Lost Girl: Season 01, Episode 07, “ArachnoFaebia”
Editor’s note: You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
Often we don’t give network episodic TV enough credit for the subtle foreshadowing and story arcs it does. Possibly this is because most of the time it’s not subtle, we’re introduced to a conflict on one scene, it comes to a head in the next, it’s resolved by the end credits, and maybe referenced once again.
But when in this episode Kenzi and Bo have their first big spat, albeit a supernaturally enhanced one, you can look back at the past two episodes and see it brewing. Last episode, Kenzi and Bo put aside any disagreements because that’s what happens during near-death experiences, but before that Kenzi was obviously annoyed with Bo’s flirtation with Lauren, and Bo was annoyed at Kenzi’s annoyance. The episode before that, Bo had blatantly brushed Kenzi off, and there was also a small spat about money.
The ‘big bad’ in this episode doesn’t implant anger and loathing, it merely enhances feelings which are already in place; not only in the opening scene where Bo and Kenzi complain about leaving laundry and weapons around, but in their everyday life up to this point. Allowing small annoyances to fester without open communication naturally leads to acrimony, divorce, and murder; the spider here simply concentrates and speeds up the process, not allowing time for natural release and talking things out.
The following scene ‘doubles’ the opener, two sisters being unnecessarily alarmist, but then one stabs the other with knitting needles. Despite the obvious fakeness of the spider reveal, let me point out there’s no better symbol for something disgusting and appalling than this spider. Well, perhaps a Giant Flying Cockroach. On second thought, that’s a step too far. I got squeamish watching this spider, but my skin was crawling just writing about the possibility of a GFC.
‘Shaman’ Kenzi is called by the realtor to cleanse the house, and Bo insists on tagging along, partly to make sure Kenzi doesn’t get too crazy, but mostly for the entertainment factor.
When a camera does a full 180 mid-scene, going from the front of a scene to an exact reverse shot, it’s usually to reveal something. Lost Girl likes its movements, too, so we get a reverse, and then while the non-essential action continues in the background, the camera starts to drop and then comes to a stop as the spider crawls into Kenzi’s bag. It’s not particularly fancy, but the movement is a nice touch. As is the subtle spider-leg-flutter when Kenzi comes back a few minutes later to grab the bag.
Kenzi and Bo walk out to find Dyson and Hale leaning against the car; the exchanges here feel more relationship-y than all the angst and banging. They head back to the Dal, where casual camraderie continues for Hale and Kenzi, but something else entirely happens with Bo and Dyson.
Dyson comments on the case, “Humans sometimes just kill each other, you know? Take away their flatscreens and their minivans and they’re still barbarians.” In Bo’s later phone call with Seigfried, the Fae will echo, “Sometimes humans just kill each other.” Funnily, this is the only episode so far where a human kills a Fae, and Fae kill each other and humans plenty. Never let facts get in the way of prejudice.
Besides showing a high amount of disdain for the people he serves and protects as a cop, Dyson obviously sees himself as more evolved despite having spent several hundred years roving the woods with a band of brothers who obviously rarely bathe and would kill each other for expressing dissenting opinions. Or maybe, that’s exactly why he thinks he’s more evolved; since he has ‘grown’ so far, obviously he is a superior being.
And right about then Bo’s human love interest shows up, dressed to impress.
Bo has already done two thoughtless things: made plans with Lauren without telling her Dyson was around, and ignored telling Dyson that Lauren was coming around. We’ve mostly all pulled this shit at one point or another, right, held back information from two parties and hoped it all worked out? And then it doesn’t. In fact, sometimes it goes just this badly.
The whole scene is all the right amounts of awkward: the boyfriend and the want-to-be-girlfriend verbally sparring; the current partner making a point to sit back on the couch as if he has a right to be there; Bo trying to say something demeaning to Dyson to imply to Lauren that she’s, you know, not *that* into him; Lauren sitting on the edge of her seat in constant readiness to make a break for it; Bo fumbling to make three-way conversation and bringing up the fact she has most certainly imagined all of them in bed together; Lauren leveraging her position as the Ash’s lead scientist and Dyson’s physician; Dyson reminding Lauren of his immortality and her humanity (“I haven’t had a sick day since before you were born,” “You’re a human that works for my side”); Bo tries to smooth things over but Lauren doesn’t appreciate being spoken for; Dyson cruelly reminds Lauren that the Ash has already done so; Lauren making her pointed exit.
