Lost Girl: Season 05, Episode 16, “Rise”
Two quick things before I get into the review.
Next week I plan to do a whole series overview and closing thoughts / episode ranking, of sorts. This is by far the longest show I’ve covered, and I’ve written much in depth about it, so I want to put my thoughts about it as a whole in one place before I close the book on it. Anything you want covered, from production thoughts to camera angles to my stab at metaphors, leave it in the comments.
I’ve very much enjoyed writing these reviews over the past few years, as I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. I’ve put many hours into it, and all I ask in return is one thing: for you to watch this short film I made. (It’s really quite short, I promise.) If you like it, do share, but only feel obligated – deeply, thoroughly obligated, I hope – to watch.
And now, without further ado:
Playing with tropes and playing into them are very different. Episodes which riff on tropes may not be your cup of tea (though they are mine), but there’s no denying where Season 3 of Lost Girl took tropes and examined, twisted, and blew them up, Season 5 has mostly just played straight into them. Another way S3 and S5 differ is that S3 played with broader TV tropes: suburbia, undercover characters, etc. S5 has played with the worst of specific sci-fi tropes: supernatural / expedited pregnancy, possession by evil or evil forces, etc, and this episode was the climax of several.
It also continued last episode’s parade of long-neglected characters, some to better effect than others. Look, I don’t care how Deus Ex Machina he was, I missed Bruce.
Also making an appearance in an attempt to convince us they were relevant or planned all along are the hel-shoes. We get callbacks to Karen Beatty, the premise where Dyson was a detective working on the side to cover up Fae transgressions, and the time Kenzi taught Bo how to tongue someone a key. Honestly, most of that only served to remind us what a completely different show this was in the first few seasons. And the mourning process of this finale was maybe more for that show than this one.
Still, we got hugs and goodbyes, the luxury-and-sometimes-handcuff you can have when you know in advance you’re writing a series finale. Even if they cheat with obvious introduction for a spinoff.
Speaking of cheating: they attempted to have all their romance cakes and eat them, too. Bo had a last kiss for Tamsin before she died (more on that later), and ended up with Lauren, but they also basically state that Bo will get to be with Dyson later. Lauren’s bit to Dyson that ‘Bo will have you when I die’ could be taken as meaning ‘as a friend and support as Bo grieves,’ but absolutely feels as if the writers were saying “hey fans of Bo and Dyson as a couple, don’t worry, they’ll be together in like 50 years.”The tension between writers trying to hedge their bets and what actors think their characters would do is sometimes hard to cover, and there’s something in Palmer’s line reading which makes me think she’s trying to play it the former, but the writing is definitively the latter.
This is pretty terrible on multiple levels: If you just wait long enough, you get the girl you want! The only possible way to have multiple love interests is consecutively! After Bo has made clear she’s chosen Lauren, the writers essentially call it a ‘because you’re mortal and I can always half beefcake later!’ sort of pragmatic decision! Dyson won’t live the life he chooses in the meantime, but will just hang out tending bar and waiting for his good friend to die! But possibly the worst level is how it makes me think of the How I Met Your Mother ending. As a rule of thumb, during your series finale, you don’t want to remind your audience of literally the worst series finale of all time.
I also take issue with the line where Lauren says she hopes being that messy and complicated never changes. It will. It should. It’ll never be perfect, of course, and new obstacles and fights and things will crop up. But hoping for it to stay as messy and complicated and by extension hurtful as it’s been the past few years/seasons is foolish and hardly healthy. It may drive ratings and narrative tension and fanfic, but it’s not romantic to be a dumpster fire for 50 years. Let’s pretend those words weren’t put in her mouth, and simply think of them getting more stability in their relationship, if not their escapades. Godparents to a feisty young Fae, armed with syringes and leather jackets and witticisms, sounds like a grand ol’ time.
Despite all the sending off of relationships into their various glowing sunsets, it was an incredibly chaste finale. Two kisses, and though Marc and Vex end up together, there’s nothing but handholding. Quite a long ways from the boundaries-pushing pilot.
