Emerald City Clicks Its Heels Together Three Times
There's no place like home as the weird Wizard of Oz mash-up reaches the end of its rainbow.
Earlier in the season, my boyfriend observed that Emerald City felt like a fantasy show that no one picked up, so they added the Oz stuff onto it and re-pitched it. In this back half, it has seemed a bit more cohesive. There were a couple of plot holes, but I got the sense that the writers had the endpoint in sight all along, as well as how their Oz transpositions and translations factored in. On the one hand, I think I would have preferred a little more adherence to Baum's world, because, as I said at the beginning, otherwise what's the point? On the other hand, I appreciate having an ambitious, expensive, mostly original fantasy series on network TV, and too much Oz yields Tin Man.
I've been wrestling with whether I think this show was actually good. Which I guess means it probably wasn't? But it's better than a lot of the garbage I watch (cough, Once Upon A Time, cough), both in writing and in execution, and by the end I was pretty invested in it and continually surprised by it (usually in a good way). It reminded me of those weird late-'90s/early-'00s miniseries, except high-budget and sort of good. And it wrapped up satisfyingly, with just enough of a tease for a possible second season. It seems to have made zero impact on the cultural landscape, so I doubt it will get one, which means in a year my goldfish brain will have forgotten it ever happened, but I'm happy to have had it all the same.
Still, I can't wrap things up without a few last questions.
Should West and Tip be having this conversation in front of all these people?
West and Tip (who I guess we should be calling Ozma now), lead their army into Emerald City. Which is walled, so right off the bat there's some violence involved, what with breaking down the gate. Ozma doesn't want to rule by with fear; West thinks it's the only way, and proves her point by taking down a guard who tries to kill Ozma. This is a totally worthwhile argument to have, but should they be having it in front of both the witch army and a whole bunch of bystanders? Ozma is clearly out of her depth, and while West is on her way to having her act together, she's still a little unhinged. Not the best first impression on your new subjects!
Could no one think of a more straightforward way to get to the Cowardly Lion?
For all the shit I've given Jack, his story was interesting, it wasn't the worst appropriation of the Tin Man idea, and he was in every episode. The Lucas/Scarecrow bit was heavy-handed, but it made sense and it worked. But here in the finale, we get this nonsense: Ozma and West enter the palace courtyard and the guards just part for them because they're the worst guards ever. Eamonn comes down the stairs in his lion hat, kneels before Ozma, lays down his sword, and hands her her crown, which he's saved. He says he killed her parents to save himself, but he saved her because "I have a daughter of your age. When I looked down at you, I saw her looking back. I saw myself in her eyes. A murderer. A coward." WE GET IT.
West thinks Ozma should kill Eamonn, but Ozma sends for his family. She casts a spell to make them forget he ever existed, taking his family from him without actually having to hurt them (which is pretty clever), then exiling him. The witches put the lion hood back on him while he does his best Burt Lahr groveling. So now he's forced to wander the wilderness like a...cowardly guy in a lion costume...or something.
Never mind that we still don't know how Eamonn spared Ozma with the Wizard standing right there; there's been no indication of his cowardliness or his lion-ness until now; and it feels more shoehorned in than even the monkey drones.
Was that a reference, or just a thing?
Merciful justice done and West won over to her side, Ozma holds the crown and sees boy Tip reflected in one of the gems. It's really hard to read the expression on his face (and I think Jordan Loughran has been doing great work all season, so that's not shade), so I don't know if this is just Ozma saying goodbye to him, or if she's still not happy in her current body and seeing the "wrong" reflection, or if it's a nod to the books in which Ozma was trapped in a mirror. One of the problems with the show being so loosey-goosey with its source material is that it can be impossible to tell when they've done something on purpose or not. (Except when, you know, it's painfully obvious that they've done it on purpose.)
How incompetent is the Wizard's army?
Dorothy, Jack, and Jane all get close enough to the Wizard to murder him when he's surrounded by his entire army outside Ev. Dorothy isn't there to do that; she's offering her Stone Giant in the fight against Glinda. Jack, however, axes several soldiers and would kill the Wizard too if Jane didn't stop him. The Wizard convinces Jane to let him live so that she can meet Dorothy, and Jane just goes off to do that and leaves Jack alone with him, I guess? And he doesn't kill him? Anyway, the point is the Wizard's Guard is terrible at guarding things in general, and the Wizard specifically.
Didn't the Wizard and Glinda have a conversation about the Stone Giant with its spear aimed at the Witches' Temple?
