Valksy is back this week with her analysis of 5.06, with contributions from Mahlers5th. Enjoy!
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip-chop chip-chop the last man’s dead…
[“Oranges and Lemons” - Traditional Children’s Rhyme]
Acknowledging that humor is probably the single most subjective form of art imaginable, I must say I was not particularly engaged by the frequently comedic turn in last week’s episode 505 (“It’s Your Lucky Fae”) well-performed as it was. I was overjoyed to see this week’s episode beginning with something that was far more to my taste: dreams, symbols and layers within layers, all to be puzzled over in search of a clue to the fascinating meta plot that has been running for years. The presence of the music box alone – something that was in promotional material for season two but was never actually featured, so it is assumed that viewers are paying attention – seems to be a clear message that this story is being told as intended.
The key feature of a music box is that it will only play the melody which has been mechanically coded into it. It can perhaps change tempo, at the discretion of the user, but it will never play another tune. This could certainly be seen as a metaphorical connection to the concept of fate itself within Bo’s life – the tune was set and it must be played, there is simply no choice in the matter. It is also worth considering that a music box will repeat the same melody as long as it exists. Is there a relationship here to the coming and going of the gods themselves, in that a story already told once before in human history is to be repeated again, either by placing the gods back into ascendence, or returning them to the fog of history and distant memory? Certainly the programming of a music box is not subject to the capricious whims of fate. It is an indication of a consciously aware and determined will.
The question in my mind, that I am not sure I can answer yet, is whether Bo herself is the music box – obliged to play the programmed tune – or simply one of several moving parts which makeup the whole tune, a note amongst other notes, a chord rather than a whole. Is there mockery behind her father’s gifting it to Bo? Or is it intended to be the placing of power within her hands — although the notion of that power itself is suspect. The music box, as a gift from her father, could be seen as either a warning or an instruction that Bo will play his tune.
[Sidebar Mahlers5th: I’m reminded of the fact that father's card referred to Bo as "my precious," as I recall? My immediate association was to the ring in Lord of the Rings. It seemed such a loaded term, designed to evoke Tolkien! If there's something to that, could the writers be suggesting that the power resides within Bo, and is conferred upon whoever "owns" or controls her?]
Except, of course, in Bo’s dreaming mind the box is not within her hands and under her own control. I wondered at first if the placement of Lauren within the dream was something to find concerning. Notions such as the organ grinder’s monkey sprang to mind, although the way in which the scene has been produced makes me question whether there could be such a sinister intent (however, the showrunners do love to turn beliefs upside down sometimes!). In dressing Lauren in white, there is a suggestion that Bo is associating Lauren with purity or perfection and there are obvious parallels to bridal attire. White is also the colour of neutrality, and while it may be perceived as cold and sterile the lighting effect in the scene maintains warmth. I would even argue that the intensifying bright light (similar to the lighting in episode 303 “Lovers. Apart” when Bo sees Lauren walking barefoot across the lawn at Evony’s party) is practically angelic, and the smile that turns towards Bo is radiant. Bo’s view of Lauren in her dreaming state is profoundly positive, even though Bo seems to jolt awake in shock. There is nothing we see within the dream that might provoke such disquiet, so if it is not Lauren herself then perhaps there is a message Bo’s restless mind is trying to decipher.
[Sidebar Mahler5th: I thought there was something eery and disturbing about the dream, even in Lauren's "come hither" knowing smile. Bo seems troubled by it when she wakes up, not relieved or reassured, as you'd expect if the dream signified something hopeful to Bo (like "Lauren will protect me from myself/my father."). And of course the nursery rhyme ends with disturbing references. Is the candle referenced in the rhyme intended to invoke Artemis’ candle?]
As Bo does not immediately turn to the music box in her waking world and play the music, I think that it is fair to presume that the melody played in the dream is the same as the one in the waking world. The original purpose of the rhyme “Oranges and Lemons” is not known, although it does serve as a rhythmic mnemonic for the sounds of church bells in London. If the tolling of a church bell is for the execution method referenced in the final lines, it is likely that it is a reference to the deaths of important or known people (perhaps Royalty), since most executions took place at Tyburn gallows and involved short-drop suspension hanging and only traitors or otherwise renowned people met the headsman at the Tower of London. If the song can be taken as a reference to the execution of royalty, then our thoughts may well turn to the Kings in Lost Girl (both Dark and perhaps Blood) and wonder if this is a foreshadowing of the end of one or both.
The traditional children’s singing game for “Oranges and Lemons” involves two children forming an archway with their arms, while the other children link hands and run through the arch in pairs as the rhyme is recited. As the final line is delivered, the arched arms drop down and trap a running pair, who in turn join the arch to make the tunnel longer (this is how I played it as a small child!). As time passes, more and more pairs of children who have been eliminated join the archway, and those left must run faster and faster to avoid being caught. It is, of course, inevitable that all but a final pair will meet their doom in the arch as – sooner or later – all of the living will join the dead. I assume that the writers chose this particular rhyme for a reason, and the essence of the game invoked by the melody is one of destiny and death.
