Lost Girl: Season 4, Episode 12, Origin
Lost Girl has finally snapped my mind like a twig. I have no words.
Which of course means I will continue to ramble for several thousand words. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Air sickness bags are in the back of the seat in front of you, just in case.
Let’s start with the episode structure. This is written by Alexandra Zarowny, who wrote “Sleeping Beauty School” (which was directed by Steve DiMarco, who directed this episode) and “Fae-ge Against The Machine” (directed by George Mihalka). In my review of the former – of which you can refresh your memory by clicking the handy hyperlink – I explained why that episode simply did not work, even though on the surface it had much the same structure as “Fae-ge.” In short, “Fae-ge” worked because it clearly delineated how the B-plot was having a direct influence on the A-plot, and the absurdities of the A-plot were supposed to be just that, absurd, as part of the Dawning-hoops devised by maniacal powers-that-be and shaped by a couple outside-the-system fae weirdos.
Zarowny’s problem seems to be she attempts to copy the structure and absurdity of “Fae-ge” without understanding what truly works about it, and thus we get two more episodes which are theoretically similar – people following a string of supernatural and obfuscated clues to a destiny/discovery/person! Lots of random, arbitrary happenings to ‘lead’ us somewhere! Random nefarious character who serves as a turncoat! – but which structurally do not work on almost any level. Some of the individual beats and scenes still work, and some of the characters work, but the overall arc Does. Not. Work.
(It should be noted whenever she gets away from this structure she has more success: one episode which could be better with more hair extension budget, one episode which deals well with body image and girls forced into stripping and/or prostitution, and one of the better episodes of Season 3 which had a smooth give-and-take between the mystery plot and the characters working through personal issues.)
To some extent, the amount of plot that had to fit into this episode isn’t any one person’s fault. The past season and a half have had several four-episode subplots jammed into one episode, and some one-episode subplots dragged out over 11 episodes. The show is stronger individually than with its overarching plots, and their reluctance to reveal things and how that harms them rather than help is really well demonstrated by how three plots play out: Rainer/Bo, Lauren/Evony, and Vex/Massimo.
Dragged Out: The Rainer Is My Destiny (RIMD) plot needed to be dropped up-front of the season. We’d had some lead-up in Season 3, but they spent most of this season postponing the actual reveal. Giving us the flashbacks to Bo and Rainer on the train in 4.02 along with Bo’s friends searching for her would have worked better, but they wanted to draaaaag out the reveal, and ultimately it didn’t pack the necessary wallop. Now they waited so long, we don’t have sufficient time for the rest of the arc.
Foreshadowed, Quick Delivery: In this episode, Lauren tells Bo – and by extension the audience – she’s got ulterior motives for aligning with the Dark (more on that later), and we also know last time she kissed Evony she did it to gain something. When Lauren shows up in Evony’s bed, we already know it’s not all what it seems. We know there’s a twist, and yet that does nothing to diminish the twist when it comes (heh, comes) only a few scenes later. “Oh, Lauren is playing the Dark? Oh, Lauren is bedding Evony? Ok, something is going on, we’re in on half the joke, let’s see what the rest is.” Being fairly transparent with what was up doesn’t weaken the specific reveal.
Out of Nowhere: Then the Vex/Massimo plot comes out of absolutely nowhere, dropped in because it’s convenient and Kenzi needs to feel betrayed by everyone in her life. We get no hint Vex even knows Massimo, let alone has dedicated such a large portion of his life to protecting the human (and if Vex owns/claimed him, can’t Vex kill him?), until SURPRISE! Vex turns on Kenzi. In fact, Massimo feels poorly planned this whole back half. None of his scenes work this episode, other than on the most basic level of creeping out the audience. His shift from sleazy dealer druid to insane oedipal madman is completely unearned, and while he worked as the former, he doesn’t the latter. Making him ‘resurrect’ is not enough to initiate a whole personality and plot shift. Yeah, we get Massimo is a twisted shithead who went to crazytown. But you don’t get to just do that because. You have to create causal chains for character development. Instead we get shortcuts and deus ex machina.
