“Structure is key to narrative. These are the crucial questions any storyteller must answer: Where does it begin? Where does the beginning start to end and the middle begin? Where does the middle start to end and the end begin?”
[Nora Ephron, Telling True Stories]
“You have to let me fight my own battles. Do that, and when the smoke clears, we’ll see where we are.”
[Bo to Dyson, Lost Girl, episode 113]
The closing episodes of season 4 left many viewers perplexed and many questions unanswered. The truth behind Bo’s lineage — at the very heart of her being the Lost Girl — remained unexplained. We were no closer to knowing the real identity of The Wanderer (uppercase W) whom we had been hearing about since episode 308 (Fae-ge Against the Machine). Could all the hints that he was Bo’s father have been red herrings? Was her father actually a bat-winged fire-breathing demon steed, as suggested by Sister Epona in episode 412 (Origin)?
But if the Pyrippus is Bo’s father, imprisoned on some other plane of existence all this time, how did he manage to hire Tamsin to find Bo or sneak away to implant Recuerdo coils under the ocular membranes of her closest friends and family in the hiatus between episodes 313 (Those Who Wander)
and 401 (In Memoriam)? Are we being asked to believe Aife did the wild thing with a guy who spends his time looking like Secretariat on steroids?
And what was the deal with Rainer? OK, he was not The Wanderer, as we had been led to believe, but merely “he who wanders” (lowercase w) and Bo declared emphatically at the end of episode 409 (Destiny’s Child) that he was not her father – thank Goddess! But in what sense was he supposed to have been Bo’s “destiny”? In episode 412 (Origin), he said they were destined to “fight together for the good of the Fae” but promptly had his ticket to Valhalla punched by Massimo before he could fulfill that destiny.
And speaking of prophesies, in episode 412, hadn’t Lauren read in Fae history books that Rainer was “the demon beast of evil pure, never to be trusted” destined to “wreak torment beyond comparison and betray the Fae”? Did that suggest he’d be back in season 5 to complete unfinished business? It was all pretty confusing. So before settling in to watch the next installment, Valksy and I decided to make one more attempt to reconcile all of these puzzling plot developments with the overarching storyline that has been unfolding.
That was the plan until that fateful day in late August when Anna Silk blew fans a magical kiss and conferred upon us the terrible gift of Foresight. It was not revealed precisely how Bo’s story would end, only that everyone who has ever meant anything to us on this show — including Bo herself — would be lost at the end of season 5. The show runner had rewritten the future with his blood-tipped pen: END OF SERIES. And that “MMXV” — the Roman numerals that materialized on the Wanderer’s tarot card in episode 402 (Sleeping Beauty School)? Clearly it was just a teasing reference to the year “2015” when Lost Girl Armageddon would occur. And there wasn’t a blessed thing we could do to change that fate.
There’s nothing like the inevitability of death to drive us mere mortals to make something meaningful out of our brief flash of life…and precious television shows. But really, was there any point in continuing to cogitate about the identity of the Wanderer or the Pyrippus or Rainer or whether Bo was the Dark Queen or the Chosen One? There were more burning questions to consider now that we knew we didn’t have all the time in the world – like what fate lay in store for our beloved Doccubus? And would we ever see their Doccubabies — Ethan and Charlotte?
I needed a mojito. Make that two. It’s just a television show. It’s just a television show. It’s just a television show…
The first and most obvious explanation for why we still care so much about the riddle presented to us by the show is that we, as viewers, are prone to sharing a trait with our beloved doctor — we are “insatiably curious.” There is confusion for sure, but for many, a determination to make sense of the mystery that has been presented to us. The key to unravelling this conundrum is Bo herself as she moves from being a Lost Girl in the most literal sense — unable to find her way and oblivious to her heritage — to a more existentially Lost Girl who is challenged by her own moral ambiguity, temptations, and the life choices she faces.
As Bo’s tale transitioned from “what am I?” to “who am I?” and “why am I here?” it became clear that a central theme of the show was family — both the chosen and the biological. Like all of us, Bo’s identity has been shaped by her biological/genetic endowment, by the parents who actually raised her, and importantly by her adult relationships and experiences in life. But the wild card in her make-up has always been her paternal lineage: “Who is my father and what does he want with me?” In terms of character growth and narrative bread crumbs – through quests and monsters, challenge and conflict – there has always been plenty of evidence of an intentional meta plot in play, with a missing piece large enough to thoroughly pique my curiosity and make me long to know what happens next.
Evidence of an intentional series-long story arc of some magnitude is also suggested in several subordinate plot threads. Lauren and Bo first encounter humans tampering in the Fae world in episode 106 (Food for Thought) when it becomes apparent that a shadowy and well-appointed organization has undertaken experiments into biological weaponry targeting the Fae, despite Lauren’s charge to “track all clinically approved trials globally, make sure none are problematic for the Fae.” Although not further explained within the show canon at this point, it seems reasonable to find a parallel between the activities of Baron Chemicals in episode 106 and Taft’s empire in the latter stages of season 3. Certainly the knowledge Lauren acquired – to turn humans into Fae hybrids via genetic engineering – could serve as a foundation for the reverse act she performs on the Morrigan in the fourth season. This story concept – a battle for survival between humans versus Fae using advanced or transformative science – has been woven through all four seasons.
Another plot thread, albeit a more subtle one, that seems to mirror the main story arc is the evolution we see in the relationship between Bo and Kenzi. A loveable Artful Dodger and light-fingered scamp in the early episodes, Kenzi is matured by her first brush with mortality in episode 106 (Food for Thought), then frees Dyson against all odds in episode 220 (Lachlan’s Gambit), saves him emotionally from the Norn’s curse in episode 221 (Into the Dark), and finally reaches her full courageous potential in episode 413 (Dark Horse) in an unforgettable scene of noble self-sacrifice for a greater good.
While it is always vital to remember that this is primarily Bo’s story, both of these sub-plots seem intimately interwoven with the grander story. None of us knows which way the story will turn next, but Lauren’s progression from hapless and exploited slave to an intellect-driven warrior must surely serve a purpose; this development also ensures that she is elevated beyond any potentially objectionable position of helpless damsel to a more equal and self-actuated character. Likewise, although Kenzi’s traumatic passing will be an important catalyst for the next chapter in the story (as Bo makes clear in her monologue at the end of season 4), the evolution of the relationship between the two women – from strangers, to family, to fractured and estranged friends – also parallels Bo’s own plot-driven character modification. The changing bond between Bo and Kenzi is both an important story in its own right and a symbolic representation of Bo’s personal transformation.
Life is hard when you don’t know who you are. We have heard Bo say these words dozens of times during the opening credits of Lost Girl, and yet it is easy to forget this is the show’s central drama. Bo’s attention – and the viewer’s – may have been distracted along the way by this romance or that love triangle or another MOTW, but finding her true nature, where she comes from, and what larger destiny awaits her, has remained the driving force behind her personal narrative. It took center stage in season 3 during her preparations for and experiences in the Dawning (to the chagrin of fans who felt she had selfishly shunted Lauren aside) and was never more prominent than during the course of season 4, when love took a back seat to the task of Bo’s regaining her memory and finding out who had kidnapped her and what happened on the Death Train: “Can you really know yourself without memory? Can you really know what you want?” (Episode 406, Of All the Gin Joints). This is a journey she has been intent on doing for herself and by herself since the very beginning. In episode 409 (Destiny’s Child), when Lauren and Dyson insist on accompanying her back to the Death Train, Bo tells them, “I love you both. So much. But right now I need you to watch me walk away because I have to do this.” The stage has been set for this journey of self-discovery to reach a climax in the final season. It’s time.
