Lost Girl: Season 1, Episode 10, The Mourning After
Definite spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
Mints, chocolate chip cookies, a manicure kit, nail polish, weapons, angry music, and pinot. This is obviously Kenzi’s heartbreak first aid kit, and Bo is getting familiar with it. Oh, and pizza and ‘weapon waxing.’ Sounds about right.
The jump cut is a couple kissing in an alley. Why a woman would let a strange guy take her to a dark alley? Because the audience can’t know yet it’s speed dating. Or because they ran out of film time in the bar set, and had to relocate to an alley. Doesn’t matter. The guy has obviously been reading books about How To Be A Pickup Artist, and they do get him laid. He’s long gone by the time the woman, Allison, wakes up the next morning, and it’s seemingly this discovery which leads to her to scrawl ‘whore’ and ‘dirty slut’ over and over on the windows before electrocuting herself.
Not for nothing is the repetitive writing reminiscent of grade school punishment: “I will not pull Susie’s hair.” “I will not throw rocks.” Allison believes she deserves punishment, and this has been engrained in her since her days of innocence and youth.
The case is ruled a suicide, but Bo is contacted by Allison’s sister, Collette. Collette insists it couldn’t have been a suicide. Dyson’s hands are tied, but he sends what he has to the Fae labs for Lauren to deal with. This, in turn, means Bo must deal with Lauren. Their body language is obviously awkward, and Lauren mentions she’s been calling, but Bo wants to keep things strictly professional (because that worked so well with Dyson).
Lauren: I’m not sure what’s blushing harder right now, my face or my . . . not face.
Bo: I’m going to cast vague aspersions on your ability as a medical professional.
Lauren: I’m going to ignore that and use my impartial doctor voice to point out the victim had consensual sex about an hour prior to her death.
Bo: Oh, you said the magic words, ‘consensual sex!’ You opened a can of worms now! (throws word worms at Lauren)
Lauren: Bo. Seriously. We almost did it right on the disgusting couch at the Dal. Sex was going to happen sooner or sooner.
Bo: We’ll never know if there would have been something real or not. And that’s totally 100% all on you, not even a little on me for refusing to listen to your apologies and really complicated explanation. Gotta go, Kenzi’s waiting.
Stab-and-run. It’s Bo’s style.
Kenzi, meanwhile, is begging hooch from Trick, who is as cranky as he was last episode. Turns out Trick has misplaced the Coin of Jahayla. This coin is a timeshare between Trick and Valentine, and Trick’s collateral is the Dal. This has implications for Kenzi, as the Dal is the only place in the Fae world she’s mostly allowed to run free, and partly for this reason, partly because she and Trick have struck up an Odd Couple friendship, she agrees to help him figure out what’s going on.
She has time, too, because she’s about to be sidelined from Bo’s big investigation. After going to Allison’s and discovering a lot of romantic self-help books and lacy underwear, Bo and Kenzi find matchboxes from a local bar and credit card receipts dated every Friday night. Off they go to partake of the gateway drug to internet dating: speed dating. And right behind them, making a particularly suggestive entrance, is a woman who will introduce herself as Saskia.
Though the sign says ‘private event,’ Bertram the pusher – er, host – is not particularly discriminating. People show up, he gives them a nametag and tells them the topic. Tonight’s topic, “My Biggest Regret,” which is hardly romantic, but certainly the gateway to feelings of shame.
Kenzi can’t resist the opportunity to scam a couple watches, but Bo doesn’t let her urges get in the way of her questioning. She sticks to asking her compatriots if they’ve seen Allison. Soon, however, Saskia leans across and kisses Bo firmly on the mouth, then reveals Bo is hunting on her prime turf. Bo and Kenzi introduce themselves, and the three go have a chat.
There’s a nice little tension here between Saskia trying to woo Bo, and Kenzi sitting next to Bo. Kenzi – obviously suspicious os Saskia while jealous of Saskia’s freewheeling life – attempts to project dominance in Bo’s life by showing off what she knows about Bo, and flaunting Bo’s status as PI. It’s a valiant effort which falls flat; Saskia scoffs at having a ‘job’ and quickly takes all Bo’s attention simply because they share a nature. When Kenzi tries to leave with Bo, Bo stays with Saskia instead. Thankfully, Trick’s case helps distract Kenzi from this little bump in the road of her friendship with Bo.
