Thursday, August 21, 2014

Witches of East End, Season 2, Episode 6: When a Mandragora Loves a Woman

In the library, Hudson (one of Ingrid’s random colleagues who breeze in now and again) goes to work very late at night because it’s convenient for the plot to find a blissed out Ingrid and a tentacly Mandragora which seems to inject his brain with the nasty venom, as these creatures do. Ingrid blissfully murmurs how glad she is it’s him, so then they can stop pretending he even counts as an extra.

To Wendy and Joana cooking up some anti-Mandragora potion and Joanna is willing to use some on her – not to kill her and take advantage of that convenient resurrection thing, but as a way to break her out of the Mandragora trance. Wendy points out that it is actually a poison. I.e. not healthy (have you tried a bucket of ice water? I find that’s great at getting people out of all kinds of trances. Smelling salts? Kat Perry songs?) Alex throws in the need to then find a way to cut the connection between the Mandragora and Ingrid so they can kill the monster. And lo, we are now fully recapped.

Meanwhile the twins Freya and Puppy-dog-eyes-Frederick are arguing – Freya is angry that Freddie was friends with the guys who murdered their dad and Freddie is all puppy-dog-eyes about it. But then he’s puppy-dog-eyes about everything. He punches a wall to try and convince us anger is his response to upset rather than his woeful puppy-eyes.

Extra fun news – the poison needs to be injected into Ingrid’s brain. Also they need to avoid or incapacitate the Mandragora without doing too much harm to Ingrid. As an added bonus they don’t actually know how to break the link between Ingrid and the Mandragora but Alex thinks she knows of a grimoire that may help – the grimoire Killian and Dash have. Freya volunteers to go, despite her being the worst choice ever.

While she does that everyone else goes to the library looking for Ingrid and find Hudson, not doing so well with the mark of Odin carved into his flesh. Hudson wasn’t worthy, apparently. At least this confirms that the skin carving is definitely the Mandragora and not Puppy Frederick. Anyway, Wendy and Frederick take Hudson away, leaving Alex and Joanna to find a tranced Ingrid and Joanna to get a little squeamish about the skull stabbing. When she does it, it does actually work. I think it’s less to do with the poison and more to do with the huge needle being rammed into her head.

Back at the house, Frederick tries to use healing magic on Hudson and Wendy stops him because she has so much suspicion of Frederick. Frederick protests the many things he’s tried to do to help the family but Wendy succinctly says “I want you gone.” MAXIMUM PUPPY EYES! Sorry, Freddie, epic betrayal needs quite a lot of epic redemption.

At the library Wendy and Joanna continue to hunt the Mandragora – which seems like a bad idea since they can’t kill it, seriously hurt it or really stop it. I prove to be right when they both get tentacled. This apparently sticks them both in an endless library. This venom is very… flexible. It also means Alex can confront Joanna about being emotionless and, for some reason, not talking about her dead husband.  They have a huge argument of Joanna being afraid to feel anything and be happy because she’d rather be numb than feel pain; which lets Joanna open up about the endless grief she lives under, watching her children die over and over again. She claims she pushed Alex away not because she was afraid to be happy – but because she loved her and didn’t want her to share the grief of her daughters dying. Alex doesn’t consider this a great excuse.

Ingrid returns home and collapses tearful and horrified and apologetic and traumatised into Frederick’s arms. She then goes up to see Hudson dying and has another layer of the guilts. While Wendy tries to reassure Ingrid a dying Hudson says how glad he is Ingrid is safe. She says her goodbyes to him – and I think he dies, by all the tears.

Dash wakes up from being Mandragora poisoned last week and seems fairly ok. Y’know, this whole “agonising, insanity causing death” that Alex described last episode seems a little over-sold. He greets Freya with minimal hostility but lots of sinister looks (since seeing him in the moustache last week, I can no longer consider him remotely threatening). But once she’s inside he brings out all the bitterness and wants to talk about Freya cheating on him with Killian and how he wants all Beauchamps to die – and he attacks Freya.

It would have been helpful if Freya had taken, say, Frederick or Wendy with her.

Anyway, she runs away, still looking for his grimoire. She finds it and photographs the pages before Dash attacks –how much of this is Mandragora Dash and how much is unrestrained angry/evil Dash remains to be seen, either way – evil! Evil Dash continues to try and attack Freya, spewing poison, slut shaming and attacking her for being “beneath him” before shattering a decoy and getting a skull full of trance-breaking poison from Freya. The trance breaks, Dash returns to team good to help.

Everyone to the kitchen where Dash and Ingrid bond over being stabbed in the head. As the Mandragora closes in they begin the spell to sever the bond with Ingrid.  Which involves setting Ingrid on fire while Wendy duels the Mandragora with a broom and high heel shoes.

The connection severed, Frederick runs up and kills the Mandragora – saving Wendy. I think this finally earns her trust. And Freya forgives him as well.

Peace for all! Even Dash and Freya have a moment though when she tries to confront him about what he said, he’s quick to claim the poison as an excuse.

Alex and Joanna talk, Joanna admitting how wrong she was and how much she hurt Alex. They kiss – and Alex leaves

To the newly redeemed Frederick – who collapses on the floor with the king’s mark on his chest glowing. He gasps out that he’s sorry, that he let someone down and that he’ll find another way. All of this addressed to his grandfather – the evil king. So, not so redeemed.

And to Killian who has now developed the ability to read minds – yes he’s now a mind reader who works in a bar. Killian, one Sookie was enough. He comes home to share that problem with Eva; it’s an ongoing problem and she’s reassuring and distracting but we do learn that Killian’s mind-reading doesn’t extend to Eva. Which is how she gets away with continuing to hex his drinks. After much sex and magic, Eva whispers ominously to the unconscious Killian “you’re going to give me a baby”.

Ok, Ingrid and the Mandragora. I mentioned last episode how I felt the whole rape element of this creature was grossly unnecessary – and I not only stand by that but I think this episode makes it so much worse. Because Ingrid is horrified, Ingrid is traumatised, Ingrid is shocked to her core – by her GUILT. Ingrid has been assaulted, has been mind controlled and has been raped and this whole storyline makes her feel guilty because of it. Yes, everyone turns round to her and tells her it’s not her fault – but it remains that her guilt is her dominant emotion. Not even guilt over what she did – but guilt over being connected to the creature while it killed people. She is guilty for being raped. She is guilty for not fighting hard enough, for not resisting her rape. She’s never really treated as a victim due to being raped, but due to being used to do evil – it’s a whole lot of victim blaming rape tropes all splurged over this episode.

And at the end? Ingrid is fine. In the way of episodes, everything seems resolved. She seems calm, happy, even willing to joke. It just underscores how all of this, every last element of this plot line, could have been done without the rape.

So Hudson died and on his deathbed he worried that Ingrid was safe. Y’know, I’m really glad they killed him off before explicitly saying this character is gay (the character in the books he’s based on is gay, but this character on the show just had a whole lot of stereotypes to imply the fact with almost no screen time), because if they had a gay character show up for tiny bit parts, then get killed off while telling his straight friend how worried he was about her, I would have been very very annoyed.