Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 20, Lachlan’s Gambit

You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.

I like Ciara and Bo working together, badasses with very different styles and power.

It’s been pointed out that I give Lost Girl a pass sometimes. At this point in my career, I’ve worked on mostly low-budget sets. Even the SAG-approved, big-network, name-actors shows I’ve worked on have had to get incredibly creative when it comes to workarounds. A fellow producer on a movie just wrapped suggested we write a book, “How We Made A Feature Film With Three Stars And Two C-Stands.” When you have to spend all the money on unions and payrolls and transportation and permits and food, and your incidentals money on unavoidable overtime and after-wrap beer [and yes, that’s a necessity to keep any low-budget crew happy] and getting an emergency trailer because the sprinter broke down, you have to let some storytelling dreams go. Having your heroine jump on a flaming unicorn and ride her magical lance right into the heart of a 20-story Griffin-Gone-Wild may look awesome on paper, but it’s not going to work when your CGI guys are already using older software and being sustained solely on Cheez-Its you brought from home. (But it’s ok because we’re not watching this show for the sky-high production value, and in fact this is a far better show than a dozen I can name which have more money.)

All this is going to influence the last few episodes of the season, and it shows up right in the very first scene. Some may roll eyes at the use of newspapers to show phenomena and plot progression (the arrest of various baddies, the animal terror here) rather than filming an insert shot, I may appreciate it (perhaps more) for the use of workarounds. It would take a whole camera crew a full day to get a couple seconds of Zephyr going on his actual rampages, then being arrested, not to mention extras. Filming animals gone wild requires (at least in the US) additional permits, calls to the humane society, paid trainers on set, and extra work getting the information needed for background checks for all your crew. ‘Never work with children or animals’ isn’t just an adage because those things compound shooting difficulties, but because they’re freaking expensive.

They manage to back the camera up a little by giving us Trick's POV, a lovely little move.

So you make a mole-fae with makeup rather than with prosthetics, use an eyeless minion rather than a town slaughter to exemplify the Garuda’s nastiness, have props mock up some newspapers, stage an oldfashioned one-on-one swordfight, make sure it’s believable Lachlan is never seen with more than one head, and create an effective torture device with an old light. When you can write around obstacles this easily, and save some of that budget for a firesword and a couple spare naga heads, why wouldn’t you?

But then, you also have to hope the director and actors and producers are going to be able to frame it in a way which makes your creativity work, and not a way which highlights its minimalism.  

This episode is all about setting the stage. Nadia and Nate have been dispatched, now it’s time to bring back Ciara, up the ante (via the aforementioned newspapers and mole, as well as some generic minions), and start a plan. But against this backdrop, we also have a few character developments which finally get a little exploration.

The set dressing tells us anything we need to know about how Lauren has spent her last [undetermined amount of time].

Trick’s willingness to use torture, murder, etc., has before only been hinted at, and now he finally gets his hands dirty, using the ‘we’re at war’ line to quiet any objections.  He craftily refuses to play anyone’s strategy but his own in dealing with the threat. In addition, the way he and the Garuda both callously attack eyes draws some nifty parallels.

Dyson comes back from his shirtless soul-searching, and his first and most enthusiastic greeter is Kenzi. His misinterpretation of the wolfspirit’s vision plays into his ideas of his own chivalrous nobility, but the way reality plays out fits the way Dyson functions: better as a teammate, a footsoldier, part of the story of another hero. That hero happens to be female, and here she takes his word, but has plenty of doubts. This isn’t to denigrate Dyson as a fae, person, or character, it’s simply who he is. His pride and desire to be Lancelot clouds his judgement. He claims to be positive simply because he wants to be, and because he wants to believe it’s a way to reclaim his love.

The storyline of Dyson losing his love has become somewhat of a broken record in relation to Bo, but something sometimes missed in that cacophony is how his loss of love has made him, overall, an angrier, more selfish wolf. When one has no love, it’s a natural outcome, no? Because the focus has been mostly on romantic partnerships, and the nature of what love he can and can’t feel is a little hazy (he obviously still has a close bond with Kenzi, though his partnership with Hale is fractured), this can get drowned out. As the Garuda says, ‘no morals, no loyalty, guess that’s what happens when you lose your heart.’

