This week, Melanie, also known as Mehlsbells, contacted me with the idea to swap reviews on our blogs to help expose our reviews to different audiences, which I thought was a fun idea! My review is available on her site. What follows here is her review. Feel free to comment on both posts. And make sure to follow her on Twitter @mehlsbells.
I just got done saying how I had adjusted to a lot of standalone episodes and conceits, going weeks without mythology, and now they lay it all on me at once. Allllllllll the mythology, so little time. Still, this feels like 3.11, and the back end of Season 3 overall would have worked better spread over five episodes, so perhaps that’s what’s happening here. There’s an incredible amount of information to process, and hopefully next week will clarify a few things.
For an episode centrally concerned with the power of names and labels, it gets confusing really quickly. I’m not altogether positive we know the full extent of who is who; we could have used some of those nametags from “Original Skin.” But while it’s not exactly I Know Your True Name, there’s a lot of labelling going on. Names often have power in mythology, and here they are used to shame, respect, dismiss, and control.
Most of the name-calling centers around Trick. Trick starts the episode rebuking Bo’s idea to release the smoke by calling her ‘Isabeau.’ He’s called her that a few times before, almost always when he wants to pull rank as her grandfather and make a power play. Next, he bitingly refers to Kenzi and Tamsin as “a human and a lowlife,” obviously wounding both of them.
When Tamsin and Kenzi find Trick’s book, they try writing Bo’s name to no avail, but then the book starts displaying that Tamsin’s name has been written repetitively in Trick’s blood. Tamsin flashes back to the scene where she first met Trick. She calls him Blood King; he calls her carrion and vulture. Trick also calls Dao-Ming a ‘ridiculous cheap lowborn fae.”
Dyson breaks out ‘Dr Lewis’ as a way to acknowledge the growing camaraderie and mutual respect between himself and Lauren. Bo uses her name as a verb: “I Boed it. And yes, that is trademarked.” The Leviathan refers to Bo as Princess, an honorific, but Bo calls the Leviathan ‘Levi’ as a way to display her scorn and lack of respect. Calling her ‘Levi,’ especially since most ancient hell gatekeepers are men, is also a way to toy with gender a little bit, which Kenzi also does – “fill a brother in, TamTam” – and Huginn’s wife does when she insults his inability to perform oral sex, not his ability to get it up.
The ravens are Huginn and Muninn, Odin’s ravens; they suggest an Odin/Wanderer connection without having to say it. Huginn is “the wanderer’s thought,” Muninn is memory, and they both stick closely to their names here. Huginn speaks in terms of fact and philosophy, and Muninn goes with his gut and constantly ‘didn’t see that coming,’ because he only looks into the past.
Now that’s sorted, let’s take it from the top.
Open on a welder who is the sort to leave crowns just lying around. The first thing we hear, immediately following, is Trick asking “what’s this about?” suggesting it’s his or tied to him somehow. Bo announces she’s going to open the bottle of smoke which was conveniently dumped on her lap by Kenzi last episode, after Lauren and Dyson got too drunk whilst fighting over whether they were going to show Bo the box or not. Everyone commences fighting over Bo’s destiny, mostly not listening to what she herself says. Trick and Kenzi object to the jar being opened, but Lauren and Dyson side together and with Bo. All episode, Lauren and Dyson are going to side together, and all episode, Bo is going to be grateful and tell them she loves them both, and they both have to stay behind. That independent streak is going to get her into trouble, but it’s also going to give Dyson and Lauren time to bond and tease and work together, and that’s all fantastic.
Lauren and Dyson have always fulfilled very specific and different roles in Bo’s life, and though their skills have complimented and come together before — as well as created some tension — this episode lays out, neatly and prettily, how they work. Dyson checks his gun, offers Lauren his spare knife, is a little protective of her and a lot of Bo, menaces, and growls. Lauren is a little more into the planning ahead, arms up with her endless supply of helpful syringes, and offers clinical but even more chilling threats. (Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather swim in my own entrails then be psychotically induced to eating my own eyeballs.) Point being, the two of them make a formidable, well-rounded team. Their interplay is amusing, too. It brings out Dyson’s wry side, he’s started dropping his guard, and Lauren continues with her trademark potshots but with less vitriol.
