Lost Girl Episode 515: Let Them Burn

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Valksy

I have to begin any thoughts on this episode with the disclosure that I am willing to offer the production significant latitude for what is to come. In a more perfect world, the tale could have played out in a balanced pace across a season instead of having to be finished in just three episodes, so I anticipated revelations to come thick and fast and the concluding episodes to be crowded and overly hectic. In considering the fact that my dear show was ending, I was torn between the basic “wander off into the sunset for more adventures” type of ending (as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation) or a conclusion to the tale itself (as when the crew of Star Trek: Voyager did make it home after all). The never-ending adventure variety might have worked if Lost Girl had remained a simple episodic MOTW series, but with the multi-season depth of the show — which by now is surely not open to debate — a definitive end makes more sense. Whatever the outcome, I am relieved that Lost Girl will not end on the obvious cliffhanger of episode 513 (Family Portrait), since I cannot think of anything sadder in the world of fiction than an unfinished story.

Mahlers5th

The obvious cliffhanger of episode 513. I have to confess that I have been in such dense denial about the fact that Lost Girl is really ending – we’re over?! – that until I read your commentary about Family Portrait, Valksy, it never occurred to me that episode 513 was likely intended to be the cliffhanger ending to season 5, with a sixth season waiting in the wings. Michael Grassi must have had some sense about where the story would be heading in episode 601, even as he penned Family Portrait. I suppose we’ll never know what those nascent thoughts may have been. Anna Silk told an interviewer she thought the show would get at least another season and that there was plenty of story left to tell. I feel such a sense of grief about that story ending prematurely and about all those unborn episodes and might-have-beens that will never see the light of day. But I’m with you, Valksy – mostly I feel very grateful to the production team for lobbying to get us these last three episodes and for bringing the wonderful journey to a fitting conclusion. I’ll be upset if Doccubus isn‘t reunited in the series finale but not as upset as I would have been if the series had ended with that operatic tableau of Bo staring blankly into the distance, Trick and Aife dead at her feet, Dyson at her side roaring with impotent grief and rage, and Lauren…where, exactly? Curtain. Unimaginable.

Valksy

Despite my fears, I was pleasantly surprised last week (episode 514, Follow the Yellow Trick Road) to see a commentary on how characters are, and how they are perceived, and a refuting of any claim that Bo was emotionally illiterate. The Oz dreamscape made clear that Bo is attuned to and understands the stresses and fears of her loved ones, but in the real world, no longer feels compelled to try and “fix” them or solve their problems. This seems a character evolution from Bo’s drive to be everyone’s champion, and a new maturity in grasping that enduring change must come from within. I was pleased with episode 514 and more than ready for the closing chapters in Bo’s story.

Mahlers5th

I know some fans were unhappy that too many of the precious remaining minutes of this show’s lifetime were devoted to apparent “fluff“ in episode 514. I loved it. Follow the Yellow Brick Road felt to me like a parting gift from the production team to the fandom, a way of easing us from the dark cliffhanger that was episode 513 to facing the trauma that lies ahead. Okay, maybe it wasn‘t a gift like that opening sequence to episode 304 [Note to writers of Lost Girl: The Next Generation: fewer break-ups, more sex]. Still, the episode brought together many of the other elements of Lost Girl that have kept me coming back for more, season after season.

For starters, the entire team is reunited for one last MOTW caper (Trick all the more conspicuous for his absence). This is not the final conflagration with Jack that lies ahead, but lighter fare — saving Bo from the Shtriga moth’s deadly venom (you gotta love a show that has you looking up how to spell “Shtriga” and finding out about vampiric witches in traditional Albanian folklore). Each character has an important part to play in – here’s a switch – rescuing Bo. It will take a village to bring down Jack. This is the team’s dress rehearsal. It has been way too long since we’ve been treated to some light-hearted nerdy science from Lauren (“It always stores it’s victim’s blood in a sack – all I have to do is locate the sack“) followed by one of Kenzi’s classic rejoinders (“Remind me to make a sack joke once we’ve saved Bo”). Thank you, production team (and Ksenia Solo) for bringing Kenzi back to us for a proper good-bye.

