Mahlers5th and Valksy are back with their analysis of the first 2 episodes of Season 5. Hope you all enjoy!
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light [Romans 13:12]
You’re not my family. You’re nothing. You’re darkness and I’m not walking into it…I don’t want to meet you. I don’t need to know who you are to know myself. I’ll never be who you want me to be [Bo, Lost Girl, episode 502]
I know that I was not alone in joyfully cheering “Bo is back!” during the opening phases of episode 501 — here she is, taking control, successfully performing a quest with a specific aim, throwing punches (and well-deserved kicks to the groin) and showing her old brand of swaggering bravado. The Bo from the first two seasons largely faced down external monsters and won the day in the style of an irrepressible (if largely two dimensional) heroic archetype. Even Bo’s biggest failure of season two — her inability to save an innocent bystander, Nadia — left her mostly unscathed.
The problem was that continuing down this path, of fighting and defeating everything in her path, would reduce Bo to a monochromatic paragon of virtue who can do no wrong, and who so reliably wins every battle that it would hardly be worth watching her actually do it. It is one thing to have “monster of the week” episodes drive a larger plot forward, entirely different to have the same monster just BE the story each week, lock, stock and barrel.
Evolving the character of Bo was the only way to escape the humdrum of formulaic and forgettable creature features. I do think it reasonable to state that the placing of breadcrumbs from the very start shows that the production team knew this. I am looking forward to the day, once the dust settles, when we may learn how much of what we see now was always intended. This is Bo’s story, it could not be told by having her remain static and certainly not by having her be consistently victorious. In seasons three and four, Bo began to lose.
The losses we witnessed varied from the hope of the relationship that Bo had expressed a longing for in episode108 (not an accident that it is Bo who decides “it’s time” in 301 and Lauren who goes on to determine that it is not), to literally losing Kenzi for a time to the Kitsune, to losing the safety and security of her own identity and even her mind as her biology forces her to confront her Dawning and potential devolution, to her freedom and place in the corporeal realm by the end of season three. Was it shocking to end on a cliffhanger? Certainly. Was that the point? That Bo (and we) could no longer feel secure and comfortable in her ability to make some last minute saving play that ends in triumph?
Season four’s losses move from battles against monsters to a more profound inner conflict — Bo seems to have lost herself, first in terms of missing memory and then from losing her moral compass (massacring the Una Mens) to finally losing her heart. The fourth season is very much a depiction of loss for Bo, challenging a part of her that had always been deeply compelling and very much confounding to her nature – her intrinsic good and her essential humanity — as her nature, origin and identity are put to the most severe tests.
As season five begins, I find myself reflecting on how – season for season – the score is even in the battle for Bo’s soul. We have seen her as humane, loving and honorable and we have seen her at her very darkest. Was this always the intent of the production team when so many clues, hints, tantalizing loose threads and acts of foreshadowing were put in place? Is it a coincidence that the first shots we see of Bo in episode 501 are of her making an ascent? All things considered, I have to believe that was a deliberate creative choice. The shoes could have been hidden anywhere, but they apparently wanted us to see her literally rising to a higher place.
I’m going to miss this show and these characters terribly when they’re gone, but they’ve never made it easy for us, have they? Like Bo’s father, the Lost Girl team has always worked in mysterious ways, giving us plenty of hints that an intentional series long meta-plot was in play without spoon-feeding us the answers. We’re meant to feel perpetually unbalanced and uneasy about what’s to come. We’re asked to pay close attention, keep track of the loose threads, portents and prophecies over successive seasons, do some homework, puzzle things out, be patient, and live with the reality that we can’t always get what we want and possibly may never see the happy ending we wish for most fervently (but just shoot me in that case). I happen to love this show’s penchant for leaving us scratching our heads and asking “WTF just happened?!” But once in a while it gets to me. Like after episode 502, when I had to build a huge bonfire to burn all of my Norse lore code-breaking notes (not really).