Red cage light. DRINK!

Ciara shows not just her fairy powers, but her perceptive ones, as she’s the first to piece together Bo killed Nadia. She’s also made her peace with her and Dyson’s breakup, and is able to decide she’d still like to have some life-affirming, end-of-the-world sex. She’s not confused. She simply knows what she needs.

Lauren and Hale both want to be left alone to their pain and feelings of abandonment. Both express it verbally at first, then Lauren comes to Bo for physical (and liquid) comfort, and Hale . . . well, we’re not sure what Hale and Kenzi do, but it’s sure to be depressing.

The way Ciara/Dyson and Bo/Lauren are intercut as they pass their night, all finding solace in physicality, some through being the comforter, some the comforted, some through raucousness, some riding the edge of a lighter danger than the one they’ll face in the morning, some through words and some not so much, is fascinating. People deal with grief and fear and desire in a myriad of ways, and none of them fit into neat little boxes. People can be depressed and angry and verbose and withdrawn and sexually needy and etc. etc. etc., in any mixture. It gets complicated. So though the story has to rush characters through a lot of grieving and terror all at once, the way it displays them in not just these scenes, but in the periphery, is lovely. Lauren’s messy apartment with a bathrobe and tissue box, Dyson’s second-nature wrapping of his hands to go to work on his punching bag, really works to bring across these points.

Lauren’s coping mechanism being the one less displayed and more complex to portray makes it more interesting. It’s not too difficult to shoot Dyson punching more things, but having someone spill her feelings and admit to doing her hair before coming to Bo’s house without it feeling highschool or hackneyed takes a finer touch. Crosscutting the two is perhaps the obvious editing answer, but is really brilliant, and Lauren ends up essentially explaining to Bo and the viewer how all these reactions are human and chemical and normal and ok, and you should have friends and lovers to whom you can just admit what you’re feeling, and from whom you can get what you need. If you need sex or tequila to get your feelings flowing, so be it.

I truly don't know what to say about this setup.

The confrontation with the Garuda could have used more of this nuance and less grandstanding, more infighting, much less running pellmell down hallways after obvious bait of a minion. While it’s true this ended up a skirmish before the real end, it didn’t require the main characters to flaunt their lives about, and indeed it ended up with Ciara dead (as we knew in our guts would happen if not this episode, then this season). The emotional scenes leading up to it, and the emotional aftermath, are much better done, and frankly more interesting. I understand why shows want to have episodic and meta arcs in each season, but when picked up for a back nine the one got rushed and the other got underfunded.

The actual fight. Well. There’s this fascinating thing which you should definitely read and which talks about how the ante keeps having to go up and up and up – the end of a city! country! world! civilization! – instead of keeping the stakes low. I like the idea of having the Garuda come for Trick, or Lachlan as the leader of Light fae, whether from a personal vendetta or to throw the system into disarray. Then this mini battle [and the one in the finale] works; one gang versus another, personal stakes, we’re invested. To frame it as the possible end of not just this hidden fae microcosm but The World As We Know It, elevates expectations which are not met. Had we not these expectations, we wouldn’t be disappointed.

Lachlan’s scheming, Trick’s stubbornness, Lauren and Dyson’s personal pain, Kenzi’s bravery, Ciara’s and Hale’s nobility and feelings of abandonment, Lauren’s choice to stay as one in a series of people doing the Greater Good for various reasons, Dyson’s lack of self-introspection, Bo’s going from handing over the plans to Dyson to emergence as leader; these are the things we’re interested in, these are the things which work, these are as important to us as the end of the fae world, because to us they are the fae world. It’s why next episode, “Into the Dark,” works better than the actual finale and this mini-finale. (Also, definitely, John Fawcett.)

When these things are at the forefront, versus when the supposed epic battles are going down, is clearly the demarkation between which parts of this episode work, and which don’t. 

"Idris Elba agreed to be a donor. We're going to have the most beautiful babies ever."