I'm certainly not going back to check, but she definitely knows about it. She's been to Emerald City. During a tense standoff outside Ev, Glinda produces Sylvie, who uses her powers to make all the Stone Giants crumble. The one in Emerald City drops its spear right through the Temple, into the Crypt. Which was the entire point of it standing there like that; it was an explicit threat. Glinda reacts like she's been stabbed in the heart herself, breaking her spell that was cloaking the rest of her witches, and the Wizard commands his army to open fire.
It doesn't work, since only a witch can kill a witch (which means East's death by gun is still somewhat unexplained), so we have a lot of violence against young women, which I guess is meant to be mitigated by them standing up and glaring at the end of it, but ultimately comes to nothing because...
Did West not think it might be a good idea to mention Ozma to Glinda?
Sure, they're fighting, but Glinda might have wanted to know that the rightful ruler of Oz has been found and that West had her own plan to reclaim Emerald City? It could've saved Glinda that whole hassle with the shooting and the locusts and the crumbling giants. When she does show up in Emerald City with her witch army, West tells her, "We can both advise the new queen, just like we did her father. Magic and reason can rule Oz side by side once again." Glinda needs some convincing that magic alone isn't the way to go, but she comes around. It's nice to get a sense of what these two might have been like before, and see them working their way back. And, yes, after all the violence, to have three (very different) ladies in charge (with Jane on her way to join them as Science Advisor, perhaps?).
Also no one mentioned the dude in the Prison of the Abject?
I know it's a TV trope not to share information, but this is two major headaches in this episode alone that could've been saved by a quick spell-call. Guess what? The Beast Forever isn't the witches, or Dorothy, or the Wizard. It's the dude we met last week in the Prison of the Abject, who uses a stick to grab his skin from the top of the tree he had been stuck in and pulls it back on like clothes, then sprouts wings and flies. Sure, cool, no problem. At no point did East think it might be a good idea to mention to anyone, just in case something happened to her, "Hey, you know that Beast Forever everyone on the planet is so afraid of? No worries, I've got him locked up. Just don't let him out -- ha ha!" Even Nahara, who's been sharing mud with the guy for twenty years, asks him not to kill Ojo so that Ojo can help him. East, put up a plaque or something! "Beast Forever. Very dangerous. Do not taunt Beast Forever." (Book people: this guy is named Roquat in the credits; make of that what you will if the show gets a second season.)
If the Wizard sent those men to kill Karen like he claims, where did they get the police gear and car? How did they know how to drive? Why couldn't they have just brought guns back? Does that mean Toto was from Oz all along?
Wait, I don't care.
Is the Wizard really dead?
After their standoff at Ev, Glinda just lets Dorothy take the Wizard back to the Emerald City (I guess? We don't see any discussion about it), where she demands that he start up his vortex machine to send them both home. He'd rather be defeated in Oz than be a nobody in Kansas, so he starts to smash the machine. Jane -- who turns out to be Dorothy's actual mother, not Karen -- appears (again: worst guards ever) and shoots him. He certainly looks dead, and D'Onofrio signing on for only one season wouldn't surprise me, but he still, like, has a head...and around here that wouldn't necessarily be a dealbreaker anyway.
Has Dorothy never seen Star Trek?
Despite rumblings outside as the Beast Forever approaches, Jane tells Dorothy to get in the machine so they can both go home. Jane will be right behind her just as soon as she finishes fiddling with the controls. Doesn't Dorothy know someone always has to stay behind to work the transporter?
Is Aunt Em a fake wizard too?
Because her wig is as bad as Frank's, but it's not supposed to be.
Was it all a dream?
In the Gale kitchen, there's a lion figurine on the windowsill, and some sort of kettle in the dish drainer that looks like old illustrations of the Tin Man (though not anything like Jack, and did Dorothy ever even meet him?). And of course there's a scarecrow in the field. Em's fingertips are black from shelling walnuts, just like West's were (for reasons that were never clear to me). Oh, and apparently only ten minutes passed from when the twister picked Dorothy up to when she woke up right where she'd started, next to Karen (who is in the hospital but will be okay).
Wait...how does time work?
So only ten minutes passed in Kansas during the days or weeks that Dorothy was in Oz? Plus when Roan shows up (which is how we know it wasn't a dream -- well, that, plus we're not new here), it seems like more time has passed for him than the week or so that's gone by for Dorothy. But we know that, before the show started, the same twenty years passed since Dorothy's birth in both Kansas and Oz, so this makes no sense whatsoever. I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again: even fantasy worlds have to have consistent internal logic!
Who's a good boy?
You're such a good boy!
Will there be a second season?
Roan and Toto show up at the Gales' to get Dorothy. Jane is a prisoner of the Beast Forever and she's sent for help. Will we get to see her get it? Seems doubtful, but also promisingly batshit if we do. We'll see!