In a nutshell, that’s the Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear of plots. One is too quick, the other too coy, one is juuuuuust right. But we’re at the end of the season, and everything’s gotta fit, even if you have to cram the foot into the slipper. (If they can mix fairy tales, so can I.)
To facilitate all this, we get plots of convenience like the Vex/Massimo connection and a second curse that takes effect within seven days of Rainer’s escape from the train, and story machinations like Most Specific Prophesy Evar. ‘The valkyrie shall be reborn! The blood of Zamora shall be shed! The warrior shall . . .’ yep, check, check, and check.
We hit some recurring themes, to varying degrees. The idea of humans and fae and dependence, being claimed versus free, is strong in both Lauren and Kenzi’s story; it feels like that’s where they wanted Massimo to fit, but again his plot was too quick. The idea of blood being so important is there. Bo’s being pulled between biological and chosen family. “Everlasting life.”
We also hit familiar character beats. It’s good we know these characters well by now, because we don’t get much of anyone; a downside of actually having all your main and recurring guest characters in an episode for, I believe, the first time this season. And a plot-point-crammed episode at that.
Bo mostly goes through the motions needed to get her next foe aboveground. Her relationship with Rainer remains about her trying to control something and save someone. She continues to fly by the seat of her leather pants and get bit in the ass by prophesies she ignores. She ends up passively engaging in her destiny, rather than making a decisive move. When she state she is ‘finally facing my destiny,’ it should be a bigger moment. It’s a super important marker, and the season has been leading here! Instead, it’s anticlimactic and doesn’t cause a shift within the episode. She tries to verbally affirm her friendship with Kenzi.
Kenzi doesn’t accept Bo’s verbal overtures anymore, which is good because it would be beyond absurd for her to do so. Her reaction to a knight showing up and pledging fealty (code for vagina?) to Bo is the most perfect thing.
Lauren fights and wins with science.
Tamsin is the one least affected by Hale’s death, so she’s the one who gets bitchy at outsiders, protecting her friends who are deeply grieving. It’s a great touch, and though she’s not in the episode much she works well. She also shares a drink and knowing look with Dyson, though any repercussions of their barside sex are nowhere to be found.
Dyson, aside from another installment of the running homoeroticism injoke and serving as a beautiful eulogy-giver and muscle against Massimo, doesn’t have much to do. And speaking of that scene . . .
Dyson’s turn from wanting to rip Massimo’s heart out and eat it in front of him (awesome) to taking him to lockup went too fast. Still, Dyson is more bound by tradition and has lost many brothers to violence over the years, so his restraint is at least more believable than Kenzi’s. The Kenzi we know would have stabbed Massimo with Geraldine. She obviously knows he’s still invincible, but that just means she gets to do it over and over. That’s what this scene should be; I can’t buy that she turns away not once but twice. She should have to be physically stopped by a frantic Bo. The scene could and should have worked, but the restraint of everyone except Massimo killed it.
Since we’re going scenically:
The spat between Bo and Lauren is typical ex fighting, where two people know each others’ weaknesses and have no reason to hold back. Neither are being totally honest, and it’s definitely the first time they’ve been this catty with each other. Drudging up ex drama works, and the actresses sell the idea that these are somewhat unfair accusations that have been bubbling below the surface, and the two are saying what will paint them in the best light because that’s what you do in an argument with your ex.
But in a lot of ways, things they were saying didn’t actually make sense. A couple episodes ago Bo wasn’t able to choose between Lauren and Dyson, but now she ‘chose,’ past tense, Lauren? Since when? Lauren isn’t doing “everything” for Bo, there’s a healthy dose of self-preservation and her own agenda in there (more on that later). The conversational BS effectively prevents them from actually hashing out any useful information. (Which is, one must admit, handy for the writers.) It needs to be clearer Bo is specifically angry at Lauren for attacking Bo’s new beau, because that’s exactly what is happening. It needs to be clearer Lauren was upset about Bo’s blasé attitude towards the Light’s mistreatment of her, and that helped her decide to liaison with the Dark. It’s all there, kind of, but you have to know their history and work through the chatter to understand that because the lines are so clunky.