Stray Observations

– “Every single snake has disappeared.” “Maybe they’re on a plane?”

– You’d think Bo and Kenzi would get a peephole in the clubhouse door, already. 

– “I’m too cute to die!”

– This episode supports my theory: Lauren’s apartment door somehow interferes with sound. We never see it in frame when Bo and Lauren are talking, then when Lauren goes to open it (and ask Bo to leave), in that cut Zoie Palmer’s mouth is never seen, so her phrase could easily be ADR’d.

11 Responses to “Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 20, Lachlan’s Gambit”
  1. Maigray says:

    Sometimes, when I am frowning over some bit of plot or a line of dialogue I don’t like, I think of how it would feel to have to write up thirteen scripts and keep my characters true to themselves, yet change them at the same time and advance some huge overarching plot interspersed with a lot of smaller plots and keep things going with engaging dialogue and a lot of snappy one-liners for Kenzi and lots of love scenes that are edgy but can get past the censors and also try not to trip in the sexual politics I am wading in and also avoid too many tropes but make it all a metaphor for some larger something and also that it can be done on a budget and it has to have emotional resonance and you have to play to your actors strengths and…Yup, this is really hard.

    • Melanie says:

      Yep, and if different writers view character motivations differently, sometimes the dissonance really comes through (vexundorma and I have wondered a bit about their show bible). Don’t forget for this half you’re juggling how many shoot days actors are going to be available for, which is generally not an issue (as when actors sign on for a show, that contract is going to trump all else, but if they’ve signed on for anything past the 13, then the show gets extended, for a small show like LG the extension won’t be in their contracts meaning the other movies etc are going to trump), so now you’ve got a giant calendar of doom and you’re cutting scenes purely because you don’t have the people to shoot them.

      I dunno. I think the network should have pushed for a longer break between the front half and the back half, done a Sopranos 6.1 and 6.2 sort of move, and tried to cut down the B plots in service of some of the stories of characters we knew and loved. Some episodes (Schools Out) really landed, but some (Table for Fae, Midnight Lamp) were treading water, and the character stories were still the most fascinating parts.

  2. Virginia says:

    I’m enjoying your comments on Lost Girl because of your insider viewpoint. You know things about what’s going on behind the scenes that I, an uneducated audience member, would never think about. It adds nuance and layers to the experience of enjoying Lost Girl. Thank you for writing these posts.

  3. vexundorma says:

    There’s a Looney Tunes/Monty Python quality in all the episode’s fight scenes that undermines its intended dramatic intensity, and I seriously doubt it was a result of budget constraints: there’s the plastic whackamole clubs as weapon of choice, there’s the chorus line of easy targets facing the Garuda, there’s Ciara standing still and patiently waiting to be slaughtered, there’s the pile of flailing Berserkers over Dyson, there’s the kinda flamenco dance of Lachlan and Garuda (I was half expecting they’d raise their arms and start tapping) ended with another ‘now wait for the punch’ moment. It is just absurd.
    I completely agree with you on Dyson. Out of the many versions of the character the show has painted this is the most consistent (in the sense that keeps resurfacing time and again), this is really what and who he is: the guy you never bring with you to battle because he’ll get you killed. I totally understand Bo’s reaction in the end, not even glancing to his body in the cart; she’s pissed at him and probably at herself for once again expecting anything different from that guy. I was also pissed back then, when I saw the show for the first time, because in the next episode all was forgotten and once again he got his free pass, like Trick, like every fae; the only ones to face consequences were (and still are a season later) the humans.
    If the two main themes for the two halves of the season were Consequences and Sacrifice, it was only for the two humans that there were consequences and only the two humans that made sacrifices. In the end to protect the fae. And apparently we are to understand that is the natural order of things – the weak protecting the powerful.
    Stray observations: the idea of totemic spirits for types of fae was never again touched because it doesn’t make any sense in the fae world the show built (in the next episode the Nain Rouge makes fun of the entire thing). In this one and only instance the totemic spirit of the ‘strong’ male wolf interestingly is female, and I’ve always wondered if his misunderstanding of her words wasn’t meant to represent how he misunderstands women.
    (And for some obscure reason shirtless Dyson before the wolf spirit reminded me of shaman Xena in the Land of the Northern Amazons. I’ll go with shaman Xena, thank you).

