Anna Silk, Zoie Palmer, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Rachel Skarsten are in Kansas City this weekend for Planet Comic-Con. Their five-season run (eh, technically Skarsten was only there for three of the five seasons) together on Lost Girl came to end in 2015, but all 77 episodes are on Netflix for anyone to enjoy right now. It’s…well, do you like supernatural fantasy? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Angel? Love triangles? Adorably progressive Canadian shows with liberal stances on sexuality and language, inventive new angles on familiar genre conventions and precious little money to work with? That’s Lost Girl.
The series center on a kindhearted PI named Bo Dennis (Silk) who…actually, this will work better if I just use her voice-over which accompanying the title sequence of every episode as a starting point here: “Life is hard when you don’t know who you are. It’s harder when you don’t know what you are [note: she’s a succubus; didn’t know it until the pilot]. My love carries a death sentence [note: yeah, if she’s not careful she can kill people just by kissing them]. I was lost for years, searching and running only to find that I belong to a world hidden from humans [note: the underworld of magical beings called Fae who look like humans but are centuries old and can either be good or bad]. I won’t hide anymore. I will live the life I choose.”
Kinda cheesy? Maybe a little too complicated?
You shut your mouth! Lost Girl is a Canadian treasure we are all just lucky to behold, particularly for those attuned to the Whedonesque rhythms of a fantasy noir series about a woman continually asserting her right to choose her own path and help the helpless. Plus, the moment you meet Ksenia Solo’s character Kenzi, Bo’s BFF, is the moment you realize your life has been all the poorer for never having been in her company:
So, in the interest of getting the heck on with it already here’s my entirely subjective list of Lost Girl’s 10 best (mythology-lite) episodes, designed to help you help yourself get into this amazingly nutty, but effortlessly enjoyable show. This is one show where you absolutely have to watch the pilot to get what’s going on. If you’re not hooked after that, maybe one of the following 10 will seal the deal:
10. “Dead Lucky” (Season 1, Ep. 5)
The Plot: Bo is hired by a Dark Fae to track down a human who managed to win a bet with him. To do so, she has to infiltrate a gambling ring, confront a body-jumping Fae with body confidence issues, bang one out with detective, soon-to-be-boyfriend Dyson and learn tantalizing information about her birth mother.
Best line: “So, you seen any movies lately?” – Hale (Dyson’s partner) trying to make small talk with Kenzi as they awkwardly stand at the bar pretending not to notice the particularly loud sex noises Bo and Dyson are making in the back room.
What struck me most about Lost Girl when I first started watching it was how much it reminded me of Angel. Obviously, frames of reference differ, and I’ve since seen others cite Xena as an obvious comparison. However, a series about a supernatural PI with much to atone for, taking on unique cases to help those in need, often over the objections of a human confidante who would rather work with paying clients, was kind of Angel’s thing for its more standalone-ish early seasons. Then it veered hard into high fantasy and serialization.
Lost Girl, oddly, followed the same exact path, particularly the gradual switch from standalone, supernatural noir to serialized high fantasy, but there’s something so comforting about the early episodes when all the mysteries were still ahead of it. The writers had more freedom to simply throw Bo and Kenzi into insane, fun, often undercover scenarios. These episodes usually started with a funny scene of them at home or at Trick’s bar the Dal, built to them landing a new case and then watched as they solved a mystery, caught a killer, found a missing person, etc. That applies to any number of season 1 episodes, and I picked “Dead Lucky” for this list because I particularly enjoy the concept of a (potential) bad guy who can switch bodies but is in a 12-step program to learn “thou shalt not wear thy neighbor.”
9. “La Fae Epoque” (Season 4, Ep. 7)
The Plot: When Dyson is arrested and charged for a string of murders he supposedly committed over a hundred years ago, Bo and Lauren (a human doctor uniquely well-versed in all things Fae) team up to magically venture into his memory to hopefully find some exonerating evidence. In practice, this means Bo takes Dyson’s place in his own memories. Since her own subconscious seeps through, several of the most important characters she encounters just happen to look like her friends/lovers. Translation: Ksenia Solo and Zoie Palmer get to adopt fun accents and play burlesque performers.