The season premiere teased us with the possibility that maybe the Gods had finally taken mercy on us. Many of the questions and plot threads left dangling at the end of season 4 were either ignored – like Rainer and Pyrippus — or neatly tied together and resolved in the first 15 minutes of the episode. Bo restored to her gorgeous bad-ass self. Lauren strong, in charge, clearly destined to go home together with Bo very soon, most likely in Episode 502, because really, that eye sex at the Marquise Clinic. Everything seemed to unfold so effortlessly. Bo secured the second helskor on her first try, went Krakatoa over those three creepy brothers from The Hills Have Eyes, donned her magic shoes and was transported directly to Valhalla where she eluded Freya’s eagle eye for interlopers – as well as Daddy’s sneak-and-peek security system –and correctly guessed exactly which one of the 1453 elevator buttons she needed to push to find Kenzi. Easy-peasy.
Bo’s good. Very good. But is she really that good? It all seemed so simple.
That’s the thing with our writers. It’s never that easy. And it’s never over. We always suspected Bo’s father had lured Kenzi into the Cymvad so Bo would go after her. But amidst the relief and hilarity of their reunion in Valhalla, rational judgment went out the window, the blue courtesy phones could wait, and nobody thought much about the threat looming…something about bridling the masses and riding unto victory? Who cared, ‘cause didn’t Bo and Kenzi look stunning! We wanted to believe that Kenzi’s happily-ever-after ending could happen in the first episode of the season – and why not? — ignoring the many hints that the whole thing was an elaborate ruse. Bo’s father has been playing a very long game all along and manipulating Bo into trading her soul for Kenzi’s life was simply part of his design. In view of that, is it possible that having Massimo murder Hale may also have been part of the plan — moving Hale into position to tempt Kenzi in Valhalla and thereby force Bo’s hand? Nothing seems implausible with a being as powerful, prescient, and impressively organized as Bo’s father.
The fast-paced revelations in episode 501 raised expectations that the identity of Baddy Dearest might be revealed early in the season. “I thought it was the Wanderer” said Tamsin, in unison with the groans of an entire fandom, “But it’s someone way more powerful.” Never mind all those breadcrumbs sprinkled generously throughout the script from the middle of season 3 forward, all pointing to one seemingly inescapable conclusion – Huginn and Muninn; the helskór and the Bifröst; Freyja and the Valkyries; Lauren chanting Runic incantations outside the gates of Valhalla, and Stacey exclaiming to Dyson, “Holy Odin! Your jawline is insanely distracting.” Odin, Odin, Odin! But in a classic Lost Girl bait-and-switch move, no sooner had we mastered Norse paganism than the Goddess of Scripts, Quips & Chips abruptly dragged us underground to Tartarus and immersed us in Greek mythology.
It is Hades, King of the Underworld, who is Bo’s father. So says Persephone, daughter of Demeter, wife of Hades – and Bo’s stepmother. She seems willing to help Bo at great personal peril, for no obvious reason, out of the goodness of her heart, and right under her husband’s nose. If there is one thing fairytales try to teach us, it is that stepmothers are always evil. I don’t trust Persephone. For starters, she seems mixed up about the details of her own myth (6000 years she must dwell in the darkness?). Is it really plausible that after spending years developing and executing an elaborate plot to lure Bo to Tartarus, Bo’s father – who has eyes and ears and blue courtesy phones all over Valhalla – doesn’t know what’s happening in his own sub-basement?
From the moment she steps off the elevator, something seems off about Bo’s sojourn in Tartarus. She is greeted by a chorus of Faemily voices cackling and saying less-than-encouraging things like, “Do us all a favor Bo – give up,” “We’re all better off without her,” “This calls for a celebration,” “We can finally move on, live our lives,” “To life after Bo!” And from Lauren, “I never loved you Bo. No-one does.” Ouch. It’s not lost on Bo that someone may be trying to mess with her head, probably her father. But having had his fun, her father apparently sneaks back upstairs to his amphora because he is MIA for the remainder of the scene. Or so we are led to believe.
