Lost Girl: Season 1 Wrap Up, A Brief Look Forward

I’m wrapping up the Season 1 recaps with a season overview, as I will for S2 and S3, but first a note:

Season 4 will be premiering in November. Simple math shows there aren’t enough Mondays between now and then to catch up on all the episodes between here and where I started recapping. My own ‘having life and jobs and writing other things’ math will show trying to do two reviews per week which both follow the episode chronology and talk about the metaphors and maybe spend an hour obsessing over a pretty shot sequence . . . ain’t gonna happen. You all know the basic ‘what happens during’ each episode, so I’m going to try something a little different with the Season 2 recaps. They should be coming out on Mondays and Thursdays, but the content will be less recap-based and more ‘what is the meat of this episode’ based. What will that look like? I’m not positive yet. Stay tuned.

Now that’s out of the way, what are my overall thoughts on the first season?

'Great with a glass or eight of wine.'

The World

The basic worldbuilding is great. Fae live amongst us, look just like us, each choose a side, the side places them in a relevant human position, and the sides ‘take care’ of them. Dark and Light aren’t strictly Good or Bad, powers are wide and varied and can account for an encompass just about anything in human mythology, and then some. Most of this is shown-not-told, but when it has to be told, we have the perfect audience explainers and surrogates: Trick and Dyson who are Fae, Lauren who is a human who studies Fae, and Kenzi who is a human and as new to the world as Bo.

The detailed worldbuilding is more murky, as was noted in the comments here. Bo can kill people through sex, or chi suck, but she can also do either of those things without killing, though seemingly not both together. Often details are glazed over as if it’s hoped we don’t notice. This will frustratingly continue.

The Characters (in order of appearance)

Our resident succubus, independent woman, and person-coming-of-age. Though she’s already grown in some ways, she’s completely new to the Fae world and an understanding of her Fae biology. She’s often impulsive and stubborn, but her heart is in the right place.

If they made trading cards (note: do they make trading cards?), hers would be labelled ‘The Streetwise Sidekick.’ Irreverent and pragmatic, she’s a tough cookie who doesn’t necessarily need protection, but inspires everyone to protect her, anyways.

He’s a modern-day Lancelot, a sexual magnet tied to ancient ideals of romanticism and manhood and deeds of valor. Like Bo, he believes in ‘doing right,’ but his concept of right – as fits a knight – is too often tied to tradition and his personal honor.

His character seamlessly fuses ideas of sexy siren and stalwart cop: mythological womanhood with modern manhood. He’s charming, douchey, and cooly competent, in turns, and his style follows suit with beautiful colors, soft hats, and effortless coordination.

The Ash
An enigma wrapped in a mystery clothed with a silky voice.

Though Bo is empathetic and Kenzi especially has an affinity for society’s outcasts, Lauren is certainly the most compassionate; a necessary character in a brutal world such as the Fae inhabit. The way she is merciful to even the basilisk is presented as a key part of her nature, and was why I was confident her spybang of Bo was not as nefarious as it could have been.

The Morrigan
She’s deliciously, delightfully bad, and she savors every moment of it.

Trick is the ultimate shady character. You’re never sure where he’ll land or what his angle is, and I look forward to next season, talking about what he and Lachlan have in common. One can easily see them as the same character in different stages. (This post talks well about how he could easily swing either way.)

Vex never fulfills his true evil potential. And there’s a LOT of potential.

Tortured into madness, mommy dearest just wants to watch the worlds burn.

Mostly just because I loved this angle, and the reverse-fish-eye.

The Set / Props / Costumes

It’s obviously a lower budget show, but they do really well with what they have. What they have tends to be Christmas lights and candles, leather and lockers, but I genuinely enjoy the look. Not to mention it doesn’t all look the same: Lauren’s lab is in great contrast to the cop headquarters, etc. Too many shows have sets which all obviously come from the same shop, but it’d be unbelievable for this group to all have pristine cars, bright workplaces, and airy apartments.

The Filming Aesthetic

I’ve pointed out a couple places where the show goes out of its way to make a shot, a scene, or a setup which would generally be movie material. Take a look at most primetime network shows, you may see a lot of movement in and out of scenes, but you don’t often see leadups to important things happening in the background of the frame. Directors intentionally frames that shit out – even if s/he has to fake the angle – because it makes life and continuity easier, and keeps shoots shorter. Lost Girl takes pleasure in those extra flourishes.

On the other hand, it’s sometimes obvious the actors needed to be a few steps back, because they’re starting their walk already in the scene. Sometimes they needed to have their cues earlier, sometimes it’s more an editing thing, but it’s distracting. And while the editing is fine, rarely did I perk up at a series of cuts, outside of the pilot episode.

The show doesn’t have one color palette, it really uses the spectrum – yellow for Bo’s room, brown and dusty tones for the clubhouse, bright whites and blues for Lauren’s lab, dingy greens for Dyson’s apartment, dark blue for the cop shop, richer browns for the Dal, etc.