While the writing for their scenes was beautiful (the joke about Dyson not being able to choose but Lauren being easily able to choose works as referring to the triangle, it works as a jab, and it works as meta commentary that Lauren’s only into women), the actors make it seem easy. They’ve worked together on several projects and have great rapport which really comes through, and I’m happy to see them share more screentime.
The other duo given their own plot is Kenzi and Tamsin. This season has taken Kenzi and Bo apart a lot, and compensates by putting Tamsin with Kenzi. It’s not the same, and I really want more Bo/Kenzi togetherness time – so does Kenzi, by the look on her face when Bo is talking to Lauren and Dyson at the Dal; she’s left out of the love fest and hurt that Bo is leaving her, again – but the Kenzi/Tamsin dynamic works in its own way.
I miss edgy hardass Tamsin, but I like sincere unironic Tamsin, too. There’s something to be said for that. Cut out the weird backsliding into 7th grade mentality, and we have a good thing. Yeah, what’s up with that? Tamsin is now a supposed adult, but she wants to get revenge by taking a dump on people’s beds and responds to a powerful world-changing book by suggesting they draw dicks on it? Were all the writers and directors on the same page as far as how old she was supposed to be in which episode? Sometimes the lines are juvenile, sometimes Tamsin is insightful. Sometimes it feels Skarsten is being directed to act more mature, and other times she’s being directed to be much more adolescent.
Other than the few weird moments, the Kenzi/Tamsin thing works, though not quite as well as in past because of the unevenness. They even drop us info that Tamsin and Kenzi have had some off-screen shenanigans, that they’re definitely pals and not just thrown together for this plot of finding the blood.
The blood plot seems a long way to go around to get to the flashback of Trick and Tamsin meeting, but when we do get there, it’s loaded. Trick’s nefarious side is showing up in all past stories, and here he is so full of himself he scoffs at any laws not written not in his blood. He’s savvy and opportunistic, reading Tamsin quickly and taking full advantage of her self-doubt, shaming her and using derogatory language to get what he wants.
Tamsin’s past is full of doubt and self-loathing, fascinating traits for a person whose very power is doubt. She cries that she’s a Valkyrie, a proud race, but she’s not proud, she’s in disarray. She voices and Trick preys on her fairly universal ultimate fears: that she’s damned to hell in the afterlife, and that she’s undesirable and alone in this life. She wants to cleanse her sins, and Trick tells her she can “be beautiful . . . rewrite your path [and] have new life.”
Whether or not Trick actually believes it, or whether it can even happen (in this very episode, Trick is told “you can change the future, but you’re powerless to change your nature,” which gets to a fundamental tension in Lost Girl of whether one can be truly good or bad and how far one can control one’s own destiny), Trick’s words get him what he wants.
Trick gets Rainer’s soul, and he traps it on a train, writing Rainer out of history. Instead of traveling to Valhalla, Rainer goes on a permanent journey to nowhere on a train, constantly wandering. Until he manages, through his ravens and Tamsin [maybe: more on that later] and various machinations, to trap Bo and seduce or cast a spell on her. Trick’s sins come to bite him in the ass. Who’da thunk?
There’s another angle here too. Well actually, there are probably a dozen, but one which seems very pertinent to where it seems Bo and Co.™ are headed. Rainer was enslaved because of his defiance toward Trick and Trick’s laws. Rainer’s mini-rebellion parallels Bo’s defiance of the fae binary and her grandfather, and Rainer’s purgatory serves as a warning for what may be awaiting anyone who fights Trick, the Una Mens, and/or the system.
Trick is really not looking so great right now. He’s lashing out because he’s weak, he’s confused, and he senses that his position is highly threatened. He also may have a dark side unknown to himself. This is likely to lead to more mistakes, and more moves which will turn on and haunt him.
Theoretically, this fear may have led to him stashing emergency blood vials in his room. He didn’t have them in Season 1, because he opened his veins, so did he make them since? And do they magically not coagulate? The vials being conveniently hidden screams PLOT DEVICE, as does making sure Wai Lin has a sister because they couldn’t get the same actress back, but neither of these are hugely problematic, just your average workarounds.