A goblin appears out of nowhere and takes a bite out of Bo, but fortunately a dove-like bird girl materializes, cooing reassuringly, to help heal Bo. And then some. Their shared repast ends with some late words of wisdom from the bird girl: “One is always starving in Tartarus. The key is knowing what, and what not, to eat.” Oh great, now she tells us! No more exchanging chi with unknown bird girls, Bo, especially in that dungeon of torment and suffering for the wicked. Bo’s father tricked Bo once before into chi-sucking three revenants at the portal’s entrance (in episode 413) and back then it appeared to have lowered her defenses against him and allowed the emergence of her inner Dark Queen. Hmm. Could someone have arranged for Bo to be slashed in Tartarus so that she would need healing, thus baiting her to feed off the only willing partner available – the bird girl? Nah! The only entity powerful enough to have arranged that kind of ruse would be Bo’s father — and he’s passed out upstairs, totes oblivious to the hanky-panky going on between his wife and daughter, right?. He sure picks the strangest times to go AWOL.
The bird girl’s talk of hunger immediately reminds Bo of the story of Persephone, a myth she remembers very well because her History teacher was this pro rugby player with thighs like…well, anyway. Whaddaya know, bird girl is Persephone! Good guess, Bo! Having not had a crush on my History teacher — or imagined for one second that Lost Girl would abandon Norse paganism so cruelly and without assigning homework — I had to go to Wikipedia to brush up on my Greek mythology:
Persephone, the Goddess of fertility, death and rebirth, is the daughter of Zeus (God of Space and Time) and Demeter (Goddess of Agriculture & Plants) who happen to be brother and sister. Hades, King of the Underworld — also Demeter’s brother and therefore Persephone’s uncle– approaches Zeus and is granted permission to abduct her. However, before or after this, Zeus disguises himself as a snake or perhaps as Hades himself, and seduces his own daughter. Having hauled the maiden Goddess to the Underworld, Hades then offers her all sorts of bribes including gold, silver, and gems, but she will have none of it (except maybe that thick rope neck-collar/choker she’s wearing which I’m guessing she couldn’t refuse) and goes on a hunger strike because it’s hard to find fresh veggies in Tartarus. Demeter, her mother, searches frantically for her missing daughter, abandoning her duties of fruitfulness of plants, bringing about winter. Only Artemis, Goddess of the Moon (also Zeus’ daughter by a different mother, and so Persephone’s step-sister) dares to challenge Zeus and Hades and tells Demeter where Persephone may be found. By the time that Demeter arrives in the underworld, Persephone has been tricked into eating six of Hades’ pomegranate seeds [a fertility symbol] and Hades declares this act has made her his wife. Zeus eventually negotiates an agreement whereby Persephone would spend one third of the year with Hades as Queen of the Underworld, one third of the year with Zeus as his hand-maiden, and one third of the year with Demeter, as Goddess of springtime. Thus were the seasons created.
Incest! Rape! Bestiality! Those pervy Greeks did it all. Lost Girl’s modern iteration (stepmother canoodling & ghost sex) is all tea parties and kittens by comparison, but Valksy will offer a more serious commentary on this controversial scene towards the end of this post.
The point I wish to highlight about the dual seduction scene is the puzzling fact that the vengeful Edimmu predator who “disturbs” Lauren’s nap is closely and synchronously mimicking the moves Bo is making on Persephone, suggesting some sort of connection between the two seductions. I have no idea what it all means, but is it possible the Edimmu was sent by the grand dramaturge himself, Bo’s father, to seduce and then get rid of Lauren while Bo was otherwise occupied? Towards the end of episode 502, the Edimmu assumes corporeal form as a geisha before being shot by Kenzi. This may prove to be mere coincidence, but episode 503 is entitled “Big in Japan,” and the synopsis reveals, “A Japanese warrior receives protection while Lauren deals with dangers of her own.” We may not have seen the last of the vengeful Edimmu.
Since Lauren no longer seems to be a threat to the Fae, who is so intent on getting her out of the way? My money is on the guy who produced the hallucinated voices of Bo’s family as she entered Tartarus, including Lauren’s saying, “I never loved you Bo. No-one does.” I suspect it is the same guy – Bo’s father –who seemed so intent during Bo’s Dawning in driving a wedge between Bo and her faemily, especially the one person whose influence with Bo may exceed his own – Lauren. Long game.
