And here it is, Mahlers5th and Valksy‘s analysis of the last 2 episodes of Season 4. We’d like to extend a big thank you to the both of them for their contributions throughout the season. And we hope that you have all enjoyed their insightful pieces.
Architects of the world
I walk your streets and live in your towns temporarily
Architects of the world
You’ve served us well until now, but soon we’ll be on our own
(Nova Heart, lyrics by Gordon Deppe)
Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.
(Truckin’, lyrics by Jerry Garcia)
A long, strange trip indeed, as the writers placed us all on a mystery train that seemed to obscure boundaries of reality and invited us to accept a world more steeped in “magic” than ever before. The first few seasons of Lost Girl introduced us to an alternate universe to our own where all myths had an organic biological grounding. There was always a question whether the Fae created mythology to obscure their own existence and cloak themselves in the supernatural, or if stories were told by humans who had experienced the Fae for themselves and struggled to make sense of the encounter. But the core of “magic” still had a rational explanation: Yes, there are succubi. Yes, there are brownies. Yes it is all real.
Season four changed the show’s paradigm by asking us to embrace a world where reality has become mutable, where there are different planes of existence, where destiny is not only functioning as an active and demonstrable force on people, but may even be an entity displaying consciousness of its own. In a show very much about choice — who has the power or freedom to make choices, and what might the consequences be — the notion of pre-determined destiny seem like a significant and jarring divergence. Some viewers were understandably unhappy about that.
Bo embraces the notion of choice as robustly as she does because it has largely been an illusion for her. We learned from the beginning that she had been obliged by her biology to spend years as a fugitive on a killing spree. She was also told in episode 101 that she could have been taught to feed without killing if she had been raised by her own clan or faction. It is questionable whether such a lesson would actually have been imparted by her clan, since human life is repeatedly shown to have so little value to the Fae (the information that killing was not necessarily obligatory was given by a human –Lauren — did she have an additional motive of her own in doing so? Perhaps a crisis of conscience of her own, or just a profound will to intervene so that Bo would do as little harm as was possible?).
We don’t know how many “innocent” lives Bo took by accident, or if she reconciled her need to kill by targeting victims based on their history of bad deeds, as we saw in episode 101 when she rescued Kenzi. But when the option was offered to assert a facsimile of choice over her very nature, by accepting Lauren’s coaching, injections and experiments, Bo embraced it as a means to negotiate the moral crisis prompted by her very existence. Just as Bo refused to choose faction in episode 101 (arguably she chose “human” at this point) Bo’s decision to at least try to control her succubus nature is a redemptive step that at least allows viewers to begin to forgive, and accept the shades of grey that typify her life and choices.
The problem with the Bo/Rainer storyline is that it is, or appears to be, one of completely abrogated choice — confounding everything that the show seems to have been about for three seasons. We saw Bo taken to the train against her will, held against her will, and then connected to another person by the apparent whim of “destiny”. The pairing of Bo with Rainer in this manner reeked of a quasi-arranged marriage as Bo cast her lot with a man who was a total stranger, but whom circumstance has connected her with anyway. It is the antithesis of choice and makes Bo nothing more than a puppet who escaped her strings for a while.
Like many viewers I waited for a punch line to Rainer’s story that simply did not come. Lauren’s research has led her to believe that Rainer is an evil entity, but by episode 413 this has apparently been disregarded and he is presented as nothing more than “a good man who made a mistake.” Were we supposed to be moved by his death? Were we supposed to think that it would be meaningful to Bo? I doubt anyone watching ever believed their emotional connection was real, or anything more than fakery for a purpose – but a purpose that was never realized, or was hopelessly obscured. Was Rainer meant to inspire Bo to be defiant of the status quo, as he was? Bo was there already, and had been since episode101. Was his death intended to galvanize her to action? Losing Kenzi did that with infinitely greater effect. Was he supposed to have been the love of her life? I think most viewers would find that concept ludicrous, if not offensive. So what was the point? Rainer had significant screen time but the reasons for this are unclear. Was he really nothing more than another beard to distract Bo? An idealized would-be heroic bad boy whom women viewers were supposed to swoon over? While I doubt anyone is lobbying strongly to have Rainer come back in season 5, many viewers would welcome it if his storyline turned out to have a legitimate and demonstrable purpose, other than having been Bo’s beard for a while.
The only explanation that I can come up is a return to the concept of destiny. As viewers of Lost Girl, we should be quite comfortable by now with the concept of supernatural architects who can re-write the past, edit actions and shape the future. Is the concept of destiny such an extraordinary one? Trick writes laws in blood and erases conscious thought at will. Is he unique? With all the references to prophecies in play, I found myself wondering who wrote them and whether they merely predict events, or actually cause them to come to pass. Is Rainer a pawn to be played and sacrificed at will by something more powerful than him, as other pieces are moved around Bo to orchestrate Bo’s menacing closing speech?
