“School’s Out” S2 / E16
- B- Community Grade
There’s a moment in “School’s Out” when Lost Girl teeters on the edge of sliding into the weak plot constructions that have plagued the show for much of this season. During the only class Bo teaches as an undercover substitute English teacher, when she writes out the main characters on the board and a student wonders why she’s written “Ryan” instead of “Romeo.” At that point, I worried that what the show would split into an A-plot tracking the case inside the school, and a B-plot obsessing over Bo’s not-so-secret relationship with Ryan. That would have been on the nose and rather dreadful, but thankfully, Bo turns on a dime and shifts the class conversation away from Romeo & Juliet entirely. Instead of that two-pronged episode, “School’s Out” is well-rounded, showing off some much-needed character depth and a little more world building, but most importantly it’s a whole lot of fun.
Dyson is on the case of a high school girl who suddenly wrote an amazing essay on Romeo & Juliet, then started ranting in front of her class and collapsed in a seizure. It has all the hallmarks of Fae activity, so he takes the case to Bo for help infiltrating the school. She’s the substitute teacher—thankfully, since she’s nowhere close to being able to pass for a student—while Kenzi gets enlisted to take the student body angle. Lauren and Nadia are back from vacation, so Lauren goes back to work helping to decipher medical records. Dyson can’t smell Fae until they’ve hit puberty, which is a rather convenient detail to make his abilities unhelpful, so the three investigators all take different angles to find out what exactly is affecting the students.
I know I’ve been critical of the wheel-spinning episodic plots that take Bo away from the overarching plot of the season, but this week none of that really mattered. Sure, Bo is no closer to knowing about the big bad for the season or uncovering Lachlan’s true intentions, but I was impressed by how much restraint this episode had with high school clichés. Kenzi gets in her Mean Girls reference, but this wasn’t 21 Jump Street, Fast Times, or any other high school media touchstone. Lost Girl often struggles to place its characters in a generic setting without getting bogged down in derivative structure, but “School’s Out” manages to be funny and well-plotted right up until a rushed finale while staying focused on the supernatural procedural.
Dyson has progressed from brooding bar hound to full-on depression, so naturally he goes undercover as the new high school guidance counselor. Notably, he admits to the girl so taken with Earl that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, but though he’s morose about it, the tone didn’t really express finality. He’s hundreds of years older than the kids crying and venting about their angst, so he's no-nonsense. That doesn't make sense for a guidance counselor, but it's funny to see him get so frustrated over such trivial issues. He does have the wisdom of experience, and though he expresses it in the driest above-it-all manner, the lightly comic tone worked for me. And that poor girl, so desperate for someone to care about her that she sort of throws herself at Dyson, gets appropriately rejected, then dissolves into sobbing again. It’s all Dyson can do just to push the box of tissues closer to her for easy access.
Kenzi is back to her bubbly, rough-and-tumble self, clashing with the chic clique (and making a wonderful Heaters reference), and befriending Earl, a chess whiz and academic bowl phenom. He’s also got a crush on Kenzi, completely misreading signs and kissing her. From the moment Bo notices that Kenzi becomes a Euclidean geometry nerd, she knows something is up, and after taking her to Lauren—in a very funny sequence where Kenzi actually correctly alters Lauren’s antidote research—she traces Kenzi’s altered behavior back to Earl’s kiss. Dyson has reached the same conclusion through his own laidback, cynical counseling appointments, so they go at the problem from different angles. Dyson interrogates Earl, while Bo mistakenly confronts the Vice Principal.
For a moment I though we were headed in the direction of that Buffy episode where the Scooby gang all takes care of eggs that turn out to be parasites, but Lost Girl goes simpler than that. There’s a mystical creature that lays eggs which, when eaten, improve intelligence. Their use is strictly forbidden, but Earl’s father has been giving them to his son to provide a boost to his potential, with no regard to human casualties.
So the end gets almost obnoxiously sappy, as Earl’s father takes an inexplicable hammer to the Vice Principal’s office, then has an emotional reconciliation with his son, but I’m willing to overlook the show’s typical departure from plausibility to wrap things up in summarized fashion. Trick details the parental punishment to Bo as they take possession of the creature, and the case is solved. Ryan's still going to be a problem once Kenzi finds out Bo is still seeing him, Dyson knows he's Dark Fae and has his own opinions, and there's something more significant to be said about Bo's insistence on ending things with him, then repeatedly finding herself overcome with emotion or desire and backing off. But that can wait for a heavier episode, which has to be coming down the road. For now, the atmospheric and character-drive successes of “School’s Out” easily outweigh the rushed plotting, making it one of the better episodes in the back half of this season.
- Lauren is back, and so is Nadia, but Nate, Ciara, Hale and Lachlan all don’t make an appearance. It’s a revolving door, as there doesn’t seem to be a way to get every single character involved now that the cast has expanded.
- I barely mentioned Ryan, but he does get a couple nice moments at the beginning and end of the episode. First, hiding in a bathtub from Kenzi, and then setting up the high school dance Bo never had. It’s a sweet moment that doesn’t fit at all with how materialistic he’s been in the past, but hell, it’s a nice way to end things.
- “I cannot do Jane Austen again.” “That’s what I said when I left England.”
- “Teen angst, our greatest foe…”