All posts by carolynrodham

LOST GIRL Episode 516: Rise

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
Holding on

[“Dark Runs Out” from the record ‘Tunnel’ by Amy Stroup]

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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.

Valksy

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.

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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.

The Evolution of Doccubus

[This was the first commentary Valksy & I wrote about Lost Girl  but it seemed appropriate to bring it out of mothballs for the series finale]

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Back in January [2013], I was blowing by the SyFy channel hoping not to be hijacked by some gross-out scene from The Hills Have Eyes, when something caught my eye. Two women, clearly in love, were talking together in an intimate, urgent sort of way. On SyFy? Hm, this was worth a look. “It’s time,” one said, taking the lead, “Us.” The other woman, a blond in a lab coat, her eyes brimming with tears, responded in a tone that conveyed she hadn’t dared to hope for this: “Really?!” “I want to give this a real shot,” the first woman said. “To be together. Life is too short.” Then they embraced.

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That’s all it took – I was hooked. But just as quickly as Doccubus had entered my vocabulary (and heart), there was trouble in paradise. In episode 306, Kenzi goes missing, nobody believes Bo (including Lauren) and the two have a serious falling out: “I’ll never forgive you for this!” Bo hisses. As if that weren’t bad enough, later in the episode, Bo feeds off a Valkyrie and is seemingly blown away by the experience.

Seriously, Lost Girl writers (excluding the infallible Emily Andras, of course)?! Are you telling us Bo’s going to throw over Lauren because some sassy blond with zippy one-liners wanders into your script? Geez, it had been all of two weeks/episodes since their “epic” love-making scene, and the ship was already foundering on the rocks? OK, I guess I over-reacted, because by the following episode, they’re curled up and cozy on Bo’s bed again and all has apparently been forgiven – but why does Trick tell Dyson that Bo’s relationship with Lauren is only going to be a “short term” thing? “Short-term,” like in Fae years or human years? And why did Anna Silk say in an interview just this week that in the season finale, “Some things really get ripped apart.” Doccubi Angst, welcome back.

Why do I care so much about this relationship? Maybe because I’ve been waiting, oh, 15 years since Ellen’s famous coming out scene at the airport to see television showcase (thank you, Showcase) a genuine, mature, monogamous, mutually loving, if complicated, relationship that just happened to be between two women. And here it was, finally, Lost Girl. It was devastating to think that this ground-breaking series might already be devolving into the kind of hot-girls-bed-hopping storyline for which The L-Word had been justifiably criticized – with Bo succubussing her way around Faedom in various hot couplings, one episode with Lauren, on to Tamsin, back to Dyson, heck maybe a drunken night with Kenzi, and other characters yet to be introduced.

The showrunners needed to do some serious thinking about authenticity in character development, I thought, or at least to have a long talk amongst themselves about how bi/lesbian couples had been portrayed on television up until now (i.e. DO NOT f*** this up!). Maybe I just needed to reassure myself that I hadn’t been imagining the depth of this love story.

Valksy

I think it’s interesting to have a perspective from someone who has recently joined the show because a lot of us have been here for awhile and it is easy to overlook that journey new viewers are taking. And how, as you describe, for some of us it is jaw-dropping to see them do what they are doing.

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I decided to take a retrospective look at the arc of Bo and Lauren’s relationship, how their motivations and perceptions of each other evolved over time, and when and why their feelings for each other deepened to something more than mutual attraction. Sexual energy had always been an important part of their relationship, but it seemed to me that love was the real foundation and it made the bond to each other sturdier than all the subtexts seemed to suggest.

Full disclosure: I peeked at episode recaps to get the general lay of Fae-land before embarking on a marathon episode-by-episode viewing of seasons 1 and 2. That meant that as I watched the scene where Bo and Lauren meet for the very first time, I already knew what Bo didn’t — that Lauren had a girlfriend lying in a pod on life support somewhere in the Ash’s complex. I’ve read that when this scene was actually shot, Zoie Palmer (and the writers themselves?) had no idea that a girlfriend was going to be written into the script.

Valksy

It is a valid question to consider when what might have been serendipity – the chemistry of Bo/Lauren – went beyond perhaps what was originally intended. Is there an argument that it was never supposed to go as far as it did, and at what point did the writers find they had to change course? If the story is right and no-one really understood Lauren – who/what she was at the very start – how do they explain the chemistry?

We’ve often heard how KHR and AS had this big audition scene full of “passion” (they broke some dry wall) but only recently did we hear that ZP had to create chemistry “in ten minutes.” Now, I could probably shove someone into a wall. Could I create chemistry? Nope. So which is it? There is a contradiction here between a character they didn’t seem to know much about and the need for a huge chemistry from the very very start. It could be that the show writers created a “trap door” – by avoiding clarifying Lauren’s motives etc., they had a get out clause if the relationship was not positively received. But I don’t know if they’ll ever tell us the truth – certainly not when the show is current.

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For Lauren, the attraction to Bo seemed instantaneous and unmistakable (“My God, you’re beautiful!”).

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Being a stickler for internal consistency in my fictional characters, I needed to understand how Lauren – a fiercely loyal, usually demure, utterly professional doctor — could make such a naked declaration to a patient she was meeting for the first time. This wasn’t just Bo doing her Succubus thing – she hadn’t touched Lauren, yet. I reasoned that while Lauren surely hadn’t forgotten about Nadia (it becomes clear later just how bound she is to her girlfriend by some combination of love, loyalty, and guilt), after five long years of probably celibate servitude to the Ash, maybe she had begun to lose hope that Nadia would ever recover. Maybe she was beginning to wonder if she would ever experience romance again in her lifetime. Maybe “naked” is the operative word here – Bo was “all commando” at that moment. Maybe Lauren was just horny. Anyway, enter Bo, irresistible to just about everybody, with or without her clothes on. But for Lauren, it truly seemed to be a case of love at first sight (which does exist, scientists tell us).

Valksy

If the writers did know that there was a chance – then having started, they took it upon themselves to be as credible and authentic as possible, something AS and ZP have referenced more than once. Someone has decided that there is a degree of burden upon them in terms of how they portray F/F sexuality. We do know Lauren is prone to emotional outbursts in season 1 and season 2. ZP chose distinct character traits for her (eyes rolling up for example, rapid eye blinking to indicate shock is another). A Lauren that is blown away by Bo and blurting out something she was thinking is – as we will see later – in character. Love at first sight, as we are told later, does make more sense. What Lauren does in this season seems so much more clear and of more sense if we view it through the filter of Lauren being in love with Bo.

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As for Bo, she seemed to be enjoying the effect she had on Lauren, but it wasn’t clear whether she felt much of anything else – except thinly disguised anxiety about her identity and what is going to happen to her next in Fae hands, papered over with her signature confident swagger. She exploited her succubus charm to get Lauren involved in “fixing” her and helping her escape from the lab (“I can offer you things…” she purrs at one point, touching Lauren for the first time) but was seemingly indifferent to the serious risks Lauren would be taking. As Dyson cuffs her, Bo has the decency to apologize to Lauren casually (“Sorry, I had to try”) but she doesn’t look back as she is escorted away. Conversely, Lauren is deeply concerned (“Without training?! This is madness!”), already protective of Bo to a degree that seems just a wee bit stronger than a doctor’s usual professional concern for a new patient. Something’s brewing here but is it mutual?

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Valksy

Lauren takes a lot of risks for Bo – the very act of rendering aid when Bo is unaligned is not within the rules and required something of a leap of faith that Bo would be worthwhile. I honestly don’t think Bo had any means of understanding Lauren’s motives at this point. We know that Bo can see attraction and her familiarity with interpersonal relationships might well have led her to dismiss it as simply a physical response when I suppose we can see Lauren’s actions in the context of love now. If Bo made her first kill at 18, first boyfriend, etc, then rolled around like a tumbleweed for a decade, establishing no roots and avoiding capture, it’s possible that she was very much emotionally stunted and lacked the sophistication to realize what Lauren was experiencing.

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Over the next four episodes, there are some occasional flirtations between Bo and Lauren, but nothing that seriously violates the bounds of their fiduciary relationship as doctor and patient. “Let’s see if we can ramp you back to randy…frisky even,” Lauren says with a smile as she prepares Bo’s injections in the next episode, but by the time she asks Bo to take off her jacket, she’s all business again. Later, they bump into each other at the Dal (episode 104) and there is some “serious sparkage,” as Kenzi puts it:

Bo: Booze does not affect my ability to perform, doctor.
Lauren: Well, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a drunken succubus call, so…take it easy.

