Lost Girl: Season 4, Episode 07, La Fae Époque
I don’t know how everyone reacts when a low-budget show does something like this episode. It begins with the cold open, where Dyson is apparently in custody, conveniently skipping the CGI, choreography, and breaking of things that would have theoretically accompanied his hulked-out fight with the Una Mens that the end of last episode suggested. This episode ratchets the historical accents and acting up to 11. Lauren and Cassie quickly establish the fact Bo’s memory will superimpose familiar surroundings on her trip into the past, thus allowing them to redresses sets. It’s obvious where it gets creative within its strict limitations and cuts production corners – the money spent on a couple period costumes is saved by not having to license modern songs, everything is dimly lit to mask cheap sets and costumes and CGI, etc. The episode gleefully acknowledges that a person’s subconscious and hidden sexual thoughts can be dark, messy places, and in doing so manages to throw a wrench in quite a few ships.
It’s altogether absurd, and catchpenny, and sensationalist, and bodice-ripping, and my own indie-filmmaking, sociological heart loved the heck out of it.
The mystery is simple and straightforward because – unlike the last time Dyson was accused of murder – it’s not really the main point. The point is similar to that of “Original Skin,” in that it allows the viewers to watch all the characters as they get inside each others’ skins and second-guess themselves and discover new facets of those they thought they knew.
This episode was penned by Michael Grassi, who also did “Turn to Stone.” Both are lovely, though the editing in both is solidly average. And like I said in the “Turn to Stone” review, both work really well in spite of, and partly because, they don’t feel the need to throw wild twists into the mix. To be fair, the coach provides a nice little turn, and the jock strap is icing on the cake, but there are no wild misdirects. If you’re familiar with Norse mythology, or the role of shoes in fairy tales – specifically The Red Shoes, and I know these shoes aren’t red but the spirit is the same, and here and here are really interesting links on that – if you’re familiar with Angel‘s flashbacks, if you’re familiar with the Hitchcockian concept of The Wrong Man, then you probably see basically the destination of this episode. That’s why it’s so important the ride be an absolute blast.
It starts with a little basic siren torture, and a monk uttering magic words to off himself in a froth of bubbles. He conveniently waited to do this until after he had set up the basic premise: Dyson is going to be executed for murdering fae and humans in 1899. Kenzi sputters that surely the Una Mens won’t actually go through with it, just as the dead monk slides off his chair. In case that wasn’t clear enough, the next scene shows the Una Mens executing Pietra, the scavenger fae from “Let the Dark Times Roll.” Again with the convenience, this makes us forget that Bo, Kenzi, and Hale have to somehow get a dead monk body out of the packed police station. Perhaps they just waited until the mayor of Toronto did something awful and distracting. It couldn’t’ve taken long.
After presumably dumping the body in one of their many favorite alleys, Kenzi sneaks into the Una Men’s lair and starts scrubbing down a naked Dyson so she can tie a red ribbon ’round his ankle, so he can be linked to Bo and Cassie so Bo can examine his memories – which were conveniently blacked out! – so Bo can find him an alibi for the murders. All this happens in Kenzi’s room, because Bo’s old room has been redressed for the season, though Bo’s bed will show up in Flora’s boudoir in Bo’s subconscious/Dyson’s memories. The ‘constant’ (LOST shout-out!) is Lauren, and she serves a little as audience surrogate when Cassie explains things to her in the present and Bo/Dyson spell out the shoe plot to Flora in the past, and a little as Mr Exposition, as she explains the rest of the process to Bo, and then verbalizes her inner thoughts while watching an unconscious Bo and Cassie navigating Dyson’s memories.
This sounds a lot more complicated than it appears on screen. It’s made quite clear who is where and when and why, and it was likely more confusing to keep straight while writing than while filming, and certainly watching is clear, which is nice.
Dyson’s memories open with a shot of Bo-as-Dyson waking between two women; they used that shot in the teaser, and I believe it was the last from the teaser we haven’t seen. It’s unusual to use a scene from halfway through the season in a season promo, but it makes perfect sense because they could flip expectations. It’s not Bo at all, it’s promiscuous Dyson! And it’s something which doesn’t really have any bearing on the story at large! It’s really quite the clever move.
Meanwhile, Dyson is starting to recover his own memories of the murderous event, and recount them to Kenzi. These shots [below] use the boxes in their cage effectively, and it’s likely the shots were ‘cheated,’ that is, the cage comes apart and they were able to find an angle with the best possible background, put Ksenia Solo exactly where they wanted her (possibly using apple boxes to give her a little more height next to Kris Holden-Ried), then position KHR, then move the slats the right distance and angle and position. They more than likely didn’t actually shoot the angles below with the cage in the same exact position we see it in in the wide shots. It’s likely, in fact, that both actors are cheating their eyelines, that is Ksenia Solo would be looking over KHR’s shoulder, and vice verse.
