Lost Girl: Season 05, Episode 12, “Judgement Fae”
Well, THAT was an utter disaster.
Actually, not utter. The acting not only rose above the content, but was possibly some of the best work this series has seen, especially when you consider how many hoops were jumped through and sharks over.
This episode is a mess of coincidences, arbitrary ‘tasks,’ impulsive moves, anticlimactic scenes, Bo’s rushing into things willy nilly, and breakups.
There are still some good moments: the aforementioned acting; “You’re critiquing my wallow?”; some scene mirroring – the shower scene starting on the showerhead and panning down, most importantly the scene at the bar with Dyson and Bo. The Dal bit is reminiscent of the scene two seasons ago with Dyson and Lauren, still one of the more touching things the show has done and one of the things that helped solidify the friendship between Dyson and Lauren. There, as in here, we have two people who are wounded and hurting, trying to make sense of something and looking to a friend for comfort.
With just four episodes left, though, where is it all going? There’s just no telling what the endgame is here, though I am leaning towards Bo deciding to ‘live the life she chooses’ as a human with Lauren as her partner [I think the breakup is just a way to artificially ratchet tension again before the grand finale]; Tamsin sacrificing her life; and Dyson being a lone wolf as ‘punishment’ for his poor relationship skills and nobility, respectively . . . unless either he or Kevin ends up sacrificing himself somehow, too. I just think Tamsin is slated for a heroic death, and I don’t see the show knocking off two characters that way, so close to the end.
But you know what, after this episode, it doesn’t matter how the whole shebang ends. Nothing redeems the narrative and character choices carried through in this episode.
It’s not a worry the show won’t “end the way I want.” It’s realization that the path they’re taking to that ending, any ending, is a raging trash fire. Roger Ebert famously said ‘it’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it,’ and that’s the problem here.
It’s not that the show is about a succubus, or ancient mythology colliding with modern sensibilities to make a hybrid tale. It’s not that the thing is convoluted; I willingly watch JJ Abrams shows. Its that characters are being jerked around like puppets, their personalities and plans and motivations all bent in half to serve the plot / morality tale / distraction of the week. It’s that all is sacrificed on the altar of trying to ‘trick’ the audience, wrench melodrama from every possible place, and service unbelievable endgames.
I don’t lay much blame on the two new writers of this episode; first, two primary named writers on a show which historically functions with a writer’s room and one primary, is probably a bad sign that there were Forces Beyond Their Control (or that one of them botched the first pass). Second, likely much of the plot was fixed by Higher Powers, and this episode screams plotting of a different ilk.
The theme of the episode is ‘sacrifice’, and some of that works, but it should really be semicolonized – “Sacrifice: Whether it makes sense or not.”
Elizabeth sacrifices herself (she assumes) as she has nothing left to live for (she assumes).
Dyson sacrifices the future he just decided he wants, which does actually make sense, and I like how his story overall goes. But being packed into so short a time span is whiplash-inducing and doesn’t allow us to fully invest in, process, and feel the emotions we should at these developments. Kris Holden-Ried does great work with a guy who was finding himself almost surprisingly, casually in a comfortable – and very ‘suburban’ but in an unusual setting and circumstances – relationship. He’s a person struggling with his long past, tradition, nobility, new feelings, and what he may be doing to this person he cares about no matter what he decides.
But we only get about five minutes of screen time to let all this play out: Dyson is very ‘human,’ very settled into a routine, then he comes to a realization he’s in love, then he (presumably, what with their playing everything so coy) has sex, then BAM, he’s suddenly very single and unsettled again.
After what seemed to be a positive trend of actually talking (onscreen!) about their relatonship, Lauren sacrifices herself in a a couple ways.
She sacrifices her potential at immortality, and also her relationship with Bo, both with no legitimate discussion. Just, “bee tee dubs, I did the thing you wanted but I argued about, and now I mention it to you as an afterthought because you’re the most important person in my life, who I’m now breaking up with in some Big Misguided Noble Movie Gesture that you get no say in, k bye.”
Is it possible that Bo and Lauren would have at some point had a legitimate reason for splitting? Yes. But that reason is not “The theme of this episode/season is Sacrifice. And also we need to manufacture some narrative tension. So rather than put work into it let’s pull the oldest, cheapest trick in the book. After only three episodes of them being together and saying ‘I love you,’ let the breakup be sudden, irrevocable, and sealed with a kiss. You know, just to fuck with people.”