Some people prioritize the intimacy and mutuality of relationships in life, but for Bo, the questions “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” have always trumped “Who do I love?” Consider the fact that in episode 108 (Vexed), after Lauren and Bo spend the night together for the very first time, Bo doesn’t hang back in bed for some morning canoodling but, over her lover’s objections, is up early lacing her boots to save Lou Ann and find out the truth about her own mother. And in episode 413 (Dark Horse), after Bo takes time out from Fae Armageddon to rescue Lauren from Massimo (or was it Lauren’s guile – pocketing and crushing the twig of Zamora—that actually saved the day?), Lauren reminds Bo of her priorities: “Get out of here, Succubus. Destiny’s calling.” Season 4 has been full of references to the fact that there are things more important in life than a mere love story and that love must sometimes be sacrificed for the greater good. Just not Doccubus. Please, not Doccubus.
Beyond my own natural curiosity to see what happens next and understand how the clues will eventually resolve the riddle presented to us, I also find the grander story both compelling and necessary to the intimate love story that caught our attention and brought so many of us to the show in the first place. There seems to be a deeply human instinct to view the greatest loves as something earned through suffering, strife and challenges, and often resolved by bargains, battles or sacrifices. This common theme of love conquering all is reflected in the historic story of Odysseus and Penelope, in the literary romance between Romeo and Juliet or between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, and in the cinematic love affair between Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine in Casablanca or Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Lost Girl continues this tradition of great romances tested through heroic actions, adversity, and strife. In episode 212 (Masks), Bo selflessly frees Nadia and willingly surrenders her own happiness in return for Lauren’s. In episode 219 (Truth and Consequences), Nadia sacrifices her life in order to save Lauren from the malevolent entity inhabiting her. Kenzi sacrifices her own chance of happiness with Nate out of love for Bo (in Truth and Consequences) and then goes on to play out a classically tragic love story with Hale, ending with his death in episode 411 (End of a Line).
Their sacrifices stand in marked contrast to Dyson’s bombastic, jealous chest-thumping early on in the series, and to his rescinding his “sacrifice” to the Norn when he fails to win the girl to his satisfaction. In doing so, it is arguable he proves his love is unworthy, according to classical narrative tradition.
Both Bo and Lauren are willing to sacrifice their own happiness, liberty, safety, even their lives, out of devotion to one another. These grand and symbolic acts require a greater story, with a deeper menace, as a backdrop. Bo’s brave, stubborn, and relentless quest to discover the truth about the Wanderer, and in doing so to discover herself, is surely an important reason Lauren loves her and an intrinsic part of the love story that has so inspired us.
It is astonishing how little Bo (or the viewer) knows about her father, his intentions, and the influence of his bloodline after four seasons. Historians tell us that people inevitably misunderstand the present when they live in ignorance of the past, so before making predictions about where the writers will be taking Bo’s story in the final season, let’s take a look back at what we know and don’t know about Bo’s identity, parentage, and apparent destiny.
Was Bo’s father the Dark Fae King?
Bo has known since episode 113 (Blood Lines) that Aife — a Light Fae succubus — is her birth mother. In that episode, Bo learns that her mother was imprisoned and tortured for centuries by a sadistic Dark King who “thought it a waste to execute a perfectly good succubus” and decided instead to “keep me for his own entertainment.” Aife never expressly stated that her Dark King captor raped her – although this is strongly implied – nor that he is Bo’s father. In fact, when Bo asked her pointblank in episode 113, “Is he my father?! Is he still alive?!” Aife answered sharply that she “[didn’t] want to talk about that (…) All in due time.”
We hear nothing further about Bo’s parentage from Aife until episode 313 (Those Who Wander), when Dyson finds her in Taft’s castle where she has been held captive since her fight with Bo in episode 113. Aife tells Dyson she was tortured by Taft for information about “what’s the ultimate type of Fae…who’s the strongest” but says proudly that she never revealed the truth: “It’s my Bo, my daughter.” Whoever Bo’s father may be, his blood apparently confers abilities far more powerful than any other Fae, Light or Dark. “If your father were here, he would kill them all, resurrect them, and then kill them again!” Aife shouts in impotent rage when Bo is imprisoned with her in Taft’s cells, “He would never allow this to happen to his seed!” Would Aife be talking in such reverential terms about Bo’s father if he were indeed the monstrous Dark King who had tortured and exploited her for centuries? Uh, no.
In episode 301 (Caged Fae), Bo herself hedged her bets when discussing her fears about her origins with Trick: “My father was most certainly Dark [emphasis added].” Trick is non-committal, as usual, but twenty-six episodes later (in the season 4 finale), he finally gets around to telling Bo that she has “hybrid” blood. She has inherited her mother’s Light Fae blood and with it the ability to drain chi for nourishment and to manipulate others by touch. From her father, Trick tells her, she has inherited “the ability to drain life from many victims” and to “transfer that life force” to someone else, an ability we have by then witnessed several times, most memorably in episode 309 (Ceremony). But despite all that suggestive sliding of dark bottles next to light bottles on the bar, Trick never actually says that Bo’s father is the monstrous Dark King. He seems familiar with the powers conferred by her father’s blood and apparently knows him well enough – “whoever he may be” — to be “terrified” of him, as he tells Bo in episode 408 (Ground Hog Fae), but Trick steadfastly maintains that he doesn’t know her father’s actual identity. By this point in the story Bo herself seems fairly convinced her father is the Pyrippus, but Trick is silent on that point. [We’ll have more to say about the Pyrippus later, but suffice it to say for now, we don’t buy that he is Bo’s father].
Do we have solid evidence that Bo’s father is even Dark Fae? The most compelling evidence for this is presented in episode 404 (Turn to Stone), when the Keeper tells Bo that based on analysis of a sample obtained by the Una Mens’ gargoyle, “Your blood has spoken. You have chosen a side. You are Dark.” However, in the series premiere, it was clear that the Fae had no means of determining whether Bo was Light or Dark Fae (“someone hid her from birth from both our sides”) so she would have to choose. This would seem to suggest that one’s identity as Light or Dark Fae is mostly a matter of nurture or choice rather than Nature or blood. In any case, whether Bo’s blood is a hybrid of Dark and Light Fae, or some other unknown hybrid, an argument can be made that the Dark King is not her biological father.
Is Bo’s dark side embedded solely in her paternal DNA?
Bo makes her first appearance as the “supersuccubus” (Dark-Queen-in-waiting) in episode 208 (Death Didn’t Become Him) when the Lich threatens to kill Lauren unless Bo feeds on her. In a seemingly possessed altered state, she expresses a will to rule in that weird Darth-Vader-castrato voice: “I could be more powerful than all other Fae. Everyone would kneel at my feet. There would be no more Dark and no more Light. There would be only me.” Interestingly, this will to rule is expressed in the conditional tense, as though Bo herself (or the dark side threatening to gain ascendency within her) is signaling that she isn’t fully “cooked” yet. In this episode, we also witness the first demonstration of her ability to siphon chi from a group and then use that life force to reanimate someone else. At that point, Bo wasn’t sure how she did it or what triggered her rage, nor did she understand anything much about her patrilineage.