Best line: “So this is happening. For…investigative purposes. Right?” – Bo rationalizing her involvement in a remarkably kinky sex scene when she’s supposed to simply be searching Dyson’s memory.
When Emily Andras, whose first writing credit on Lost Girl was actually “Dead Lucky,” took over as showrunner for seasons 3 and 4 one of her stated goals was to do more with the fact that the Fae are supposed to be thousands of years old. Similar to the Asgardians in Thor, they predate humans and often served as the basis for our early myths and belief systems. However, for the majority of Lost Girl, all of the Fae simply look like normal people, e.g., a detective, a barkeep, who occasionally make vague references to their long lives. It’s rare for there to be an episode in which those impossibly long lives are actually shown to us via flashback or some other such device. After all, flashbacks involving new sets and period costumes cost money.
By cleverly redressing the existing sets and making the most of its costume budget, “La Fae Epoque” makes a go of it, showing us just how Dyson and Trick met while having more fun than you could imagine with the on-going Dyson-Lauren-Bo love triangle. Plus, it is but one of many examples of Bo doing anything it takes to save the ones she loves.
The Plot: Lost Girl meets Desperate Housewives meets Eastwick as Bo and Kenzi’s latest case takes them to their scariest location yet: suburbia. Specifically, a gated community where a babysitter suspects her employer has met an untimely end at the hands of his wife, but needs help to prove it.
Best line: “I slaved over a hot microwave making that sandwich!” – Kenzi’s response to the ungrateful child she has to babysit as part of the undercover gig.
Lots of fantasy shows reach a point where the mythology and serialization pile up so high the writers want/need to forget about it for a week, instead put the characters off on a side adventure to allow them (and the show) an hour to breathe. That’s “Adventure in Fae-bysitting” for Lost Girl season 3, an episode which repeatedly references how much this is actually an old-school adventure for everyone. Their client even comes to them via a Kenzi and Bo’s Detective Agency flyer, which we last saw very early on in the first season.
By this point in the third season, the Bo-Lauren-Dyson love triangle has repeatedly threatened to take over the show, and the writers have strung Bo along on a mystery surrounding a new villain cryptically known as The Wanderer. “Adventures in Fae-bysitting” is the refreshing throwback which mines comedy gold out of dropping Bo and Kenzi into suburbia (they fit right into the book club which is really just the local wives gossiping), and offers up broadly funny, but understandable villains who simply started out from a place of wanting to strike back at the men who had wronged them.
The Plot: Bo’s houseguest Vex (Lost Girl’s version of Spike) inadvertently infects Bo, Dyson and Tamsin (Dyson’s new partner) with a parasite which causes them to revert to having the mindset of self-obsessed teenagers, forcing Kenzi and Lauren to step up as their only line of defense. Small problem: Kenzi and Lauren hate each other. Plus, they’re two humans fighting Fae henchman. Good luck.
As easy as X-Files, Buffy, Angel and Supernatural made/make it look, it’s actually quite difficult to toss in chiefly comedic, high concept/gimmicky episodes into the middle of your genre show. The premise, tone, composition of your writing staff, varied talents and range of your cast has to be just right. Yet, sometimes you simply have to try it and see how the fans react. Luckily for Lost Girl, they did just that with season 2’s “Mirror, Mirror” (more on that one later), and the positive fan response emboldened them to make it a point to always do at least one episode per season where their cast could really get to play.
“ConFaegion” is not quite as strong as the season 2 experiment. In fact, the element of Bo, Dyson and still-new-to-the-show-at-that-point Tamsin behaving like teenagers elicits some laughs, particularly at Dyson barely hiding his hormonal excitement when they play spin the bottle, but the better half of the episode is actually the confrontation between Kenzi and Lauren. Anyone vying for Bo’s heart has to go through Kenzi first, and though she has some legitimate issues with Lauren “ConFaegion” is when Kenzi realizes how much they actually have in common. It’s also one of the only times in show history where Kenzi gets to be the superhero, briefly turned into a River-from-Firefly-style badass thanks to a magical staff.
