#LostGirl: Season 05, Episode 02, “Like Hell pt 2”
Cold open to a grave.
Shooting in a coffin doesn’t exactly allow for a lot of options, but the way the camera travels down Kenzi’s body is definitely reminiscent of the camera traveling down Bo’s naked-but-draped-in-a-sheet body from S1, the image which was used behind the opening credits for the first four seasons.
Twice in two episodes they subvert expectations about how they’d hold us in suspense for finding Kenzi. I don’t mind them not dragging it out, I’m just a little surprised.
Pleasantly surprised at first, as we get quickly to some Team Human shenanigans. Drinking vodka together, playing with mystical relics, Lauren unleashing a little physical whoopass, science lingo plus smartass jargon.
Unpleasantly surprised at the last, because it becomes apparent they needed to get Solo’s arc done with to usher her to the wings. Kenzi doesn’t even dress up her leaving as needing space, it’s presented as a ‘goodbye,’ and a very sudden one at that. Kenzi blows away a ghost, dusts her hands, opines ‘Damn. Fae just keep coming back.’ and then jets.
There’s no doubt in my mind she returns. It looks as if Solo needed time on other shoots and returned more out of affinity for the series, but my guess is knowing how many episodes they had, they made sure she was in the last episodes. Part depends on whether they wrote her in before they knew they had three extra episodes to play with, but my guess is we see her return around Episode 9 or 10.
In the meantime, it looks like we’ll have Bo, Lauren, Tamsin, and Trick keeping things going. They’ve now got established rythyms in each others’ lives; Bo and Dyson seem to have gotten past their high school malarky, Dyson texts about Lauren, Lauren calls Dyson, Dyson and Tamsin pinky swear to be friends, Tamsin steps in to protect Lauren and later gives Lauren a knowing look when she retires to the cask room with Bo. Even without the Kenzi glue, the team can get along . . . just, there’s no way in Tartarus it will be the same.
Tartarus, meanwhile, is just Valhalla lit with blue gels. Rule number thirty-something of low-budget filmmaking, use the hell out of your sets and make the most out of your props. Some of the stone objects seem lifted from Xena, and sometimes the dim lighting is frustrating, sometimes it’s obviously covering for CGI, as when we pan up for a maze overview.
Bo solves the maze and puzzles presented pretty quickly, starting with kicking one such puzzle into submission rather than use her touch. Meanwhile Dyson, knowing he can’t beat Stacy, pulls out the ages-old smoothness and flirts with her. Interesting reversal of tactics, Dyson leveraging sex and Bo violence.
In fact there are a LOT of role reversals in this episode, many of them revolving around Bo. So many aspects of her story are historically male. The idea of her being bred as a power play, groomed to rule the underworld/lead armies. Wandering lost. The way she slept with her stepmother and is out to kill her father; and don’t forget she kissed her actual mother, too, back in Season 1. Her journey to the underworld on a quest is typically male heroism in mythology, although it’s also very reminiscent of another show with strong, complicated female leads; Xena. Even the way Bo’s sitting at Trick’s right hand for dinner can be interpreted that way. Not that I read into seating arrangements.
We get several other callbacks and meta commentary. We see the kimono again; Bo explicitly choosing found family over biological (and I think her line in the elevator about being taught to fight by mom is a shout-out to her adoptive mom, but it read a bit weird to me); Dyson being super earnest about some of his past actions then getting called a tool; drenching Lauren’s lab in that cool blue light; Dyson mentioning Evony offhand and seemingly disposing of that plotline, at least for now; oh, and incest.
Yes, Bo kissed her mom before, and then her mom raped her boyfriend. But nothing prepared me for the weight of what we got here.
Genre TV, like mythology before it, has always been a place to explore both social mores/taboos, and heavy topics through metaphor. But this episode goes all-out on themes they’ve skimmed by before. Bo full-on screws her stepmom, who actually happens to have a very incest-heavy backstory. Dyson makes out hot and heavy with the sister of the girl he’s sleeping with. And then there’s a secondary theory about that whole Lauren scene.
I should lead with the fact I’m not actually a fan of this theory. Maybe it gets dropped. Maybe it’s sprung as a gotcha in a couple episodes. I’m not sure what I think. But there are three things which I think support it. Hang on.
Throughout the episode, the way the Lauren/Kenzi story is intercut with Bo’s story makes us think that the two are related; Bo is wandering lost when the word HELP appears in Lauren’s lab, Bo is having sex when Lauren is being disrobed, etc. At the denouement, we’re supposed to assume that everything we attributed to Bo is attributable to the ghost, which is super terrible/rapey as it stands. But there’s another option, and that is the ghost was released when Kenzi and Lauren burned the board, not before, meanwhile valkyrie aren’t the only ones interested in fucking with people Bo love. Hades is. And one of Hades’ big attributes is, he has a helmet which renders him invisible. And other than incest and Herculean tasks, what does mythology love? Trickery in sex.
What I’m saying is, in an episode already laden with incest, in an episode dealing with mythology, in a genre which practically prides itself in the macabre and strange and mystical pregnancies, in an episode structured to mislead, and in dealing with a god whose main selling points include rape and being invisible, when Lauren mentions that “it had some patented Bo moves,” that suggests it’s possible that Hades was the one in bed with Lauren.
There you have it, let’s hope it’s wrong.
Including that theory, I’m not totally positive what to make of this episode. It neatly ties up the Kenzi bit, and surely sets the stage for some longer arcs to come. There are hints of Buffy‘s scooby gang, albeit without Kenzi, who could play the Giles role and return to help save the day. This episode is definitely aware of others in its genre, with especially Xena hanging over almost every scene. It has what seems to be insignificant ghost filler, unless they’re really going to use that to set up something/one else becoming corporeal. Like another episode (though on a much lesser scale), the journey is too full of random objects, whiplashy, and subjective: rules and objectives seemingly made up on the fly, consequences glancing or not fully explained. It’s an episode which has some good scenes, ties some things up, gets some laughs. It fulfills some necessary housework; specifically, wrapping up Solo’s bit and continuing to establish what about last season is sticking and what is getting swept under the rug, as I mentioned last week. It has a lot of literal symbolism and light/dark dichotomy. There are a couple really pretty moments, like the shot of Bo tearing the boards off the clubhouse wall, or the wide shot of a deserted Tartarus. But overall, I think this is an episode which can be better and more fully judged in context, when we get where it’s all headed.
– Can anyone enlighten me about that that throwaway history teacher / rugby line? I feel I missed something.
– So much easier to give characters clear liquor, so actors can drink water. Doing apple juice, fake beer, etc for take after take can not only be more tiring, but also very calorie-laden. In the case of fake beer, foam and continuity are a pain to maintain. And it’s much harder to do a spit bucket for beverages than food. What I’m saying is: vodka drinking and tequila shooting are the easiest.
– I know there’s mythology to base a trickster who projects voices of loved ones. But seeing the timing, it’s also very reminiscent of a Jabberjay.
– Trick calls it his ‘lair,’ and Dyson agrees with me Trick is nefarious.
– Hey. Pillows, decorative or no, have their place.
– “It kissed my neck!”