Lost Girl: Season 2, Episode 21, “Into the Dark”
You know the drill. Possible spoilers through 03.13. All reviews here.
In talking about the ways in which “Lachlan’s Gambit” didn’t work, I also touched on the ways and reasons this episode worked. Focus on interpersonal issues, characters interacting, avoiding the Big Showdown Scenes which in which budget couldn’t deliver on hype: it does everything we want while furthering plot, world building, and character development.
This episode is written by Emily Andras, directed by John Fawcett. If you wonder how much I love John Fawcett at large, friend Dale and I are working on a big Orphan Black series for TVquila, and I will not be shy. In addition to this episode, the Fawcett/Andras pairing has also produced “Dead Lucky” and “Arachnofaebia”.
The only other Fawcett-helmed episodes have been “Food For Thought” and “Vexed” (which is so good I also wrote “How Vexed Works As The Perfect Pilot”). Lest you think Fawcett just got lucky, think about how much style, blocking, depth of field (lens choice/camera movement/zoom effects especially in “Arachnofaebia”), and acting goes into making those episodes work. Not to mention by directing the pilot, Fawcett set the visual tone for the whole series.
Then Andras, who pens some trope-heavy episodes like “Caged Fae” (reviews coming next week!), but also character-driven ones; in addition to the above, “Mirror Mirror”, “Original Skin”, “Those Who Wander”, etc.
While I am curious why this crack team didn’t get handed the finale, I have to say the content in this episode is perhaps better suited for them. The finale is a showdown; this is more emotional interaction, world building (details about blood power; not one but two fae funerals, complete with crashers), revelations (Trick’s relation to Bo), nerdery (with Lachlan’s venom), relationship growth (Lauren and Dyson have some nice moments; steps are taken toward restoring Hale and Dyson’s friendship), some fun set pieces and their framing (Kenzi and the Norn), and some hilarity which manages to be sexy . . . or is that some sexy which manages to be hilarious (the Morrigan’s forced striptease and her later seduction by Bo).
It’s a general adage that in film director is king (or ‘queen,’ or I suppose ‘ruler’ is best), and in TV writer is ruler. But especially when you’re operating on a razor edge, and have a show which uses a lot of metaphors and visual cues to explain power dynamics, character emotions, etc., direction is key. Timing and camera placement can cover a multitude of sins and budgetary lacks.
That Kenzi is the one who can bring Dyson to smile after his blunder and the death of Ciara, that she goes to the Norn and irreverently breaks all fae protocol and risks her wellbeing to get Dyson’s love back, that she goes to Dyson’s loft to try and slap him out of his funk, this is Kenzi in a nutshell. She copes by making others laugh, or at least grimace with joy, and if that doesn’t work she’ll try anything no matter how outrageous. She’s loyal to a fault. She will commit the gravest sacrilege – first taking Ciara’s bracelet, then attacking the Norn’s tree – especially for those she loves. And she will find the most obvious of solutions which people have missed for centuries, and throw herself at it wholeheartedly, with snide remarks and environmentalism truths to spare.
The Norn making direct reference to the tree the first time she met Kenzi plays to the audience as a touch obvious, but she was shown next to it all the way back in “Brotherfae of the Wolves”, so this is well foreshadowed, not a last-minute fix. Then, the full consequences of the goo spilled on Kenzi’s arms won’t be played out for another several episodes into next season, though we’ll see small hints toward it even in “Caged Fae.” When it puts its mind to it, Lost Girl plays the long game quite well (which is why I’m very much looking forward to Season 4 as the extension of Season 3’s back-end long game).
Between the Nain Rouge’s admonition to find someone with strong abilities from the Dark to work with and Bo’s dawning comprehension of her blood’s powers, Bo has realized she needs to harness Vex’s powers. She goes to ask for him to be lent her by the Morrigan, conveniently ignoring the fact if, say, the Morrigan were to ask the Ash to be ‘lent’ Lauren, her hackles would rise. She (and at least the rest of the fae scoobies) still operate like Vex is a commodity, not a person/fae. It’s another aspect of what the Morrigan brings up: she plays like she’s unaligned, but doesn’t want to ask like it. She excuses her objectification of Vex because he’s, well, bad.
