Let your heart be bright
Let your heart be bright
Steady like the stars
Constant like the rain falls down
Fold it like a flag
Hold it until the Dark runs out
You find yourself
You find yourself
You find yourself
[“Dark Runs Out” from the record ‘Tunnel’ by Amy Stroup]
Have you ever attended the funeral of a dear friend or a close relative, someone you loved very much? Someone whose death left you with an acute sense of loss and the painful realization that you will never, ever see them again? I’ve had that funeral feeling since Lost Girl ended.
The funeral feeling didn’t set in right away. As I watched the credits roll in the series finale, my heart felt full – but in a good way. I was feeling that deep emotional satisfaction you get after finishing a really good novel. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, some chapters were uneven, but the characters had become like family to you. Their stories linger with you long after you have reluctantly closed the book. The book is finished, you know that re-reading it will never be the same. It’s a bittersweet moment. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I’ll actually hold a great book to my heart, prolonging the moment before I have to return to real life, because for a time it occupied such an important place in my inner world.
That’s how I felt watching the last episode of Lost Girl. Not sad exactly, not heavy-hearted or light-hearted, but with a full heart.
Sally said she didn’t cry at all during the episode. I swallowed hard a few times but the only scene that actually made me cry — to my surprise — was Tamsin’s death. Go figure. Maybe it was the fact that, as a mother, I imagined I could identify with her experience of being separated prematurely and permanently from her newborn daughter. I was moved by qualities in Tamsin we hadn’t seen before – not a trace of self-pity, grace in the face of adversity, courage, selfless love, empathy for others, and a sense of peace and acceptance that this last life of hers was ending and solace in the legacy she was leaving behind.
Call me a sucker for sentimentality, but I found the Valkyrie notion of “rising” (as opposed to dying) both moving and beautiful to behold. When that little feather floated down and settled on Dagny, as ethereal Tamsin ascended, I was reminded of the end of It’s a Wonderful Life: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” Like Jimmy Stewart, I found myself smiling at the idea that Tamsin could finally spread those majestic wings again and fly (if only in the spirit world).
In Tamsin’s death, I also thought we might be seeing a preview of the inevitable final parting between Lauren and Bo that I had always imagined would be a perfect way to end the series (I was wrong):
Tamsin/Lauren: It’s my time.
Bo: I don’t want to let you go.
Tamsin/Lauren: I’ll be here. Through my/our daughter. She’s my/our legacy.
The whole scene felt like an allegory for the end of the series itself. We fans want to hold on, we want someone to swoop in and breathe chi – or more realistically, cha-ching — back into it, but ultimately we have to accept that we’re likely never to see another new episode ever again. Still, we have the legacy Lost Girl has left behind. Sure it wasn’t perfect — we’re all good and evil, we all have both inside us — but the show offered many indelible lessons to live by. Stop hiding. To thine own self be true. Spread your wings. Love is love, no matter who’s doing the loving, and it trumps hate every time. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it, and if life has not supplied you with a loving family, go find a new one. Forge your own path. Live the life you choose.
And in the end, after we’d been bracing ourselves for the inevitable disappointment, Lost Girl gave the LGBT community our happy ending. Maybe it wasn’t the Doccubus wedding we’d photo-shopped but vows were exchanged on the hood of the yellow Camaro, and my God, how beautiful was that?
This show changed lives — it saved lives. It gave countless fans the courage and strength to overcome fear, shame, abuse and torment, to embrace who they are with pride. The show inspired me to attend a gay pride parade for the first time and to travel to a different country to meet cast members and connect in person with that brilliant and beautiful soul who gave me the confidence to start writing about Lost Girl — and so much more. Thank you, Valksy, and thank you Lost Girl for bringing us together.
I know there are fans all over the world — in 44 different countries at last count — each with their own story to tell about what the Lost Girl community has meant to them, the friendships formed, the sense of mutual understanding and togetherness, the random acts of loving kindness given and received. There was also an extraordinary degree of connection between the fandom, the cast, and the showrunners whether by Twitter, blogs, podcasts, or conventions — all thanks to this powerful little show. Souvent, une petite chose jette une grande ombre.
This wasn’t the first time I’d felt a sense of deep gratitude to the Lost Girl team, but don’t it always seem to go that you don’t fully know what you’ve got until it’s gone? And so it came to pass that, the day after episode 516 aired, the funeral feeling set in. I felt truly bereft — something I’d never experienced before at the end of any television show, ever. C’mon! It’s television! I tried talking about it, but tears welled up. Friends and family who had never seen Lost Girl tried to be kind (“I know how much it meant to you”) but I was hearing — and felt — “This is crazy! Get a grip!” I threw myself back into the Hillary Clinton campaign and that eased the heartache to some degree. Tearful goodbyes are so last season, I told myself. And teared over again.