Despite suspicions that her father may have sent his “child bride” to seduce her, Bo casts aside her doubts and seems naively willing to take Persephone’s story at face value. It turns out they have a few things in common. Like Bo, Persephone is a “lost girl,” stolen from her mother – a parallel Persephone makes a point of mentioning more than once, especially when she points out Aife’s cage. Both are protagonists in coming-of-age stories about female heroines separated from family and venturing into the darkness to find themselves (Bo references Britney Spears’ song, I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman: “There is no need to protect me/It’s time that I learn to face up to this on my own”). Bo’s father – whoever he may be – could not have hand-picked a better figure for Bo to bond with as she navigates her way through Tartarus – not to mention that it was one of the few stories she seems to have retained from 6th grade [recall that in episode 410 (“Waves”), it was clear the Wanderer was intimately acquainted with other details from Bo’s childhood -- like the butterfly she lost when she was seven].
[Sidebar: although the Greek Persephone myth is often seen as a story of brutish male dominance, rape, exploitation, and perpetual imprisonment of women, 20th Century novelists offered a kind of feminist revision of the myth, depicting Persephone figures as strong female characters seeking release from their imprisoning social milieus, and emphasized the themes of reunion and reconciliation between women, and of women helping women. Examples include D.H. Lawrence’s novel The Lost Girl (1920) and Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady (1923)].
If you’ll accept for a moment the premise that Persephone may be playing Bo, or is simply another pawn in her father’s grand design for his daughter – what is his game at this point? It seems clear he wants her to escape back to the Earthly plane and to take the Artemis Moon Candle with her (this would be the third time he has abducted her – at birth, from the Dal, and now – only to let her escape). Persephone is careful to let Bo know – twice — that the Artemis Flame is the way out (“Demeter knew that Hades abhors light and that it could illuminate my way home”) and practically points to the “door number spooky” where she can find it by warning her, “You can’t go in there.” Bo translates: “All I heard is my father’s on the other side of that door.”
Her father listens in silence and is astonishingly tolerant of her defiant (and moving) speech as she wanders through his pitch black penthouse. He does nothing to stop her from stealing the Candle (conveniently hidden in plain sight). That last minute reach-and-choke through the elevator door? Pfft. A show of resistance meant to convince Bo that she is acting of her own free will, but really, if her father actually wanted to stop Bo, she would have been back downstairs with Persephone, locked in Aife’s old cell. That Artemis’ Moon Candle is another puzzle piece being carefully put in place seems confirmed when Bo lights it – with Persephone’s strong encouragement: “Light this when you get home. For my family. So they know I’m safe. That I never stop thinking of them…It’s important to let the light in, Bo. Sometimes that’s all it takes to keep the evil at bay.” Okay, okay, I promise. But you might have mentioned the evil blond on the elevator Persephone, and the fact that as soon as Bo lets in the light, all Hel breaks loose in the Underworld. By innocently lighting one candle, Bo seems to have unleashed some kind of raving, stone cold evil. Hot, but very evil.
Bo’s father also seems intent on having Bo believe that the nursery scene she witnessed in the Dawning actually occurred in Hel, her “true” birthplace; that Aife was held captive there, only allowed to hold Bo to feed her, and sacrificed herself to allow Bo to escape (just as Persephone later sacrifices her only way out – the Artemis Flame – so Bo can escape); that Hades liked to gloat about what his daughter would become – a Queen capable of dominion over life and death. This is a decidedly less flattering portrayal of her father than the nurturing, soothing figure Bo saw in the Dawning. So why would Bo’s father go to all the trouble of softening Bo’s view of him – as the Wanderer –in the Dawning only to paint himself – as Hades — with a black brush all over again in Hel?
