Lost Girl: Season 1, Episode 13, “Blood Lines”
Editor’s note: You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
Trigger warning: frank discussion of rape and sexual assault. While most of LG speaks about assault in metaphors, I’m talking about Aife’s rape of Dyson quite literally. If you wish to skip this section, you can resume reading after the picture of Kenzi reading.
Lost Girl is not exactly shy about depicting instances of sexual assault, and then killing the bejesus out of the perpetrators. (I wrote several paragraphs about the instances here.) It’s true for the most part they don’t dwell on it, or even always acknowledge the metaphorical assaults; they expect the audience to recognize it. It’s true in Dead Lucky, Bo goes to recover from her assault with some backroom hanky-panky with Dyson. So why am I so upset this episode has jumped from Dyson’s rape to Dyson having sex with Bo, then refusing to acknowledge the rape altogether? Don’t blame me. Ignoring it would be bad enough, but this episode keeps bringing it up, then calling it everything but what it was. This creates some major problems.
The cult of masculinity has created a world in which the person being attacked should be ashamed first for being attacked, and second because being attacked is associated with the female, and femininity is something negative. Acknowledging Dyson being raped, and openly accepting it not only not a ‘feminine’ problem, but as something not demeaning him, would be a great statement.
And yes, it’s definitely rape. There’s no consent from Dyson at any point (lack of a forceful ‘no’ isn’t consent, but Dyson probably couldn’t even say no if he wanted; he is having trouble speaking, and can only gasp Aife’s name when she pauses chi-sucking.) It’s about control, not sex. It’s completely via force.
So we’re clear: Dyson clearly in pain and struggling, and then him falling over unconscious as Aife adjusts herself in triumph. It’s not just rape, it’s forceful and violent and obvious.
This is the perfect opportunity to openly acknowledge anyone can be a victim, as the show already has established any woman – no matter how smart or talented or cautious or strong – can be a target. Dyson is THE archetype of brawn. He has lived thousands of years. He’s the least likely of the group to be sexually violated. The fact he’s raped, in his cop fortress no less, repudiates anyone who would possibly argue Kenzi was assaulted for being weak, or Lauren for being foolish enough to go off with Isaac, or Bo for being ‘forward’ and ‘promiscuous.’ People are assaulted while in the course of their lives. No matter what leads to that, it’s not their fault.
The show misses the opportunity entirely. Instead, in the first few lines of this episode, Dyson FREAKING APOLOGIZES. Not just in his nightmare (which makes total sense, as victims of rape often blame themselves or assume they must have ‘done something to set off’ their attackers), but when he awakens and apologizes to Bo, Bo replies, ‘she’s a succubus, I get it.’ buzzer noise Eeeennnh, wrong answer. Dyson wasn’t seduced, he was forcibly taken.
But the topic is dropped as first Bo tries to change the sad conversation with sex (her MO, as we see in Delinquents), then conversation turns to Dyson’s knowledge of Saskia/Aife, and more importantly that Aife is Bo’s mother.
Understandably, this revelation leads to a huge fight, which rivets Kenzi and ends in Trick admitting he failed Aife. Trick tells how Aife rebelled, killed a Dark Fae clan leader, and ran to Trick for aid, but Trick turned her over to the Dark, who tortured but failed to execute her. Since he’s in a revelatory mood, Dyson also mentions Trick is the Blood King, and Trick says his writing in blood isn’t always useful. In the course of conversation, Trick conveniently leaves out the extent of relationship, but to Bo’s credit, her months of sleuthing pay off, and she realizes something doesn’t add up. Why would Aife come after her personally? And why now? Trick keeps insisting he doesn’t know, Aife is simply unpredictable.
And also currently busy murdering Fae in dark alleys. Is she crazy, or ambitious, or evil, or all of the above? Whatever it is, assuming she’s crazy just because she’s female is indeed sexist, and Aife takes exception to it. Then she does the stereotypical crazy female thing and worries about getting blood on her shoes whilst murdering someone. The unintentional irony, it burns.
Despite bodies piling up, Bo refuses to leave town, angrily insisting Dyson and Trick have no right to tell her what to do, especially after lying to her. She understands much of what Aife is doing is a result of years of torture, and Bo wants to understand and help Aife. Unfortunately, simply because one has been hardened as a result of injustice does not mean one is more likely to listen to reason. Aife was wronged, but now she is unrepentantly visiting the same wrongs on others.