In the last few days before the closing chapter of Bo’s story would be broadcast I found myself musing on the clue given by the episode title – Rise. Was this one word supposed to be suggestive of the sunrise, a new dawn and a new day, a fresh start? Is it the rise of a new ruling world order? A literal physical act of rising, as in a resurrection? Is it rising above in triumph, rising to the occasion or rising above all the odds? As the curtain fell, it turned out that, one way or another, all these ideas were close to the truth; as an LGBT viewer, I found myself rising in ovation at the glorious celebration of a successful same sex loving relationship, something which still remains enough of a rarity on television that I admit I had to work hard not to emotionally brace for impact in anticipation of disaster. I am deeply grateful to cast and crew, to Jay Firestone, Michael Grassi, Emily Andras and Michelle Lovretta for their commitment to authenticity and the choice to have the happy ending that so many of us craved. More than anything, as the end titles rolled, I was moved to tears by the thought of how many LGBT people, all around the world, of all ages, now and in the future, would get to see this story and the ending will be right.
The show also rose in one more spectacular fashion, elevating itself above lightweight romantic fluff, above weekly tales of monsters battled and slain, above a playful and admittedly weird curiosity, to something far more profound and philosophical in nature. I wonder how much of the final episode was part meta-communication and part love letter to so many of the fans at the beating heart of this strange little-show-that could?
Bo’s often praised and cited mantra “I will live the life I choose” could not have been more meaningfully portrayed in this episode, and yet it has never been more clear that the statement is not just related to basic romantic entanglement or the picket fence imagery of episode 108 (Vexed). It is true to say that this statement – in parallel with an open and sexually autonomous bisexual woman – was perceived as a powerful affirmation by many LGBT viewers, many of whom had faced discrimination and hostility because of their orientation and saw it as a defiant rallying call. These seven simple words proved to be Lost Girl’s modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s “This above all: to thine own self be true” as Bo grew more confident in her intellect, intuition and heart throughout five seasons in pursuit of an authentic life.
And yet I cannot help but notice that it is only Bo and Lauren (because they are a matched pair) who are granted their desired choice. Both Dyson and Tamsin serve as examples of the obvious counterpoint that Bo’s mantra raises – what if that life you desire does not choose you back? We may well celebrate the triumph of Doccubus — I certainly do and categorically would not apologise for this — but what would it mean if Tamsin or Dyson (or Aife, Trick or Hale) had spoken that line instead? What happens if we must recognise that the flaw in our chosen destiny is it being dependent on someone else who may not share our vision or fulfil that role? Surely that would suggest that the core philosophy that resonated so much with so many might actually have a secondary encapsulating purpose?
So what does it mean – if not choosing love, or home, or any of the relationships that you desire the most? It is entirely valid to try and seek the best for oneself, so I would not consider this a selfish motive at all. If Bo’s open title quote is placed in the context of her impulse to fight for others, to place their needs above her own, then might it be possible that Bo is referring to seeking to live her chosen life within a wider social framework — not just in terms of love and romance, but an end to sectarian conflict and a peaceful way of life that prizes the lives of others.
If we recognise that Bo has been a Fae game-changer since the very first episode, refusing to play by the rules and insisting on forging her own path, perhaps this urge to defy the strict and hazardous norms becomes more acute for her once Tamsin has placed Dagny in her care. When Bo pledges to Tamsin, as Tamsin lays dying, “I promise that I will do everything to protect her” is she really talking about fighting individual monsters? Bo’s best chance to keep Dagny safe is surely to craft a better, safer and more equal world for her to live within. Bo repeats this belief before sending the infant away to safety: “You’re my sister and I have to protect you, but right now I have work to do. Dangerous work.” I think that this work was a movement away from the factions of Light and Dark, removing the obligation for choice, and working to combat any remaining animus so that the colony can become a place of genuine sanctuary.
Bo’s work appears to be showing signs of success as, during the closing scene in the Dal, Dyson explains that Dagny does not have the obligation she seems prepared to deal with: “Not in this colony. We’re fighting to change some old rules, so that one day no Fae will ever have to choose.” (We will never learn what Dagny chooses or if she follows the trend of Bo, and then Mark, to simply refuse). What if Bo’s beloved statement can also be interpreted as: “Be the change you want to see in the world” (attributed to Gandhi). What a grand message that would be, to Bo’s contemporaries and also to us as viewers!