The concept of a prophetic divine architect or third-party puppet master controlling the action would provide a more palatable explanation for why Bo often seemed to act outside her own typical character parameters. The Bo we saw through most of season four was not particularly likable – it was hard to see her in the role of the “Chosen One,” someone to whom her re-constructed family would gladly swear fealty or sacrifice themselves to support and defend. However, if season four turns out to be the first chapter in a larger story, with choice versus destiny as a central theme, it would potentially tie together a lot of the loose ends. I would argue that it is OK, if not downright necessary, to see Bo making mistakes and bad choices; otherwise she would be a monochromatic comic book character. But I do think that the changes to Bo’s character in season 4 are in need of greater explanation.
If the writers of Lost Girl have elected to make this a multi-season chaptered story, this would be a very bold move, but without a commitment to reach a planned ending, we all run the risk of not seeing the story reach satisfying ending. The show executive described herself as being “heartbroken” if the show was to end this way (http://www.theloop.ca/showbiz/tv-guide/news/article/-/a/3285936/-Lost-Girl-Talk-Emily-Andras-takes-fan-finale-Qs) and I really think fans would echo that sentiment. I question the tactic of taking risks each season without being sure that it won’t be the heartbreaking and unwelcome punchline.
At the tail end of episode 413, there is a suggestion that Bo may well be moving deeper in the direction of Darkness – not necessarily possessed by her father or overcome by her super succubus element, but rather misled and manipulated from the outside (though from her point of view it may seem like she has been acting of her own free will). This seems to be an intentionally darker Bo -“I am done crying, I am done being scared, no one else will die on my watch. Whatever it takes, I will get you back. They want me to be afraid? It’s them who should be afraid of me.” The obvious question is: Who should be afraid? Who is Bo so angry at? If she was simply referring to the Pyrippus, why wouldn’t she call it “he” as a single entity, rather than “them”? This Bo seems to have been manoeuvred into a place where she will break the rules to get Kenzi back (“whatever it takes”) and will use fear if she needs to. I find myself asking what Bo has become, and if it means that the Pyrippus has won the battle for her soul after all. That’s not how anyone would want to see her story end.
I’ve been mystified all season long by viewer perceptions of Bo as “unlikeable” – and that was the mildest adjective used (“vain,” “self-absorbed,” “whiney,” “selfish,” “obnoxious” and “loathsome” were some others) – as if the writers willfully ruined this beloved character for their own misguided reasons!
True, Bo was not herself throughout most of season four, by which I mean, she seemed perplexed about what she was supposed to be doing and not entirely in control of the choices she was making. The reasons for this are myriad. At the risk of restating the obvious, let me review some of the contributing factors:
- The ties of blood: It has long been apparent, beginning as far back as episode 208 (“Death Didn’t Become Him”) that something dark, destructive, possibly evil lies within Bo – perhaps in the very fabric of her DNA (hmm…will Lauren ultimately change that?). In that episode, in an enraged fugue-like state, Bo demonstrated an ability to suck chi from a roomful of people to save Lauren – a power that scared the hell out of both of them. At that point, Bo wasn’t sure how she did it or what triggered her rage, nor did she understand anything much about her patrilineage. We now know that Bo has inherited her father’s ability to “draw life from many victims and to transfer that life force to someone other than [herself],” as Trick finally gets around to telling her in the season four finale — though he claims the true identity of her father still remains “shrouded” from him (Evony seems to know otherwise: “If your grand-slaughter’s Dad is who you’re too scared to say he is, we’re all gonna be Bo-be-que’d anyway”). This darker, sinister, and more aggressive side of Bo makes a few brief appearances in the first half of season four (smirking when Massimo throws himself into the vat of lava in episode 404, coldly fucking Dyson in episode 406), but the super-succubus doesn’t really appear in all her evil glory until the end of the season finale, after the Pyrippus has “baited” Bo into chi-sucking three revenants (I’ll return later to this concept of Bo being “baited” or psychologically manipulated into certain choices, as opposed to being brainwashed, possessed, or simply expressing her own innate dark temperament).
- Erasure. Can you really know yourself without memory? From the moment Lauren said, “Bo, I remember!” at the end of episode 401 (“In Memoriam”) and Bo regained consciousness on the train, it became abundantly clear that her mind and memory had been tampered with in some manner during the month she was held in captivity. No sooner had she escaped from the train than she and Dyson both forgot they had ever been on it – until Ianka showed up in episode 406, half-way through the season, to help unlock Bo’s memories of the train. It was only then that Bo became aware she had been “marked” by the Wanderer (actually, by the Pyrippus). Without reviewing all of the references, there were frequent and repeated allusions to her memory impairment over the course of the season. Her struggle to clear her head, make sense of her experience, remember who she really is, and what she ought to be doing was a running theme from the season premiere through the finale.