6. “Groundhog Fae” (Season 4, Ep. 8)
The Plot: Bo’s friends are having so much fun celebrating Yule, the Fae Christmas, that they don’t even notice she’s still asleep in the back of her car after their recent road trip. She wakes up to find everyone stuck in a time loop which only she, Tamsin and Hale seem to be aware of.
Best line: “Of course. You’re my grand-dubus. My succu-daughter.” – A drunken Trick struggling to assure Bo she can tell him anything.
Trivia: The opening car wash scene is Emily Andras’ homage to Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher.
Similar to “ConFaegion,” this is another gimmicky episode which produces plenty of laughs (e.g., Bo and Tamsin’s first instinct in the time loop is simply to party like there’s no tomorrow) but ultimately serves to squash long-simmering tensions related to the show’s central love triangle. Dyson and Lauren, eternally pitted against one another in the battle for Bo’s heart, finally realize they’ve actually become close friends over the years. Plus, similar to Giles and his love for Halloween it’s a joy to behold Trick’s excited explanation of Yule and repeated insistence that it’s nothing like Christmas even though the thing he calls “Eikpenir” clearly looks like Rudolph.
The Plot: Kenzi agrees to pretend to be Hale’s girlfriend to impress his parents, and it goes horribly, horribly wrong, severely angering Bo in the process when her case-of-the-week sucks her into this little charade.
Best line: “Blade aerobics”/ “Sword-lates” – Bo and Kenzi attempting to convince Kenzi’s new boyfriend, who doesn’t know anything about the Fae, that the sword fight he just walked in on was simply them exercising.
By my count, Kenzi only had three love interests in the lifetime of the show, and was only ever caught in a love triangle of her own for two individual episodes. “Girl Who Fae’d With Fire” is one of them, dropping her into the middle of a Fae rom-com in which the man (Hale) she simply pretends to be in love with cares about her more than she knows and the man (Killjoys’ Aaron Ashmore) she actually loves (at that time) struggles to check his male ego at the door. It’s the rare episode where she is largely acting independently of Bo, and proves that even on her own she is a force of nature who will tell snobs where to shove it and waltz into a room full of enemies if it means helping out just one friend. Plus, you get a glimpse at how close-minded the Fae can be, rejecting Kenzi just because she’s human.
The Plot: A bottle episode at the Dal where a trickster spikes the beer and causes a real Freaky Friday-esque body swap situation impacting almost everyone in the bar, including a southern bounty hunter.
Best line: “I’ll get the nametags” – Trick not missing a beat once everyone but him switches bodies.
You can’t do a body swap episode like “Original Skin,” which inherently plays upon the eccentricities of all the characters until you’ve put in enough time and work to actually establish those characters. As such, “Original Skin” was destined from the start to be a fan favorite because it works best for those viewers who’ve seen enough to get these characters and can truly appreciate how funny it is to watch Kris Holden-Ried (Dyson) doing his impression of Ksenia Solo’s Kenzi. You get to debate “which body swap pairing was funniest” with other fans afterward. Is Anna Silk’s southern accent too over the top or just right? What bout K.C. Collins’ (Hale’s) British accent? Did Solo nail Holden-Ried’s stoicism?
3. “In Memoriam” (Season 4, Ep. 1)
The Plot: Kenzi and Dyson work a missing person case and come to learn they’ve had their memories erased. Who’s this Bo person they’re supposed to find?
Best line: “And my heart hurts. Dyson, and I don’t know why.” – Kenzi sensing how much she misses Bo even though at that exact moment her memories of Bo have been erased.
Trivia: Anna Silk needed to take pregnancy leave. So, the writers came up with “In Memoriam” as a way of doing a Lost Girl season 4 premiere without actually having the titular lost girl on screen.
