By Paula R. Stiles
Recap: Bo and Kenzi have gone out drinking at the Dal Riata. Bo is moping because Dyson is openly flirting with a waitress, to the point that even Hale tells him to knock it off (Go Hale!). Taking the pity party back home, Bo and Kenzi then get really drunk and start talking about Baba Yaga, an old Russian/Eastern European witch who lives in the forest, in a house that is made of the bones of naughty girls and walks on chicken feet from place to place. Kenzi remembers this tale from her childhood days and tells Bo she could invoke Baba Yaga to get revenge on Dyson. Even drunk, Bo thinks that’s a bad idea, but after she passes out, Kenzi stumbles into the bathroom and writes Dyson’s name on the mirror in red lipstick or crayon, speaking to Baba Yaga in a foreign tongue (Ukrainian? Romanian? Romany?). Getting no answer, she exits the bathroom, but the mirror explodes after she leaves.
The next morning, Bo wakes up with a hangover and a weird carving on her hip that looks like a stick figure. She also notices that the mirror in the bathroom is smashed. Kenzi admits that she invoked Baba Yaga, so they go to the Dal Riata. Trick tells them that Baba Yaga is a Fae who grants the wishes of women seeking revenge against men. But she lives in her own realm, where she can’t be touched or harmed by other Fae. Trick has no control over her.
Meanwhile, Dyson is finding out the hard way how the curse works. His previous charm over women has now turned to utter revulsion, which is doing a number on an important case against a local mobster (Dyson had seduced the mobster’s girl to get her to cooperate). Every woman he meets (except for Bo and Kenzi) now perceives him as every man who ever screwed her over and he finds a similar mark to Bo’s on his own hip. He doesn’t react well to the news that “Bo” cursed him and blames Bo. However, when Bo protests that Kenzi laid the curse in her name, against her wishes, and Dyson goes after Kenzi, Bo stands up for her, telling him to back off or she’ll do worse things than even the curse can do. Trick doesn’t really help when he says that the curse wouldn’t have worked if there hadn’t been an intense connection between Bo and Dyson, and a subconscious wish for revenge in Bo.
To make amends, a contrite Kenzi takes Bo to meet her aunt, Ludmilla, who works as a fake fortuneteller in a trailer. The aunt doesn’t believe Kenzi at first when Kenzi tells her magic is real, so Bo makes her a believer. Ludmilla vaguely remembers a spell to invoke Baba Yaga, who appears in a tranced-out Kenzi and then on the mirror. Baba Yaga agrees to lift the curse in exchange for “the Succubus”. When she starts dragging Bo toward the mirror, Kenzi jumps in front of Bo, shouting that it’s her fault and Baba Yaga should take her, instead. Chuckling, Baba Yaga agrees, revealing that it was a trick to get Kenzi. Kenzi disappears into the mirror, which crackles beyond further use. Bo tries to get Kenzi’s aunt to do something, but the freaked out Ludmilla is helpless.
Kenzi finds herself in Baba Yaga’s hut, a cramped place full of rooms and with a huge oven on one side. Other girls are there, all prisoners of Baba Yaga from different time periods who had invoked her and regretted it. Kenzi tries to get them to fight back, but they have all been cowed by untold years of servitude, cutting up potatoes for Baba Yaga and living in fear of the dhampir (a Balkan half-vampire), a bestial man on a chain. He also guards a chest in another room. At one point, Baba Yaga comes in and has the girls pick marbles. The girl who gets the one black marble, Ilyana, is forced to walk into the oven and become Baba Yaga’s dinner. Afterward, Baba Yaga taunts the dhampir with one of Ilyana’s bones, then forces the other girls to clean up Ilyana’s remains.
While Baba Yaga is gone, Kenzi throws a bone to the dhampir and slips past him to the chest, where she finds a small mirror. However, when she tries to use it, looking into it doesn’t help. She calls Bo for help, but it doesn’t work.
In the outside world, though, Bo is very busy on Kenzi’s behalf. First, she enlists a hostile Dyson, who brings her to the new Ash. Bo is forced to promise to freelance for the Light in exchange for the Ash giving aid about Baba Yaga. This comes in the form of a water nymph who is an ex-conquest of Dyson (and, therefore, not kindly inclined toward him at the moment). She can open a doorway to Baba Yaga’s realm for Bo, but Bo must be unconscious to enter. This involves crawling into an ice bath and being held down by Dyson until she starts to drown. She makes it to the realm and tries to help Kenzi, but it turns out she’s powerless there and she gets knocked out during the fight. When she comes back up for air, Dyson and the water nymph don’t want to put her back under, but she insists. She’s lost Dyson; she’s losing Lauren. She won’t lose Kenzi. Back down she goes.
