By Paula R. Stiles
Recap: Kenzi’s trying to set up a surprise birthday party for Bo when Bo gets a call from the Ash. Lachlan has just let Lauren out of her prison cell after a few days and expects her to get back to work. Lauren begs to differ, even threatening to take Nadia and go to the Morrigan. Lachlan threatens Lauren back, but she just says she’d rather burn down the lab than work for him, anymore. Her attitude does not change when he informs her that he’s discovered something nasty about his predecessor. The former Ash had Nadia cursed to trick Lauren into becoming his slave and curing the Fae disease she encountered. Pretty sure this was already obvious, but Lauren has been out of the loop for a few days. He also tells her that he has no influence over the African shaman who imposed the curse, since he is Dark Fae.
Later, Lauren visits Nadia and tells her stasis bubble everything, breaking down into tears.
When Bo has tea with Lachlan, he chides her on her impatience. Then he tells her about the shaman, warning her that only someone who has utterly selfless motives, and utterly selfless love, can pull out the nail and end the curse. And Lauren must never know for the curse to be truly broken. He then sends Bo to a Fae travel agent, who teleports her to the Congo. There, she meets with the shaman, who has a large stick full of nails. Each nail represents a cursed person. He tells her about the ugly deal the former Ash made to enslave Lauren.
His aid in breaking the curse comes with a price. He’s dying and he wants a priceless mask back that was stolen. He believes the thief is in Madagascar. Bo returns home, and tells Trick and Dyson that the prime suspect is another Fae know as a “Preta” (a kind of hungry ghost in South Asian folklore). According to Trick, Preta have issues with insatiable cravings. Whatever they crave, they can never truly have. This one seems to have an obsession with collecting objects and went on a theft spree through Africa a few years before.
Trick says that the Preta is very dangerous. Bo will require backup. Dyson, who has been moping to Trick about his “good fortune”, eagerly volunteers to go with her. They travel to Madagascar, where the Preta greets them. The Preta is willing to trade the mask for a bracelet Trick gave Bo, that his wife had once owned (Trick is suspiciously indulgent in letting Bo have it, knowing it won’t come back). However, the Preta’s touch is deadly to everything and everyone he touches. It’s his curse to be only able to appreciate the objects he steals by touching them – because his touch destroys them. After he demonstrates this power to Bo and Dyson, he further warns them that the piles of dust from the destroyed objects retain his power. Touch them and you become dust, too. He makes this graphically clear when he shows them the location of the mask and then warns them that the many piles of dust leading to the mask were the last people who came to trade. He then opens the door to blow the dust on them. Dyson discovers that the cloth the Preta wears is immune to his power, and throws a similar robe to Bo, who covers herself. The Preta can’t be touched by the knife Bo tosses at him, but Dyson upsets the Preta by tossing his precious treasures at him. The Preta falls backward into the pile, accidentally touching and dusting Trick’s bracelet.
In the confusion, Bo is able to grab the mask. She also uses a bit of robe to grab the dust of the bracelet. At least she can bring part of it back to Trick. After they return to the travel agency, Bo goes back to Africa, where she finds the shaman near death. She’s able to revive him with the mask. In return, he gives her the power to remove Nadia’s nail. As soon as she does so, Lauren, in her lab, sees the stasis field surrounding Nadia self-destruct. Nadia wakes up, not a day older and in perfect health.
Back in Africa, Bo angrily starts yanking out more nails, insisting that the shaman has cursed innocent people and she’s going to free them all. The shaman warns her that not everyone he’s cursed has been innocent, that none of these curses were “made lightly.” In response, Bo takes out the dust of the bracelet and sprinkles it on the shaman’s box of magic nails. She says that perhaps neither of them has the right to judge and execute, and leaves as the shaman screams in horror.
When she returns to the Ash’s compound, she thanks Lachlan and goes to see Nadia. Nadia and Lauren are…well…making up for lots of lost time. Bo quietly leaves without their seeing her.
Meanwhile, Kenzi’s preparations for Bo’s birthday party are going in all sorts of interesting ways, such as boxes of stuff stolen from the docks that are full of Chinese New Year items like a Japanese Maneki-neko (a “Lucky Cat), and Fae cakes with bugs in them. She also discovers an old crush (from when she was a child), Nate, in the process of hiring the band. They re-bond over old times.
Bo returns home to find her birthday party awaiting her. She is surprised by many visitors, such as a grateful Lauren (Nadia in tow), a strangely friendly Dyson (Ciara in tow), an even friendlier Trick who gives her yet another present that had belonged to his wife, and a mystery guest who gives her a gorgeous bracelet before whisking out the door. He’s the only one who doesn’t give her a weapon. Looking around, Bo realises that she’s surrounded by friends, but everyone else has a romantic partner save the Succubus birthday girl, and glumly toasts herself with a long gulp of wine.
