Sunday, February 5, 2017

Emerald City, Season One, Episode Six: Beautiful Wickedness

Image result for emerald city

Thankfully, Beautiful Wickedness is all about the Wizard. All hail Vincent D'Onofrio for being so awesomely awful that I absolutely now cannot stand the Wizard.  There's little doubt now about exactly what kind of man the Wizard is, or what motivates him. Beautiful Wickedness employs flashbacks to tell this story.

In 90's, the Wizard lived in Topeka Kansas and he worked for Karen Chapman, Dorothy's mother and alongside Roberto, (Dorothy's father) and Jane, who as it happens, is the woman made Jack into the Tim man. Of the four, Frank (read: the Wizard) is clearly the least accomplished member of the team. He begins by sucking up to Karen, and she's clearly friend zoned him despite his rather pathetic efforts.  To highlight just how creepy Frank is, we watch as he uses CCTV to spy on Karen.  

We're initially led to believe that Karen's wind experiment went awry and that this is how they all landed in Oz with the exception of Roberto, who died trying to shut down the wind turbine.  When the Wizard tells Dorothy that she was born in Oz, he isn't lying. Karen was already pregnant when she arrived in Oz.  When they encounter the Munja'kin tribe, Karen is quick to assert her leadership. It's Karen who goes to see the Witch of the East to return home.  The Witch informs Karen that their presence in Oz has thrown off the balance and so it seems that the outworlders are responsible for the Beast Forever.  

Karen, and Jane's sole aim is to head home, whereas; Frank sees Oz as a chance to change his position in life. Back in Kansas, he was a nobody and certainly wasn't respected whereas in Oz, with all of his scientific knowledge he has a chance to be powerful. When Karen joyfully reveals that she's found a way home, Frank is adamant that he's staying.  Frank admits that he sabotaged Karen's experiment and that this is how they ended up in Oz. Karen is rightfully horrified and calls Frank a murderer because his actions led to the death of Roberto. Frank, who is absolutely without shame, doesn't seem to be bothered and instead decides to show the Munja'kin tribe what a battery is. Frank wants to impress them by showing them what wonderful things science can achieve but he is one upped by none other than Nahara, who sings a song which causes the rocks Frank was using to become a little stone figure.  No we know who controlled the stone warriors which destroyed the Beast Forever and why the Wizard is so desperate to get into the abject.  It's Nahara who actually saved Emerald City and not the Wizard and he punished her by locking her away. What's also interesting about this is that we know that West is suffering from survivors guilt after watching witch after witch go up against the Beast Forever and die.  West sees magic as useless because she believes it did not stop the Beast Forever.  Were she to find out about the Wizard's lies, she would finally recognize not only his extreme level of deceit but her own power.  A witch and not the Wizard stopped the Beast Forever.  

Of course, the Wizard reveals none of this to the naive Dorothy and actually gets her to hand over a bullet and her gun. At the end of the day, the Wizard wants power and he's willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to get it and maintain it.  Dorothy's main motivation throughout this season is to return home.  To that end, she agrees not only to give the Wizard her gun but to encourage Sylvia to turn Glinda to stone.  Lucas has done nothing but support Dorothy from the moment he met her and when Dorothy made her pact with the Wizard, she clearly betrayed him.  We'll just have to see if this was a ruse on her part to get Lucas and Sylvie out of Emerald City, or if her determination to go home has blinded her so badly. 

Sylvie as it turns out is more than just a mere street urchin witch.  It seems that the mother of all witches is creating witches again.  West is shocked when she learns this after unlocking Lucas's memories. It's West who has to break it down to the Wizard that Glinda isn't as passive as he believes her to be. With the council that she provided the Wizard, what Glinda actually did was set up a network of spies and now that there are new witches, Glinda will have the power to over throw the Wizard.  I'm really disappointed that West's animosity towards her sister prevented her from joining Glinda because once again, we have a situation in which female characters are working at cross purposes. 

Elizabeth confirms that she's working for Glinda to Anna.  It seems that Ann'a sole purpose in Emerald City is to discover the Wizard's plans and relate them to Glinda, while Elizabeth  thwarts the Wizard at every damn term.  This is why Elizabeth's predictions are always so opposite to those of Anna because her purpose is misinformation.  It's Elizabeth who frees Lucas from the dungeon and arranges for a carriage to get them out of town. 

Finding out her true purpose should absolutely cause a conflict for Anna because it's clear that she's already thrown her lot in with the Wizard but she's not given a chance to choose sides. As aforementioned, the Wizard is a power hungry bastard and he proves this in the most calculating way.  Earlier in the episode, King Ev was turned to stone by Sylvie when he mistook Toto for his long dead dog.  Lady Ev sees this act as a declaration of war and plans to return to Oz with soldiers for justice. 

To be clear, Anna is the only one who has ever shown any kind of concern for the Wizard.  Other than Karen, Anna is the only person the Wizard has shown real feelings for and what does his butthurt ass do? Does he go and talk with Anna about his fears of her betrayal? Does he give Anna a chance to choose sides?  Does he cry into his beer?  No. The Wizard uses Dorothy's gun to shoot Anna in the heart, to send a message to Glinda about spying on him and to convince Lady Ev to partner with him to make guns and bullets. The Wizard is nothing but an entitled, het, cis, able bodied White man and cannot deal with mediocrity while being surrounded by capable women. He's like every frat boy ever but more dangerous given his power.

As we said last week on our discussion of gender and Emerald City, there are a lot of female characters which is good but there are absolutely problems with the characterisations.  This continued through this episode.  For whatever reason, the women cannot seem to work together and are being manipulated by a mediocre man.  The Wizard isn't even smart enough to put together the pieces of Glinda's plan and it's West who has to break it down for him.  He lashes out like an angry toddler, yet is more than happy to play the calculating mastermind. The only humility he displayed is when he revealed to Eammon that it is Dorothy who orchestrated the escape from Emerald City and the plan to kill Glinda. My hope here is that Eammon is playing the long game given his friendship with Lucas, and the fact that the Wizard killed the former King of Oz.  Eammon plays his cards close to his vest but I don't think that he's necessarily the faithful right hand of the Wizard. 

As aforementioned, Dorothy is on her way to see Glinda.  Once again, she's flying by the seat of her pants without any real plan except to weaponise a child.  Dorothy didn't stop to think about exactly why Eammon so easily handed over a sleeping Sylvie to her and readily accepted his excuse as doing it to save Sylvie.  Dorothy didn't even really question the much edited story the Wizard told her about her origins and seemed to accept it all in good faith. In short, Dorothy has the sense of a concussed penguin and I truly believe that the only reason she is alive is plot armor. 

Interspersed with the Wizard's drama was the reunion between Tip and Jack.  Tip is clearly happy to see Jack, having believed him dead. Jack for obvious reasons doesn't share her excitement. He's hurt that Tip left him for dead thus ruining their once fast friendship.  At this point, he doesn't seem to remember that Tip is the reason for his fall.  Jack is also bothered by the fact that he's no longer the boy that Tip used to know.  It's Lady Ev, who forces Jack to reveal to Tip, his clockwork heart before demanding that he accompany her. Clearly, saving Lady Ev last week isn't enough for Jack to be treated with any kind of respect. So much for that friendship Lady Ev wanted. All Tip can say is sorry and that ze loves Jack but there's too much pain to overcome at this point.  These two will absolutely meet again and I hope they are able to work out their differences because this scene though brief, was heartbreaking to watch.