Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
[Vergil, the Aeneid Bk II]
I believe Father knows best. And Bo will come to believe it, too.
[Hades to Zee, episode 510}
[Ed. Note: Valksy had to tend to a sick cat and wasn’t able to collaborate in writing about this week’s episode but we discussed it at length and her handprint can be seen everywhere].
Like Father, Like Daughter. The title of episode 510 reminds us that whatever else happens in the next 44 minutes of season 5B — and a lot will happen — at the heart of the episode, season, and series is that nagging question: Is Bo making choices of her own free will or is she playing out an inevitable and unavoidable series of events that has been scripted in advance by her father?
There’s no doubt that Hades is a masterful dramaturge who has been carefully putting the pieces of a very long game in place for a very long time – beginning well before Bo’s birth. Just think of the cascade of events he has set in motion in season 5 alone. At the end of season 4, Kenzi is convinced that freely choosing to sacrifice herself is the only way to close the portal. Bo chooses to follow Kenzi to Valhalla and chooses to trade her own freedom for Kenzi’s when Freyja threatens to claim her soul for Hades. In Tartarus, Bo is persuaded by Persephone (repeat after me: stepmothers in fiction are always evil) that choosing to take the Artemis candle is her only means of escape. In freely choosing to light it, Bo unwittingly brings back the Ancients, who in turn unleash the Nyx. In a last-ditch effort to stop the Nyx and save the world, Bo chooses to open Hades’ box and liberates him. Hades makes it clear that Bo is free to use the box to return him to Tartarus at any time but she chooses instead to contain the Nyx (and kill both Iris and Cece) for the greater good of saving the world. Really, did she have any other choice?
We don’t know the full extent of Hades’ powers yet, but surely one of them must be the power to think an infinite number of moves ahead and predict or determine what choices the actors in his plot will make. This brings us to this week’s B-caper. Thieves have been dispatched to the Santiago castle in Spain where Kenzi has retreated to retrieve a painting of The Vanishing – a depiction of the Ancient’s Last Supper on earth centuries ago, before they were banished from the Earth (by Hades himself, as we learn from Zee in the final scene). Within Kenzi’s earshot, the thieves happen to drop references to a succubus who slayed the Una Mens, so naturally enough she chooses to return from exile to warn Bo she is in danger, and chooses to bring with her the first siren, Heathcliff.
As it turns out, Hades’ never really needed the siren. In fact, the entire painting caper was a ruse concocted by Hades for unclear reasons. No-one is actually banished, and saving Zee — or making Bo believe she had “vanished” Zee — doesn’t seem to have been Hades’ primary motivation. Zee implies as much when she points out that Hades didn’t hesitate in vanishing her, Hera and Iris “all those years ago” – why not do it again? His reply is interesting, if enigmatic: “Your time will come, when it’s just.”
So what was Hades’ deal with the Vanishing painting? Banishing Zee – or allowing Bo to believe he had helped her by providing key information about how to use the painting – would have further encouraged Bo to trust him. But I think there may have been an even subtler game in play between the two of them around the painting. Bo had intended to use the painting to banish both Hades and Zee. She didn’t. She chose instead to banish only Zee. Now, we know it wouldn’t have worked anyway, but Bo didn’t know that when she made the choice. And this is the second time Bo has spared Hades since his return. How did Hades know she wouldn’t at least try to vanish him (and ruin his plan)? Is his influence direct, as in mind control? Or is she playing out an unavoidable destiny he has shaped ahead of her?
Another possibility comes to my mind – reminiscent of the time at the end of episode 418 when Bo was “baited” by her father to suck the revenants’ chi as they stumbled out of the portal, lowering her defenses against him, and allowing him to possess her (briefly). Perhaps Bo’s “choice” to banish Zee rather than Hades is an example of psychological manipulation rather than a choice forced by predestination. Hades makes it clear in a conversation with Lauren in episode 510 that he knows about Freud and transference and the power of unconscious wishes to shape our choices and behavior. What unconscious wish might he have been exploiting in Bo that held her back from getting rid of him? Didn’t the oracles reveal that truth to Bo in episode 507 (“Here Comes the Night”) – the person her heart most desires?