- Mind control or “brainwashing”: Every time the glowing hand mark appears on Bo’s chest – from her first recollection of it in “Of All the Gin Joints” through the finale – she experiences either a transient alteration of consciousness, apparent enthrallment, or a sudden weakening. It is a constant reminder that something powerful outside of herself is directly influencing her mind and her behavior. We now know it is her father – the Pyrippus – and that the closer he gets, the more powerful is his Svengali-like influence: “My father’s close,” Bo tells Trick and Rainer in episode 413, “I can feel him. He’s trying to cross the bridge. He’s trying to bring [me] out.” Remember that last statement. I’ll be returning to it later.
- Possession: When Bo chi sucks the revenants at the entrance of the portal to the Underworld, the Pyrippus appears to inhabit her briefly: “I am your Queen, whether you swear it or not fool,” she hisses at Dyson. “My true army cometh. I was bound by blood. Now we bathe in it. Human. Fae. All will bow before me.” We have seen Bo similarly possessed only a handful of times before – in episode 208 (when she goes all Carrie-like and expresses a will to rule before chi-sucking the crowd); in the season two finale, after she defeats the Garuda (“I should have killed the Garuda sooner – him and every single one of his minions. I will seek them out and kill them all and anyone who tries to stand in my way!”); briefly in episode 305 (“Get out of my way!” she hisses at Lauren) and again after exiting the temple in episode 309 (“Ceremony”): “I will reign as he did. For I am his daughter,” she says in that creepy dual voice. “Together, we will bridle the masses, and ride unto victory. Even death will fear us. Only I will choose who lives.” In episode 413, however, the possession threatens to be more complete: “Bo will break with the power of the Pyrippus,” s/he declares, suddenly referring to herself in the third person. Just as Lauren was able to bring Bo back in episode 305 by reminding Bo of their love, here Dyson is able to loosen her father’s hold by kissing her — reminding us that true love (whether from Lauren or Dyson) is a potent antidote to the powers of the Lord of Darkness [http://doccubus.com/2013/04/09/guest-blogger-series-love-and-power-by-mahlers5th-and-valksy].
- Psychological manipulation: No-one compels Bo to suck the revenants’ chi as they stumble out of the portal. She is not in a trance or a brainwashed state. She has not been possessed (yet). She may be using the super-succubus powers we have come to associate with her dark side (inherited from her father, as we now know) but she does so consciously and deliberately to protect her friends and family and save her world. However, the consequence of her action – using this power inherited from her father, albeit for the greater good — is to lower her defenses against him. Dyson sees the trap coming and tries to warn her – but it’s too late. The Pyrippus “baits” her into letting him possess her by using her impulsivity against her. [Side bar: Lauren has also become quite adept at such psychological manipulation. We see her use it to her advantage in seducing the Morrigan by playing to her narcissism. She also seems to disarm and turn the tables on Massimo – or at least to delay his plan to kill her – by hiding her terror and adopting Evony’s tone of scathing contempt and taunting mockery].
- Prophecy/Destiny/Predetermination: Is Bo truly living the life she chooses or merely playing out an inevitable and unavoidable course of events that has been decided in advance by some omnipotent entity? She may intuitively feel she has free will but is she mistaken? I have suggested previously that her “choice” to return to the train, for example, may in fact have been engineered by the Wanderer [http://doccubus.com/2014/01/17/guest-blogger-series-episode-409-destinys-child-by-mahlers5th-and-valksy] probably at the behest of the Pyrippus.
This question of free will versus destiny has been debated throughout history. Greek tragedy is replete with examples of mortal hubris – the futile attempt to escape an inexorable fate dictated by the Gods – but more modern “compatibilists” argue that it is possible to believe man can choose his own destiny and that determinism is in fact necessary for the full exercise of free will [http://en.m.wikipedia.org/Compatibilism]. I won’t elaborate on what Valksy has already eloquently expressed except to underscore that in the world of the Fae, destiny can be changed by the stroke of a blood-dipped quill pen. “It is written” becomes, “It is so” – that is, until the Blood Sage changes his mind (of note, his powers only work when he uses them freely, not when he is coerced). Fae prophecies have proven to be sometimes incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain distorted. In episode 412, Rosette tells Bo, “It was foretold that with the death of the Una Mens, the Pyrippus will rise.” Oh wait, she later adds, “According to the prophecies, your alliance with Rainer will release your father from his prison.” Big difference, Rosette.