In Baba Yaga’s house, after Bo gets knocked out again (and Dyson starts CPR on her in the real world), Kenzi stalls for time by telling Baba Yaga she knows a spell the old witch might like and demanding ingredients for it. Then she pulls out the mirror she found and Baba Yaga recoils in fear. The mirror is precious to her. She tells Kenzi how to go back home with Bo, but won’t release the other girls, claiming that their times are long since past. Defiantly, Kenzi throws the mirror to the ground, shattering it. She gives the three remaining girls a piece, giving up the last shard despite the last girl’s protests, because she won’t leave Bo. Each girl looks into a fragment and disappears.
Meanwhile, the dhampir breaks free of his chain and attacks Baba Yaga, throwing them both into the oven. Kenzi shuts the door on the screams of the dhampir, but the door begins to crack as Baba Yaga’s realm falls apart. Kenzi wakes up in a nearby tub of water to find Dyson and the water nymph hovering over a clinically dead Bo. Finally, when Dyson tries mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Bo reflexively drains energy from him and regains consciousness.
Afterward, Bo and Kenzi bond over shots at the apartment. Kenzi calls the toast “To the Bottom” because theirs is that kind of friendship. She also advises Bo to fight for whatever she really wants, be that Dyson or Lauren. Bo toasts Kenzi with a wish that she will only ever see herself when she looks in a mirror. They go out, relieved that Baba Yaga is defeated, but a clawed hand reaching out of a mirror indicates they’re wrong.
Review: Eh, I am so over Bo and Dyson, and their neverending, epic breakup. That said, it was a nice setup for the story of Baba Yaga. Kenzi’s background also provided an important link, in that Kenzi comes from an Eastern European culture. So, Baba Yaga would be a central figure in her childhood stories. In fact, that’s what this episode is really about – Kenzi, even down to how far Bo will go to save her. We find out, for example, how and why Kenzi’s relationship with her family is so fractured, with the story of her physically abusive uncle. I liked her aunt and hope she’ll appear again (even if Ludmilla was a bit cliched).
A nice thing about “Mirror, Mirror” was how it used a few different traditions (the Russian Baba Yaga, the GrecoRoman water nymph, Siberian shamanic spirit travel, the almost universal idea of mirrors as gateways to other realms) and successfully integrated them into the show’s verse. Curiously, Baba Yaga comes from a similar tradition to the Siberian one, as some anthropologists now believe that the folklore around Baba Yaga’s house is based on descriptions of traditional Siberian stump houses, known as labaz, which have had a variety of uses, among them hunting storage and possibly cremation funeral rites. In the old legends, Baba Yaga was also known to fly through the air in a mortar and pestle, like a shaman or a Western European witch.
Water nymphs come from the Mediterranean, though there are water spirits all over the world, including the Slavic Rusalka. The actress in this episode is of African origin, but Africa also has its dangerous and liminal water spirits, such as the Mami Wata. In the story, it all connected into a coherent mythology, rather than the patchwork or Celtic-lite mythology of previous episodes. It was also a good way to write a female-oriented story that begins about traditional roles (women being abandoned by faithless men), but evolves into a story about women being heroic to and about each other.
Even though I don’t much care for the way they keep writing Bo as a Big Dumb Idiot rather than a Big Damned Hero, I did really like how she refused to abandon Kenzi, risking her life, humiliating herself, and allying with people she didn’t like to bring her friend back. And Kenzi also refused to abandon Bo, but she also insisted on rescuing the other girls, sending them home, while the girls had small, heroic moments, themselves (especially the tragic Ilyana). I hate to say this, but the likelihood of this kind of collective female heroism occurring in an American genre show these days is rather low. We’re much too focused on evil Amazons, or lone Mary Sues, or a girl involved in a love triangle with two men, who overshadow her and isolate her from her female friends, assuming she begins the show with any. We had some of this female alliance and competition without men in Eastwick, but Eastwick only got 13 episodes. Female issues, female concerns, women working together – ironically, this, too, is in the legends, since some of the heroes who oppose or are helped by Baba Yaga (like Vasilisa the Beautiful) are women.
So, all in all, a good episode. I think Baba Yaga was my favourite Fae after the Lightning Bird. Do I need to see her again, per the obligatory twist ending? Probably not. This episode nicely wrapped up her story. But it was a good one-shot, all the same.
Next Week: BrotherFae of the Wolves: When Dyson’s old werewolf comrade arrives in town, more of Dyson’s warrior past comes to light than he might have wished.
You can watch the second season of Lost Girl on Syfy, Monday nights at 10pm.