Lost Girl: Season 05, Episode 15, “Let Them Burn”
The ‘previously on’ before this episode sums up everything that went down last week, which was mainly . . . well, not much, plot-wise. Much of the gang gathered at the clubhouse to process All Of The Feels, come to terms with the fact Trick was dead, and get Bo out of a coma that the narrative only put her in to help with aforementioned Feels Processing and Getting Over Denial. Oh, and Vex got his throat slit.
But despite taking 1/3 of the remaining series’ time to process feels and not progress the plot, I was pretty happy with “The Yellow Trick Road.” There’s already too much ground left uncovered to properly catch up. We have to realize certain things won’t be answered to our satisfaction, other things won’t be resolved at all, and still other things will be solved with KENZI SWOOPS DOWN AND SAVES THE DAY. An extra 42 minutes may not put much of a dent in aaaaaaaall that, but it can help move us towards some satisfactory emotional closure for these characters, and also be a nice stand-alone episode about denial, dealing with death, how our subconscious processes reality . . . you get the picture.
(I would not have complained about some sexytimes, though. Even a nice makeout session. Jus’ saying.)
The cold open here makes it abundantly clear this episode is not going to go that same route. Which is also good; with some processing out of the way, a nice two-parter with good old fashioned action and narrative resolution is now what we want. (Along with sexytimes, shirtlessness, and honestly if there is riding off into the sunset that would be nice, too.) It opens into a scene so disconnected from what came before, there’s a momentary wonder if it’s a fantasy sequence, or if the episode has jumped ahead and is going to backtrack and give us what led up to that moment. Kenzi gives a perfectly believable explanation about Jack setting the fire, then the view cuts to an external shot of the clubhouse (for the first time in a couple seasons, and greatly enhanced by CGI), and the camera slowly pulls back to reveal . . . an unmistakable silhouette. Then the camera cuts to the reverse angle to leave no doubt.
There’s no reason for this to be Jack pulling another impersonation, because nobody can see Bo here but the audience. Kenzi has already established Bo’s not responding, so her not being in the clubhouse is a reasonable conclusion. Again, short amount of time, a few key decisions, and the audience has all the information they need to conclude this is fairly probably Bo who has set fire to the clubhouse. She may be possessed, she may have her reasons, we’re presumably about to find out, but what an opening scene, hey? And sure enough, after the title card, we cut to
I actually love when TV shows use this device, so long as they do it properly and then don’t overdo it. Seeing an improbable, shocking scenario, then going back and slowly unspooling how the characters got to that place in a believable way, is a great mechanism. I especially love that the cut here is to a little tiny glowing red fire, connecting this scene to the previous one. We then get some Ksenia Solo physical humor (who knew the clubhouse even HAD a smoke detector?), and we get Bo in the same outfit we saw her in while she was observing the carnage mere moments before in episode time / 24 hours later in story time.
Kenzi expresses concern, Bo tells her she’s worried proximity puts Kenzi in danger (which of course has a double meaning considering what we the audience know is looming), the two of them engage in a couple expressions of love and review of mythology and the Pyrripus, we’re reminded how this show is instantly 10000% better just for having Kenzi’s presence, they find the prostrate Vex and the open window that means Jack has carried Tamsin away, and we’re off to the story. Another tight little opening sequence well executed.
As much as I am absolutely still against that “surprise! rape!” scene from a few episodes ago, the queasy creepiness of impregnating a woman and carrying her very pregnant self off to a cell occupied by a basinet festooned with bows and ribbons is 1. totally in keeping with the Greco-Roman mythology shift of the last season and a half 2. is easily the creepiest, most horror-esque thing the show has done. Roberts delivers the same perfect mix of smarm and enjoyment-of-pure-evil he’s been dishing out all season, and Skarsten’s vacillation between vulnerability and defiant belligerence is a heartbreaking and very likely response for both her character and the unique situation. Tamsin has been violated in every possible way; raped, impregnated, wings clipped, imprisoned. Every turn of this story makes us want for her to get sweet, bloody, thorough revenge.
They tried a lot of CGI out this episode – from the clubhouse fire inside and out, to the six white horses, to the fire-breathing horse, to the jaguar – so let’s hope they’ve saved some budget and been practicing flaying and limb-tearing visuals for next week’s finale.
