Lost Girl: Season 01, Episode 04, Faetal Attraction
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.
Bo: Stay back!
* charred skulls fly *
Dyson: What just happened?
What happened is Lost Girl employs a technique not seen since; a nonlinear narrative which starts at the consequence before jumping to the seemingly innocuous events which led there. It miraculously, thankfully does this without a title card flashing “24 hours ago.” In addition, the episode establishes where Bo’s unalignment places her in the Dark/Light and Fae/Human worlds, brings up principles of open relationships which will come up later in Bo’s life, reminds us humans are as likely to be crazy as Fae, and gruesomely kills two-thirds of a threesome *without* slut-shaming. It accomplishes all this in exactly the time it takes my washing machine to run one load of laundry.
The seemingly innocuous events begin with Bo waking up to Kenzi’s popsicle and the crushing weight of grief, which likely weighs more than Kenzi, who is also sitting on her. Bo is experiencing rejection, as Kenzi realizes in a light-bulb moment, for the first time. And rejection feels like the flu. The cure for this is ice cream, a break-up mix, a car Kenzi must have found through her Street Sources, and lots of absinthe. Conveniently, Dyson and Lauren are also in the Dal, one moping, the other doing that thing that’s halfway between friendship and flirting.
Lauren tells a half-truth, in that she would love to be on the receiving end of a drunken succubus booty call. She’s just worried Bo would be able to keep her promise and perform. It’s the same worry Bo verbalizes to Kenzi right after. “I sleep with her, and she dies.”
Knowing when to fold, Lauren tells Kenzi to keep an eye on Bo, but Bo – riled to angry by Dyson’s presence and randy by Lauren’s – leaves with a couple who proposition her, thus killing both feelings with one stone.
There follows a well cut threesome which the editors obviously enjoyed working on. If you listen, you’ll hear the song say “close calls” right as there is almost a hint of female nipple. Which I like to think is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the censor board; I generally don’t believe in editing coincidences.
Bo wakes up the next morning, hangover-less, and raves to Kenzi about how great no-strings-attached sex is. Cue the strings knocking on the door. Olivia has heard Bo has (other) special skills, and wants Bo to kill a human. That, Kenzi states without missing a beat, is going to cost extra.
The scene between Olivia and Bo, where Olivia calmly lays out the terms of her relationship with Samir, is important for two reasons.
One is in context of this episode. Often, films/shows kill those who engage in socially-unacceptable sexual behavior, typically in a gruesome manner. This fate acts as punishment for sex (this was temporarily my theory about LOST). In this episode, two parts of the threesome are about to die, one via decapitation and the other through a brain meltdown. In order to subvert the stereotype, these deaths are explicitly tied to something besides the threesome. After a millenia of having sex outside of marriage, Samir gets dead because he lied and cheated, and Olivia (and later, her sisters) dies directly as a result of her attempt at revenge. Jenny dies not because she had sex with a married man, but because she knowingly cheated with him, oh and also killed several people and built a giant bomb.
The second time this scene becomes important will be exactly two seasons away, in 03.04, “Fae-de to Black.” I imagine Bo, sitting in that kitchen contemplating what she should say or do, remembering this event. I’ll talk later about how Bo’s fundamentalist upbringing instilled in her an instinctive reaction to lie as a default response and defense mechanism. Why doesn’t Bo lie in “Fae-de to Black”? Partly, because she has a partner who stresses honesty. But in great part, because here Bo sees in Samir and Olivia what happens when partners are honest (Long marriages! General success! Threesomes, for those who want such things!) and what happens when partners lie (Anger! Blood! Decapitation! Brains literally frying!).
All this comes later in the day. First, Bo goes Jenny’s house and intervenes with Olivia’s murderous rage, using a convenient kitchen appliance. Bo brings Jenny home with her before going to warn Samir and finding him unable to listen, or do anything requiring a head. Back at the clubhouse, Kenzi waves a sword in the background while Jenny sobs in the foreground, until Bo touches Jenny into affability.
Dyson and Hale are called to Samir’s murder scene, and instantly smell Bo, who then has to mention Olivia fleeing the scene. Furies always have sisters, and they are the ones sheltering Olivia, but realize they can’t give her the medical help she needs. Hale charms the now demented Olivia to Lauren’s lab, where Olivia dies in anguish and the Ash blames Bo for everything.
Not that Bo cares much, but the tenuous and complicated politics of the Fae world come to the forefront of this episode. It’s iffy to kill a human, so Olivia asks Bo. When Bo turned her down, Olivia brushes off the Light Fae’s ‘suggestion’ against murder and tries to kill Jenny herself, presumably planning to cover her tracks by sending Jenny to an insane asylum, thus not bringing attention to the Fae.