But Bo is indeed intoxicated on whatever it is they all seem to imbibe in large quantities at Trick’s pub and anyway, she’s too busy trying to get Dyson’s attention. “Lauren is human,” she comments drily to Kenzi, “I sleep with her and she dies.” Then she promptly goes off to have revenge threesome sex with a married couple as Dyson looks on unhappily. I’m not seeing the love yet, Bo, but it speaks volumes about Lauren’s developing feelings for you that she has been willing to take a major risk to help you at all. Do you fully appreciate that?

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Valksy

As an aside, with regard to Bo and Kenzi drinking – Kenzi’s troubled childhood/youth leading to acting out, plus trying to keep up with Bo helps to explain her heavy drinking. Bo’s biology is oriented towards self-repair. If her body recognizes alcohol as a toxin, it might try to counter the toxicity and it becomes hard for her to get as drunk as she races her own biology.
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A pivotal change in the relationship seems to occur in episode 106. Now, I realize we haven’t even reached the infamous “spy sex” scene (episode 108) which changes everything between them all over again, and for many episodes to follow, but I think we hear the first stirrings of something mutual and deeper than flirtation in this episode.

Valksy

I agree that 106 is pivotal. Until this point their relationship was very much grounded in curiosity around one another. But we also know that there are “missing” scenes. I think it is 106 where Lauren suggests Bo has been “practicing” in the lab. What does that mean exactly? We are missing something – the point at which Bo/Lauren go from having a largely professional relationship with some minor flirting from Bo in contrast to Lauren’s strong but largely concealed emotional response, to deciding to go socializing together. Got to wonder how each character might have viewed that event. Social for Bo, date for Lauren perhaps?

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The episode opens with Bo trying on various slinky black dresses, a push-up bra and sexy boots in front of a mirror for her “doctor’s appointment” later that evening with Lauren. Kenzi, who has an exquisitely tuned radar when it comes to Bo’s love life, thinks she detects a case of “date jitters.” But Bo insists it is “definitely, definitely not a date…maybe drinks…and dinner.” Definitely, definitely? Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

We next see Bo and Lauren at the Dal, throwing back more of that unidentified brown liquor Trick is always serving. The booze has definitely loosened somebody’s reserve: “OK, what about me, right now?” Lauren asks, sizing up Bo as Bo sizes up the sexual aura of other bar flies. “Call it scientific curiosity.” “Well….you are definitely curious,” Bo purrs, drawing herself closer (definitely, definitely not a date). “I’m not so sure it’s entirely scientific.” LOTS of sparkage here…but… something else in the look they exchange after they laugh off the moment. Sizing each other up but in a different way? Seeing each other in a new light?

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Then the “test” – can Bo stop “feeding,” once she starts? Lauren hardly needs Bo’s touch to flame on and moves in for a kiss, but Bo pulls back: “This is crazy, I don’t want to hurt you.” Feeding? Pfft. This is a compelling and barely controllable emotion for both of them at this point. Lust? Not quite. Passion? Closer. I would argue that Bo’s willingness to put her own “hunger” aside to protect Lauren (and later to defend her when Kenzi calls Lauren’s motives into question) makes this an emotion approaching love.

Valksy

The show really wants to differentiate a feed from a loving act. The rough screws between Bo and Dyson were often of necessity.

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Later in the episode, Kenzi develops a bad case of hemorrhagic fever after eating toxic Aswag foot soup, and Bo brings her to Lauren for treatment: “You take care of her,” she orders the doctor. No sparks there, although a certain longing is still evident in Lauren’s gaze. “Was it just the drink?” she must be wondering. Later, Bo decides to break into Beren Chemicals and asks Lauren to come along: “I need your help…your expertise.” This is the first time the two have “gone undercover” together to solve a mystery (move over, Rizzoli & Isles). Once again, Lauren is taking a huge risk simply by leaving the Ash’s compound, not to mention breaking both Fae and human laws, but she does so with only a moment’s hesitation.

Something interesting happens during this joint caper: they disagree about how to proceed. “I don’t want to think, Lauren! I want to do something!” says Bo, all action-oriented. “I know you’re impulsive,” Lauren responds in a gently chiding tone (well, well, that’s new!), “But we need a plan…Use your head.” And Bo, who has been giving all the orders up until now, acquiesces. When the plan later requires some improvisation, it is Lauren’s turn to yield. “We’ll do it your way,” she tells Bo, who says with mock gratitude, “Well, thank you!”

The old adage that opposites attract seems inadequate here. There is a growing admiration for each other’s strengths and abilities and – perhaps more important — a willingness to share the lead (pay close attention, Dyson). These are two equals playing a duet and having fun. “Look at you, saving my ass!” Bo says delightedly when her “Succubus it is!” doesn’t subdue a guard, prompting Lauren to resort to the old two-by-four across the head to bring him down. “I know!” Lauren responds with a note of exhiliration, “It was incredible!” You get the sense she hasn’t had this much fun in years. This is followed by a gleeful high-five when they both realize Lauren’s injections have worked — Bo was able to stop herself from sucking the life out of the guard. Hm, so you mean Bo can probably have safe sex with humans now?

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With their mission accomplished and Kenzi’s health restored, back at the lab Bo and Lauren again exchange “that look” and seem to be weighing the new possibilities in their relationship. This isn’t about “feeding.” In fact, they haven’t even had their first kiss.

Valksy

Yes, exactly, exactly so. There is no dominion here – the two of them appreciate their differences and find a way to work together. It is mutual. We tend to focus of the loving stares, the touches, the intimacy. But there is more in play and it is so easy to overlook that. In many ways, it is another version of Bo and Lauren debating Bo’s trip to Grimley in episode 307 – they find a way to each contribute.

This may be a conceptual error with Dyson – he is a physical warrior archetype. But so is Bo. So either he steps on her feet and gets in her way (episode 221 and his fuck-up that gets Clara killed) or he has nothing much to do.

Bo and Lauren balance one another – strength and intellect are contrasts that are complimentary. Strength and strength is not at all.

I had forgotten Bo dressing up and taking care to look good. Notice how she does this again early in season 2 (episode 202) to try and re-ignite Dyson’s interest. She thinks that looking good is good enough and doesn’t conceptualize that she could wear a potatoe sack and if they like/care for/love you, it doesn’t matter. It’s not exactly mature, self-aware processing, is it?

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The following episode opens with Bo mediating between squabbling past and future lovers. “Look, a threesome!” she jokes lamely when Lauren joins her and Dyson on a couch at the Dal. There is a growing tension between Lauren and Dyson as each becomes more aware of Bo’s affections for the other. Lauren is cool but restrained in her interactions with him; Dyson is petulant, even openly contemptuous of Lauren, which annoys Bo: “Why do you have to be…well, you!” she snaps after Dyson succeeds in driving Lauren away. Hm, allegiances seem to be shifting. In the same episode, when Bo consults Lauren about the mysterious symptoms she and Kenzi have developed (later attributed to an UnderFae spider bite) she apologizes for her “insensitivity” the night before. Lauren asks a little testily, “So, Dyson – what’s that?” but before Bo can answer, they are interrupted by Kenzi seeking treatment for her headaches.

For the remainder of the episode, Lauren’s intellectual and doctoring skills take center stage – she is poised, strong, confident, and decisive as she identifies the parasite (a bad-ass “nomadic Native American UnderFae” – gotta love it), helps Dyson track down the source, and cuts out it’s heart — reducing Dyson to a walk-on part and earning Trick’s grudging respect. Back in the lab, Bo’s admiration for Lauren’s “nerdness” is evident in her expression as Lauren launches into a jargon-heavy scientific explanation – she suggests later brains is even a turn-on for her: “Science… it’s nifty…But what really matters is you saved us. You’re getting awfully good at doing that.”

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Dyson tries to rain on Lauren’s parade, calling her inconsistent and untrustworthy, but Lauren gives as good as she gets: “Is it really my loyalties you’re worried about, or that this time I was Bo’s hero?” Zing! She then looks at Bo with a knowing, satisfied smile that says, “You’re mine and we both know it.”

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When Dyson tries to undermine Lauren at the end of the episode (“She’s too close to the Ash and you’re just too close to her…I don’t trust her”) Bo cuts him short: “Well, I do. If there’s one thing I can say about Lauren, it’s that she cares. Are you willing to say the same thing?” Double zing!