You can jerk your characters around with a few-episode turnaround from ‘love of my life’ to a breakup once, if you’re lucky. Trying for it twice, you’re mad. And this time,
the audience the characters only got one couch and one shower makeout session before heartbreak.
Speaking of talking: Bo’s stint as a lawyer just amounts to her being over her head as usual, talking and attempting to take the ‘third option’ as usual, and the parties magically deciding in 20 seconds they just had a misunderstanding are are totes best friends again. No touching/Fae power is involved, just appealing to emotion over reason, law, logic, and apparently years of history and animosity the plaintiff and defendant have. Talk, emotion talk emotion talk emotion bam, over.
Not to mention, Bo’s conclusion how this lesson applies to her situation – spoken aloud because we must always tell tell tell – is ‘stalwartly supporting someone no matter what,’ which is not always the healthiest option. Bringing up flaws and problems is part of a healthy relationship. Settling how you deal with them together is part of it. None of that happens here.
Another example of forcing things with no regard to established character or canon: when Hades references great power / great responsibility, Bo namedrops Voltaire. Um, no. Bo has been constantly, repeatedly established as someone whose cultural touchstone – the first as well as only – would be Spiderman. Instead, she pulls Voltaire out of thin air. That IS NOT Bo. But the writing doesn’t care, it just needs someone, anyone to verbalize the reference.
The reference to the ancient philosopher is actually interesting in the scheme of things, as forced as it is. Last season, while packing her apartment, Lauren referenced Star Trek Wrath of Khan, which is also a Nietzsche reference. The concept of the Ubermensch could be said to be something like FaeLauren, and of course Wrath of Khan involves making the ultimate sacrifice the theme of this episode and presumably this final season.
And then, in a tonal shift even more abrupt than this is about to be (my sincerest apologies):
THAT IS SOOOOOO WRONG.
Not in a good way.
I don’t care how good or bad your CGI is. You cannot morph Bo’s face into daddy dearest’s face. Just the face!?
For a show which does not have the greatest track record handling 1. rape 2. family, this scene is not only as creepy as all get out, but doubly problematic.
Now, if they give us a clear solution AND explicitly condemn the body possession / rape, clearly painting it as the sort of incestuous, rapey, power-play that is prominent in Greco-Roman mythology, then it may turn out better than it looks right now. But still . . . whattheactualfuck, guys.
Is Bo possessed by daddy? Did daddy morph into Bo and the real Bo is tied up somewhere? [eta: I found a show interview where it looks as though this is the case, though it probably happens while Bo is at the Dal lamenting her breakup.] Are they somehow merging through some Hades trickery, via the drawing or a hug? Who knows. The writers wanted a shocking moment to close on and they got one, future ramifications will be handled later.
Or, you know, maybe not. Maybe the answers will go the way of Aife, the Wanderer, Crystal, and Mark’s housing situation. Disappearing, ambiguous, never mentioned again.
Some of my Actual Viewing Notes I Couldn’t be Bothered to Work Into the Review
– Dyson! You can’t just show the traumatized, recently-possessed woman a picture of her dead best friend as a way to snap her out of things!
– Trick just happens to be holding that book while . . . Wait, why are they having this conversation in the middle of the crowded Dal anyways? Is Trick’s Lair Location not available?
– Another test to enter a thing. Very The Dawning. We’re over it.
– They should have ended the Three Ancients arc when they . . . y’know, ended it. A couple episodes ago.
– What did that casting call look like? “Needed: very handsome man to stand sweatily and impassively in front of a fire no matter how melodramatic and absurd things are happening behind him.”
– At least Bo acknowledges to Tamsin how insensitive she can be.
– When Tamsin is the voice of reason you know you’re in trou . . . Oh, wait nevermind.
– Bo looking at the chameleon is a reference. Hades is the chameleon? Bo is feeling like someone she’s not? Hades is chameleon-ing into Bo?
– Omega / Horseshoe. Mystical door of life; symbol for finality/the end (Alpha and Omega); symbol of protection (makes sense since forged from a shield), so protective weapon, way to preserve or bring back to or prolong life? Or, with referencing both the horse whateverfromearlierseasons and the shoe, may we have . . . THIS!?