As Kenzi says while watching the debacle, “Being a good person means . . . not being oblivious to other peep’s feelings.” But this is one of Bo’s characteristics. She can be quite thoughtless, especially when it comes to other people. It could be blamed on her loner existence for the past dozen years (she’s 28 now and was roughly 15 when she killed her boyfriend), or it could just be a negative character trait. We all have them. Regardless, she certainly strains the triangle, and also some of her other relationships, including with Kenzi. The spider which bites Kenzi does so right after Kenzi and Hale have been roundly ignored by their two best friends.
Then the spider bites Bo in a scene we will not talk about because it’s far, far more nightmare-inducing than either the Season 2 ode to Psycho or the real Psycho‘s shower scene. *shudder*
The venom is supposed to render its victims unable to leave, but there’s a convenient bit of lag time which enables Bo and Kenzi to pay a visit to Lauren – complete with Bo hallucinating a Lauren/Kenzi moment, which works to make Bo jealous two ways – and to Dyson to display symptoms of paranoia she didn’t tell Lauren about because . . . well, part of being paranoid is thinking you’re not paranoid.
While Bo and Kenzi go back to the clubhouse, Lauren and Dyson get together, first for a physical, then to talk about the case. Being the Ash’s head scientist would exclude Lauren from having to do routine physicals, so Lauren is doing it to solely to yank Dyson’s leash. Like the couch scene, the check-up scene is near perfect, ratcheting up the tension while inserting an undercurrent of humor. Emily Andras, the writer of this episode, has a deft touch with interpersonal scenes.
Dyson and Lauren’s dynamic is really great, and it develops slowly and naturally over the course of three seasons, a few steps behind the Lauren/Kenzi relationship. Like Kenzi, Dyson feels threatened by Bo’s attention to Lauren, but unlike Kenzi, Dyson doesn’t think sharing is even an option, since he’s a single-romantic-partner kinda guy. Dyson would have a beef with anyone, male or female, who was a potential serious partner for Bo, but bo compound the matter, Dyson has an established dislike of humans and a problem with Fae authorities poking into his personal business. In real life, this sort of conflict wouldn’t be resolved in a day, and here it’s thankfully not resolved in an episode. But respect has to be the foundation of this friendship, and Lauren establishes it with Dyson here; a long with a tiny bit of fear, which doesn’t hurt.
While this tête-à-tête went on, Bo and Kenzi’s symptoms have rapidly progressed from itching and light sensitivity to anxiety and crawling on the floor. Last episode pushed Bo and Lauren almost to the brink, then brought their chemistry to Dyson’s attention. This episode brings all three of them into a room, stirs the pot, then leaves that tension hanging. Bo and Kenzi – generally are a lovefest – are isolated to hate each other, and Lauren and Dyson – usually frosty at best – must work together to save the woman they both want, and want separated from romantic entanglements with the other.
It’s important that while both Lauren and Dyson snipe at the other, to Bo and by themselves, neither ask Bo to cut off the friendship with the other party. This would be an odious, manipulative relationship technique, but it’d be dramatic. Unless someone is actively harming or abusing your partner, asking to break a friendship isn’t only displaying a lack of trust, but control issues.
Trust and control issues are what Bo and Kenzi have in spades right now. Neither wants to show the other her back, their eyes are wide and shifty, they are hallucinating brick walls where open doors are. The eerie audio, handheld camera work, extreme closeups, canted angles, and funky zooms are all meant to increase the viewer’s sense of the bizarre, and help them identify with what Bo and Kenzi are going through. Kenzi’s minor issue with Bo’s pizza boy flirtation suddenly, in Kenzi’s addled brain, means Bo will probably take Hale and sex him into a broken heart, too.
Just then, Hale shows up, giving the girls someone to turn their panic towards, and Bo to turn her horny towards, fulfilling Kenzi’s prophecy, but also healing herself. Not that it does her much good, because as she makes a break for the door, she finds not a brick wall, but a Fae-sterminator pumping her shotgun. “It’s real simple. You leave, we kill you.”