These mixed messages may begin to make sense if Bo’s father is actually not Hades himself but some other powerful God — say, Zeus or Odin (some mythologists see the two as equivalent) – preparing Bo, step-by-step, to willingly fight alongside him against a common enemy, or someone Bo perceives as a common enemy: Hades. There have been many portents and signs that the End of Days (“End of Faes”) is coming. The season premiere opens with Bo singing the children’s tune: “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.” The children’s song refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones who traveled the United States to promote the formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps and later cofounded the Industrial Workers of the World (as a rebel and confounder of accepted social order she sounds a little like Bo, doesn’t she?). But the song was originally a slave-era folk song derived from the spiritual, “When the Chariot Comes,” referring to the chariot that will bear Christ to earth for the Rapture, the end of the world, the death of all humanity. The question remains: how will Bo’s destiny ultimately play out? As Dark Queen? Messianic Chosen One? Or something else altogether more…ordinary.
While I might have longed for an overt Doccubus scene as a punchline to episode 501/2’s entry into Bo’s story, I found that episode 502 in particular offered very positive foreshadowing and remain profoundly hopeful. Lauren and Dyson amicably questing and problem solving together was a relief from the moribund “team” dynamic of the past, and it was evident that even Dyson himself had accepted the truth of what Lauren means to Bo, since Stacey reveals his “text history details Bo’s love of the uppity doctor.” Part of this foreshadowing was laugh out loud funny — Dyson ponderously reciting his “romantic” credentials, to immediately be called a tool was a gem (I imagine it’s a common sentiment, if for no other reason than he rescinded his “sacrifice” at the first opportunity, but that’s water under the bridge, something that his attitude seems to suggest he’s finally grasping).
An obvious bone is thrown to Bo/Dyson shippers as Bo escapes from the Underworld environment and finds Dyson holding the gates open. Bo says “Thanks for waiting” to which Dyson answers “Always”, an exchange could certainly be taken as alluding to Lauren’s mortality (although it is tempered by a reference to Dyson’s fealty – a word that immediately imparts a notional subordinate position to Dyson, and removes any ultimately necessary equality for a functional relationship). However, we have to consider that these episodes are suggestive that love is transcendental and endures beyond death. This would seem to somewhat debunk the notion that all he has to do is outlive Lauren to be with Bo. The entire premise of these episodes seem to suggest that death is a temporary inconvenience to the persistence of love.
This is probably the primary flaw I find in the episodes — that we human viewers realise that mortality is inevitable and this life is the one to be lived. I was uncertain about the concept of Kenzi and Hale “living” happily ever after in death, even if it was a cultivated ruse presented to manipulated Bo’s actions. I was surprised that either Kenzi or Hale would have even considered this as a viable option, and find myself leaning more towards the thought that the Hotel did it (given its practice of fulfilling desire – something which may seem terribly convenient but which would ultimately be unsatisfying, since the effort to make your wish come true is an intrinsic part of that wish). If it is the Hotel (under Freya’s control) that is responsible for facilitating the notion of a post-mortem marriage, as a mechanism of wish fulfilment and as a co-conspirator in a ruse, then the characters of Hale and Kenzi seem less tainted. If it was intended to be a sincere portrayal of legitimate choice, even offered to viewers as a credible romantic option, I’m less content and worry that it blemishes the relationship.
Considering that the great lives in the arts and literature tend to involve some sort of challenge, is making death itself – the ultimate challenge – a mere temporary inconvenience something that diminishes the power of the love story? While I may firmly believe that the quality of love, even if it is to be short, is infinitely more beautiful and compelling (and makes for a better story), perhaps others are more drawn to the infinite. I imagine that this is a philosophical debate, and one which overlooks the fact that it is not a given that Bo will outlive Lauren just because she has the theoretical potential to do so – accidents, illnesses and warrior codes make for uncertain futures, which is why the present should be so robustly embraced.
Despite a theme of love and its loss being front and centre in episodes 501/2, I have no doubt there will be a love story in season five, and it will be Bo and Lauren’s. Many of the reminders of a loving relationship between Bo and Lauren are overt — the necklace appears in both 501 and 502, Dyson’s text messages about the relationship, Stacey taunts Lauren for holding “a particularly special place in Bo’s heart”, Lauren’s phantom voice is the one taunting Bo about no one loving her — I find the more subtle actions of the characters just as revealing, as it seems to me that we have been quietly moved beyond longing glances from afar to something more organic and natural.
