Lost Girl: Season 05, Episode 14, “Follow the Yellow Trick Road”
Lost Girl has nodded to The Wizard of Oz before, and “Follow the Yellow Trick Road” opens seemingly in the middle of it.
The ending of last episode [as the ‘previously on’ reminds us] suggests this cold open is a switch to Bo’s internal POV; ie, her dream, hallucination, or however you interpret The Wizard of Oz. The viewer immediately understands Bo is in said hallucination not just because of the segue, but the color use is reminiscent both of Oz and of dream/hallucination sequences.
Bo’s outfit and the score both reference things earlier in the series, the setting is the clubhouse, and Bo immediately calls out for Tamsin, letting us know she’s at least mildly aware 1. something is wrong 2. what sort of things are happening in the actual world, where Tamsin is her roommate.
She calls Lauren, then Dyson, so she remembers everyone, unlike when she was on the train before.
She says “I just woke up in a Lucy re-run” at the mirror and “Gray means go” at the traffic light, telling us she’s seeing the same color palate we are, which hints strongly towards Pleasantville.
So far, so much better than many of the show’s former forays into alternate universes, dream worlds, etc. Viewers can be a bit in the dark, the characters should be disoriented, but there are road signs here to point us in the general direction, and bread crumbs hinting we’re going to soon find out what exactly is going on, unlike the prolonged train ride with The Wanderer.
The next scene obviously jumps us out of the dream. Just as the opening scene is loaded with information about the In-Dream World [IDW], the second scene is loaded with information about the Real World [RW]. The colors are saturated instead of grayscale, so there’s our easy line of demarkation. There’s an In Loving Memory picture of Trick surrounded by flowers, which is 1. our marker that he is in fact dead, 2. a suggestion Aife may not be, since there’s no picture of her, 3. a tip Tamsin’s supernatural pregnancy is moving fast, since she’s showing quite a bit but the flowers are presumably funeral arrangements, so we’re only a week at most removed from last episode.
Lauren sits tracking Bo’s brain movement, so we know she’s in a coma or supernaturally-imposed dream. Dyson mentions they’re guarding against Jack, so Daddy Dearest is still at large and they presume coming after them; this also suggests these events are soon after the closing scene of last episode.
Just LOOK how much information is in these opening two-and-a-half minutes! Later dialogue confirms all of the above, but it’s all there or hinted at within the two opening scenes. This show can absolutely convey things when it wants to . . . I just wish it wanted to more often.
We’re oriented to our two worlds, we know what the characters are doing, we have hints about what’s behind it, we’re ready for the story to unfold in the rest of the episode. Letting the audience in on what’s happening is good.
The bit where Bo is in an alley trying to convince Tamsin to help her on a quest is yet another throwback, in an episode and season rather full of them. Dyson the Cowardly Shifter, Tamsin the Real Estate Agent (who reminded me of AU Librarian Mary Hatch), Lauren the Stoner, Vex the Two-Face (even if his being called that by Mark was way too on-the-nose, and his Janus impression was a little hindered by CGI, somewhat masked by the hall of mirrors), and Kenzi the Metamorphosizing Symbolism, all help Bo on her journey.
As we meet various versions of Bo’s friends in her dream, we cross-cut with them interacting with the comatose Bo, as all the rest of the characters start gathering in the Real World. Vex and Mark show up after ‘gathering Trick’s books from his lair’ (uh huh, sure). Kenzi comes, along with her perfect exclamations (jumping . . . Jehovah’s . . . witnesses) and calling out of cryptic glances and absurd baby bumps. What’s left of the gang is all together again, with Bo as their de facto leader heading into the last two episodes.
As there are a plethora of “she is chosen! he is special! of course they can lead it is their destiny!” sorts of fiction out there, especially in YA, it would actually be nicer if there weren’t an implication of Bo’s literal bloodline/blood being a necessary key to unlock this particular choice . . . but maybe that’s a hyperidealistic hope, especially in the waning episodes of a supernatural allegory which is attempting to tie up approximately 1,000 loose ends.
It’s a pretty pat answer, the “it’s been you/inside you all along,” though very in keeping with this episodic theme. But for Bo, the girl who felt so lost, who fought to choose and who has been often plagued with self-doubt and lots of Fae intent on blocking her way, it’s still a pretty big deal to realize that she is in fact able to make her own way; she doesn’t need the Ash or her biological heritage, just herself and her friends, and their brains, heart, and courage.
I could have done without the literalism of spitting blood into Bo’s mouth while she’s being told to “accept it” (both Trick’s death and her own fate), and the horseshoe being the key to the Pyrippus is as direct as it gets, too. But, begging, choosing, etc.
Like anything worthwhile in life, acceptance isn’t a one-time decision which is then over and everything is easy; it’s a process. Vex’s arc underlines that nicely, and bringing him into this episode isn’t just for the convenience of having another character to give a dramatic death, but to drive home the idea of constant choosing and action being necessary. How often has Vex decided to be on the straight and narrow, wandered off of it, decided to return, etc.
The roadblock to even starting the process of acceptance is denial, and that’s the real theme of this episode. Tamsin refuses to talk to Lauren about her baby bump. Bo is kept in life-or-death limbo by refusing to accept Trick’s death. Dyson doesn’t want to look at Trick’s books even when they may have the answer, and he’s carrying around Trick’s will as if not opening it means Trick may not truly be gone. The way this found family comes together to help acknowledge, accept, and grieve Trick’s passing is not just lovely but necessary. Now they go into their final fight unified, and with gifts of great meaning. It’s also my guess Trick’s death is narratively necessary for Bo to be able to use her blood, but we’ll see.
I mentioned above that the strength of what Bo supernaturally inherits feels a bit heavy on the side of It’s Just Destiny, especially since Trick’s dying words – both spoken as he died, and written in his will – put such weight on her blood, something which likely hold great power and could literally be used to write history.
The notes the will-reading scene strikes, though, work not to contradict, but to counterbalance that. It’s clear Bo needs her friends, and Bo’s decisions are integral to how she uses her power; this holds a great deal of weight. The line in Trick’s will, “life is not about finding your path, it’s about creating one,” is reminder no matter what we start with or what cards we’re dealt or what circumstances we find ourselves in, it’s our choices which make us who we are. Whether we’re the type of humans who can be proud to look in the mirror, whether we have found those we love and those we’re proud to call family, whether we make the hard choices and fight for what we believe, those are the things this show started with Bo as a symbol of. She’s not done it perfectly, as none of us will, but those themes are coming back around as the show draws to a close, and that’s great to see.
– IDW Tamsin being ‘highly allergic to gluten’ is possibly my favorite joke of the episode, and it also is a neat way to play hard against her beer-swilling RW self.
– “I’ll do anything . . . but I won’t do that” is said by Dyson, helped by the editing (finishing a sentence with edits is a favorite technique; one Archer uses to great effect). It leaves out the words “for love,” but your brain fills them in.
– Instead of Aife being dead, she apparently just wasn’t important enough to warrant her own memoriam picture. Not exactly a nice way to treat someone you already forgot for the past two seasons.
– The actors were obviously having a lot of fun with their IDW selves, and there are plenty of really lovely shots in this episode, thanks to Paulo Barzman.
– If one were counting pop culture references and film titles named-dropped, this episode might set the series record.