Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 15, Table for Fae
You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
Pay attention in this opening scene, because three things – ranging in subtlety from ‘fairly’ to ‘not even a little bit’ – happen which will have bearing on the closing scene. And yes, the above picture is one of them.
Bo and Kenzi get excited about going out for nice dinner and wine ‘just like grown-ups.’ This is something Bo has been missing, albeit probably unknowingly. She and Dyson never went out on dates because they were busy flying under the radar, then being bang buddies, then getting all angsty. She and Lauren never went any place nice because they were meeting at the Dal as ‘training’ pretense for seeing each other, then there was some emotional upheaval, and finally Lauren was either stuck at Bo’s or being snuck out of the Ash’s compound. Both Bo’s other running relationships have had really good reasons to only use existing sets. Handy.
Now with Ryan, Bo feels like she’s in her first grown-up relationship. It’s actually more collegiate, what with the carousing and Ryan’s bro-quotient being sky high and Bo lying to her friends. But many of those collegiate relationships sure feel grown up when you’re in them, especially when compared to what came before. They’re good stepping stones, and it’s nice you can both buy beer when you go out someplace. But if the relationship and both people in it don’t mature, either it doesn’t last, or it makes for some sad, shallow marriages.
Point being, Bo feels grown up, reveling in the sort of sophistication and monied ability she was yearning when she was staring in the storefront at the pretty jacket and Ciara. Then, she felt awkward because she worried Ciara was feeling pity, and because Dyson was with Ciara. Now, she feels she’s in this circle on her own merits: Ryan wants her, and she can do adulty things places besides the bedroom.
Ryan, though, likes his adult activities more exclusive and expensive than Bo is ready to wrap her head around. When Ryan does have to include others, it’s an opportunity to treat them not for the sake of hospitality and sharing the wealth,but for the sake of showing off. Nate rolls with it, but Kenzi is not impressed. In fact, she’s the opposite. She can tell Ryan is putting down Nate for not having money, for playing small gigs, for toasting with water, and she is defensive of her boyfriend, even if he’s not so bothered. Ryan is being an ass, though more through wanting to show off than intentionally being cruel, and Bo doesn’t seem to notice as much as she should, which aggravates Kenzi even more.
Granted, Kenzi can have a little but of a chip on her shoulder about her background (she didn’t like Ciara because Ciara had money, even when Ciara was both more subdued and far nicer about it), but Kenzi has a point here. Even after Ryan apologizes, he doesn’t actually get it. He sends the Morrigan in to talk to Nate, though Ryan is fully aware of how the Morrigan operates. Money and what it brings is what Ryan sees as the point; he doesn’t consider people could possibly have qualms with the things they have to do to make money.
The B-plot, too, trades a little in the haves v have-nots. Ryan is obviously put off by the type of people at the hostel, who are mostly poor young travelers. Some of said travelers are being drained of their youth to create anti-aging treatments for the rich. And the C-plot deals with Dyson’s frustration over wealthy people with connections getting off for coercing poor young people to steal for them, while (we assume) said poor young people will end up in juvie or worse.
There’s a small undercurrent – not only here, but occasionally in the show – of the idea young and/or uninformed people are often coerced into bad decisions. Those decisions come to bite them while those who coerce them are usually rich, connected, or corrupt enough to get off scot-free. While Ryan does have a point near the end when he tells Bo it’s Nate’s decision to make, he doesn’t mention the part where Nate wouldn’t be making an informed decision. That’s the key. The Morrigan, and Ryan by extension, are giving Nate what he wants, sure, but they’re not informing him of the actual price. That’s tough, it’s realistic, and it’s only so often someone like Kenzi can stop it from happening. Bo knows its wrong, but can’t quite wrap her tongue around why, so Ryan wins that round with poor logic.
Ryan does point out other, actual flaws in Bo’s thinking. He points out the Light treat humans as property as much as the Dark. He points out she wants to be unaligned, but take advantages which would generally be conferred upon the Light. Their verbal altercation ends in . . . Marissa coming on for a makeout session then a threesome. Don’t your verbal altercations usually end like that?
If you want a much more detailed analysis of this scene, I was the guest on a podcast which discussed it at length. For expediency, here’s the short version.
The camera is voyeuristic, but it’s an understandable choice in context. If the camera is the male gaze, and the male gaze is Ryan, and Ryan has been fairly unequivocally portrayed as a fun-chasing asshole with negative affect on Bo, then are we really supposed to only think ‘hey this is sexy’? Or are we perhaps supposed to identify with the gaze at first, then realize at the end when we finally see Ryan again that we have ourselves been voyeurs, self-identified with the playboy and his gaze?
The conclusion we (mostly – we’re a little disparate on some details) come to on the podcast is: the scene wouldn’t be so problematic if Bo so much as makes an objection to Ryan referencing Marissa as a ‘present’ rather than a person.
The more I think about it, the more I think this is a problem with the shortness of Ryan’s arc. He’s in and out in five episodes; possibly because they’re fitting a whole fourth season into nine episodes rather than 13, possibly because he wasn’t ever meant to be more than a passing fling, possibly because he was an obstacle who needed to be removed quickly Bo and Lauren could have more yearny glances for Nadia to be jealous of, possibly for a dozen reasons.
Whatever the whys, the outcome is: Ryan’s effect on Bo gets shorthanded. In this episode, Bo barely flinches when he’s being rude at the restaurant, then by the end of the episode she’s not blinking when he refers to a woman as a gift. Next episode opens with a bathtub scene where Bo has to hide him from Kenzi. In a couple more, Bo will have spiraled out of control (granted via third party impact) to the point where she’s a zombie for Ryan, literally running away from her friends. The arc of Ryan Is Bad For Bo isn’t given enough room for truly dynamic range; if we saw a scene like this after we’ve seen Bo slowly sliding into disregard for others over a period of time, it may be more tenable to argue we’re supposed to see her complicity with Ryan’s objectification of Marissa as one of the final signs in her loss of what she stands for. Instead, it happens so quickly its actual intent – or lack thereof – becomes muddled.
Even so, this move doesn’t come out of nowhere, but at the end of an episode chock full of people covertly enjoying other people, sexually. Evony eyes Nate and suggests to Kenzi she’ll be having sex with him once he’s under her control. Ryan comes downstairs rubbing his jaw, obviously not minding everyone knows he just got finished servicing Bo (an admirable enough suggestion for a TV show to indulge in). Kenzi checks out Ryan’s underwear stuffing. Nate amusedly listenes to Bo and Ryan’s bumping and moaning upstairs, stalling as Kenzi tries to drag him to breakfast. Hessa looks on suggestively, sighing “that’s it” as Lana drains Bo.
– I broke with the usual method of tying all pictures (however loosely) to nearby text in order to demonstrate some of the sexual voyeurism I talk about near the end. Even the featured image is clearly mean to be hickeys. The better to save you from watching the episode on fast-forward, my dear.
– If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been at the table in Nate’s place, only talking about filmmaking, I would have enough dollars to finance my TV pilot.