Jesus Isabeau Christ, Supersuccubus

cross_smallMy high school literature teacher (shout out to Mrs. Elzey!) introduced me and my classmates to the concept of the “Christ figure.” In literature, a Christ figure is a character who is similar to Jesus Christ from the Bible. It became a running joke in my class that in each new book we read, we had to find the Christ figure – because “there is ALWAYS a Christ figure.” If you couldn’t find the Christ figure, you just weren’t looking hard enough.

The joke ended up being on me, though, because forever after, I couldn’t stop seeing Christ figures everywhere. Amberle in The Elfstones of Shannara, Spock in Star Trek, Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, Xena in Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter in the books bearing his name..and now, Bo in Lost Girl.

Wikipedia and TV Tropes both have good descriptions of what a Christ figure is, as well as brief discussions about why this literary device is so prevalent in literature and TV/film.

My favorite description so far, though, is this list of notes entitled “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster from a class at the University of West Georgia. Props to freshman Ariel Crawford for compiling these notes in 2006. (Ariel, where are you and what are you doing now? Do you watch Lost Girl? If not, give it a try – I think you’d enjoy it.)

Let’s examine Professor Foster’s list and see how Bo fits into these telltale Christ figure characteristics.

Crucified, wounds in the hands feet, side and head

Bruise! (Maybe I just wanted to show this picture, actually.)
Bruise! (Maybe I just wanted to show this picture, actually.)

We haven’t seen Bo literally crucified (yet), but she’s suffered head wounds every now and then. Also, when she was hit by the car in S3E4, “Fae-de to Black,” she was left with a persistent bruise in her side that caused her great pain. And in S2E8 “Death Didn’t Become Him,” the Lich shoots Bo in the side (which later leads to her first mass chi-suck while chained up with arms outstretched – more on this later).

bo_lauren_chain

Let’s consider the cursing nail for a moment. This was the nail with which the African shaman cursed Nadia at the Ash’s behest in order to coerce Lauren into working for the Light Fae. We first learn about the cursing nail in S2E8, “Death Didn’t Become Him,” and Bo finally lays the nail to rest in S2E12 “Masks.”

Cursing_Nail
Sometimes a nail is just a nail – but Bo’s removal of the nail and keeping it a secret from Lauren in this context reminds me of the Crucifixion. Bo experienced a lot of heartbreak and pain by making this willing sacrifice for Lauren.

In agony (perhaps even great physical suffering)

Bo’s existence has caused her a great deal of psychic pain over the years. The guilt she feels from her ten years on the run, unable to stop killing, has haunted her. She also endures physical pain from the dangerous situations she continually encounters and her refusal to back down. Her love life, never smooth for long, has been a source of great joy but also great heartbreak. For much of Season 4, Bo’s memory loss and whatever trauma she experienced on the Death Train transformed her previously somewhat content existence into a continual source of frustration and anger. And losing Kenzi has been perhaps the most painful of all.

Bo at Kenzi's grave

Self-sacrificing (big sacrifice, preferably a life, for others)

Bo almost can’t help herself, sacrificing herself for other people and for the world. The sacrifice of her own happiness for Lauren’s when she removed Nadia’s cursing nail is one dramatic example. What more pure expression of love is there than stepping aside and giving up your own hopes and desires so the person you love can be happy?

But that’s not all – Bo’s been willing to lay down her life, safety and happiness in several situations without any promise of material gain or thanks, just because it’s the right thing to do. Here are just a few examples:

  • In S1E8, “Vexed,” Bo damns the consequences and rushes headlong to find and kill Vex, who had forced Lou Ann Heidinger to kill her four children as punishment for leaving the Fae for the human world.
  • Over the course of Season 2, she agrees to fight the Garuda as the Light’s Champion, knowing she might fail and die – to save the Fae world.
  • Season 3 – Bo saves both Sylvie the Wombly and Hannah the Squonk in S3E1 “Caged Fae” and “Fae-ge Against the Machine,” respectively, at great personal risk and peril to herself.
  • S2E4 “Groundhog Fae” – Bo frees Tamsin from Krampus’s creepy candy factory and lays down in her place on the conveyor belt.

bo_krampus

What other examples can you name?

Bo isn’t the only one who sacrifices, of course – both Dyson and Kenzi have actually died to save Bo and the world – Dyson so Bo could escape the Temple during the Dawning, and Kenzi to close the Pyrippus-engineered portal to the otherworld.