When seated for dinner, it seems entirely natural that Trick is at the head of the table. As patriarch (and former king) as well as host, it makes sense that he would occupy this position. Table etiquette places the most honoured guests to the left and right of the host, Lauren and Bo occupy these seats. Given what has transpired (her willingness to die to save the world alone) and his quasi-familial relationship to her, it would surely have been more reasonable to place Kenzi by Trick’s side? Also, the seating as it is shown in the scene also allows Bo and Lauren to be seated opposite one another — this strikes me as a more reasonable seating option for a romantic pairing. If you go to a restaurant with date or partner, do you sit beside them or across from them? If you then compare that to Dyson seated beside Tamsin and their pinky-swearing routine to be proper friends, the side-by-side option looks distinctly immature. A simple piece of stage direction allows for an argument that Lauren’s position is both an act of recognition of her importance to Bo as well as illustrative of their connection.
I was not surprised that Lauren seemed comfortable enough in Bo’s home to simply borrow her bed. Other, less familiar, characters might have chosen the couch after a drinking spree, since there is something inherently intimate in using someone’s sleeping space.
I also found myself wondering why Bo was seeking Lauren’s guidance and counsel on Kenzi during the wine cellar scene. While Lauren and Kenzi settled their fractious relationship by at least calling a truce in 303 (“ConFaegion”), and have at least shown a working relationship in creature feature caper episodes like “Delinquents” (310) or “Waves” (410) they have hardly shown a close bond that would make Lauren the best arbiter of Kenzi’s emotional state or motivations. I think that Bo’s line “I just, I don’t know…” suggests that it is more likely that Bo was seeking solace and support from Lauren for herself rather than a genuine insight into Kenzi’s needs. Given Bo’s independent nature, seeking such reassurance requires an acceptance of personal vulnerability and an extending of trust which seems relationship rich (Lauren’s suggestion that Bo simply talk to her is advice I think we’d all offer to Bo for all sorts of situations!)
I fervently hope you are right, Valksy. I’m prepared to wait until the series finale as long as Doccubus is end game. But something in the season premiere had me pondering other possibilities, and it wasn’t Freya’s charge to Stacy to find a soul dear to Bo’s heart (I assume, by the way, that “Bo’s heart” refers to Kenzi — but that is discussion for another time). What caught my eye in episode 501 was the obvious homage being paid by our writers to Kill Bill: Vols. 1 & 2. I think Michael Grassi acknowledged in an interview with Emily Gagne that the titles for 501 and 502 — Like Hell: Part 1 & 2 – were meant to echo Tarantino’s film titles. There was also the scene where Kenzi, like the heroine of Kill Bill, is buried alive in her own coffin. There was the fact that both Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 begin on the day of the ill-fated wedding rehearsal for the heroine, Beatrix Kiddo (primarily known as The Bride). An ill-fated wedding rehearsal is at the heart of our season premiere. Both Bo and Beatrix are sword/samurai-wielding avenging angels and like The Bride in Kill Bill, I think Bo will become a master of martial arts. Beyond these superficial resemblances, however, both women struggle with the fact that they are natural born killers trying to be something else. Beatrix recognizes (or fears) that like Superman, even if she got married and lived a normal life, she would never be able to change her true nature. She wants her daughter to have a chance at a normal life, but knows deep down that she will never have a normal life herself. This rather bleak view is mitigated by the movie’s final shot which shows The Bride, having finally had her revenge on Bill, driving down a highway with her daughter, destination unclear. We have known since episode 304 – if not earlier – that for Bo and Lauren to sustain a long-term committed relationship would be a challenge. Time alone is not in their favor. But I would be satisfied with the realistically ambiguous ending crafted by Tarantino. It preserves hope.
The “B” plot of Lauren being haunted may well have been intended to be nothing more than a final breaking point catalyst for Kenzi — it is never “over” in the world of the Fae. That Kenzi’s final action is to help identify a menace, confront it, battle it and defeat it, allows her to exit with her the lion heart that she displayed in sacrificing in episode 413 still very much intact. I also wonder if making the entity completely unambiguously vile was also intended to keep Kenzi’s actions beyond reproach. It deserved what happened, and we were satisfied by its apparent demise. Right? Or is there a problem here?