The Fae-sterminator is Serena, a firestarter who has apparently flamed with Dyson in the past and is now the Ash’s head of security, called in by Lauren to quarantine the house. Dyson bargains for two hours to fix the problem, then meets Lauren at the Dal to squabble over whether she made the right call. Lauren points out the Djieiene is responsible for past mass deaths and “the bulk of the Sudanese genocide;” a nice touch. In a few short sentences, Lauren shows she’s not just concerned about the Fae picture, but humans, a theme which will run as undercurrent but come to the surface in the last few episodes of Season 3. Trick sides with Lauren, telling Dyson it was the right thing to do, though considering some of his judgement calls, this may not exactly be comforting to Lauren. At first the three don’t know how to defeat the monster (in a show-don’t-just-tell cutaway, Bo cuts the Djieiene in half, and it instantly reforms itself), but they soon discover they have to destroy the heart, which the Djeiene buries . . . wait no, Trick’s translation was off, it ‘implants’ it.
Yes, while the Lauren/Dyson/Trick pairing trying to locate the heart lends even more urgency to the fact Hale and Kenzi are trying to kill each other and Bo, and Serena has doused the clubhouse with gas, let’s pause for a moment to admire the subtext: the Djieiene’s literal heart must be implanted in another person for the Djieiene to live, just as Dyson gives Bo his metaphorical heart . . . and then the heart is ripped out and stabbed by Lauren to enable Bo to continue living, just as the Norn rips Dyson’s love out and crushes it so Lauren and Bo’s story can progress. I can’t say for sure the writers were looking for a literal manifestation of Lauren metaphorically stabbing Dyson’s heart and the Norn ripping his love out of his chest, but I’d make a small wager it’s intentional, especially as those plot arcs occur one and six episodes later, respectively.
Now immediate deathly peril is over, there are still a few character threads to wrap up. Kenzi offhandedly points out to Hale she doesn’t care he and Bo kissed, since he was unconscious; Bo acknowledges Lauren saved the day, again, and tries to make casual underfae small talk to get more facetime with Lauren; Dyson gets testy over Lauren being the hero, and is still opposed to her calling the strike team in the first place, but offhandedly admits he’s impressed by the fact Lauren would have killed Gordon to save Bo (and Kenzi and Hale); Dyson tries to convince Bo the only reason he’s wary of Lauren is her proximity to the Ash. The key word here being ‘offhandedly’ and ‘casual,’ as everyone is trying desperately to play it cool, while being anything but.
The only two who are forthright, don’t have subtext in their conversation, admit they absolutely had the potential to kill each other and are really sorry but love each other deeply, are Kenzi and Bo. Their relationship is the bedrock of this show, and when Bo tells Kenzi “don’t ever change,” Kenzi responds “Honey, I couldn’t if I tried.”
– “I’m pretty sure his crust is double-stuffed, if you know what I mean.” “Yeah, I wish I didn’t.”
– Bo’s pretty good at shifting blame and fabricating reasons for doing shitty things. Fundamentalist rearing does come in handy sometimes.
– The Djieiene is based on the Native American Dijien, a man-sized spider who buried its heart so it could survive battles. Let us all be grateful they modified this one to a cantaloupe-sized spider.
– Hale obviously takes his role as protector-of-the-peace very seriously, requiring a whole 5% to not bust Kenzi’s little operation.
– “She’s not a person. She’s a mystical panty remover.”
– “Is she . . .” “Of the Boston harpies.”
– Kenzi crosses herself, but I don’t think we’re supposed to assume she was raised Catholic, just superstitious, and the cross is an easy shorthand for that.
– “This is not the pillow-fight I was expecting.”
– “Less Gaelic wisdom, more looking for makeshift surgical tools.”
– Kenzi’s gypsy spirit-remover performance: comedy, or cultural appropriation? Everything here hinges on the realtor, whose sign is even more over-the-top than the realtor in Shady Grove. If you perform exaggerated accents of people you’re related to, most will let it slide. If you call yourself a shaman, don gypsy garb, wave dreamcatchers and sprinkle holy water for comedic effect, it’s tacky at best. But when you’re performing to a vapid/gullible third party who swallows it hook line and sinker, then your real audience is in on the joke.