My biggest quibble is the writing makes Dyson actually speak the words to the effect he’s waiting to get rescued ‘for once.’ Which is annoying for two reasons. One, Dyson speaks the words while in a metal box in the lair of the Una Mens, who already killed one prisoner in front of him. No shit, he needs rescuing. You’ve clearly shown, there’s no need to tell. Two, Dyson gets saved all the time: by Trick in the past here, Lauren and Bo in the present here, and quite often by Kenzi, Bo, and Lauren all of the times. No matter what anyone will tell you, the characters take turns saving the day, and the ladiez often save Dyson’s ass, and in fact though Dyson does his share of saving, the harder he tries to be the hero the farther he falls – witness his attempts to be The Chosen against the Garuda, or going to the Norn without communicating with anyone. His is often the flip of a stereotypical male knight in shining armor. Here, in his past, Flora outright tells him she doesn’t need his protection, but he’s welcome to come along as a companion. As an equal.
That line, though, actually works on another level. In 4.05, when Bo offers Lauren ‘protection,’ likely in the form of ownership, and Lauren tells Bo she doesn’t need it. She would accept Bo as a partner, an equal, but until Bo sees that, Lauren can’t accept the offer.
There’s another parallel with 4.05. At the end, when Bo is talking with Lauren at Evony’s place, she tells Lauren ‘come back to your real family,’ by which Bo means the Light. Here, Lauren tells Bo of course she will work and risk to save Dyson because Dyson is family, by which Lauren means her friends. Same word, different conotations.
Really, this episode supposedly about Dyson also ends up being quite a bit about Lauren. Amusing, since The Dawning was theoretically about Bo, but ended up psychoanalyzing Dyson as much if not more. It also examines Bo’s subconscious. It’s interesting she projects Lauren (and Kenzi) as fae. Is it a deeply hidden desire? Is it simply the way she has come to see them? Is at least Kenzi’s appearance colored by the fact Kenzi has mentioned wanting to be fae, and even trying?
See how quickly this gets interesting.
The episode incorporates some other symbols and themes, including the color red, the idea of multiple soulmates, and mirrors. Mirrors everywhere! We see Dyson in a shopwindow reflection, Lauren wrote her note to Bo on a mirror, and there are mirrors everywhere in Flora’s apartment/dressing room.
The way things are carefully blocked and shot, after Dyson surprises Flora by walking into her mirror, we only see Flora in the mirrors as she and Bo-as-Dyson embrace, move around, and talk. Maybe you caught a slip, but I didn’t see Anna Silk in any mirrors. That takes a lot of planning and work. Fascinatingly, if you slow down Bo’s flashes as she goes into Dyson’s subconscious, we do see Dyson in Flora’s mirror.
And then, then Bo sees herself-as-Dyson and Lauren-as-Flora having sex in the mirror. It was already established Bo sees Dyson in a mirror, the audience sees Dyson in reflective surfaces, and anyone in that reality was interacting with Dyson. But Bo’s enjoying the picture of Dyson and Lauren having sex. Bo’s casual acceptance of voyeurism was established in 4.05, she essentially admitted in “Arachnofaebia” that she had imagined all three of them in bed together, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that this is one of her secret desires coming true: watching the two people she finds most insanely sexy doing it.
The other equally valid option is one which also occurs to Lauren, and that is that Dyson has imagined her in flagrante, and that’s a dark and intimate and really uncomfortable thing to acknowledge. How many of us had harbored thoughts about people we’d be embarrassed to have know of our imaginations? How many of us have had some kinky thoughts about a coworker, or friend’s partner, or friend, or . . . you get the picture. The fact Lost Girl treats the object having knowledge as awkward, but doesn’t act as if the actual act of illicit imaginations is new or unexpected or particularly shameful, and presents it as fairly a given, is well done.
One last angle: it’s refreshing how – other than the mirror images which present the above interesting potentials – the show keeps the f/f actress pairing even in historical flashbacks from Dyson’s memories. Other shows take a twisted pleasure in finally giving the audience a long-desired f/f character pairing in alternate universes/timelines/bodyswitches, but always when one of the two is pictured and presented in a male body. Now, Bo technically is in a dude’s body, but not how we the audience see it. [Addendum: when Bo looks in the mirror, she and we the audience through her eyes see Dyson. When Bo looks away, the image continues as Dyson because we’re at the exact angle we were at when Bo was looking at the mirror. We the audience are looking in the mirror, and thus – like anyone else in that world would – we see Dyson’s face.] It subtly flips the usual trope on its head.