While clothing tends to be darker (the better to not clash through the various scenes, my dear), it, too, varies in color, especially Lauren’s (since they cover it up with the damn labcoat – I hate labcoats) and anything worn undercover.

Also I like, the way all the characters lean into each other over computer screens. It happens a lot.

The Writing

After I finish the S1-3 reviews, I’m going to talk about the high and low points and the writers involved which each. So this is going to get a little ahead of myself, and also span all the seasons.

Out of curiosity, I found something Lovretta and Andras had done together before: Instant Star. Due to living with two awesome kids for a couple years, I’ve watched more kid/tween TV programming than most non-child-having adults would care to admit. (Except Phineas and Ferb. That, I will watch anytime, anywhere.) What’s another few seasons of this genre for a good cause?

Don’t ever say I don’t love you and do things for you.

Instant Star, especially the ends of season 2 and 3, has one of the main problems Lost Girl runs into: Random Externally Manufactured Conflict. The REMC doesn’t come from the characters or their everyday lives, it comes out of thin air.

In Season 1, Dyson and Trick’s hiding of Bo’s family is not just foreshadowed, it’s pounded over and over. Though the lying isn’t given much motivation other than ‘Trick is a sneaky bastard,’ it’s at least firmly grounded when Aife comes into the picture. Meanwhile, Lauren isn’t such a huge entity before Episode 8 that her ‘spybang’ / not telling Bo about being owned by the Ash is problematic. In fact, it works really well.

As we go into next season, the value of surprise is gravely weakened. What with Bo having been angry with Lauren for so long, and then Lauren being imprisoned, and it being super awkward and potentially somewhat verboten to talk about, Lauren holding out Nadia’s existence is baaaarely believable. Meanwhile, Dyson being the non-communicative, Strong Wolf Type he is, we can begrudgingly accept his unwillingness to share with Bo that his love was gone, especially if he thought he could just get it back by basking in her presence (boys are dumb sometimes). We’ll also buy the Dyson/Caden bro-ship, for the same reason we’ll buy not knowing Lauren was in Afghanistan at the start of S3: because they’re smaller details that can come out over time. As Lauren told Kenzi: you never asked. This is especially easy with Dyson, since he has thousands of years of history.

But by S3, especially with S2 having been 22 episodes long, we’re done with Big Secrets Which Change the Course of the Show or Relationships. Characters can have small reveals, such as ‘Oh yeah, I have the key to a mysterious sex club from back in the day.’ Tamsin is allowed to have larger secrets, because she’s new. It’s understandable Bo’s friends and she did things in her teenage day she’s suppressed, because that’s almost the entirety of her backstory. But a huge secret identity? No. The fact there’s this whole other rite of passage / puberty process everyone has gone through but nobody has informed Bo of? No. All of this coming from nowhere, and being heightened to Major Drama through characters’ unwillingness to communicate? Nope nope NOPE.

This is where I’m troubled by Instant Star. Of course, it’s a different show, for a different audience, with a different writer’s room. But this pattern jumps out at me. [Spoilers for that show until marked otherwise.] In S1, Tommy’s revelation of his ex-wife works because we don’t know much of his history. At the end of S2, we have the awful ‘I have to go away, and when I reappear you’ll think I have a daughter I never told you about, and I’ll hedge for no reason other than to manufactures all sorts of tears and outbursts.’ In the middle of S3 we have something even more egregious: a mysterious stranger shows up and threatens Tommy! Tommy has no *real* reason for lying to Jude about it, because 1) knowing would make her safer and 2) no way on earth a Justin Timberlake-esque pop star has a girlfriend who dies while the girlfriend’s brother goes to jail without it being splashed over every tabloid in the nation. It’s obviously manufactured drama, rather than organic.

Contrast this with the handling of Patsy Sewer. Yes, the character is over-the-top: it’s a show about pop stars. But her revelations work because:

  1. they come shortly upon our meeting the character,
  2. other characters, specifically Jamie, are dubious and push about details
  3. they make sense with the character’s veiled mental disorder; likely she is bipolar.

Their appearance may be abrupt, but their unveiling is believable for the same reasons Tamsin’s reveal as a bounty hunter of sorts is believable.

(Let the record show I’m especially forgiving because the 3-episode arc goes really dark for a kid’s show, and the way “Let It Be” is self-aware enough to capitalize on a character death, while using Darius to stand in for the show/industry by capitalizing on Patsy’s death but still being conflicted and sympathetic, is really the best thing the show ever does.)

[End Spoilers]

Back where we started. Well, not we. We started halfway through S3.