The scenes with Evony and Lauren on the other hand, are much clearer; Evony being her typically blunt self doesn’t hurt that. For all we know, this entire plot was so the show could be explicit that two women went down on each other. If you can’t show due to ‘netwerk stahndurds,’ tell.
So since we’re being all clear and obvious: Lauren used her vagina to make the Morrigan human. I repeat, Lauren used her vagina to make the Morrigan human.
Here’s the thing though. Including the fantastic absurdity of the sentence I just wrote, that scene works so much, and is on so many levels the best scene in the episode, even though it feels slightly out of place in an episode breaking its neck on a disjointed A-plot. The scale of the two stories is also disparate; life and death versus powers and position, interpersonal versus world- and clan- changing. This is exactly how these two flirting in Lauren’s apartment felt alongside its A-plot in “All The Gin Joints,” written by the same person; this episode’s plots are almost an extension of all the Gin Joints plots, in fact.
The stark black-and-white motif is nicely suggestive. The two involved do great work, have chemistry and give-and-take, and give us dialogue actually moving characters somewhere.
Lauren’s bed-speech to Evony here operates similarly to her speech to Bo in “Those Who Wander.” Lauren speaks her truth, but words it craftily. In “Those Who Wander” she was cautious because Taft was in the room, and here she carefully manipulates Evony. But in both cases, Lauren airs things which are truly bothering her. Before, it was about her relationship with Bo (a conversation they needed to have long before), and here it’s about her life with the fae. I like when speeches can work on two or more levels, and these do.
We get Lauren involved in another (THIRD!) spy bang. We get Lauren being honest and clear about what it means to be human in the fae world (relevant also to Kenzi here), but it feels like a personal revelation to Evony and not straight exposition. There’s a slap parallel to the one she gave Tamsin, for insulting her and Bo. There’s sexiness, not for the mere sake of it, but Lauren using sex to get what she wants. She knows people overlook her brains/talents because she’s sexy, so she uses what is often an insult and disadvantage – hot woman with brains gets underestimated – to her advantage.
Which leads us back to Lauren telling Bo she ‘did everything for you,’ and seeing that’s just not so. Does taking out the woman who – along with Trick – wants Bo out of the picture help Bo? Of course. But Lauren is also doing it for herself. She can justify it because it’s for a good cause, or because she’s not actually siding with Taft, or because it helps Bo, etc., but she’s destroying the system which deems her inferior and holds her powerless. Simple as that. This season is the start of the fae power structure crumbling, not with a bang but with a lot of sexy whimpers.
Like the DNA collection, serum injection/ingestion could have happened a dozen other ways. Thus both Lauren wanted sex, and the writers wanted to have some more sexytimes. And again, they made sure to make a point that even though they can’t show anything, we’re well aware of what happened between the sheets.
The repercussions will be interesting. (Please God let there be repercussions.) Evony can stay Morrigan unless/until people discover her secret, so now Lauren has blackmail power, but Lauren has also made a powerful enemy. Plus, while what Lauren does is different than Taft in function – Taft was torturing and killing fae and looking to augment himself and possibly others without consent, Lauren is removing a threatening aspect of a known murderer – there’s a lot of gray moral ground in the implementation. Making people fae or human without their consent is dark shit. [Add: I talk more about moral ambiguity and issues of consent and agency here.]
Speaking of dark, I know they’re not always brightly lit, but some scenes were darker than usual. In fact, this episode had a lot of campy and/or subpar framing and dialogue, like after the Morrigan announced the succubus should die, Lauren immediately risked giving away her position by loudly whispering “Bo!”