There are other messages to be read from this final episode that I found touching and inspiring. Like other viewers, I was saddened that Evony did not make a final appearance, but I find myself reflecting on whether I could consider her story closed and what I might draw from it. The Evony that we first saw in episode 101 (It’s a Fae, Fae, Fae, Fae World) is vicious and calculating. We will go on to see her engaged in violent intra-faction squabbles, attacks on the Light, and Machiavellian plots against anyone who defies her authority as the Morrigan; the casual murder of humans; even an expressed intent to commit genocide. And yet after her Fae nature is erased and she faces her own mortality (with fear but also with support from Bo), the parting view we get of Evony is of a woman who still enjoys her creature comforts (she is still no saint!) but who has robustly embraced the notion of serving a greater good. Evony may not have her powers (or so it appears…) but she still has intuition, insight, presence and influence and is using them in a positive way which seems to make her as happy and proud as we have ever seen. Evony has had an epiphany and moved beyond the strict and stagnating guidelines of the Fae world as she understood it to live a new life of both social benefit and personal satisfaction. Is this a proxy for what Bo might really mean?
I also wonder if there is a meta-communication to the audience in the strong emphasis on the notion of potential. The final battle between Bo and Jack focuses very strongly on the notion that each of us can contain positives and negatives, which the show paints broadly as good and evil, but which we are not inherently subject to. Once again, we can live the life we choose — but only once we have recognised our capacity for duality. Awareness and acceptance of who we are, who we might be, and how we move between the two is shown through Bo’s victory over Jack, and also by means of Vex’s redemption.
Vex’s story adds a further coda to this notion of understanding and living up to potential by showing that profound personal change is possible, that mistakes do not doom us for all time and contrition for wrong doing is a valid choice. It would have been easy, and entirely understandable, for the characters to reject Vex’s will and effort be to something other than he was, and commendable that they do not do so.
It should also be noted that Bo is careful to point out that Jack’s defeat is merely temporary. This concept of eternal vigilance might well resonate for LGBT viewers too — I know that it did for me — in that we fight many battles and have come so far in our quest for rights and equality, but there is always the chance that someone will work to take it from us. I found the lesson that we must move forward, while not forgetting the past and being alert (but not giving in to fear) was a touching and relevant one.
In terms of Bo’s alternate relationships, I appreciate the way that they ended. I enjoyed seeing Dyson as a far more balanced man who truly seemed like he was capable of protecting his pack. That Lauren expressed a distinct gladness that he would “be there” for Bo if she died first (this is by no means a given) I’m not sure that this can be taken as a statement of the inevitability that one day Bo and Dyson would begin their relationship anew. Dyson’s experience with the human woman, Alicia, and his acceptance that he need not obey the “rules” of his species by trying to mate for life open the door to his being able to form relationships independently of Bo, which is a far more mentally and emotionally healthy option for him than moping around being miserable (I had always assumed this was a biological imperative, it makes more sense as a taught ideology which he struggles to live up to and finally outgrows). I also ask myself, “Well, why not Dyson?” It is important to recognise that Bo is a bisexual woman, and I cannot imagine that anyone would wish her to spend her remaining days alone.
[Sidebar: This is why I hope and encourage people to refer to Bo and Lauren as an LGBT couple rather than a lesbian one in order to prevent erasure]
It should be remembered that we did not completely escape the “dead LGBT woman” trope which seems so pervasive in media — Tamsin dies. Her end was moving and perhaps a little easier to take following her multiple opportunities at life and re-birth (including those which she said that she made a “bad bargain” for). I found myself reflecting on what I hoped both Bo and Lauren would come to terms with — that even if there is a theoretical capacity for the gift of many years, the only thing which life truly promises us all is that one day it will end. I wonder how much this kind of thought might have influenced the choices that Bo and Lauren made.
Like many viewers, the joy of a Doccubus ending moved me the most. We did finally get our “true love’s kiss” moment as our hero seals their love with a kiss atop her (admittedly rusty!) steed rather than in a more intimate and potentially sexual scenario. In trying to determine whether the train tracks were indicative of the perimeters of Bo’s colony — a notion half in mind but which I couldn’t prove — I took to Twitter for opinions or pointers as to where my belief might have come from.
[Sidebar: If Doccubus fans are the beating heart of the show then perhaps twitter can be seen as its circulatory system! Certainly many deep abiding friendships were made here, many events were co-ordinated, many images were shared, and a great deal of shenanigans originated!]
I found myself very much in agreement with a theory put forth by twitter user @JordanThane when she said: “I like that the tracks seem to go on forever to Bo’s left, but are short on Lauren’s. Life spans/indicative of journey so far?” I think that the notion of the journey is most true in that Kenzi drives Dagny towards the distant vanishing point beyond Bo — this is the future. The shorter past is behind Lauren. Since nothing on television can ever appear by accident, I am sure that this imagery is symbolic.