Though we should drop the stereotypes and the incessant Asian background music, it’s interesting Wai Lin’s sister Dao-Ming takes us back to Asian mythology, because we also get the folding box and the mention of Acala as an underworld name. So there’s a lot of Norse mythology here, but there’s also a lot of Asian mythos.
This episode is invested in various characters and flashbacks calling out Trick’s duplicity and double standards, and it also introduces a ton of classical mythology and biblical storytelling. Besides the general power plays and stories of souls being trapped in different regional afterlives, we get yet another angle on incest: a story (however false it turns out) of brother wanting brother’s wife. We also get an afterlife underworld, where the giant bones lying around Levi’s lair reference that Leviathan was a sort of dinosaur in the bible. The most extensive biblical passage on the Leviathan talks about it very much like a riddle, and the riddle spoken when Bo falls into the grave, as well as the riddle showdown, are reminiscent of the Sphinx and various characters including Gollum. Sure, Gollum is from a more recent epic story, but Lost Girl does involve modern mythology, including this episode having hints of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. In fact, the more I watch it, the more all-encompassing Lost Girl gets, and the more it feels like LOST.
Which brings us (close enough) to the love triangle.
Bo, you sweet, headstrong, beautiful, frustrating creature you. Sure it’s cheeky to try and use a mythological creature to solve your personal love triangle. It’s also an interesting way to get your internal processes out there to the audience. But the answer isn’t “I don’t know.” The answer, if you’d been listening to yourself earlier this episode, is “both.”
This episode is the first time Bo admits out loud to Lauren and Dyson that she’s going to keep loving and desiring them both. It really seems to be setting up a primary tri-lationship with possible openings for others, at least on Bo’s side. Dyson and Lauren tacitly seem to acknowledge this possibility, and though there’s still friendly banter and rivalry they’re not pressuring her to choose, and they aren’t fighting over who’s better equipped to help her, in fact Lauren refers to her as ‘our girl.’ I didn’t know if the show was going to really venture into polyamorous territory – though it already tested the waters of an open relationship – but I’m thrilled to think it may just go there.
Meanwhile, Bo likes that her partners can work together, and she gets a little hot when they start talking about their respective coercion methods and acting all badass. It’s quite hilarious and weirdly adorable.
It’s not just romance, though, it underscores Lost Girl’s theme of chosen (if dysfunctional) family. They’re all in this togeth . . . oh, there Bo goes, running off again. They do better as a group, dammit, how many times does she have to learn that lesson!
Right before Bo runs off yet again, I would have liked to see the camera frame both Dyson and Lauren on either side, out of focus in the foreground, and had Bo blow the kiss right at middle, even towards the audience. Bo’s eyeline isn’t towards Lauren, it’s towards Lauren’s right, where we know Dyson is standing, so we assume she blows her kiss between them, but it could be much clearer and prettier. There are several scenes which are a bit awkwardly blocked or not quite right with the time in editing, the former especially with Bo in the woods, the latter especially with Tamsin and Kenzi.
The episode overall is a lot to process, but it does move the story, move many of the characters, and move or further establish relationships. I hope the end is supposed to be as jarring as it it because Bo’s revelation is going to be pointed out to be totally batshit, whether she’s under a spell from Rainer or something of the kind. I also hope some of who’s who gets clarified in the next episode or two. There’s a lot of conflation of different myths and still some confusion over exactly how many names each person has.
So far, if i’m adding this up right:
– Someone Tamsin assumes to be the Wanderer appears and offers a lot of coin to find Bo. [Timeline Unsure, but Tamsin told Bo she was greedy and awful at the point of meeting the Wanderer, and then cried to Trick about wanting atonement.]
– Rainer was a rebel against Ancient Evil Trick.
– Evil Trick shames Tamsin (and gives her more lives?) so he can trap Rainer’s soul. Rainer becomes The Wanderer.
– The Great War, i.e. the flashbacks at the end of Season 2, happens.
– Evil Trick makes the Una Mens, but decides not to swallow the seed and join them.
– Sometime soon after, Trick uses his blood to write himself as unrecognizable as the Blood King.
– Trick goes into hiding as a bo-wielding monk.
– Trick finds Dyson, who pledges fealty.
– Trick continues hiding as a barkeeper.