I’ll say it again: Bo and Lauren’s love story began well before their first kiss. It nearly ends when they finally do go to bed in the next episode, but it is noteworthy how deeply betrayed and hurt Bo feels when she thinks it was only “spy sex” – Lauren is clearly not just another fuck-buddy. There’s something deeper, tender and ineffable involved; I’d call it love. It takes the whole of season 2, with many twists and turns and selfless sacrifices – this time by Bo for Lauren’s sake – before Bo is ready to make the arresting declaration that got me hooked on the series: “It’s time – us.” But if love is true, the commitment remains constant through the best and worst of circumstances. Their love seems true to me. Said Paul to the Corinthians, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Valksy (who should always have the last word):

It’s a powerful and meaningful thing to a lot of us. To be simply gifted something equitable, credible, and authentic matters.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lost Girl Episode 513: Family Portrait

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
[Edgar Allan Poe, ”The Raven”]

Valksy

In a more perfect world I would have wailed in anguish at the cliffhangers within this episode, and then eagerly waited for the next chapter – a sixth season – to continue the story. I feel so ready for so much more but, sadly, the curtain is being prepared to fall and what would have been a baited enticement now seems more like the rushed denouement of tying off loose ends and playing out the show’s final gambit.

I appreciate that the tone of rather relentless darkness might have been off-putting to some, but I was reminded that Lost Girl has always had a firm root in the horror genre. In the series premiere episode alone, Bo hamstrings a Fae combatant, then cuts his throat. In the first season we also see incidences of decapitation and infanticide, as well as main characters being beaten and brutalized. The tone in episode 513 seemed to be far more like the original pilot, episode 108 (Vexed). How welcome this darker vision is, of course, subjective. But in a world where nature is red in tooth and claw it makes a great deal of sense to me to return to a world that is menacing, frightful and violent.

And yet beyond the graphic violence, I find myself reflecting more on the conceptual horror of Lauren’s possession by Zee. Although Lauren’s actions in trying to become Fae can be seen in terms of rebellion against human shortcomings, her sense of despair at her own frailty are ever more palpable in this episode. How does visceral or gory body horror compare to the trauma of mental violation, the devastation of subjugation, and the theft of feeling secure in your own self and identity?

From what Elizabeth tells us about the experience of being inhabited by Zee, awareness remains present (Elizabeth comforted and distracted herself by singing songs). There is nothing to suggest the inhabited person becomes a kind of unconscious Manchurian Candidate. Imagine Lauren’s experience — similarly present and aware of Zee’s actions, not strong enough to resist or repel her (all the Ancients seemed to have selected human hosts, perhaps for the singular reason that human nature has no defense), not knowing whether Zee’s intent was merely to talk to Bo or to attack her. She would be watching helplessly from the sidelines, compelled to both witness and unwittingly participate in Zee’s actions. Lauren was simultaneously a powerless victim and a direct threat to Bo, both puppet and weapon.

Lauren’s line “What’s to recover from? The guilt, humiliation, of almost getting myself killed?” struck me as deeply illuminating of her present motive, and I wonder how much these sensations informed her choice to turn away from Bo. To be used and degraded, to endanger Bo and confound Bo’s ability to fight, all because of her humanity? Wanting to be Fae for the longer lifespan is one thing; this expression of helplessness, almost to the point of shame that she could not stand up for herself or for Bo, is a much darker and more harrowing concern. If we also reflect on Lauren’s remark to Tamsin “When have I ever been normal?” is there a hint of a woman troubled by deep doubt? It seems clear to me that she is not doubting Bo, or love, but herself. The notion of simply not being good enough has the power to rip confidence and self-assurance to ribbons.

A further supporting line that inferiority, by virtue of her humanity, is weighing on Lauren’s mind can be noted in what may seem like a throwaway line in her conversation with Tamsin in the lab. When Lauren says “Of course, you just wake up like that, naturally flawless” is it a churlish remark about another (rival?) woman’s appearance? Or is it an awareness that many Fae seem gifted by having a default look which never seems to change. Is Lauren expressing envy at Tamsin, or the apparent effortlessness of being Fae? I am inclined to believe the latter, and understand it as an expression of frustration at being “only human”.

Lauren’s actions in trying to be Fae show she clearly understood the practical reality of being with Bo, and regarded it as a battle to be fought and won. Lauren’s inability, her intellectual failure, to defy nature may be a further aspect of the crisis of self I have just described. But the concept of – comparatively speaking – premature death is not novel, despite her sudden behavior in episode 512 (Judgement Fae). The most significant change, and arguably the catalyst for Lauren’s choice to end her relationship, is the act of possession. With the associated burden of her perceived weakness, the fallout of shock and fright, and the admitted sense of being humiliated at being forced to act against her will in mind, is there an intentional parallel between Lauren being possessed by Zee, and Nadia being possessed by the Garuda? We saw a grieving Lauren after Nadia’s death towards the end of season two — is Lauren’s focus on how Bo might react to her (Lauren’s) death, and the desire to spare her from it, because this parallel also registered for Lauren? Does Lauren’s wish to spare Bo pain make more sense if she is projecting her own experience of grief (from the Nadia storyline) onto Bo?

If it seems like I am trying to construct a narrative from just a few lines, applying my own interpretation and adding additional theories, then perhaps this can be taken as my own way of exploring the most interesting concept that this episode puts forward. In a conversation with Bo, Tricks says: “When someone recounts the past it becomes a narrative, a story, I have mine, your mother has hers, and he has his. And now you, Bo Dennis, need yours. And for it to be true, you need to draw your own conclusions.” Is this scene a meta-communication to viewers, myself included, who explore the world of Lost Girl from our own perspective?

How many times have we Doccubus fans seen fans who favor other “ships” seem to describe a show that we don’t recognize! The most obvious example is the notorious “spy bang” in episode 108 (Vexed). The fact that Lauren was a slave was clearly stated, and yet this was either disregarded as irrelevant, or the notion of a slave having no physical autonomy was ignored, because it did not suit the preferred internal narrative of some viewers. The fact that Kenzi as a character also mischaracterized what happened, applying her own baggage to the narrative, is a fictional version of the animus that Lauren’s reasonable actions earned from real world viewers.

And yet, I recognize that I am also providing some degree of personal narrative input to the past plotline. That Lauren was enslaved is an objective truth, and I accept that she had no option without having more evidence. When Lauren had sex with Bo, seemingly at the Ash’s order, we did not know the coercive power that he held over her beyond ownership. Was there evidence of the consequences of disobedience? Should Lauren have accepted these consequences if it meant not doing harm to Bo? When we later learned that the Ash could have held Nadia’s death over Lauren’s head as her Sword of Damocles, did we re-visit what happened? Is Lauren’s willingness to place her own safety ahead of Bo’s illustrative of her character? Or is it more true to say that it is illustrative of how she was perceiving Bo at the time? My subjective interpretation is that Bo would have been more forgiving if she’d understood that this was Lauren’s only choice to stay safe and to protect Nadia.

While the blame for malfeasance in episode 108 ultimately and unquestionably remains with the Ash, is there an ethical question in the slavery/“spybang” storyline that viewers edited subjectively in a constructed narrative of their/our own? Are we taking the threads that Lost Girl offered us, and using them to weave a more complete story and character tapestry? How many “histories” of this particular event could be constructed — both by characters and the viewership?

I see no disapproval in Trick’s explanation of subjective viewpoints in history — beyond a need to recognize their existence. For the show to at least acknowledge the possibility of “truth” being mutable would be an interesting choice because it would be close to a confession that all that ambiguity we’ve been wrestling with is at least explainable, if not actually intentional.

I don’t dispute that this episode had flaws. I was surprised by how unmoved I was by the deaths of Trick and Aife, which seemed like a desperate appeal to emotion (as character deaths tend to be). I never read Trick as a benevolent Grandfather figure; there was always a strong sense of duplicitousness to his actions. His solution to conflict was to hide rather than face truth — from concealing his identity as the Blood King to keeping secrets from Bo and consigning Aife to dungeons and hospitals. The fact that this led to his demise did not surprise me. There has always been a sense that secrecy, and the lies needed to sustain it, will inevitably do more harm than good; Trick paid the ultimate price.

The rebuttal to Trick’s consistent mendacity is Bo’s statement: “Keeping me in the dark does not protect me”. I cheered at this line, and it has been a long time in coming! The better part of this episode were the character details on display. I am much more happy to see an appropriately mature Bo who can get along with Lauren because there is as task at hand, than drunk Bo or Bo in a negligee on a swing, acting out her frustration at ending a relationship  Dyson (as we saw in season 2).