This brings me to one of the main puzzles posed by episodes 412 & 413: So what’s the story with Rainer? I agree with Valksy that his apparent rehabilitation in the season finale is deeply unsatisfying, if not utterly implausible. “Rainer was my partner,” Bo tells Dyson after his death, “He wanted to end the tyranny between Light and Dark. He was a good man! He just made a terrible mistake!” Uh, really Bo? Which mistake was that? The one where he got you to massacre the Una Mens? Or was it binding with you to open the gateway to Hel and free the Pyrippus? What happened to his famous powers of foresight, anyway? Shouldn’t he have seen all of this coming? And what about all that ominous-sounding stuff Lauren uncovered just last episode, Bo – the stuff you didn’t want to hear because, after all, there was already “so much going on”? The stuff Lauren couldn’t fully discuss with you because Rainer interrupted your tete-a-tete (and near-kiss)?
Behold the demon beast of pure evil,
A fanged tooth ghost with horned forehead,
Never to be trusted. Him they call Rainer.
When a thousand years shall be ended, he shall be unbound
To wreak torment beyond comparison, and betray the Fae.
Him they call Rainer. Could the prophecy have been any clearer?
I find it hard to believe the writers simply forgot about this prophecy in between composing episodes 412 and 413. Rainer may not be the Biggest Bad on the block (evil is relative in Lost Girl and — measured against the Pyrippus — Rainer looks merely rebellious), but his intentions towards Bo were anything but true. I’ll cut straight to my own prophesy: the Pyrippus manipulated Rainer to lure Bo to the train and convince her they were destined to fall in love and fight tyranny together, then induced her to break the curse confining him there – but each had his own distinct motives. Since Rainer also carried the Pyrippus’ mark, it is conceivable that, like Bo, he may have been influenced to some degree by mind control. But Bo’s enthrallment seemed to wear off sometime between episodes 412 and 413: Rainer is demoted from being Bo’s “destiny” to “the man who is somehow intertwined with my destiny” and their love affair becomes merely an alliance (for good measure, before the hand-fasting, Bo tells him “just to be clear, this isn’t about love”). Presumably, any mental influence the Pyrippus’ may have had on Rainer should also have waned.
In any case, the Pyrippus’ intention – carried through by Rosette – was to have them bind together, open the portal to Hel, and bring Bo out (more on this later). However, with his power of foresight, Rainer must have known all along how things would unfold – the betrayal by Rosette, the opening of the portal, his death at the hands of Massimo (in fact, Massimo is nearly overwhelmed when he acquires Rainer’s power of foresight, so strong is it, and runs from the Dal groaning).
So, assuming he knew what was coming, what was in it for Rainer? For one thing, as Kenzi points out just before she enters the portal, his violent death essentially punches his golden ticket to Valhalla. In fact, his dying words to Trick are to tell the Valkyrie his soul is hers again. Is Rainer just being benevolent, ready to forgive and forget Tamsin’s complicity in confining him to the train of damned souls? Was this his end game all along – to get to Valhalla? Or is he deliberately infiltrating Valhalla/Asgard for some larger purpose – his own or perhaps the Pyrippus’? I suspect there is more to it, because right up until the moment of his death, Rainer continues to lobby Bo relentlessly to join him in his quest to fight Fae tyranny and free the masses.
Let’s take a closer look at the opening scene of the season finale. Bo and Rainer are arguing. She is angry. He is defending himself, not entirely convincingly:
Rainer: My intentions were true, but years of imprisonment weakened my judgment and clouded my reason. I was a fool.
Bo: I stood in front of my friends and said I chose you.
Rainer: Rosette was my most loyal general. We loved one another. If he managed to turn her against me…
Bo: He made her throw herself into a fire, Rainer.
Rainer: Who is he, Bo?
Bo: Someone even the Blood King fears. My father manipulated all of us.
Rainer: [taking her hand] There’s one advantage. One thing your father could not foresee. We share something real, something good [the glowing hand mark reappears on Bo and seems to weaken her]
Bo: [gasping] What is happening to me?
Rainer: Our mark.
Bo: No, his mark.
Have you ever noticed that whenever Rainer takes Bo’s hand, the hand print seems to appear on her chest and bad things start to happen? And why does Rainer refer to the hand print almost romantically as “our mark,” when he knows very well who placed it there, and can see the obvious effect it is having on Bo? He takes Bo back to the Dal, presumably to recuperate, but instead of tending to her needs, Rainer chooses to engage Trick in petty bickering about what an evil tyrant he was, until Bo breaks it up to refocus on the crisis at hand – the Pyrippus, guys? The portal? Fae Armageddon? As Trick tries to explain what he knows about her hybrid blood, Rainer interrupts excitedly to say, “Not only could your blood lift curses, but you could lead armies, resurrect the fallen as they die on the battlefields, free the masses!” to which Trick responds drily, “Or enslave them if she is coerced by the wrong hand.” Bo retorts angrily that “Nobody’s going to use me for anything, you understand?!” but Trick may be on to something here. Rainer may be dead and buried, with his soul en route to Valhalla, but I wonder if we have seen the last of him.