    • Melanie says:

      I wasn’t attributing the tone of the fight scene to budget, but attributing the minuscule scale – and likely the set – to lack of funds. It’s supposed to be The Potential End Of All Fae, and we can barely scrape together a dozen extras, let alone an army. Change the point of conflict to personal rather than global, this makes sense.

      As for tone, whether they were going for camp (and I like the ‘plastic whackamole clubs’ description) or gravitas with that fight scene, they missed both. It’s almost certainly attributable to the director; whether it was his idea or a writer/producer’s, the execution was off.

      Though you’ve a point about humans bearing the brunt of consequences (and definitely weak protecting/confounding the strong and Kenzi does here, and it’s a point of pride but one they would likely be glad to give up sometimes), Dyson’s consequences are: his girlfriend/sex partner is killed, he knows it’s his fault, and he gets humbled by not being the champion at all. It’s true all this could be spelled out more clearly, or perhaps more enunciated by the characters, but I think the audience realizes he fucked up big time, and he does express some of his guilt next episode.

      This is a fantastic point about the female wolf spirit. I wish I’d’ve thought of it.

  4. Little Bad Wolf says:

    Lachlan is such an interesting character to me. He certainly starts off appearing to be a Machiavellian leader but by the time he sacrifices himself to the Garuda I dn’t have the same opinion. He is certainly manipulative but anyone who finds themselves President, prime minister or Ash is bound to be good at manipulation. He knows the Garuda has awoken and as the last of the Naga, only his venom can kill the Garuda. I don’t view that as narcissistic but rather the facts. If he were a true narcissist then I don’t think he would have been looking for a champion; he would have wanted and believed that he could do it himself.

    Lachlan certainly acts like an asshat initially but I can see it as a way to test Bo to see if she was the One. Once Bo awakens Nadia, Lachlan more or less stops being a douche. Bo proved her willingness to be unselfish and to sacrifice. Yes, he certainly takes the opportunity to have Lauren recommit herself, but he treats her much better than before, and he knew he’d potentially need her for the Naga venom. Even before the shift in behavior to others, he is still taking action on info behind the scenes (he looks into the cursing nail, he has a spy at the boxing ring, etc).

    He also tells Bo they can discuss Lauren’s release after the Garuda is dealt with but it never comes up with Hale. Actually, Lachlan lets Lauren take off on vacation with her newly awakened girlfriend whereas Hale would only give Lauren a weekend off (so she works 7 days a week for Hale?).

    I didn’t interpret awakening Nadia as being removing Lauren as a distraction for Bo because that’s basically impossible. Bo is always distracted by Lauren. It did, however, remove Nadia in a coma as a distraction for Lauren and begin to change the nature of Lauren and Lachlan’s relationship. He needs her and he’s not too proud to admit that to Lauren.

    While humans do often pay a price in the Fae world, in this episode two Fae pay the ultimate price with their lives and Dyson does indirectly pay a price too. Unfortunately these characters often seem to forget their lessons so in Bo’s Yawning we have Dyson running around getting in Bo’s way. Dyson may have an alpha wolf’s pride and ego but he has only ever really served a master, whether it be a king, Trick, the Ash, or Bo. Hopefully he has finally learned that lesson because he is a great Lieutenant but not so great when in charge. The way Bo lets Dyson and his interpretation of the wolf spirit’s message (excellent example of what women say vs what men hear because “significant role” does not mean lead the attack; Lauren understood the difference when Lachlan told her she would play a significant role too) overrule what she knew was true was frustrating but also a necessary step in her development. Like Neo in The Matrix, it is not enough to be told you are the One, you have to believe it yourself.

  5. Thomas Jacks says:

    The Garuda tainted Bo over killing Nadia but never admitted to infiltrating her.

    Ciara died, Bo barely comforted Dyson.
    Hale died, Bo barely comforted Kenzi.
    Nadia died, Bo comforted Lauren.

    Removing the competition like Ciara noted? Hmm.

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