I was also glad to see Tamsin independently choosing honesty as the best policy, in admitting she and Bo had sex, first during the bar conversation with Lauren, and again in the shack with Bo and Lauren. Tamsin’s reaction to realizing she was raped by Jack was heartbreaking and it is entirely within character that Bo would immediately reach out. It is also Bo who attempts to exact immediate retributive justice by stabbing Jack, which is consistent with her character as we have known it from the series premiere.

[Sidebar: I really hope there is an extremely good reason for this pregnancy storyline. A laughing Jack mocking the woman he violated was deeply unpleasant].

I can accept that Lauren — who has typically been the character who provides solutions to dilemmas — is facing doubt and questioning everything she thinks she knows. Lauren has typically come to the rescue of Bo and all her allies with Science. Her apparent failure in the past few episodes appears to have challenged the character. It is also reasonable that Bo does not pursue a further debate on their relationship when she has the opportunity — respecting Lauren’s wishes is the honorable choice to make.

I am tempted to hope that (another) major character exit may indicate that Bo and Lauren will survive the final episode, unless the show intends to annihilate its entire cast! Do I think that their relationship will be repaired again? My biggest clue for an affirmative response is in the conversation that Lauren and Tamsin have at the Dal. It’s not that Lauren doubts her decision, but the comments made by Tamsin about — of all things! – beer suggest that sometimes you should stop overthinking everything, and try to savor and value something for its own precious sake.

Mahlers5th

Towards the end of episode 513, Trick tells Bo, When someone recounts the past, it becomes a narrative, a story. I have mine, your mother has hers and [Jack] has his. And now you, Bo Dennis, need yours. And for it to be true, you need to draw your own conclusions, find your own truth.” For five seasons, Bo has been searching for answers about her parentage, her past, and her own identity — and we’ve been right there with her, trying to puzzle out all the clues and breadcrumbs and puzzles left for us by the writers. She has passed through the Dawning, taken rides on a Death Train, travelled to Hel and back, and opened Pandora’s box in search of the capital-T Truth. But Lost Girl is a world in which memory can be erased; characters can assume other forms, inhabit other bodies, and be written out of existence; text can disappear as mysteriously as it appears in the Fae history books; dreams become prophecy; prophecy can be manipulated, and History itself can be altered with the stroke of a blood-tipped pen. In such a world, Trick suggests, the prospect of establishing “historical truth” – what actually happened – is impossible. What Bo is left with is finding her own narrative truth – an explanation, a story that feels most true, real, and coherent to her.

This theme is implicitly or explicitly addressed throughout the episode. Did Aife go to Jack’s penthouse because she genuinely wanted to get back together with him or was she merely feigning affection as part of a plan she thought she had concocted with Bo to send him back to Tartarus? It was Jack (as Bo) who presumably proposed the plan when he visited Aife in the institution – but to what end? To set up an illusion of family unity? To make a compelling case for the story of Bo’s origins that he wants her to believe, namely, that Aife was rescued from the Dark King’s dungeon and saved from insanity by Jack, had a penchant for bad boys, fell for “the ultimate Bad Boy” and conceived Bo in love? Was it to seduce Bo into his ultimate plans for her by framing it as “rising together as a family”? Later, Aife tells Bo that everything she said at dinner about loving Jack was “true” but she was aware that he may have had other motives, that the good she thought she saw in him was illusory: “It was always about you, Bo.” Trick reinforces this version: “Think, Bo, her strength and powers, combined with my blood. The perfect fertile ground for what he wanted to create. You. There was no saving, only the intention to create and use.” Jack hints at still another possibility over dinner: “Sea urchin. Used as a model in developmental biology since the 1800’s. Artificial spawning.” Was Bo the product of some form of in vitro fertilization and genetic engineering? (Is Tamsin’s pregnancy meant to be another demonstration of Jack’s ability to fertilize through a non-penetrative act?)

Bo hopes to find “answers” among the contents of a box of Aife’s records that Trick has collected. Surely videotapes can’t lie and will offer the historical truth. Instead, all she finds are contradictions. In one tape, Aife snarls that Bo has evil inside her and should be killed. In another, someone she believes is Bo (actually Jack) visits her in the institution and she greets her lovingly. We see photographs of Bo above Aife’s bed in which Bo looks about 4 years old – roughly the same age as the little girl in the wall painting Bo discovers in Tartarus. But back in episode 102, Will o’ the Wisp tells Bo that “29 years ago” (i.e. when Bo was about one) he saw a Fae midwife – identified in episode 108 as Lou Ann Heidinger — crashing through a forest carrying an infant with Bo’s birthmark : “She was afraid. Someone was trying to hurt you.” By age 4, the Bo we know was being raised by the Dennis family and Aife was still imprisoned in Tartarus.

In one of her very best performances in the series, Inga Cadranel (as Aife) struggles to reconcile her conviction that Bo visited her in the hospital with Bo’s own adamant denial that the event ever took place. It isn’t Bo who drives Aife mad as much as Aife’s inability to reconcile and integrate these multiple versions of reality. In one of the final scenes of the episode, the bodies of Trick and Aife have been arranged – presumably by Jack – in a dramatic tableau behind a drawn curtain. Why? If this episode was originally written as a cliffhanger to whet our appetite for season 6 (as Valksy suggests) I would have been left wondering: Did that actually happen? Was that real?

I don’t know who to believe!” Bo laments at one point, speaking for all of us. We’ve spent five seasons trying to make the pieces fit, too, only to learn there may not be a single clear and satisfying Answer after all. Like Bo, it seems we’re meant to create our own meaning and formulate our own conclusions. I’m cool with that and have really enjoyed the archeological journey along the way. Whatever alchemical magic keeps us enthralled as viewers, impatient to see what comes next, Lost Girl has always offered more than enough of that kind of magic for me. It didn’t bother me that the Bo we saw in season 4 was quite different from the Bo we had come to know and love through the first three seasons. I was able to reconcile the different depictions in my own mind as a consequence of various forces acting on Bo from within and without – not the least being the complete erasure of memory she suffered while on the Death Train. I chalked up apparent inconsistencies in other characters here and there to the fact that real people in the real world are complex and full of contradictions. The contradictions made the characters more real for me, not less.

Until episode 513. That’s when Lost Girl finally lost me.

It wasn’t the Doccubus break-up in the previous episode. That scene was emotionally wrenching but compelling. While Lauren’s decision seemed inexplicable in the moment, it felt real – not that I believed that explanation she offered Bo; but on reflection, I could think of a few others that seemed plausible to me. I thought Lauren might still be dying, despite having taken the antidote, and was concealing this from Bo to allow her to focus on saving the world (the fact that Lauren looked perfectly healthy in episode 513 eliminated that hypothesis!).

At this point, I’m inclined to believe a variation of Valksy’s thesis. We agree that the break-up isn’t permanent and that Lauren is taking her distance for now so as not to endanger Bo. However, I don’t agree with Valksy that it was the fact of being inhabited by Zee that was the main source of Lauren’s sense of vulnerability and humiliation. I think it was the fact that she allowed herself to be manipulated by Jack to the point of injecting herself with a nearly lethal serum on his say-so, endangering Bo and almost getting herself killed in the process. She doesn’t trust herself not to be taken in again or sees herself as too easy a mark for Jack’s manipulations, too susceptible to his formidable powers, and is unwilling to be used to compromise, hurt or endanger Bo. I know other viewers came to different conclusions about whether the scene made sense or was merely a manipulative plot device, but for me the pieces fit.

What changed in episode 513 was that in an effort to cram in plot, authenticity of character was sacrificed. The novelist-screenwriter Raymond Chandler once wrote that a good plot is one which makes good scenes and that the ideal mystery is one you would read even if the end was missing. In one of the early scenes of episode 513, Lauren calls Dyson – not Bo (who is standing right next to him) – to say that Jack has escaped. That already seemed odd, but whatever. When they meet in the lab, Bo and Lauren barely exchange a word or look. They seem to be ignoring each other. Whether that was intentional or not, it rings false. They behaved, if not exactly like strangers, then certainly not like two women deeply in love who have just painfully separated. Their interaction felt contrived. Where was that famous chemistry? The episode has Lauren telling us about it but it’s nowhere in evidence.

In a subsequent conversation with Tamsin, Lauren asks after Bo but it felt more perfunctory than deeply worried (“I want to be sure she’s not alone”). It seemed like a strained opening for Tamsin to confess she had sex with “Bo” and for Lauren to say that she doesn’t have the right to control Bo’s actions – she is free to do as she pleases. Very noble, Lauren, but you don’t care if Bo slept with Tamsin? Not one tiny bit? Nothing warranting a fleeting look of pain, jealousy, grief, anything?! And really, what’s up with Lauren anyway?! She’s suddenly super awkward geeky with the emotional IQ of, well, a sea urchin. Tamsin has just told her she’s dying, no legacy, no biggie and Lauren wants to know about new facial creams and night masks and to discuss Tamsin’s symptoms over a hoppy beer. This Lauren was a caricature of Lauren.