Good with children

babytamsinI don’t know that we could say that Bo is good with children. While not actually a child in anything other than appearance, Bo and the Nain Rouge had a hostile relationship. Kenzi did most of the child-rearing of Reincarnated Young Tamsin. But Bo in general has seemed compassionate to most people, and it might just be that there’s not a huge storyline opportunity for child characters in Lost Girl, probably rightfully so. Anyone have opinions?

Good with loaves, fish, water, wine

I’m not sure about loaves, fishes or water, but Bo is damn good with wine.

bo_wine2

As well, the image of water and Christ figures inevitably comes back to baptism. Whaddya think?

kenzi_water

Thirty-three years of age when last seen

By my reckoning, Bo is probably in her early thirties by now. Since Lost Girl is by no means over, it’s possible she will be 33 in a season or two, and also possible that something dramatic might happen in the area of self-sacrifice. Stay tuned.

Wendy's pretzel burger

Please, please please, Lost Girl writers and producers, please do not kill Bo permanently like Xena. My wounded heart couldn’t take it. Name your price – pizza? Convincing Wendy’s to bring back the pretzel burger? Whatever it is, I’m on it.

Known to use humble modes of transportation, feet or donkeys preferred

The Beast (Bo’s car) is certainly a humble mode of transportation, but witness also this donkey:

bo_donkey

Believed to have walked on water

This parallel isn’t really a literal one, but Bo’s friends certainly think highly of her. In fact, in Season 2 finale when the gang went up against the Garuda, they may have thought that Bo literally did walk on water after Lauren had administered Bo’s succubus blood to them all to strengthen their bond. Quoth Hale, “Bo’s the best!”

Side note:  the Season 2 finale is called “Flesh and Blood,” and both the title and the sharing of Bo’s blood reminds me of the Eucharist, when Christ fed his disciples bread and wine, telling them “This is my body. This is my blood.”

Often portrayed with arms outstretched

Bo-arms_out

Boom. Next.

Known to have had a confrontation with the devil, possibly tempted (in a wilderness–disappears to the wilderness)

Pyrippus seems like the closest thing to the idea of the Christian devil that we’ve seen so far in Lost Girl, and Bo has been confronting him, whether she’s known it or not, for a long time now. Season 5 seems like it’s heading for a showdown. The interesting thing about knowing that Pyrippus is Bo’s father when considering Bo as a Christ figure is Bo’s monologue during “The Ceremony” in Season 3:

“I will reign as he did.  Together we will bridle the masses and ride them to victory!  Even death will fear us! Only I will decide who lives!”

The concept of Bo ruling with her father has always reminded me of The Apostles’ Creed, which contains a description about Jesus ascending into Heaven (from the Ecumenical Version):

On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I don’t necessarily think this means that Pyrippus is going to end up as a force for good, by the way – the literary device of a Christ figure is not meant to be a literal parallel all the time.Pyrippus_(309)

(Side note:  knowing that Pyrippus is a horse makes the “bridle the masses and ride them to victory” line a little clearer now.) What do you think? Yea? Neigh?

Last seen in the company of thieves

Kenzi is a collector of rare wallets, and Bo is often seen in her company.

Creator of many aphorisms and parables

Bo has had some good lines, that’s for sure. Here’s one that seems to sum up her thoughts on her past life, and living the life she chooses (and incidentally contains the ongoing theme of self-sacrifice):

“I will never kill innocents again, I’d rather die.”

Buried, but arose on the third day

While I don’t think we’ve seen Bo literally buried alive, her abduction to the Death Train can be seen as a metaphorical burying, death and resurrection.

Had disciples, twelve at first, although not all equally devoted

Well, sure – Bo’s core gang is kind of like her disciples. Not twelve, but that would probably be too many characters.

Very forgiving

Bo seems to be VERY forgiving. During Season 3, she told Lauren “I will never forgive you for this” and then in the very next episode, she seemed to have forgiven her. She forgave Kenzi for making a secret commitment to the Morrigan to save Nate, and then keeping that information from Bo. If she ever finds out the extent of all the information that Trick and Dyson have kept from her, she’ll probably forgive them, too. Bo doesn’t hold grudges.

Came to redeem an unworthy world (at the least offers hope)

Bo’s choice in the very first episode was to choose humans rather than Light or Dark Fae. She thinks the rules are outdated and doesn’t want to play by them. At the least, Bo wants to be left alone to live the life she chooses, but I think ultimately Bo would like to see the Dark/Light divide go the way of the dodo.

bo_butterflyBonus Christ figure characteristic – ability to resurrect others

While not on Professor Foster’s list, the ability to bring others back to life is something that a Christ figure might do. In the Bible, Jesus resurrects his friend Lazarus by commanding “Lazarus, come forth.”