All that aside and in the ‘future’ as it is, Lost Girl Season 1 works for me on pretty much every level. I love genre’d, trope-fulled episodes which go into sororities or country clubs. I love monsters-of-the-week who present seemingly insurmountable challenges. I love diverse archetypes butting heads, I love bildungsromans, I love the idea of someone facing their fundamentalist past, I love metaphors, I love low budget done well, I love self-aware shows which can play the drama but embrace the camp. I really, really love strong women characters who defy societal standards. But some of the things which work well in the first season only work because the world is new to us and the characters are new to each other. They aren’t going to play as well as the show goes on, as we’re about to see. The longer it goes, the more they need to evolve.

Thanks for reading and commenting all through this season. I look forward to Season 2 with you all!

3 Responses to “Lost Girl: Season 1 Wrap Up, A Brief Look Forward”
  1. vexundorma says:

    A few personal thoughts on the first season of Lost Girl.
    1) The freshness of a genial concept that allowed to mix and use every mythical and legendary creature in an internally consistent way. The incredible use of light and color to create a distinctive tone for the show. The fantastic work of the wardrobe department that managed to visually express a lot about the characters in the way they dressed (something that was utterly lost in S3). Details I know, but the sense of novelty I felt when I saw the show for the first time owed much to this kind of details.
    2) The writing has never been one of the show’s strengths, but there wasn’t that awkward feeling of a high school arts and crafts assignment I got later on (particularly in S3). With a world and characters that are by themselves drama waiting to be explored what we will get, as is rightly pointed out, is contrived drama pulled out of no air.
    3) For a layperson like myself not noticing the editing is a good sign. I didn’t notice it in this season, though I can’t say the same for S2 and S3.
    4) The appearance of the mini-arc, something that came to stay as a trademark for the show. The Aife mini-arc (1.10 to 1.13) worked because it was new, it was foreshadowed and it comprised the minimum length necessary for it to unfold. All others won’t really ever work because they pop up with no warning or introduction, elbow each other out with no visible connection and have enough dramatic potential to need an entire season to develop.
    5) The structure of this season was turned into the formula template for the show, something that goes like this:
    Act I – eps 1-4; introduction of (new) characters and the general purpose of the season, with ep 1 as Overture. It has an emotional episode for Bo, usually number 4.
    Act II – eps 5-7; the presented design of the characters’ relationships for the season starts to be tweaked. It has a Kenzi-centric episode, usually number 6.
    Act III – eps 8-13; preparation and developments for the Grand Season Finale. With two emotional episodes for Bo, typically 10 and 12, a drama-strong episode partnering Bo and Lauren, as a rule the 8th, and a last episode that ends always with a door to next season (not really a cliffhanger).

    • Melanie says:

      1) Your first sentence is fairly perfect, I can expound on nothing.

      I love that the show isn’t done in ‘blue and gray’ tones, or ‘yellow and teal,’ as would be easier for production planning. It’s another one of those little touches which doesn’t take a heck of a lot more money, but does take a lot of time and planning, and really makes the show work.

      2) I think stretching in the back half of 2 and scrunching in 3 are obvious. We’ll see what triage has been done in S4. See point 4.

      3) While a few sequences in 01.08 are truly perfect, S1 overall is by far the roughest in editing continuity: many times cuts are elongated (for drama? to fill time? simple sloppiness?) where cutting a second later would mean hands would be in the right place. Of course some of this is not just editing but acting/directing; if you’re mixing between a lot of takes instead of just switching camera angles, you can’t expect the actors to have hit their body language the same within milliseconds. But I never know how much ‘laypeople’ notice this and how much is my being picky. It’s hardly unique to Lost Girl, of course, but as I’m doing a ‘close watch,’ I really really notice it. [To go further than most probably care for me to, I’ll note that shot sequencing with a multicam setup is something I learned a lot about doing my first film. You really have to think about which angles you’d be more likely to be cutting between, and try to shoot those simultaneously – if possibly with the lighting – to make your edit flow better without your editor (in my case, myself) pull all her hair out. Next time, the shot list will get a lot more teeth gnashing beforehand.]

      4) I love mini-arcs mixed with meta-arcs and episodic mysteries, but it’s something almost all shows which try it struggle with at one point or another: even my favorite examples, Buffy, Alias, and Veronica Mars. (VM noticeably fixes its minor S2 problems in S3.) You’re right, Season 1 and the front half of 2 do do it best, but the pattern you note about ‘coming out of nowhere’ is symptomatic of the whole REMC approach that gets taken, as opposed to a problem with mini-arcs in general. They can and could and some do still work; for example Kenzi’s mini-arc at the start of 3.

      5) I’d not noticed this specific of a pattern, numbers and all, so thanks for this! I’m definitely going to take a look at this, especially as I recap the front half of S3. I’ll certainly link back to your comment.

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  1. […] As I mentioned, I’m shortening, tweaking, and doubling up on S2 reviews so as to catch up by the time S3 premieres. Like it, loathe it, want to hash anything over further? To the comments!  […]

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