The primary plot for season four, coming to a cataclysm in episode 413 with Kenzi’s death, is very much Bo’s story. If that was the intent, then it is not surprising that Bo and Lauren had so few scenes together in the season, as the chemistry between the lead actors is so intense and hot that it would be a distraction. We are supposed to believe that Bo is deeply connected to Rainer. If Bo and Rainer as a pairing was placed side by side with Bo and Lauren, any suggestion of a profound connection would be completely over-shadowed by actual character chemistry. Bo/Rainer would be a blatantly insipid impostor if a direct comparison could be made.
Lauren also has a history of being Bo’s Jiminy Cricket. As I mentioned earlier, it is Lauren who reminds Bo that she doesn’t have to kill and it is Lauren who is repeatedly shown to have similar life-saving intervention philosophies to Bo (episode 210, “Raging Fae”). It is Lauren who scolds Bo over her carelessness with regards to therapeutic needs of patients in episode 304 (“Fae-de to Black”) and who has acted as counselor to an impetuous and reactionary Bo: “They were simple people, try not to blame them for their ignorance” (episode 307, “There’s Bo Place Like Home”). If Bo is having an existential crisis with regards to her own destiny, then Lauren as conscience and guide is a stumbling block in the story. We might wish that Lauren had intervened, but it was not her role to do so. So what was Lauren’s role in season four? With Bo off struggling with magical trains, prophecies about horses, and books that seem to re-write themselves, Lauren fills the gap left behind by becoming a parallel for Bo.
Similarities between Lauren and Bo have always been evident enough — both had periods of being fugitive, both hid from their past, both used alternate names/identities, both are regretful about the loss of life they did not intend to cause, both have been outcasts, both are notably exceptional within their own species, and both looking for love. Examples of this parallel in season four would include Lauren risking exposure for the greater good by by performing an emergency tracheotomy in episode 402 (“Sleeping Beauty School”); showing that female sexuality is something women can and do own if they wish to in episode 403 (“Lovers. Apart”); displaying courage and channeling Bo-esque moxie while escaping chains in episode 404 (“Turn to Stone”); and hatching a game plan to take down Evony and win her own freedom.
Lauren finds her own agency in season four, proving that she is able to stand alone rather than hide behind Bo’s skirts whenever threatened by someone more powerful. A Lauren who is significantly more empowered than she was as a slave to the Light Fae is able to deliver the line “I’m yours” without seeming submissive. The significance of the necklace that Lauren leaves for Bo, and that Bo accepts, cannot be more clear, given that we have long seen necklaces as symbols of de facto ownership. I would argue that both women have offered a pledge to one another — Lauren’s statement of “I’m yours” is a counterpoint to Bo placing Lauren’s necklace upon herself, and the two women are equals now.
[Sidebar: I noticed this tweet as a reaction to the necklace moment: @SoundRoughness: In lesbian, Wearing the necklace pretty much means they are engaged right? #LostGirl. Considering women who love women historically had to keep their relationships secret, and that rings could lead to awkward questions, then I concur that there is a degree of truth to this. Whether an intentional totem, whether it was just meant to be a juxtaposition to Lauren’s Fae pendant, who knows? Now that we have been told that it is a labrys, a potent symbol of both female empowerment and of LGBT identity, is it even more meaningful? @emtothea Feb 21 The necklace was painstakingly designed by Exec. Producer J. Firestone, and is based on the labrys charm.]
Beyond providing a much-needed moment for Lauren to reconnect with Bo, their kiss towards the end of episode 413 is a return to imagery from the close of seasons one and two, and underscores that Lauren’s storyline focused on her ability to control the Fae. I don’t see the controversy in the method of delivering the serum to Evony. Again as a parallel with Bo, Lauren uses sex for purpose, and this is distinct from how we have seen her in loving encounters with Bo in the past. I am sure it is no accident that Lauren defeats Evony using sexuality — one of Bo’s most effective weapons. Indeed Lauren acts so much like Bo in season four that I wondered at the start if part of Bo’s personality had been transplanted to people who cared about her (reinforced by how Kenzi and Dyson acted together in the episode 401). I don’t know if it is intended to be a deliberate choice by Lauren — to be more like Bo because she’s scared and lost and wants to be inspired — or because the writers made a deliberate decision to compare and contrast them. Only the writers knows for sure.
