Lost Girl: “Those Who Wander”
B

Lost Girl: “Those Who Wander”

B

Lost Girl

“Those Who Wander”

Season 3, Episode 13

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Season three of Lost Girl started out just as broken and confused as the super-sized yet narratively thin second season. But after those first two episodes, it broke into the best run the show has ever produced, a much more focused, lighthearted, and fun fantasy series that echoes the lowest-budget days of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, when it first turned from occasionally absorbing to consistently entertaining. At some point during this season, Lost Girl showed touches of The Stepford Wives, Charmed (at its best), Eyes Wide Shut, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even “Video Games,” that episode of Girls where Hannah goes on a weekend trip with Jessa to visit her family—in addition to the typical Buffy/Angel vibes. It’s been all over the map, but rarely has it oscillated between crippling boredom and going off the rails like it did so many times last season. Or to put it a different way, it never stooped to the level of Heroes.

Lost Girl moved through one big mystery in the background of all 13 episodes of the third season—Tamsin’s Valkyrie mission to bring Bo to meet the mysterious Wanderer, who might just be Bo’s father. But along with that overarching mystery, several small arcs ran their course throughout the season, overlapping in order to ensure there was never a clear end to all continuing action that needed to restart from nothing the next week.

After that initial window dressing to introduce new characters—and background Hale as The Ash for the lion’s share of the season—Lost Girl focused on the consequences of Kenzi’s actions at the end of last season, in a crazy Fae kidnapping and replacement plot that reinforced just how important Kenzi is to Bo’s existence. She keeps Bo grounded as an independent Fae, not beholden to any rules, sticking up for herself in a world where alignment means giving up just as much as you receive in perceived protection.

As that wrapped up, the show introduced a Fae evolution trial know as The Dawning, a right of passage that either confirms abilities or punishes failure by devolution into an UnderFae, a lesser form of magical creature incapable of higher thinking. Bo’s training put a strain on her relationship with Lauren, eventually taking a break, a sign that the end of the season would be bigger than a bunch of romantic drama.

It’s a good thing that Lost Girl never tried to make Bo and Lauren into a huge deal like Willow and Tara on Buffy. It’s so matter-of-fact and engrained, but only rarely bubbles up to the surface as the main concern in a given episode. The Dyson-Bo-Lauren love triangle shows up briefly, but no significant romantic tension exists outside of Bo and Lauren, who struggle to figure out how to satiate Bo’s hunger and find a place for Lauren’s professional satisfaction. The latter concern fuels the end of the season, which has some problems I’ll get to in a bit.

The show’s greatest strength in these episodes turned out not to have anything to do with plotting but with a dramatically improved sense of humor. Even with the weekly dose of mythology and violence, the standout points of nearly every episode through a large chunk of the middle of this season came from comedic scenes instead of fight or love scenes. Anna Silk and Ksenia Solo have always had incredible chemistry, but Solo takes her comedic timing to another level. Kris Holden-Ried finally gets to cut loose a bit as Dyson, and he has a much more entertaining rapport with Rachel Skarsten as Tamsin the Valkyrie. The early episode where Dyson, Tamsin, and Bo all revert to acting like giddy teenagers, or Trick playing a life-choice contraption that affects Bo’s actions—each episode through the middle of the season was littered with well-constructed episodic mysteries with plenty of room for humor.

In a nod to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which has significantly influenced the setup and sexual politics of this show, Lost Girl went for its version of Buffy’s “Restless,” a highpoint of that series and a dramatic departure from the typical structure of serialized television. Lost Girl tossed that out in the latter half of the season, as Bo grappled with the Dawning, in an episode that forced her into an otherworldly trial. Dream logic was an integral part of the episode, planting so many bits of foreshadowed information that it got confusing, but reaching for that kind of resonance was a sign that Lost Girl had a plan. Unfortunately, the final two episodes of the season, including this finale, muddled some of the progress, choosing a lot of new beginnings instead of a sense of closure.

This finale doesn’t have a huge fight showdown like last season—though it does have a fight between Bo and Tamsin that recalls some of the fun hand-to-hand fights in Buffy and Angel that did the best they could with limited fight choreography. It doesn’t settle every little plot thread, or unite every character in order to overcome a great villain. Instead, it scatters the characters to the wind as they sort out their next steps after Dyson rather easily takes down a sort-of mad scientist.

Kenzi and a funny former Dark Fae bodyguard seek a way to give Kenzi Fae powers, which she desires in order to fully be able to help her friends instead of sitting on the sidelines. Hale rescues Trick and sends him to Scotland for some R&R. Tamsin and Dyson get in a nasty car crash, and their fate is unknown. And Bo disappears in a bunch of black smoke, showing up next to the mysterious Wanderer on a tarot card. Typically, The Wanderer is also known as The Fool, and is kind of a wild card, representing infinite potential at the beginning of a journey. It’s a bit of obvious symbolism, but effectively transparent narrative works better than obtusely boring elements.

A fair amount of the finale makes little or no sense. Tamsin is a great new character not only for her chemistry with the rest of the cast, but because she represents a Fae at the end of her life cycle, eons older than Bo who somehow still survives multiple massive injuries to fight again. Hale’s final machinations, saving Trick and punishing the Morrigan via Vex’s surprise return, feel contrived even while eliciting laughter. And while I’ve praised the quicker pace through the big accomplishments in plot this season, the final turn, with a pharmaceutical corporation led by a man hellbent on torturing and destroying Fae as a means of discovering a way to transfer their power to humans, would have been worth a few extra episodes to parse out the details.

Lost Girl hasn’t sorted out all of its structural problems, and this finale set in motion a lot of big changes without hinting too much at how it planned on bringing the disparate threads together, but at least the show is once again compelling enough over a shortened season that it doesn’t waste time. It put itself back together to the point where it can create a mystery worth following, but the bigger challenge for the next season is following through on this promise with a satisfying conclusion.

Stray observations:

  • Showcase already renewed Lost Girl for a fourth season, to air in Canada in late 2013, though it’s unclear when SyFy will put it on the schedule for the US.
  • Best guest star of the season: Even in a bit part, scoring Linda Hamilton as a bounty hunter advisor to Tamsin was pretty awesome.
  • Straight Guys Talkin’ Bout Lost Girl: One Tumblr says it all. Get that woman a US film career as the hilarious best friend.

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