We’ve seen Bo bring people back to life, too – notably Dyson after she had to kill him in order to escape the Temple. The butterfly coming back to life in her flashback on the Death Train also is a resurrection.

What the heck, Sally?

Now, you might be thinking:  “Sally, Bo is sexy as hell. And Jesus, while many things, is not sexy. Isn’t this a little farfetched, and a little sacrilegious? How could a main character who needs sex to survive possibly be a Christ figure? What gives?”

This is one of the beautiful things about Lost Girl, how it takes familiar themes and presents them in new and unexpected ways to make a point.

Bo is a person who has been damaged by religion – cast out of her house by fundamentalist parents who told her she was the devil. She’s also a succubus who needs to have sex in order to survive, and this is presented in a positive light. Bo likes sex, and that’s great. As Kenzi says to her, “Enjoy your shit.”

For Bo to exhibit all of these archetypal characteristics of the figure who is at the center of Christianity while herself having suffered because of her parents’ interpretation of Christianity – it’s a reclamation. Bo is a stand-in for so many people who have been persecuted and mistreated in the name of religion – and by appearing as a Christ figure, she can be seen as contradicting the idea that God’s love is only for some people – certainly not for Bo and for people like her. It’s the beginning of reconciliation.

It’s also just pure Lost Girl genius.

Jesus Christ, what a rack!
Jesus Christ, what a rack! Thank God for boobs.

20 thoughts on “Jesus Isabeau Christ, Supersuccubus

  1. Thank you Sally! Really enjoyed your funny, enlightening, thought-provoking observations about Bo as a Christ figure. You make a compelling case. I loved your closing idea that while being a Christ figure, our sex-positive Bo may also represent a repudiation of repressive religious dogma about sexuality I was reminded of the fact that in S4E13, during her epic fight with Massimo, Bo is thrown into a stained-glass window — totally shattering it.

    Just to add a few thoughts:

    1. Bo as the Redeemer/Chosen One. Her own story is one of personal redemption but there are many hints throughout the series of a larger role she is destined to play. In S3E13, the cabot Sunitha, says, “Bless you child. You really are the chosen one.” In S4E12, Dyson & Tamsin decipher a Zamoran family code containing a message about reuniting with “the queen” — not just the queen of the knights of Rainer, says Tamsin, but “The Queen.” Dyson adds cryptically that this means Bo is “the One.” Jesus is declared king at his birth & descends from the royal line of David.

    2. Bo wandered lost for 10 years, searching while hiding. Jesus wandered in the wilderness for 40 days during which he was repeatedly tempted by the Devil.

    3. Jesus indicted the ruling elites of his day. Christ figures in literature have often been depicted as social reformers or political activists, fighting for the little guy (Steinbeck’s Jesus-hero in The Grapes of Wrath, Jim Casey, gives up the ministry to become a union organiser). Beginning with her declaration, “I choose humans!” in S1E1, Bo is a staunch defender of social underdogs and challenges the various domination systems in her world (the Fae, the Una Mens).

    4. Resurrection themes: In S4E13, Trick tells Bo about her special ability to take life from many victims at once and transfer it to other people. Rainer realizes this power means she’ll be able to “raise armies from the dead.” In S3E13, Aife tells her, “If your father were here he would kill them all and resurrect them and kill them again.” Rosette tells Bo that prophecy states the Pyrippus will rise following the death of the Una Mens. Massimo reveals a prophecy that Rainer will die seven days after he rises unless his curse is broken. And of course, there are the Revenants.

    5. Betrayal
    In S4E12, Lauren reads a book in which text materializes with the prophecy that Rainer — Bo’s Destiny — will betray the Fae and wreak torment beyond belief. I can’t believe we’ve seen the last of him after that build-up. Jesus predicted he would be betrayed by Judas — and is sold out with a kiss.

    1. Sally is back and it’s good! Thx for this article. Really interesting and refreshing.
      And thx NY, I liked what you added about this topic.
      There’s so much in this little show.

      It’s funny (so to speak), because when I read your last point NY, about Lauren’s book and the prophecy.. when I read “Bo’s destiny” will betray the Fae and wreak torment beyond belied – sold out with a kiss.

      First I thought about Lauren : She said to Bo “Destiny’s calling” and Bo went to kiss her then left. We know that Lauren has now new abilities about de-fae and go-fae.
      And then I thought about Kenzi and the kiss she gave to Massimo to sealed the rune glass.

      Of course it is just thoughts ^^

      Nice post Sally 😉 always enjoy reading you, NY as well.