In episode 222 (Flesh and Blood), having bound her friends to her with her blood to fight The Garuda, Bo reappears as the Dark Queen with the same message – a thirst for power and wish to dominate everyone: “I should have killed The Garuda sooner – him and every single one of his minions. I will seek them out and kill them all and anyone who tries to stand in my way…My strength is unmatched! I will reign as Queen and all shall tremble before my power.” No conditional tense there! The Dark Queen surfaces twice more: in episode 309 (Ceremony), which I will return to below, and in episode 413 (Dark Horse), when Bo chi-sucks the revenants at the entrance of the portal to the Underworld to protect her friends and family and save her world. However, the consequence of using this power inherited from her father, albeit for the greater good, is to lower her defenses against her dark side: “I am your Queen whether you swear it or not, fool!” she hisses at Dyson. “And my true army cometh. I was bound by blood. Now we bathe in it. Humans. Fae. All will bow before me. All will break before the power of the Pyrippus!” [I know, I know – the Pyrippus again. We’re certainly meant to believe he is Bo’s father, aren’t we? All in due time…].
Since this thirst for power and domination tended to emerge whenever Bo exercised the group chi-siphoning abilities inherited from her father, and since it is invariably expressed in a voice we have come to identify as part Dark Queen/part Father, I have always assumed the darkness within Bo reflected the sole influence of her paternal DNA endowment. However, in episode 113 (Blood Lines), Aife expressed a similar taste for domination at any cost and used strikingly similar language. “I always had high hopes for my little girl,” she tells Bo in episode 113:
We’re going to take down the Fae…I know you hate the divide as much as I do, the Dark and the Light. And we’re gonna put an end to that, you and me…tear down the establishment. And then we let the world burn. And you and I reign over the ashes side-by-side.
This wish to tear down the Fae establishment and to reign side-by-side with Bo in some new world order is an ambition echoed by The Wanderer in season 3 and again by Rainer in season 4. Could this be a reason Bo’s father – whoever he is – chose Aife in the first place, i.e. because he knew she shared similar ambitions and could therefore be manipulated to take part in his own master plan? Perhaps a plan was hatched by her father centuries ago and Bo was bred by consensual choice to fight in some future conflict. Tamsin seems to suggest as much in episode 408 (Groundhog Fae): “The Wanderer. That evil that you met. Could he be my father?” Bo asks, to which Tamsin replies, “That thing would’ve done anything to claim his ideal mate. Even if it meant creating her himself.”
Rainer expresses this same thirst for power in more benign and idealistic terms (“to end the tyranny between the Dark and the Light”) but he is willing to slaughter the Una Mens without hesitation to accomplish his goal. The Fae prophecies that Lauren unearthed suggest his motives may not be so pure after all, and in the season 4 finale, Trick also tries to warn Bo about Rainer’s possible ulterior motives:
Rainer (to Bo): Not only could your blood lift curses, but you could lead armies. Resurrect the fallen as they die on the battlefield. Free the masses!
Trick: Or enslave them, if she’s coerced by the wrong hand.
We believe Rainer may have been enlisted by The Wanderer — Bo’s father – to execute the Wanderer’s own plan to draw Bo off the earthly plane while still allowing her to think it’s all her idea. What did Rainer get out of the deal? At the very least, liberation from the Death Train and a trip to Valhalla, but perhaps there is a bigger pay-off still to come: the chance to fulfill his original ambition of defeating Fae tyrants – starting with Trick.
There is an argument to suggest that the events across the four seasons to date have foreshadowed the Wanderer’s importance to the story in its eventual entirety. The series of events that began with Bo’s entry into the Fae world (and into ours), escalated to a conflict with her mother which in turn caused Trick to reluctantly invoke his blood magic in full understanding that there could be dire consequences: “You think I didn’t try to fix this thing with Aife long ago? I have rooms of books filled with my blood. Every time, something horrible went wrong!” (Episode 113, Blood Lines). It is confirmed in episode 213 (Barometz. Trick. Pressure) that writing in blood to save Bo from Aife in the season 1 finale awoke The Garuda, which in turn caused Bo to invoke or channel her father’s powers at the end of season 2.
The fact that Bo’s mass chi-siphoning ability comes as a surprise to other characters suggests it is not “standard issue” succubus powers. Could it be argued at this point that Bo’s use of this power in episode 208 (Death Didn’t Become Him) and subsequent binding of others to her with her blood in episode 222 (Flesh and Blood) — both times associated with the expression of a sovereign will to power — acted as a beacon to her father that she was near-ready to join him and to take the next step in fulfilling her potential? Was the battle with The Garuda the final catalyst for Bo’s change? When we next see Bo, after these events, she is entering a transitional stage in life in terms of her pre-mature Dawning and is beginning to manifest character changes, while the Wanderer becomes a more pervasive presence in her life – notwithstanding the fact that his identity and motives remain hidden.
There have been many signs since the very start of Bo’s preparations for the Dawning that the entity we come to know as the Wanderer has been controlling the action from behind the scenes, slowly grooming Bo for a specific longer-range purpose. We previously speculated that as long as Lauren was actually in Bo’s life, her love acted as a counterbalance to the Wanderer’s growing power. However, beginning in episode 305 (Faes Wide Shut) when Bo hisses at Lauren to “get out of my way” – brought back to herself only when Lauren implores her to remember their love — to their break in episode 311 (Delinquents) and through most of season 4, Lauren and Bo are mostly apart, and her father’s influence grows.
The Wanderer first makes his presence known to Bo (and the viewer) in episode 308 (Fae-ge Against the Machine) when Bo turns over nothing but Wanderer tarot cards during her pre-Dawning scavenger hunt in Brazenwood. At the end of that episode, Bo asks Tamsin, “So you wanna tell me what that Wanderer business was all about?” Tamsin professes ignorance (“You tell me”) but after she is showered with Wanderer cards falling from the night sky, Tamsin is forced to acknowledge that Bo is “the one” her boss – the Wanderer — hired her to find and has come to collect.
In watching episode 308 (Fae-ge Against the Machine) and episode 309 (Ceremony) again, I was struck by the many references to the Wanderer and ample evidence of his handprints all over the Dawning. Recall that Dion’s The Wanderer is blaring on the jukebox just as Bo and Dyson enter the Temple’s Dal-like antechamber. As Bo moves to switch off the song, the camera pans to a photograph of one of the Victoria Secret models from the “human feast” Stella had advised Bo to feed on before the Ceremony. Pictures of that same model reappear several times in subsequent scenes during the Temple ceremony – in a painting, a pin-up calendar, a police file. I remember being puzzled by this – among many other details of the Dawning – on first viewing. This time, as I saw the photograph and listened for the hundredth time to the lyrics of The Wanderer song (“I kiss ‘em and I love ‘em, cause to me they’re all the same”), it occurred to me that had Bo chosen to feed on the models as Stella urged, she would have been doing just that — using and discarding nameless women for her own needs. In fact, this is what she did during her ten year killing spree — wandering from victim to victim, loving (chi-sucking) and leaving (killing) them, until she met Kenzi.
