of undercover and subtlety does not start here. She dons a maid’s outfit to get into Michael’s hotel room, but he pulls another gun and tells her the maid already came and left. He figures somebody sent her, probably “the man from the woods, [cue stinger] my father” dundundundundun!.
Ah, the plot thickens, and changes consistency somewhat to be about familial relations. For an ‘adult’ show, Lost Girl is very much interested in family and coming-of-age; biological relations, legal bonds, and the family we make for ourselves. It’s a unique kind of Bildungsroman, which I’ll talk about in the next couple reviews.
Bo’s confusion and my sidetrack are interrupted by a headless, sword-swinging character. Well, he’s not technically headless, he just detaches his head before he goes in swinging. When a couple bullets don’t stop him, Connell runs off and Bo and Kenzi defeat him together, then stuff him in their trunk. Sadly, the stuffing happens offscreen, because it would have been comedy gold. Kenzi rummaging through his pockets also has potential besides just the sparkly stones she finds, which leads her to conclude Will paid the headless guy to track down Connell, too.
They take the headless body back to Dyson, who pops the trunk and immediately identifies it as most of a dullahan, a Fae mercenary. This shot comes from the trunk, from the POV of the dullahan, or where his view might be, since we don’t see the actual head in the trunk.
Before Bo goes to confront Will about his double-crossing ways, she asks Dyson for Lauren’s number. She’s hungry and would really like to take the edge off, medically speaking. Dyson and his ulterior motives suggest there are other ways, but Bo and her ulterior motives insist on getting Lauren’s digits.
When we get to Lauren’s lab, we get a moving establishing shot with a rack focus from Lauren’s face as she realizes Bo is in the room to Bo’s slightly inscrutable face. Bo manages to flirt, beg for help, admit she’s worried about hurting people, and mention how ridiculous she feels saying ‘help me not sex people to death,’ all in a couple short breaths. Lauren just happens to have the one relevant vial within arm’s reach, which means either the actors were confined to a small pool of good lighting, or she was anticipating Bo’s request. Or both, I suppose.
As Lauren gives Bo her dose of sex/healing suppression, she reminds Bo joining the Light comes with many benefits, among which are protection and open access to Lauren . . . ‘s doctor skills.
Back at the clubhouse, Will has been setting some small fires, but his Fae acid reflux goes into high gear when Bo and Kenzi inform him Michael ran away. Oh, and remember that one time a hot woman wandered into Will’s woods and they figured well, what’s one time without birth control? Will is Connell’s daddy. WHOOM! Human Connell knows all about Will and wants to meet. WHOOM!
Bo goes ahead to prep Connell for the meeting. Following this episode’s theme of Going Through Doors She Should Know Better Than To Go Through, Bo walks through the only entrance to the tiny square room where Connell is keeping his dad’s jewels, and Connell promptly spills his plan to reveal the Fae to the whole world, then slams the door. Thankfully, storage units are generally drafty, thin-walled structures, so Connell can hear Bo expound about her situation, how it’s similar to his, and why he should give Dad a chance.
Right on cue, Will shows up with Kenzi. The hearing-through-thin-walls works both ways, and Bo can hear Will say “one of us [Fae] can’t be with one of you [human] forever.” There will be more Fae/human tales as the show goes on, but this first one certainly does not sound promising. The tale goes on long enough for the dullahan to find them and de-head himself.
There follows another Lost Girl theme establishment: general chaos: Connell fires at the dullahan without results (just like the first time; not a quick learner, this one), Kenzi opens the door where Bo is trapped, Will and Connell stand aside, Bo gets slashed on the neck, and Kenzi drops the dullahan’s head into the convenient oil drum where Will started a fire when Connell first startled him. WHOOM!
Will makes good by telling Bo the story of her being carried through the woods by a scared midwife; a story which serves to further Bo’s search for her Fae parents and also drives home to Connell that sometimes biological parents may choose to give something up for mysterious but not always wrong reasons. POOF! Will and Connell – and the jewels, as Kenzi’s immediate look confirms – are gone in a tidy green puff of smoke, wrapping up that plot quite tidily.
Not so neat and tidy is Bo’s neck, still bleeding rather profusely. Bo tells Kenzi to ‘get me Dyson.’ The morning after this healing session opens the next episode, but for now, let’s just enjoy this closing scene.
- Kenzi snapping the hedgeclippers at Mr. Handsome Shopper is greatly evocative, but he still seems unclear about whether she meant it as a good or bad thing.
There’s no shame in skippin’ and a-jumpin’ all the day.
“The Morrigan was right. You are dangerous.” “Flattery will get you everywhere.”
‘You people have more rules than my old high school’ becomes especially meaningful when you consider Bo likely had a conservative religious education.
Remember the red lights from the Fae showdown last week? They’re here again.
- When I directed The Lilith Necklace last year, one of the industrial fans in the bar where we were shooting was at the exact same pitch as the voice of one of my leads. When we did noise reduction, the tone of his voice was changed. It doesn’t sound bad, no-one who doesn’t know him personally would even notice. It just didn’t sound exactly like him. I feel like Anna Silk’s voice is slightly off in several scenes, even ones that don’t seem to be ADR’d. Perhaps their sound mixing touches on her range and tweaks it just a tiny bit. Or, perhaps I’m just going crazy.