I am also sure that there is a broad agreement that the speech on the Camero, initiated by Lauren, amounts to a proposal, vows and ends in Bo’s “I do”. I might have liked a more formal statement of a commitment, but am satisfied and at peace with avoiding any words which may cause issues in nations where the show airs. I think that there is no doubt as to intent. I loved that these two women recognised the nature of their relationship, and all relationships: “Lauren, we are messy, we’re complicated. That hasn’t changed.” This shows a greater maturity, particularly in Bo. But, more importantly to my mind, is how Lauren responds to this: “I hope that it never does.” Lauren’s lesson in trying to fundamentally alter herself, by making herself Fae, was an allegory on how much someone should re-write themselves and their core identity for the sake of a relationship. I found this moment of acceptance between the two deeply powerful.
Beyond these moments of love and promises made, I also appreciated another signature moment for Bo – her capacity to forgive. I have to believe that forgiveness is a core trait for Bo, she has been trying to forgive herself for the things that she did without her volition as a succubus and because of that I think that her immediate acceptance of Lauren’s commitment is correct for the character.
I watched the finale one more time (okay, twice) and felt heartened by the overwhelmingly obvious, irrefutable evidence (as I saw it) that there was more than enough story left in Lost Girl for a sequel or a movie. I found myself clicking into my usual commentary mode, piecing together the loose ends, weaving together a plausible story:
Jack has a plan for Tamsin’s daughter who has now reached puberty and is poised to assume her full powers. Maybe Dagny was Jack’s “Plan A” all along. Maybe Bo’s part was to group-suck enough collective chi to complete Jack’s demon steed Pyrippus engraving. Was this supposed to be like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters? Will the real Pyrippus be busting out of his stone prison once the chi engraving has been completed? During the dream-coma induced by the Shtriga moth, the idea was planted in Bo’s head that she needed to search for the Pyrippus. Was that Jack’s doing? All that horse-whispering at Evony’s farm seemed to confirm for Bo that she was the Pyrippus. Was this all an elaborate ruse – hatched by Jack and facilitated by Evony — to make Bo think she was the Pyrippus when in fact she was merely the vehicle for raising the Pyrippus? [At end of episode 309, seeing a portrait of the Pyrippus, Trick had groaned, “Oh no, not him!” HIM]. By the way, Evony looked way too healthy in episode 512, didn’t she? Could she be working in cahoots with Jack, now that he has saved her life or turned her Fae again.
Jack may have been vaporized but has he merely been banished to Tartarus or Myth? Or has he assumed another form? Was it just my imagination or was there something a little different, a little disturbing, in Kenzi’s gaze as she drove away, with Dagny tucked safely in her car seat? Evil still exists in the world, Bo reminds us, and we can’t be complacent: “I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But it’ll be coming for you,” she tells Dagny. “We’ll be ready.”
It’s all sitting there, Emily, just waiting to be written! Michael! Michelle! Vanessa! Anybody! [I think in the grief literature, this is the stage known as “bargaining”].
And then came a less generous emotion: Anger. I guess we’ll never know for sure who made the decision that a five-season run of Lost Girl was enough — or why. We do know it wasn’t Showcase. I’m well aware that television is a high-risk business. You have to keep churning out 20 shows to find that one fluke hit series. I know the Canadian Television Fund only subsidizes the production of new programs for five years. No doubt some other program(s) had to die for Lost Girl to see the light of day. It’s the circle of life in the television industry. And I suppose we should feel grateful for getting those three extra episodes to end the story. Shows used to just stop cold if the plug got pulled, fandoms be damned. But dammit, Prodigy! You had a sure-fire thing going in Lost Girl — a ground-breaking sci-fi hit showcasing a messy, complicated, but beautiful love story between two kick-ass female protagonists played by actors who just happened to have great chemistry. When are you going to catch that kind of lightening in a bottle again?
I’m going to make a prediction for the Powers-That-Be who decided not to renew Lost Girl for a sixth season. When all is said and done, Lost Girl will turn out to be the best contribution you’ve ever made to this world. Being part of a story with passion and consequence, something life-changing, enduring, and larger than yourself? Priceless. Let’s all cherish the experience a little longer before moving on to the next shiny thing.
Acceptance seems like a distant shore for me at the moment, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I’m still bargaining, holding out for the sequel. Hell, I’d settle for a reunion miniseries.
I wish I knew how to quit you, Lost Girl.