Who would want to plant a reminder in Bo’s subconscious mind that at one time humans were just nameless fodder for her? Similarly, in a later sequence, Trick as police Chief tells Bo, his voice dripping with contempt, that “MacKenzi” — a confidential informant being groomed to testify against “The Family” — and all her (human) kind are expendable (“a dime a dozen”): “She’s not one of us and never will be.” Whose agenda does it serve to drive home that point of view?
In that same scene, Lauren and Bo are partners – but only on the police force. Their romance is actually on the rocks. Again –whose agenda does it serve to sow this seed of discord? Some might argue that it served Dyson’s purposes; indeed, many viewers felt Dyson’s projections dominated the Dawning. But this scene is not from Dyson’s subconscious mind (as I suggest below). If you’ll entertain for a moment that the Wanderer – Bo’s father – has choreographed most the action in the Temple, it could be argued that, among other motives, he is trying to drive a wedge between Bo and her family of human and Fae friends – especially the one person whose influence seems capable of exceeding his own: Lauren.
Think of the characters we meet along the way in the Temple (outside of Bo’s circle of friends and Faemily):
- There is the “Just-Call-Me-Caretaker” guy who appears at the beginning of the Dawning, just after Bo switches off The Wanderer song blasting from the jukebox. He says doesn’t remember his own given name or even his mother’s (“they don’t even know my name”) yet seems to know everything about everything in the Temple. When he disappears, equally suddenly, The Wanderer theme abruptly resumes.
- Then we meet a horned monster who arguably bears some resemblance to The Wanderer discovered by Lauren in Fae History books and possibly to Tamsin’s description of the “evil beast” who hired her to collect Bo.
[Sidebar: before they are confronted by the monster, Dyson and Bo find themselves in the Clubhouse where Dyson remarks, “To be more honest than a wolf probably should, I can’t really remember much else besides your bedroom.” Before I had a chance to throw up a little in my mouth, Dyson promptly cries out in pain, having hit his shin against a table. “So Karma does exist, huh?” Bo jokes – but is it Karma, a simple accident, or the Wanderer influencing the action, in effect rebuking Dyson for his tasteless remark? Later, just after Dyson launches into his “I’m willing to wait until Lauren dies” speech, the enraged monster reappears and knocks him to the ground. Could this be understood as Bo’s father’s reaction to Dyson romancing his daughter – don’t touch, not wanted?]
- Lastly, we meet Bo’s father himself – hardly the monstrous Dark King we’ve been expecting to see, that sadist who tortured and probably raped Aife – but a nurturing father cooing lovingly to his infant daughter (“Sleep, sweet girl. You have so much ahead of you. I’ve waited so long to have you in my arms”) and instructing the babysitter to call him at any time, day or night, if his Isabeau needs anything. Wow, Super Dad. Meanwhile, Aife is depicted as a crazed madwoman who slits the babysitter’s throat and kidnaps Bo to keep her from her father – a bit of revisionist history.
[Sidebar: Yes, we noticed that the baby’s room has medieval glazed windows, each with a central panel depicting a HORSE. And we haven’t forgotten that in episode 413 (entitled Dark HORSE), just after Sister Epona tells Bo – albeit a little ambiguously – that the Pyrippus is her father, Bo remarks to Rainer that during the Dawning, in the room where her father held her as a baby, she saw a HORSE and was later haunted by visions of a CAROUSEL: “They were all clues.” OK, but clues from whom, Bo? And meant to influence you to think what? And why? We’ll return to these questions later, promise].
Could all three figures – the Caretaker (sometimes a synonym for “parent”), the horned monster, and the loving version of Bo’s father – all represent alters of the Wanderer, inserting himself in the Ceremony and attempting to guide Bo’s perceptions in a certain direction?
This is all pure speculation of course. The appearance of Bo’s father in the nursery could also be understood as Bo’s wishful fantasy of the gentle and nurturing father she never had. However, the interpretation we’re suggesting — that Bo’s vision of her father is an idealized image he wants her to believe – helps make sense of previously puzzling aspects of the Dawning and reconciles them with the series-long story line as we understand it, viz. Bo’s father is slowly maneuvering her into playing her prescribed role in his grand design while maintaining her illusion of free will.
Many fans were dismayed that Dyson seemed to dominate Bo’s Dawning but if you follow the sequence of scenes, it’s actually the Wanderer who appears to dictate virtually all of the action:
- Bo and Dyson meet the “Caretaker” (whom I argue is the first of three Wanderer alters) in the Dal-like bar. He seems to be totally in charge and lays out the ground rules for the Dawning.
- Bo and Dyson then find themselves in an adjacent Clubhouse-like space, where Dyson gets his shin karma-kicked for sexist jokes and is slashed by the horned monster (Wanderer alter #2) after cock-blocking Bo and telling her “I guess a thousand years of chivalry is hard to shake.” Kick him again, karma.
- They flee to the next room – Dyson’s gym – where he deems it appropriate to declare his undying love for Bo (truly impeccable timing) and willingness to wait 100 years to be with her. Just as he leans in for a kiss, the monster reappears between them, howling in rage, knocks Dyson on his backside and disappears, dragging Bo after him. Oh Dyson, my hero!
- While Bo is transported to the police station, Dyson confronts the Caretaker, demanding to know, “Where’s Bo?! Where is she?!” The Caretaker is rolling dice and leisurely moving pieces around on a crude game board, musing that “her subconcscious is such an extraordinary playground. I can’t wait to watch the next part unfold.” As if he’d seen this movie before? As if he wrote the screenplay? He mimics Dyson’s bombastic chivalry in sing-song tones (“I have to go. I have to find her”) and adds contemptuously, “Don’t you get it? We’re moving on. Or at least, Bo is.”
We’re moving on. Up until now, it is hard to argue that this is Dyson’s show, right?
While Bo is playing cop, the Caretaker asks Dyson, in a teasing and seductive tone, “Aren’t you at all curious about what life you could create here, even if it’s an illusion?”
- BAM! Then and only then is Bo transported out of the police station and into Dyson’s wishful fantasy of being an obstetrician living the perfect married life in the suburbs with a pregnant Bo. Still, the Wanderer manages to insert references to himself — twice. Neighbor Tamsin – she of the bloodied hands (because of her role in delivering Bo to the Wanderer, or perhaps because she has failed to deliver Bo?) – calls out to Bo cheerfully, “Hiya neighbor! Great day for a wander!” Uh, doesn’t she mean a walk? Nope, she said wander. And soon enough Bo wanders away from her perfect life with Dyson and his anti-psychotic medication (that’s what it takes to keep her home?) into the next room where she meets…her loving father. When she returns to Dyson, she appears to experience a miscarriage and Dyson’s beautiful fantasy is aborted – by whom? Who else would it be, other than The Wanderer – Bo’s father?
- The last sequence involves Bo having to kill Dyson to get out of the Temple. Some might argue Dyson gets to play the chivalrous self-sacrificing hero here, but the fact is he ends up very dead, and whose agenda does that serve? The Caretaker strongly urges Bo to leave the Temple without Dyson, and warns her that if she tries to take Dyson with her, the Temple will claim her forever. Dyson is saved only because – much to the Caretaker’s/Wanderer’s consternation – Bo defies the rules: “See, that’s the thing – I’ve never been big on rules. That is who I am. That is my true self.” The Caretaker is NOT pleased.
