Lost Girl: “Original Skin”
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Lost Girl: “Original Skin”

Lost Girl must really have a slim budget, what with all the bottle episodes it’s seemingly forced into. Aside from the opening scene at Bo and Kenzi’s house, and a few short scenes at Light Fae HQ in the third act, “Original Skin” takes place entirely at Trick’s bar, with the main cast and two guest stars in a contrived lock-in, forced to ping off each other like atoms smashing in a particle accelerator. It’s becoming a surprise whenever the show deviates from those three set locations, and a little more imagination in setting and movement—some of the better elements from the first season—have disappeared in recent weeks.

The setup is only a means to exacerbate some character conflicts that haven’t had long to gestate. Dyson and Ciara have been fighting because Dyson won’t talk about his past with Bo, and Lauren isn’t offering an apology or explanation for kissing Bo right in front of her girlfriend Nadia’s pod contraption in the lab.

Conflicts are only heightened further when a Dark Fae bounty hunter named Woods swings through with the bad news that a mentally disturbed anarchist named Reynard has escaped from Dark Fae control. Woods sets up a Fae barrier preventing any non-human from leaving, and explains that Reynard killed his gorgon psychiatrist, stole a vial of her blood, and injected it into the beer at Trick’s bar. That gorgon blood causes the strange and plot-necessary side effect of making everyone who drank the contaminated beer switch bodies. It’s like multiple instances of Freaky Friday on a highly concentrated level.

At first, it’s a case of figuring out who Reynard has inhabited, but Kenzi solves that rather quickly, since Bo is acting drastically out of the ordinary. When someone gets pushed out of their body by Reynard, they end up in Limbo. Bo sees the creepy little girl from the season première, a Fae known as the Nane Rouge, or the “Harbinger of Doom.” When Bo manages to get herself out of Limbo and back to her own body, the mystery changes. Dyson and Reynard are trapped inside Lauren and Kenzi, but nobody is sure who is who. By the time they figure out Dyson is in Kenzi, Reynard/Lauren has escaped from the bar, since Woods’ powers can only contain Fae. Dyson, in Kenzi’s body, is the only other person who can stop Reynard from attacking the Ash.

The metaphor of the body swapping is a bit heavy-handed, and there’s not nearly enough room to throw in enough comedy to match some of the mindless entertainment any version of Freaky Friday could muster up. The characters need to stand in the other person’s shoes and get an outside perspective on their lives in order to see just how trivial their conflicts really are. Ciara is upset about Dyson not talking about Bo, then she’s in danger of dying, so Bo goes to great lengths in order to save her, then they can at least operate on a level of mutual respect. That’s the end game, but to get there we have to endure a lot of sitting around, pointless arguing, and horrific attempts at foreign accents as the characters swap bodies.

Having all the characters switch bodies is really just an opportunity to give the actors a chance to let loose and completely change their personalities while inhabiting a different member of the cast. Kris Holden-Ried is the standout, going wild with a hilarious approximation of Kenzi’s attitude. After getting buried beneath the scowling layers of repressed emotion, Holden-Ried makes the most of an opportunity to cut loose, and finally have some fun. Bo’s southern accent as Woods is miserable, as is Hale’s impression of Ciara. The episode continually goes in for some tender emotional moments between two characters, but since the body swapping forces two different actors to maintain the emotional dynamic of the characters inhabiting them at the time, it gets confusing. Let’s just say that a conversation between Woods and Dyson isn’t nearly as effective as Kenzi and Bo having a heart-to-heart.

Ksenia Solo’s rendition of Dyson also provides a bit of insight into why that character is such a dour bore—it’s all in the writing. He sucks all the fun out of any situation. When the final confrontation could be an action showdown with a madman, the slow, limping cadence of Dyson’s speech grinds the scene to a halt. It also doesn’t help that those pesky budget constraints reduces what could be some entertainingly schlocky fight choreography to a couple foot stomps and CGI lighting. The Kenzi/Dyson body swap yields the best character results as well—Kenzi now understands just how big of a hole Dyson has after having his feelings for Bo magically torn out of him. She won’t reveal anything to Bo, but it’s a nice moment of understanding between them, and really the only moment of clarity that comes from the relentless body swapping.

Last week was an attempt to jump the overarching plot of Lauren’s girlfriend Nadia forward. “Original Skin” is the same kind of leap-forward plotting, but for the emotional tension that never really got the chance to bubble up. Suddenly Ciara and Dyson are fighting, and just as suddenly it gets a resolution. It’s logical, but still artificially conceived to drum up bigger drama in a confined setting. Bits and pieces of that contraption fall into place, especially the Dyson/Kenzi swap, but Lost Girl works best when it can afford to be more ambitious than this.

Stray observations:

  • Kenzi and Hale kiss… but it’s while Dyson and Ciara inhabit their bodies. It’s an extremely clever roundabout way to continue the romantic tension between those two.
  • Speaking of the overarching plot of the season, the Nane Rouge says Bo’s destined for big things, and she has a premonition about choking Trick to death.
  • Lachlan has another head stowed away in a chest—which isn’t hidden all too well in a chest in the main hall his residence. That’s another head-scratcher, since for now it’s just a tag on the episode with no explanation whatsoever.

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