I could find nothing in the story to explain or justify this apparent personality regression, nor the aloofness between Bo and Lauren. Instead of disappearing into the story, I felt distracted and annoyed by the emotional inconsistencies. Doccubus has always been the heart of the show for me and I’ve cheered or suffered with each change in fortune in their relationship, but this was different. I stopped caring what happens to them. I don’t know if that also explains why, despite powerful performances by Inga Cadranel and Rick Howland, I felt strangely unmoved by the deaths of Trick and Aife.

I’m prepared to deal with whatever fate has been meted out for Bo and Lauren by the writers as long as the fit of the pieces takes on “aesthetic finality”. But it may be that the writers were obliged to pull things together in a hurry and to bring this long, wonderful story to a close sooner than they had anticipated. If that is the case, I’m prepared to forgive a few mistakes! If this show and these characters hadn’t meant so damn much to me, I would have shrugged off the inconsistencies and changed the channel. But I know I’ll miss them terribly when they’re gone, so I’ll be trying to savor and value the last three episodes as something precious.

Narrative truth can be defined as the criterion we use to
decide when a certain experience has been captured to our satisfaction; it depends on continuity and closure and the extent to which the fit of the pieces takes on an aesthetic finality. Narrative truth is what we have in mind when we say such and such is a good story, that a given
explanation carries conviction, that one solution
to a mystery must be true. Once a given construction
has acquired narrative truth, it becomes just as real
as any other kind of truth.

[Donald Spence, Narrative Truth and Historical Truth, 1982]

mangababe

“Bo [is] grappling with different narratives of her past” – Michael Grassi on “Family Portrait” episode 513

When a television series is pitched, sold, and put into production, the creator and/or show runner will often have a comprehensive series “bible” outlining the background story to the world, the characters, and their grounding motivations (ie what drives them from their introduction) – it is this which gives the writers a world and framework within which to build their stories.

Whether we actively recognize it or not, when we spend the time indulging in our favorite stories, such as Lost Girl, the stories and characters we see often play a part in helping us to understand our own “story”. Who we are. Where we came from. What “family” means for us.

And “Family Portrait” in particular, is focused on Bo finally unraveling the differing stories that she has been told since she found out that she is not human, but Fae.

Both Mahlers5th and Valksy have touched on the theme of “narrative truth” – that which becomes our truth as we create our story day-by-day, year-after-year.

In my case, there was a time when I was a little kid, being asked by a Chinese relative what my given Chinese name was, and I had no answer. I didn’t know. When I asked my parents, they couldn’t remember. My dad said that I’d been given one by his father (from whom he’d been estranged for many years) when I was born, but somehow, no one wrote it down and it was lost.

I found this distressing as a little girl searching for what it meant to be bi-racial. Sound familiar?

Eventually, I gave up and realized that my Chinese name died with my grandfather when I was 9 years old. It only stopped bothering me when I stopped caring because there was no story other than “forgotten and lost”. It took me into my 20’s to accept that there are some stories and truths which will never be adequately explained or understood; sanity requires letting go, accepting the existing narrative for what “is” and moving on.

So what does this story have to do with Lost Girl?

Honestly?

The only reason I haven’t completely given up on Lost Girl has to do with my ability to just let go of anything making sense and enjoy the pretty.

It may sound incredibly shallow of me, given how much a truthful narrative — the story of a bisexual woman as protagonist and a loving relationship between two women — would mean to me and others whose narrative has never been shown or truthfully told in media.

Since the middle of Season 3, neither the characters nor the overall narrative have made any sense. The arc of the series seems to vary from writer to writer, and season to season. Remember what I said about a show “bible”? I swear it feels like the series bible was tossed out somewhere around S3. It doesn’t make me love Lost Girl any less, because in the larger picture, it’s still a damn important piece of world changing television.

However, the last two episodes have been so out of character and disjointed that it makes me wonder where the hell we’re going.

Break up Bo and Lauren AGAIN? Sure, whatever. And the next episode they go back to being best friends sans benefits. *sigh*

The only thing that makes sense now is that Bo is the product of an evil and twisted mind – a weapon of sorts – the culmination of two incredibly dangerous powers united in one being. And unfortunately, I think that Aoife did love “Jack” for rescuing her from the Dark dungeons, but she’s a victim of Stockholm syndrome. So while she may have willingly consented to sex with Jack, she may have later realized exactly what his plan was and as such realized that her daughter would be a mix of both Dark and Light, both powerful and dangerous if not educated about the entirety of her powers.

I don’t think Trick is any better morally than any of the other Ancients; looking back to the first season, his motivation is just as suspect. He has kept Bo in the “dark” because he is well aware of how much power she carries…and I think his motivations have been to keep that knowledge from the general Fae population as well as from Bo herself. It’s his way of exerting control over a situation in which he had no control after giving up his only daughter for the “good” of all Fae.

And finally, I think Jack/Hades has realized that he will never truly control his daughter. She continues to be the “unaligned” Succubus shunning both Dark and Light, especially because of her love for Lauren and her love for all beings, not just Fae. “You wear her humanity like a shield.”

In the side stories of Hades tricking Aoife and Tamsin (really? that was just as tasteless as episode 407), I see a nothing but plot devices to separate Bo from her chosen family, much like his helping/tempting Lauren with the power of Fae biology. And Dyson? Well, regardless of pledging fealty to Bo at the end of S4, his history as Trick’s lap dog makes him just as guilty. He has continually and deliberately kept knowledge of many things from Bo in his attempt to “protect” her. Like she really needs it.

I think Bo –being the melding of both Darkness and the Blood Mage — actually has the power to kill an Ancient, but it may be at the cost of her humanity. Where as the Ancients all seem to have some weakness that keeps them from destroying one another.

I understand why Anna has said these last two episodes are her favorites; she got to act the hell out of them! Bo had all the action and emotion, even if she wasn’t the one driving the plot forward. The action continues to prove (and has since the middle of Season 3) that she’s still just along for the ride. I guess these last few episodes will tell if Bo will finally be able to live the life SHE chooses.

I’m still here…dug in, with Scotch in hand, ready to ride out the last ever *sob* episodes. I sure as hell hope TPTB prove me wrong and there’s some sort of happy ending. Either that or “fade to black” with the gunshot like the Sopranos…

Lost Girl Episode 512: Judgement Fae

“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

[Tennyson, In Memorium A.H.H]

“Alas, I too have known love, that ruler of hearts,
that soul of our soul; it’s never brought me anything
except one kiss and twenty kicks in the rump. How could such a beautiful cause produce such an abominable effect on you?”

[Voltaire, Candide: or Optimism]

Valksy

As the titles rolled on episode 512 I was sure that I would not be alone in a sense of frustration, bewilderment and sadness at what I had just witnessed. How could Lauren break Bo’s heart (and ours) with an argument which seemed so completely out of character for her? The Lauren we have known was always brave and principled, if flawed by recklessness (usually in the search for knowledge). Did the Lauren who loved and stood by a comatose Nadia — a woman who might never recover, look at her, touch her, smile at her again  — seem the same person who would turn away from someone she loved just because she was afraid that the final act of a loving lifetime would not be an idyll? It truly made no sense to me at all. Either the character was being re-written, or had been badly realized in this episode, or it was more of a plot device than a legitimate commentary on the nature and validity of the relationship itself.

[Sidebar: If it is a plot device, it is understandable to me why fans are angry. We’ve been there, done that already in Season 3, and once was most definitely enough. It feels like a devilish manipulation of our feelings. But if time is now short and the closing act is approaching, I’d have to wonder if this was an expedient choice to briskly advance the story].

But what if it is a true – if painful – relationship development? Showrunner Michael Grassi
describes the break-up as “real” in the post-episode interview
[http://www.cinefilles.ca/2015/09/28/lost-girl-talk-judgement-fae/ ] but real in the world of
Lost Girl is a subjective term! I think it fair to say we can rule out shapeshifting/body possession here, dream sequence or any other such trick. Did it happen? Yes. But the question has to be — what does it actually mean and I do think that there is still plenty of ambiguity (I know, I know, rivers in Egypt….).