While the A plot is pushing the season’s arc towards a conclusion, the subplot with Dyson and Mark is a more philosophical one; Mark, like Bo, comes from outside the system, and questions the whole Light/Dark dichotomy. Dyson has no real answers, just vague ‘stick with the light’ and ‘you just know.’ Taking those words in a direction Dyson didn’t mean them to be taken, Mark feels he ‘knows’ something about himself: we come to realize if he was going to be one or the other, he’s Dark. He’s attempting to put off that decision or remain unaligned, partly because he doesn’t want to disappoint his dad, yes, but partly because he doesn’t buy being forced to participate in a binary system. *insert all sorts of metaphors about sexuality and coming out here.*
Though Mark is wrong about Dyson being a coward, and Dyson has a point about the responsibility of protecting other people being a heavy weight, Mark is right to point out all the elders, Light and Dark, should be involved. He’s also right that Vex was hurt attempting to do good, and Dyson’s prejudice against the dark is unwarranted.
It’s a theme this show showed a lot of promise towards addressing in its first season, the idea that a binary system of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ wasn’t so easily categorized. Sadly, that thread was dropped long ago. Still, it’s nice to see Mark questioning, and though obliteration of the divide (which may be coming next week) is not nearly so satisfying as a long dismantling and dissection of why we humans continually establish such systems when better, broader, more comprehensive options exist, it’d still be better than nothing.
That’s really what we’re after right now: some final metaphors, nods to prior themes, a bit of closure. With a show so wildly different than the show which premiered a few years ago, we’re not going to get the same sort of satisfactory ending which could be seen back in Season 2. It’s actually a bit sad to look back and see where it could have gone, the potential thrown away in attempts to make it a different creature, change from a parable to an inscrutable maze while also tease out various sections of the fandom until all segments were equally fed up. But we can still get some sense of where it all began, and even the answer to some questions long-assumed forgotten, like “whatever the hell happened to LouAnn?’
We get a glimpse of where characters’ lives may go if they survive the series, as well. Vex has control of his mesmer powers again. Evony is hosting fundraiser lunches. In two episodes, Mark has become part owner of the Dal, made decisions which brought two factions together, and learned to shift.
I like the choice of jaguar not just because of the cat/dog dichotomy (which is ridiculous, but mirrors the Light/Dark thing in that regard as well as others), but because that cat’s face actually somehow looks just like Mark’s face. It could have been
a bit very weird to have a dad guiding his son, face-to-face, through what is easily a metaphor for coming of age / first sexual experience, but they skirted that pretty nicely.
The Bo/Jack scene at the booze table could also easily go astray, and be read as a seduction scene. In a way it is, Bo trying to sway Jack to believing her and giving her what she wants, but they (as much as they can with the Greco-Roman everywhere) keep it non-sexual. And we assume Bo is playing quite the game, with high stakes, and her friends’ and lovers’ lives on the line.
I talked a couple weeks ago about the use of dramatic irony and how jumping surprises at the audience from out of nowhere is a terrible use of narrative. But I don’t think Bo’s turn here (and the coming reveal next week) is actually supposed to be a surprise. I think the writers trust us to know the game Bo is playing, and the suspense is not derived from whether or not she’s actually evil or manifesting evil, but whether or not she loses some or all of her gamble, or what price she’ll pay for trying. The idea that Tamsin is already so heartbroken, and now actually thinks Bo has abandoned her, even though we know differently, is where the emotional power of the plot comes from, and it packs a punch.
In other words: we know and trust Bo enough that we’re in on the joke, but the tension is whether her friends catch on, and whether or how many will die before she can complete the gambit.
– “Her butler has a butler!”
– So long as we’re talking about myths, please do check out this guy.
– Phoenix eggs are an obvious foreshadowing. Since next episode is titled “Rise” and this one starts and ends with fire, I venture a guess that there’s some metaphorical resurrection from presumed death . . . but also Tamsin literally rises from the ashes of her birthing bed as a Valkyrie reborn.
– How they handle all that, plus vanquishing Hades, plus giving a glimpse of how Bo’s love life turns out when they seem to have forgotten she even wants sex let alone needs it, plus having the elders all work together and potentially abolishing the whole system, plus etc etc etc, in 42 minutes (unless anyone has heard the last ep runs longer?), is anyone’s guess.