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Emerald City - Lions in Winter - Review

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After last week’s bit of a breather episode, “Lions in Winter” jumped right in to the heavy conflict. Everything winds up terrible for everyone and everyone is feeling a loss one way or another. Dorothy in particular is in a bad way, once again on her own in Oz with no allies save for the Wizard, and he appears to be in a pickle of his own. This was kind of a downer episode. Even though we know Oz is preparing for a war on multiple fronts, the imagery of West attempting suicide in the final moments of “Lions in Winter” sucked some of the enjoyment out of watching Emerald City. It’s clear that with so much loss experienced by all our characters no one has anything else to lose making the final battle carry an immense weight. At the same time, there is a difference between a story being adult-oriented and downright bleak. I hope this is a case of things being “darkest before the dawn” because despite being an interesting and well-paced episode, the downright dour mood thoroughly sapped my enjoyment.

“Lions in Winter” had a couple minor things that really bothered me. One was reintroducing Jane after we learned her origin and then dismissing her. I have hopes she will appear again since she is very interesting now that we know where she comes from. Also, I get that Eamonn is wracked with guilt over his role in overthrowing Oz’s true leaders, but there’s something overdramatic about the lion armor that made this whole reveal feel out of place, as if the show was reminding us too hard that Eamonn was the guy who killed the former rulers.

The reveal of Ozma and her lineage won’t be a surprise to anyone who is familiar with The Marvelous Land of Oz. That twist has been telegraphed since the first episode. However, that being a lesser known L. Frank Baum book means that most of the surprise was still intact for the general audience. I did think Emerald City had pulled a fast one on us when it appeared that Tip had succumbed to the Wicked Witch of the East’s power and that maybe the story would point to Dorothy being the long lost ruler of Oz, but after reflection I’m glad that’s not the case. There was a lot of West telling Tip what they should do, rather than letting Tip make that decision for themselves. Will Tip eventually rule or will they decide to not want to deal with their birthright?

I have such a problem with the ruby gauntlets only appearing when convenient. I’ve stated before that a more permanent way of showcasing them would have worked better for Emerald City because I honestly forget that they are a thing until they crop up in a given episode. Dorothy being a healer is one addition I do enjoy, especially because the show continues to use it. I didn’t think Glinda actually expected her to cure those girls though, I think that was just a way to keep Dorothy occupied and if it worked it worked, if it didn’t then Glinda’s enemy was out of the way. Back to the gauntlets, Dorothy almost hanging Glinda with her bedsheets was an intense scene and stood out in “Lions in Winter” through the use of lighting and choice to “body bag” Glinda in the bedding. Actually, the Witch of the North’s entire aesthetic was interesting; the blindly white marble setting looked particularly good when low lit. And despite it all, it was nice seeing Sylvie fit in and really smile for once.

I dislike how Lucas’s story seems to only revolve around the women in his life. While I find it interesting that he is husband to Glinda, the way his character has been handled throughout the entirety of Emerald City is disappointing. I know the Scarecrow isn’t supposed to have a brain, but Lucas is unable to make decisions for himself. In the end, it would be most fitting if he chose to belong only to himself, to keep in touch with Dorothy after all is said and done in Oz and strike his own path. But we shall see if that’s the case.

Speaking of belonging to someone, Jack and Lady Ev’s (whose true name is Langwidere but for brevity’s sake will be referred to as “Lady Ev”) relationship is uncomfortable to watch. I understand Lady Ev’s ignorance towards interpersonal relationships, but I intensely dislike how she jerks Jack around. I’m so glad he chose to leave her, but I wonder with only two episodes left how he will make his mark in the story of Emerald City. I will say, the line “oil your odd parts” gave me quite a good laugh. As for the Land of Ev, who is surprised that they chose to turn on the Wizard? His hubris is what has crippled him throughout this story, but he can be a smooth talker, so I wonder how this grand conflict will play out. Will it be Oz vs the witches vs Ev or will other alliances and factors twist things even further?

I hope the final two episodes of Emerald City pack the same punch as the first two did. I feel as if the story has been stretched as far as it can be; science vs magic, wizard vs witch, Dorothy in the middle of it all. On the whole, “Lions in Winter” was a well-acted episode with great visuals, both in CGI and practical sets. And Glinda and Lady Ev’s wardrobes always leave an impression. Yet it wasn’t fun to watch in some ways, mostly because it was so bleak. Perhaps it’s because, despite the plot revolving around witches, this episode strayed more into the realism realm and left the fantasy behind. There was no sugar coating when we saw a husband question his love for his wife or a sister who felt she had failed slit her wrists. I don’t expect Emerald City to be bright and shiny, but I’m hoping for a bit more magic in the final two episodes.

Tune in next week for the penultimate episode “The Villain That’s Become”!

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