I loved Bo’s vehement and fierce declaration — almost to the point of outrage — that she would never turn her back on the woman she loved, even as she grows old. In this statement alone, I saw the Bo that had always moved me, the same woman whose morality and character were tested in the courtroom scene. Bo has always accepted the fact of Lauren’s mortality and if she perceives that the quality of love – not the assumed quantity — is the most valid parameter, then I must applaud her for it.

The simple truth is that the length of Bo’s lifetime is no more certain than Lauren’s. Bo may have the theoretical capacity to live for thousands of years, but that doesn’t mean she actually will. Bo’s heroic nature puts her constantly in harm’s way. Heroes can burn bright, but burning short is always a possibility. Should she say to Lauren, “I may fall in battle one day and don’t want you to witness that”? Bo’s choice is clear enough — even if time is short, their love is still worthy of the risks and the possibility of future pain. Seize life, Lauren! And don’t try to choose for others.

Mahlers5th
Freedom of choice or choosing for others is a central theme of this episode and of the series. The “inner justice” Bo learns in the court room test is one she really has known all along: I will live the life I choose and I will respect others’ right to do the same, whatever the consequences. Protecting people sometimes means supporting them in their decisions – even if the “right” choice for them feels utterly “wrong” to you. As shattering as the break up is for Bo, she respects Lauren’s decision, lets her go and accepts “it’s over”– just as Philip is ultimately prepared to let his partner walk away, just as Dyson lets Alicia go; he loves her, he fears for her safety now that she has “gone Fae,” but in the end he can’t claim her.

Bo’s acceptance of Lauren’s right to choose stands in sharp contrast to the machinations of Jack who exerts power by making others act against their own best interests or do what they would rather not do (Bo killing Iris/Cece). He gives others the illusion of choosing freely (“I can only lead you to the water, but cannot force you to drink”) when in fact their “choices” are the end result of a dizzyingly elaborate series of chess moves seemingly orchestrated centuries in advance.

Let’s take Lauren’s decision to end the relationship with Bo. If we rewind the tape, you could argue that the break-up was set in motion the moment Lauren decided to inject herself with Hades’ “benign” virus. “Sometimes a catalyst that appears the most innocuous can cause the most damage,” he tells Lauren, “Think of it as a Trojan horse.” Like the Trojan horse — a “gift” from the Greeks which concealed legions of soldiers who promptly sacked Troy – Hades’ “gift” of scientific knowledge doesn’t give Lauren the longevity she hoped for but a bad case of rapidly progressing and fatal Parkinson’s disease.

Was the serum’s failure part of his plan? Almost certainly. Did Hades have reason to predict that Lauren would administer the antidote and revert to being human? He forced her hand. Her life was in peril. It was either give up her wish to stay with Bo by surrendering Faedom, or die.

But how could Hades have known this turn of events would lead Lauren to break things off with Bo? I can think of five possibilities:

1) Hades exerted a direct influence on Lauren’s choices and actions.

It may be that through changes in Lauren’s brain induced by the serum – or perhaps by the transfer of Hades’ blue power to Lauren in episode 510 — Hades is able to exert some degree of mind control. Zee warns Bo that Hades is a master manipulator and hints that he may have already “infiltrated” Lauren. Given that Zee was hitching a ride with Lauren at the time, perhaps she has some insider information about that. If Jack is able to appear in the form of Bo at the end of the episode, couldn’t he have taken over Lauren, too? If Lauren’s decision seems out of character, perhaps it is because her free agency has already been directly compromised by Jack.

I tend to doubt – and certainly resist — this line of thinking, As much as Lauren’s choice seems inexplicable, the authenticity of her feelings in the moment is undeniable, with no trace of an interfering entity. Anyway, the Lost Girl writers would never have Bo and Hades kissing each other as lovers in that break-up scene, would they? That’s as ridiculous as thinking they would have Hades marry his niece or Bo seduce her step-mother. Oh wait…

2) Hades exerted an indirect influence on Lauren’s choices.

The experience of a fatal illness may have brought Lauren up short and given her a glimpse into what growing old could look like — not dying peacefully in her sleep with Bo at her bedside, but becoming progressively weak, incapacitated, and demented. The latter would be especially terrifying to a woman who values her Intellect so highly – something Hades would probably have realized. Lauren clearly wants to spare Bo the dreadful ordeal of watching her deteriorate and die – she tells her as much in the break-up scene — but maybe she also wanted to spare herself the possibility of becoming utterly dependent on Bo for care and protection. In facing terminal illness, many fear the prospect of losing control most of all. Could Hades –with his uncanny ability to read and prey on a person’s vulnerabilities and insecurities – have predicted that a glimpse into that possible ending would be enough to induce Lauren to break off the relationship?

Yeah, that wasn’t an entirely satisfactory explanation to me either!

3) Lauren was scared about having lost herself, to the point of making the reckless decision to trust Hades.

She did it out of love for Bo and her desperate “obsession” to be with Bo at all costs but realizes it could have had – perhaps has already had – dire consequences for both of them. She can’t trust herself not to make the same mistake again and is – somewhat paradoxically – breaking things off to protect Bo.

4) Lauren suspects Bo may have already been infiltrated or infested by Jack.

Perhaps she learned something when she was inside Zee and is trying to take her distance without tipping Jack off.

5) Lauren is still sick.

The antidote changed her back from conduit to human, but the cellular degeneration caused by Hades’ virus continues (as it has in Evony). If this is the case, Lauren would be working feverishly to find the cure — for Evony as much as herself. But for now that vision of lapsing into a helpless demented state looms as a real and imminent threat. So why not share her predicament with Bo rather than break things off?

Lauren knows Bo would care for her to her last dying breath. She also knows the world can ill-afford to have Bo — the hero, the protector – hang up her spurs at this particular moment and retire from the good fight to become a full-time nursemaid. The Devil is in our midst and the end of the world is upon us. Lauren does what we would expect her to do under these circumstances and it seems fully in character – she chooses to sacrifice her love and fall on her sword for Bo, without burdening her with the real reason she is setting her free.

Some viewers may object that in the break-up scene, Lauren talks about Bo loving her “when I’m old and grey and losing my mind for real,” suggesting this is a future event, not an imminent risk, and that she is no longer dying. But I was struck by the pain and urgency
in her voice when she said it, as if Lauren has reason to believe they would be facing that scenario sooner rather than later. I was also curious about the fact that when Bo asked Lauren, “ Are you okay?” and pressed her further, “ And you’re healthy?” Lauren doesn’t give her a direct answer either time. Watch the scene again – if you can bear it — with the idea in mind that Lauren believes she is still dying or descending imminently into dementia. Watch her eyes, when she tears over. See what you think.

Why does Jack take this elaborate round-about route to engineer the break up? Plausible deniability — the break-up can’t have his handprints on it. Bo needs to believe Lauren was making the choice freely. She goes straight to Hades after Lauren leaves and confronts him: “Bravo! Your master plan worked. Lauren and I are done. This is what you wanted!” But just a little sweet-talking from Jack (“Babe, I didn’t come here to ruin your life”) and a disingenuous offer to “step back” and let Bo “sort things out” has her throwing herself into his arms for comfort.

Valksy

It is important to remember that Evony, who has been turned human, is also suffering from an accelerated health condition and is in peril. I admit that I find it a shame that Lauren does not make a final choice for herself of her own volition, that the risk of a health complication removes any philosophical debate on longevity or immortality, and removes any relationship negotiation. From a story or character perspective, “change or die” is simply not as compelling as choosing for oneself and selecting “human.” It should be noted that Kenzi also opted for a facsimile of Fae powers when given the chance — a choice that also had a cost and served a story purpose. Is there a commentary here that humanity is inferior to Fae?

Mahlers5th

I would have said the opposite – being Fae isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be and changing the natural order of things has bad consequences.

Valksy

Presumably, the condition that Evony is in will also preclude Bo from making the choice to renounce her own Faedom in order to live a natural human lifespan with Lauren. Renouncing power and near longevity for the sake of love would have been a powerful choice, even more meaningful than Lauren’s desperate grasp for quasi-immortality (arguably she gains more than she loses). But if we have learned anything from Trick about trying to rewrite history in the world of Lost Girl, it is that it comes with consequences — uniformly bad consequences.

Despite all of Lauren’s intellect, biology is conspiring to make them star-crossed lovers. A cruel irony for Lauren, as the only person whom her prodigious scientific skills have not been able to “save” is herself.