Bo’s journey towards acceptance of Trick’s death and her own inner power – which could have been deadly serious — is lightened and transformed here into a fairy tale whose very familiarity feels reassuring. Not all fairy tales end well but we know this one will – at least in the dream world. And how delightful to see the actors flexing their comedic chops again in a kind of encore to Original Skin. It has been many, many moons since I laughed as hard as I did when a very stoned Lola yelled, “What?! Get it out! Get it out!” when Bo tells her the map is inside her head. This episode gave us a chance to breathe, laugh, and shed a tear. Even the settings – many of them outdoors – felt more expansive, a welcome change from the dark interiors of the crackhouse or the cool greys of the penthouse with its cage awaiting Tamsin.

As always, the episode also left me with questions: How did Mark’s characterization of Vex as “two-faced” (spoken well out of Bo’s earshot) find its way into her dreamscape? How did Jack know that Trick bequeathed the compass of Nirad to Vex? Did he arrange to have Bo exposed to the moth whose venom induced her coma? To what extent did he control the events that transpired in the dreamscape? Did he plant the suggestion that Bo’s next move should be to find the Pyrripus (the central action of this week’s episode, after all)? Why impregnate Tamsin? What the eff is his plan??! For once, I just let it go, let it go, let it go.

Valksy

Given my admitted frustration with the character of Tamsin as a wasteful time sink and distraction, I have to say that as I watched her brutal experience unfold in episode 515 (Let Them Burn), I found myself tempted to regard her as a proxy for Aife. Granting both understanding and redemption for a character who had seemed irremediably villainous — attacking Dyson, using explosive-laden humans to assassinate members of the Light Fae counsel, repeatedly expressing an intent to commit infanticide — seemed a fair and reasonable option; showing an obvious parallel between Tamsin and Aife (from practicalities of the cage to the decor) allowed the viewer to feel a greater degree of sympathy and forgiveness. It is certainly fair to say that if Tamsin’s violation, imprisonment and mutilation was in any way a facsimile of Aife’s own trauma then that alone is enough to reconcile Aife’s harrowing descent into insanity.

Violence aside, I also mulled over the dilemma both Aife and Tamsin must have faced while their baby was still in utero — the shattering conviction that the infant they carried was quite literally the spawn of the devil. Tamsin threatens to abort her own pregnancy with the line “I know why Aife wanted to kill Bo — if this baby is evil, maybe I should do the same thing.” But her threat somehow rings hollow. How could she kill her own baby, knowing that Bo – conceived and born under similar circumstances – is not evil? In fact, Bo is a living example that attaching the “sins of the father” to an unborn child does not allow for the kind of redemption Bo has achieved. Or is Tamsin’s choice not to kill her baby simply driven by basic maternal instinct? I’m not certain how to answer this question. In episode 514, Lauren had to prompt Tamsin to accept the reality of her condition and Tamsin seemed utterly disconnected from the baby until it started to kick. If it is maternal instinct that holds Tamsin back from infanticide, then I suppose her threat was empty and Jack knew it. If she is held back by the knowledge that despite her similar origins, Bo is not evil, did Tamsin’s thoughts change by the end of the episode? Does this perhaps explain the depth of despair in Tamsin’s screaming? Not only is Bo not being her hero and acting to save her, but she — and by extension Tamsin’s unborn child – may genuinely be a monster.