No, we thought she meant the OTHER all-powerful succubus. We get it. The Morrigan meant Bo.
The fight scene in the temple – sorry, spiritual center – was awkward; I felt bad for Anna Silk, Rachel Skarsten, and Kris Holden-Ried sitting around the table trying to deliver the clunky dialogue about queen bees with a straight face; Bo’s method of figuring out which horse worked, but the poem recital and Epona’s convenient last words before death were unintentionally hilarious; the callback to Bo and Ryan in the cheesy Niagara hotel is perfectly delivered, but doesn’t save the fact this is the third quicky marriage-esque plot in just this season; lack of a reverse shot when Massimo comes into Evony’s bedroom makes it feel like they’re holding out his identity when we clearly know who it is, also, EEEWWWWW on the makeout with mommy; Rosette’s turncoating was clearly telegraphed, so I’m not sure how Bo was surprised (Rainer was surprised because he and Rosette used to be fuck-buddies), but then Rosette was surprised the essence of evil turned on her, and Bo and Rainer were shocked Pyrippus was rising – the very thing their marriage was supposed to bring about!?
What else, what else. Have some episode notes, written in the moment, edited for brevity and clarity and to capitalize proper nouns.
Are they smoking Hale? Hmmm. “Beefcake jerky.” “Hale-be-que.”
Vex and Shakespeare getting high together. That’s an episode I want.
Bo here is all of her acknowledged faults, at the same time, turned up to 11. She kept promising Kenzi stuff and not delivering Maybe they thought that’s the only thing that would make Kenzi leave? And being catty with Lauren so the audience thinks she really went in for Evony? Brutal.
PUT THE WEDDINGS AWAY, WRITER’S ROOM. BURY THEM DEEP.
Geez, you think the warrior who’s been casting jealous looks at Bo all episode is going to be more than she seems!?
oh shit, all the spelling out
LITERALLY SPELLING OUT. HE LITERALLY SPELLED.
“He promised me everlasting life! And I have a great wicked cackle.”
How is Lauren now captive? Somehow we’re in the Una Men’s lair? Where’s Evony? Why isn’t this happening in The Morrigan’s bedroom? Ridiculous shortcut to get Lauren and Massimo with the seed.
HOW IS LAUREN JUST SITTING THERE FOR THIS BEGGING?
Here’s a theory: If we had even a hint that Lauren knew about the seed before, I would say she had tampered with it and her begging was to trick Massimo into taking it. But we have no mention that she knew of its existence. Still, could happen. It definitely didn’t seem to agree with Massimo, what with the bug eyes and twitching.
The episode is full of cues which tell us how we should be responding to the story – dramatic music! Shadowy figures! – without building a coherent story around them. Meanwhile, there’s no discernible endgame, at least not without another season. This is, indeed, LOST with fae.
– “Loved without bounds” is a nod to how complex actually exploring Kenzi-Hale would have been. I would have liked it more had they, y’know, explored it.
– Nice write-around for not being able to get all Hale’s family booked.
– Hale/Kenzi went from ‘just started dating’ to ‘almost husband’ to artificially inflate the ante.
– Oh yes, more Evil Trick Being Nefarious!
– Tamsin asks “attacked by whom?” and I have never adored her more.
– Lauren inserted the bloody end into the phone reader (which is an actual thing), but when they cut to the close-up it was blood-end out.
– “Hel” can refer to the Norse goddess, but it seems they’re using Hel the location.
– It seems Pyrippus is the big bad Wanderer / father. He is probably (via handprint?) manipulating and/or casting a spell on Bo and Rainer. Rainer may have two manifestations: gorgeous and hideous.
– Pyrippus is Bo’s daddy; he gave her up but totes wants to meet her, which sounds like a great plan to Rainer because for someone with foresight, Rainer is terrible at reading interpersonal situations.
– The horse imagery is extra funny/awesome when you consider in adolescent lit, horses are a symbol of burgeoning sexuality.