Thank goodness Victor died.
I didn’t have anything against the guy (I liked him as much as his limited screentime and characterization allowed), but at least his death has facilitated some strong plot development. “Boogie Nights” kicks off with Joanna doing a spell to say farewell to her husband and realizing the Mandragora is plaguing East End. This revelation that leads to the arrival of Alex (Michelle Hurd), “some kind of Seer” who has experience with Mandragoras. She also has some experience of the romantic kind with Joanna, and the two share a kiss in the woods while they seek out the Mandragora.
This does nothing to encourage me of Alex’s longevity on the show (she’s black and a love interest after all, and those are not long for this fictional world), but for now I’m thrilled. She’ll be around at least while the Mandragora remains an issue. With Ingrid being whisked away by the Mandragora and killing it meaning that Ingrid will die as well, that’s going to be for some time, and I’m excited to see her character unfold as well as learn more about hers and Joanna’s relationship.
Even Dash gets in on the action. First he has to deal with reviving a dead patient at work and taking his death into himself. Though Ingrid tells him he has no choice but to return the death to the patient (thereby killing him), Dash instead drops it into a man who got shot while committing a robbery. Dash stumbling his way through magic is always in danger of getting boring, since it often looks like a retread of things we’ve already seen with Ingrid and Freya. Even this one leads Ingrid to recall how her revival of Wendy led to Adam’s death last season. But thankfully the show manages to make it more original by having Dash find another way out of his situation, particularly a way that only reasserts how Dash lives in shades of grey.
Once he’s done with that, Dash is around as Ingrid’s doctor, but he can only tell her that there’s nothing medically wrong with her. After Ingrid gets shot (because the Mandragora also gets shot), he also suggests that she finally tell her family, but we don’t get to hear why Ingrid’s been avoiding sharing this info with people who could actually help her because Ingrid attacks him, and the Mandragora puts his tentacles in his ears. Apparently Dash is now going to be suffering from some kind of psychosis (and eventually die), and that’s certainly not going to help anything.
It could actually end up making Dash even more of a loose cannon than he is already. If we were concerned about Dash’s anger issues after seeing him “kill” Killian on his boat, seeing him do the same in Freya’s past life doesn’t help matters. Since Killian and Eva are becoming permanent fixtures in East End, Freya relives her past lives to soothe her broken heart, determined to figure out why she and Killian aren’t together in the present. Going back to the 70s, at the very least Jenna Dewan-Tatum gets to show off her dance skills, which is the most exciting thing the show’s come up with for her since the pilot.
Per usual, it’s Ingrid’s storylines that are actually vital to the seasonlong arc. Last season her past life explained Penelope’s vendetta against the Beauchamps, and now Ingrid’s the Mandragora’s mate. But like last season had Freya dealing with her love triangle, this season’s got her still revolving around Killian, and no episode makes this more apparent than “Boogie Nights”.
Everyone’s got something to do, something that’s new and exciting and does something to further their characters or the season’s main arc. Joanna and Alex are hunting the Mandragora, when Wendy and Frederick aren’t watching them do that, they’re dealing with Frederick’s mysterious seizures, which he’s been having since crossing the portal. Dash has his magical woes, and Ingrid’s trying to get to the bottom of her blackouts. And where’s Freya? Worrying about Killian.
It’s boring. There’s nothing wrong with Freya having a love interest, especially one that’s important to her, but she’s nothing but her love interest. Killian has more of a story than she does, discovering his powers and getting on better terms with Dash, and soon he’ll have to deal with whatever mysterious substances Eva’s slipping into his drinks. But all Freya has is the knowledge that she and Killian will never get their happily ever after. It’s especially glaring in a season that has Ingrid asserting her independence, that there’s nothing that Freya wants except for Killian. There’s nothing that drives her, nothing that moves her, except for him. But this isn’t looking like a flaw of Freya’s, but one of the show’s, like it can’t do anything else.
- While Killian’s always in Freya’s past lives, but Dash isn’t, and he and Killian aren’t always brothers. Surely Dash and Killian have had tumultuous relationships in the past, but it makes me wonder how them being brothers has made things play out between them.
- Mandragoras are supposedly very hard to kill, but Alex was going to kill it with a bullet? That’s fine with me, but these are very contradictory elements.
- The way Joanna realized the Mandragora was in East End felt very lazy. Of all the ways the Beauchamps could be alerted to it, there’s just a scale in the woods, and suddenly everyone’s on high alert.
- Also very reminiscent is Ingrid again being in a relationship, if you can call her thing with the Mandragora a “relationship”, with a bad guy. Just like in her past life, it turns her against her family and friends. On one hand this could just prove that Ingrid has a darker side to her personality, but if that’s the case I’d like to see the show explore that without having to give Ingrid the excuse of being entangled romantically or sexually with someone/something.
- Considering this was an episode following Victor’s death and that it opened with Joanna performing a spell to say goodbye to him, no one else seemed very affected by his passing. Not Freya, not Ingrid, not Frederick. Nobody cared. And there was no mention of Isis or her escape in the last episode either.
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