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Emerald City: "The Villain That's Become"

emerald-city

Emerald City is a reimagining of the L. Frank Baum books for a GoT generation, airs on Friday nights on NBC (on Fridays at 9/8c). All images belong to their respective owners. No infringement intended. This week’s discussion contains spoilers so fair warning…

Well, last night was certainly interesting, I’ll give them that! I’ve not bothered writing covering the last two episodes (7 and 8) because there really hasn’t been that much going on and then, BAM, the penultimate episode of the season and something finally happens.

Just to recap, in Episode 7 “They Came First”, West struggles with her loyalties to the Wizard and the search for new witches and Dorothy, Lucas and Sylvie travel to Glinda’s palace to try and get Sylvie someplace safe. Because… witches belong with other witches, I guess? (Yeah, I didn’t get that either.) There’s a lot of vista shots in this series, which should be helpful for the Spain/Hungary/Croatian tourism industries, if they get a boost like New Zealand did when LOTR was released.

Assuming there’s a second season. Which, I’m still on the fence about.

In Episode 8 “Lions in Winter”, we find out that Lucas was actually secretly married to Glinda all along (sure, why not), and Tip, aided by West’s nearly-fatal magic, inherits East’s powers and learns that she is, indeed, Ozma of Oz. Oh, and for fun, they finally threw in the cowardly lion (only not so cowardly!).

In this episode (finally), we have some actual plot going on, not just filler content like a few of the episodes this season have felt like and sadly… there are some things they just gloss over entirely (more on that later) for lack of run time remaining. So, brief recap for those who had a lobotomy in the last 24 hours:

Lucas goes to kill Dorothy, but he can’t, because he has conflicted emotions — does he love her? hate her? wish she’d never been in his life? — and in a bit of poetic justice, Dorothy throws him back on his beanpole like the scarecrow he is (uhm, sweet? disturbing? how far could you have gotten away if you just, um, fled in the time it took you to come up with that?). And the set designers beat us over the head with the symbolism with the scarecrow in the background. Ingenious.

Lady Ev decides to make the guns for the Wizard, but in an act of revenge for his abandoning Ev years prior, keeps the guns AND the Wizard’s gold… but he outsmarts her. Will she lend her support or die for her beliefs (and betrayal of the Wizard)? In a failed rescue mission, Jack shoots and kills Lady Ev, only to learn that she was never alive to begin with. I do like how this series subtly plays around with Theseus’ paradox — something I like exploring with my own stories. Jack, disgusted by his own lack of humanity, flees … perhaps to be later reconciled with Tip/Ozma?

Dorothy goes back to Munchkinland, finds Ojo, and tries to free all of the prisoners in the Prison of the Abject, but they’re too late — West has come to rescue/recruit them as an army for Ozma, only they don’t believe her and do some pretty crazy poltergeist-horror stuff as revenge.

What is it about seeing lips sewn shut that freaks me the heck out? (Shudder)

West has already warned Tip that recruiting the witches won’t work because East’s magic turned Tip back into a boy and oh yes, there’s that transgender thread they included in a children’s story. I’m sure that is just what Baum intended. West is redeemable as a heroine, however, because she is willing to accept Ozma as Tip, who comes to realize that to save Oz, he/she needs to be a girl, so she transforms, uses some wild magic to convince the witches she’s legit, and hurrah! Ozma’s got an army.

(Remember where I told you they glossed over bits and I’d get back to it? That’s coming now.)

The only ones left at the prison are the dead and dying, including Ojo’s wife, who gives Dorothy the power to raise the stone giants, and a red man who was there long before the other witches — and if Dorothy frees him, he’ll tell her what happened to the rest (so she does). Great Dorothy — no question at all about what he’s in the prison FOR? You couldn’t have gotten that information out of Ojo’s wife before she died? What if he was a rapist or a mass murderer? What if (GASP) he was the Beast Forever?!

By the way, if you haven’t figured it out quite yet, the red man is Ruggedo (originally Roquat the Red, aka the Nome King). And he’s not actually supposed to be red from head to toe. In Emerald City, he looks more like a victim of plastination (a method developed in the 1970’s by Gunther Von Hagens). Dead man walking!

The Nome King as portrayed in Return to Oz (1985).

The Nome King as portrayed in Return to Oz (1985).

The last that we see of Ruggedo is him hitting Ojo over the head, and then the next time you see Dorothy, she’s marching to Ev’s palace — where the Wizard is about to be executed — with a stone giant. Cliffhanger!

This whole ending was rushed and confused the heck out of me. First off…what in the Sam-hell happened after Ojo was knocked unconscious? How did the situation with Ruggedo get resolved? Maybe if you’d spent less time on filler the past few episodes, we could have at least have had an explanation there. Also… those stone giants are fairly well noticeable. And for anyone not familiar with the geography of Oz (see below), they would’ve had to have traveled a LONG distance to the Land of Ev, assuming they crossed the impassible desert.

oz-and-surrounding-countrie

Which means in a relatively short amount of time, Dorothy travels from somewhere in the western part of Oz, through Emerald City to pick up the stone giants, and then through Gillikin Country or straight into Winkie Country to the furthest northeast in Oz you can go, across the desert, and then into Ev. That’s basically a cross-country trip… and nobody saw her coming? There seems to be some off-screen invisibility going on here.

Snark aside, speculations for the upcoming season 1 finale:

It’s going to set up a cliffhanger ending where we realize that a greater threat to magic than the Wizard of Oz — Ruggedo — has been unleashed (thanks again, Dorothy!) If it’s anything at all like the film canon in Return to Oz, Dorothy will use the ruby gauntlets to get home, but in doing so, they will fall into Ruggedo’s hands, and more than likely, this will come sometime after a reunion between Dorothy and Lucas, leaving Dorothy in the wrong universe and trying to find her way back (Season 2) because, after all, there’s no place like home.

What’s your theory? How do you think this season will conclude? Do you think there should be a second season? Leave a comment below.

For some fun background facts on the Oz books and film adaptations, check out the Oz Wiki at: http://oz.wikia.com/wiki/The_Wizard_of_Oz_Wiki

For some great clips and photos from the series, check out the official website at: http://www.nbc.com/emerald-city

This entry was posted in: Film, Trending Topics

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Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has seventeen years of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). Lauren is the Managing Web Editor and writer for The Scribe, a web publication of the St. Louis Writers Guild, where she also serves as their Director of Communications. She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at LaurenJoanMiller.com.

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