I admit to feeling uneasy about this storyline. If it was simply to illustrate what a hideous monster Jack is, then I would consider it exploitative and unnecessary – we were given ample and indelible evidence of the depths of his evil at the end of episodes 513 and 514. If the point was to give Bo additional reasons to kill Jack — rather than simply banishing or imprisoning him — and thereby stop him from ever violating another woman, then it also seems unnecessary; Bo has carried out acts of extrajudicial punishment against Fae more than once in the past. It makes more sense to me that the writers included this story thread to prompt us to fully recognize Bo’s origins, without having to resort to flashbacks, magical temples, or other such televisual sleights of hands, while also adding to the mystery of why Jack is so intent upon creating hybrid offspring.
Mahlers5th

I agree that there is something poignant and awful in Tamsin’s plight that makes us reconsider what Aife’s experience must have been like. Episode 513 (Family Portrait) threw into question the circumstances of Bo’s conception – Was it rape? Was it exploitation of a mentally impaired woman? Or did Aife truly believe she loved her “bad-boy” rescuer and consented freely? Tamsin’s parallel plight seems to leave little room for doubt that by any definition, Bo was a child conceived by rape, not love.

[Side bar: as long as we’re reviving all these questions about the circumstances of Bo’s birth – Lou Ann tells Bo in episode 515 that when Trick found out Aife was pregnant, he hired Lou Ann to rescue Aife from “the Dark” (presumably the Dark King?). However, when Lou Ann arrived, Bo had already been born and Aife wanted to kill her, so she took Bo and hid her among humans. Doesn’t this contradict Jack and Aife‘s account that Bo was born in Tartarus – not to mention Persephone’s account that it was Aife who arranged for Bo to escape? Repeat after me: find your own narrative truth, let the rest go].

One thing’s for sure – at some point, it dawned on Aife that for Jack it wasn’t about love at all, it was about siring Bo. It is doubtful Jack shared his long range plans for their child but — not realizing that a rescue was underway — Aife surely must have believed that she would be leaving her baby in the hands of the Devil himself and that she was powerless to do anything about it. In a similar vein, it seemed to me that the full horror of her situation didn’t set in for Tamsin until she realized she would not survive to protect her child. Is that what drove Aife mad? [On a lighter note, establishing that Tamsin is doomed to die in childbirth begs the obvious question: who’ll be bringing up baby? Please, oh please, writers — throw us a bone! Let it be Doccubus].

I’m a little mystified by this ”plan B“ of Jack’s. Having waited this long to see his centuries-old game reach fruition, why did he give up on Bo so easily? Having just successfully engineered a break-up between Bo and Lauren, Jack chose that moment to throw in the towel and impregnate Tamsin? Huh? Bo seemed so ripe for the picking (“We’re over, Dad!“ she cried, throwing herself into his arms). And if he had truly moved on from Plan Bo to plan Tamsin, why bother to kill Trick and Aife, severing Bo’s other links to her life? I don’t get it. Was getting Tamsin pregnant and then abducting her just another chess move in his game with Bo, rather than a true “plan B”? I have no idea what Jack is really up to — and isn’t that in itself remarkable in this second-to-last episode of a five-year series? — but I’m beginning to suspect he may be more interested in beating death than achieving ultimate power. What do Bo and Tamsin have in common? Bo has the ability to suck chi from many and revive the dead. The Valkyrie have many lives. Jack tries to feed Tamsin Phoenix eggs – in Greek mythology, the Phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically reborn, going down in flames then rising up out of its own ashes. Jack also demonstrated a keen interest in Lauren’s research on finding the fountain of eternal life. Is that what he’s really after — true immortality?

Valksy

I am sure that I am not alone in noticing that Dyson has had a limited role to play in the second half of season 5. Dyson’s scene with Mark offers a heartbreaking look at what the character could have been if he had been allowed to develop outside of his attachment to Bo. The sequence of Dyson finally provoking Mark to embrace his full shifter identity, and then encouraging him to return to his human form (explaining the process and defining the temptation to stay in beast form) was effective and character-rich, and offered Kris Holden-Ried something more beyond stone-faced stoicism or brooding stares.