The morning after, Bo in contemplating the good-luck cat when Kenzi enters with a huge coffee. Kenzi fills her in on the fact that Dyson and Ciara just bought a huge house together (Well, Ciara bought it and Dyson’s not too thrilled). Kenzi did notice the mystery guest, though, so at least he’s real.
In the coda, Lauren visits Lachlan. Assuming that Lachlan lifted Nadia’s curse, Lauren re-confirms her permanent enslavement to the Ash.
Review: “Masks” was a more successful entry than the usual Lost Girl mytharc episode. Bo’s complex relationships got a workout and most struck oil dead-on with deep and mythic themes. Bo has to go on a quest that has Indiana Jones overtones (The Preta’s lair was totally the Holy Grail Grotto from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). In order to prevail, Bo has to make some hard decisions. As such, we find out more about her and her friends, what they are truly made of (especially Lauren, who gives everything for love and can never know that Bo did the same thing for her).
I was more than a tad skeptical of calling the African magic-worker a “shaman”. In a general sense, it’s accurate, in that shamanism is a term for a universal religious system. However, as a term for a magic worker within that system who is not Siberian (The term originally refers to a specific type of magic worker of the Tungus people in northeastern Siberia), it has little more meaning than visiting the “monotheist”. There are words they could have used to better evoke a Congo magic worker (who, by the way, wouldn’t be dressed so traditionally, any more than a Presbyterian minister would be dressed like John Knox).
That said, the overall feel of Bo’s journey, and the shaman’s philosophy, made a lot of sense within a shamanistic system. So, while it wasn’t as on-target as the episode about Baba Yaga, I’m willing to give it a pass. I didn’t agree with Bo that the shaman had no right to be a judge. In his culture, that is his function. He has the same societally vested right to pass judgement as a judge and a lawyer have to operate in western legal systems. If anything, this was another case where the Dark Fae were more honourable and lawful than the Light Fae. And I can even see a bit why the Ash would be involved in a local dispute like this, since he was of African descent.
On the other hand, I can see why Bo reacted the way she did. The shaman indicated, by his actions, that he was generally an honourable authority figure in his interactions with Bo. Unlike the treacherous Preta, the shaman lived up to his side of the bargain, even warning Bo ahead of time that there could be repercussions from freeing Nadia. As such, I saw no reason to disbelieve him when he claimed that many, even most, of the people he cursed were evil, people whose removal to comas made the world a better place. And I was okay with the mask saving his life because, on balance, he seemed to be a force for Good. However, by taking the money from the Ash, he allowed his own morals to be compromised. He allowed himself to take a bribe, so it was also appropriate for Bo to upset his apple cart and take away his cursing nails (at least temporarily) as punishment.
In the episode itself, Bo and Lauren must both make selfless decisions on the other’s behalf, each without telling the other. This secrecy between them (deliberately fostered by Lachlan) creates a divide in the shape of Nadia, the Sleeping Beauty of the episode. But their selflessness also creates in the audience a desire to see them reunited, that it is “right” for them to be together because of what they are willing to do for each other. That’s quite a touchy balance to maintain in a love triangle, especially when the third point has been, to this point, an utterly helpless and faceless innocent. Not to mention Bo’s other triangles.
Speaking of which, Dyson’s weird ongoing attraction to Bo still muddles along, but it gets a bit more shape this week. It seems that Dyson can no longer feel more than the shadow of his former passion for Bo. But even that is more than he can feel for anything or anyone else. Therefore, he seems irresistably drawn back into old patterns of fighting by Bo’s side and watching her back. Maybe it’s his wolf that pushes him to do it. Ciara’s response to this is to buy them a house, which is both touching and pathetic. I can’t decide whether to roll my eyes at Ciara or give the poor girl a hug. She and Dyson have everything on the surface, but it all circles an empty centre and they both know it.
Trick also seems strangely friendly towards Bo, especially after she told him about her vision of killing him and being named “Isabeau”. Sure, Trick’s grown fond of her over the past season and a half, but quite a bit more seems to be going on under the surface than first met the eye. There’s some connection going on between her and his wife that we don’t know, yet.
In terms of new romantic interests, I’m not sure how to take Kenzi’s new boyfriend (played by Aaron Ashmore from Warehouse 13) or Bo’s new love interest. They both seem like fun, but they also seem to have “doomed” tattooed across their foreheads, since they would interfere, longterm, with Kenzi and (especially) Bo’s other relationships. And Hale’s not even hooked up with anyone, though his being high Fae nobility would probably introduce more than one wrinkle into any relationship with a human. So, I’m just not sure how attached I want to get to these guys right now.
Next Week: Barometz. Trick. Pressure: Bo finds out about Lachlan’s trick to get Lauren to re-enslave herself. She reacts very badly. Meanwhile, Trick takes it upon himself to read the future, which never goes well in these stories.
You can watch the second season of Lost Girl on Syfy, Monday nights at 10pm, and then Friday nights from July 20th, onward.
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