Kenzi knows best:
Kenzi: You could have used that painting to get rid of him, but you didn’t. You chose Zee instead. Why did you do that?
Bo: I don’t know how I feel about all this, Kenz. It’s complicated…You don’t think it’s crazy that I want him to stay?
Kenzi: Not at all. He’s your father.
Valksy didn’t like the idea that Hades is coercing Bo’s choices – she’d rather think Bo makes bad, if well-intentioned, choices, playing the hand she is dealt as best she can. Bo recognizes she isn’t sure about her father, so she is giving him the benefit of the doubt. Is this naïveté? Or something honest and brave? It takes guts to give everyone a tabula rasa, against everything you think you know and against bitter or painful experience. It looked more like naïveté to me – and Kenzi seemed to agree: “You get what you need [from your father],” she tells Bo, “But do not trust him. He’s smart, and dangerous.”
There has been a subtle seduction going on since Hades first made his appearance in episode 509, and in the opening minutes of episode 510, during the stake out with Dyson, we are beginning to see the effects of that seduction on Bo. Bo refers to Hades as “BF” – a new favorite nick name she uses repeatedly with Dyson, Lauren and Kenzi. She means “biological father” but her friends naturally enough assume she means “best friend” — because c’mon Bo, through 4 ½ seasons, hasn’t it always meant “best friend”? Is this the writers’ way of signaling the shifting allegiances in Bo’s mind, a certain softening in her attitude towards her father? As if to underscore that, she goes on to tell Dyson during the stake out, “Sometimes the worst thing is not knowing how you feel.”
Valksy wondered if the Vanishing painting was a MacGuffin (a motivating element in a story used to drive the plot but serving no further purpose) used in this case to bring back the Pyrippus. Was that Hades’ motivation in retrieving the painting? Is he a Horseman of the Apocalypse who needs his devil’s steed?
Zee speaks for all of us when she asks, “What are you doing here, Jack?” Whatever his plan may be, apparently it has begun. Did it begin with his stealing the Leviathan’s handprint 600 years ago — sometime after he was banished to the Underworld? We know that it was Hades who banished Zee, Hera, and Iris from the earthly plane but who banished Hades to Tartarus? We still don’t know why Hades’ power waned in Tartarus after Bo’s birth, and who or what took it from him, but it certainly seems likely that something or someone wanted to thwart or slow down Hades’ plans. Who?
Did something or someone take umbrage at Zee, Hera and Hades playing “gods”? Fae are supposed to live in secret (as we are reminded by the Dyson/Alicia subplot in this episode, in case viewers had forgotten). Did some stronger force become offended by their hubris, spoil their fun, slap them down, and exile them, as if to say, “Leave the humans alone, stop tormenting them for fun, you’re not gods”? If the Ancients are called gods, but are not, then who or what is the higher power – the one who really makes magic?
We don’t get a good close look at the Vanishing painting but sitting at the center of that Last Supper tableau appears to be a formidable bearded figure with flowing white hair, arguably bearing some resemblance to the Wanderer depicted in the old Fae History books discovered by Lauren late in season 4. Just sayin’…
In looking for a God above these Fae gods, if the show needs one to explain itself, avoiding the Abrahamic god is common sense! In our mid-season 5 commentary, Valksy speculated that a good candidate for the higher power might be Kronos – Father Time, herald of the first Golden Generation of mortal men to live on the earth, and father to Hades, Zeus, and Hera (among others). In Greek Mythology, Kronos was warned that one of his children would eventually overthrow him and become the foremost immortal. With his Titan brothers and sisters at his side – the first generation of Titans to have a human appearance – Kronos initiated a war against his own children (the War of the Titans). Zeus meanwhile gathered the Olympians to fight with him against his father [http://mythagora.com/bios/kronos.html]. In the Lost Girl transfiguration of the Greek Myth, is it Hades who will be challenging his father’s power? And did he create Bo to fight by his side?
The theme of children growing to adulthood and confronting parental authority – Mark and Dyson, Bo and Aife/Hades, Aife and Trick – has informed Lost Girl from the very beginning. It would be fitting if the series ended with a war played out between the Ancients and their own Father.