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REVIEW: Emerald City 1×03 “Mistress – New – Mistress”

Written by Mark Russell

Two episodes in, and Emerald City has offered a fresh, darker, yet restrained new take on the Land of Oz. The third episode plays down the larger worldly elements of the show instead and focuses on the individual relationships between the characters. There isn’t much action in the episode, and really good acting from Vince D’Onofrio, Isabel Lucas, and Jordan Loughran. For this review, we shall look at each subplot one at a time rather than jump back and forth, making it simpler to write and for you to read.

Let’s start with Dorothy, Lucas, and Toto. In the last episode, Lucas displayed a rather psychotic side when he beat Mombi dead and Dorothy catches him playing around with the police gun that killed East. Lucas warns that she is likely more dangerous than he is, but hands over the firearm when he asks. The three hitch a ride with the Circus of Oz, where we briefly glimpse captured lions. Speaking of lions, Eamonn the Bland shows up still following Dorothy’s trail. While Dorothy wants to stay and be escorted to meet the Wizard, Lucas drags her out to safety when Lucas very loudly makes it clear that the Wizard wants her dead.

With the Emerald City now a no-go-area, Dorothy decides to go to East’s castle and use a tornado to go home. On the way, she reveals to Lucas about her adoption. They reach the castle, meeting a sword-wielding guard, Sullivan, who assumes Dorothy has become his new master when East’s magic gloves appear on her hands. Interestingly, Sullivan is played by DeObia Oparei, who had a minor role in Game of Thrones. Sullivan turns out to be a very dedicated housekeeper, who instructs Dorothy to wear something more witch-y and use her magic to end the crazy tornado that is hovering about the castle.

Dorothy spruces herself up and we have a brief scene where she decides to choose an appropriate dress to wear, one resembling the more classic farmgirl gingham look of Judy Garland. Instead, Dorothy wears a red dress almost identical to East’s. Sullivan guides Dorothy to a flooded room where the funnel of the tornado begins, and she miraculously walks across the water to a platform and uses her magic to get sucked up into the tornado. What follows is a bizarre scene where Dorothy stands in a snowy forest where objects hang from the trees and float by in the river. The jacket of Dorothy’s biological mother Karen floats by, Dorothy picking it up.

Dorothy returns to the castle but has not stopped the storm. Sullivan quickly realises something isn’t right, asking where she went. Dorothy questions him instead about the jacket, which Saladar claims from an “interloper” sent to Kansas by the Wizard. When Dorothy reveals it belongs to Karen, Sullivan goes berserk and tries to kill her. Sullivan takes Lucas hostage but Dorothy reveals his mistress’ fate, prompting Sullivan to drop his sword and walk away into the castle just as the storm rips it apart. Now knowing that her mother was in Oz, Dorothy strides away to meet the Wizard and get some answers.

In the second subplot, the Wizard and his nuns witness three women commit suicide via freefall, gravity-defying, invisible-noose hanging. He demands to know why, and while his councillors scramble for answers, the more intuitive nun Anna (Isabel Lucas) suspects West was involved. West denies such a thing, instead diverting attention but revealing Anna’s mother was a prostitute and even the Wizard has done it with her. The Wizard comforts Anna, revealing his name is in fact “Frank Morgan”. Huh. In the books, the Wizard’s real name is Oscar Diggs. Frank Morgan is the actor who played the character in The Wizard of Oz. An unusual change indeed.

Anyway, Anna seems to be able to predict things quite well, claiming it will snow later on in the day. She investigates the cause of the three suicides, discovering that their magic did not come from West but rather from the enigmatic Beast Forever, which apparently is omniscient and even knows the Wizard’s weaknesses – he has no magic. When Anna theorises this to the Wizard, he promptly has her locked up. The Wizard’s other advisor, Eliza, prompts him to use his powers to awaken the rock giants guarding the city to defeat the Beast Forever. The Wizard does not respond, noticing that it is indeed snowing. How ominous, I guess.

Meanwhile, poor Tip is coming to term with his/her abrupt gender swap. Jack suggests they go to the Land of Ev, Oz’s neighbouring country, where magic is also banned. I’m still trying to understand how the Wizard can ban magic in a land made out of magic. It’s like banning oxygen. While Jack inquires about any local herbalists (and repeatedly sneaking glimpses at his friend’s new cleavage), Tip comes to grips with her body. In a rather harrowing scene, Tip nips to the loo but doesn’t know which one to go in, because, well, she is understandably confused.

The two friends find a herbalist, but the kind doctor tells Tip he cannot make her medicine for two reasons – one, because it is magic, and two, because she was born a girl and the spell Mombi would have changed her back to normal after its effects wore off. Tip takes this as well as you can expect. Jack tries to comfort her, promising to remain with her. He then immediately screws up any sense of heartwarming but producing the golden dagger he considered stealing from Mombi in episode two. And, then, in a move which I assumed would lead to a charming hug, Jack instead forcefully kisses Tip. What the heck? We don’t have time to contemplate Jack’s thought process, when Tip screams at him, and accidentally pushes him over a balcony…and down a fifty-foot drop to his bloody death below.

Emerald City really is trying to follow Game of Thrones with unexpected, shocking deaths, though judging by the synopsis for the next episode, Jack may not have been reduced to pumpkin guts. Overall, this was a good episode. Dorothy’s plot wasn’t all that interesting, confirming the rather obvious twist that her biological mother was from or was in Oz. And Dorothy seems rather unfazed by the weird world she is in. Standing in a room to try and master a tornado, and she looks like she is waiting for a bu. Lucas remains as interesting as a cold bacon sandwich, and I’m still waiting for Eamonn to do something. He briefly finds a prescription bottle with Dorothy’s name on it.

The Wizard’s story started off good, acting all fatherly to Anna, but it got a little complex when she began investigating the cause of the suicides. And, I may have misunderstood what was going on, but apparently a lot of people are having problem “getting the flag up”. Cough, cough. The highlight of the episode was Tip and Jack’s story, continuing the difficult new reality the former faces, with well-written dialogue mirroring how difficult the transgender process can be.

Final Score: -A

Additional Notes: The high street in the Land of Ev bares a striking, though slightly steampunk, resemblance to Diagon Alley.

What did you make of Emerald City‘s third episode? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

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Mark Russell

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