Lost Girl is a shipper’s dream/nightmare. At some point along the way, any conceivable romantic pairing was tested out, as the writers’ exercised the freedom of having a show featuring a bisexual lead character with a supernaturally high sex drive and open-minded supporting characters. “In Memoriam” is undoubtedly a favorite among the Denzi (Dyson + Kenzi) shippers, and is the second ever episode to put Kenzi in a love triangle. However, what I love about “In Memoriam” is not so much the romance nor Kenzi’s brief hour to be the lead of the show, although that is nice, particularly her epic dance scene. No, what’s great is how much about it feels wrong, how if Bo was erased from everyone’s memory they would continue on with their lives but somehow know deep down inside that something wasn’t right.
Or maybe I just love seeing George Takei play a snake person since he’s the episode’s villain.
The Plot: As a show of sisterly solidarity, Kenzi drunkenly invokes the Russian hag Baba Yaga to curse Dyson for breaking Bo’s heart, and is stunned the next morning when she learns Baba Yaga is real, Dyson is cursed to be attacked by any woman he meets for all of eternity and it’s all her fault.
Best line: “You back off or I will drop kick you into a women’s study conference!” – Bo reacting to Dyson’s understandable anger after telling him exactly why all the women at the police precinct and bar have been attacking him all day.
There’s a good reason the Lost Girl fan podcast was called Drinks at the Dal – these characters drink a lot! As such, an episode like “Mirror, Mirror” where Bo and Kenzi get drunk and end up doing something they regret was inevitable. However, if you think you know where the plot is going because you remember the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Xander’s attempt to cast a love spell on Cordelia backfired you’ll be surprised. The second half of “Mirror, Mirror” takes a confident turn into remarkably dark folklore, trapping Kenzi in a veritable nightmare realm. Even without that, the entire episode is worth watching just to see Anna Silk’s drunk acting as Bo repeatedly gets Baba Yaga’s name wrong (e.g., at one point she pronounces it “Baby Yoda).
The Plot: Bo returns to her small hometown to face her demons, both literal and metaphorical.
Best line: “This is how I am going to remember you – as the sweet woman who taught me to make the best pies. You had a hard life too. I can’t hate you anymore, and I am done hating myself.” – Bo speaking through tears as she finally forgives herself and her adopted mother for so many years of hurt.
The metaphor at the heart of “There’s Bo Place Like Home” is not hard to suss out. As a teenager, Bo was cast out of her home and forced to go on the run because the first manifestation of her succubus powers led to someone’s death. “No Bo Place Like Home” is when she finally makes peace with that, forgiving those who once made her feel like a monster. It carries a sneaky emotional punch due to how quickly you empathize with Bo as the ostracized other, with “succubus” standing in for any other number of “other” category which a small town might reject.
The episode as a whole has its fair share of funny moments, such as the positively cosmopolitan Kenzi freaking out over being in a small town, but in balance, it is a surprisingly moving hour about forgiveness and understanding. There’s no larger mythology to worry about nor any love triangle machination to sort through. Instead, there’s just a woman reconnecting with a parent who is newly suffering from Alzheimer’s. Sure, Bo also fights a literal demon which has been haunting the town for years, but the sooner she defeats it is the sooner she can excise her own demons and let go of all that emotional baggage.
- “Fae Day” (Season 1, Ep. 9) – When a banshee’s wail marks a man for death, Kenzi helps him work through a “last 24 hours on Earth” bucket list while Bo and Dyson look for a way to save him.
- “Scream a Little Dream” (Season 2, Ep. 3) – Kenzi can’t pass up the opportunity to employ a male Marry Poppins-like Fae who lives to clean and housekeep just as long as he gets a steady supply of his requested brand of cereal.
- “Masks” (Season 2, Ep. 12) – Bo selflessly goes on a mystical quest to find an artifact for Lauren even though success will mean certain heartbreak.
- “The Kenzi Scale” (Season 3, Ep. 6) – The gang finally realizes Kenzi has been acting strange lately, and team up to figure out why
What are your favorites? Or, if you’re a newbie, are you still not convinced to give this show a chance? Let me know in the comments.