      1. Those are great thoughts, and I especially love the observation about Kenzi’s betrayal of Bo with Massimo and the rune glass being sealed with a kiss. You’re so right – this show is rich and dense and has so many layers.

    2. Carolyn, you have now become the Christ figure of this blog post by redeeming it with much more legitimacy. The points you make and the examples you cite are spot on. I love the stained-glass window image especially from Bo’s fight with Massimo.

      It chills my heart to think that we might not have seen the last of Rainer – not because he’s scary, but because I thought he was bori..ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.

      Wait, where was I? I hope that Rainer’s betrayal has already happened, because I’d love to see a new storyline with a different character or characters in Season 5.

      Hey, what do you think about this: Lauren as Mary Magdalene?! Maybe we’ll see Lauren washing Bo’s dirty feet before Bo dons the Helskor to trot off to Irkalla to reclaim Kenzi.

  2. I could accept the Lauren-washing-dirty-feet scene if it’s done in SUPER-SLO-MO and as part of a longer shared bath scene. I think the Doccubus fandom has earned at least a shared bath scene, am I right?!

    Saving Private Kenzi – it’s definitely going to be a band-of-buds effort. Since the writers went to all the effort in S4E13 to have Trick remind Bo/us that she can transfer life from many to one (WE KNOW), I have to think that will come into play in S5 — to save Kenz. Because Kenzi must be saved. If they haven’t done it already, the Lost Girl PTB have four episodes to make it so. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

    As for Rainer…I guess it is a mark of my endless faith in the writers that I refuse to believe so much was invested in introducing a chatacter for such a meh pay-off. There just has to be a mega-betrayal scene to come in S5. Even his name – Rainer – “deciding warrior” “warrior of the Gods” – suggests there must be some larger battle ahead. If not, then I wish someone would do pinpoint laser surgery to my hippocampus and zap the few cells that hold the memory “Rainer,” because even the thought of him will irk me when I look back on the wonder that was Lost Girl.

    1. I will join you in saying that I would accept a SUPER SLO-MO Doccubus bath scene. What were we talking about?

      I agree about the meh payoff, but I hope they can let sleeping dogs lie, because honestly, I am not sure if that storyline can be redeemed. Although if Bo really is a Christ figure, then no one is beyond redemption.

  3. Don’t forget this scene from End of a Line, which I wrote about on my blog.

    “Bo drinks blood from Laveau’s severed head. Dominion, baby. She raises her arms Christ-like, says, “Be at peace,” and the ravening hoard of revenants drop placidly to the floor.”

  4. When a show resorts to moving the protagonist into a ‘Christ Figure” it is the beginning of the end for the show. Bo being the “chosen one” was exactly where I DIDN’T want the show to go. Lost Girl has no where to go with this storyline but down.

    How many times did Xena die or get crucified ?? Dear God, that got old.

    Why can’t Bo be a normal “superhero” without being the chosen one.

    1. Hi Tristen – it’s true that Xena was crucified many more times than the average person, and it did get a little old, although at the time I was so ga-ga about Xena as a strong female protagonist that I was (mostly) okay with wherever they took the storyline.

      I have faith in the Lost Girl writers, though, because they usually come up with some kind of twist that doesn’t go down a hackneyed road. While I think that Bo as the protagonist will end up being the hero of the show, I think that the “chosen one” device will not be a syrupy deus ex machina, and that it will have a unique Lost Girl spin that makes a subtle point about…something, and Bo will learn a lesson.

      The other thing, not to undermine my argument in the original blog post, is that it’s very easy to spot Christ figure characteristics where maybe the authors didn’t deliberately intend to put them. That’s part of why my high school lit class had a running joke about the Christ figure – there’s an element of seeing what you want to see.

      As well, part of Professor Foster’s point is that the Christ story permeates society so much (in some countries more than others, of course, though most world religions do have some kind of sacrifice/martyr figure who is divine) that it’s both inevitable that Christ images seep into our stories whether we want them to or not, and that the readers/viewers may find them even if they weren’t intended. Only the writers can tell us whether they intended these parallels. J. K. Rowling was pretty open about Harry Potter being a Christ figure, but she only said so after she was finished with the series.

  5. This whole piece was a joy to read. I consider myself a recovering Catholic so I found myself cracking up for most of it, in a good way. I kind of agree with You Can”t See Me@ Tristen1960. I’m so done with Shows resorting to “The Chosen One” as a means to explain the Main Character’s “Specialness.”