From a plot point of view, the most obvious conclusion to be made is that love is strength, shield and inspiration to Bo — not just in hoping for it and believing in it, as we saw her express a longing for a mate and a “normal” life in episode 108 (“Vexed”) but as literal armor against evil. Feeling abandoned and hopeless, Bo gives up on and all but renounces love – with a gentle nudge in that direction from Hades who tells her, “People like us can’t love.” Dyson may remind her that it is better to “love and lose,” and they share a moment of solidarity, but does Bo believe him? It is refreshing to see a more circumspect Dyson than a predatory would-be love interest. However the story finally plays out, I will always think that the “triangle” did none of the characters any favors.

While Michael Grassi explains in the post-episode interview [http://www.cinefilles.ca/2015/09/28/lost-girl-talk-judgement-fae/ ] that we are witnessing a shapeshifted Jack, and not Bo, I know that I missed the cue for this. The closing scenes of the episode are some of the more disturbing sequences that Lost Girl has offered. My initial belief was that the digital overlay of Jack’s face onto Bo’s — suggesting that Bo is, at least in part, infested or possessed — made Tamsin an unwitting victim to something truly monstrous.

Whether Bo has been possessed or replaced, what changed to give Jack this power, and where on Earth is Bo? Or has he been doing this all along (good grief, I hope not, the story would no longer be an enticing mystery and would entangle itself into the most appalling Gordian Knot!). While in Hephaestus’ smithy, Lauren/Zee says: “ Hades may seem benign, but he is a master manipulator. He’ll infiltrate every inch of your life… He’s evil, Bo, pure and ugly evil. Looks like he’s already started. Who is it? The Valkyrie? The Wolf? Oh right, the Doctor.” With Zee inhabiting Lauren when she says this, the statement is surely a clue-by-four aimed right at Bo, who responds with, “I will never let my father get between me and Lauren.” A few scenes later, the relationship is over and Jack is infesting Bo. How convenient! That convenience is exactly why I don’t really believe that this can truly be the moment where love has died.

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I don’t believe the break-up is permanent, either, although the wedding seems a tad less likely given time constraints.

The last word goes to Voltaire:

“It is love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sentient beings, love, tender love.”

[Voltaire, Candide: or, Optimism]

Lost Girl Episode 511 – “Sweet Valkyrie High”

Her wounds came from the same source as her power.
[Adrienne Rich, “Power,” 1978]

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As the closing titles began to roll, reflecting on the story that continued to be revealed, I could not help but recognize one distinct fact about this episode: it was a tale told about women, by women, with very little male presence. While Trick had an exposition scene and Jack is still heavily featured of course (he is at the core of Bo’s story), there was no side bar secondary plot, no concessions made to artificially shoehorn Dyson or Mark into a narrative where they simply did not belong. When a male mercenary shows up to claim Freyja, Tamsin and Acacia dispense with him with a delightful one-two punch. I admit I was overjoyed at the confident and unapologetic emphasis of “girl power.”

Once my admitted enjoyment of all things female featured in the episode had passed (I really think that Emmanuelle Vaugier stole the show with a great performance), I began to think about the strong character beats and efficient development that had just taken place, in contrast to the occasional wallowing that the show has been guilty of. Is this a consequence of unnecessary fat being trimmed from the story as the final act approaches?

Although not the central focus of the “A” plot, Bo’s good-hearted nature and her leadership are clearly on display as she rallies in support and protection of those she cares about and also those who arguably deserve her enmity but instead receive her kindness. Where Lauren becomes exasperated by Evony’s “stubborn resistance” to having lab tests, Bo understands and avoids calling attention to her very “human” fear of needles; in a lovely gesture, she quietly comforts Evony with a benign exercise of her seduction powers. This impulse to nurture appears again in the face of Evony’s vehement “Don’t touch me! I don’t need your help!” after learning she is seriously ill. The scene encapsulates the overall theme of many of the scenes between all of the women in the episode — vulnerability and trust.

Evony’s willingness to accept her own mortality and vulnerability, and her humility in accepting that the care offered is both necessary and sincere, is probably her most human moment. Without facing her mortality, letting go of the past, and expressing gratitude for Lauren’s friendship, Evony’s character evolution might not have been believable. Showing fear without hopelessness, defiance without hatred, Evony moves beyond the shallow fluff of Fae-hood to something far more profound. Lauren’s ministrations are the catalyst for this pivotal moment of growth, but it is Bo’s fundamental good spirit which allows it to flourish.

[Sidebar: I also must note that while the term “Succuslut” made me wince — I don’t like that word usage when connected to Bo — it is not out of character for Evony, and her invoking of it did not have any malignant intent, any more than her calling Lauren a “moron” was a genuine slur. These sharp and salty character tics perhaps stopped Evony from becoming too disempowered or submissive, although I can’t help but protest “slut” making another unwelcome appearance.]

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I second your sentiments about Emmanuelle Vaugier. She turned in a masterful performance, perhaps her finest of the whole show. It’s not easy to convey Evony’s conflicting emotions as the reality of her sickness begins to sink in – thinly-disguised fear, shame about her “weakness,” and poignant vulnerability, papered over with her usual sarcastic bravado, stubborn pride, and need to reassert control (“Wake up you two! What are you waiting for?! I want the hand job!”). Emmanuelle manages the subtlety, range and depth of emotion beautifully and with great economy of word, gesture, look, and tone – something for which the writer deserves equal credit.

Learning to be vulnerable and remain vulnerable, without a sense of shame or weakness, trusting that others can and want to help – even those who have hurt you in the past — these are all central themes of the episode, along with the powerful message that learning to be vulnerable paradoxically makes you stronger. Both Evony and Tamsin learn that lesson; by the end of the episode Tamsin schools both of her former mentors, besting Acacia in a “doubt-off” and dictating who will be in charge of which realm in the Afterlife.

However, learning to be vulnerable also enables you to exploit vulnerability in others. Being able to read the other’s “inner truth,” personal fears, and insecurities can be used to soothe and heal (as Bo did with Evony) or it can be used as a weapon to control and manipulate others (Hades is a master at this). As a student under the dual tutelage of Acacia and Freyja, Tamsin wrestles with this choice: is her true role as a Valkyrie to give comfort and care to the downed soldier or to intercept soldiers in battle and win wars using her power of doubt?

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Bo’s first overture to Tamsin in the opening scenes is a request to discuss their problem – a statement which might have caused many viewers to throw up hands in frustration because now Bo wants to talk?! Except as the interaction between the two women develops through the episode, Bo’s instinct to “fix” a problem becomes more pronounced and she eventually issues a firm directive to Tamsin: “Something is going on with you, and I’m not budging until you tell me.” While I appreciate that it is Bo’s nature to want to be a problem-solver, is it acceptable in a loving relationship  to force the will of one partner over the reluctance of the other? I would not have been happy with this degree of dominant posturing if it had been directed at Lauren. Bo is much more circumspect and respectful in approaching Lauren about the “something going on” with her.

In another conversation with Acacia, and later with Bo, Tamsin comes to understand that love can be unrequited and that the options are to recognize that friendship is just as valid as, if different from, romantic love, or to let the person that you care about go. This is a lesson I think many viewers have wanted Dyson to figure out for years! I very much hope that Tamsin’s reconciliation with Bo is genuine, as it is a refreshing change of pace from the most typical (and well worn) trope of thwarted romantic interests ending in fire and brimstone! Although the opening preamble of “I will live the life I choose” is no longer present (presumably to save time), Tamsin’s experience is a valuable lesson that sometimes life will simply not choose you back, but that doesn’t have to destroy you.

While not a fan of the character in general (I have long felt that Tamsin bloated the cast and consumed too many precious minutes), I was happy to see a Fae character dig themselves out of the rut of stagnation and emotional immaturity that seem linked with longevity. Perhaps Valkyries are different from other Fae whom we have encountered in that they have lived multiple lives and seem to revert to a default tabula rasa; they have to be re-educated each time, giving them multiple chances for a “do over” – a real gift which has not been fully explored. Other Fae who have supposedly lived lifetimes lasting thousands of years somehow manage to remain cluelessly inept in interpersonal relationships and woefully lacking in emotional intelligence, often to the point of petulance.

I am pleased for fans of Tamsin that she has broken free of this mold and developed a greater depth of personality beyond whiney brat. I know that it is tempting to view friendship as inferior to romantic love, and it may not be what some fans hoped for. But loyalty, commitment, acceptance and faith in friendship are still powerful traits in a character and should not be simply dismissed as meaningless. Bo and Kenzi were pushed together as friends through circumstance; they were fortunate to be complimentary enough that Kenzi became Bo’s heart and established a quasi-familial bond. In contrast, Bo and Tamsin are choosing friendship for themselves.