This is only the second episode this Grassi has written, and I think I like him. Granted, much of the way the actual blocking etc is presented is probably director, but 1) writers can put specifics in script notes, especially in TV and especially in an episode like this, and 2) Emily Andras mentioned the writers are on set and collaborating with the director for all their episodes. These writers obviously know their genre history.
Jumping back to Bo and thinking about Lauren and Dyson, for a moment: she’s not just thinking about the sexiness of her partners. At the Dal near the end, Bo makes the clearest nod yet to the potential of a poly relationship, when she talks about how though the red string of fate is supposed to bind just two people, Bo in fine with bucking convention and letting it bind many. Sure, it plays as their ‘family of friends,’ but it’s pretty obviously a hint towards her getting to be with Dyson and Lauren and possibly more to boot.
In fact, in this episode Lauren explicitly tied herself to Bo and Dyson’s destiny. It’s pretty obvious they’re inextricably intertwined, but they’re really sealing the deal. Like I (and in fact this episode) said, Lost Girl doesn’t do subtle. And that’s, admittedly, part of the fun.
Lauren gets in a couple low blows on Dyson’s intellect, as is her wont, but she also drops the witticisms when she goes into the muddled Dyson/Bo subconscious. Lauren sells Bo on untying her string and coming back to reality by telling Bo it’s all for Dyson’s sake, rather than trying to convince a confused Bo that Lauren is still very alive, and still an option. That’s a knife-twisting scene, and the way Palmer navigates from her standard, emotional-but-subtler brand of acting to over-the-top excess revelry and back again is fun to watch. In fact, I bet this whole thing was a blast for everyone to film, if somewhat of an exercise in accents and remembering who one was at any given time.
Having triumphantly emerged from subconsciousland, Bo retrieves the shoe wrapped in an old jock strap (which I can only imagine was used to throw fae off the scent), and she and Lauren rush to everybody’s rescue.
Even once Dyson has been exonerated from the murders, he – both in the past and the present – takes responsibility for them. In fact, it’s framed as being one of the first things he does accept as being his fault, even though it’s born of ignorance and arrogance and not pure malice. Just because one didn’t mean for such drastic consequences to come of their behavior doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take any responsibility for it. I hope this finally and truly marks another turn in Dyson’s personality, even as his acceptance of responsibility and Flora’s death marked a turn so long ago.
But did the Una Mens realize it was a mistake and not murder? At first I thought the Una Mens framed Dyson, and just delayed their gratification for a century. Then I realized, they didn’t frame him but they knew 1) he had been framed 2) he had the shoes, so they arrested him in hopes Bo would manage to find the shoes. Had nothing materialized, they likely would have proceeded with the execution on principle.
Nothing makes one hungrier than a narrow brush with death, so all five retreat to the bar for hot dogs.
It’s telling Trick isn’t here, especially since Bo is finally fed up with his games and veneer of benevolence. He’s always been out for himself, and there will likely be some splintering as Dyson has to convince him to play ball, or side against him. All that aside, I love this configuration, and I love it looks like we may get all of them together again. Eventually it’s not going to take them whole seasons to figure out they’re better as a team. The show can still shoot (cheaper and faster, production-wise) 2-character scenes and have them working different angles of the same mission. Everyone being on the same page, or hell even in the same novella, is much preferable.
After all this, what is our next step?
‘Find the bartender. Save the world.’
– There’s a bit in this podcast about Dyson as ego, then id, and Trick as superego. It’s well worth a listen. [LINK COMING SOON.]
– Last week they queer Casablanca, this week they queer Dyson’s history . . . they’re just queering all of the things.
– Bo can’t turn the eunuch on, but Hale blows in his ear and . . .
– What a convenient gargoyle! I need someone to make a photo collage of all the creative ways they’ve covered Dyson’s junk this season. Pretty please.
– I think they were making a weird statement with Cassie before, but I like her better this way. As in, less J-pop and juvenile. She thankfully kept her irreverence and blunt honesty, though.
– Solo could star in a Claudette Colbert biopic. Wondering if the helskór will be a way to bring Tamsin back into this.
– I’m not a fan of the phone ring trick, but it looks like they’re making it, and Kenzi’s ringtone specifically, a running joke.
– “She will . . .” WHAT? “It is written” WHAT? So many vague half-prophesies. I wish they’d solidify a bit more of these various prophesies they keep making oblique reference to. It’s been nearly a full four seasons of Bo’s big role in the fae world getting dragged out without any major reveals or even explicit crumbs. I’m worried they’ll run out of runway.