One further clue suggested by “Oranges and Lemons” is its usage in the classic George Orwell novel 1984. The book includes references to the rhyme, but only as snatches that characters seem to partially recall, as the rhyme itself (as well as all churches) have been purged by the totalitarian state. Without context or understanding, these few simple lines of doggerel baffle the protagonist, but the persisting memory fragment suggests the act of erasure and mind-control is not a complete process. All hope of restoring the former life is not lost.
Without asking the writers themselves, there is no way to know if this association to Orwell’s novel is intended as part of the story. It could certainly be taken as a prompt that Bo’s world may contain snatches of an incomplete truth that characters must try to make sense of. If it is not part of the story, and not a hint about Bo’s need to assemble clues and complete the rhyme, is it a meta-communication to the audience itself? Speculating based on clues that we may not yet understand or have a context for has long been a part of Lost Girl fandom. Are we the ones intended to receive this message as encouragement to keep seeking fragments and trying to make sense of clues?
That the makers of Lost Girl have been playing a very long game is also demonstrated in the central plot of this episode. Clay, the protagonist of the week, is described as a hybridized descendent of Hercules via a human/Fae bloodline, and this is a new addition to the science of Fae genetics as hinted at in past episodes. We first encounter the concept of Fae-Human interbreeding in episode 102 (“Where There’s a Will, There’s a Fae”), in which a Will-o-the-Wisp and a human woman have a fully human son. It has long been understood that human and Fae relationships are forbidden, and if the reason for this is based in simple breeding – that human genes are dominant and the Fae would either be diluted to be shadows of themselves or bred out of existence – then such a ban would make sense. This episode introduces a third option – a human enhanced beyond normal parameters, but not fully possessing overt powers (or an apparent need to feed). This would be an evolutionary step for humans, but a regressive one for the Fae. Do people like Clay exist in wider numbers, or is he simply another convenient passing note to be played and then discarded in advancing the story?
[Sidebar: Given that Human/Fae relationships were understood as banned on pain of death, as seen in 108 “Vexed”, might Bo and Lauren’s relationship have been overlooked because there was a notion or belief that there was no breeding potential? What about Hale and Kenzi? Surely the heir to the Zamora clan would not have been allowed to sacrifice the family bloodline and all associated powers. I wonder if Hale’s death was considered acceptable collateral damage by who or whatever is pulling strings and manipulating Kenzi to be bait to bring Bo to the Underworld].
I think it is worth noting that three scenes in particular describe this storyline as being one for Lauren, despite all the costumed set pieces and pithy wisecracks. The solution to Clay’s identity is revealed through scientific means – again reminding us that this is a world that has no magic or myth, just reliably demonstrable reality. When Lauren leaves to help Bo –proving again that the Dark Fae allow her significantly more liberty than the Light ever permitted — she dismisses an assistant’s question about how she can take off so early by saying, “I’m the boss.”This could be taken as a clue to the wider role she will play in the story, as Lauren is the one with the power to tap into genetic potential and make a human into a Fae (Taft) and a Fae into a human (Evony). As a final point, when Bo confronts the Greek trio, she is simply swatted aside with a lightning bolt, and a door is slammed on her. These sequences gave me a strong feeling that Bo was largely a bystander in this story — not because of Tamsin (who was simply performing tasks in the Case of the Week), but in favor of Lauren instead.
Since the Greek trio have been revealed as Heratio and Zee (a barely-camouflaged gender reversal of Zeus and Hera), and their storyline seems to be playing out more in Lauren’s realm of science and genetics than mysticism and alternate realities, I find myself irresistibly thinking of Prometheus — and wondering if Lauren is the one to even the score by taking back power from the “gods” and gifting it to humanity.
From the Garuda to Rainer, the Una Mens, Massimo, and the Pyrippus I have long wondered if short-lived and transient characters were deliberately placed chess pieces set in play to orchestrate some cataclysmic event involving Bo (there is a very notable ornament in a scene with the Greek trio that resembles a chess knight). I have a strong sense that Mark is yet another of these narrative conveniences to progress the story and, as such, have no particular interest in the character beyond his function (while also conceding that he was not exactly designed with me in mind). Mark may not be sporting a red shirt yet, but it would not surprise me at all if that was his punchline. There is also a possibility that, since his powers are still dormant and he has not shifted yet, he is a further example of a retrograde trend in Faedom that hints at their extinction — and which could therefore place his future in Lauren’s hands. And yet the existence of the death cult symbol on him, and his connection with the stolen ledger and the Greek trio seems to hint at a link with Bo’s tale of death and the Underworld. Perhaps he will be a catalyst who links these two parallel plots – on the one hand Lauren’s science, evolution, and the Fae/human schism, on the other Bo’s death, destiny and hints of the Apocalypse. Both of these story threads have been woven through the tapestry of five seasons — against a backdrop of a compelling love story that links them both. After a few missteps, I find myself nurturing hope and still being that insatiably curious human who cannot wait to find out what it all means.