    Once that phrase is used. Ta Da. Nothing else needs to be explained. They’re special. There is a prophecy, and everything they do has some big meaning. I really wish Lost Girl had stayed far, far, away from this plot line. Especially because Bo just doesn’t live up to Jesus, or Harry Potter, or even Luke Skywalker. Even though, Sally, your points are all great, and many of them funny, which is what I think you meant for them to be. LOL.

    She just doesn’t cut the mustard. Or whatever. Kenzi was the Sacrifice. Not Bo. Bo may be the main character the Show is centered around, but she is the least revered. I wish they had continued with her Season Two characterization. Of course she had to go through trials and doubts, but all I can see moving forward is a hodgepodge of fitting square pegs into round holes.

    I so agree with Mahlers that Rainer is not gone. He is the Judas Goat if there is one. All that build up to his importance as her destiny? Then, *poof* he’s dead. He was a nice guy that meant well?? really?

    But, getting back to this delightful piece.

    “Bo is a stand-in for so many people who have been persecuted and mistreated in the name of religion – and by appearing as a Christ figure, she can be seen as contradicting the idea that God’s love is only for some people – certainly not for Bo and for people like her. It’s the beginning of reconciliation. ”

    I love this paragraph, it is beautifully constructed and true of the Bo we saw in the first Two Seasons for sure. And we seemed to get a glimpse of that Bo at the end of this last Season Four. So, I am putting my rose tinted glasses on again and hoping her journey is moving towards that true resurrection and a reconciliation of her whole family (I’m still convinced she’s half dead, she didn’t feed at all during Season 4).

    Thanks so much for this fun exploration and the continued optimism. It does give me hope that the Show is going to focus back on Bo now, put her front and center again with the desire to retrieve Kenzi, recover her balance, and hopefully live up to that “Chosen One” Title. Crossing my fingers.

    1. Thanks keets! Glad you liked this. I recall seeing someone comment on Bo’s assumption that the Helskor shoes were meant for her, and she seemed so confident about it that the person thought the writers were setting Bo up for some kind of comeuppance.

      In real life, there is rarely a Chosen One. There are people who are awesome and special, charismatic and inspiring leaders and brave people who take us places we need to go (John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, just to name a few), but everyone who has done anything in life has always, always had help. And nobody is perfect. Bo is flawed, for sure.

      Even Jesus wasn’t perfect. He had a fit of temper in the Temple, turning over the tables of the moneylenders, and lost faith for a while (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 46-47). I know plenty of people will disagree with me about this, and I’m not commenting from a religious perspective, but as a reader of the Bible as literature and interpretation of Jesus as a historical figure.

      But getting back to Lost Girl, Bo has always been relatable – she is impulsive, makes mistakes, jumps to the wrong conclusions, doesn’t always look before she leaps, she has a temper, she can be impatient, and of course, she can turn into Supersuccubus and lose control of herself. There are times she can be petty and a little cruel, too. What I love about Bo is how brave she is, how she will do anything to help her friends and to help people who need help, and how she’s fun and loving and forgiving. Those are all qualities that I want to emulate. And qualities that I think we’ll get to see more of, now that the trials of Season 4 are hopefully over.

      1. Yes, there’s that. Kenzi definitely willingly sacrificed herself, and she’s good with wine. She also has a TON of good lines (creator of many aphorisms and parables). And she’s good with children! She could certainly also be a Christ figure.

        I don’t think it’s an either/or situation necessarily (and of course, it’s possible that the writers of the show aren’t actually intending to present ANY of the characters as a Christ figure).

        About her sacrifice, though – she did say that Bo would come to Valhalla and rescue her, so I don’t think that she intended her sacrifice to be permanent. I’ve often wondered if in the end of Lost Girl, since I refuse to accept that Bo might die, that maybe she will sacrifice her Fae powers and live out the rest of her life as a human.

        1. Nuh-uh. I’ve already written the series finale. In S10E13, Bo and Lauren are nearing the end of a long and happy life together. Lauren is looking all of her 88 years, but in a still-sexy Helen Mirren way. She’s bedbound, apparently dying. Bo doesn’t look a day older than when last seen in S4E13. She is grieving. “This is just a virus thingy, right?!” Lauren corrects her with the exact Latinate name for a highly lethal virus carried by green African monkies. Or something. Enter stage left: a beautiful young woman who looks astonishingly like Lauren as we last saw her in S4E14. She is their daughter. ZP plays both roles. She’s brilliant . The End.

  6. A bit late to the party, but there was a scene with crow (?) Fae in a graveyard in which Bo literally fell into a grave and was walking around in it, and then she was returned to the world by the Fae that inhabited that grave/underworld.

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