It should be noted that Tamsin’s journey through this episode — from obedient (if unimaginative) student to apprentice to Acacia and her “old ways” to eventual rebel against the status quo — is another example of deft and efficient character development. In general, I am not keen on school settings and often feel that actors are stifled trying to pass as adolescents but in this case the choice of setting made sense. It provides a consistent training ground/indoctrination center for Valkyries (given that they live multiple lives and need to be reminded who they are) as well as a context in which to establish a credible mentor relationship between Acacia and Tamsin in a short timeframe.

With the emphasis on warfare — from Lauren’s invoking of Sun Tzu’s Art of War (“To know your enemy, you have to become them”) to lectures on the role of Valkyries on the battlefield as defined first by Freyja and then Acacia — the storyline seems to be establishing Tamsin as a warrior. Bo is clearly established as the leader, but she has no real experience as a soldier; it seems possible that Tamsin will fill this role as Bo’s General in the foreshadowed upcoming conflict. Tamsin may finally have found a purpose beyond her earlier roles as wise-cracking sidekick or frustrated fuck buddy and finishes the episode as a more fully realized character in her own right.

[Sidebar: We both wondered if it was merely coincidence that at a time when Hades is assembling his army, Acacia – who teaches a doctrine of intervening in battle — has been newly installed by Tamsin as Mistress of Valhalla. Just how long a game plan has Jack been playing and how do we know who is on which side of the chess board now?]

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So…is there a woman-to-woman relationship in this episode that we haven’t covered yet? Lemme think. Oh yeah. What the hell?! Bo finally wants to talk and Lauren changes the subject because, really, what’s the big deal about transforming yourself into an effin’ conduit?! Ho-Hum, nothing to see here, move on.

After episode 510, I was frankly disturbed by the direction taken with Lauren’s character. Her eyes gleamed a little too brightly when Hades purred that she seemed to like the idea that she’d found the key to ultimate power (“I can do anything!”). She seemed almost callous in the way she tested out her Mesmer power, first flinging a patient around, later making Bo dance. That’s how you tell your girlfriend that — on the advice of her satanic “bf” and in the middle of the end of the world — you’ve acted as your own guinea pig and recklessly injected yourself with an experimental serum with unknown consequences?

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This is standard practice for storytelling – “show, don’t tell.” We are shown Lauren making the accidental discovery of her power and we are shown her demonstrating that power to Bo. Sure, she could have just explained it. But that is telling, not showing. Lauren’s actions seemed to me a story-telling device rather than a character commentary.

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OK, I’ll give Lauren a pass on the flinging and dancing. But changing the subject when Bo wants to talk about it in this episode? I had trouble understanding why Lauren would conceal from Bo the Faustian bargain she seems to have struck with her future Devil-in-law for the sake of scientific knowledge. What will he claim in return? I think it’s safe to say that won’t end well.

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I have to admit the image that keeps coming to my mind is of Mickey in Fantasia – co-opting a power he shouldn’t really have and while it’s wonderful at first, sooner or later he loses control.

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Lauren might have at least held off injecting herself until it was clear that everyone – especially Bo — would survive the end of the world.

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That’s true. Heck, if you cause your own immortality (rather than longevity) and everyone else dies…well…Haven’t there been episodes of shows like The Twilight Zone that illustrate how awful it is to be the only one left standing? With no prospect of death, it would be a living hell.

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No chance Lost Girl would end on that gloomy note.

We need to talk. About Doccubus. When are Bo and Lauren going to talk, really talk? Doccubus fans have been waiting, like, forever for another kitchen scene. I still maintain that has been the single best scene in the show so far – it demonstrated so much about how these two women “get” each other. It’s hard to imagine how they would top it, although “Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” might work.

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I think the opening scene reminds us of something important about Lauren that may help explain why she seems to keep important things to herself. We see her offering Tamsin her “Rocky Toads” – a self-invention, because she just can’t resist tinkering with a classic. She is charmingly oddball and an awkward geek at the same time. There is a character beat in this sequence which screams “prodigy” to me.

We’ve always known Lauren is some sort of remarkable science savant and that may lead her to do reckless things like self-testing meds without stopping to think it through. She had a geeky science idea, pressed on with it, was perhaps a little too over committed to her experiment, and made a mistake. Is this so unusual among prodigies with brilliant, sciency, techy minds? At no point would Bo’s input have been inherently relevant.

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This seems like the appropriate moment to expand on the quote at the head of this commentary. It’s the last line of a poem by Adrienne Rich about Marie Curie — famous for having discovered radium, of course, but did you know she was also the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the only person ever to win Nobel prizes in two different fields – Chemistry and Physics? [That has nothing to do with Doccubus – I just thought it was a cool factoid my male science teacher neglected to mention].

Here’s the relevant excerpt from Rich’s poem:

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element she had purified

It seems she denied to the end
the source of cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman
denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Here is a brilliant woman, fearless or in denial (or both), chasing the truth and sacrificing her health and ultimately her life for it. Isn’t that Lauren? She is utterly fascinated by science for science’s sake (something Bo respects without having the slightest idea what Lauren’s work is about). This has been a sustaining, if solitary, passion for years. That was why Taft was able to tempt Lauren so easily – finally, here was someone who understood her geeky interests (and jokes). Similarly, Hades is able to decipher her blackboard full of hieroglyphics at a glance and knows immediately where Lauren’s mind is going.   There is something very seductive about that for Lauren.

Adrienne Rich is saying that in the end, Marie Curie didn’t know – literally – how to handle and control her power. It remains to be seen whether Lauren fares better.

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I think Lauren never assumed there was a genuine risk in injecting herself. It probably didn’t occur to her to discuss it with Bo first. She has faith in herself. During the darkest time after Nadia became comatose and before she met Bo, that faith was likely deeply sustaining to her. I can imagine as an enslaved prisoner, with her lover depending on her to find the key, that self-faith was the only thing that kept her going. That faith in her own knowledge and prowess remains, and leads to an act which, in retrospect, seems reckless but still seems in character to me.

True, Lauren did not run her ideas by Bo – and has not done so in a while. I honestly think this is a good thing. For one thing, having plot points revealed through long earnest negotiation in advance breaks the concept of “show – don’t tell.” Beyond that, if Lauren has to seek Bo’s consent for every decision (“Can I do this? Should I do that? Is it a good idea?”), there is a risk that she might look subservient to Bo — not unlike Dyson dipping a knee and pledging fealty. There’s no way a love relationship between them could ever be viable again. He rolled over and showed belly fur — he’s done. Making Bo have a consistent “leadership” role would make me uneasy. Lauren having her own story line, which parallels Bo but is not dependent on Bo’s orbit, is something that keeps her autonomous.

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As an unabashed fan of Lost Girl and Doccutopia, I sometimes forget or don’t want to believe that television is a commercial medium and that writing for television is first and foremost a business. Writers have to balance practicing their creative craft, keeping things emotionally meaningful, with producing a commercially savvy product. As fans, we might be happy with long “processing” conversations between Bo and Lauren in the kitchen followed by sexy scenes in the bedroom (at least a few more – we’re not greedy) but writers “show, don’t tell” for a reason – a steady diet of earnest processing is boring to many viewers and doesn’t sell.

I can think of two other reasons why we don’t see more heart-to-heart talks between Bo and Lauren. Doccubus was a complete fluke, caused by the actors more than the writers. There has always been a powerful and wordless chemistry between these two actors. Emily Andras once remarked on the fact that words were often removed from their scenes because it was all about the emotional reaction. Sometimes a glance was enough. Think about Bo’s aghast look in this episode when Lauren casually tells Evony that she had to test the serum first to make sure it was safe. It was a visceral response – almost a fear reflex – an unguarded moment of her imagining life without Lauren. It hurt her, no doubt about it – not because Lauren used herself as a guinea pig without talking to her about it first, but because Lauren was reckless with her life and everything that might mean for Bo. There is a world of difference for the viewer between Bo saying, “But you could have died! I could have lost you!” and that wordless look of surprise, hurt, and anguish.

The last reason requires a hard look in the mirror. How many of us have ever had truly open, honest, fully transparent and sharing relationships? There is no prescript that in “healthy” relationships, partners have to understand everything, or tell everything, or share each and every passing thought and idea and activity in their heads, as if there can be no autonomy or privacy or space of one’s own. Some people don’t feel a pressing need to explain themselves, their feelings, where they stand, things they may have said. There is nothing inherently “bad” about a more private temperament. The people who love them accept it and adjust.

I’m reminded of a quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles, and an accomplished aviator and author in her own right (something overlooked in the history books):

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in a life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

[Anne Morrow Linbergh, Gift from the Sea, 1955]