Some have suggested that the decision Lauren made has tainted her character. I think that it actually empowers her and that her new-found ability to strike back against the tyrannical and murderous Fae is a relevant and acceptable one. When we first met Lauren, I wondered whether she could be a tolerable and sympathetic character, given her role enabling, excusing, and empowering the Fae. It is part of the show’s canon that the Fae evolved as apex predators for humans. Even though some may not kill, they still victimize humans on a massive scale and Lauren did nothing to stop them (Feeding not being guaranteed to be fatal is no excuse – no human is obliged to surrender their bodily autonomy to service someone else, and any kind of feeding is still a manifest violation).
I was able to reconcile the fact that Lauren not only sat back and watched while the equivalent of serial killers went out every night to murder, but helped heal their wounds, by reminding myself that she was a victim herself. The Fae wear human faces, inhabit human spaces, and position themselves to take any steps necessary — including murder – to conceal and preserve their existence. Using the serial killer analogy, for Lauren to have acted as a whistle-blower on the Fae would have entailed going to the police to report it only to discover they knew about it, they were part of it and had even joined in. Lauren’s inaction is at least explainable, if not excusable. It certainly placed her in a fascinating moral dilemma. The Lauren of season one through three simply had no way to win.
Finding Lauren less moral because she is no longer obliged by victimhood or circumstance to collaborate in predation and murder doesn’t make much sense. To accuse her of threatening genocide in the face of thousands of years of Fae preying upon, violating, and consuming humans is the most startling act of apologism (if not outright dishonesty in choosing to disregard a fundamental part of the show canon). The doctrine of self-defense would seem to be very much in play in Lauren’s case — if there is a reasonable expectation of harm to oneself or others, then it is absolutely acceptable to take action. I am reminded of the Eloi and the Morlocks from H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, except there is no symbiosis between species as there is nothing of benefit to humans from being the prey of the Fae. Humans are food — either in terms of tissues and organs (alive or dead), or in terms of ethereal energies that are stripped from them without their consent. How is it that the viewing audience of Lost Girl has become so comfortable with this undeniable canon fact? Personally, I would be more disappointed and frustrated with Lauren if she did not fight back when she had the chance, or at least hold a Sword of Damocles over the Fae to put them in their place for a change. Lauren has lived on her knees quite long enough, it was high time for her to stand up.
Thinking in terms of how Lauren defeated Evony (and there is no cause to think that this is permanent or that it is anything other than unique to Evony’s species or Evony herself, this is down to writer’s discretion and is not set in stone) I find myself reflecting on Evony and Massimo and whether “monsters” are made or born, and if one or other is excused from consequences. While Bo running Massimo through the chest after beating him seemed perfectly acceptable to viewers, Lauren neutralizing Evony through non-lethal means was questioned. What is the difference? (This is similar to Taft’s behavior in episode 313 — the Fae accept retributive justice, but Taft’s power to do the same was forbidden even though he had a legitimate grievance regarding the killing of humans, including his own brother).
We have been instructed in the past that a human/fae hybrid will be genetically human with no powers. Earlier seasons of Lost Girl had also clarified that human/fae relationships were taboo. The reasoning for this may have been because establishing empathy with food made it harder to eat, or because interbreeding would see the Fae become extinct so species purity is required. That Evony broke the rules is a basic commentary on how those in power tend to exempt themselves, but it is also another example of how the social order of the Fae is not as set in stone as we have been led to believe. The union of Light and Dark is forbidden, as are human and Fae liaisons. Rules and laws are to be followed and fatal consequences for deviation are acceptable (none of the Fae – except Bo –tried to stand up to the Una Mens).
As it became apparent that Massimo was very much a victim of his mother’s abusiveness and abandonment (was anyone else made very uncomfortable by his screaming and frothing in episode 412 about how he was not a “monster”? What has this man been through to break him so badly?) my initial reaction was that Evony was getting “Tafted,” i.e. she was being made so utterly revolting and repellant that the audience would be quite comfortable with her being killed. I also wondered, if she survived, whether she was being set up to be a more “evil” villain. I must admit I’ve been astonished by the sympathy she has garnered. Lauren hooking up with Evony would be akin to women begging someone like Charles Manson to marry them. The idea seems laughable. At least Bo is regretful, remorseful and in search of redemption for the lives she has taken. Evony melted her manicurist for jollies – it is hard to imagine Lauren wanting to snuggle afterwards! The need to view absolutely everything in terms of fitting characters together in pairings is something I don’t understand. I do worry that the show’s attempt to accommodate a variety of “shipper” fans (beyond its own successful original vision in seasons one and two) might be a kind of writing by committee that does the show no favors.
