“Caged Fae” S3 / E1
- C+ Community Grade
When the extended second season of Lost Girl concluded, there was hope that a return to the 13-episode order would restore a certain level of balance to the show. No longer would there be obnoxious filler or long stretches of meaningless, meandering side plots. Personally, I was at wit’s end with the show, but the hiatus kept going, and anticipation grew. Anna Silk and Ksenia Solo have great chemistry, and the loose ends of the finale set up the possibility for more powerful conflict between the best characters on the show.
The third season premiere certainly delivers oblique satisfaction to some of the serialized plot elements lingering from last season. Bo’s latent evil urges have started to manifest, and it’s unclear how much she knows or cares about what she’s doing; Bo and Lauren make the decision to be in a relationship; Dyson stays quiet about defeating the Norn and the return of his feelings; Hale is the new Ash; Kenzi has that lingering rash (which just feels creepy), and has romantic tension with both Hale and Dyson.
But unfortunately, unlike the best episodes of Lost Girl, all of that stuff happens in small touches around the main plot, which is a miserable episodic story influenced by women-in-prison B-movies like Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat. It’s every misogynistic, male-gaze hyper-sexualized cliché, supposedly made okay by making the Fae prison guards Amazons.
The opening ten minutes is a lame attempt at a bait-and-switch: first it seems like a bit of a time jump, with Bo’s evil energy turning her into a criminal, cutting out her friends and family to the point where Dyson has no choice but to throw her in a Fae correctional facility. But once she sees Lauren, undercover as the new prison doctor trying to find out what happened to her Fae medical mentor, it reveals the obvious ruse. The sexual objectification is so prevalent that no woman escapes it. Bo showers while being watched by all the Amazonian guards; Kenzi and Bo make out in order to exchange a key; Bo scrubs the warden’s floor with a toothbrush while wearing lingerie. The voyeuristic aspects of these scenes don’t change if the power figures in the prison are women—it’s still exploitative and reductive.
The over-sexualized visuals are so distracting that the plot is secondary. Female prisoners are released from the prison at the end of their term, returning days later having committed more offenses, yet no outside records exist of the release. Bo infliltrates the facility in order to expose corruption on Hale’s orders, making him look good as the “acting Ash” after Lachlan’s demise, hopefully ensuring himself that role on a permanent basis. That transition was hinted at the beginning of last season, and the subtle change will allow more complicated machinations for Bo when she chooses not to work for a close friend leading the light Fae. It also opens up the possibility of change for Dyson, and Paul Amos’ role as Vex will hopefully stick around to snipe at the light Fae, a trickster voice for darkness.
Bo’s cellmate, a rather timid girl who stole a loaf of bread—earning a tepid Les Miserables reference from Bo—is the meek, anonymous victim that Bo steps in to save this week. Kenzi keeps pestering Trick, Dyson, and Hale to get Bo out of the prison, but she gets in her usual amount of one-liners that land. The most disappointing part of all this is that it underlines the fact that Lost Girl’s problem last season was not the extended episode order, because this opener spins its wheels with no real progress. Small steps, but only a hint of a larger arc set in motion.
I’m at a point where I don’t like the Bo/Lauren pairing as much as I tolerate it. The sex-positive attitude gets a little overblown here with how the guards victimize the inmates and the camera lingers over every inch of every scantily clad female in the frame—but for the most part, depicting a lesbian relationship is a productive thing. But Buffy, Queer As Folk, The L Word, and even Sex And The City have depicted these relationships with more care. It’s difficult not to get annoyed when every single conversation Bo and Lauren have is dripping with unasked questions and they can’t have a normal conversation without the weight of a relationship barging into the room. They care about each other too much to have normal conversations while they’re apart—which is a monstrously frustrating step to be stuck in with another person.
This is all to say that Lost Girl holds some powerful cards in its hands—strong performances from Silk and Solo, an emerging comedic foil in Vex, and now a pared down and streamlined cast in better position to present complicated choices for Bo as a Fae private detective. But far too often those strengths are wasted in familiar procedural plots, and the overarching serialization strikes out in a vague direction instead of an assured, captivating one.
- The final revelation of the episodic plot regarding the Amazon warden felt so terribly like that “She’s a man, baby!” moment from Austin Powers, I couldn’t stand it.
- So let’s get this straight: Lauren and Bo hit it off, then couldn’t be together because of Lauren’s girlfriend in a coma, who then woke up but got possessed and died by Bo’s hand, and now they can just get with each other and it’s all fine? There’s a lot of missing grieving here.
- The melodramatic music cues whenever something remotely involving romance happens are not helping.
- That ending: does Bo know what she’s doing? Is she just really good at hiding it from everyone else? And what’s the deal with Kenzi’s rash? Why must it sound so much like a Fae STD?
- Straight guys talkin’ bout Lost Girl: Ksenia Solo, where have you been all my life?