Bo can defend herself, as she has and will do, but when the defending is a direct result of siding with a human in a Fae/human disareement, the clan of that Fae will be allowed to come after her, and the ‘side’ of that Fae will probably tack on something from severe displeasure to sanctions. Bo’s unaligned status mean no one will defend or avenge her, leaving her particularly vulnerable. Part of the temptation to choose a side, Light or Dark, has always been the security it affords. Bo’s friends will back her up when they are able, but having a giant organization behind you is tempting. Back to the first episode, it’s the Morrigan’s cult pitch in action.
While the Ash, Dyson, and Bo are verbally sparring over Olivia (Lauren keeping conspicuously silent, as she’s one of those humans they speak of), Jenny and Kenzi are sharing pizza and awkward conversation. Kenzi excuses herself to rummage through Jenny’s bag out of the same habit which led her to snag one of Jenny’s love letters earlier, and in the bag she discovers bad romance novels, a bloody chainsaw, Samir’s neatly wrapped head.
WHAM. Jenny whacks Kenzi on the head and drags her back to the farm, after strewing flower petals and leaving a note for Bo: “Beloved, I’ve taken steps to remove the obstacles between us . . .” A confused Dyson wants to know, “Did you sleep with her, too?” No, Bo merely touched her. While Dyson’s right, Bo shouldn’t have used her powers, some people are simply irrational.
Bo races off to save her human, followed closely by an SUV with a license place reading FURY-US, (which I’d be sure to give a wide berth in traffic). Bo rushes in and Jenny starts the denouement, in which she explains why she has so many skulls in a cabinet and so many gas tanks on her shelves.
One of the reasons Jenny was never suspected in the serial killer case earlier is because she’s a cute young blonde girl. Her saving a memento of her murders, and her speech about having to kill people to hold a piece of them close, is a great little piece of writing because it points out women can be as crazy as men, humans can be as crazy as Fae, and self-absorbed, obsessive ‘love’ is self-defeating.
Before we can properly digest all that, the Fury sisters arrive, hell-bent on killing anyone in sight. Some bug spray, some grappling, some necessarily jumping to conclusions that succu-touches don’t work on furies, some Kenzi rope-cutting, some running, and BOOM, we’re back to the beginning.
Why is the structure important? Does it further the story? Well, it makes it somewhat more interesting, because we can speculate all along the way whose skulls those are, and until Jenny opens the cabinet, we’re probably wrong. But that can be said about several Lost Girl episodes – telling us the end would result in a fun ride. We still re-watch knowing how we get to the end, as this series proves. The question remains: why this episode?
It’s possibly they finished the episode a couple minutes short, whether due to unforeseen events or the censor board. Throwing an already-cut scene on the front is infinitely cheaper than reshooting.
Likely, they wanted more bang for their buck. As a fledgling show, you don’t just want to establish the succubus’ role, you want to wow the pants off the audience. Fireballs can help with that. If you’re paying a lot of money for fireballs, you use them as many times as you can get away with. Last fall I worked on a short film where we blew up a car in downtown Milwaukee. It looked amazing, and we got it from eight angles, including the sky. The script is structured specifically to show the explosion three times, from the viewpoint of three different characters, because, why not? Sure, the multiple viewpoints drive the narrative yada yada . . . mostly, people like boom. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Twice.
The end begins as the beginning began, with Kenzi and Bo laughing and drinking their troubles away. Bo’s only takeaway so far (she’s not always the quickest on the uptake, this is why she keeps Kenzi around) is “mixing sex and emotions can get kinda messy,” so her suggestion to Dyson is they be friends with sex benefits; for healing and fun. Considering their already complicated past, this can’t possibly go badly.
- “Samir couldn’t keep his hands off the help, huh? Typical.” Ouch, and double ouch for ‘the help.’ I know you’re angry, Bo, but just three episodes ago you were a barkeep.
- It’s a tiny detail, but Bo ingeniously uses her phone to call Kenzi, and Samir’s phone to call the cops. She doesn’t trust authority.
- Olivia: “Shit encrusted maggots. Burning scorching rain. Flaying skin of rotting sinners!” Lauren: “Yeah, we’re working on that.”
- The B-plot is Dyson’s forced therapy. I like this plot develops in an episode which touches ever-so-briefly on a person’s inability to fully cope with mental illness on her own, but mostly I like when Dyson uses his sense of smell to cruelly dig at the therapist, she doesn’t miss a beat and accurately diagnoses right back. She knows it’s her only chance at eliciting respect from Dyson, and elicit it she does.
- The romance novel Jenny is reading is called “Promises, Promises, And When They Come True.” Ths insinuation being, bad romance novels lead to unrealistic, awful ideas of what love and relationships are, and probably helped lead to Jenny’s mess in the first place.
- “Go seduce a yak.”