There are visual throwbacks to things throughout the series, such as the staging of Bo’s big feed being obviously similar to when she fed from the Lich and his animated lackeys. There are some other basic yet effective devices such as using the cage bars to break the screen up and frame Tamsin and Bo, and shooting up at Bo and down towards Tamsin to give us the POV of one or the other. There is Vex getting a little meta with the comment “I’ve got a life outside of you people,” reminding us the character stories go on when we’re not watching. There are a lot of glowing blue accents and blue filtered light the color of Bo’s eyes and chi-sucking. There’s Bo’s outfit reminiscent of a Phoenix (as in, “Rise” after the fire of last episode), and Bo sucking up juice to fill a rechargeable Pyrippus battery while Jack the Charismatic Cult Leader looks on.
My English professor used to never allow us to start a sentence with ‘there was/is/are,’ as it’s lazy and repetitive, but I just don’t have much more to say about the shooting here. It’s pretty standards end-of-the-world, betrayal-of-friends, turning-evil stuff. Being up high. Raising one’s arms as absorbing power. Conjuring thoughts of Judas by betraying/killing with a kiss. Having a Yellow Crayon speech, which to be fair is delivered by Ksenia Solo, therefore it’s good and effective and the things we have come to expect.
There are also questionable moments. The push to overpowering Bo’s Need To Feed, in context of her queerness and how it works as a metaphor, is something to handle carefully, and a few of these lines seemed unaware of that. The final bit with Dagne featured a uniformed Mark intruding on her makeout session basically like “hey I’m feeling you want to lose your virginity tonight and I’ve decided NOPE” then whisking her to the Dal, presumably leaving the other girl in the car wondering where that scary cop just took her girlfriend. At the Dal, Lauren sticks a needle in her arm and injects her with something, both without consent or preamble. Yeah, Dagny had obviously been told by Kenzi who these people were, but that doesn’t make the way it plays out okay.
That’s still nothing compared to how the narrative treated Dagny’s mother, though. After introducing her as a kickass, abrasive, often-frustrating, bisexual, cop Valkyrie, the story took Tamsin and turned her into a helpless political pawn (in flashbacks and much of S4’s confusing jumble), made her hopelessly pine for Bo’s love, and stripped away her agency at every turn. She ended up raped, mystically impregnated, imprisoned, dying after childbirth, and CGI’ing away to nothingness. Tamsin goes out not with a bang, but with a lot of screaming and then the most passive acceptance of her fate possible, which is the antithesis of the character we first came to know.
At least we got one tiny glimpse of Old TamTam before the end.
As for actually wrapping up the story, you can’t lay all the fault at the feet of one episode. Long arcs have not been this show’s strongest suit, and the mess that was S4 (Rainer was namedropped here only the second time since his conclusion, I think), and the leadup to the Ancients, and Zee playing The Enemy of my Enemy, and the horseshoe, and the Daddy Dearest, and turning Bo evil and back again as she chose her own path yet again, and now Tamsin’s giving birth and dying, all these things had to be wrapped up in 43 minutes. (39 if you don’t count that last scene practically begging for a spinoff or movie or both. They could have rewritten the line “I don’t know how and I don’t know when” to just say “this line is meta setup for a future series or movie” and the effect would not have changed.) It’s a lot.
Having to execute all that, in some ways the finale is better than one has room to expect. It was a nice little bit, to make us roll our eyes at how easy Kenzi turned Bo back to being Good, then have it be Bo making a play for the horseshoe. The chi-sucking giving Bo flashbacks to happier times is as workable a solution as you could come up with, having to redeem her in such an insanely short amount of time after Jack’s pontificating brought her to the Dark side. Indeed, the way she was turned reminded us that Bo’s biggest fears have always been 1. being a killer 2. being abandoned, left without loved ones and family; that’s some of where Lost Girl‘s emotional mining has been deepest.
In the end Bo lives the life she chooses, love conquers all, new life begins as one is ending, etc etc and cliche, and in a very The Princess Bride moment: this scene.
– Of course Lauren groups duct tape and pharmaceuticals in the same hierarchy of need.
– Chekov’s Tranq Gun.
– Though everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter deals in catchphrases of dualism, and the writing is careful to say good/evil, we know they meant to invoke Light/Dark, the two Fae sides.
– “Okay it just got Sailor Moon out there.”
– A bunch of dudes in robes with axes in the middle of a freeway is harder to explain than the Rapture.
– Anna Silk having to act that whole scene while pretending to be rooted to the spot must have been hard; physicality is such a tool. Anna Silk’s hurried line reading of ‘I remember how each of you taste’ (because when you think about it in reference to Kenzi Vex and Mark, ew) made me laugh. Basically, yay Anna Silk.