What I’m still unsure of:
– The connection between Rainer and Wanderer and Odin. Wanderer is definitely Rainer. If Huginn (Odin’s raven) says Rainer is his father, and the Wanderer is Rainer, then are Wanderer/Rainer/Odin all the same? Odin’s main/oldest form was that of a Wanderer, and In the poem Hávamál, Odin can inspire irresistible love, which supports the theory all three are the same. It’s also possibly Odin a ‘race’ of fae, like Ryan was a Loki. So Rainer/Wanderer would be an Odin.
– When The Wanderer came to Tamsin, she didn’t recognize him, and you’d think she would recognize Odin (unless Odin are a race). Which is to say, is it still possible we’re dealing with two separate mysterious figures? If we think Rainer/Wanderer was the one who came to Tamsin asking about Bo, though, then how does that fit in the above timeline, did it happen before the rebellion, and does he have a proxy while he’s on the train?
– It had occurred to me that Rainer could be an incubus of sorts; we’ve not seen one yet, but he enthralled Bo. If Rainer is the Wanderer, and the Wanderer is supposed to be terrifyingly ugly, while obviously Rainer is gorgeous, then here’s another slightly out-there theory: we could have elements of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, with its more modern retelling Till We Have Faces. Rainer would be beautiful, and able to make people fall in love with him, the Wanderer would be hideous, based on specific times (generally night/day, but other arbitrary times can apply). Then, the crown at the beginning of this episode would probably be Bo’s (it could be the crown from 4.06, which said ‘Isabeau’ inside) and an offering from Rainer/Wanderer to his queen. It’d also explain why Bo doesn’t remember seeing him: all the flashbacks to her waking up alone would be because she couldn’t look upon him.
– Trick is very affected by the smoke (Kenzi even calls it out later), and the smoke is Odin’s raven. Trick’s forced, subconscious revelations at Dao-Ming’s place makes it seem possible The Wanderer or Odin or something is Trick’s Phoenix, a repressed multiple personality. That dark Self could have come as a result of Trick trying to obscure himself in history; he’s not been recognized by many as the Blood King, so he must have written with his blood to help hide himself. When he did, that could have created this Jean Grey/Phoenix situation, and the Dark Phoenix manifestation sometimes uses The Wanderer and/or Rainer as an alias, since evil Trick has Rainer’s soul captive. A sort of fae identity thieving of the dead. The train could be a metaphorical construction for entrapping Rainer, who is shown with welding tools (presumably trying to break out) as Trick is getting more and more discomfited.
– Possessed Trick growls “I am the first son of this Earth.” Cronus could possibly fit that description, especially in the bastardized way Lost Girl uses mythology. If that’s true, check what else fits: there’s the incestuous angle of Cronus devouring his own children (as Lauren said a fae elder was feeding on his own kin), and then one of them escaping and later forcing him to ‘disgorge’ the rest. One would then assume this child would be Bo.
Some variation of these theories also have the distinct advantage of being able to use existing cast. So there’s that.
I don’t generally conspiratorialize like this, but there are too many possibilities, and thinking of LOST apparently got my theory engine running. Tune in next week for probably a two-page analysis of how a scene uses color, or something hopefully less crazed sounding.
To wrap up the episode, then!
Bo professes Rainer is her destiny. Our reactions are much like Trick and Dyson and Lauren’s faces: Uhm, what the hell. I’m guessing Bo’s enthralled (incubus term intentional) and everyone will have to team up to free her, or convince her she’s crazy, or whatnot. That may even mean Tamsin and Trick working together, which could get prickly and narratively interesting.
Now we’re getting closer to the end of the season, I still think the destruction of the binary Light/Dark is at hand, but they may settle the Rainer issue this season and establish the fae fight up as next season’s arc, the same way they settled Taft while setting up the Wanderer arc at the end of Season 2. Though, as mentioned at the beginning, hopefully it will be clearer, what with having more time and all.
- Kenzi calls Trick their “trick-o-pedia“
- HMU will have to work harder than that if we’re to buy Skarsten as ‘ugly.’
- The crow rhyme was nicely deployed, but I had to look it up because I’d never heard it before. It’s apparently a thing where one counts crows on a telephone line or somesuch, and the numbers represented there act like an omen, good or bad.
- Machiavellian Trick punishes a disobedient town by using his blood to punish them with acts of nature. Trick is a medieval Chris Christie. Bam.