This Emerald City review contains spoilers.
Emerald City Episode 8
Emerald Citywill never be the Game of Thrones-esque epic it aspires to be, but it’s found a visually-stunning, somewhat narratively shallow niche to nicely occupy. Heading into the final three episodes of the season (and, likely, show), the Oz-inspired drama leans into some of its better twists — namely, the reveal that Tip is the secret heir to the throne of Oz. The domestic drama about Glinda and Roan’s marriage was, um, less good.
Here’s everything that happened in “Lions in Winter”…
Roan deals with the consequences of his choice; Dorothy delivers a baby.
We’ve all been there: You put a spell on your doting husband, forcing him to forget you for his own protection. He falls in love with someone else while under the spell. Then, when you give him his memories of your love back, he is conflicted. Marriage, amirite?
The love (?) story of Roan and Glinda is an underdeveloped one, making the rekindling of their love seem a bit silly. I get why Roan would be with Glinda. She’s a fierce, powerful, beautiful witch (even if she is a bit evil). I’m less sure why Glinda would be with Roan, other than the fact that he’s hot. This is one occasion where flashbacks might not have gone amiss. The old “Show, Don’t Tell” advice is even more pertinent when it comes to love stories, in my opinion.
Still, it was fun to see a bit more of Glinda’s world, with her cabal of young witch soldiers and her magic origami doors. Visually, this show continues to stun. As unsettling as it was, the image of Dorothy using her magic to wrap Glinda up in her own bed sheets and hang her was like nothing I’ve ever seen on TV. Narratively, it was less astounding. Eight episodes in and I still don’t know who Dorothy is. When she almost killed Glinda, I was like, “Sure, I guess. This lady does seem relatively cool with murder.” That is mostly her defining characteristic so far: Dorthy Gale, Casual Murderer.
I would also like to get more clarification on how magic works in this world. At first, I thought Glinda and West weren’t allowed to use their magic, but they seem to use it left and right. That handy transport trick that West used seemed immensely powerful. How exactly did The Wizard beat them? And why would he stand a chance now? He has guns, yes, but there must be some magic Glinda and/or West could use to shut that down. And how powerful is Dorothy exactly? Yes, she has East’s magic gauntlets, but Tip has East’s power, so where does Dorothy’s magic come from? so many questions.
Sylvie decides she wants to stay.
Poor, sweet Sylvie. After being used as emotional manipulation by both Dorothy and Lucas in their respective missions to get the other to stay with them, Sylvie returns to her witchly sisters. At first, they kind of suck, playing magic tricks on the little girl. But when she does it right back to them, they accept her.
When Dorothy comes to get Sylvie, the little girl no longer wants to leave. And can you blame her? Sure, Dorothy has her moments, but one episode ago, she was planning on abandoning Sylvie without saying goodbye to go murder something. Not the most stable parental figure.
That being sad, it was slightly heartbreaking to see Dorothy first rejected by Lucas, then Sylvie. I don’t blame either of them — especially because I don’t think Emerald Cityhas done a good enough job selling/building their connections to one another — but it still stings to see a character so throughly rejected, especially one that seems to have understandable abandonment issues to begin with.
The Wizard is riding towards Glinda.
Um, The Wizard is waging war? Like Dorothy, I still can’t quite figure out what The Wizard’s motivations are. One episode, he’s courting his hot, young council lady. The next, he’s shooting her in cold blood and riding with his army to wage war on Glinda. (He’s going the long way, stopping at Lady Ev’s to pick up some guns on the way.)
War isn’t something that most people take on lightly and I don’t think Glinda’s threat against The Wizard has been sufficiently sold. Sure, she is plotting against him, but hasn’t The Wizard had an inclination that she has been doing this since the beginning? She’s never been his biggest fan. But she also doesn’t have very big numbers, even if she does have magic.
This plot line would work a lot more if we understood why The Wizard doesn’t want to go back home. (So far, it just seems like he was kind of a loser there, but that doesn’t explain his power-hungriness.) Also, if it had sold The Wizard’s paranoia a bit more. In his conversations with Anna, The Wizard was creepy, but gentle, often listening and seeing her logic (after locking her up in jail, of course). If she had legitimately betrayed him, his anger/fear would make a lot more sense. Whatever.
Extra points for the return of Jane in this week’s episode, and her strict No Weapons stance. I would like to see more of her character, especially now that we know she comes from our world and knew The Wizard. What does she think of Frank’s machinations? Does she know about Dorothy? Does she want to go home? I wouldn’t mind Emerald Cityexploring these characters over others.
Jack and Ev’s awkward relationship continues.
The awkward power dynamics of Jack and Ev’s relationship continues. After sleeping together at the end of last episode, Jack spends the episode being pampered like a king, while being soundly ignored by Ev, who is off ruling the land. It’s a nice gender reversal, but it would have been nice to see what Ev was up to. She’s a cool character and I’m not clear what part her kingdom plays in Oz.
This felt like a bit of a filler episode when it came to Jack’s character. Like many of the characters on the show, I don’t believe that he would have fallen (in whatever way, to whatever degree) for Ev. She is beautiful and manipulative, sure, but Jack seems smarter than all of that. Perhaps the show knows that. When Ev offers to let Jack leave, he makes it as far as the gate, before seeing The Wizard show up to pick up his weapons. If he does stick around, I hope it is as a subversive, pacificist spy amongst the Ev/Wizard army.
Tip becomes a ruler and a witch all in one episode.
In what continues to be the best storyline of the show, West informs Tip that he is really Ozma, the missing princess of Oz. This is why he was hidden away as a child. Tip takes it in stride relatively quickly and when West offers him the chance to drink the powers of her sister, East, Tip goes for it, regardless of the risk.
This is a relationship I buy. Though I’m not sure if I believe West would grief so intensely for Tip when she thinks he is dead, I do believe that she is both a) desperate and tired and b) was potentially re-grieving for her fallen sister and for all of the crap she has gone through since this show started and before.
For me, West is the true hero-protagonist of this show. She feels too much, which is why she tries to numb it with the drugs, but she tries so hard. She gave Tip a chance when he needed it. She even helps her evil-ish sister when she asks it. (Though I have a feeling that might be about to change.) Unlike The Wizard or Glinda, she seems less interested in power and more interested in family — a goal I can get behind.
Tip also makes for a hero-protagonist it’s easy to get behind. He has had to deal with so much, but that hasn’t stopped him from being brave and, ultimately, good. In tonight’s episode, we see Tip relive the early moments of his life, when his parents were killed by Eammon, wearing a lion’s head. This twist isn’t as exciting as I think the show hoped it would be. It’s unclear why Eammon is wearing a lion’s head when he goes to battle, other than for the obvious Cowardly Lion connection. Oh, Emerald City,you do try.
Tip’s underwhelmed “It worked,” delivered to West as she is bleeding out from self-inflicted wounds might be over the top, but these two characters — and actors — can pull it off. I continue to root for Tip and West’s eventual ride to power — or happiness — over anyone else’s in this show. Who needs Dorothy? Emerald Citybelongs to the outcasts.