But her father should feel some sense of consolation about the fact that immediately upon exiting the Temple, Bo makes a particularly dramatic appearance as the Dark Queen, blue eyes flashing, and intones in that dual daughter/father voice: “I will reign as he did for I am his daughter. Together we will bridle the masses and ride to victory. Even Death will fear us. Only I will choose who lives!” Yes, she revives Dyson (that was probably not in the Wanderer’s script for the Dawning) but she does so as the future Dark Queen in all her glory, using the power encoded in her father’s DNA to chi-suck the entire room – quite callously, as it turn out. The humans – Kenzi and Lauren – are rendered unconscious. They could have died for all she knew. Bo never stopped to check.
The episode ends with yet another replay of The Wanderer song (third time by my count) just as the credits roll. It’s true that the episode also ends with Trick unfurling a scroll on which is painted a fire-breathing demon HORSE, saying, “Not him!” Late in season 4, we’ll look back on this moment and wonder if this was the first reference to the Pyrippus – I believe it is (unless you count those medieval windows in the baby nursery). But note that Trick makes no mention of the Wanderer or of Bo’s father. Is it possible he is instead reacting to the appearance of another Big Bad on the distant horizon – is the Pyrippus an evil entity he fears Bo is destined to battle?
But the Wanderer isn’t finished. He is referenced a number of other times as season 3 draws to a close. At the end of episode 311 (Adventures in Fae-Bysitting), he inhabits one of the “bitches who be witches” to tell Bo: “You know not your true strength, child, but you soon will and the world will bow down before us” (note, he does call her “child”). As a minor demonstration of his power-by-remote-control, he vaporizes the witch. If there should remain any doubt about his identity, he leaves his calling card — a Dada-like phantasm of a carousel materializes just as a particularly ghostly version of The Wanderer song is heard.
The Wanderer’s handprints are all over the season 3 finale (Those Who Wander). As noted earlier, when Aife is imprisoned in Taft’s cell, she appeals to Bo’s father, saying if he were there, he would not allow anyone to harm his seed. She invokes him to kill, resurrect, and kill again. At this point, we know about Bo’s power to reanimate the dead but it is not until episode 412 (Origin) that Trick confirms Aife’s ravings — this is a power bestowed on Bo by her father’s DNA. Later in the same episode, Tamsin and Dyson see The Wanderer figure from the tarot card materialize before them on the road ahead. On cue, The Wanderer song comes on over the car radio. Dyson asks Tamsin, “Who is that?” “Bo’s father,” she replies. At the end of the episode, Bo disappears in a cloud of black smoke, as The Wanderer theme plays on the jukebox one last time. We are left with a newly minted tarot card showing the Wanderer and Bo herself, surveying a distant landscape together. Could it be spelled out any more clearly? The Wanderer is Bo’s father [NOT the Pyrippus].
There are fewer references to the Wanderer in season 4, but they add corroborating details that The Wanderer was responsible for hiring Huginn and Muninn to kidnap Bo and bring her off the earthly realm to an interdimensional Death Train. The Wanderer is almost certainly the “infinitely powerful” entity responsible for erasing her memory from human and Fae alike – with the notable exception of Aife whose Recuerdo coil does not seem to have obliterated all memories of her daughter. Hmm. In episode 401 (In Memoriam), Trick warns Kenzi that “someone’s been messing with the balance of space and time. Be careful. Evil comes in many faces.” Immediately the camera pans to something Trick has failed to notice: the tarot card with The Wanderer and Bo at his side. In episode 402 (Sleeping Beauty School), little Tamsin finds the tarot card which magically bursts into flame and turns out to be both an inter-dimensional ticket to the Death Train (in episode 402) and directions to the Spiritual Center for the Women of the Horses (in episode 412).
[Question: Why would The Wanderer leave behind a tarot card that:
- broadcasts to anyone who finds it that Bo is with him;
- provides access to the train where he is holding her;
- reveals the cartography coordinates for the Pyrippus’ temple?
Answer: Unclear. But would it be too convoluted to suggest that it may have been part of her father’s grand design all along to have Bo escape the Death Train, return of her own volition to liberate Rainer, and become convinced that her father was the Pyrippus?].
Is the Wanderer – Bo’s father – the God Odin?
We’ve come full circle to thinking this is indeed the case. Valksy will discuss this question at greater length, but to review some of the clues familiar to viewers:
- In Norse mythology, Odin has been referred to as the Wanderer.
- The Wanderer engaged Tamsin – a Valkyrie – to collect Bo. The Valkyrie were Odin’s handmaidens, charged with the task of deciding who among the fallen warriors would be resurrected and transported to Odin’s realm – Valhalla.
- Tamsin has already violated this duty by transporting Rainer’s soul to the Death Train. But given a second opportunity to fall in battle – if that’s what you call Rainer’s baring his throat to Massimo — his dying words to Trick are to remind Tamsin that she can now take him to Valhalla – Odin’s realm.
- Bo is kidnapped from the Dal by Huginn and Muninn who serve The Wanderer. Huginn and Muninn were known in Norse folklore as Odin’s two ravens.
- Huginn refers to his boss on the train as “he who wanders” and “a father to many” (cf. Odin mythology below)
- In sacrificing her life to close the interdimensional portal, Kenzi expects to go to Valhalla and rejoin Hale. Instead, it appears she may have been transported to an alternate afterlife, perhaps one presided over by none other than Odin’s wife, Freida (whom we have been told will make an appearance in season 5).
Just how many bread crumbs did Ms. Andras & Co. have to leave us to establish that the Wanderer – Bo’s father – is in fact Odin?
The identity and purpose of The Wanderer is an example of the dramatic principle of “Chekhov’s Gun,” in which it was argued by Anton Chekhov that if a rifle is mentioned in an early chapter, it had better be fired at some point!
Given the case we will be presenting that Bo’s father – The Wanderer — is based on the character of Odin, it is reasonable that the writers held back on confirming his identity for four seasons. Revealing Odin’s identity prematurely would have been like mentioning the identity of Darth Vader at the very beginning of the Star Wars saga, or disclosing the unfortunate truth about Norman Bates’ mother in the opening scenes of Psycho. Telling us too soon would spoil their own story, drain it of any suspense, and ruin the punchline that all evidence of a grand plan suggests is still to come. The decision to tell an elaborate multi-season story is an ambitious one and I am looking forward to turning the page to episode 501, seeing the final chapter, and answering that most fundamental question – How does it end?
The Odin Enigma (or What the Fae?)
No worse monsters than these, no crueler plague, ever rose from the waters of Styx, at the gods’ anger. These birds have the faces of virgin girls, foulest excrement flowing from their bellies, clawed hands, and faces always thin with hunger. The Aenied Book III - Virgil (Translation A.S. Kline)
Since the very first episode, Lost Girl’s world of urban fantasy has drawn heavily from human traditions of storytelling – from Greek epic poetry, to Japanese fables, European folklore, and beyond. My first thought in attempting to place Odin within the Lost Girl universe was to try and determine whose story is actually being told by dogma, myths or lore. How do we understand or explain storytelling becoming truth (and vice versa) in Bo’s world?