I fully appreciate that there is concern with regards to consent within the episode, and do not disagree that it is a subject which is very much of relevance to a show featuring sex and sexuality and concepts like free will, agency and consent. The assault on Lauren while she was sleeping might well have been intended to be a shorthand way to make viewers content with Kenzi’s defensive action, and there is an obvious parallel to the original myth of the succubus to be drawn. However, the originating concept of Bo as a succubus has always been problematic and this really is not a sudden or novel issue. I know that the notion of consent within Lost Girl has been reviewed and remarked upon many times, I’ve done it myself. Keep in mind that one of the earliest examples of Bo’s sexual aggression is in episode 102 (“Where There’s a Will, There’s a Fae”) in which she confronts a woman who (rightly) thinks Bo is an intruder. Bo defuses the confrontation with her seduction touch, then expresses intent to feed. The attack turns sexual as the victim moans “I’ve never had…” before Bo forces a kiss on her and starts to feed. In 106 “Food for Thought”, after trying to talk her way past a guard (to be rebuffed because he likes men), Bo uses her succubus powers again, forcing physical contact and eliciting a response from the man in question “I really shouldn’t be enjoying this.” While neither even escalates, both are quite clearly coercive. We also know that Bo has left “dead lovers” in her wake — did everyone consent? Do we know? Are we sure? This has always been the elephant in the room and perhaps that fact alone is worthy of conversation.
The production has not given much insight into Bo’s past, perhaps this is a deliberate choice because it is an inherent minefield of sex and death at a fundamental conceptual level. I am not sure that we can answer in any satisfactory way, at this point, whether they feel either ill-equipped to confront this issue face on, or if they might express their reluctance in terms of not wishing to alter the timbre of the show to something far harder and more gritty (I might prefer this, but concede that many would not).
In considering Bo’s scene with Lauren near the end of 502, was Bo’s subsequent teasing distasteful? Certainly. But is this either novel or out of character? And if it is in character, should viewers be insulated from Bo’s darker and edgier traits?
In episode 204 (“Mirror, Mirror”) Bo jokes with Kenzi about biting Dyson’s genitals off. Bo can, and does, wisecrack over brutality and death and often appears largely unmoved by peril, or responds in a way which may seem inappropriate. In 101 “It’s a Fae Fae Fae Fae World” she straddles her defeated enemy, has no reaction beyond “gross!” to his reptilian tongue, and then proceeds to cut his throat). In episode 105 “Dead Lucky” as Bo is pinned to a table by Jesper the Frost Giant she sasses in reaction to the icicle fingers he goes on to ram into her flesh with “I didn’t peg you for frigid.”
This trend of wisecracking continues throughout the show, and is very much in character for Bo, Kenzi and latterly Tamsin. While the writing staff may intend it to add levity to the show, I wonder if – from a character perspective – the snark, the sarcasm, the jibes and occasional name calling an explanation is as simple as a coping mechanism in the face of peril. If this psychological reasoning makes any sense, it could explain why Bo might make a distasteful remark once the threat has safely passed. It must be noted that the consequence for touching Lauren without her consent was a capital one that seems to have ended the storyline, so might it have even been a segue into “want to talk about it?” which is brushed off with amusement.
I do find it hard to believe that Lauren would actually be amused by a sexual assault, on herself or anyone else, so continue to puzzle over her response in this scene. It is Kenzi who says Lauren had sex with the Edimmu, to which Lauren protests “it kissed my neck.” As observers, we saw her robe disturbed and she does state that it had some “moves” and yet Lauren seems to brush off both Kenzi and Bo (Kenzi could have been the one to spill a detail that she thinks is salacious to Bo, although this is pure conjecture it would explain why they share the same belief). It would be within character for Lauren to correct Kenzi by exasperated scolding, but respond to Bo with non-judgemental amusement. I find Lauren’s largely disinterested reaction to what happened to be a compelling statement. I feel that there is enough evidence to at least suggest ambiguity regarding what took place. I find myself reflecting on my own squeamishness and sense of relief that there is even a hint of a safety net of plausible deniability that sex took place (notwithstanding the fact that definitions of sex amongst LGBT identified women varies).