Kenzi now gives the audience a little recap: ‘Saskia is Aife, Aife is your mom, so last night Dyson really banged your mom.’ Bo’s one correction is to make Aife the active part of the sentence, ‘I think technically she banged him.’ In this second, golden opportunity, between the two people who are most honest with each other and especially with the blunt, street-wise Kenzi, the writers egregiously refuse to acknowledge the assault. And that, other than a few stray lines like Dyson’s admission ‘I know exactly how strong Aife is,’ is the end of that.
Bo realizes if anyone can and will help her, it’s Lauren. Though Kenzi helpfully suggests they stand back and watch the succubi’s slo-motion pillow fight and/or crotch lazer battle, Lauren promises to secretly look into succubus weaknesses, on the condition Bo finally listen to Lauren’s reasoning for doing what she did, ie ‘studying her up close’ under half-false pretenses. Bo has the decency to look abashed, and agrees she will let Lauren explain herself if they get through the crisis.
While Lauren is setting herself up to make it back into Bo’s life, Dyson is telling Trick to forgive himself for the pain caused Aife. (This ‘you did what you had to do’ speech stands in contrast to his yelling at Lauren for calling the authorities in Arachnofaebia. It’s a lot easier to be cool and calm when you don’t have skin in the game.) Then Dyson enlists Hale to help him convince Kenzi of the urgency of keeping Bo away from Aife. Hale’s attempts at buttering up Kenzi are exactly how my little brother used to try and get out of being punished by my mother: flatter the hair, always the hair! If they don’t buy it, it’ll at least soften them up.
Kenzi, being the softie she is, rages and fumes until Dyson drops the L word. She’s liked Dyson from the start, and he’s always stood up for her and not demeaned her despite his superior strength and position. She buys he loves Bo, and so agrees to help him on the condition she can skin him and use him as a rug if he doesn’t shape up.
Back at the clubhouse, the show makes use of the ambiguously convenient entryway frontspiece to heighten the tension as Bo comes in, smells something suspicious, grabs a bat, and confronts . . . her mother, complete with apron and cookies. Perhaps because neither she nor Kenzi can bake, Bo immediately noshes on a cookie.
Aife keeps talking as Bo eats, admitting she intentionally ‘ran into’ Bo and tried to get close to her. Despite having a less-than-good relationship with her adoptive mom Mary, Bo leverages Mary’s abilities to knit and give homework help to make Aife feel guilty. There’s not much time to gloat, though, because she passes out and wakes up . . . surrounded by hunky dudes holding food and drink. Pass the plate, please.
The confrontations between Bo and Aife are loaded: with claims of affinity due to bloodline; with guilt as a weapon; with manipulation jousts; with talk of using one’s powers to enslave others; with avoidance of defining whether Bo’s father was the powerful Dark lord rapist or not; with Aife’s description of years of torture and rape leading to her being a sadistic, murdering rapist. As for the last, Lost Girl understands the cycles of violence, and Aife is its prime example.
Aife finishes the conversation by appealing to Bo’s better nature and desires to tear down the divide between Dark and Light, allowing everyone to be free and not having to decide between the two sides. Aife has already set events in motion, she only wants Bo to join her. Bo quickly realizes Aife has no interest in freeing Fae, only in disrupting the current ruling power so as to take all control for herself. She makes a dramatic exit through the nearest window.
Bo runs to Dyson to heal and store up energy. As Dyson tries to apologize for lying, Bo has another in her long line of insights: “I know you thought lying to me was protecting me . . . I just don’t know how to forgive it.”
Someone who comes to this many correct conclusions in one episode really seems a lot smarter than someone who would eat a cookie offered by mommy dearest.
Having used Dyson to fill her tank, Bo heads to Lauren to ask Lauren to keep the ‘crazy Dark Lord is my mother’ secret and ask for an amulet to block the powers of said mother. Lauren agrees to the former, but of course amulet obtaining can’t be simple. Though Lauren has gotten a key and map, Bo and Kenzi will have to break in and take it. As soon as Hale distracts Kenzi, so Lauren feels comfortable to give Bo a ‘the world is possibly ending, so I’mma go for it’ kiss. Their first, but certainly not their last.
Bo and Kenzi obtain the amulet, but Bo – while using Kenzi as her test subject and no doubt fulfilling at least two shipping fantasies – handcuffs Kenzi to a giant shelf. (They don’t ignore the sound mixing to confirm it’s happening, either. Bless them. And Kenzi’s phone she pulls out was in her pants pocket all along. Details!)
