The supernatural world so often turns out to be fundamentally dualist -- good and evil, light and dark, friendly and chaotic, heroes and villains. Everyone who turns out to have strange abilities ends up facing off against one side, and so, either explicitly or tacitly, casting in their lost with the others.
And yet -- being supernatural sets you apart from normal people, regardless of which side you end up on. The bad guys have their own agenda, separate from mortals -- but so do the good guys. And when you've got your own agenda, "good" is whatever lines up with that. Conclusion: both sides can regard human needs with a cold eye as it suits them.
So if you're suddenly introduced to the world of the supernatural, are your only options choosing one group of superior, aloof freaks, or the other? In Lost Girl, the heroine, Bo, is determined to keep control over her own life, and that's the heart of the show's appeal.
A Second First Impression
Lost Girl is a Canadian series, just ending its second season on the Showcase network but new to Syfy and United States audiences. Its past is something of a double-edged sword: on the one hand, Lost Girl has proven it can establish a fanbase and develop an evolving storyline; but Americans think of themselves as having different sensibilities from those of Canadians, making imports across the border a tricky sell -- ironic considering how much American drama, especially in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy, is actually produced in British Columbia (Eureka, Smallville, Supernatural, Stargate, etc.), Ontario (Warehouse 13, etc.), or Quebec (Being Human, etc.).
Is there anything distinctively Canadian about Lost Girl? We Americans like casual sex on our TV shows but we're not as used to casual sexuality, so Bo (Anna Silk) not making a big deal about the gender of whomever she's engaging the attention of is in and of itself mildly and pleasantly provocative. Bo's sexuality is part of both her nature -- what she doesn't realize at the beginning is that she's a succubus, feeding off the energy of humans and able to influence them through sexual attraction -- and integral to her fiercely independent personality. Most of all, Bo's erotic side is not about audience titillation, but about exploring a character whose elemental nature has an erotic component.
What's interesting about the events depicted in the pilot and early episodes is that the discovery of the world of the Fae -- supernatural creatures of various sorts who pass as humans -- leads her to identify not with the beings who are like her, but with the human world within which she has previously felt nothing but isolation. The ruthless division of the Fae into hostile clans of Light and Dark repels her, and what offers stability is the nonaligned ignorance of the mortals. This angle works tremendously well, and sets Lost Girl off as a contrast to bands-of-heroes shows like Alphas or, in a different way, Sanctuary.
Bo's closest similarity to what's gone before may be later seasons of Supernatural, in the sense that Sam and Dean Winchester learned that the forces of heaven were just as willing to yank humans around as the forces of hell, and that their only option was to play wild card. Bo knows that the Light Fae are closer to what she wants -- controlling her abilities without draining and killing those she feeds from -- but that doesn't mean she buys into their entire agenda.
Anna Silk is a strong anchor for the show, and she has the benefit of a solid ensemble around her: there's an intriguing diversity of Fae representing different points of view within their detached paranormal reality, without it becoming a parade of misfits like Once Upon a Time. Right from the start Silk is an impressive presence, fixing the exact center of the show while the machinations of all the others play out around her. Creator Michelle Lovretta makes Bo the fulcrum of this world, but that setup would be meaningless without Silk holding that spot with supernatural conviction.
Importantly, two key characters are both human and particularly appealing: Kenzi (Ksenia Solo), a high-energy young woman who shoulders her way into Bo's confidence, and Lauren (Zoie Palmer), a doctor working with the Light Fae who seems fascinated by her own emotional connection with Bo. One of the mistakes made by shows like Heroes is that the storylines become fixated on the abilities and lose sight of the grounding values of the mortals around them. In a landscape divided between humans and Fae, who are divided in turn into Light and Dark, it's vital that the humans presented in the show not only have faces but a stake in what's going on.
Also worth noting in the cast is Dyson (Kris Holden-Reid, who's been in quite a few Canadian productions including The Listener, Degrassi, and The Tudors), a Fae homicide detective who also forms a personal connection with Bo: Holden-Reid conveys a magnificently even temper, which makes it all the more interesting when his Fae side shows. His partner is Hale (K.C. Collins), another Fae who gives a most welcome dimension to the supernatural folks -- namely that they're not all obsessively bound up with their angsty Faeness and clock out to enjoy themselves every now and again. A number of other characters, including Trick (Rick Howland), give us and the other characters only an intriguing glimpse of what they're capable of, and what they might become.
Confrontation and Discovery
Though the pilot features some action scenes, including a battle with an "Underfae" (Fae that can't pass as human because they're too freaky), Lost Girl doesn't give the impression that it's about the fight scenes or indulging in them for their own sake the way that, for example, early episodes of Legend of the Seeker did. These fights are plot-motivated and character-intensive: Bo fights not because the formula requires a fight scene at the 40-minute mark, but because that confrontation is part of Bo's journey, and a part of her own fight to stay free.
Knowing that Lost Girl has been fermenting and developing for over two years already does give us an advantage: even without investigating the readily available spoilers we know that the mysteries inherent in Bo -- her hidden past and the mystery of why it's hidden -- feed a storyline that builds over the first season and eventually kicks the show to a new level. But even without that, just going by the first episodes, we can be confident that Lost Girl's solid premise, complex world, and growing characters will take us on a ride we'll enjoy having taken.