[Sidebar: I concede that I am not qualified to offer a cogent statement on specifics of Canadian jurisprudence, and therefore decline to attempt to do so. Nor would I wish to cause triggering, harm or offence by inferring that there are “degrees” of sexual assault]
I am pleased that the show continues to prompt debates on sex and sexuality, of which consent is of course a part. I think that it was inevitable that a show about a succubus would cause this kind of interactive engagement and hope that it will continue.
Aside from the very much valid debate on consent, I would robustly agree with the protest that there have been many missed conversations in Lost Girl, something that has been a source of frustration since the very first season. There has always been room for viewers to fill in the gaps for themselves and opinions on this practice do vary. This may have been a situation where an exchange of concern and comfort might have worked (as seen in episode 310 “Delinquents” after Lauren is beaten), and it would have been my preference simply because I want more emotionally-driven Doccubus scenes. But if my opening statement about Bo being in a state of ascending from the darkness that struck her in season four (through the imagery of climbing a mountain) is even close to correct, might it be too soon for such a strong and emotive exchange? Is it a coincidence that the last shot was of Bo lighting a candle in broad daylight that looked very much like a fresh new dawn?
In terms of imagery throughout the two episodes – of Bo rising up, defying the dark and seeing new light — we can see Bo coming full circle as a character and leaving behind her doubts regarding identity in favor of her innate nobility and her primary motivation of demanding the power to choose. As the storyline continues to unfold, offering hints of a pre-determined fate in contrast to free will, it is vital that the fundamental concept of choice be showcased.
In her powerful scene in Tartarus, standing defiantly in an hardly subtly symbolic dark space, Bo made one of the most powerful and important points that I have witnessed in the series to date. Yes, Bo is (and always has been) curious about her origins, this is reasonable enough. But when Bo says “You’re not my family, you’re nothing” I was relieved that she was not yielding her principles or beliefs to a simple blood relationship. The statement “I don’t need to know who you are to know myself” is a further rejection of being constrained by either biology (as Fae) or relationship (as daughter). While she may be subject to the actions of an arch manipulator who has been guiding her along a path towards the fate for which she was created, it was reassuring to hear Bo drawing a line in the sand that declared her autonomous intent. Her birth, her biology, her parents were — as for all of us — beyond her control. Her assertion of who her family really is and how she determines her identity outside of her origins is at the heart of living the life that she chooses.
As a counterpoint to Bo’s navigating circumstances beyond her control, Kenzi displays her own power to make free choices, as she has done since the moment she chose to stay with Bo in the very first episode. Kenzi’s willingness to accept that she loves Bo and is of her heart, but also know that it is a matter of her own wellbeing to step away, could not be a more blatant demonstration of a character evolving in maturity. Just like Lauren in episode 310 (“Delinquents”), when she put a hold on her relationship in Bo because she was unhappy, the human characters are shown to be the “adults in the room.” Fae characters do not compare favourably, and lead me to again wonder if their often regressive juvenile behaviour is intended as a commentary or not. Despite their powers, their gifts, their virtual immortality in many cases, we see pinky-swearing, verbal cat fights and laments over how they never had the relationships that they actually wanted. Although the retreat in Spain is by virtue of the Fae (via Hale) I’m not sure that I blame Kenzi for essentially choosing “team human” by stepping out of a world that can offer magic and wonders, but is also prone to being red in tooth and claw.
It is also worth remembering that Lauren had the same choice to leave in episode 222 (“Flesh and Blood”) when Dyson points out that she is free to run. I would never try to suggest that Lauren was braver or possessing of greater fortitude than Kenzi, in many ways they parallel one another — Both face a menacing world that regards them as lesser entities, both lost a loved one (Nadia, Hale) and both love Bo. But are we to think that, as Lauren chose Bo but Kenzi chose herself, romantic love is more inherently powerful than familial? Is the answer to this as simple as the power of what is poetically called true love? I do not question Kenzi for her choice to look after herself away from fear and bloodshed and conflict, but wonder if it is also a profound statement about the one human woman who stayed.