You’re suggesting that the writers were inviting viewers to just “ship” them? I’m not sure that I agree – I thought that it seemed crystal clear that Lauren was deliberately manipulating her; the writers weren’t coy about that aspect of the plot. What I do believe is that there has been an effort to humanize Evony, even as we hear more about her Mommie Dearest side. In the last few episodes she was given a lot of the sassy one-liners ordinarily delivered by Kenzi or Tamsin. Kenzi is probably going to be relatively absent at the beginning of season 5 – as Bo was for season 4 – and I think Evony is going to fill in the missing humor.
The concept of nature or nurture in this very human context is some very heavy weather for a show like Lost Girl. Lauren states that it took both to make Massimo. If she is comparing his born nature to the fundamental born nature of the Fae, in that he had no choice due to some innate characteristic, then it does not explain why he had to die for his transgressions while Evony gets a free pass and is tended to by Lauren. If there’s a difference, I think I missed it. If his madness is related to nurture, then he is a victim and the show needs to be careful not to imply anything about inter-generational villainy. Just because his mother was a cruel, vicious, murderous psychopath (she is positively gleeful about her power and indiscriminate about her kills) does not automatically condemn Massimo to be the same.
This entire subject is a minefield that could have been avoided, and think that the whole “Norman Bates”/Mommy thing was probably unnecessary, especially if Mahlers5th’s speculation about her role in season 5 proves true. It’s the only part of the last two episodes that I strongly disliked. In terms of the “destiny” factor of the closing act of the series, I wonder if Massimo is less of a Big Bad character, more another disposable pawn that saw Hale and Rainer killed (the latter for reasons as yet unknown since I still don’t believe we have a complete picture) while not serving any particular purpose of his own.
One possibility occurs to me, however: If the Fae are happy to tamper with fate, re-order existence, make the very fabric of reality fluid, then might all the human characters work as a wild card element in their machinations? The Fae still seem to me to be a stagnant defective species. This is the only way I can explain how a man Dyson’s age can suddenly start experiencing emotional and intellectual growth again, to the point of proudly (if somewhat shyly?) declaring a human woman his friend (this makes him closer to a wolf with quiet self-assured strength who will protect his whole pack, rather than a moody emo loner). If the Fae have stagnated or become corrupt might this explain the Fae’s indifference to the Una Mens, the willingness of the Kitsune students (from season three) to squander their virtual immortality on nothing of value, and the petty squabbles over millennia-long grievances. Is there an argument that the real game-changers, and the greatest source of interference in the unleashing of prophecy, are the humans?
From Bo’s human parents to Kenzi (her heart and the means to close the portal) to Lauren (her love), to the chaotic elements of Taft and now Massimo, it seems that humans have played a more significant role in Bo’s life than any bump in the road “monster of the week.” Could this be because writing in blood and divining prophecy does not work outside the Fae world? Trick’s writing in blood always has an unforeseen consequence to prevent him from being a god; is this a pattern that destiny or fate must follow and are the humans the rogue elements?
I wondered about the reasons for devoting so much screen time to Massimo, his back story, and his descent into total raving lunacy. In his appearances last season and earlier this season, he seemed like a sleazy hustler. His sudden unravelling and regression into whimpering for his Mommy when Bo threw Tamsin’s locks into the lava seemed a little out-of-the-blue and inexplicable. Even knowing his background, it was still hard to fathom why Massimo snapped when he did – and this was before he was burned alive which would be enough to drive anyone mad. As I watched episode 413, it occurred to me whatever else the writers had in mind in shaping Massimo’s character, his story presents interesting comparisons and contrasts to Bo’s situation. Both have monsters for parents who abandoned them early in life. However, Bo was raised by good-enough foster parents while Massimo grew up with Vex (one can only imagine…). Also, whereas Bo’s father has been actively searching for her for years and yearns to have her rule by his side – a fate she actively resists — Evony feels nothing but contempt and disgust for her son which only intensifies his hunger for her approval.
The runaway success of the season, its greatest strength, was the development of its human characters, Kenzi in particular. Ksenia Solo hit her scenes out of the park each and every time with a depth and maturity that was captivating, heartbreaking, sorrowful and soulful in equal measures. If Kenzi is Bo’s heart, then the fact that it has been missing (given how few scenes they had together) and is now broken (lost to the portal) makes good sense as an explanation for why Bo has not been herself. Bo needs her heart, and taking it from her is probably the best way to get her to juggernaut through any rules and opponents who stand in her way. Journeys into the Underworld to reclaim lost loves (platonic in this case) are pervasive in myth and legend from virtually all cultures.
I found myself watching the closing scenes of episode 413 with more questions than answers, and it still seems like there are missing pieces to this puzzle. This is fine if it is one chapter in a longer story, but it will feel unsatisfying if loose ends are simply ignored and whole chunks of screen time prove to be meaningless. I hope that in season five attempts will be made to make sense of the riddles we already have, and that any urge to create more will be resisted. The audience can be kept in the dark for just so long. I, for one, am longing for more illumination.
