Thursday, February 16, 2017

Emerald City - 1.07 - They Came First - Review





***Note: I am filling in for Ashley B. this episode but she will be back for the rest of the episode reviews. Let me know what you thought of the episode in the comments section below.



Summary:


The Wizard of Oz rounds up all the girls in his kingdom, looking for witches after West informs him that Glinda is likely planning on using them to take him down. He makes a deal with West that she will sniff them out but only if the girls are given to her and not killed. On the first sweep, none are found. However, one young witch is discovered when she burns 2 of the Wizard's guards and blows up a dyemaker's place. Summoning West to examine the scene, West realizes that the girl is not dead and brings her out, only to be betrayed by the Wizard who intends to lock up the witch. To protect everyone from the young witch's wrath, West creates a pit for her to fall in and then magically seals it from the witch's fire. The Wizard uses the situation to his advantage by sending his High Council into the pit to be burned alive. He then returns all other girls to their families while proclaiming the witches themselves to be The Beast Forever.

Meanwhile the Queen of Ev and Jack have a falling out while he attempts to be sympathetic. Grieving the loss of her father and finding herself now the sole ruler of Ev, Langwidere takes her emotions out on Jack and leaves him alone in the Screaming Forest only to come back for him after he's already rusted over. After a bizarre oiling-down, she takes him back to her castle where they make out. On the journey to deliver Sylvie to Glinda, Dorothy and Lucas also hook up…in between arguments that is. Lucas is concerned that Dorothy is getting herself too attached to Sylvie and won't want to leave her with Glinda. Little does he know that Dorothy has struck a deal with the Wizard to use Sylvie to kill Glinda in exchange for being sent back to Kansas. When Dorothy finally admits that she'll be leaving soon, Lucas and she argue enough that Sylvie freaks out and literally turns the house upside down. Dorothy then changes her mind and offers to take Sylvie and Lucas back to Kansas with her. However, upon reaching Glinda's palace, Glinda kisses Lucas and brings back his memories. His name is actually Rowan and he fights for Glinda, not Dorothy.



Best Potential:


With the pieces falling into place, Emerald City's seventh episode, They Came First, takes a leap forward towards the upcoming war. None more interesting than Lucas' switch in allegiance to Glinda. While Emerald City writers seem to be falling into the clich├ęd "give shippers what they want and then take it away" writing model, it has far bigger implications here for the plot than just yanking people's chain. It remains to be seen how far they are willing to take it and given that there are only 10 episodes, it's not likely to be much. Still, it offers a lot of possibilities. I will be disappointed if the whole thing ends up just being a spell Lucas/Rowan is under that Dorothy has to break. Instead it should be used as an opportunity to plead Glinda's case. Let's face it. The Wizard of Oz is hardly a sympathetic character here but a lot of what we have seen of the conflict has come through his point of view. It's time to see things from Glinda's too.  Right now, she is little more than the female version of the Wizard.  Why would a reasonable person follow her either? Is she really as selfish as the Wizard or is there something more than just a power struggle between opposite viewpoints at play here? I'd also like this storyline to give us a bit more background on the cardinal witches and their lore as well. I find them to be one of the more interesting parts of the story and the setting switch from Emerald City to Glinda's fortress will hopefully change the focus of the narrative as well.



Biggest Twist:


If you, like me, haven't read the books, the biggest twist of the night actually came with Tip, not Lucas. I confess, I expected Tip to be The Beast Forever given that so much time went into concealing her true identity. Instead it seems that she is, in fact, a princess. The dagger she holds was King Pastoria's, handed down to his daughter Princess Ozma. If she is indeed Princess Ozma, that would make her the legitimate heir of Oz and thus another rival for the Wizard. I suspect he will not be pleased to find that West's servant girl could take his power more legitimately than Glinda. It could be the final straw that breaks his uneasy alliance with West, especially since he backed out of his word to give any young witches to West.



Best Acting:


Ana Ularu did a magnificent job of portraying West's pain in this episode, both when she was duty-bound to kill the young witch and over her part in the death of so many witches the last time The Beast Forever rose. The scene of her taking the life essence of the dying young witch was heartbreaking. Ularu has made a character who could have been widely unsympathetic and even a one-note joke into the most sympathetic character in the show. Not bad for being the Wicked Witch of the West.



Crew Kudos:


The technical aspects of this episode were done very well. Big kudos to the director, Tarsem Singh, and everyone on the visuals team for the stunning horror shot of the burnt council members in the pit. Even with the house flipping scene, the pit is one of the most searing images of the week for me. The visual foreshadowing of the dove pecking at the scarecrow was a stroke of brilliance as well. What seemed like an unusual choice on first watch became something deeper after Lucas/Rowan switches allegiances in the ending twist. I also loved the visuals of Glinda's keep. It was the austere white that I expected but the deep cracks in the wall hint at the crumbling of her power and her desperate attempt to take back what had been hers. Nicely done all around.

The costuming department again outdid themselves, especially with the Queen of Ev. Langwidere's military-themed ensemble embraced both the powerful aesthetic of a new head of state and the whimsy of a toy soldier, balancing out both sides of her personality. The mask, of course, was stunning as usual.  While I too want to see what is under the mask, I can't help wishing I had her collection.



Biggest Question:


Since the pilot, fans have been guessing that Dorothy herself is The Beast Forever. I initially rejected that idea because it seemed too obvious and I was betting on Tip. Now I am not so sure, especially since there is little time to introduce a new character to be The Beast. It almost has to be someone we know already. Still things with Dorothy don't add up for me. If she is truly Karen's daughter and Karen was a regular human on earth, how it is that Dorothy can possess anything magical? Why would East's gloves go to her, much less allow her to do bigger and bigger magic? Watching Dorothy take out a pack of wolves to save Sylvie makes me wonder if what we know about Karen, Dorothy, and witches is true? With only 3 more episodes left, what is your theory?



Grade:  B



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About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and/or creates polls for Teen Wolf, The 100, Grimm, How to Get Away with Murder, The Librarians, and others. She also runs the annual Character Cup. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts The 100 "Red-Shirted" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."




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