The production team has never established whether the legends of Fae creatures are fabricated by the Fae themselves – although it would be unclear what purpose this would serve since many legends serve as warnings or give guidance to humans to protect themselves. Acts of self-promotion would also make little sense in the sub rosa world of the preternatural. But if the fairytales are devised by humans struggling to come to terms with the unexplainable phenomenon surrounding an encounter with the Fae, why would the Fae be so quick to adopt – even eagerly embrace – the labels and mythos generated by a species that they clearly view as inferior?
In episode 201 (Something Wicked This Fae Comes), Lauren’s research on the Sluagh includes both contemporary and historical medical records, as well as reference books. In episode 113 (Blood Lines) the information on the Koushang amulet is stored on a database within the Light Fae compound. In episode 412 (Origin) Lauren pays a visit to the Dark Fae library to research Rainer in person. It must also be noted, as seen in Origin that the world of the Fae is a deeply magical one, nothing that is written is ever set in stone, and books write themselves in front of Lauren’s eyes!
Evidence within the show of lore keepers like Trick who only reveal information when it serves their agenda (and who may not be as in command of facts as they seem); of tomes of lore that still manage to be mutable; of the notoriously suspect nature of eyewitness testimony recorded by the victims and survivors of the Fae all leads me to conclude that we simply cannot decipher the riddle of who originates Fae lore. This would be for the show to clarify if necessary, and the fact that no one seems to have all the answers regarding the secret underground world of Lost Girl allows the production to use artistic license regarding the nature, appearance, motives and history of the Fae.
The argument that the production team regards the crypto-zoological source material as an inspirational springboard, rather than as canon truth to be faithfully reproduced, is evident in the visible manifestations of creatures in the show. For example, the above quote from Virgil’s Aenied describes harpies, and yet when we meet a harpy “of the Boston harpies” in episode 107 (Arachnofaebia), she is nothing like the bird-like creature of legend (although she seems somewhat ill-tempered, which would be consistent). The Mongolian Death Worm we encounter in episode 205 (BrotherFae of the Wolves) is also a humanoid, despite the legends of a cryptid creature. Lachlan, a naga, is hardly reminiscent of cobras. The feuding characters in episode 406 (Of All the Gin Joints), Bamber the Buraq and Marcus the Camazotz, are a winged celestial steed and a bat god respectively. Even Hale himself lacks any outward signs of supernatural morphology or heritage.
If there is a well-established understanding that myths serve only as a broad or general template rather than obliging a comprehensive facsimile (both in real world writing and production terms, and to the fictional characters within the show), then it is reasonable to suggest that Odin — if he were to appear in Lost Girl — could be conceptually similar to, but not necessarily a faithful reproduction of, the entity recorded in the thirteenth century Poetic Edda and Prose Edda.
If the character of Odin is to appear in the show, if he is the inspiration for Bo’s as yet unnamed father, it is reasonable to suggest that only a broad thematic overview would need to be identified. The puzzle pieces do not have to be flawlessly matched, as the shows “rules” that I have just described would seem to make clear. What’s more, if the show simply tried to re-tell the Odin tale by rote, it would offer nothing more to viewers than an unsatisfying cookie cutter story that would not showcase Bo herself.
Odin Lore and Legends (or Who the Fae?!)
While a rare few artifacts remain, the sources for the Norse mythology that relates the tale of Odin and his realm are the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda. Written in Icelandic in the thirteenth century, centuries after the Viking era, they may be considered a written version of the oral tradition of storytelling of the time. The works have been translated a number of times, and remain subject to linguistic theorizing and anthropological hypothesis to expand understanding of the saga. It is quite likely that Lost Girl may only tap into the broadest of themes, rather than specific complex details.
The most obvious part of the original Odin myth that Lost Girl might tap into regards the valkyries. In the poem Gylfaginning (The Tricking of Gylfi) the role of the valkyries in selecting the honourable or worthy dead is explained – although other works from the Edda also describe their role as dictating who is actually slain (Njal’s Saga). While dying in battle and being selected to reside with Odin in the hall of Valhalla was the aim of Viking warriors, it was never as simple as being rewarded with eternal carousing. Gylfaginning describes an eschatological event, Ragnarok, and explains that Odin’s chosen warriors would fight with him at the end of the world. Selection by the valkyrie was as much about recruitment for a prophetic event as for reward — and the fallen could be very much perceived as tools for Odin’s convenience.
An alternative to being selected by Odin’s valkryries was the chance of being chosen to attend Freya in her hall in Folkvangr (as described in Grimnismal or the Sayings of Grimnir). The poem Egil’s Saga suggests that Folkvangr — which can be translated as the field of the people — is a place where women who died a noble or honourable death (but not necessarily in battle) might find themselves. There is a linguistic and historical argument regarding whether or not Freya was Odin’s wife, based primarily around whether Freya and Frigga are the same entity (in much the same way Wotan/Woden is another way to say Odin). Given that the Lost Girl production crew has established that there is no obligation to produce a flawless facsimile of either characters or myths, the placement of Freya within Lost Girl is a clue to Odin’s presence, but the nature of her relationship with him or others is still very much ambiguous.
Although Odin did have a warlike aspect, he was largely disinterested in his human worshippers and was far more focused on his own personal quest for knowledge. It was during a journey into the realm of the underworld in the Eddic poem Baldrs Draumar (Baldr’s Dreams) in his quest for wisdom that Odin concealed his identity by introducing himself as Vegtam the Wanderer. It is during this trip to Hel (a third destination for the dead, and the least desirable) that Odin is also observed practicing necromancy, in that he raises a seeress from the dead to question her. This ability is also exhibited when he consults a decapitated head in the Ynglinga Saga — is anyone else reminded of the denouement of episode 411 (End of a Line?). These smaller acts of life/death magic seem minor compared with Odin’s command over the power of mortality as described in the poem Voluspa (Prophecy of the Seeress) in which he participates in the creation of humanity itself by giving breath to the first humans.
The shamanic and magical nature of Odin is arguably the most fundamental part of the character. The saga Voluspa describes how his desire for knowledge and power drove him to sacrifice his eye in order to drink from the well of wisdom. The Wanderer card produced by the art department at Lost Girl is careful to show the male figure from the rear – is this why? A one-eyed character would surely have been a major clue. Odin’s willingness to risk everything for knowledge and magic is even more evident in the Runatal (Rune Song) stanzas of the Havamal verses, in which Odin was hanged from the world-tree Yggdrasil for nine days. The text suggests that Odin’s ordeal was a sacrifice of himself to himself, inferring again a mastery over mortality. The reward for this act of sacrifice was access to the runes which, according to the Havamal, could be used in divination or to raise the dead.
It should be noted that the Norse runes are visible at times within the world of Lost Girl. For example, they are shown on a plaque on a wall in episode 301 (Caged Fae) and are on the oozing lidded basket Kenzi tries to pilfer in episode 401 (In Memoriam). These incidences could be dismissed as simple fluke or art department whimsy, except for the fact that when Trick writes in blood in episode 113 (Blood Lines) the sanguine scribing is very much reminiscent of runes.