In “La Fae Epoque,” Kenzi appeared as an angel. Should we have understood that image as a foreshadowing of what was to come? Like virtually every other fan of Lost Girl, there are two things I simply refuse to believe: that Kenzi is gone for good and that Showcase will not renew Lost Girl for a 5th season. We’ll know soon enough about season five, but there are sound reasons to believe that Bo will keep the vow she made at Kenzi’s graveside – to bring her back, whatever it takes. But back from where? Where did Kenzi go?
Over the course of four seasons, the Lost Girl writers have borrowed freely from the mythologies of many different cultures and epochs. In season four alone, we have heard about a number of possible destinations for the dead from Earth or routes to the afterlife: Valhalla and Hel (from Norse paganism), Irkalla (Babylonian) and Cinvat (Zoroastrianism). You can throw into this mythological hodge-podge that the Pyrripus (Greek) is imprisoned somewhere beyond that portal to the Underworld.
One thing seems clear enough: Kenzi is not in Valhalla. Tamsin essentially tells us so. But if Kenzi had studied her mythology a little more closely, she might have guessed that she would not be following Hale and Rainer to Asgard. Regardless of what is inscribed on her headstone, Kenzi was not a warrior and she did not die in battle; in fact, she practically floated, ghost-like and unscathed, through the battlefield on her way to the portal. So what killed her? Presumably corporeal humans were not designed to withstand abrupt dimensional travel. But if she wasn’t transported to Valhalla, then where? In Norse mythology, the souls of people who died from sickness or old age – basically anyone whose death did not occur through violence or in battle – went to Hel. Hel is in no way equivalent to the Christian realm of fire and brimstone. Rather, it was often depicted as a frozen wasteland, a “place of eternal dark, ice, and snow,” with the entryway marked by tall imposing gates. It was more an Otherworld — a new and different plane of existence — rather than a Hellish place of punishment and despair. Now think back to where Dyson finds Tamsin, collapsed and confused. Dark, icy, guarded by tall, imposing gates. It sure looks like the Norse version of Hel, doesn’t it?
But why does Tamsin warn Dyson so insistently not to let Bo find the second Hel shoe? What did she see that terrified her so? Perhaps she encountered the same evil that hired her to find Bo – the Pyrippus – either in Hel’s realm or on the bridge between Earth and Hel. Remember what Bo tells Trick and Rainer in the season finale: “My father’s close. I can feel him. He’s trying to cross the bridge. He’s trying to bring [me] out.” What does she mean by that? That he is trying to activate her inner evil Queen or get her to join him — wherever that is? “He needs [my] help,” Bo adds. My guess? The Pyrippus may have engineered Kenzi’s death (via the “prophecy” in the book brought to Earth by Rosette – his minion) as a way of luring Bo off the earthly realm and engaging her help in freeing him from imprisonment.
As a final word, while season four has ended in Canada, American fans are just about to enjoy Flora’s entrancing performance in “La Fae Epoque.” As for Rainer, we won’t even meet him until episode 409 (“Destiny’s Child”). An unexpected perk of watching the season twice is that since I already knew what was coming (for example, that Bo and Lauren would share a hot over-the-shoulder kiss in “Let the Dark Times Roll,” but would not go home together that night – or any other night in season four, alas), and since I had already recovered from the more emotionally wrenching scenes and digested some of the more puzzling plot developments, it was an unmitigated joy to sit back, relax, and simply enjoy the show. And there is so much to enjoy in Lost Girl, with its blend of rich mythology, compelling relationships, and ambitious philosophical themes, all leavened by a sharp wit and punchy one-liners at every turn.
Say what you will about problems with the show this season – issues that we have discussed at length over the past weeks — I still believe that there are things this little show does uniquely well. I can’t imagine where else I could turn on television to see the kind of intelligent, realistic, nuanced depiction of love between two women, with all of its warts, that we’re offered in Bo and Lauren — one of them the lead protagonist of the show, the other emerging as a bad-ass hero in her own right. The Fosters? I guess it’s intelligent enough if you’re into issues-oriented teen-age dramedy. But when Callie asked her foster moms, “So you’re dykes?” and Jesus sniffed, “They prefer the word ‘people,’” I rolled my eyes and changed the channel. Show us, don’t tell us. Lost Girl had me at, “It’s time…Life’s too short.”
Ni regrette du passe, ni perdu de l’avenir (neither regret the past nor fear the future)
[Ianka, episode 406, “Of All the Gin Joints”]
Time to stop dwelling in the past and get to fixing the future.
[Trick, episode 413, “Dark Horse”]