I was also pleased to see a recognition between father and son that teaching could be a mutual act, and that Dyson’s urge to assert seniority and dominance faded to something far more paternal in nature. I did finally believe that he could love his son. While Mark’s defiant actions are a fairly typical youth independence trope, he was also reminding Dyson that making decisions based on the fallacy of an “appeal to antiquity” was small-minded and stifling, and prevented Dyson (and the Light Fae) from having the strategic agility to adapt to the oncoming battle. Both men impart useful lessons to one another and while neither is particularly likeable or engaging, I am pleased that their final role in the series is connected to the Fae Light/Dark faction schism and the fate of the resistance against Hades. It is a sad statement that separating Dyson from Bo’s orbit has made him a more purposeful character.

Mahlers5th

I enjoyed the scenes between Mark and Dyson, too, but geez Valksy, tempus fugit and we’re talking about everything except Doccubus.

Valksy

It was disappointing to see that Lauren played no meaningful part in this episode. I have to reason that at least the break-up makes some narrative sense now; Jack would never have believed that Bo could pass his “purity” test by murdering Lauren if the two women were still in love. Bo’s ruse to play along with Jack (no one actually believes she means to kill everyone, right?) would not have worked if Lauren hadn’t already ended their relationship and if Jack had not witnessed Lauren appearing to break Bo’s heart. I still think that Jack played an instrumental part in the break-up — giving Lauren the tools she felt she needed to become Fae, then betraying her with bad information and undermining her confidence and sense of self (“Graduated top of my class, summa cum laude, and I can’t even resolve a simple bug bite –or do anything at all apparently!”). The emotionally injured and doubting Lauren we saw in episode 514 as “Lola” is perhaps more the woman who made the devastating choice to end the relationship with Bo, rather than the more heroic Lauren we are used to seeing— surely this was the main purpose in showing us her fun-house reflection in the person of Lola.

Mahlers5th

I concur that Bo has some plan up her sleeve and it most decidedly does not include murdering her entire chosen family. The writers went to an awful lot of trouble in this episode to loop Zee‘s horse shoe and a fire-breathing (but not-Pyrripus) stallion back into the story. They made sure to have Kenzi witness the fact that while the horse shoe didn’t fit the stallion, it did seem to protect Bo from the demon steed’s flames (and perhaps other forms of enthrallment?). I’d bet dollars to donuts that Bo left that horse shoe behind before she set fire to the crackshack with everyone she loves trapped inside. Whatever Bo’s ruse may be – and it seems to involve letting Jack believe he can control the Pyrripus in her — I suspect its success will depend heavily on the gang’s ability (in particular, the power of Lauren’s love) to bring her back from the Dark side. Lauren was able to do it in episode 305 and Dyson did it again in episode 413 when the cinvat opened.

Valksy

We are reminded by the opening “last time on Lost Girl” preamble that Trick is dead, the episode is practically haunted by the spirit of Aife, and Lauren is carefully kept on the sidelines. I somehow doubt it is an accident that Jack has conspired, manipulated, or outright murdered, to remove every important anchor in Bo’s life (this does not include Dyson, and Tamsin has been taken to serve his own needs). Did Jack do what he thought necessary to “break” Bo, as Lou Ann describes breaking a horse — to receive Bo’s loyalty and servitude, and oblige her to prove herself through the act of murdering her friends? I find the concept that Bo is playing along, gambling her safety and those of loved ones on her courage and guile, gripping and nerve-wracking in the extreme! I do not for one moment believe that Bo could ever turn “bad”, and am very much reminded of the character that I fell for years ago. As she enters the endgame episode, Bo is brave, daring to the point of recklessness, ruthless if necessary, and driven to fight for what matters most — friendship, family and love.

Mahlers5th

Just as we always knew it would, Lauren’s love will rescue Bo, and the two of them will drive off in the Yellow Camaro, baby Tamsin tucked safely in her car seat in the back, to find that house with a white picket fence and with it the normal life Bo has always imagined (I can dream – if only for a few more days). If they don’t enjoy that happy ending, well, we’ll always have Paris — and five seasons of a ground-breaking urban sci-fi fantasy showcasing a realistically complicated, sex-positive, label-free love story between two quite unforgettable female protagonists.

3 thoughts on “Lost Girl Episode 515: Let Them Burn

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