Odin’s collection of knowledge and magic (much of his Shamanistic power was taught to him by Freya, according to the Ynglinga saga) revealed to him that he was doomed to be killed by the wolf Fenrir during the Ragnarok cataclysm that would end the dominion of the gods and lead to the rebirth of a world populated by the surviving human pair Lif and Lifthrasir (Poetic Edda Voluspa and Prose Edda Gylfaginning). Through magic and the recruiting of his personal army, Odin sought to re-write his destiny and although he failed in the original source material, the Lost Girl production team is again at liberty to interpret the apocalyptic events in any way they wish — as a unique peril to any Odin-based character or a threat to the entire Fae realm itself.
The Odin of the Norse mythos is not inherently malevolent or tyrannical. His place in the life and death of the Viking people was as much as consequence of the time in which they lived. He was portrayed as a deeply magical entity, capable of traversing the planes of reality that made up his world, with a power of prescience that well exceeded Rainer’s seemingly short moments of foresight. Odin’s actions were motivated by the vision of his own destiny, seen well in the future, and steps taken to try and control the future.
It must also be noted that Snorri Sturluson, who wrote much of the Prose Edda in the thirteenth century, referred to Odin as the Allfather (Ynglinga saga). This name may be ascribed to his position of the rule of all gods, or to his role in the creation myth where he breathed life into humanity. Odin was also the father to a number of notable characters within the written legends. Of his most noted children— all sons — three of them do not survive. Thor dies after a battle in which he was able to slay the Midgard Serpent, Jormungand, during Ragnarok. The heroic god Baldr is accidentally killed by his brother Hodur who is in turn killed by another of Odin’s sons, Vali, who was created for the purpose of vengeance for the death (Baldrs Draumar, Voluspa). A fifth son, Vidarr, was also a vengeful entity purposed with defeating Fenrir after Odin is killed (Voluspa). There is a strong argument that each of these sons was created to serve a purpose — combat or vengeance. As well as assembling a chosen army of the fallen to try and re-write his destiny, were his children also purposeful pawns?
Questions about Bo’s lineage and parental influences are intimately bound up with other questions about her fate: is she the Dark Queen, destined to betray and enslave humans and Fae and reign side-by-side with her father/mother/Rainer? Or is she the “Chosen One,” destined to save the Fae? Supporting evidence and prophecies for both possibilities are sprinkled liberally throughout the first four seasons of Lost Girl.
Trick has always spoken of Bo’s destiny with a tinge of dread and/or unhappy resignation as if it is an unpleasant but inexorable fate he is powerless to change. It is unclear what he is hiding and why he is hiding it, but whatever he actually knows, he has certainly worked hard to keep it a secret from Bo for four seasons. As early as the series premiere, we are given hints that Bo has a special destiny: “The girl from last night, is it her?” Trick asks Dyson. When Dyson suggests “there are ways of making someone disappear” – implying that whoever she is, Bo is bad news for the Fae — Trick responds, “No, what’s meant to be must be.” In episode 113, Trick tells the Ash that he “always knew Bo was a part of something bigger,” and from the tone of their discussion, that something bigger is definitely not something good. “Everything would be easier if the Succubus was dead,” Evony tells Trick in episode 412 (Origin). “I warned you about her from the start.”
We have already reviewed the instances from episode 208 to the season 4 finale when Bo transforms into a decidedly Dark Queen seeking power and domination. But there have also been numerous references to Bo as a heroic “Chosen One” – not just “the one” sought by the Wanderer but a kind of messianic figure destined to end the tyranny between Light and Dark for the good of all Fae (and mankind presumably). This destiny seems more consistent with the Bo we have come know and love – with her big heart, capable of feeling deeply, her powerful sense of moral obligation to defend the helpless and down trodden and to right their injustices, as well as the defiance, strength, courage, and just-plain-badassery to stand up to the oppressors. In episode 313 (Those Who Wander), Sunitha the Cabot tells Bo with a hint of wonderment that she “really [is] the Chosen One.” Everybody seems to have heard of “The One with eyes both brown and blue/strong yet gentle/virtuous yet lustful/neither Dark nor Light/yet both,” including the Handmaiden on the Death Train (episode 402, Sleeping Beauty School) and the Leviathan (episode 409, Destiny’s Child). This is also the description of Bo given to Tamsin by the Wanderer (episode 409). An ancient book of prophecies provided by Rosette (the Knight of Raina) includes an illustration of “the One with eyes both brown and blue” who bears a striking resemblance to Bo – except this Bo flies. Rosette pledges herself to Bo as “my Queen.” Fae history books retrieved by Lauren in episode 412 (Origin) include unmistakable references to Bo as Queen, and the final line of the centuries-old Zamoran Family Code, which materializes only when Bo reads the poem, seems to confirm that destiny:
Complexity, courage, strength, and beauty
Mindful always of your duty
To ties of blood and those we love
With gentle hands, wings of a dove
Ready thy self, on guard, be keen
To reunite with me, The Queen.
Tamsin identifies the crest on the poem’s parchment as the Order of the Knights of Raina and explains, “It means loyalty to their queen. Not just their queen. ‘The Queen.’” “It’s so much more than that,” Dyson adds, “Bo, it means you’re the One.” No-one sees fit to fill Bo in on what it means exactly to be the One, but the writers had to save something for season 5, didn’t they (besides a lot of hot Doccubus sex)? The reverential tone adopted by Dyson as he pledges himself to his Queen on bended knee in the season 4 finale suggests she is destined to be some sort of cross between Saint Joan of Arc and Nakano Takeko (I looked that up — the only female warrior samurai in Japanese history).
The only question that remains is what destiny will she choose — Glenda the Good Queen or the Wicked Queen of the West? Separate forces are driving her in both directions. A badly fractured, corrupt, and devolving Fae community is desperately in need of a redeeming Savior while Bo’s father is using all his influence to entice Bo off the earthly plane to free him, fight by his side to subjugate Fae and humans alike, perhaps vanquish the Pyrippus (“even Death will fear us!”) and rule with her father in a new social order. Will the life she ultimately lives be freely chosen, in accordance with the promptings of her truest self, or will she merely play out an unavoidable course of events that has been decided in advance by some omnipotent entity? Who. Is. Not. The. Pyrippus.
Throughout the third and fourth seasons we only catch hints of Bo’s father glimpsed from behind, as a frightening specter, on a tarot card (artwork based on Casper David Friedrich’s The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog – a metaphor of obfuscation for all of us, including Bo, as it suggests an outsider looking down into or standing apart from confusion) or in whispers and tales of all those who encountered him – or thought that they did.
As Mahlers5th has pointed out, the primary issue is who was controlling the Temple within the Ceremony episode, and was this our clearest look at the Wanderer’s intent and purpose (even if we did not see his face)? Consider the scene of Bo’s father when she is an infant – he is holding her gently, crooning softly to her and singing about fairies “going away.” But is that her imaginary ideal of him? A true memory unlocked by the Ceremony? Or is the Wanderer’s mind the dominant originator of the Temple and it is His ideation of himself, or perhaps a projection of how he wants Bo to see him – as a compassionate and nurturing entity? But how does any of this reconcile to the imagery that many of us have of Bo’s father as a brutal and violating tyrant?