Bo goes straight back to Aife’s house and offers her a deal: give yourself up, I’ll plead with the Light for you. For Bo to believe not only that Aife would do such a thing considering her former treatment, but that the Light – after the way they treated Lou Ann – would consider it, would be so naive I must believe this is a token gesture. Once made and rejected, Bo confronts Aife for a physical representation of their emotional bludgeoning.
Dyson, having been told he can’t be physically present at the fight because he’s lost Bo’s full trust, goes to the Norn. Since Dyson sees his past sins as what disqualify him from being by Bo’s side now, his ideals of atonement and eye-for-an-eye justice lead him believe he must sacrifice and be there in spirit. It’s not just a sacrifice made for what he believes to be love, but also penance for lying to Bo for months. Knights – and Dyson is nothing if not a modern-day Lancelot – do what they please, but also jump through great hoops to assuage their guilt and placate those they’ve harmed.
The Fae in general apparently hold to this ideal, because Trick’s rescue of Lou Ann earlier in the season was less about saving an unjustly accused woman, and more about attempting to right his decades-old wrong and assuage his own guilt. It’s when Kenzi points out to Trick that Bo may lose her life atoning for Trick’s sins that Trick is finally compelled to use his blood.
What part his blood played is a little open to interpretation; I believe it saved Aife’s life, while Dyson’s wolf strength saved Bo’s, but your interpretations are welcome in the comments, as always.
Speaking of the Norn – like all mythological gifters, she has a trick up her sleeve. The whole thing is classic greco-roman god stuff. Though Dyson offers his wolf, she takes instead his love of her. Norn’s words. How this gets constructed into ‘ability to love any female ever in the history of time and space’ is anybody’s guess. It’s painful enough to inflict Dyson with memories but no ability to rekindle his relationship with Bo. The fact the show in S2 doesn’t believe Dyson’s love is strong enough to sustain other lovers (his or Bo’s) without throwing metaphysical roadblocks to all potential Dyson partners, means it doesn’t put much stock in his love after all.
But for the moment, the sacrifice does what Dyson intended. Bo is given the strength to throw Aife over the balcony, where she is carried off by a shadowy figure (Isaac?), leaving only a pool of symbolic blood behind.
All in all, a good end. I half expected it to jump to black with Aife and Bo hanging over the railing, but thankfully they knew better. The cliffhanger isn’t physical, but emotional. We’re still given plenty of reason to come back, as we’re still not sure of a dozen things. Or at least, those of you watching the season in real-time weren’t, I got a late start so I jumped immediately straight through Season 2.
And so Season 1 ends as it began, on one of its finest strengths; that is, Bo and Kenzi together, processing.
– re: thinking it was going to end with Bo and Aife teetering over the railing: I make it a point to hide the DVD/VLC/TV/etc clock when watching serialized television. I don’t want to know how much longer an episode has.
– “The U.N. voted, and it is considered rude to kill the messenger.”
– Trick’s meeting with the Ash is painfully bad and the editing pacing compounds it. Meanwhile, it’s shot outside, while all other meeting are at the Dal or in the Ash’s palatial reception hall. Either all the sets were taken and this was shot with a B-crew, or this was a rush reshoot (doing it outside means less time needed for lighting and background dressing).
– Lauren sees Bo post-bomb and responds “thank God you’re ok.” It struck me I don’t remember hearing that phrase much. I wonder if it’s seen as a particularly ‘human’ thing to say? Anyone?
– “What if it’s a booby trap? Payback for rejecting Lauren’s hot hot lady love?” One of my favorite things about Kenzi is her ability to look on the dark side of things.
– At least three uses of ‘shit.’ Those Canadian networks are more lax than the MPAA!
– Vexundorma and I have contemplated a lack of show bible and/or strong character background establishment as reason for lack of growth, but here they’re foreshadowing Dyson backstory which isn’t until halfway through (their originally planned) next season, so points for that.
– Aife hits all the creepy notes: playing with Bo’s hair, drugging her child and giving her sex slaves, saying she could ‘force’ Bo after recently forcing Bo’s boyfriend, and the quasi-maternal lines like ‘you’re asking for a spanking.’ I understand some people don’t like the ‘sadistic mother’ trope. But since it is a strong female protagonist, I like the idea of giving her a strong female antagonist, and mommy issues are so much more interesting in this context than daddy issues! (Though I may have spoken too soon on this one.)