Kenzi is specifically useful to Trick because as a human, she can act as intermediary to a lightning bird; the lightning bird is a Fae who will only talk to female humans, and whose egg Trick needs. (In mythology, the male-presenting lightening bird likes to seduce young women, but since Trick needs an egg, the bird is female, and since it’s been established Kenzi doesn’t swing that way, the seduction trait mostly falls by the wayside.) Kenzi has an immediate affinity for the Fae upon hearing it likes to steal things – especially shiny things. Kenzi bonds with the bird by maligning Trick, offers to be the bird’s agent, then convinces the bird to give Trick the egg in return for ‘a future favor;’ which incidentally is what the will offer The Morrigan next season in return for letting Nate go. She who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.
But for this episode at least, everyone gets what they want, including Kenzi getting free drinks for life and Trick getting an egg to help find his missing coin. The egg leads Trick, Kenzi and Hale to a cemetery, where they find nothing but rotten corpses and fresh flowers. Kenzi’s powers of observation lead her to the solution, and they confront Valentine at the Dal, where Trick is careful to position himself behind the bar. Trick uses his resulting height advantage, in addition to Hale’s presence, as physical intimidation; he obviously plays power politics well, and the camera exaggerates this by looking far up at him, instead of its general ‘down or straight at him’ angle.
Kenzi postulates Valentine gave Trick a dissolving coin at the last exchange, keeping the Coin of Jahayla the whole time, and is now trying to get the Dal in addition. He would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling Kenzi . . . and if he hadn’t’ve shown up to gloat at the start of the episode, tipping his hand. Lucky coins can only overcome so much dumb.
Meanwhile, Saskia and Bo have become best pals, bonding over wine as they work the case using typical techniques like ‘question the event host’ and ‘review photos from the event photographer.’ Standard procedure, but Saskia is entertained. In a flash of maternal instinct, Saski “I’m not going anywhere, I can teach you all this [succubus] stuff.” This, in true Nancy Drew style, comes in handy for the case, because once Saskia sees Collette’s dead body surrounded by graffiti, she identifies the killer; an albaster, the ‘natural enemy’ of succubi. Albasters kill by creating sexual shame in people, “women, mostly; quelle surprise . . . they cause massive guilt over any sexual behavior leading to shame spirals, eating disorders and tada, suicide.” Saskia also recognizes the pickup artist in pictures with Allison, and takes him to the same alley where he seduced her to ‘question’ him. This involves scaring the chi out of him, then determining he was a skeezeball but no murderer.
Saskia drops Bo off at home, but to conclude the episodes theme of Dudes Only Getting Caught Because They Show Up Unnecessarily, Bertram is waiting for Bo. Turns out, he’s the albaster, and feeling Bo’s sexual energy convinced him she was enjoying sex a little too much and needed to be taught a lesson.
Are all albasters supposed to be so incredibly sexually repressed? Obviously this one a priest-figure who not only represses his own sexuality, but rails against any exhibition of sexuality from others. He also exhibits the classic double standard, being angry at “bitches [for] giving into desires of the flesh,” but not making similar claims about males who do the exact same thing. Only the women are targeted for by shame attacks. The men who are out having casual sex – represented by pickup artist – not only get off scott free, but are kind of confused as to what the big deal is in the first place. It’s hard to have a conception of the way women are shamed for having sex when there’s such a double standard for men and women.
Here, the women scrawl their own shame onto the walls/windows/sheets/lampshades, but in real life it’s often others who post those epithets on social media walls, or taunt them in schoolyards, or portray them as worthless and devalued from pulpits and platforms. This episode takes the position those people writing and broadcasting shame are culpable for suicides coming as a result of it, just as Bertram is culpable.
And so, in a Gilbert-and-Sullivan ending for someone who sexually shames women into suicide, Saskia essentially rapes Bertram to death. Saskia excuses it as ‘what he deserved,’ while the audience is pleased he’s dead. Does it cross the line into suggesting molesting priests and society’s slut shamers should be killed by rape? Not quite, as Bo immediately repudiates Saskia’s actions, and Saskia/Aife is and will be shown to be not just dark, not just a ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ character, but entirely demented. But it toes said line.
We’ve seen in the prior nine episodes women like sex, yay! But Lost Girl points out, via Saskia /Aife, there’s still a line. Enjoying sex, reveling in it, is fine. But women as well as men can go too far. Having sex with someone without consent, bad. Cheating (which is not the same as multiple partners, and open relationship, etc), as seen in “Faetal Attraction,” bad. These sorts of things are not excused by having a strong sexual appetite, or a position of power. Suddenly, we’re talking about succubi having power to force themselves on people, just like predominantly-but-by-no-means-only men have power in our culture to force themselves on people, especially women. All this with little to no repercussion, as we see here with Saskia, but all still very, very bad.
And when she was bad, she was horrid.