While nothing within the episode Ceremony can be taken at face value, I have long been troubled with the thought of Bo’s father as her mother’s rapist. I see no particular way of redeeming such a character or making him even remotely sympathetic. If Bo’s father is the rapist Dark King then how can he be anything more than a deeply distasteful supersized “Monster of the Week” whom I would assume Bo could only respond aggressively to? In terms of a narrative option to drive the story away from this disturbing element, I think it is reasonable to suggest that Bo’s father could have been someone else, a contemporary to the Dark King — present but not necessarily a participant (a disguised Odin visits a King’s court in secret in Grimnismal – Sayings of Grimnir). It has certainly never been explained how Aife escaped her prison cell in order to take the infant Bo and hide her with humans and she does invoke the vengeance of Bo’s father in awed terms rather than revulsion in episode 313 (Those Who Wander).
Although this inevitably drifts into the realm of speculation, if Bo’s father is Odin (or is at least based upon the lore) and if he was travelling the world trying to create off-spring who would serve him in the future (Huginn the crow calls him the “father of many” in episode 409, Destiny’s Child), is Odin necessarily Dark? Light? Neither? Might this be why Aife made the decision to deny him his child, since she was very much committed to ending the dispute between the factions in conquest?
We see throughout season 4 evidence of a deeply magical entity who is capable of traversing planes of existence, perceiving the future, blurring the lines between life and death and meddling in the wheels of destiny. In this context a sectarian squabble seems almost petty. We know Valhalla exists in Bo’s world and that chosen warriors populate it. Is this evidence of a future cataclysmic event in that the selected dead were to serve a purpose rather than receive a reward?
I think that there is an argument that Rainer served as one of these useful tools. We do see the Caretaker playing some sort of game in the Temple in Ceremony (it’s not chess and there are dice involved – interesting that chance is invoked) and we also see Rainer playing a (different) game while aboard the train. I wonder if there is a chess metaphor – pieces to be moved into place, pawns to be sacrificed (It is terribly tempting to say that the show’s official tweets play with this concept). Rainer was a pawn of little consequence, perhaps this was why he did not fight back in any meaningful way against Massimo — as if he knew that his role was fulfilled.
I certainly do not think that Rainer can be based upon Odin. Rainer has a gift of foresight only seconds long, whoever the entity Mahlers5th and I think is Odin is has a far greater reach – far enough to seek the knowledge needed to win against a presumed apocalypse, and to set the pieces in motion very well in advance. I concede that the data from the Ceremony does have an inherent question mark to it, but there is a statement that he has been waiting a long time for Bo. Whoever the father is, he is an architect of destiny, a game player trying to defeat the odds. Rainer seems such a minnow in comparison and I think (and rather hope) that he has been discarded.
Reflecting on the Light/Dark schism I have to wonder what purpose such a factional conflict serves for the Fae, as the difference between the two really is no more complex than vaguely divergent philosophies with Light and Dark both representing shades of grey. My mind turns to Darwinism for a possible explanation. Is that what Dark and Light is for? A state of constant conflict is one way to cause an arms race amongst the Fae to evolve greater potency and power. Or is it as simple as population control, since an environment cannot have more predators than there are viable prey, else they pick off all food and risk extinction through starvation. Might this be why tinkering with the factions, or even ending the war, is not allowed?
If there are external explanations for Light and Dark (population control, Darwinism), but no genuine reason beyond the same kinds of traditions and histories we see in sectarian conflict in the real world — some fighting over resources, and a whole lot more over historical animus — might this be why Bo’s father allowed her to be hidden with humans, to develop outside of the system of Light and Dark and oppose the concept from the get-go? While deep in speculation again, if the factions are beneath him, and beneath Bo as a consequence, is this because something much worse is coming? I wonder if there is a suggestion that the show is playing with the concept of Ragnarok — the end of days for the Fae — and the long-planned battle to avoid it by an Odin-based character who has been pulling strings for a very long time.
Odin is someone who conscripts people into his army of the dead. Bo is a creation who can force people into an army of the living. Ryan was an accidental draftee, the team in season 2 were volunteers, but Bo could compel people if she chose to. Between the two of them they seem able to blur lines between life and death and together they would be unstoppable. This surely seems much bigger than a simple Dark/Light skirmish. We all know the idiom “bringing a gun to a knife fight” but Bo and her father in partnership against either human or Fae or both would be more like showing up with a tank…
I did wonder if this potential cataclysmic event was related to the Pyrippus, except this particular entry into the supernatural bestiary is extremely obscure. Hellhorses do feature in lore and literature – Hades/Pluto had a chariot pulled by such equine monstrosities, pestilential horses are referred to in the Book of Revelation, and if we look to Nordic lore there was an entity called the Helhest (hell horse) which was associated with death and disease. Certainly a hideous winged hellhorse would serve as the kind of menace which would be a disaster if it broke through into Bo’s realm of existence, but it does not seem exactly paternal in nature and it’s appearance to date has been an off-screen horror that roars and stomps and sounds distinctly animalistic rather than reminiscent of the softly-spoken man singing to his baby daughter in Ceremony (although it should be noted that The Garuda in season 2 appears as both man and flame-winged creature in episode 213, Barometz. Trick. Pressure and in episode 222, Flesh and Blood).
That the Pyrippus itself is never actually seen, and has no distinct presence, characteristics or notable features that anyone can describe, makes me wonder if it is simply another pawn being played in Bo’s life in order to facilitate a desired reaction from her. Although Bo does spend episode 412 (Origin) chasing horses and struggling with vague and ambiguous clues, the punchline to this story thread is not Bo engaging in a confrontation with a monster (the show has surely evolved beyond such pedestrian choices); instead, it serves as a catalyst for Kenzi’s final noble sacrifice in episode 413 (Dark Horse). While Bo does deliver a vengeful monologue over Kenzi’s grave, expressing a willingness to wage open battle against anyone in her way, she believes she was the one who caused the Pyrippus/Dark Lord to be released from Hel by the hand-binding with Rainer. Bo’s anger and regret regarding her role in compelling Kenzi to self-sacrifice is surely part of a destiny-based theme driving the story forward to a new chapter. In this case, like Rainer, the Pyrippus’ role may also be complete. Both Rainer and the Pyrippus each served a purpose to bring Bo to thoughts and actions that she thinks are of her own free will, but which have been orchestrated from the start in order to make Bo her father’s avatar and another tool to be used in whatever apocalyptic event he — if based upon Odin — thinks is to come.
The principle philosophical theme of Lost Girl has always been one of the power to choose balanced against the inescapable wheels of fate. If the theory expressed in this article is correct, and Bo’s father is (or is based upon) the mythological character of Odin, then the concept of destiny is even more relevant. Bo’s participation in her father’s plans, as an intentional creation with specifically evolved and desired powers, is dependent at least on her willingness to co-operate, or better yet (from Odin’s point of view?) a loyal and fervent believer at her father’s side. That Bo is capable of being a merciless killer (guided by Rainer) was evident in the deaths of the Una Mens, that she can and will command a willing army enthralled by blood was seen in the defeat of The Garuda and the loss of Kenzi to stop the Pyrippus caused her to express her own nascent version of the father/daughter voice of dominion and sovereignty when she pledges in episode 413 (Dark Horse): “Whatever it takes I will get you back. They want me to be afraid? It’s them who should be afraid of me.”
My biggest question for season five — Is Bo’s desire to search for Kenzi, and her continuing quest to reveal the true identity of her father, going to be at the cost of her own free will? Is Bo to be a servant, even a slave, to the destiny set in motion by her father? What will Bo finally choose?