Bo constantly tries to ignore Trick is as bad as the Morrigan; Lachlan and Ryan are narcissistic assholes; Lachlan and Trick are ruthless Machiavellian rulers; Vex is simply more flamboyant/goth and less cultured/repressed than Hale, and has been given less helpful direction in life; Kenzi has no compunction against stealing or maneuvering others; it’s not all black and white, Light and Dark. Bo needs to get rid of the boxes. Which is why Vex moving in to the clubhouse starts a lesson for Bo, on top of her learning from Ryan, and then add Tamsin and she’s going to have to start coming around to the fact e’rybody’s just complicated.
That’s next season. Right now, Bo is put in a situation which tests her resolve to always take the moral high ground. In her doing something pragmatic to achieve her own, necessary ends, she echos what Trick said his goal was in turning over Aife, his daughter / Bo’s mother, to the Dark years before. We see the consequences of his actions soon. Bo’s actions, on the other hand, do nothing to undermine the Dark, the Light, or the Right, but boil down to procuring the patent for fae viagra and delivering it to the only character hornier than a succubus. Who’s played, by the way, by a 37yo woman and only presented as beautiful. She may sometimes be razzed on for the situations her sexuality leads her into against her better judgement, but she’s never condemned or slurred for having a healthy sex drive. She just wants her some lady viagra. I’ll drink to all that.
Jacked up Redcaps are also after the magic little pill, and these guys are so much more interesting than last episode’s minions, both because they live up to their a defining characteristic and because they make soccer jests at each other. Soccer as shorthand for hooliganism is both interesting and the go-to for casual villainy these days (I’m looking at you, Luther.) It’s not super subtle, but the confederate flag on the redcap’s coat is a nice touch, and I’m guessing some of the other patches and symbols have various meanings in Canada/Wherever the costumers are from/Wherever the nearby thrift store patrons are from. The Redcaps’ purpose is to make it difficult not for humanity, just Bo and the Morrigan and Vex, so their mayhem level corresponds properly to their threat level.
Though the B-plot is resolved here and doesn’t carry through to the finale, its result (Vex joining the gang) does, and most of the other threads here will get tied up in the finale as well. Dyson’s regaining his love means he’ll be much more able to work with the entire team, Trick finally has to confront his past actions, Bo learning about her blood’s power and Lauren’s discovery of how to stabilize Lachlan’s venom will be the tricks which get them through, and Bo and Lauren are obviously relieved on some level they can express their feelings again, even if there’s residual guilt about the relief too. Reference the above part where people are bloody complicated.
Speaking of Bo and Lauren, there’s a nice little bit in which Bo comes into Lauren’s apartment, bleeding a little, and Lauren offers herself more for chi healing than professional healing, and Bo just wanted an aspirin, and Lauren feels dumb, and Bo clarifies she’s not going to take advantage of Lauren and assume she can demand sex (especially in Lauren’s vulnerable state), and Lauren replies of course she knows that, she was just frazzled and exhausted. Not only is it a nice reversal of last episode when Bo assumed Lauren wanted sex then had to change gears when she realized Lauren simply needed to be held, but it establishes where Bo draws a line sexually, and underscores she’s definitely interested in Lauren for more than sex alone. I’ve talked before about Andras’ deft touch combining sexual tension and universal human awkwardness, and this is another great example, even if it has to end on a teasing, technical note.
Now Bo gathers the team and doesn’t so much issue a rousing speech as do damage control and then declare she’s taking the reins. This isn’t a democracy. She’s taking on the role, responsibility, and risks of The Champion. This is a huge step for her, and leads perfectly into the finale where she saves the world.
For the first time.
– The Nain Rouge’s observation that Bo needs to recruit someone from the Dark “whose abilities rival your own” supports a theory on Vex I put forward in an upcoming podcast. Get your speculations in now on what that theory may be. (Hint: It involves Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But you maybe figured that.)
– “But you and Vex are like an evil Hall and Oates.” “They’re not evil?”
– A lot of props to Emmanuelle Vaugier. That dance must have taken a lot of work, physically (in heels, no less), mentally in unselfconsciousness and lack of inhibition, and generally in the keeping of a straight face.
– I wonder if we finally found something Ksenia Solo can’t do (a good Tweety Bird), and the ‘that’s a terrible impression’ line was thrown in after she tried for a couple takes.
If you’ve never been hit full in the face by a blasted soccer ball, take my word for it: it’s far more painful and concussive than it looks.