This plot fits with the ideals of the show overall. While the Fae authorities aren’t stepping in to stop the assaults, every perpetrator* save Saskia/Aife has been killed as a result. It’s a twist on the standard trope to kill the sexual predators, rather than chicks who lose their virginity. The guy who drugs then assault Kenzi to start the show is killed by Bo. The iceman who (metaphorically) rapes Bo gets repulsed by Bo with Kenzi’s help, and impaled via phallic object. Bertram puts his hands on Bo to shame her, ends up dead. The Fae who tries to literally rape the land, represented as a woman, in “Something Wicked This Fae Comes,” ends up ambiguous, but we assume killed in defense-of-others. The Mare in “Scream a Little Dream,” interestingly more a literal representation of what succubi are in mythology, ends up . . . also somewhat ambiguous, but we assume dead or imprisoned. “Delinquents” does actually kill everyone who is fooling around, but that’s an intentional play on the trope. Isaac assaults Lauren, she injects him with cabbit and sets a wolf on him.
In none of these situations are the women blamed or shamed, despite what they may have been wearing or doing at the time. These instances (Kenzi took a drink from a stranger! Bo was wearing a low-cut dress attempting to seduce the guy! Lauren went willingly to Isaac’s castle!) include situations which are used by rapists and rape apologists as excuses or reasons to blame the victim, but within the show are used to show strong, independent, intelligent women can and do get assaulted, and it’s always bad, and never their fault.
In short: Lost Girl portrays sexual assaults as an ever-present part of our reality, but repudiates rape culture.
It’s true “Vexed“set a dark tone for the show which it didn’t entirely follow up on. But this episode has – for network TV – a frank depiction of slut shaming, rape, and two suicides. It bluntly examines a culture which lets guys off for things women are killed and/or shamed for. It’s pretty bleak.
One last point: Collette decries the fact Allison couldn’t have committed suicide because ‘[Allison] was a strong person,’ then soon after, Collette tragically ends her own life the same way. Women can be unsympathetic to the plight of other women who are being shamed, raped, abused, etc. Sometimes those women are newscasters. Sometimes we lack compassion. Sometimes we lack comprehension. Just because one’s personality is different, just because one hasn’t been the target of slut-shaming yet, doesn’t devalue the emotional impact others are experiencing. We shouldn’t be telling our sisters to ‘be stronger,’ we should be angrily fighting the notion pleasure demeans or devalues any of us, or that any person has the right to force, coerce, or shame another. This message is what sets Lost Girl a step ahead of many shows on TV right now . . . heck, many humans making our laws right now.
After all this, though, we still have to wrap up the episode. Bertram is dead, so Bo and Dyson take him to Lauren’s lab, where Dyson assures Bo even though she (covering for Saskia) killed a Dark Fae, she will be blameless because she was defending herself in her own home. He promises he’ll talk to the Morrigan and ‘make it go away,’ and a conflicted Bo – who has not made eye contact with Lauren the whole scene – hugs him fiercely and runs out. Stab and run, part deux.
LOVE TRIANGLE: COMPLICATE!
Back at the clubhouse, Kenzi briefs Bo on her day, and Bo tries to listen, but can’t help notice something I actually thought was a continuity error when watching Saskia leave earlier . . . a red leather jacket, draped over a chair. So innocent, yet so ominous.
– Lost Girl uses euphemisms (waxing weapons, cracked the shaft) and relationship tropes (you haven’t been returning my calls) without respect for gender – both those things would generally be ‘a guy thing,’ but here are used by an in relation to women.
– Say what you will about Dyson’s antiquated ideas of chivalry and women, he’s not entirely understanding, but he’s entirely sympathetic to Allison’s plight here.
– Kenzi’s name tag changes are the best.
– ‘Looks like we had something in common. Looking for love in all the wrong places.’ ‘Is that your way of saying anal?’
– The rack focus to Lequisha’s face after Saskia and Bo kiss is priceless.
– This won’t be the last bump in the Bo/Kenzi friendship: Bo tends to get distracted by shiny.
– Two stretches are required: Saskia doesn’t remember giving birth right around the time Bo was born, and Saskia managed to bypass the supposedly Really Important sign-in when she blew into town. We’re also supposed to assume Saskia sees Bo touching people, because, “Fae-dar isn’t really a succubus gift.”
– I’d bet good money Michelle Lovretta is a Star Wars fan. Sexy kisses which turn out to be incestuous? ‘Bo, I am your mother’ reveal in “Blood Lines,” also written by Lovretta? Coincidence?
– *Whether Bo could be considered a perpetrator pre-episode-one or at the end 03.01 is a long discussion, but it’s clear right here, right now, she is not, and she is conflicted about her past. If you want more talk on how Lost Girl treats sexuality, stay tuned tomorrow and next week for some podcasts I was recently a guest in! EDIT: First half of the podcast is out, you should listen here.